Sunday, October 4th, 2015
Reviewed by Katharine Jacobs
Chef Jessica Shepherd and her husband Luke Grant have taken over the reigns from the previous owners and their comforting, country-style food remains in a class of its own. The only option is the set three-course menu, served family-style, but given the excessive deliciousness of the food, its something of a relief to surrender any decision-making. First there is sourdough from the award winning Schoon de Companje and sweet, creamy farm butter from the Heike Farm. The earthy sweetness of turnips is celebrated in a soup, and then something magnificent appears: bright purple beetroots are layered on flaky pastry and topped with some cream and fresh greens. This is their famed beetroot tarte tatin, which makes a frequent appearance on the menu. The sweet and tender beets are lifted by the cream and salty, buttery pastry – a triumph. For mains, there’s Karoo chicken, which has been roasted in verjuice, cream and celery, which combines into an utterly moreish sauce. There’s also a thoroughly creamy celeriac gratin, with a crispy baked top, which we jealously divvy up. A crunchy apple and chicory salad smartly cuts through all this cream. By dint of loosening our belts, we just manage to squeeze in pud: a pancake with Van der Hum, orange and naartjie sauce, and a sublime homemade vanilla ice cream.
The wine list is so short that it’s recited by the waiters, rather than written down. You’ll only find De Meye wines here – they’re not the most high-brow of the estates in the winelands, but they’re very reasonably priced. (A bottle of thoroughly drinkable rosé comes in at just R60 on our bill – although that is the cheapest of the lot.) There are also several craft beers available.
The service suits the country-style food. Wait-staff may be dressed in jeans, but there’s a professionalism about their service, and a warmth in their serving style.
In summer, tables are spread out on the lawn, a tree apiece – so it feels as if you’re dining privately in some vast garden. In winter, tables are usually inside the historic building with its half-metre thick, whitewashed walls and mismatched furniture. There’s also an extension with glass walls, looking out onto the lawn and vineyards. Crockery is a mismatched mix of antique finds – plates are adorned with blossoms or patterned with autumn leaves.
As it’s a set menu, the team enquire about dietary requirements when you make a booking, and are extremely adept at adapting dishes to special needs. Our beetroot tarte tatin is made suitably wheat-free – with pastry so beautifully buttery and flaky that I can scarcely believe it’s not wheat.