There’s no doubt about it, chef Bertus Basson is leading the pack when it comes to cooking South African heritage food. He’s putting traditional ingredients and techniques back on the plate. His dishes may sound very simple, but his focus on fresh, natural flavours, use of top-quality produce and precise technique results in intense, delicious flavours. Look forward to smart reinventions of local favourites, like ox tongue served with tiny onions and nasturtium ‘cream’, as well as a touch of Asian flavour in a bold dish of squid on creamy miso. Vegetables are treated with the same reverence as meat: revel in gingery carrots paired with salsa verde and candy-striped beets with horseradish. For the special occasion of dessert, you may be served the perfect ‘lemon pie’ of chewy meringue, lemon jellies and lemon custard or brilliant poffertjies with peanut butter sauce. The reimagined cheese plate is an artistic delight, a palette of creamed gorgonzola studded with liqueur-spiked fruits and walnuts. Every dish is evocative and unpretentious at the same time.
A concise, well-curated wine list featuring, as you would expect, quite a few Hidden Valley wines. By-the-glass options are impressive, as are the service, knowledge and recommendations of sommelier Thembi Veremu.
There’s a welcome touch of humour in the staff. They’re an informed, relaxed and friendly bunch – but they all know exactly what’s going on at all times. Tableside presentation adds a feeling of intimacy.
This is a breathtaking setting, boasting a view over the hills and valleys that hug the road between Somerset West and Stellenbosch. A simple, modern, glass-fronted interior allows the food to take centre stage.
Comments by the 2014 Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards judges
“Delicious, accessible dining.” – Arnold Tanzer.
“This is brave, simple, vibrant food with masses of flavour and personality.” – Abigail Donnelly