Eat Out critic Linda Scarborough visits Kream, one of Pretoria’s established fine-dining restaurants.
Cost: R190 per main course
Serves: High-end cuisine and excellent drinks
Parking: Park in the basement and validate your ticket at the reception desk on your way out
Best for: Celebrations and spoiling yourself or someone else
Star rating: Food and drinks 4, service 4, ambience 5
The menu is simply enormous, with a page each for cold and hot starters, and sections dedicated to salads, from the land, from our waters, from the grill, poultry – and that’s not even touching on the reams of sushi options. Luckily the knowledgeable waiter is forthcoming with numerous specials, which helps us to gain some kind of direction and understand where the chef likes to play.
A choice of fresh bread with a quartet of butters – plain, sundried tomato, garlic-and-herb, and biltong (we are in Pretoria after all) – starts things off on a tasty note. The deep-fried calamari special is perfectly cooked, with a well-seasoned batter and drizzles of delectable masala-spiced sauce, but is served somewhat incongruously with fresh mozzarella, breaking the Italian rule never to pair cheese with seafood. The beef carpaccio, one of four on the menu, is superb, with crispy capers, generous slivers of beef and parmesan, lemon juice, spring onion and rocket leaves.
After our first course, a shot glass of sweet raspberry sorbet is a nice touch and quite delicious, but perhaps better suited to dessert than a palate cleanser. (Indeed, the same hot-pink scoop arrives alongside one of the puds later on.)
For mains, duck medallions are crispy but still tender-pink inside, served with baby carrots and silky butternut purée, fun little fritters and a nest of crunchy slivers of the squash. Another main of oxtail is rich and gorgeously tender, served with a fragrant wild-mushroom samp redolent with truffle, and a few plain florets of broccoli. Other tempting options include the likes of steak with your choice of myriad sauces; Durban lamb curry; smoked pork belly with apple-sage mash and Calvados mustard; and fish of the day (silvers) with a pair of prawns.
For dessert, the crème brûlée is exemplary: dotted with vanilla, custardy without being eggy, and with the dark sugar crust offering a pleasingly bitter counterpoint. The almond-and-pear tart is strewn with sesame halva and accompanied by a scoop of delicious vanilla ice cream. You could also opt for blondies and brownies, chocolate gateaux, or a concoction of crushed candy canes, rainbow cheesecake, bubblegum ice cream and candyfloss – alarming or irresistible, you decide.
Paging through Kream’s drinks menu is a treat, with over 20 pages of enticing options, whether you’re after Cognac, Armagnac, cocktails or an excellent collection of fine wines and Champagnes. (The entrance to the restaurant is through the chilly wine cellar, lined with high-end bubblies, so you can look around for later.) Teetotalers are looked after with virgin cocktails, like the pomegranate Bellini.
Things are off to a very attentive start, with numerous smartly dressed members of staff greeting us at every turn and meeting all our needs. As the lunch service winds down, their presence does get a little thin, however, with empty plates and glasses left uncleared a little too long. No matter, it’s easy to let it go, feeling relaxed and satisfied.
This is one of Pretoria’s smart, special-occasion restaurants, with white table linen, very comfortable chairs that invite sinking into by its well-heeled patrons, and prices to match. A glistening water-feature wall and light streaming into the double-volume space through a gauzy curtain makes the experience feel intimate and special, even in the daytime. There are numerous sections to suit any mood, whether you choose to dine near the bar, more privately upstairs, in a cozy nook, or at a congenial round table on a slightly raised diaz.
Kream is just off Brooklyn circle and has a bit of free parking in the centre’s courtyard, but if you need to find a spot in the basement you can validate your ticket at the reception desk. A new branch of the restaurant has opened at Mall of Africa. Have you been to Kream recently? Let us know what you thought by writing a review. (For every review you write, Eat Out pledges a meal to a hungry child through Stop Hunger Now SA. Write a review now.)