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First taste: Foxcroft, Constantia

La Colombe’s Scot Kirton and Glen Foxcroft Williams have teamed up to open Foxcroft, a bakery by day and ultra-modern tapas eatery by night. And the exciting new space is destined to wake up this sleepy corner of Constantia, says Eat Out critic Linda Scarborough.

Fast facts

Cuisine: Modern fine dining and tapas with Asian influences
Best for: Date nights and celebratory dinners in the evening; great coffee, breads and patisserie from the counter in the daytime
Average cost: R70 for tapas dishes and R170 for mains
Parking: There’s ample space in the parking lot just outside
Star rating: Food 5, ambience 5, service 5

Food

The short menu begins auspiciously with champagne-poached oysters for those who might be celebrating a special occasion – or just being here for a meal, which is worthy of fanfare in itself.

Dishes are prettily plated with accents like curling pea shoots and petals. Photo by Romy Wilson.

Dishes are prettily plated with accents like curling pea shoots and petals. Photo by Romy Wilson.

The tuna tartare is a winner, served with a neat stack of baby gem leaves to scoop up the cubes of fresh fish, pops of tangy onion and miso. Tofu in tentsuyu broth is decorated with delightful dancing bonito flakes. There are also tempting-sounding mussels, yellowtail ceviche and smoked pig’s head croquette, but the one tapas to rule them all is flash-fried squid with chorizo and ajo blanco. It defies description – order it whatever you do.

Options are somewhat limited for vegetarians. The only vegetarian tapas dish is of feather-light and perfectly crisp tempura vegetables, which play beautifully with fermented chilli mayo and house-made ponzu.

The gypsy tart is already famous. Photo by Romy Wilson.

The gypsy tart is already famous. Photo by Romy Wilson.

Choosing a main is quite straightforward, with one option per protein – beef, duck, pork, lamb and line fish – and old faithful risotto for the non meat-eaters. Ultra creamy and fragrant with celery and salsa verde, the rice dish is presented in a little copper saucepan with grilled cauliflower florets and somewhat over-the-top cubes of deep-fried camembert.

The beef rib-eye is served a tender medium-rare, accompanied by grilled Brussels sprouts and perfect baby carrots with a bit of snap to lighten all the richness. Dip your duck-fat potatoes in the cep mushroom jus for an umami party second to none.

With pastry chef Glen Williams involved, it's no surprise that desserts are a triumph. Photo by Romy Wilson.

With pastry chef Glen Williams involved, it’s no surprise that desserts are a triumph. Photo by Romy Wilson.

All the prettily plated dishes show a keen eye for detail, with accents like delicate discs of radish, pickled red onion, curling pea shoots and petals.

For dessert, the rose-and-coconut panna cotta, dotted with froths and mini meringues, was Glen’s first dish to make it onto the menu at La Colombe when he was all of 20 years old – and one of Scot’s favourites. It charms with pastel-coloured delicacy after a meal of big flavours. The already-famous gypsy tart is gaspingly sweet with a gorgeous texture, cleverly paired with super-sour granadilla sorbet to cut the sugar. But the favourite sweet has to be elderflower doughnuts with their soft, nostalgic flavour of afternoon tea in the garden.

The cheese board – plated in the glass-enclosed cheese-and-charcuterie room – is swoon-worthy too, featuring the likes of cumin-studded Gonedsa, Cremelat gorgonzola, Dalewood Brie Superlatif, and Belnori goat’s cheese, accompanied by exceptionally delicious quince ‘butter’, crisp apple slivers and fresh bread from the bakery.

The restaurant is also open during the day for great coffee and patisserie. Photo by Romy Wilson.

The restaurant is also open during the day for great coffee and patisserie. Photo by Romy Wilson.

Drinks

Begin with a glass of Steenberg bubbly or a cocktail – the Lemon Drop, with limoncello, gin, vermouth and mint is refreshing – and then move on to the wine list. It’s full of gems from the Cape’s wine regions – Swartland, Stellenbosch, Hemel-en Aarde, and Constantia itself – and has one by-the-glass option per varietal. The glass turns out to be a carafe, so the seemingly steep prices (R65 – R95) make more sense.

Ambience

Well thought out but not overwrought, the design at Foxcroft features touches of wood, tan leather, copper and neutral hues, and a bar with mismatched tiles. Wooden bowls and grey plates reminiscent of lily pads feel very zen, and the little fox motif that pops up occasionally adds some fun. The atmosphere inside is vibrant but not noisy, and a long oak counter at the sash windows offers an ideal spot for a date; you can spread out your feast and still get cosy with your knees touching. The open kitchen in the back is a hive of activity, so if you prefer a calmer setting, choose one of the outside tables in the serene country-courtyard space.

Service

It’s still opening week, but things seem to be flowing smoothly already. Waiters are keen to impress but still charmingly real. Scot and Glen might emerge from the kitchen now and then to engage with diners.

And…

Foxcroft will open for breakfast once the chefs are comfortable with the lunch and dinner menu. Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay their own way. Read our full editorial policy here.

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