The menu here is full of invention – though it’s the more classic dishes that hit the mark. On the starters menu, a Waldorf salad is reimagined with a roasted apple, overflowing with strong roasted brie, a braised endive and goat’s cheese. A cherry-smoked duck comes with a beautiful jelly, made with sliced grapes, a duck parfait, and a sadly rather chewy piece of bread. For the most part, the ideas are good, though the strong cheese is a little overpowering for the salad, and the duck a little over-done.
For mains, the osso buco is a triumph, however. The unctuous slow-braised beef shin is paired with balls of smoked tomato risotto and a bone marrow jus. The Weskus-inspired fish of the day is similarly successful. It comes with a wonderfully sweet, Malay-spiced crust, snoek pâté and apricots.
There are some small issues with the desserts – the chocolate fondant does not ooze and comes with an oversupply of kataifi. (I’ve never been quite sure what the kataifi brings to the party, and it really wasn’t needed here, with honeycomb and charred meringue to boot!) The affogato had a rather rock hard cassata and something over-sour somewhere in the construction.
There’s a good wine list, though options by the glass are somewhat limited.
Once the home of Count and Countess Labia, this grand structure is designed in the style of an 18th Century Venetian palazzo. Embossed wallpaper, filigree chandeliers, grand old paintings and ornate ceiling panels will take you back in time. But the real place to be is out on the terrace, looking out towards the sea. (If you’re after a sea view ask for it when you book – there’s also a courtyard, which sadly doesn’t have a view of the glorious ocean.) On Saturdays and Sundays, over lunch, an accomplished pianist plays in an adjoining room.
Wonderful, friendly, knowledgeable staff help to keep the mood light in what could be quite an intimidating space.
A meal with a gorgeous sea view, away from the crowds.
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Fresh bread was brought to our table as soon as we were ready to order. The bread was accompanied by a bowl of olives and a bowl of chutney. That pretty much sums up our lunch – slightly adventurous, though well-made, with a nod to the best of South African fare, and another to Casa Labia’s Italian heritage.
To start, I enjoyed the pork rollatini, which was served with grilled fruit, vejus cucumber, chimichurri, radish, tomato water and a walnut crostini. The starter was a good introduction to the festive menu at Casa Labia. My lunch partner enjoyed the fish of the day, which was kingklip, served with Malay seafood crust, snoek, pork spek and apricot. I ordered the braised, deboned beef rib, which was perfectly cooked and pulled apart beautifully on the plate. The beef rib was served with bone marrow jus, broccoli, two slices of cherry-smoked ox tongue, cubed pear and gorgonzola pommes puree.
For dessert, you might be tempted to order a deconstructed tiramisu or a granadilla champagne mousse, with pineapple, dulce de leche, chilli white-chocolate soil, macadamia and mint.
The drinks list includes a selection of sparkling wine, white wine, red wine and rosé – some by the glass and some served per bottle. We enjoyed a glass of De Grendel rosé while watching the waves crash beyond the train tracks. Cocktails, beer, cider, spirits, soft drinks and hot beverages are served with pleasure.
Service was attentive, friendly and courteous. We were generously looked after, and I made our reservation days before, so we were spoiled with a table in the window overlooking the ocean.
Casa Labia was once the home of an Italian count. The house is grand and elegant, with romantic draping and detailed ceilings, with flecks of gold. The chairs are plush and the floors are wooden. A live piano plays, while painted portraits gaze over the dining rooms. Classic and classy, with a hint of gentility.
Parking is ample, on main road, but two disabled bays are available on the property – when booked in advance. The house also doubles as a function venue and is the ultimate cove for a wedding photoshoot. We were fortunate enough to watch page boys and flower girls frolic in the garden for a set of wedding photographs at the tail-end of our lunch.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.