Wonderfully exciting food at The Restaurant at Waterkloof

Today we’re heading back to the Somerset West area and climbing to the top of another hill to The Restaurant at Waterkloof. It’s rated the third best restaurant in South Africa in the 2016 Eat Out Mercedes Benz Restaurant Awards – behind The Test Kitchen and La Colombe in Cape Town. I had already been to both of these and had heard very mixed opinion of Waterkloof so was looking forward to making the comparison for myself.

The Restaurant is housed in a modern building with floor to ceiling glass and sensational views of False Bay and across the vines to the Hottentots Holland mountains. It’s cleverly designed with a huge glass box jutting out to make the most of these views – you need to be enclosed as the wind really howls up here. So don’t come expecting an al fresco meal.

The interior is modern and stylish with a circular fireplace central to the tasting area and the restaurant alongside. All open plan with light flooding in.

You can choose from the two or three-course a la carte menu or the tasting menu (with or without wine pairing). Bear in mind that whatever you choose you’re going to get more than you’re expecting as there are several delightful surprises along the way. We opted for two courses which in reality meant five with the extras.

Like this bread and butter extravaganza. Three rolls and five different types of butter to get you started – including smoked aioli, mustard butter, chive butter, garlic butter and plain butter. Never has this humble dish been more delicious or more beautifully presented.

Five types of butter at Waterkloof

An extravaganza of butter

The bread is delicious at Waterkloof

A selection of warm rolls

And then our next surprise – the amuse bouche. A mini Springbok tartare topped with with salmon cream, miso jelly and pickled seeds. A totally scrumptious combination of flavours and textures.

The amuse bouche at Waterkloof

A delightful mini springbok tartare

We ordered a bottle of Waterkloof’s Circumstance Sauvignon Blanc and (unusually for white) it was decanted and balanced in a bowl of crushed ice. Quite a charming touch, I thought – and doesn’t it look lovely. You can see the tasting area and the open kitchen in the background.

The wine decanter at Waterkloof

The wine nestles in a bed of ice

My starter of asparagus done several ways was served with an amazingly creamy parmesan mousse. What a beautiful plate of food and the delicate flavours blew me away. A truly wonderful dish for asparagus lovers like me.

Asparagus four ways at Waterkloof

A feast of asparagus

The plump scallop was served with an rich and earthy porcini mousse, that melted its bursting flavours into the mouth. Two outstanding starters.

The scallop starter at Waterkloof

A plump scallop and earthy porcini mousse

The attention to detail on each dish is incredible and you can see the effort going into every plate in the open kitchen.

The chefs in the kitchen at Waterkloof

Some serious kitchen concentration

The Mauritius sea bass came with confit leek, Saldanha mussels and cape gooseberries. The fish was sweet and perfectly cooked and balanced well with the sharpness of the gooseberries. And who’d have thought of doing confit leeks? A truly ingenious idea.

The sea bass at Waterkloof

Sweet sea bass with fresh fruit and veg

And how’s this for another masterpiece of plating? The Joostenberg Vlakte duck breast was served with saffron apples and glazed turnips. Beautifully flavoursome and tender duck matched well with the slight sweetness of the apples and turnips – and the saffron influence came through strongly. Seriously want to know how to make saffron apples, they were so perfectly infused with one of my favourite spices.

So that was the end of our two-course choice. And it was fabulous. Important for me to point out that portions are on the small side at Waterkloof so if you’re expecting large plates of food you’re going to be disappointed. Personally I like eating lighter and with the extras this was plenty enough for lunch for me.

In fact we decided against dessert as we were full. But then the selection of petit fours was delivered to our table – well, I think I’d describe them as pudding actually. This beautiful purple creation was delivered in a mini bell jar – the lightest of pastries filled with a blackcurrant mousse and topped with a blackcurrant macaron. Everything melted in my mouth with a zing of flavours.

Blackcurrant dessert at Waterkloof

A bell jar of deliciousness

There were also delicate chocolate toffee straws and little lollies of mint and coconut ice cream encased in white chocolate to pop into your mouth. Stunning.

So now I’ve been to South Africa’s top-three (on one list anyway) and I’d put Waterkloof first of the three of them. A thoroughly wonderful and exciting foodie experience.

Fruity little ice creams and chocolatey coffee delight

Wine tasting at Waterkloof

The contemporary fire is the focal point of the wine tasting area

The view from Waterkloof

The fabulous vineyard and mountain views

And here’s the glass box that juts out of the side of the building making the most of the sea views.

The sea views at Waterkloof

Clever design to make the most of the view

Today’s price point

Two courses from the a la carte menu cost R420 (£26 at today’s exchange rate). Of course you got all the extras included for this.

The bottle of Circumstance Sauvignon Blanc cost R190 (£12 at today’s exchange rate).

It’s really good value for great fine dining.

The Restaurant at Waterkloof is at Sir Lowry’s Pass Road, Somerset West.

Tasting menus and tasty views at Clos Malverne

So today we’re lunching in the Devon Valley near Stellenbosch in the Cape Winelands. I’m going to say it again, I am constantly astounded at the range of top-quality restaurants in the area. It seems like there’s always somewhere new to discover which is great news for me on my ongoing restaurant quest. And this is a real superstar in the heaven that is the Winelands.

Our friends Mandy and Trevor told us all about Clos Malverne and eventually, several years later, we planned our visit on a balmy Saturday lunchtime. The place is set deep among rolling vineyards framed by the ever-present mountains. Simply beautiful.

It’s a family-run concern and has a feel of warmth and intimacy. And best of all we had the top table in the whole place. Laid out on the veranda with far-reaching views to dream of, the setting gave me that immediate sense of happiness and anticipation the second I sat down.

For Saturday lunch they do a fabulous tasting menu. It’s four courses, each matched with a glass of wine from the estate for  R348 (£15.80 at today’s exchange rate). Oh and you also get a glass of bubbles to start off with, the ideal companion for some serious menu pondering. So that’s four courses and five glasses of wine each, just to be clear. Yes, for around £16.

There are three choices for Courses One and Two, six for Course Three and three for the desserts. My advice, don’t stress too much over the ordering, everything we ate (and it was pretty much everything on the menu between us) was delectable.

I’ve had a bit of hankering for mussels recently – for me they’re food I really need to feel like to order – if that makes any sense. So Thai-style (even better) mussels for me served with pickled ginger, dried chilli micro herbs and freshly baked bread. The creamiest of sauce with the delicate Thai flavours made for the perfect kick off.

mussels

Magnificent mussels to get started

The delicate salmon and prawn dish came with a salmon mousse terrine and prawns marinated with lime, chilli, coriander and ginger. A great summery starter – I’m loving all the Asian flavours.

prawns

Succulent salmon and plump prawns to get started

On to Course Two and something meatier. I love carpaccio and have eaten my fair share of it over the years. Today’s offering was grain fed beef served with crispy capers, a 10-year aged balsamic vinaigrette, grana padano and dried tomatoes. So pretty classic with the addition of the beautifully salty caper crispiness.

carpaccio

Carpaccio with crispy capers and all the trimmings

The vegetarian option arrives like a little present to be unwrapped. The parcel is packed with butternut, feta and pine nuts and served with hot, sweet chilli, crispy sage leaves and a roasted garlic cream sauce. A delightful mix of textures and flavours with the magic of that roasted garlic giving a rounded sauce.

butternut

The prettiest of parcels to ponder

And here’s the winner for Course Two! Not that it’s really a competition…anyway this was the winner. Chilli and honey stick pork belly served with mustard and sesame red cabbage coleslaw with a seven spice jus and carrot puree. Pork belly is plentiful on Cape Town menus, so there are tough comparisons to be made before calling this one of the best. Melt-in-the-mouth pork, crispy crackling, sweet puree, an amazing coleslaw (with yet another touch of Asian cuisine). Wow, wow, wow.

pork belly

The picture of deliciousness

Soon it was time for Course Three. More meaty delights for me. Grilled fillet steak is crusted with dried forest mushrooms and comes with fondant potato, crispy bacon, mixed mushrooms, wilted spinach, truffle and a bone marrow jus. A list of ingredients that it made it a dish impossible for me to resist. And I’m glad I didn’t try. Tender medium rare fillet packed with flavour and a plate that brought together a real feast of tastes.

steak

Fabulous fillet with amazing accompaniments

I don’t ever tend to order chicken in restaurants (well, very rarely anyway) but this dish is the best reason to make an exception. Parmesan crusted, the chicken breast is served with egg noodles, a lemon and herb sauce, cocktail tomatoes, pak choi, ginger, garlic and crispy Black Forest Ham. I can’t remember seeing a more beautiful chicken dish.

chicken

A choice chicken dish to savour

The lamb rogan josh was described as a traditional Persian curry and was served with sambals, lemon rice and crispy a poppadum. A silken sauce, well rounded spice flavours and the king of poppadums.

curry

A regal Rogan Josh

Course Four is dessert. Four courses is a good way to go. Okay it’s not a small amount of food but not as hectic as some of those six or seven-course tasting menus around which I must admit to struggling to get through.

Pineapple and coconut consisted of pineapple fridge cheesecake with a coconut meringe and pistacchio brittle. Light and yummy with the sweetness and tartness of pineapple and some lovely crunchy bits.

pudding1

Pineapple and coconut, what a wonderfully tropical pairing

Strawberry delight came with balsamic marinated strawberries, vanilla pod panna cotta, dried strawberries and a black pepper shortbread. I ordered it because I love panna cotta (and strawberries of course) and was a bit disappointed at the tiny piece of panna cotta on the plate. Until I tried the black pepper shortbread – a wonderful crunchy match with the strawberry flavours.

pudding2

Sweetest strawberries with black pepper and balsamic highlights

What a lunch! And great to get the chance to taste a new raft of wines from this estate. I’ve never seen them in Cape Town shops and discovered that’s because 70% of their wines are exported. Particular mention for the bubbles, the Auret and their dessert wine which is called Honeydew. The Auret is what is known as a South African blend (Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinotage) and was the first of its kind to win five stars in the prestigious Platter Wine Guide.  The Honeydew is a wonderfully light pudding wine without that thick stickiness that you often find with wines of its ilk. My friend Sharon doesn’t do well with wine, though she’s happy with the bubbly variety and our waitress was happy to keep her glass filled throughout lunch with her preference. The service was like that, whatever we wanted they could do. Gotta love that.

Clos Malverne offer you R200 off your bill for each case of wine you buy (12 bottles). How can anyone resist that, the more you buy, the more you save…and it meant we came home with 12 great wines to enjoy at home. And we weren’t the only ones.

Oh and remember what I said about the view. Here it is in all its splendour.

view

Lunch with a view, and this is some view

I also loved the mini loaves of bread, delivered warm to our table on arrival.

bread

Mini loaves of warmth to tuck into

The chef who came up with all these delightful dishes is called Nadia Louw Smith. A woman chef in a top restaurant is still something of a rarity, sadly, but that does mean it’s exciting to discover one. I salute Nadia and her team for their amazing creativity and skill in producing food that we all loved (seven of us) at what could be the greatest value ever. Too many superlatives? Go and see for yourself.

Clos Malverne is off the Devon Valley Road near Stellenbosch.

Double dinner at our lovely Sea Point local: La Mouette

We love staying in the Sea Point area in Cape Town. The two big roads for the area run parallel to each other. On the one side Beach Road takes you along the oceanside with palm trees aplenty and the sparkling azure sea alongside the well-walked Sea Point promenade. One road back is Main Road, home to a collection of shops, restaurants, hairdressers, gyms, ice cream parlours, yoga studios, beauticians…well pretty much everything. We have a saying that if you’re looking for something (anything) you will find it in Main Road. It’s always buzzing with activity.

And one of our very favourite spots is La Mouette, a friendly restaurant that we discovered in 2010 when it first opened that we visit every year several times. I’ve also sent plenty of friends visiting from the UK to taste their amazing food. It is really amazing, and as is often the case in Cape Town for those of us lucky enough to have pound sterling in our pockets, it’s great value for what is a creative and delicious fine dining experience. You sit in their lovely courtyard surrounded by twinkling lights in the trees and breathe in the balmy sea air. I love the relaxed atmosphere and friendly, enthusiastic service.

Today’s post is a conglomeration of two visits with different parties of friends. I don’t have pictures of everything to share with you (and it was a lot of things) as some of them just didn’t come out well enough, (hey, that happens) but don’t worry there’s still plenty to feast your eyes on.

On our first night we went for the tasting menu. The whole table has to agree to this as it’s six courses and obviously if some are going a la carte your dining experience is going to be somewhat out of sync. It’s great to have a night where fabulous plates of food keep coming and there’s very little decision making involved.

Your first three courses are set and you then have a choice of three dishes for courses four and five and two for dessert.

First up was the combination of summer snacks. Three plates of clever concoctions arrive for the table to share – cured linefish with celeriac, beetroot thoran ravioli, cashews and coconut and red onion bhajis with dukkah mayonnaise. Offering a pleasing mix of colours, textures and flavours, it set us up perfectly for what’s to come next.

Our second offering was a wonderful vichyssoise, ideal for a warm summer’s night, packed with plump, juicy mussels and sprinkled with pickled apple, semi dried grapes and curry oil.

The Heirloom tomato salad comes with buffalo mozzarella, basil ice and a little jug of onion essence which your waiter pours over the vibrancy of the tomatoes. A guess a different version of a Caprese, it’s just the sort of summery starter a tomato lover like me dreams of. And boy that onion essence. Light, cooling, refreshing and slightly sweet it brings out all those tomatoey flavours. This starter is so good I ordered it both times….and the good news is you obviously get a bigger portion when you go a la carte. And I’d order it again without hesitation.

tomato

Chef Henri’s take on the classic that is Caprese

Course number four is from a choice of three delights. The glazed pork belly is served with turnip spaghetti carbonara, cured egg yolk and sage beurre noisette.

porkbelly

Tender pork belly on a bed of creamy turnips

The tuna carpaccio came with black garlic mayonnaise, umami dressing and ashed cucumber. How exotic does that sound? Looked and tasted beautiful, too. Loved that mayonnaise.

tuna

The vegetarian option was pea and barley risotto with puffed barley, shaved asparagus, pickled kohlrabi, fromage blanc and watercress pesto.

risotto

A creamy plate of greenness

And then on to course five, again a choice of three. The roasted line fish came with tomato fondue, fennel, carrot fondant, smoked aubergine puree and sauce bourride. Today’s linefish was beautifully sweet sea bass.

linefish

Fresh fish with a plate of delightful combinations

The duck dish came with hay smoked beets, pine nuts, glazed mushrooms, cherries, wood sorrel and twigs. The yummiest of tender duck slices, beautifully sweet beets and lovely smokey flavours.

duck2

Another great duck dish to enjoy

The third main option on the tasting menu was called barbecue sweetcorn. Sounded intriguing and the combo of chimichurri, sweetcorn polenta, burnt onion ketchup and pea shoot tempura was exceptional. Who knew that pea shoot tempura would taste so good?

sweetcorn

A sweet and crunchy vegetarian dish to savour

Okay, so moving away from that fabulous tasting menu here are some other options that you can pick if you go a la carte.

For me this starter is La Mouette’s signature dish. If it’s your first visit, just order a portion for the table while you’re pondering your choices. The beautifully cheesy, truffley croquettes melt in your mouth with a burst of earthy flavours to follow.

croquettes

The beef sirloin comes with a crunchy, cheesy smoked gruyere crust, onions, watercress and this amazing cottage pie in a jar. I love food served in jars! It looks fabulous and it’s not what you’re expecting as it’s not minced beef but beautifully flavoured slivers of pulled beef. Topped with lovely mash. Actually a dish on its own, though I did also love the sirloin/gruyere partnership.

cottage pie

Cottage pie in a jar, simply wonderful

The pan fried hake was a popular choice at our table. Served with sweetcorn sauce, tomato, ricotta tortellini and a tempura courgette flower

hake

A classic South African fish served with a twist

There were several dessert options, the most popular of which was the mascarpone ice cream, with coffee granita, almond sponge, dehydrated chocolate and amaretto gel.

mascarpone

A tasty mix of sweetness and crunchiness

Phew, that was a lot of food, but before you comment along those lines remember it was two dinners and a lot of people, too. The good news is that I feel like I’ve sampled the whole menu. Perhaps that’s because I have.

Happiness is a great local restaurant less than five minutes walk away.

La Mouette is at 78 Regent Road, on the corner of Main Road in Sea Point, Cape Town.

Fine dining at Aubergine in Cape Town

Aubergine is a Cape Town icon. It opened its doors in the suburb of Gardens in 1996. Set in a stylish building that dates back to the early 1800s, it’s an elegant place where you’re guaranteed top-quality food from Chef Harald Bresselschmidt. You feel like good things are going to happen when you walk through the door at Aubergine – and they do.

We started off with aromatic Hendricks gin and tonics complete with cucumber slices on the lovely terrace. It’s surrounded by frangipani trees and the magnificence of Table Mountain towers behind you in the near distance.

You can see influences from East and West in Harald’s cooking and there’s an abundance of local ingredients in evidence. There’s also a sense of anticipation – I organised tonight’s dinner for a group of holidaymakers from the UK and I’ve told them to expect great things!

We soon got them. I must admit I’m partial to an amuse bouche. The literal translation from the French is ‘mouth teaser’ and the idea behind it is to prepare guest for the meal and offer a glimpse into the chef’s approach to food. Tonight’s offering, a light, foamy, spicy cauliflower soup was served with a morsel of the tastiest kingklip (local white fish) on a beautiful slate obviously made specifically for this dish. The start to a wonderful dining experience – and a small insight into Harald’s innovative approach.

amuse

Velvety and luxurious, the amazing cauliflower soup

Because we were a big party the menu had been slightly pared down for us to a choice of three dishes for each course. Works for me, less menu decision making can’t be a bad thing. I didn’t hesitate when it came to the starter. Vitello tonato is one of my favourite dishes ever and this was Harald’s take on it. The veal was served with Serrano ham and marinated with porcini mushroom oil, yellow beets and anchovy mayonnaise. Such a wonderful mix of flavours and textures.

vitello

The tender and tasty veal starter

The crayfish bisque was served with a plump celeriac ravioli and spekboom leaves. It had amazing depth of flavour and lovely chunks of crayfish.

soup

A truly indulgent soup to tuck into

Even with three options to choose from for mains I was having a crisis so I asked the waiter his advice. When he highly recommended the springbok my mind was made up and I didn’t regret it. I’ve eaten springbok a few times and this was the best one ever. Perfectly cooked medium rare it was tender, tasty and served with an exotic combination of mango and pumpkinseed salpicon (which means chopped up small I was informed), gnocchi and shredded mange tout. I cleaned my plate.

As I’m speaking of plates I need to say how much I love the crockery here. It’s like each piece has been chosen specially (or even made specially) for the dish served on it. Such creativity and attention to detail makes a huge difference to the overall dining experience. Well impressive.

springbok

Beautifully rare and tender springbok

The beef prime rib was slow roasted on the bone and served with a green olive potato puree (absolutely spectacular) and a white pepper sauce. Again perfectly cooked with the lovely peppery sauce that went perfectly with the silken potatoes. A rather generous portion meant that my husband took the leftovers home in a doggy bag (box) and we had steak rolls for lunch the next day. Delicious they were, too.

beef

Bring on a generous portion of beef prime rib

And then it was time for dessert. Despite being not much of a dessert person, I’ve learned my lesson – when you’re in a fine dining establishment such as Aubergine, you simply cannot look away from the desserts. They are going to be something to remember – which was definitely the case tonight.

This beautiful plate of food composed of marinated purple fig, light mascarpone and cassis ice cream was a delight of sweetness and lightness.

fig

Puddings don’t get better looking than this

Okay, I cheated slightly and went for the cheese selection (how I love cheese). A mix of South African and international cheeses (six of them) were served with apples, grapes and chilli cashews. This is without doubt the best plate of cheese I have ever had. All beautifully mature and offering a wide range of cheesy flavours from delicate goat’s cheese to the strongest tasting of harder cheese.  I loved them so much I had to contact the restaurant afterwards to confirm what they all were so here goes: Top row left to right, South African goat’s cheese, French Reblochon, French Camembert, Bottom row left to right: 4-year matured South African Boerenkaas, Swiss Tête de Moine, German Backsteiner. Now I know what to look out for ! If you like cheese, don’t even hesitate about ordering this, it’s the cheese of cheesy dreams!

cheese

My best cheese platter ever

And then there’s the duo of creme brulee with fruit salpicon and sorbet. A long receptacle of delicious creaminess that had some of our party gasping with delight. The words “this is the best dessert I’ve ever had” even came out. What more can I say?

brulee

The best creme brulee in the world? Possibly.

Even the petit fours to finish off the dinner were works of art and completely individual.

petitfour

Petit fours that were almost too pretty to eat

There’s no doubt that Aubergine is just one of those places where you are going to love the food. It’s innovative without being crazy, every dish is perfectly done and the combination of courses was nicely balanced. This is cleverly conceived of  food cooked with love. And all our party loved it – it totally lived up to the expectations I’d built up in them (phew).

There’s also an amazing book of a winelist, with options from all over the world. Chef Harald is serious about his wine and there are some proper push-the-boat-out bottles here…you can certainly go big if you want to.

Okay, Aubergine is certainly not a cheap night out. But you’re looking at high-quality food in a unique style in an elegant restaurant with welcoming, efficient service. An all-round night to enjoy,  it’s a real treat.

Aubergine is at 39 Barnet Street, Gardens, Cape Town

The Blue Train: A fabulously tasty experience

Okay, so you’ve been taken through the journey and sheer luxury of The Blue Train – now it’s time for the best bit (in my opinion)…the food.

From the minute you step into the Dining Car with its crystal glassware, crisp white linen and welcoming waiters, you know you’re in for a real treat. There’s a strong emphasis on local ingredients with some really clever combinations and a comprehensive wine list of  top South African wines.

You can choose from two dinner sittings (6.30 or 8.30) or eat in your suite.

First meal – lunch/brunch. There’s a choice of two starters, a soup affair and three mains as well as dessert and cheese. Service is wonderfully relaxed and friendly, yet efficient and well paced between courses. And the food is certainly something to write home about.

This perfectly pretty starter of goat’s cheese mousse came with grain mustard, compressed melon and micro greens and an aged balsamic glaze. Light and refreshing.

lunch starter

A beautiful, light plate of food got my dining journey off to a good start

In in-between bowl of cauliflower and truffle soup was beautifully earthy and rich.

cauli soup

Indulge in cauliflower and truffle soup

When I look back on my menu choices, I seem to have eaten a lot of red meat on this trip. A great choice as it happens as everything was totally delicious. This charmingly named lattice beef loin was amazingly tender, packed with flavour and served on a sweet potato puree with rosemary and mint jus. The perfectly prepared and cooked julienne vegetables were a sight to behold on their own – amazing attention to detail and flavours on this plate. I savoured every mouthful.

lunch steak

Tender beef, sweet veg and buttery pastry to savour

Between lunch/brunch and dinner there’s High Tea in the Lounge Car. A fine array of sandwiches, cakes and an amazing cheeseboard tempt you. Aware that dinner wasn’t too far away (I was allocated the early sitting), I held back but couldn’t resist one perfectly soft and crunchy, crustless cucumber sandwich. And a glass of bubbles, of course.

Time to get back to the charm of the Dining Car and some amazing dinner choices. First off a really novel foie gras dish – caramelised foie gras served with amadumbe ( a tubular root vegetable much like a yam) oat granola and lemon powder. It was served with beautifully creamy avocado (which also added a lovely green vibrancy) – what an amazing combination of richness, sweetness and tenderness that produced. A dish to dream of.

foie gras

Silken foie gras with fresh, creamy avocado

I was still basking in the pleasure of these taste sensations when my main course arrived. Ox cheek covered in biltong powder, served with a potato waffle,  pea puree and marrow sauce. So many local ingredients in a cleverly conceived of dish. Love it!

ox cheek

Another exceptional steak dish…love the biltong powder

With such exceptional food being delivered to my table I simply had to try out the dessert – in the name of research of course. And because lemon desserts are my one true dessert love. The lemon tartlet was served with a citrus curd and passion fruit jam, topped with a lemon foam and finished off with a lemon macaroon. Beautifully light and zesty, the perfect conclusion to my lovely dinner.

dessert

A fresh, lemony and fruity dessert

I’ve mentioned that the wine list is fantastic…and even better you can order all the wines by the glass. Basically everything is available which makes for the most fabulous tasting opportunity.

Happy and replete I retired to the luxury of my suite for an early night and an early awakening so I could watch more of the South African world go by when it got light. And then to breakfast.

Well, can breakfast be your favourite part of a trip? It’s just that I don’t ever remember being presented with such an amazing breakfast menu, which is why I simply had to include it in all its glory!

Love the selections under the English Breakfast heading – can you imagine what a plate full of all that would look like? There’s two pages of choices…what a way to start the day.

breakfast menu1

From page 1 I enjoyed tea, fruit juice (and they had my favourite, guava) and a lovely plate of fruit, which again included all my favourites: mango, pineapple, papaya, watermelon, melon…fresh and juicy.

fruit2

The prettiest plate of fruit to start with

And then it was on to page 2: Speciality Breakfast. How to choose, how to choose! Well, I adore Eggs Benedict, so that made it all that little bit easier. But then my lovely waiter asked me if I’d like any extras on the side…and I had to add some peri peri chicken livers!

Breakfast menu2

I’d say this could be the best Eggs Benedict I’ve ever had (and I’ve tasted my share of this classic dish). Breakfast doesn’t get better than this.

benedict

The best Eggs Benedict with a side of peri peri chicken livers

I had to drag myself out of that Dining Car, and it wasn’t easy. With my love of train travel, the Blue Train’s luxury and incomparable service, the fabulously unfolding South African countryside outside the window and then the truly amazing, creative food with a real local flavour I knew I’d been cocooned in my own special paradise. I still miss it!

And here’s a beautiful fruit display to enjoy – all the food is a word of art to enjoy on The Blue Train.

fruit

Find out more about The Blue Train by clicking here.

 

 

 

Welcome to the sparkling new La Colombe

Originally on the historic Constantia Uitsig wine estate, La Colombe has long featured in the top-10 restaurants in South Africa. For some reason I’d never been there…have no idea what caused this uncharacteristic behaviour! The estate was sold last year and the restaurant relocated under new ownership to the Silvermist wine estate at the top of Constantia Nek.

We visited only a few weeks after it opened with great anticipation. The building, which has the feel of a beach house on stilts, is new and looks out over the magnificent Constantia Valley. It’s incredibly peaceful and you can’t believe you’re actually anywhere near a city. One of Cape Town’s many charms, you’re never far away from a completely get-away-from-it-all spot.

Executive chef Scott Kirton produces magical dishes with a fusion of Asian and French flavours and top-quality South African ingredients. To start with we were served a complimentary amuse bouche. This arrived shortly after we sat down and ordered our drinks and before we were offered the menus. Such a great idea…to tuck into something delectable immediately and get you into the mood for what’s to come.

And this was a show-stopper. A board of beautiful bread arrives with a tin of tuna. Well, it looks like tinned tuna, but of course once you take the lid off the truth is revealed. Freshly caught, seared yellowfin tuna, ponzu, citrus, ginger and avocado. The most delicate of flavours and textures. A total delight.

amuse bouche

The best amuse bouche ever? A tin of tuna like you’ve never seen before

The lunch menu offers a choice of four starters and four mains. I adore scallops which made my choice easy, for once! The miso-seared scallops came with Asian barbecue pork, cabbage and daikon kimchi, corn puree, lemongrass and ginger veloute, aubergine and crackling. Wow! Perfectly cooked, sweet, tender scallops, pork that melted in the mouth, delicate strips of the crispiest of crackling – even the corn tasted like someone had waved a magic wand at it and made it into super-delicious corn. Best starter I’ve had all year – my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

scallops

The amazing combo of sweet scallops and the tenderest of pork

The hen’s egg came with kombu-cured Norwegian salmon, truffled cauliflower veloute, asparagus, peas, lemon and black forest ham. A plate of many spring colours with the freshest of vegetables, flavoursome egg, seriously good salmon…and that veloute!!

salmon1

Salmon and eggs have never looked or tasted so good

Before embarking on mains, a palate cleanser was served…with instructions. These pretty little balls of deliciousness must be carefully placed in the mouth and gently sucked upon – causing a zingy burst of citrus to explode in your mouth. Wonderfully cleansing and surprising.

palate cleanser

Watch out for the surprising boost your palate cleanser gives you

The grass-fed aged beef came with smoked pomme puree, carrot and turnip puree, turnip marmalade and black pepper cafe au lait. Another work of art and the most flavoursome steak that elicited gasps of delight.

steak

An amazing beef dish with purees to delight

I was having a good day for ease of choice as another of my favourites was available as a main. Easy decision to order the butter-poached kingklip which came with creamed Brussel sprouts, spring vegetables and an apricot veloute. The most perfectly cooked, flaky kingklip in a heavenly sauce, scattered with beautifully sweet vegetables.

kingklip

The freshest of kingklip nestling in a silken veloute

Well…that was some lunch! Portions are pretty substantial so we just couldn’t push ourselves to pudding, though the options sounded amazing.

New La Colombe is a dining experience to relish, something truly special. The people on the table next to us were celebrating a 90th birthday with style! Not that we need an excuse… the last thing we did before leaving was book a table for another lunch. Well I think La Colombe is a reason in itself to celebrate.

La Colombe is at Silvermist Mountain Lodge, Main Road, Constantia.