A meal at Terroir is a series of dilemmas for return diners. The first is with the presentation of the bread, spread and smoked-olive platter. The impulse is to eat it all – it’s that moreish – but doing so might impact on the enjoyment of the dessert later. Then, the choice of starter: the many-times-tried-and-always-enjoyed prawn risotto with sauce Americaine, or something new like smoked pork cheek with salsa verde, chorizo and granola? The prawn dish wins every time. The memory of the succulent freshness of the prawns; the chili and garlic just present enough to shake the taste buds out of slumber; the unctuous, parmesan-enriched creaminess of the risotto; and the deep colour and flavours of one of the great classic sauces makes this, ultimately, an easy choice.
There’s also a mighty mental tussle over the choice of mains. Michael Broughton knows pork, so the confit pork belly with Jerusalem artichoke and crispy shallot tempts, but you might choose another winner, like the sous-vide beef fillet that’s crumbed and then pan fried to pink perfection before being served with smoked potato purée and truffle sauce. It is a sublimely successful dish.
The dark chocolate bar with peanut ice cream and trimmings is a very successful sweet, but not too sweet, finish to the meal. Every eyeful, every mouthful, is testament to Broughton’s guiding philosophy that creativity involves a great deal of restraint.
There’s a focus on Stellenbosch in the wine list, with the traditional featuring more than the outliers of innovation. The limited wine by-the-glass offering mostly centres around the excellent wines of the host estate, Kleine Zalze.
Many of the staff have been around for years, and their easy familiarity with the menu and the many repeat visitors helps create a very homely feel.
It’s a place of muted earth colours, with terracotta floor tiles, a reed ceiling and pillars dividing a big room into a series of more intimate spaces. Terroir is almost always full with happy customers.
A relaxed summer Sunday lunch at a courtyard table is one of the great experiences of the winelands.
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Over the years chef Michael Broughton has refined his menu and technique to present diners with unpretentious but uncompromisingly delicious and excellent cuisine. It is, quite simply, a superlative experience.
Things start swimmingly and proceed in the same vein. A plate of amuse-bouches brings patatas bravas with cream cheese, bacon and chive sprinkles; a wonderful scoop of chicken liver pâté with a smidge of red-onion marmalade; and cheese puffs so light they’re in danger of floating away.
The breads – seeded, sourdough and tomato focaccia – accompanied by smoked olives, further succeed in whetting the appetite. By now it should become clear that this is going to be a spectacular meal. A starter of prawn risotto with sauce Américaine is so delicious it will spoil you for all risottos ever after. Consisting of moreish parmesan risotto topped with fat prawns sautéed with chilli, kernels of charred corn for a sweet and crunchy surprise, a fantastic crayfish bisque and fragrant sauce Américaine, it is a marvel of balanced flavour and textures.
The menu may appear deceptively simple, but the food is full of complexity and shows excellent technique. Listed simply as a ‘garden salad with crispy goat’s cheese and marinated tomatoes’, the dish, when delivered, rewards with a plethora of complementary ingredients: fresh greens share the plate with textures of goat’s cheese, delicate tomato jellies, poached tomatoes and a scoop of beautifully tart tomato granita, not to mention olive soil and pickled courgette.
A serving of dry-aged sirloin, accompanied by baby vegetables, maître d’hotel butter and hollandaise, is perfectly cooked and very satisfying. The line fish is a highlight – roasted kingklip is topped with an ingenious black squid crust crafted to resemble the fish’s skin, matched by delicate ratatouille, crispy rösti, lemon beurre blanc and rich black fermented garlic, the slightly sweet acidity of which just ties the whole together beautifully.
Dessert is no less of a treat – the Grand Marnier and vanilla soufflé (with strawberry ice cream and caramel) is delightful, with raspberry smears painted inside the ramekin rising up with the soufflé, offering a piquant counterpoint to the vanilla sweetness.
There’s also evidence of a dab hand with the ice creams and sorbets – the results are silky soft, and it’s hard to resist delectable flavours like raspberry-and-rose sorbet, and ice creams flavoured with marshmallow and violet. It’s an unforgettable meal: the food brims with flavour, confidence and generosity. Well played, chef. Well played.
Most of the lovely Kleine Zalze wines are available, some by the glass, with the selection rounded out by some heavy-hitting whites and reds from elsewhere.
Staff members are attentive, welcoming and well informed about the menu and various dishes. There is a charming, familial atmosphere to it all; you get the idea that staff members have become like family.
The atmosphere is one of relaxed country-style dining, with lots of wooden touches adding warmth, and quality crockery and stemware adding class. Tables next to the big windows offer calming views over the beautiful estate.
In summer, the courtyard offers outdoor seating against the soothing backdrop of a bubbling fountain – truly the perfect setting for a long, lingering lunch.
Imagine, if you will, chicken wings stuffed with foie gras and served with truffle cream, black mushrooms, parmesan and – a masterstroke – salt and vinegar foam. Marvel at the vibrant, fresh seafood flavours of line fish with mussels, squid, seaweed butter, lime salt and edamame beans. Delve into pork belly paired with winter beets, pear and cider jus. And indulge in a perfectly executed apple tart with tonka bean ice cream and baked custard with more than a touch of boozy flavour. This is the kind of delicious, expertly cooked food you can expect to enjoy at Michael Broughton’s fantastic restaurant, Terroir. Michael picks top quality produce and winning flavour combinations, and puts his own touch on the classics. Plating is gorgeously uncluttered and every dish shows a mastery of technique. The portions are generous and the flavours wonderfully layered, leading to a marvellous, memorable experience.
A very well-put together wine offering. All the Kleine Zalze wines are, of course, available – and by the glass, poured generously in carafes. You'll also find a host of excellent wines from fine producers beyond the estate, such as Cederberg, Creation and Rustenberg. Note the specials board for featured wines – a nice touch.
Warm, efficient and enthusiastic. Though casual and relaxed in style, staff members are very attentive and knowledgeable about the food.
Boasting a very scenic setting, this bustling restaurant charms with a crackling fire inside on cold days, creating a warm and jovial atmosphere. In summer, the shaded terrace makes for a cheerful, restful dining experience.
Comments by the 2014 Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards judges
“Michael’s love for depth of flavour and sauces shines through.” – Arnold Tanzer
“Simply superb. If I could eat here every week, I would.” – Kate Wilson
“There’s a very clear direction to Michael’s cooking: classic dishes interpreted in various ways, just this side of cheeky.” – Andy Fenner
Dinner last night at Terroir was simply superb. The beetroot terrine was not only beautiful to look at but fresh and light to taste. My partner had the signature pork belly dish which was excellent, the highlight being the 'truffle mac". A world class experience and would highly recommend.
What a lovely day we had at Terroir. The mood is relaxed, the food first class. The cinnamon scented rice that came with my lamb reminded me of my mom's melkkos sent to finishing school. Who ever thought that this golden oldie could be so sophisticated?
I do not know how this restaurant made the top ten. What an ordinary menu - nothing grabbed any of us especially the deserts. The prawn risotto sounded good but the sauce was so salty it was scarcely edible (the manager agreed and deducted it from our bill) and the belly of pork needed another two hours cooking. I am of the opinion that it's not a good idea to eat at a restaurant when the chef is not there and Michael Broughton was nowhere to be seen. No food (or wine) was described to us but in all fairness the plates were very attractively laid out and the waitress very pleasant.
Michael Broughton is a genius! Lunch at Terroir was outstanding. Who knew a bread basket could be interesting? Bread interlaced with sweetened sun-ripened tomatoes, sheer heaven! The tempura squid as a starter was amazing, crunchy and tender without being oily. I ordered the linefish as a main course, it was cooked to perfection with potato gnocchi. My husband ordered the beef fillet, he reckons it's the best he's ever had! It sat on a bed of beef ragu - sublime! We had a garden salad in between courses, absolutely fresh and delicious. The dessert of layers of coffee/chocolate mousse was the perfect end to a perfect meal. Our waitress was very knowledgable about the items on the menu and super friendly. We will definitely be back to try out the summer menu!
Having been to most of Eat Out's top 10 restaurants, I can say Terrior deserves its spot in the top 10 and with their relaxed atmosphere is the one I like to go to most often.
Great food, but better wine! Highly recommended.
Me and my family visited Terroir to celebrate my sister's 21st birthday. This was an amazing evening not just because of the fact that my sister turned 21, but also because of the fantastic service and great food. From the starter to the dessert - everything was delicious. My sister’s dessert plate was beautiful decorated saying “Happy 21st Birthday” without anyone of our family asking for it. This was truly a very special evening and I will highly recommend Terroir to anyone.
It is like visiting a family member you have not seen in a while. You almost want to kick off your shoes and walk into the kitchen!
The menu is comfortable, all ingredients understandable and the food is very delicious. My highlight was the mushroom risotto, but all 6 of us loved every bit of the food.
Great winelist, we particularly enjoyed the finish on AA Badenhorst red blend!
The service was fun, knowledgeable and I almost felt like giving our waitress a big hug when leaving!
Reading some of these reviews I am very suprised. I always go to Terroir whenever I'm in Cape. Always fantastic food and environment. We are never rushed and always leave happy and giddy, if a bit full! As for price, try to get the same meal up here in Jozi. Costs about 2x more! Keep up the great work at Terroir Michael! When are you coming out with a cookbook?
We live in Stellies and have been coming to Terroir since you and Nick started way back when. Its one of our absolute favorite eateries. We went there this Sunday to celebrate my mother-in-law's birthday with the whole family and as always the food was very good.
Michael, however, and this is why I am writing, the food prices was a shocking revelation! Yes, I know you import your mushrooms and your fois gras and I'm sure it's top quality but, what you're charging customers is, in my opinion, outrageous. How do you justify R260 for a fillet? My portion of risotto, as a main, looked like a starter portion, and that for R160?
I hate saying things like, "in my opinion", but in this case I do have one. I don't believe your fillet, your risotto or the line fish warrants or justifies those exuberant prices.
Although the food was really good, it was difficult to enjoy as we felt incredibly rushed! When we arrived at 8pm, only a few other tables were occupied and guests were already finishing dessert. At roughly 10pm (the last table left) we felt almost forced to leave. OK, they didn’t literally ask us to leave, but they were cleaning up around us and stacking chairs. It felt like 2am in the morning. This is probably the first time we didn’t finish a bottle of Galpin Peak Pinot Noir.
Nevertheless, for starters I had a goat’s cheese and fig salad and a mushroom risotto for mains. Amazing - I just wish I had more time to enjoy it! I gulped down a dark chocolate cake type effort for dessert. And then it was over. I've spent more time eating a Big Mac.
Would I recommend it? Yes - for lunch - on your way to the airport when you have about 45 minutes to kill.
Long time fan of Michael Broughton. Had dinner at Terroir 11/2/2012. Wine service was appalling. Bottles opened by waitress and tasting pour. All other wine poured by ourselves! Two of three had lamb main. Seriously overcooked - inedible. Seemed as if it had been boiled. Completely tasteless. Food sent back and not charged for. But very disappointing to go to one of your top 10 restaurants and have such a disappointing meal - particularly with an overseas visitor!
Very poor meal at Terroir.
Ate at Terrior on Christmas Eve, always a hit and miss affair - couldn't have been better, Food - inspired, staff - efficient but not intrusive; ambiance - magical under the trees; absolutely brilliant.
How did Terroir make the 2011 top 10? Had dinner there at beginning of December. At first our reservation couldn't be found, despite having been confirmed earlier on the same day. Second, my wife's glass of sparkling wine was flat - immediately visible. How does a top 10 restaurant allow that to happen? Third, we had to ask for the side vegetables to be brought to the table after mains had been received 5 minutes earlier.
Setting is truly underwhelming - dark interior when natural views of Zalze could have been used to great effect (I mean to drive all the way from Cape Town to Stellenbosch to be ushered inside a smallish dark room with very little view of anything outside - why?). All in all a big disappointment and makes me really wonder about how Terroir managed to make it to the Top 10.
My husband and I had a spectacular meal at Terroir last Thursday at Terroir. It is without doubt one of our favourite places to eat. We had booked a table outside. From the varied bread basket with delicious tapenade to meticulously prepared dishes with extroadinary sauces, our experience was a complete delight. We can't wait to go back! We found the service staff to be excellent too!
Recently, four of us had lunch at Terroir after not having been here for a while. We were welcomed by a slovenly looking, somewhat uninterested hostess who escorted us to the table. How different this was in the recent past, when you were greeted by lovely ladies with a big smile. Ok, we came for the food but let's be honest, ambience is also a reason to visit a restaurant.
We started with the usual delicious basket of bread. The menu on the chalk board used to be presented in detail, but not anymore, a pity. Our waitress just asked if we did have any questions. She did her job in a correct manner, but was also not overflowing with joy that day. But maybe it was me, after the peculiar arrival. Our starters were very nice. I had the pork belly in phyllo pastry which was delicious, but also the starters with white asparagus, ordered by two of my table companions, were recommended to me. The main courses were a hit and miss. My fillet of beef was fine albeit the smallest portion of fillet I have ever had in a South African restaurant. I wondered if the two small pieces of beef would make a 150 gram portion. On the other side of the table I saw one of our friends struggling with a very unattractive and greasy piece of lamb, which she admitted to be really bad after asking her. Our waitress asked if the food was ok. I mentioned to her that it was from good till bad, after which she didn't react at all while topping up our glasses. So I asked her why she didn't respond to my comments. She then said that she was going to report it to the chef after which we learned from her that chef/owner Micheal Broughton was on leave. However, no follow up was given by anyone, not her and not someone from the kitchen. I don't drink coffee during the day, but not even that was offered to us. So, why asking your client for feedback, which was given in an honest and decent manner, and then do literally nothing with it? Not even responding to it in the first place to me is one thing, but no follow up whatsoever is another.
Our desserts again were ok, but nothing special. And that now is the exact reason why we go to a restaurant like Terroir, being rated as one of the best in South Africa by Eat Out magazine. To have a special experience, with a special treatment and special food. And none of us had that feeling when we walked back to our car. Can't they perform without Broughton heading the kitchen? Or are they simply not able to keep up their good standards of the past? Given the fact that there are so much better restaurants in the very close vicinity between Somerset West and Stellenbosch, with world class performances time after time, it might take a while before we will find out what the answers are to those questions.