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Things start off well (and continue in this vein) with the daily bread for two – the generous offering includes farm bread with potted cheese, whipped beef fat, and homemade butter with leek ash. (I’ve never understood the whole ash craze, but this little pat of butter has me converted.)
As might be expected from a collaboration between Neil (celebrated for his nose-to-tail approach) and Liam – the local king of the small plate – the menu offers a compelling mix of flavours and styles. There’s a North African presence in the form of a carrot tagine and a Tunisian lentil soup; a hint of Asia (tandoori kingklip) and then of course a generous scattering of interesting meat cuts and parts, as can be found in a main of bacon chop with mashed potato, sweetbreads and sprouts. A very rich but very rewarding dish.
A starter of egg-rich pasta with mushrooms and peas is light but supremely comforting; a twice-baked soufflé of Kleinriver cheese, leeks and thyme is somehow not as light as expected, but loaded with flavour. And that aforementioned tandoori kingklip – served with rice poppadum, coconut and fresh coriander – is a delight of perfectly balanced textures and tastes.
If you’re after something sweet, the almond slice with moonshine sabayon and stewed apple is the stuff of dreams – a deconstructed apple pie for grown-ups. There’s also a smart little kids’ menu featuring the likes of fish goujons with sweet potato and peas.
Based as it is on the Spice Route estate, you’ll find all their wines on the list, most of them available by the glass, including an unusual but rather lovely viognier-based Charles Back MCC 2015. Some Fairview wines can also be found, as well as a couple of fancy bottles. Also available is a small selection of craft beers and spirits, plus all the usual hot drinks, including a fantastic flat white.
Very capable and helpful, with the ever-amiable Tina dropping by the tables to deliver dishes herself and to check on general happiness levels. In fact, the service was excellent: when notified beforehand that one of our party was of the vegan persuasion, the kitchen presented said guest with an entire little vegan tasting menu designed just for the day. (And everything on it was delicious.)
The décor is stylish but pared down, with calming grey tones. Some colour – and a bit of humour – is provided by the artworks on the walls, which all feature livestock. The eye keeps wandering towards the view, however – the sight of the now-greening Boland patchwork of farms and Table Mountain in the distance just never gets old.