The menu at De Kloof is one of the more imaginative in Pretoria, with a strong focus on South African flavours and ingredients. Beef cheek and samp are cleverly worked into a main dish playfully called Cow Cow along with Nguni sirloin slithers, fillet medallions and wild mushroom sauce, while sheep head, tongue and kidney are all brightened up by apricot atchar in the lamb dish.
To start, Millionaire’s All Sorts is a lovely medley of prawn, scallop and foie gras served with a Sambuca-and-blackberry All Sort. More of a meat lover? The steak tartare with deep-fried egg yolk, paprika angel hair, rambutan and crispy capers is simply mouthwatering.
Dessert is equally inventive, albeit a little disappointing in execution. Clever elements such as grapefruit and orange gummies, rooibos gel and raisin compote feature in the various sweet options. Unfortunately, the promise of a fun and delectable end to your meal falls a little flat as the flavours could be re-worked just a little more to be punchier and better balanced.
The wine list at De Kloof is extensive and as impressive as it is long. South African wines are highlighted but there are a few Italian and French wines from which to choose. A few harder-to-find gems make an appearance, like the Eben Sadie Mev. Kirsten 2012 and Mullineux Schist Chenin 2012.
The restaurant, set on the Waterkloof golf course, is simple and elegant with a beautiful view over the east of Pretoria. However, the music selection might be a little too eclectic and mismatched to the elegant surroundings.
Service is friendly and knowledgeable, if slow at times. The staff are well-trained and are eager to make wine suggestions, which is always lovely.
Try one of the pairing menus to really sample the best De Kloof has to offer.
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Chef Hugo Snyman is in charge of the De Kloof kitchen, and continues to create some interesting combinations. Apart from a standard a la carte menu, De Kloof also offers a five- or seven-course tasting menu with beverage pairing optional. The kitchen team clearly has enormous fun naming their dishes, as is evident from ‘Alive & kicking’, ‘Pig in Japan’, ‘Mediterranean cow’ and ‘Rooikappie se ouma se koek’. The dishes themselves are no less interesting, such as cauliflower and Gruyere fondue fondant served with baby marrow ribbons, goats cheese crumble, fennel crisps, tempura maraschino cherry and tahini purée.
Free range beef fillet is served with braised beef cheek dolma, roasted pepper and smoked feta ravioli, olive, anchovy and red onion rösti truffles, grilled bone marrow and red wine jus. Desserts include rum baba with chocolate, raisin and raspberry ice cream, pineapple gel and a coconut mousse brandy snap cigar. Finally, a most interesting cheese plate, called “Cheesy Orange Field”, includes a Meebos chutney, marinated blouwildebees biltong, boerenkaas catalan, cheddar fondue croquette, parmesan crisp, home-cured Coppa ham, Gorgonzola and sage crumble, confit kumquat, and raisin melba toast.
Sommelier Richard Haupt is happy to make suggestions for wines and other beverages that will go well with your meal. De Kloof not only has an excellent wine list, but keeps an array of excellent beers, gins and other craft liquors and beverages in stock. The wine list is introduced with a section of limited releases, rare vintages and bin-ends that includes spectacular wines.
Restaurant owner Charl Whitlock has managed to appoint an experienced team to ensure that De Kloof runs smoothly. A full-time manager sees to operations while an events manager deals with all the special functions, parties and set-menu dinner requests. Service is polished, refined and elegant, which is no doubt exactly what he had in mind.
The interior at De Kloof – with walls in deep grey, touches of burnt orange and a bit of bling – is quite business-like, focusing most of the attention on the food.
The restaurant is situated on a golfing estate, so expect the usual security measures at the entrance. The building sits slightly elevated, allowing grand westward views at sunset and a bit of the Voortrekker Monument in the distance. With a slight stretch of the imagination one might feel as if one is out in the bushveld somewhere. They have also planted a kitchen garden around the restaurant to guarantee fresh produce at all times.
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