Gold is Johannesburg's reason for being, at the heart of the city's story, and also a part of Sandton's story, a commercial district that is as shiny as the polished precious metal itself. As soon as you step inside the cathedral-like space with its vaulted ceilings you'll be struck by the ribbons of gold mesh that wind their way above you.
Heading up the kitchen is Paulo Santo, chef and culinary consultant who is also credited with the success of Italian restaurant Gemelli. Menus are seasonal and the kitchen team creates heroes as much of the accompaniments on the plates as they do of what you might normally consider the main ingredient. Freshness and simplicity have guided the menu design.
Aurum has an extensive global wine list and a beautifully designed wine library that showcases special vintages and limited releases. Pairings are not on the menu but can be requested. We tasted the Delaire Graff Cabernet Franc Rose, so good that we made sure to procure some bottles the next day for home.
Menus at Aurum are seasonal: Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter. There's also a light meals menu of a la carte dishes for breakfast, brunch, and lunch. While dinner is the big ticket item, Aurum also offers all day eating – from cheese and charcuterie platters to tasty Aurum burgers. A vegan menu is available on request. For groups of 10 or more Aurum offers a set menu which they are happy to tailor.
We like Aurum, for its voluminous spaces, its cosy booth seating with a pool view (make sure to reserve when you make your booking), its elegant interior and the feeling it gives one of being above the harried streets. The sculptural quality of the space is a prominent feature, one among many impressive aesthetic features in the restaurant and The Leonardo itself. Art has been very much a part of the development from the start and you can add a booking to see the art collection, or arrive earlier to walk through some of the incredible pieces in the building's lobby and The Leonardo reception area.
Aurum is a place where visitors dress for dinner, and where you can find quiet in what is also a convivial space. Post-dinner there's the couches at the pool deck just a few steps from the door which, on a warm summer night, are a great place to retreat. You can also book a table outside, weather dependant, or a private dining space. And if the mood strikes you can make use of the swimming pool, with a booking.
Get there with the Gautrain: The Leonardo and Aurum are located two blocks from the Sandton Gautrain station.
Reservations can be made online at www.aurumrestaurant.co.za.