A Jacaranda Special: Purple Pastries in Westcliff

by | Oct 18, 2023 | Food and Drink, Johannesburg | 14 comments

It’s that time of year again: October in Joburg. Jacaranda trees all over Joburg (and Pretoria, too — more on that in a future post) are exploding with purple blossoms and everything wrong with the world feels right again (mostly). To make matters better, Joburg’s hospitality industry actively promotes jacaranda season and there are some really cool promotions on, like the jacaranda-themed “Bubbles & Sweets” menu at the Four Seasons Hotel in Westcliff.

View of the city from Flames, the restaurant at the Four Seasons Westcliff, which is considered one of the best jacaranda-viewing spots in town. Last Friday the purple was just starting to pop out through a sea of green.
Sketch of the view from the Westcliff
@TheThinking_Hand‘s sketch of the view to the north.

I don’t do a lot of fine dining these days. But let me assure you: This fine-dining experience is worth doing. I would love to go back to Flames and experience Bubbles & Sweets a few more times before this year’s jacaranda season is over.

Bubbles & Sweets is basically a fancy afternoon tea with purple-bedecked pastries, exotic teas, and bubbly. (Sorry, Four Seasons — I know you don’t officially brand this experience as afternoon tea. But hard-core afternoon tea fan that I am, I want the other afternoon tea fans out there to know that this Bubbles & Sweets offering is legit. Don’t miss it.)

Bubbles and Sweets menu
Even the menu design is delightful.

Bubbles and Sweets in Westcliff

Thorsten and I arrived at Flames at 3:30 p.m. and settled in on the terrace overlooking the view. We started with tea; I ordered the Rooibos Cream Orange, which tastes like an orange creamsicle, and Thorsten ordered the Assam Bari. The tea was followed by bubbly and we decided we had no qualms about drinking both at the same time.

Rooibos Cream Orange tea. It was so good.
Cap Classique at the Four Seasons on a Friday afternoon in October. Who can beat that?

And then, the pièce de résistance: A tower of purple sweets.

Purple sweets from the Four Seasons Westcliff
The sweets.
Bubbles and sweets with a view
Thank you Thorsten for having the foresight to capture this image with my phone. I was too excited about the sweets and forgot to take a picture of them with the view.

The top level of the tray had buttermilk scones, which were served with a separate plate of toppings.

Scones from Flames
The moist, buttery scones — best I’ve had in a long time.
Scone toppings
Scone toppings (clockwise from left): butter, Amarena cherries, shredded cheese (South Africans love shredded cheese on scones), rhubarb jam, and vanilla bean chantilly cream. Everything on this plate was superb. But the Amarena cherries make my mouth water just thinking about them. I could definitely eat a whole jar.

The bottom two levels contained a collection of purple pastries that, visual perfection aside, were all incredibly good. Kudos to the Flames pastry chef, Jaymee-Lee Young, and her team. They outdid themselves.

Purple lamington
This is a lamington: a small, coconut-encrusted cake of Australian origin that South Africans love. I had never cared for them — they always tasted rather dry and bland to me — until I ate this particular lamington.
A purple lamington at the Four Seasons Westcliff Bubbles and Sweets experience
Inside the jacaranda lamington, which contains Madagascan vanilla sponge and blackcurrant coulis.
This little jar was hard to capture visually but it was my favorite: vanilla panna cotta with “textures of blackberry”, chantilly, and fresh berries.
I’m actually not sure which item on the menu this is. But it was a delicate pastry pillow with a decadent, custard-like filling and topped with a dollop of fruity sauce. I think the purple dust was sugar? Anyway I devoured it.
Heather eating a macaron
Enjoying a macaron with candy-coated almond shells, elderberry, and raspberry gel. Also delicious.

I did not eat the violet Swiss roll with blueberry French butter cream and coffee ganache because I was too full by the end. So that’s the only item on the sweets menu that I can’t review.

The Bubbles & Sweets menu only lasts through the end of jacaranda season — probably mid-November — and it’s only available from 12 to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday. I feel sad for people with actual jobs who can’t get off work to eat pastries and drink bubbly on a weekday. But the experience is worth taking an afternoon off for, if you can.

The price is R595 ($32) for bubbly, sweets, and tea, and there are various extras you can order like caviar, cheese, and oysters. Click here for details on how to book.

View from the Westcliff
Another shot of the view.
One more Thorsten sketch of the view, featuring a shock of pink bougainvillea among the jacarandas.

Thanks to the Four Seasons Westcliff and Flames for this fabulous afternoon. My Bubbles & Sweets experience was complimentary but opinions expressed are my own.


  1. Barend van der Merwe

    It’s special. Even in other parts of the country. I worked in Kimberley for some years and the jacarandas also paint the town purple in October.

    I only recently discovered assam tea and it was an instant hit with me, albeit a bit pricey.

    • 2summers

      Yes, I’ve also seen some great colors in Mpumalanga.

  2. Mark Thomas

    Nice Heather and good that there was enough of a range that you couldn’t get through it all !

    • 2summers

      Looking back, I regret that I didn’t just stuff myself a little bit more and eat everything.

  3. Ms. Nancy Anne McDaniel

    Oh I so wish I was there. I love jacarandas (in Joeys AND Harare!!!) and bubbly. And all things purple. Thanks for the tantalizing peek.

    • 2summers

      I wish you were here too!

  4. Nikki

    Oh wow, these look so good!

    • 2summers

      And they really do taste as good as they look.

  5. Bev Hammrich

    Wonderful photos! The sweets look so divine. The Jacarinda trees are SO beautiful there!

    • 2summers

      They really are. It’s going to be another stellar jacaranda year.

  6. Fiver Löcker

    Omg jacarandas and afternoon tea. My two favourite things. I’m seriously considering booking a flight today!

    • 2summers

      Hahaha. I seriously wish you would!

  7. Betty Sorrell

    Lovely post…need more Jakaranda pics though. I miss them so much. 53 years since I left Pretoria, my home town then.

    • 2summers

      Ah! Well there are more coming.


Leave a Reply