AURUM At The Leonardo Rises To The Top


The legendary Paulo Santo (of Gemelli fame) is the mastermind behind AURUM, Johannesburg’s latest contender for top restaurant in town. Here’s what you can expect from this brilliant and beautiful dining hall. 

Golden Oasis Opens In Joburg

Meaning gold in Latin, AURUM Restaurant opened its doors in November 2019, overlooking Sandton from the 7th floor of The Leonardo – which is South Africa’s new tallest building. 

The restaurant is the brainchild of esteemed chef and culinary consultant, Paulo Santo, in collaboration with the Legacy Group and its chairman, Bart Dorrestein. 

True to its name, AURUM delivers timeless prestige with its unique culinary offerings, creating a golden experience in the modern day. 

“AURUM represents luxury, but not in an intimidating, pretentious or ostentatious manner. Just as gold is timeless in its appeal, we too wish to exist beyond time as a successful, renowned business, serving a cosmopolitan African city; the City of Gold,” says Paulo Santo, MD and Senior Partner of AURUM. 

A Feast At Aurum

AURUM’s kitchen is headed up by Paulo’s former chef colleagues at Cube Tasting Kitchen; Darren O’Donovan (Head Chef) and Lisa de Beer (Sous Chef and Sommelier). Inspired by Darren and Lisa’s travels and favourite dishes, AURUM offers plates which are seen as epicurean, being contemporary European cuisine with a touch of local flair. AURUM has two seasonal menus per year; Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter, with the majority of its ingredients being locally sourced. 

Aurum

By day, AURUM presents their Light menu, Solis, consisting of an a la carte breakfast, brunch and lunch offering. By night, AURUM takes on a sense of luxury manifested as the Dark menu, Luna, for dinner. Paulo is known for using a patron’s sense of taste and smell to play on something called synesthesia. This is where the brain connotes particular tastes or smells to certain memories. This plays throughout the entire menu cycle. Signature dishes include Cured Springbok, Slow Braised Pork Belly and ‘Afternoon Tea’, a dessert inspired by the nostalgia of dunking Ouma rusks into tea, showcasing local flavours of rooibos, buttermilk and clemengold. 

Aurum

“A meal at AURUM will aim to engage our patrons on an emotional level. We want to create experiences, share memories, build strong relationships and gain the trust of our patrons through our product and service offering. AURUM stands to take an old-world approach to service with a modern, new-world approach to cuisine,” says Paulo. 

The Wine Library

AURUM’s wine list was compiled by Lisa and features 99 of both South Africa and the globe’s finest wines, many of which are available by the glass. 

The wine list has been designed in a way to convey the best on offer from around the world, without being pretentious and inaccessible. The list enables guests to be exploratory, at the same time favourites from the Cape Winelands are on offer – for those preferring a more familiar taste. 

Within the Wine Library, one can peruse over a smaller list that boasts special vintages, limited releases on offer as well as some different, more ‘edgy’ cultivars and blends for those feeling adventurous. 

Specialist mixologist, Alex Farnell has been brought on board to design and develop the cocktail list, which features fun, trendy and edgy drinks with the right amount of traditional sophistication. Expect to find some of the world’s finest spirits brought to life in exquisite cocktails and signature mixes. 

The Space 

AURUM restaurant forms the heart of the lifestyle hub of The Leonardo building and overlooks its sunlit pool terrace. Designed by Varoom Interiors, it features interior seating for 160pax, exterior seating for 80pax, two private dining facilities and a Wine Library. 

The interiors were designed around three frameworks: the seventh-floor artwork themed around the element of air; the transparent, exposed architecture with visible columns and beams; and Johannesburg, being both The City of Gold and the largest urban forest in the world. 

From the main artwork installation representing a golden flow of air, the gold and green paint hues, together with the clever selection of custom designed furniture combining natural leathers and timbers with subtle touches of gold throughout were all designed and curated to showcase the design frameworks. 

Aurum

The restaurant’s interior seating features booth tables, offering a sense of intimacy and privacy, while the spacious main bar offers patrons a suitable holding space while they await their guests or preferred table. 

Although the restaurant setup during the day is minimalised, it holds its elegance, creating an emphasis on the space itself and its beautiful architecture. Table settings at night are upgraded to lush cotton tablecloths with matching napery. Together with gold and onyx green colours and thoughtful lighting arrangements, a softer, more romantic mood is created.

The pool terrace highlights the preferred pastime of most South Africans; looking beautiful under the African sun, sipping on a cold, refreshing beverage and creating lasting memories. The sun loungers and terrace daybeds offer patrons of AURUM the luxury of a poolside tanning spot, coupled with world-class service; a welcome reprieve from the concrete jungle around us. 

The Wine Library sits on the mezzanine level and overlooks the restaurant floor. This space has a warm, rich, robust feel, with its design lending it the feel of a cigar lounge. Patrons are invited to come and relax here in the evening, while enjoying a special glass of something from the sommelier’s selection. The bottles are displayed in temperature accurate wine coolers and the seating boasts luxuriously upholstered armchairs. 

All the furniture in AURUM has been locally manufactured and custom made for the restaurant. From the lighting, to the artwork, to the furniture – the designer truly aspired to a ‘local is lekker’ mindset. 

“Our goal was to create a timeless interior that would merge the sophistication of fine dining with a warm, welcoming atmosphere. A place where everyone that visits feels like they belong,” says Vanessa Preston of Varoom Interiors. 

AURUM In The Leonardo 

Although AURUM is central to The Leonardo, in its entirety, it is independent from the hotel brand. The space offers a golden oasis for residents and visitors of Joburg alike. 

In addition to the main restaurant, AURUM services the entire food and beverage offering at The Leonardo through its subsidiary brands, namely: 

  • Leo’s Lounge is an elegant gin bar located in the lobby of Level 2. 
  • At the Deli located next to Leo’s Lounge, one can experience AURUM with two all-day menus as well as on-the-go convenience offerings available.
  • The Leonardo Conference Centre is a 300pax state-of-the-art facility, managed by Legacy, on Level 2. 
  • OCTO Bar, which is a pool terrace bar, has a unique signature cocktail offering, supported by a signature wood-fired menu from the OCTO kitchen. This features personally inspired pizzas, flatbreads, tapas and fine charcuterie and cheese. 
  • Alto234 is The Leonardo’s roof-top champagne bar, which complements its signature champagne and cocktail offering with delicious, luxury canapes to savour while enjoying the breathtaking view from the top of Africa. 
  • The Leonardo Suites Rental Pool offers bespoke room service to rental apartments daily from 06:00 to 00:00. 

Aurum

For More Information

To find out more about AURUM, visit their website at www.aurumrestaurant.co.za or email them at info@aurum.kitchen. Don’t forget to follow them on social media: 

Facebook: @Aurumrestaurant 

Instagram: @Aurumrestaurantza 

Twitter: @Aurumsandton 

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