In 2017 chef Virgil Kahn led Indochine to yet another nomination for the Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards.
We start with the tikka lamb Scotch egg and the tom yum goong. I loved the contrast of a Scotch egg, a dish so seemingly British in origin, with Asian flavours. Indochine’s version is both delicate and fresh, with fermented chilli dressing, dehydrated yoghurt shards and onion raita. Then it is on to the tom yum goong soup. There is something hugely satisfying about the depth of flavour of fish sauce, lime and lemongrass in Thai soups. Chef Virgil nails the balance of heat and umami, richness and freshness. It’s one of those dishes you think of for days after.
For mains we have the grilled line fish and the vindaloo of local seafood. The line fish with ginger salad is fresh and well-spiced, though the salad overpowers the fish a little. The vindaloo is tasty but very mild (though this may be my fault for requesting it not be too spicy). I will be back to try the vindaloo and the other curries, except without making any special requests.
Pairing wine with spicy food is seldom easy, but the sommelier at Indochine must be commended for his enthusiasm, attention to detail and attentiveness in this regard. From the rieslings and bukettraubes to chenins and chardonnays that could stand up to these dishes, are walked through wines for each and every dish we might choose.
In the restaurant the service is great. Everyone is friendly, professional and informed.
Driving up to Indochine is a little like entering a portal to the lost world. Delaire Graff’s massive old trees, giant cycads and impressive statues all add to the sense of a journey into another realm. It’s even better if you go for lunch, as the views across the mountains and vineyards are incredible. You’ll notice interesting art across the estate, from the sculptures on the drive in to the Swallows in Flight installation in the Indochine dining room. In winter, pick a table by the fire. You’ll also enjoy magnificent views of the mountains.
Seeing as the spa is right there, why not book yourself in for a morning spa session before lunch?
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay their own way. Read our full editorial policy here.
Chef Virgil Kahn gets Asian flavours magnificently spot on. Each plate is vibrant with homegrown produce, and his meticulousness in creating a fresh yet complex marriage of flavours is impressive.
Tickle your taste buds with kimchi and seafood broth with mussels, oysters, cabbage and line fish to begin the meal. The flavours are bright and piquant without being obtrusive. The squid and duck larb salad is equally delicious with perfectly cooked squid that's ever-so-slightly spiced. Mint jelly cubes wobble on the plate and offer a fresh lift for the duck. The perfectly pink Chanthaburi salmon with sweet-potato pad Thai noodles is light and nourishing with a gorgeous, fiery hit of chilli.
Mains shine bright with the glorious beef rendang curry served in an nontraditional manner with fillet of beef, lemongrass and coconut. Sides of tapioca and raita are refreshing and texturally pleasing, while the spices leave a lingering bite. The line fish with quinoa and Asian greens comes a close second with its balanced palm-sugar dressing.
Desserts don’t disappoint, offering the likes of stunning beetroot-and-chocolate crumble with tonka-bean ice cream and a beetroot-and-lime doughnut. Not too sweet, the flavours work beautifully together to create a satisfying end to the meal. There’s also refreshing coconut panna cotta with rose-water jellies, or the ever-popular banana spring rolls filled with white chocolate, banana caviar and nut fudge.
Located as it is on Delaire Graff Estate, the restaurant has a wine list that’s extensive and informative, with an array of cultivars perfectly paired with the cuisine. Estate wines are also available by the glass. If bubbly is what you’re after, be sure to order the chenin-driven Delaire Graff Sunrise Brut for an exquisitely zesty refreshment.
The service here is extremely welcoming. Staff are knowledgeable when it comes to the menu, and discreetly top up glasses and whisk plates away.
If you’re not taking in the beautiful views of the estate, the luxurious interiors will be a feast for the eyes. Hues of rich blues and sparking accents adorn the space, while delicate arrangements of orchards are dotted throughout the restaurant.
For a touch of something local, there is a South-African-themed section on the menu with options of Cape Malay curry, bobotie and springbok loin.
Eat Out critics arrive unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.