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Bertus at his best: game-changing bobotie, instant pudding and waterblommetjies

Chef Bertus Basson’s latest venture, Eike, celebrates South African flavours creatively, using each in surprising ways. Here you’ll experience traditional South African fare as you’ve never tasted it before.

Fast facts

Cost: R850 set menu
Food type: South African fine dining
Star ratings: Food and drinks: 5; Service: 5; Ambience: 5

Food

A dish at Eike

A dish at Eike. Photo by Claire Gunn Photography,

The 12-course set menu kicks off with three canapés. The first, crispy fried kale, is already on your table in the form of a table decoration when you sit down. This is followed by wildebeest and macadamia wrapped in a paper-thin slice of celeriac and a prawn ‘cocktail’, a prawn mousse served with crunchy fried prawn heads. Next up is souttert, which Bertus describes as a modern interpretation of the savoury tart often made in Afrikaans households to mimic quiche Lorraine. The bread course comprises house-made sourdough and mosbolletjies served with home-made butter and the chef’s trademark ‘Opsitkers’, a candle made of beef fat that is lit at the table and melts into a puddle perfect for dipping the bread into.

The pace picks up with shaved kohlrabi and slivers of home-made lamb biltong – the richness of the meat is perfectly offset by the freshness of the vegetable – with a salty cucumber pressé and labneh topped with pearls of olive brine and grainy mustard. The next bite is bobotie like you’ve never experienced it. Served cold, the meat is a perfectly seasoned and spiced tartare, topped with a delicate raw sweet potato ‘ravioli’ filled with the equivalent of the bobotie’s custard. Toasted puffed rice flavoured with curry spice adds crunch and even more flavour.

The presentation itself is impressive, never mind the food

The presentation itself is impressive, never mind the food. Photo by Claire Gunn Photography.

The next two courses are slightly larger. ‘West Coast memories’ brings a perfectly seared fillet of carpenter with waterblommetjie tempura and oysters served with a pungent fish broth, while ‘Plankievleis’ celebrates the tradition of braaiing meat and slicing it to eat at the fireside. Accompanying it is a modern take on the steakhouse standard of pumpkin and spinach – bright green spinach purée with cinnamon-spiced pumpkin fritters – as well as a beef pie topped with thinly sliced potatoes.

Chef Basson seasoning the meat

Chef Basson seasoning the meat. Photo by Claire Gunn Photography.

The pre-dessert is a sorrel jelly with a rose pudding nostalgically reminiscent (in a good way) of Moir’s instant puddings. The last course is entitled ‘What Happened in the Garden of Eden’ and celebrates the apple in all its forms. A tart apple sorbet and wafer-thin fresh Granny Smith apple slices provide relief for the star of the course, a candy-red apple made of white chocolate that cracks perfectly to reveal an apple compote and a Cremora mousse.

What Happened in the Garden of Eden

What Happened in the Garden of Eden. Photo by Claire Gunn Photography.

If you have space, there are also petit-fours: candy floss, home-made marshmallows, macadamia fudge and a salty seaweed chocolate to counter the sweetness. If you prefer a savoury ending, opt for the cheese trolley filled with local favourites, including two from Franschhoek’s Dalewood (R120 extra).

Drinks

There’s an excellent wine list with good choices by the carafe, as well as an ‘Interesting wine’ section featuring unusual bottles. Spirits are also well-represented.

Service

Superb. Attentive and intuitive but never intrusive.

Ambience

Eike restaurant

Eike restaurant. Photo by Claire Gunn Photography.

The heritage building has been stylishly renovated, with an antique dresser looking as comfortable in the space as the rose-gold and brass accents and the velvet-covered chairs. An open kitchen with seats at the bar creates an airy ambience.

 

And…

A take-home goodie bag containing a copy of the evening’s menu and a small box of home-made granola for the next morning is a thoughtful touch.

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