10 Degrees South | Buckhead183 Roswell Road Northeast Atlanta, Ga
What comes to mind when you think of South African cuisine? For the uninitiated, the question will likely be met with a blank stare. But food from South Africa, the “Rainbow Nation,” is actually comprised of an incredible blend of traditional African, Dutch, Portuguese and Indian fare, among others. Those in Atlanta are fortunate to reside alongside one of the few – and possibly first – gourmet South African restaurants in the country, 10 Degrees South.
Hubby and I dined at this exotic Buckhead retreat for a weekday #DateNight, and we were shocked to learn that it has been in Atlanta nearly 20 years! It is family owned and run, with solid roots in South Africa apparent in the menu selections, traditional peri-peri sauce, and choice wines which cannot be found anywhere else in Georgia (the US??)
We started with several small plates, including Bobotie Spring Rolls, Peri-Peri Spring Rolls, Prawns, Sosaties, and Biltong “Beef Jerky.” Bobotie is a sweet ground beef, and the egg rolls are topped with a traditional South African chutney. Between that chutney and the peri-peri sauce, it took everything I had not to lick the plate. The spring rolls were divine. Sosaties are a traditional food as well, and very popular for newbies: tender beef medallions covered in a sweet apricot glaze. The prawns were large and heavenly, covered in a lemon butter sauce, sitting atop a bed of yellow and white rice.
The Biltong “Beef Jerky” might sound like a strange small plate, especially for an upscale restaurant, but it was a favorite of mine. The beef was shaved uber thin, and the spice mixture was perfect. It was easy to eat and melted in my mouth…and paired wonderfully with the wine (more on that later.) I was told that this is snacked upon regularly in South Africa, with cart sellers handing them out in brown paper bags on the street, much like hot dogs in Chi-town.
Small plates are a wonderful way to become acquainted with South African cuisine. The portions are smaller, and they are priced accordingly, allowing you to do as we did and sample to your heart’s content. Once you feel more confident, you can order your favorites from the entrée menu…items such as peri-peri chicken, sosaties, or prawns are served as large plates, also.
Try the ostrich
Hubby and split a large plate of Ostrich Medallions because, if you enjoy red meat, you cannot come to 10 Degrees South without trying the quintessential carnivore’s delight. We ordered it rare, and it came with mashed potatoes and green beans, and was topped with a red wine and rosemary reduction. Every bite was sheer delight. Many liken it to lamb, but I found it much less game-y (although I am fan of game.) It is one of the more pricey items on the menu, but indulge yourself and try the ostrich. You will not be disappointed.
I did not think we could enjoy another bite, but were (thankfully) peer pressured into sharing a plate of Di’s Delight. This is a warm moist fruitcake, served with a scoop of ice cream. I hesitate to call it fruitcake, though. We Americans have our own prejudiced image of the 20-pound fruit cake that is passed from family to family in hopes that someone will eat it. Not Di’s Delight. It reminds me more of a bread pudding, and it is sinfully delicious.
While technically a drink, I’ll also file the Don Pedro under desserts. It’s another South African tradition that you must include in your adventure. Ice cream and Amarula (a South African cream liquor,) blended into a smooth, sweet glass of heaven.
Really, this section should be at the top. I want you to visit for the small plates, the ostrich, the Amarula drink….for the behemoth glass picture windows in the front room, and the sultry back patio with African art, comfy sofas and a tin roof that sings in the rain. I want you to listen to wonderful live music, meet the inspirational staff, and even take in a cigar at the bar if that is your thing. But more than all of that, I want you to go for the wine.
I do not claim to have a talent for writing about wine bouquets, or comparing orange flavors of one white to the chocolate tones of another red. But I do know good wine, and it is here.
You will find South African wines here that are not available in other restaurants or stores. You must come here to get them, and it is worth every effort.
White – Ernie Els Chenin Blanc (my favorite!!) and the Wolftrap White Blend
Red – Chocolate Block’s Syrah/Cab Sauv blend with definitive hints of chocolate that pair like sunshine with the Biltong, and Ernie Els “Big Easy” Red Blend, smooth and rich.
10 Degrees South is elegant and upscale, with sophisticated flavors you will not find from any other family. Go here, and splurge on yourself. It is worth every penny.
You can make it affordable by visiting on a Monday, when bottles of South African wine are half-off. Pair that with a few shared small plates and a Di’s Delight. If you want to go all-out like we did, plan to spend about $100 per person (that includes copious amounts of wine as well as the tip.)
One final tidbit, if you want to tempt your taste buds, but I have not yet convinced you of the devine flavors of South Africa, then try the sister restaurant, Yebo, at Phipps Plaza. The plates are a little more “Americanized,” with the same great touches like the peri-peri sauce, in a more casual – but still sophisticated – atmosphere. The Wolftrap and Chocolate Block are also available here by the glass.
Peri-Peri Chicken Spring Rolls:
Interior (thanks to 10 Degrees South for these photos):
Disclosure: Hubby and I were treated to a complimentary dinner at 10 Degrees South, for which we are very grateful. The gratis meal, however, was in order to better understand the restaurant’s offerings for another writing outlet. But, we fell in love with 10 Degrees South. It is an Atlanta Top 3 restaurant choice for us, and I cannot wait to return. How could I keep that a secret and not tell you?? I had to share! #keepingitreal.