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La Colombe

La Colombe
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Cost
R1 300 avg main meal; R590 for gourmand lunch nine-course reduced tasting menu (R490 for vegetarian); R890 for gourmand lunch fourteen-course full tasting menu (R790 for vegetarian); R1 090 for gourmand lunch nine-course reduced tasting menu with wine pairing (R990 for vegetarian); R1 550 for gourmand lunch fourteen-course full tasting menu with wine pairing (R1 450 for vegetarian); R690 for gourmand dinner nine-course reduced tasting menu (R590 for vegetarian); R990 for gourmand dinner fourteen-course full tasting menu (R890 for vegetarian); R1 190 for gourmand dinner nine-course reduced tasting menu with wine pairing (R1 090 for vegetarian); R1 650 for gourmand dinner fourteen-course full tasting menu with wine pairing (R1 550 for vegetarian)
Ambience
Classic elegance
Food
Asian, Fine-dining food, French, Modern, Vegetarian
Payment
Amex, Mastercard, Visa
500

Critic's review

Linda Scarborough

Food
In 2016 La Colombe cracked the list of the top 100 restaurants in the world, confirming what its many fans already know: Dining here is a special, singular experience.

To start, you’re invited to tear open sourdough rolls and lather them with virgin butter, pickled fish and bonemarrow served in a dish reminiscent of a cross-section of bone, with the matching texture and pure-white hue. It’s a humble-seeming but complex beginning to a meal that will become more precise and pitch-perfect as it rolls towards completion.

Another amuse-bouche, the Garden, is a dainty phyllo log filled with onion gel, tartare and edible flowers that look almost too beautiful to bite. The serving tray is a flower box, sporting smooth pebbles and a real little baby-leaf plant.

Next is a West Coast oyster with apple, caviar, kalamansi and a light soy dressing. It’s transportive; you won't want it to end, but you might be forgiven for taking the cue of the shell-like crockery and tilting it back to sip that last splash of sea-tasting sauce.

Tuna La Colombe is the one thing head chef Scot Kirton is unable to take off the menu – and for good reason. It's a play on a tin can with seared tuna tataki, dots of avo purée, ginger and a poached quail’s egg. The colours, textures and flavours play together beautifully. It remains a knockout.

An Asian-style steamed pork bun is fun, and offers a nice rich and fatty mouthful of pork to balance out all the seafood freshness so far.

Then comes a seared scallop – so tender, so beautifully browned – with a little lollipop quail leg, deboned wing and breast, and a pool of sensational parsnip purée with braaied corn – sweet and popping in your mouth – and wilted bok choi. It arrives with a ‘bird’s nest’, an artful couple of feathers and a little quail eggshell from which you can dot teriyaki onto your plate. Not that the dish needs it – the flavours are concentrated and intense.

The alternative is Norwegian salmon with king crab, blood orange, melon and wood sorrel, but how could you forgo ordering the scallop again next time? Whoever did it the other way around probably feels the same…

The palate cleanser’s simple designation of Granny Smith on the menu belies the theatre it delivers. Two ice lollies emerge from a cloud of dry ice, standing to attention in a bowl of stones and pebbles. Lean in and you can hear the bubble and crackle beneath the surface. It’s a multi-sensory delight.

For mains, you might select the Chalmar beef (substitute Wagyu for R150 supplement) with langoustine, sticky and pungent oxtail, and peas. Chef James Gaag comes to finish the meat off over a single hot coal at the table, and dress the dish with golden mustardy jus from a dainty copper pot. A thrilling experience.

While vegetarians will miss out on the rich stocks, broths and reductions that bring most of the other dishes together, they will be pleased with the gorgeous beetroot risotto with creamy burrata and sage-burned butter, and the golden herb gnocchi with gorgonzola and butternut.

For dessert, you can choose between two more unusual options. The Three Ages of Boerenkaas comes in whorls and shapes with onion, quince, and walnut-and-cumin ice cream. If you have more of a sweet tooth, go for the Valrhona Azélia cremeux with Jerusalem artichoke ice cream (pickled from chef James’s family garden and roasted with hand-crafted balsamic from Protea Hill in Stellenbosch), grapefruit cubes and hazelnut crumbs. It’s vivid, enthralling and interesting in the best possible sense of the word. Every bite draws you in with its intricacy and uniqueness of tastes: earthy, nutty, salty, bitter and sweet.

The rock-like petit fours look unusual – on a bed of dark crumbs – but they deliver a very satisfying sweet kick in the form of hazelnut squares with popping candy, salted-caramel truffles and blueberry muffins.

Drinks
The wine list is sectioned into offerings by the glass, méthode champenoise, red, white, fine and rare, old world (Burgundy and Rhone), and dessert wines. If you’re not going to indulge, spring for a non-alcoholic cocktail made with fresh fruit. The Yirgacheffe coffee experience is fun for lovers of the bean.

Service
Numerous faces will come into focus during the course of the lunch as the team discreetly clears dishes and replaces cutlery. Dedicated waiters look after glasses and keep you entertained. They take their cue from your mood, knowing when to crack a joke or leave you to your savouring. This faultless service garnered them the 2016 Eat Out Nespresso Service Excellence Award.

Ambience
Having a table up against the glass windows is a real treat in winter. The blue gums and pine trees in the valley and beyond glisten with silver in the sunlight, and across the vineyards you might spy a chicken dust-bathing in the afternoon beams. In summer, the glass windows doors are flung open to let the forest air in. As for décor, it’s as subtle and soft as La Colombe’s namesake, the dove, with touches of feathery white and grey and dark beams inside.

And…
Do go visit Foxcroft, the new venture down the road by Scot Kirton and Glen Williams, which won the 2016 Eat Out Retail Capital New Restaurant of the Year.

(September 2016)

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  • Ambience
  • Service
  • Food
  • Linda Scarborough

    Food
    Eat Out Chef of the Year Scot Kirton is a master at plating pretty food, and at his new venue in the Silvermist Wine Estate, he’s also taking the opportunity to experiment and add a playful touch. Your first surprise comes in a little can – lift the lid to find a Lilliputian seared tuna tataki inside, their signature dish. Served with spelt-and-oat bread, and olive-parmesan bread sticks with herbed butter, it’s a sophisticated delight. Other starters might be dishes like a hen’s egg with poached salmon, asparagus velouté, peas and black forest ham; and the undeniably delicious Farmer Angus beef tataki and tartare with coriander mousse, black pepper puff and soft-poached quail’s eggs. Moving on to mains, the fillet of beef is done perfectly and served with fondant potatoes, caramelised onions and rich roasted cloves of garlic, with a smear of porcini and tarragon purée. An open vegetable lasagne is an unexpected hit, delivering tenfold in terms of taste expectations. Tender sheets of saffron pasta overlay pillows of spinach, all put to bed with a gorgonzola béchamel. Pastry chef Glen Williams flexes his imagination in the dessert department with a dish of ginger curd, cashew cake, mango sorbet, black sesame brittle and buttermilk. The chocolate namelaka (the creamiest mousse conceivable) with stracciatelle ice cream and raspberries provides a flawless ending.

    Drinks
    For a lingering lunch, why not order from a handful of wines by the carafe? You won’t be overwhelmed with information on the page, but the sommelier is happy to explain and assist with suggestions.

    Service
    Staff are friendly and chatty, but still extremely professional. It seems casual, yet is anything but.

    Ambience
    Simply spectacular. Making use of cool whites and its namesake colour of dove grey, the restaurant is like a modern lodge perched on the side of the mountain. Throughout the restaurant you can soak up views of the Constantia valley. It’s relaxed, yet ultra elegant.

  • Linda Scarborough

    As you ascend the winding road on Silvermist estate, time seems to slow down. At each bend, as the city tilts away beneath you, you rise to new heights of quiet anticipation. There’s a reason you feel this way – you’re on top of a mountain and about to dine at the new incarnation of La Colombe, frequent contender on our Top 10 list and no stranger to S.Pellegrino’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

    Food 

    As anyone who’s visited the ‘old’ La Colombe will know, chef Scot Kirton is a master at plating pretty food. While the starter and mains have many familiar elements ¬– no doubt to appease seasoned fans who might shy away from anything too conceptual – Scot takes the opportunity to be playful with his amuse-bouche, palate cleaner and desserts.

    Your first surprise comes in a little can – lift the lid to find a Lilliputian seared tuna tataki inside. It’s a treat alongside freshly baked spelt-and-oat bread, and olive-parmesan bread sticks with herbed butter.

    If you’d prefer to sidestep the foie-gras for starters, your options might be a hen’s egg with poached salmon, asparagus velouté, peas and black forest ham; a dish of tender scallops and barbecue pork with kimchi, deeply sweet and smoky aubergine, sweetcorn and a squiggle of crackling; and the undeniably delicious Farmer Angus beef tataki and tartare with coriander mousse, a black pepper puff and soft-poached quail’s eggs.

    While we wait for our mains, the palate cleansers arrive on a bed of pebbles – not edible, we are reminded by the waitress. (It seems some diners have been a little too adventurous.) They’re a revelation, though: globes of cocoa butter melt in the mouth to release a fresh burst of citrus on the tongue.

    For mains, we avoid ordering the SASSI orange-listed kingklip* despite the tempting description: miso-glazed, it’s served with smoked chickpea, potato and sweetcorn purée, and coconut and lemongrass velouté.

    The fillet of beef, however, does not disappoint, done perfectly and served with fondant potatoes, caramelised onions and rich roasted cloves of garlic, with a smear of porcini and tarragon purée. Sure to be a crowd pleaser.

    An open vegetable lasagne is one of the day’s unexpected hits, delivering tenfold my taste expectations. Tender sheets of saffron pasta overlay pillows of spinach, all put to bed with a gorgonzola béchamel. The simple description belies its rich complexity – you’ll have to order it yourself.

    Pastry chef Glen Williams flexes his imagination in the dessert department with his dish of ginger curd, cashew cake, mango sorbet, black sesame brittle and buttermilk. It may not sound instantly appealing, but your curiosity will be generously rewarded. The more clear-cut choice of chocolate namelaka (the creamiest mousse conceivable) with stracciatelle ice cream and raspberries provides a flawless ending.

    (Meal options include à la carte lunch, four-course dinner for R485 per person, or the gourmand dinner for R685 per person, or R950 with wine.)

    Drinks 

    For a lingering lunch, why not order from a handful of wines by the carafe, including a delicious fruity Normandie Karen Rosé from Franschhoek, and the unusual and slightly sweet Cederberg Bukketraube. You won’t be overwhelmed with information on the page, but the sommelier is happy to explain and assist with suggestions.

    Service 

    While the staff are friendly and chatty, they still observe all the formalities you’d expect from a restaurant of this calibre. Your napkin is whipped up into a pretty whirl if you step away from the table, your glass is topped up and wine kept chilled in a nearby ice bucket, and cutlery replaced discreetly when necessary. It seems casual, yet is anything but.

    Ambience 

    Simply spectacular. Making use of cool whites and its namesake colour of dove grey, the new restaurant is like a modern lodge perched on the side of the mountain. A shaded deck and umbrella-shaded courtyard are first-prize spots on a summer’s afternoon, but throughout the restaurant you can soak up views of the Constantia valley. It’s relaxed, yet ultra elegant.

    And… 

    If you’re lucky you’ll get salted caramel truffles among your petit fours in the custom-made box lined with cool, dark stones. (But you’ve been warned: don’t eat the rocks!)

    (March 2015)

User reviews

  • What a wonderful experience, from the scenic drive up to La Colombe, the welcome of the staff and the little gift on the table to celebrate our anniversary, dare I say amazing presentations and the flavours of the food incredible. The presentation was mind blowing and the whole evening was pure pleasure. A must on any ones bucket list. Thank you. Diane Hosty
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  • A giggle, followed by a whisper of, "this is soooo good” – that reaction was priceless and summed up our 9-course Gourmand dinner. The flavours were surprising, fresh, delicious; a tease as it left you wanting more! While our waiter was wonderful, if I had to think of one thing that could have been better / exceptional, it would have been that other service staff knew where food needed to be placed ahead of time (this sometimes felt clumsy when our waiter wasn’t there to direct the placements). All in all, it was a treat and I hope to be back again soon.
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  • La Colombe has many incredible attributes, it is truly fine dining at its best. Chef Scott is a culinary genius and has created some truly inspiring dishes, the flavor combinations of each dish are complex but perfectly balanced and truly delicious. All the staff with in the establishment from security to waitrons and managers are all absolutely amazing and knowledgeable of both the food and the history of the estate and surroundings. Should you choose to do the wine pairing with every dish the Sommelier on duty will be round to your table to offer a briefing on each wine and answer any questions you may have regarding the wine or the pairing. The over all experience was truly amazing and I cannot wait to return and sample their lunch menu.
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  • After waiting months for our booking day to finally arrive, we were very excited for our dinner at La Colombe. We had heard all the buzz and wanted to check it out for ourselves. The winding drive up the mountain was the first steps to the journey of excitement. The food that followed was art on a plate with the flavour to boot. we went for the tasting menu and ordered a bottle of the Raatz red. The prices are high but so is the quality of the food. We had a wonderful evening and are looking forward to having the lunch menu next as at night we couldn't really enjoy the views that i am sure that from that height are breathtaking over the Constantia vallely.
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  • First visit to La Colombe since it's move to Silvermist and what a fantastic evening, in a beautiful setting, topped by an incredible tasting menu . The wonderful Manageress Jennifer looked after us impeccably and the service cannot be faulted ( we were also treated to some great singing too..) Despite there being a large group of us, the tasting menu was tailored to cater for any allergies/dislikes. Almost impossible to prioritise the best dishes, as each course had a lightness of touch and brilliant use of ingredients within. Cannot be recommended enough and I look forward to trying out the deli and picnic area in the spring - or as soon as i can.
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Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Dinner
  • Dress code
  • Eat Out reviewed
  • Fireplace
  • Food
  • Functions
  • Licensed
  • Lunch
  • Parking
  • Serves food
  • Vegetarian
  • WiFi

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