3 Course Menu R460pp (starter, main course & dessert), 8-course chef’s experience menu: R760 pp, R1160 pp Food and Wine Pairing
Coffee, Contemporary fare, Fine-dining food, Light meals, Modern, South African
Diners Club, Mastercard, Visa
A welcome addition to the fine dining scene in Somerset West. The cooking of young chef Jean Delport, ex Rust en Vrede, Terroir and others, uses classical French techniques and interesting fresh ingredients to good effect. The Sichuan pear starter with parmesan custard is an intriguing interplay between sweet and sharp which is just the thing to awaken lazy taste buds. The so called nibbles box with chorizo croquettes and superb savoury butter is tempting but don’t get carried away. Seasons of pumpkin, deliciously offset with pickles, and the fishiness of the marron dish with oyster foam and very sweet black garlic lead one gently into the main course. This is in “two acts” - salt rib and hazelnut puree followed by beef fillet, tongue and beurre noisette. The Moscow Mule frozen palate cleanser is delicious and should be sold in cartons to take home. Finishing up with a delicious white chocolate frozen orange with spiced yoghurt is just the way to go after this culinary journey. There are also a la carte choices.
An excellent list with some real treasures are quite heftily priced. They also have their own very good label, Benguela Cove, as a more affordable option. The presence of some excellent Calvados signals a serious approach to the fine dining. There is a sommelier on hand to talk you through the intricacies of it all.
The service is smooth and professional, knowledgeable and friendly - a pleasure.
The large room is light and airy, plush and elegant, with comfortable banquettes and chairs as well as some shiny surface s to raise the bling component. In the evenings the elegance level is a whole lot more marked, making it popular for special occasions.
There is a delightfully cosy bar upstairs, just the place for an aperitif before dining, as well as a wine shop with a tasting area.
Eat Out critics dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.
It is unusual for me to go the whole way and rate anything at it's highest rating I can give. After my lunch there yesterday, and after careful thought, I honestly believe that the Benguela on Main Restaurant, in Somerset West, does meet this criteria. Let me first state that my expectancy was of a fine-dining restaurant that would be at least on a par of the number of other fine-dining restaurants that are located within the Helderberg region. I was not disappointed in the slightest.
The welcoming was warm and friendly and the restaurant itself had an air of class and warmth. The staff itself were obviously well trained and knowledgeable. Their sommelier, a charming Frenchman, certainly knew his stuff and was as enthusiastic about South African wines as anyone I have met.
My wife and I chose from their Winter Special 3 Course menu, which although limited to two items per course, these items were part of their wider a-la-carte menu.
Both starters were bursting with flavours that even the most discriminating would find hard to complain about. My wife's soup embellished with a beautifully cooked duck egg, and my pear salad set a standard that created an anticipation of what our main courses would deliver. My wife's fish course, blackened bream, was a picture on the plate and certainly did not disappoint. My springbock loin was cooked to perfection and the sauces that accompanied it made the meal something special. Each course came with a different carafe of Beguela wine. In total we had the equivalent of a bottle as part of the total standard cost of the Winter Special of R310. We were given a wine tasting before we chose our wines. A nice touch.
We both chose their mixed desert, a collection of tastes and flavours, that left nothing to be desired. There was a local cheese option as part of the Special.
True fine-dining, not gigantic portions, but more than enough to satisfy the discerning and of a quality that is world class. They have an extensive wine list but if there are budget constraints their own Beguela wines represent first class value for money.
Can I fault it? After yesterday's experience, it would be difficult to do so. Then my expectations are based upon comparing like for like. As a fine-dining restaurant Beguela on Main ticks all the boxes.
How does one award a restaurant that provides such impeccable service (extremely well trained servers) in such beautiful surroundings such a low star rating for the food? Let me be honest, the food was gastronomy at its best. It was delicious, beautifully presented, tastefully art directed on the plate. Every plate a picture. Tastes of individual items that still make me salivate and go yumm. The amuse bouche of mushroom looked like a little edible garden. But, after a starter (smoked salmon and blinis), main course (duck) and dessert (nougat concoction I think), I was still hungry. It was as if the art of decorating the plate with food necessitated such small portions, even a child would be hungry after three courses. I don't want overfilled plates of food when I go to a fine dining restaurant, but I do want to experience a bit more of the superb chef's fare. When my palette is chasing the elusive sensation of a taste, there must be more than a tiny morsel of food to help with the discovery of the surprise element, and then a morsel to enjoy the discovered surprise. I went away with a lot of wondering as there was not enough food to do these discoveries on each plate justice. I was expecting to pay a lot of money to eat there, but I did not realise the restaurant was trying to see how little food they can serve for as much as they can get away with. I will go back (when my budget has recovered), because the food was theatre, but I will probably have to stop on the way home to get something to eat afterwards.