Table at De Meye

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.

October 2015

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