the gold standard
Food & Home Entertaining|April 2020
Situated on the seventh floor of The Leonardo – Africa’s tallest building – Aurum restaurant is taking fine dining to new heights.
ROBERTA COCI

Visible from miles away, The Leonardo – the 55- storey Legacy Group crown jewel, which is 234m high – was the talk of the town as curious Joburgers watched the behemoth break through the city’s skyline. And now that it has opened its doors, tongues are wagging all over again – this time, as foodies delight over the new luxurious restaurant housed in the building, Aurum!

With acclaimed chef Paulo Santo at its helm, and couple Darren Aldon O’Donovan and Lisa de Beer running the kitchen as head chef, and sous chef and sommelier respectively, the beautifully appointed restaurant dominates the seventh floor of The Leonardo. Huge glass doors open out onto a spectacular terrace, which, with its 29-metre swimming pool and expansive views, is “every rap artist’s music video dream”, according to Paulo.

And looking back into Aurum, the views are just as majestic. The triple-volume space is punctuated by an impressive archway of concrete pillars, which segment the restaurant into its four main sections – a coffee station, bar, seating and chef’s table. A beautiful gold-netted sculptural installation weaves through the arches, softening the concrete and allowing the light to scatter artful shadows throughout the space. Aurum’s decor is inspired by the elements, with wood, marble and precious metals warming the capacious room, and inviting guests to settle in and prepare themselves for a memorable experience.

Coming up with a name for the restaurant was, like everything else, a collaborative effort between Paulo, Darren and Lisa. “From the beginning, we knew we wanted a one-word name – something that wouldn’t define the cuisine, but rather encourage it,” explains Paulo. The trio threw around several ideas and when they hit on Aurum, they knew they had a winner. “Google was our best friend and worst enemy as well,” laughs Darren. Paulo adds: “We love the idea of having a Latin name, as our cuisine is European-inspired. And, of course, with Aurum meaning gold, the name represents luxury and the grandness of the building.”

With two seasonal menus each year, Spring/Summer and Autumn/ Winter, Aurum also has two identities – the Light Menu makes itself known during the day, while the Dark Menu takes over at night. “The Light Menu is all about fresh and fantastic local ingredients. With so many talented artisans making incredible products, there’s very little you have to do to good produce,” explains Lisa.

On the Dark Menu, you’ll find an extensive selection that showcases the three chefs’ passion for food. “The menu is very personal,” explains Lisa. “Our three personalities and histories definitely come through, and we’re hoping that this is just a starting point. Eventually, the personalities of all 40-odd chefs who work in the building will shine through,” she shares.

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