The Blue Print Restaurant, a hidden gem in the heart of the Lowveld, is pleasing locals and visitors with its surprising modern cuisine and some comforting classics, says Eat Out critic Hennie Fisher.
Best for: Special-occasion dinners
Cost: Average price of a main course is R160
Corkage fee: R50
Serves: A mixture of modern and classic cuisines
Star rating: Food 4, service 3, ambience 4
The brunch menu, available until 6pm, offers green eggs and ham, beef ragù and poached egg on a savoury waffle, and the self-proclaimed best sandwich ever, made with home-made bread, layers of chicken mayo, pancetta and classic sandwich trimmings.
A delicious warm and comforting spicy Italian sausage soup with coriander flatbread is one of the starters for dinner, sharing the line-up with smoked mussels; smoked beetroot and cream cheese soup; a lamb kidney and chicken liver casserole; confit chicken lollipops with smoked chipotle mayo; and The Blue Print tapas platter for one. Mains include confit of duck; Beef & Bones, which consists of matured rump with marrow bones and French-style mashed potato; and The Barfia Platter of smoked pork belly, sticky beef ribs and chorizo served with sweet-potato fries. The meatier options extend to lamb chops, lamb shank, and an umami burger.
For the more adventurous, there’s a small list of Winter Fantasy specials, which includes The Sprouting Pear, a deconstructed pork curry with poached pear and fennel-and-artichoke purée. Desserts are more café-style and include items such as peanut butter cheesecake, chocolate mousse, Peppermint Crisp parfait, and waffles with ice cream.
There’s a small but well-constructed wine list with two wines by the glass, some bubbly offerings for those feeling flush – and not – as well as some appealing blends, and separate categories for varietals.
Waiting staff appeared to be very ‘part time’, which is difficult for a new restaurant that needs to build up a bank of dependable regular waiters. Everyone is extremely attentive and helpful, but hesitation makes for slightly erratic service. Service staff in this tourist-laden part of Mpumalanga are generally able to deal with customers from all walks of life, so the owners should easily be able to find experienced people.
The Blue Print Restaurant is located right at the entrance of the Baghdad Centre. While the interior is tiny, the stoep increases the number of seats greatly. The weather in the Lowveld is almost always balmy, so The Blue Print is perfectly suited for relaxing and watching the world pass by. There’s a cleverly extended small nook next to the restaurant which houses the bar and beverage-dispensing area, under a massive fever tree that protrudes through the roof. A nice selection of classical, jazzy, African and lounge music offers great background entertainment for dining out.
Chef-patron Pieter Malan is a youthful chef filled with confidence that should stand him in good stead for a long career in the restaurant business. He is very hands-on at this little bistro. A notice board says all pastas are hand rolled, which seems like something the chef would do with gusto.
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