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While everybody loves an underdog, La Petite Colombe defied all expectations of being overshadowed by its older, more famous sibling, La Colombe; opting to burst onto the scene and nabbing the coveted Eat Out Retail Capital New Restaurant of the Year award months after its opening. Now, after a full year, La Petite Colombe has not only settled into the ring but, if the reviews and hoopla are anything to go by, it has obliterated most of its competition with artful, classic French cooking, making chef John Norris-Rogers one of the new chefs to watch.
Head chef Norris-Rogers, under the guidance of celebrated chef-restaurateur Scot Kirton and La Colombe’s head chef James Gaag, has devised a menu born of La Colombe, yet decidedly its own blend of whimsical. Caraway sourdough bread with home-churned butter, sesame and roasted yeast kicks off the menu but only upon the serving of the popular Yellowfin tuna, aubergine, miso, naartjie and avocado starter does the epicurean splendour really take off. The gochujang-glazed pork, scallop and celeriac with wild garlic and horseradish is rich without being overly unctuous; while the ravioli of langoustine, curried hake veloute, cauliflower and coriander will have you seeing the culinary pearly gates. It bears mentioning that part of why La Petite Colombe’s dishes are so revolutionary is the understated manner in which they are served. Limited use of theatrics ensures guests are kept curious until that first bite, and oh my do these bites deliver!
Like a well-orchestrated dining performance between the starters and the palate cleansers ahead of the main course, diners are ushered to the kitchen’s ‘chef’s table’, complete with a live foliage display. Here diners enjoy an interactive course that is completed before them as well as a quick rundown of the kitchen, chefs and various stations. It’s a neat way to get guests to stretch their legs ahead of the main courses and also offer an up-close look into the behind-the-scenes of the kitchen. Having to choose between the fish course and red meat, usually Cape Wagyu sirloin, can prove a task too unfair for any food lover. Strong-arm a fellow diner into picking an alternative dish so you both get to taste the dishes.
For dessert one has the choice between a cheese-inspired dessert and a traditional sweet dessert. Opting for the cheesy option gives a wonderful glimpse into the pastry chef’s nuanced skill at crafting a keenly balanced dish. One such example was the Foxenberg goat’s cheese, goat’s milk caramel, kouign-amann and guava and tamarind served with Miles Mossop’s ‘Kika’ 2017 – a pairing triumph.
Craftily curated by head sommelier Andrew Cook, the wine pairing not only complements, but also enhances every dish’s flavour while revealing latent characteristics of the wine itself. I can’t be recommend it enough.
Hospitality veteran Morné Wessels might have left, but his legacy lives on – La Petite Colombe still offers some of the most polished service in the Cape.
The refurbished space is airy and muted, with a sensibly sagacious use of the ample light it enjoys.
Date nights or for getting inspiration and falling in love all over again with the purity of elevated French cooking.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our full editorial policy here.