Michael Broughton is no stranger to winning awards – he has an armload of accolades from his time at Terroir and his previous restaurant, Broughtons. But this year was special. Despite a young team, Terroir in Stellenbosch came in at number 8 at the Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards. Watch them hear the announcement on the day, below.
Eat Out features editor and critic Jeanne Calitz explains what makes Terroir so special.
Over the years at Terroir, 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.
Terroir’s 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.