Today we’re heading for the sparkling Atlantic Seaboard – and what is usually our Cape Town home of Sea Point when there aren’t broken ankles to deal with. It’s for lunch at La Mouette who are offering what sounds like a mouth-watering winter special – and it’s a first as we are usually long gone before winter starts approaching. Oh and it’s also the first time they’ve opened for weekday lunch (they are now open Weds to Fri).
La Mouette opened shortly after we first starting staying in Sea Point and we have enjoyed many satisfying visits there, though we hadn’t been for a while. Chef Henry Vigar is truly inventive and produces such a variety of beautiful and tasty dishes, with the menu changing as the seasonal ingredients do.
We settled down inside beside the welcoming open fire as we pondered our winter lunchtime options while digging into the freshest of bread boards. Including the most amazing garlic and chilli dripping for dipping.
What’s on the menu
So on offer today were two menus. The five-course winter special menu and the three-course express lunch menu. Portions are tasting-menu size – perfect for me as I could enjoy all five courses and although I was certainly replete I didn’t feel overly full.
We ordered a mix of the two menus between us. First up, La Mouette’s legendary croquettes which are beautifully cheesy and truffley and served with a garlic aioli. They look so beautiful nestling in this stylish dish – which I seriously wanted to take home, it would go so perfectly in my house!
The salt and pepper squid was served with a zesty nam jim dressing. Truly squid heaven – it was so beautifully cooked and the Asian flavours added another dimension to the dish.
Up next, a warming winter favourite – roasted butternut soup. Today it was served with hazelnuts, goat’s cheese, onion, cress and parmesan crisp. The bowl arrived with all the accompaniments neatly (and prettily) arranged on one side – with a little jug of the beautifully silky-smooth soup to pour over.
And here it is again completed by the soup which was beautifully sweet and rich. Who knew hazelnuts and butternut would be such a good combo – and that soft, creamy goat’s cheese made a superb addition. Roasted butternut soup will never taste this good again!
Beautiful baby beets
The third of the dishes on the express menu was this masterpiece of an organic beet salad. The intricately prepared beets were served with home-made ricotta, a tempura beetroot leaf (which looked and tasted amazing) and beetroot ketchup. Sweet, crunchy, creamy and satisfying.
Time for the fish dish. I love a bit of the local hake and today it was served with jerusalem artichoke puree, pomme dauphine and broth. The flaky fish was melt-in-the-mouth, the little potatoes a joy and the broth added a good winter heartiness to an incredible dish.
I don’t often publish two pictures of the same dish – and this is the second time I’ve done this today (did you notice?!). They are so good you have to see them twice – in this case with the hearty broth poured over.
And then for some meatiness. The beef short rib came with confit sweet potato, pickled turnip, aubergine and a miso puree. Fabulous flavours of winter on a plate and some of the best short rib I’ve ever tasted. Both soft and tender and with a crisp bite. Clever stuff.
Of course, if you’re going to embark on the five-course winter special menu, you’re gonna get dessert. Seriously, though, I highly recommend you order dessert anyway at La Mouette – they are spectacular. The lemon posset came with a kind of rhubarb mousse, mint oil and almond crumble. And was served with baby, warm vanilla doughnuts on the side. Quite simply gorgeous – love the presentation, too.
Today’s price point
La Mouette is astounding good value, especially as a visitor from London. I challenge you to tell me about a restaurant anywhere in the world that serves such amazing food for such an incredible price. Seriously!
The five-course winter special menu is R295 (just over £15 at today’s exchange rate).
The three-course express lunch menu is R125 (just over £10 at today’s exchange rate) for three winter plates. If you would like the short rib or hake dishes as part of this menu there is a R100 supplement.
Red wine starts from R200 a bottle and wine from R195 (just over £10 at today’s exchange rate).
La Mouette is at 78 Regent Road, Sea Point, Cape Town.