Start with some tapas at the bar, especially in the cold and wet winter months. The inviting plush armchairs provide an excellent comfy nook after a long day at the office.
After the prompt arrival of your choice of drinks and water, the meal is kicked off with still-warm mini vetkoeks and dinner loafs, accompanied by infused beef lard and citrus butter – the lard providing the signature nose-to-tail stamp.
For starters, delight in the extraordinarily smooth mixture of flavours offered by the chicken liver parfait. Make sure to spread some of the parfait, sprinkled with salt flakes, on the golden brioche and then heap on a generous helping of the two pickle options provided, one of which is an irresistible little bowl of lemony onion-and-gherkin pickle.
The home-smoked line fish with a fennel-and-citrus salad provides a milder option, with the tarragon salad cream rounding off the dish perfectly. Also on offer is crisp lamb's tail and brain with a sauce gribiche. This was unfortunately not available on the day, but promises to be something special for the more adventurous.
The pork belly, one of the nine options for mains, is perfection – slow-roasted and joined on the plate by roasted maize cubes on a corn-and-maple glaze. The glaze adds a touch of sweetness to complement the richness of the meat, with the crackling snapping and then melting away in your mouth like a crispy biscuit. If steak is your thing (and perhaps even if it’s not), the options on the menu won’t disappoint. The hangar steak, served medium-rare with charred shallots and roasted baby potatoes, is drizzled with a classic tangy mustard sauce that enhances the flavour. Vegetarian options do exist on chef Goffe-Wood's menu, but are in the minority.
On chilly days you may find yourself passing on the over-the-top ice-cream sundae for the white- and milk-chocolate profiteroles (the chef's favourite – as it takes him back to childhood – he confesses during a quick visit to our table). Or enjoy the warm lemon curd cake, artfully presented with custard, vanilla ice cream, fudge flakes, lemon cream and crème fraîche. It’s fresh and delicious.
Drinks at the bar is a must. Brandies get special treatment, but the Cosmopolitans are top-notch as well. An extensive wine list (specially compiled by the chef) is available, with wine by the glass offered from the Under Oaks range. The options favour the Paarl region. For the connoisseurs, a special collection from the Chef's Cellar is available.
Some staff are still in training but Jo-Anne, who heads up the team, deserves special mention. We were immediately made to feel at home and comfortable. Her suggestions from the menu were spot-on and the service was attentive, prompt and thorough.
The décor is what strikes you first, courtesy of Western Cape designer Francois du Plessis. Gone are the white tablecloths and drapes hanging from the windows, replaced with a palette of warm wooden hues, stark black (the wooden tables and chairs) and grey, as well as striking wallpaper that provides a canvas for monochrome sketched forest trees.
A lengthy celebration with your meat-loving friends.