Bertus Basson’s wine and tapas bar might be more casual than some of the chef’s offerings, but this food means business. The short, changing tapas menu features some packed-with-flavour gems.
Organic-maize tacos appear topped with translucent slivers of radish, tangy, sweet pork shoulder and piped dollops of sour cream. The gnocchi – feather-light pillows – has been sautéed until golden, and comes in a lemony, creamy froth, with meaty mushrooms and a sublime crispy, parmesan-laced crumb.
The real standout, though, is the cauliflower dish. As one of the waiters – apparently not much of a vegetable fan – says: “If I like a cauliflower dish, then you must know it’s good.” A head of cauliflower has been roasted until slightly crisp at the extremities, and served in a creamy cauliflower purée with roasted macadamia nuts, salty, crispy onions and sweet little raisins. It’s a triumph.
Portions are fairly generous for tapas, so set out cautiously, and order more as you go. We’re told to start with two tapas dishes, and go from there. Three turns out to be plenty for two – especially if you’re planning dessert.
The Peppermint Crisp cones (two to a portion) have become something of a signature. The ice cream is beautifully textured and the flavour mimics Peppermint Crisp tart cleverly. I sort of wish they were smaller and cuter – it is a lot of ice cream – and that they had a nugget of chocolate at the tip of the cone, like in my childhood memories.
The other pudding that shouldn’t be missed, if available, is Tannie Hetta’s apple pie – a sublimely sweet, soft apple sponge, soaked in syrup and served with ice cream and custard. Food coma stuff.
This is also a wine bar, with an interesting wine list to match. Think Ghost Corner, Crystallum, Luddite and AA Badenhorst. Prices range from R150 for a bottle of Gavin Brand’s Cape Rock Rose, to R795 for Eben Sadie’s Palladius. There’s also a list of local gins to slake your thirst, and local craft beer.
“What a hidden gem,” exclaims a diner at a neighbouring table, shaking his head. It is hidden – look for the sign at Oom Samie Se Winkel, and disappear down the alley into the back courtyard. The location is maybe a bit underwhelming, but that sort of adds to the surprise factor. It’s a pleasant enough place to pass an afternoon, with the town’s oldest fruit producing vine providing shade in the courtyard, and hip marble tables, and glossy black and white tiles inside.
Efficient and unobtrusive. The team handles small errors with grace and sincerity, which is all most diners want.
The restaurant is named for Bertus and Mareli Basson’s gorgeous pet pig and dog, whose likenesses appear in photos and various artworks around the restaurant. As far as we can tell, though, they sadly don’t frequent the restaurant themselves.
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