Cost: R125 average main meal
Food type: Casual fine-dining
Best for: A stylish winelands lunch
Star ratings: Food and drinks: 4; Service: 4; Ambience: 4
Chef Stephen Raaff hits all the spots at newly opened Protégé with his refined, flavour-packed approach to casual fine-dining, a concept that seems to be on the rise lately. Diners can choose between a selection of small (and some not-so-small) plates designed for sharing, or opt for the chef’s menu, a selection of seven of the chef’s favourite dishes for the table, at a cost of R475 per person.
To start, opt for sourdough with goat’s butter, olive and biltong, or Asian-style Saldanha oysters. Sticky edamame beans with house-made sriracha and sesame seeds are a perfect introduction to mains – you’ll want to scoop up that sticky glaze with a spoon!
The Korean fried chicken with buttermilk is a sophisticated take on KFC – a plump drumstick coated in a sticky glaze and served with a foamy coriander dressing that’ll have you shamelessly double dipping. The tataki and tartare consists of tuna tataki and beef tartare on a smear of coriander and avocado cream respectively, both with a miso gel, chipotle and a wisp of crispy pork crackling. It’ll be hard to share.
The lamb roti is an explosion of spice and will have you longing for another bite, while the Kerala-style fried line fish delivers pleasing crunch, with labneh, pickles and cucumber adding acidity. You’ll definitely hit your stride when Asian barbecue pork belly and prawns with sugar snap peas, house-made kimchi, soy and corn are delivered to your table. Beef fillet with bone marrow, a sublimely smooth carrot purée and a darkly delicious sauce that you’ll want to take home is also hard to beat.
Save room for dessert, which takes the form of a panna cotta with strawberries, meringue and a macadamia crumb that is impossible to do justice in words. Or go for the rich peanut butter-and-chocolate terrine with a refreshingly light chocolate sorbet that complements rather than overpowers the plate. Also on offer is a selection of cheeses and chocolate truffles.
An excellent selection of local wines, some available by the carafe, and MCCs (available by the glass), as well as a few cocktails and spirits.
Discreet and attentive, with just the right relaxed note. Staff are knowledgeable about the menu and happy to make recommendations. Impressive given that it’s been open for a matter of days.
The open kitchen of Protégé takes centre stage in the airy space, which is decorated in neutral tones with wood and leather. Velvet-upholstered chairs at the marble-topped counter overlooking the kitchen add a touch of glamour. A courtyard makes the most of summer weather.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay their way in full. Read our editorial policy here.
A ‘first taste’ is a review conducted in the first couple of weeks after a restaurant’s opening, when it is expected that the chefs and staff will still be finding their feet.