Today we’re heading towards Stellenbosch for lunch at the highly regarded Overture. Situated down the Annandale Road on the Hidden Valley wine estate, it opened at the end of 2007. It’s got some pedigree, having made the Eat Out top-10 South African restaurants for six years in a row (this year it’s at number 6). And it’s another one that I’ve not managed to get to…mainly because you do need to book well in advance and I’ve never managed to be quite organised enough.
The drive to the restaurant is truly spectacular with the beautiful Helderberg Mountains in the background and lush vineyards everywhere you look. Our table overlooked the stunning valley.
The welcome is warm and the service friendly and informative. The menu offers a choice of four starters and four mains. Chef Berus Basson’s food has a strong South African influence which was obvious in the starter I went for. A salad of summer melon, home cured beef biltong, rocket paste and cashew nuts.The beautifully fresh sweetness of the different melons went perfectly with the luscious saltiness of the biltong, all scattered with chopped cashews. A yummy dish perfect for what was a sweltering summer’s day. Boy can it get hot in the Winelands!
This raw tuna dish came with kimchee pickled greens, avocado puree, miso cream and sliced radishes. The tuna’s really good at the moment, so get some in while you can.
The almost-fluffy chicken liver parfait came topped with plums and served with toasted Mosbolletjie and endive in a wonderful mustardy dressing. Mosbolletjie is a semi-sweet bun which tastes kind of like a brioche. It can be eaten fresh or dried (then it’s known as a rusk).
Last year I seem to have had a run of bad luck with pork belly dishes in restaurants which lead to me avoiding them for some time. However, my recent happy pork belly experience at the new Gordon Ramsay restaurant in London has restored some of my faith…that and the way the waiter waxed lyrical about the dish meant I had to order it.
Wow! The confit Sweetwell pork belly was so beautifully tender and flavoursome and came with the crispiest of crackling, gem squash puree, pumpkin mash, beetroot and pumpkin seeds. A wonderfully balanced dish with great textures and tastes. Pork belly’s firmly back on my list.
The other tantalising choice was the steak. Hinkleys sirloin with forgotten carrots, carrot puree and confit garlic. Beautifully tender meat perfectly cooked with a collection of different carrots adding sweetness.
Before dessert we were presented with a pre-dessert. A piece of slate dotted with intriguing components…we worked out it was basically a deconstructed lemon meringue pie with crunchy crumbs, soft meringue and zesty lemon. Very clever.
Today was a dessert day. Poaches stone fruits with grappa sabayon, ginger crumble and tonka bean ice cream. Such a fresh, cleansing pudding to finish off with.
The chocolate fondant came with banana, caramel mouse, almonds and vanilla ice cream and the menu specified it needed 20 minutes for preparation. Well worth the wait, especially when you cut into your fondant and pure chocolate delight oozes out.
I’m not a huge pudding person but can always be tempted by a bit of cheese. Today it was baked Dalewood camembert with date puree, poached apple, celery, walnuts and port. Warm, melting camembert that dissolves on your tongue, I could eat this every day without hesitation – not that I would, that would be pure greed!
Beautiful food, breathtaking views, fabulous welcoming service, amazing wine…what more can I say, Overture clearly deserves its elevated position in the South African restaurant hierarchy.
Overture is at Hidden Valley Wines off Annandale Road, R44, Stellenbosch.