I had the opportunity to experience a delicious meal last week at 10 Degrees South, the only restaurant of its kind in the United States, specializing in South African cuisine, which are described on the website as “a fusion of French, Porteguese, Dutch, German and Malaysian.” The story of the restaurant is idyllic – it began in a small bungalow in North Buckhead back almost 12 years ago. A few years later, they expanded that same location to a sleek modern facade reminiscent of the modern architecture in Cape Town, but retaining the intimate interior of the original space. Small rooms, warm wood floors, and soft lighting make you feel as if you are enjoying a meal in a friend’s home. (Full disclosure: 10 Degrees South graciously hosted us for this meal and our bill was comped by the house.)
Tami, a South African friend of mine had suggested that we be sure to sample the many South African wines on the menu, as well as a traditional South African refreshment, the beer shandy, which is a beer (in this case, a Stella Artois) with a dash of Sprite. It sounded strange to me, but I was determined to trust Tami’s native advice, and it was actually strangely refreshing, kind of like a sweet, bubbly beer – I recommend it if you plan to visit and “eat like a native.” My husband enjoyed a glass of a light red South African Pinotage (Bon Cap, Stellenbosch ’07).
For our starters, we sampled the Mussels (pictured, above – sautéed in garlic and finished with white wine, and served with fresh-baked crusty bread) and Mabaleng Mushrooms (button mushrooms marinated in lemon and garlic). The dinner menu is full of delicious options and it was truly hard to decide – everything sounded so delicious. My husband had the Rack of Lamb, which was an extremely generous serving of 6 lamb “lollipop” chops served with potatoes and vegetables – he never has a difficult decision if there’s lamb on the menu and was in heaven! After hearing our servers’ recommendations for authentic South African dishes, I settled on the Boerewors (pictured, right – lean beef sausage served the traditional South African way with pap and a side of tomato and onion sauce). Pap (pronounced “pop”) is a delicious, starchy traditional porridge, a lot like grits and a great compliment to the sausage. My husband, who grew up in Africa, compared it to a similar dish often served in East Africa.
It’s worth noting that you will not make it out of 10 Degrees South without ordering dessert – and if you do, you should be sorry. We were looking for something light and ordered the Don Pedro, traditional South African dessert drink, served with your choice liqueur; we chose the Amarula, a South African crème liqueur that tastes like a vanilla caramel. But our hosts were insistent that we try their specialty dessert: Di’s Delight. Made daily by the wife of one of the restaurant’s owners, Di’s Delight is a moist fruity sponge cake, served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. The ice cream is all melty when it arrives at your table and it’s like heaven in a bowl. We went from being too full for dessert to eating every crumb on the plate!
10 Degrees South features live music Wednesday through Saturday. There is a cozy bar area in the back of the restaurant, and a covered patio with comfortable seating (the only place in the house where smoking – including cigars – is allowed). It’s alluring – a leisurely dinner and then drinks on the patio with live music. I think you should plan your visit soon! (Note: 10 Degrees South is only open for dinner and is closed on Sundays.)