Madré’s Kitchen was famous for its soul food in Stanford, so when chef Madré Malan announced plans to move to a new restaurant nearby called Manor House, we pricked up our ears. (Madré’s Kitchen has reopened as The Royal Oke).
Serves: Bistro classics with little twists, and soul food
Best for: Lunch in the countryside, with a magnificent mountain view
Star ratings: Food 5, ambience 4, service 4
At first glance, the Manor House menu seems simple, featuring a range of bistro classics. We kick off with silky artichokes, fried in a thin, crisp batter and served with a heavenly lemony aioli. It’s served with a quarter of lemon, and calls to mind the experience of eating excellent battered calamari.
From there, it’s on to sticky pork neck, served with pears and the most gloriously creamy butternut purée. It’s becoming rapidly apparent that the simplicity on the menu belies an extremely talented team of chefs. The mushroom risotto is outstanding – it’s silken and perfectly cooked, with a tiny bit of bite, and not mushy or grainy – with a powerful hit of parmesan and deep, soulful mushrooms. If, like me, you had temporarily become disillusioned by risotto, I urge you to try Madré Malan’s version.
For pud, we sample the rooibos crème brûlée, which has an excellent flavour, but sadly isn’t quite set in the centre. Alternatively, there’s malva pudding with brandy-infused crème Anglaise and vanilla ice cream or chocolate torte.
The winelist offers a handful of affordable bottles, and some special, spoil-yourself wines. Shell out for a Restless River chardonnay, Vilafonte Seriously Old Dirt, or Bouchard Finlayson Hannibal, or simply quaff a reliable Raka or Newton-Johnson Felicité rosé. There’s a handful of options available by the glass for between R25 and 40.
We’re given a thoroughly lovely welcome, as if arriving at a long-lost friend’s home. Our waiter is busy but laser-focused, breaking into a jog, occasionally, between tables.
Situated on a farm in the Akkedis conservancy, Manor House offers sweeping views of the Akkedisberg Mountains. The restaurant interior is mid-century chic, with beautiful wooden floors and contemporary furniture. A dense display of paintings and art – some of it quite valuable – adds character. (A painting above our table is casually signed ‘G. Sekoto’.) All in all, it’s a splendid place to enjoy lunch in the countryside. The best seats in the house are in the front half of the space, where windows let the view spill in.
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