There are lunch venues and then there are lunch venues. Bistro Sixteen82 at Steenberg in Tokai is one of the best ones on a sunny day for ladies who want to lunch, be it a Friday, Sunday or Monday, writes Eat Out columnist Irna van Zyl.
On a sunny Monday morning I emerged from a horrific two weeks of fighting off a deadline with one thought in my head: Where shall I go for lunch, and with whom shall it be?
If you happen to write a column called The Accidental Foodie and you couldn’t even cook rice when you were younger, you have to have to have friends that are real foodies. Which is why I call on Emma and Stefanie, both food lovers in their own right, to join me at Bistro Sixteen82, a good place for a sunny Monday – or any day, for that matter.
We are early, so thought we should start our lunch with a small wine tasting. Steenberg’s wine shop is right next to the restaurant, both of them with a brilliant setting overlooking the vineyards and mountains of Steenberg.
Then it’s time to find our table. We could not have chosen a more perfect spot for the first of what will hopefully become a series of searches for best lunch venues. Surprisingly enough, the restaurant is full; clearly there are no blue Mondays in this part of the world.
First up I try the steak tartare done in an Asian style, widely praised as one of the must-order stalwarts on the menu. Stefanie opts for goat’s cheese panna cotta and Emma is only going for mains.
“I love the Asian greens,” Emma says, pointing to the cucumber pickle that comes with my hand-chopped beef fillet. Stefanie’s goat’s cheese is balanced with the sweetness of the lemon compote, and her parmesan crisp goes down equally well.
We wash this down with a Graham Beck Game Reserve Chenin Blanc 2015 (R155 a bottle), one of the few wines on the list not from Steenberg. Not that that’s a negative: Steenberg offers enough variety in price and cultivar.
Next up is Emma’s beef fillet special with green peppercorns, white wine cream and polenta frites. She orders the sauces on the side and prefers her fillet rare. We all have a taste and agree it’s best without its sauce, and utterly delicious. But Emma doesn’t think the polenta chips quite work. “They’re quite sweet.” Stefanie chimes in: “I do, however, applaud the chef for listening to you and serving the steak properly rare.” I take a bite of the polenta and love it, but then I’m not the foodie at the table.
Stefanie and I stick to starters for mains. We both order the fish ceviche, served with chargrilled corn and avo in a lime-and-coriander dressing. We think the corn is a winner, but prefer the steak tartare of the starters so far.
Stefanie then orders another starter from the specials list: chicken-liver parfait. We all take a bite. I take another. It’s rich but delicious, and finely balanced by the cherry jelly and fig.
“I know it’s a personal thing, but there wasn’t a starter I could order,” complains Emma. “It’s all too fishy or too raw or too sweet.” I, on the other hand, love raw and sweet food, which is why I enjoyed mine so much.
Stefanie orders chocolate truffles for dessert. “There is nothing lonelier than one truffle,” says Emma, “but you can’t have even numbers. You have to order at least three. So is the waiter bringing only one, or three?”
“What about the whole shebang, so I can photograph it?” asks Stefanie, a little doubtful.
Eventually two truffles arrive and everybody is happy.
Our conclusion about the meal: Emma’s fillet is the winner, with the steak tartare and the chicken livers tying for close second place. Stefanie, as always, has the last word: “The meal was accidentally fantastic.”
In my mind there was no accident here. It was worth every cent of our total bill of just over R1 000.