La Colombe’s reputation for sophisticated fine dining and beautiful foliage-inspired presentation is well-deserved and is what has made them so worthy of the title of the 2019 Restaurant of the Year at the Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards. Set high above the Constantia wine valley, its lofty location adds to the feeling that you’re about to experience something special. The eight-course menu (with an optional wine pairing at an additional cost) is a reflection of executive chef James Gaag’s interpretations of local flavours presented in a refined, sometimes quirky, manner.
The journey begins on arrival, when you’re invited to help yourself to a surprise canapé – on this occasion an incredibly thin white chocolate egg filled with a burst of citrusy calamansi juice. The first snack course may comprise a mini lamb roti; springbok, mushroom and chicken liver parfait encased in wafer-thin pastry; and marlin tataki served on a grilled lime half (gently squeeze the lime to release some of its juice before eating the tataki!), presented on a stand decorated to resemble a garden.
The next course is a real star. Wagyu drippings, bone marrow and oxtail jus are delivered to the table in an orb that, when opened, releases a puff of smoke, revealing the Wagyu drippings and oxtail jus. A butter is prepared tableside, incorporating flavours of smoked paprika and dukkah spices, and poured into the orb. Pull-apart sweet-potato bread is served
with it for dunking. You’ll wish there was more.
The signature La Colombe tuna is up next, served in a tin can. Crack it open to reveal fresh tuna, avocado and Asian flavours. The mussel, passion fruit and curry course is equally intriguing and comprises a Cape Malay-style mussel curry served in a hollowed and charred passion fruit shell that you’re invited to cut open using a beautiful pair of small scissors. The subtle curry flavours are beautifully offset by the acidity of the remaining passion fruit inside the shell.
Next up is Kerala-style quail with langoustine and coriander slangetjies, a clever take on sev, the traditional fried Indian snack made using chickpea flour. The main courses of Malay-style linefish and petit poussin with sweetbreads and truffle bring you up to dessert, which may be Bahibe chocolate with blood orange and smoked almond – the richness of the chocolate beautifully offset by the citrus.
And just when you think it’s all over, you’re invited to make a selection from the ‘cheese chest’, a small wooden box containing individually wax-wrapped cheeses served with crackers and preserves. Then it’s time for petits-fours, including a salted caramel and cashew acorn presented dangling from a small tree, accompanied by a speckled egg and rooibos macaron disguised amongst the foliage of the arrangement.
Sommelier Joseph Dhafana presides over an excellent wine list, including red, white and MCC by the glass. There are also spirits on offer, as well as non-alcoholic beverages.
Impeccable; the staff do not miss a beat but are never intimidating or intrusive. Just the right note of friendliness and professionalism.
A stylish, light and airy space with views of the vineyards, reflecting the restaurant’s foliage and garden-inspired themes. Crisp linen, earthy wood and well-considered crockery and cutlery make for an elegant experience.
A very special occasion.