Small-town restaurant Karoux in McGregor beat the hot contenders in the Mother City to be named Best Bistro in the Western Cape at the 2015 Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Best Everyday Eateries, announced last month.
Unlike the winners of the Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards, which are chosen by a panel of judges, the Best Everyday Eateries are voted for by Eat Out readers, who give restaurants star ratings when they review them on our site.
Graham Howe paid Karoux a visit to find out why our readers love this bistro so much.
In his country kitchen, chef-patron Ryan Josten (formerly of The Conservatory at The Cellars) creates a seasonal menu that highlights the quality and flavour of fresh farm fare. Every ingredient tells a story. The blackboard menu changes weekly, but keeps signature dishes to please all the regulars. Don’t miss the twice-baked mature gruyère soufflé with Tanagra grappa sauce, the slow-cooked Karoo lamb tongue, or the Barrydale springbok loin with garlic mash, country green beans and gremolata. The earthy tastes and textures of the main ingredient are given a classic spin in sauces and emulsions, from Asian broths and saffron velouté to pea fricassee and rich wine jus. Be sure to leave room for the wholesome desserts, such as tarte tartin made with Tierhoek organic quinces, or dark chocolate mousse with Muscadel-poached pear. Book ahead if you’re planning a weekend in the country – this destination restaurant is the new star of the Robertson Wine Valley.
A small selection of local wines from McGregor to Robertson at affordable prices, by the glass and bottle, is chalked up on the blackboard.
While Ryan cooks up a storm in the kitchen, his wife Aimee runs the front-of-house with aplomb, offering attentive service with warm Karoo hospitality.
The feeling is of an intimate and gourmet sanctuary, with comforting touches like the nostalgic old fridge and lino cabinet, an old radiogram and old black-and-white prints.
Book a table in the courtyard for a leisurely weekend lunch or warm summer’s night. You can also take along your pooch. – Graham Howe
Here are a handful of the reviews which helped Karoux to qualify:
“Karoux rates as my best restaurant… full stop. Small and intimate with a menu based on locally sourced produce. Aimee works the floor with sincere pride for her husband Ryan’s masterpieces. The starters were all enticing, but my husband and I both chose the twice-baked gruyère cheese soufflé with a Tanagra grappa sauce. Heaven on a plate and my palate screamed for more…” – Kim Murphy-Bellairs
“Unexpectedly (which is a shame; we should give our small town more credit) superb. We dined at Karoux at the invitation of a friend and were blown away by dishes which evoke all manner of superlatives, complemented in no small part by Aimée’s attentive serving touch. The lamb tongue was the most tender and tasty I’ve had, the pork shoulder prepared to a delicious crisp (well balanced by its chard accompaniment) and the crème brûlée perfectly rounded off. Easily on par with any high-profile five-star restaurant in Cape Town or the traditional winelands strip. Highly recommended.” – Martin Hatting
“My sister and I went out for dinner to Karoux last weekend. It was superb! The food was exceptional, leaving my sister and I wanting more… Sat there for four hours drinking and eating.” – Sarah Kennedy
“An absolute gem in the little town of McGregor! Simply delicious food and excellent service make Karoux a must visit – we’ll certainly be back!” – Liesl Osborne
“Finally a restaurant that lives up to its reputation. We enjoyed a delicious dinner, executed to perfection. The great wine list of local wines is an added bonus. Be sure to have a glass of local grappa with your dessert. But MOST importantly, book a table to avoid disappointment. This is a small restaurant and they fill up quick.” – Jeanne Collinson