Neil Grant, former Rust en Vrede sommelier, is the man behind Burrata, a contemporary Italian restaurant in Woodstock’s trendy Old Biscuit Mill, and the first of our twenty nominees for the Boschendal Style Award at the 2012 Eat Out DStv Food Network Restaurant Awards.
Tasty Italian fusion food is the name of the game: think Southern Italian Neapolitan-style pizza, pappardelle with slow-cooked short rib, roasted red pepper ragù and crispy onion, and risotto with crispy pork, granny smith apple and currant vinaigrette. Pizzas are perfectly cooked, thanks to an imported Italian pizza oven made by a third generation family in Naples. Crafted from ancient bricks, volcanic rock and sorrento stone, it reaches temperatures above 480°C.
Annemarie Steenkamp – who cut her teeth at Le Quartier Français – is the woman in chef’s whites. And, as you’d expect, from Neil’s establishment, the wine list is expertly put together.
Packed even on the chilliest winter nights, this is clearly a place where Capetonians want to spend their time. Old face-brick, a wood-panelled feature wall (by Overberg Joiners) and a warm colour palette keep things cosy in winter, while glass walls let in lots of light for summer dining. Details like the large transparent wine rack, wine bottle lights (by Ryan Matchett Design House), and an oversized pizza oven lend personality to these solid basics.
The choice of an old location adds to the ambience, but naturally comes with its own challenges. “Just like most projects, it was bigger than we expected at the start,” admits Neil, who dreamt up the interior with business partner Barry Engelbrecht, and the help of Inhouse Brand Architects.
Major renovation work included building a new bar, a state-of-the-art wine cellar and removing a window and part of a wall to allow enough space to get the 2.6 ton pizza oven into the space. And when sandblasting wasn’t creating the right effect on the old brickwork, they ended up having all the paint removed by hand.
Does Burrata have what it takes to win the Boschendal Style Award?
By Katharine Jacobs