Beautifully tasty lunch at Terroir at Kleine Zalze

Welcome to Terroir, Kleine Zalze

What is your favourite restaurant? A question I regularly get asked and one I find extremely difficult to answer. I don’t know how people make their judgements for all those “Best restaurants in the world” lists, it’s  a tricky business. Having said that, today we are having lunch at a restaurant that I would certainly put up there at the top of my list.

Terroir opened in October 2004 and I’ve been at least once every year since then when I visit Cape Town. It’s almost like an annual pilgrimage that I have to make. The restaurant is set on the Kleine Zalze wine estate near Stellenbosch and on a balmy summer day you sit under the shades overlooking the De Zalze Golf Course and the terraces of vineyards. Simply walking down those steps to Terroir gives me a sense of contentment – and of course anticipation for the food to come.

You’re know you’re going to eat beautifully presented plates of seasonal, modern South African cuisine and drink wonderful wine. The menu is chalked up on the board and as the waitress talks you through the dishes on offer freshly baked bread is served. And a bowl of their wonderfully smoky olives. Today we had a choice of four dishes per course.

Bread at Terroir

Freshly baked bread and wonderful smoked olives

Sweet and sour salmon with a difference

It was one of those days when the choice was made easy for me with two dishes I couldn’t wait to try. For my starter I chose this stunning seared salmon dish served with bacon, watermelon, sweet and sour sauce and kewpie mayo. An unusual mix of ingredients but one that worked beautifully. The salmon melted in my mouth, the sauce had a lovely sweet/sour balance with its crunchy watermelon and crispy bacon. Kewpie mayo is Japanese mayonnaise and considered by many to be the king of mayo – it was rich and creamy. And what beautiful colours!

Terroir salmon

The spectacularly sweet and tangy salmon

The perfect prawn risotto

The prawn risotto with Americaine sauce is Terroir’s signature dish – and has been on the menu as far back as I can remember – the only dish that remains on the ever-changing menu. I think there would be such an outcry if it was ever removed that they don’t dare to! I have friends who don’t even look at the menu but simply order prawn risotto every time. They can serve it in starter or main course portions. And yes, it does taste as good as it looks. This version of sauce Americaine (a classic French sauce) is truly spectacular, makes me want to lick the bowl clean.

Terroir prawn risotto

The ever-fabulous signature prawn risotto

Beef tartare to dream about

This is one of my favourite dishes and I’ve eaten it in many, many restaurants around the world. Terroir’s version is served with a soft quail’s egg, basil pesto, charred aubergine puree and asparagus ribbons. And a silken sauce to pour over. Such a pretty and indulgent plate of richness.

Terroir steak tartare

Compact and rich steak tartare

The flakiness of Kingklip

Today’s fresh line fish was kingklip, one of my favourite fish with it’s great firm texture and sweet flavour, It was served on a bed of spinach with chorizo, crispy pieces of squid and mild red pepper.

Terroir kingklip

Flaky, juicy kingklip with squid

Bring on the pork belly

The quest to eat pork belly in every corner of the Western Cape continues. The confit pork belly was served on a luscious pea veloute, with crushed potatoes, delicate sprout leaves and pickled onions.

Terroir pork belly

Sweet and tender pork belly

As I ordered two starters (one instead of a main, not as well as) I decided to treat myself to a truly indulgent side – truffled mac. Bubbling in this beautiful little pot, the rich earthy flavours and creaminess were wonderful.

Terroir truffled mac

Richly earthy truffled mac

Don’t try to resist the pudding

Desserts are equally beautiful like this amazingly dedication mille-feuille of apple with fennel, rose and vanilla ice cream.

Delicately delicious dessert

Terror does a good cheese board selection which several of us opted for. A lovely range beautifully presented with a basketful of crisp breads.

Cheese at Terroir

Tasty local cheese beautifully displayed

Biscuits at Terroir

Crunchy homemade biscuits

Menu at Terroir

Terroir’s blackboard of choices and the view beyond

Another great lunch at Terroir – as these stunning pictures prove that. I love that you can always depend on that. I can see I’ll be back again next year because it’s just too good to resist.

Today’s price point

Terroir is one of the more pricey restaurants in the region – but still great value, especially with the quality of the cooking.

We paid R1,100 for three courses for two people without wine. That’s about £65 at today’s exchange rate.

The wine list offers a good choice, including the estate’s own wine. Their delicious Kleine Zalze Merlot sells for R150.

Terror is at the Klein Zalze Wine Estate off the R44 between Somerset West and Stellenbosch.

More tasty fare at ever-lovely Terroir

One of our favourite days in the Cape involves a golf/lunch combo. And top choice is golf  at De Zalze followed by lunch at one of my favourite restaurants, Terroir – it’s set on the same estate overlooking the course.

Terroir has been around since October 2004 and has been consistently rated in the top-10 restaurants in South Africa. That’s no mean achievement – the quality of restaurants in SA is extremely high and keeping up standards to make those critics happy must be a constant challenge. One that chef Michael Broughton has conquered.

I try to visit Terroir a few times every year during my Cape Town sojourn and have never been disappointed. I don’t know how he does it, beautiful plates of food with attention to detail that amazes me and flavours that combine to produce dishes to dream of. There are so many tiny details on each plate – you should see the kitchen which is buzzing with activity as everyone prepares each delicate element.

Broughton uses seasonal ingredients to create a menu which is chalked on the blackboard and changes regularly. Today I was excited to see there was a yellowtail ceviche. Yellowtail seems to be jumping out of the Cape seas at the moment, so it’s guaranteed to be very fresh and I love a good ceviche. This one was in a league of its own – as our waiter explained, it’s like deconstructed sushi. The thinly sliced fish was topped with a creamy avocado puree and a spicy dressing with a tasty mound of sushi rice and a sweet soya dressing, fish roe and paper-thin radishes. Different flavours, colours and textures create a dish to savour, one that’s a work of art, too.

yellowtail

My delicately beautiful ceviche up close

While the menu changes regularly, as I said, there’s one dish that’s always there and can be ordered as a starter or main. I’m sure they wouldn’t dare remove it from the menu as there’d be a customer revolution! It’s a beautiful prawn risotto served with a sauce Americaine – creamy and luscious – topped with the juiciest of prawns.

risotto

The tastiest prawn risotto ever? Probably

I’m loving my two-starter strategy these days, it seems the way to go with so many amazing restaurants to visit. I’m convincing myself it’s a healthier option! Today’s second starter – as a main course – was this duck salad. Rare, tender smoked duck served on a salad of separated brussel sprout leaves (how’s that for a different idea) with fresh peach slices and a zesty dressing. A really unusual combination of fresh summer flavours.

duck

My summmery smoked duck salad

For mains, the beautifully tender lamb dish came with fresh asparagus, intensely flavoured cherry tomatoes and a succulent sauce.

lamb

A hearty lamb dish with summer veg

The lamb was served with this tasty bowl of potato and onion with a cauliflower foam. I could eat a large portion of this by itself. Yummy!

potato

Simply the best vegetable accompaniment

Today’s fish option was monkfish, an unusual feature on a South African menu. It was done barbecued with a Japanese-style dressing/sauce, and delicate greens and other veg. The sweet chunky flesh was perfect with the spiciness of the dressing.

monkfish

Beautifully barbecued succulent monkfish

Of course we were now all full, but I had to insist that dessert simply cannot be skipped at Terroir. To make us feel less indulgent (greedy?) we ordered three for the table to share and it was totally the right decision.

The deconstructed berry crumble came with a velvety vanilla cream, perfectly crunchy mini meringues and plenty of fresh berries.

crumble

Vanilla crumble in berry shades

The mango mille feuille looked stylish and tasted light and mango-y with delicious sorbets on the side.

mango

The perfect dessert for mango lovers

And finally a trio of sorbets – raspberry, mango and lychee. The king of sorbets, I loved the intensity of the flavours, especially the lychee.

sorbet

Soothing sorbet – perfect for a steamy day

On a sweltering hot summers day in the Cape Winelands we sat under the majestic oak trees at Terroir and demolished a wonderful range of beautiful summer dishes. Lunchtime joy yet again! Top-10 in the country, indeed. I’m sure these beautiful pictures have got your mouths watering.

Terror is on the Kleine Zalze wine estate just off the R44 near Stellenbosch.

Back to Terroir: it just keeps getting better

Today we headed back to the Winelands for lunch at one of our all-time favourites. Terroir celebrated their 10th anniversary in October this year and received their 8th Eat Out top-10 award in December. To remain in the top-10 in SA for such a long time is no small feat. The bar is already set very high and becomes higher every year…we are talking about fabulous eating out experiences, seriously fabulous.

To make the day even more exciting, we had three Terroir virgins on our table. How I love taking people to my favourite restaurants for the first time. Expectations were oh-so high.

I must admit to becoming very partial to an amuse bouche. That little extra surprise just makes the meal particularly special and today we got three morsels to savour. The gruyere puffs were light as air and delicately cheesy, the fish croquettes creamy and packed with flavour and the lamb spring rolls delicious. We were off to a wonderful start.

amuse

Happiness is a selection of amuse bouche to start off with

Our menu had a choice of six starters and five mains and our whole table started salivating the moment the waiter began describing the dishes. How to choose? Believe me, it’s not easy! To start I  ordered the stuffed chicken wings, black mushroom and parmesan, asparagus and hen’s egg, mainly because it sounded like something I had never tasted before. One of those dishes where you would lick the plate clean if you weren’t in public…the amazing soft egg cascading over the asparagus and the chicken wings that are deboned and restuffed with more chicken. Definitely not something I’m going to do at home…imagine the time that takes.

chicken wings

A fabulously pretty plate of delicious flavours

Terroir’s prawn risotto with sauce Americaine is legendary, so our first-timers were encouraged to order it. You can have it as a starter or a main, beautifully plump prawns with the most gorgeously silken sauce.

risotto

The most delightful prawn risotto

How’s this for a beautiful plate of food? Cured and smoked trout, horseradish cream, asparagus and apple. The perfect summery starter.

trout

An amazing combo of flavours and textures

On to mains. I seem to be eating pork belly around the Cape this summer. Today I spotted the honey glazed pork belly with cider sauce and baby beets heading for the table next door and couldn’t resist ordering it. Succulent pork, beautifully crispy crackling and an added surprise in the form of a beautiful pork-stuffed ravioli in the centre. Loved the baby beets, too.

pork

Bring on the pork belly…

A tastily fishy dish of fresh monkfish with a Bargoule sauce (which is tomato based) came with squid and asparagus.

monkfish

A plump monkfish fillet with a rich sauce

The loin of karoo lamb came with ratatouille, peas and lamb jus. Melt-in-the-mouth lamb with a wonderful collection of cleverly constructed accompaniments.

lamb

The tenderest of lamb with a collection of veggie delights

And here’s a main course portion of the prawn risotto. Irresistible!

risotto main

Risotto lovers have to go big with a main course portion

Terroir’s portions are generous so we were all feeling pretty replete at this stage…until our waiter started describing the desserts on today’s board. We couldn’t resist, though we did manage to order three to share between the six of us, so at least we showed some restraint. Ordering dessert here really should be compulsory.

The raspberry and mascarpone tart was creamy and zesty with a pistacchio topping.

raspberry

A creamy delight in red and white

I’m always saying that I’m not much of a dessert person, though I do seem to be going down the pudding road more and more these days! Just as well, as today I think I discovered my dream dessert. I love passion fruit and this passion fruit and pineapple cremeux with lemon sorbet had the intensity of passion fruit flavours produced in all sorts of clever forms.

passion fruit

The ultimate passion fruit dessert…just heavenly

And then there was the Black Forest with Kirsch ice cream. I’m not much of a chocolate eater but the choc lovers among us declared it a wonder.

blackforest

Chocolate and cherry flavours to savour

Days really don’t get better than this, eating the most fabulous of food, drinking the estate’s own wines and sharing it all with great friends on a shaded terrace overlooking vineyards and the golf course.

Terroir we love you even more than we did before!

Terroir is located on Kleine Zalze wine estate just off the R44 between Somerset West and Stellenbosch.

Heavenly long lunch at Terroir

Terroir opened in 2004 and has consistently been listed in the top-10 restaurants in South Africa. It’s set on the Kleine Zalze wine farm under grand oak trees and looks out over De Zalze golf course and the vineyards.

Terroir is the perfect lunch venue. And as there’s a golf course attached it inevitably means an early morning round for the golfers. It’s what we call a day in Wineland Paradise. As you settle down in the dappled shade (whether you’ve played golf or not), sipping on a glass of pre-lunch bubbles, all seems right with the world.

Settling down with a glass of Klein Zalze bubbles

Settling down with a glass of Klein Zalze bubbles

There’s a chalkboard menu which your waitress talks you through in detail and while you’re pondering on your decision, snack on the delicious home-made bread and tapenade.

Beautiful bread and tasty tapenade

Beautiful bread and tasty tapenade

My starter was a diodine of confit duck, rolled up and full of all sorts of delicious morsels, with warm root vegetable salad, foie gras, blueberry and hazel nut. Such a wonderful combo of flavours without being too rich or overpowering.

Amazing duck stuffed with all sorts of goodies

Amazing duck stuffed with all sorts of goodies

The terrine of beetroot came with lacquered walnuts, sorbet and labneh (a soft cheese made from yogurt). A beautiful summer starter that’s as pretty as a picture.

beetroot

Dish of the day possibly? The most amazing prawn risotto with sauce Americaine, which reminded me of the flavours of lobster bisque.

prawn risotto

The ultimate prawn risotto

And here’s my main. An amazing combo of braised shoulder of lamb confit with pea puree and perfectly sweet vegetables.

lamb

A delicious lamb dish that’s a joy to behold

The springbok loin was smoked and served with beetroot puree and pomme Anna.

springbok

Tasty, gamey springbok, a South African speciality

And finally, a lovely fillet of Angus beef with cep sauce, baby carrots and asparagus.

steak

Juicy steak with a mushroomy sauce

And we couldn’t resist the lure of the cheesboard.

cheese

We started late (hey, golf takes some time), so inevitably we ended up leaving late…well, no one wanted to leave! And even though they were starting to prepare for dinner (yes, it was that late), they let us carry on in our corner. Terroir lunches often turn out this way – once you’re sitting there it is legendarily hard to drag yourself away. I’m already looking forward to the next time.

Here's a shot of the golf course, for any players out there

Here’s a shot of the golf course, for any players out there

Terrior is at Kleine Zalze, Stellenbosch Road