What started as a 12-seater pop-up in the heart of the Mother City is now a laid-back country-dining experience at Oak Valley Estate in Elgin – one that should definitely be on your Overberg itinerary. Expect relaxed global food in an equally relaxed setting, but with such attention paid to each dish and such generosity of flavour that the experience is elevated from casual dining to something altogether more exciting. Inspired by his travels, chef John van Zyl intends to take you on a trip around the world in one sitting. Bring your family, bring your friends, bring everyone, because a meal at The Melting Pot is intended to be shared. The menu is divided into snacks, small plates, big plates and sweets. If you overhear someone at the next table ordering “one of everything”, they’re referring to the small-plates menu, which can be ordered in its entirety to be split between two. It contains delights such as West Coast mussels (with a fresh fennel side salad that really pulls its weight flavour-wise); perfectly silky seared tuna in an excellently nubbly dukkha crust with cashew tahini dressing, cashew relish and pickled cucumber; and a hulking lamb-rib roti that could be a big plate on its own.
Trust us, a “one of everything” is plenty, but it’s difficult to not be tempted into ordering a big plate or two as well. Especially when your eye is caught by the pan-fried gnocchi with exotic mushrooms (perfectly cooked meaty mushrooms and crispy-fried gnocchi with a well-balanced Parmesan cream sauce) or the famous The Melting Pot hot-fried chicken burger (one of the best in the biz: an amasi-marinated chicken leg, fried and drenched in Szechuan chilli chicken fat and served on a house-made milk bun with togarashi slaw and house-made pickles).
Thanks to sensitive sourcing, the fresh ingredients in each dish really pop. There’s a marvellous use of vegetables, and confident flavours and appealing textures in every bite. Given the variety of the offering, and the excellent value, The Melting Pot is a place you’ll want to return to time and again. Hot tip for summer: order a deluxe, standard or vegan private picnic hamper to be enjoyed in the tree-shaded gardens. Picnics are available Friday to Sunday from 11am to 2pm. The set-up includes a picnic blanket, drinks table and glassware – no plastic cups or spilled wine on The Melting Pot’s watch!
You’re in cool-climate wine country, and there’s plenty to enjoy. Oak Valley wines feature prominently on the list, of course, alongside a handful of the estate’s neighbours. Try the Oak Valley Estate Wine Discovery flight, which will introduce you to gems like the Beneath the Clouds Chardonnay. Aside from wine, there are classic cocktails (made well), or try an Everson’s cider, produced with the apples and pears for which Elgin was originally famous.
Expect friendly service that is a perfect balance of relaxed and efficient.
Overlooking a large turquoise pool, with vineyards in the distance, The Melting Pot’s location encourages you to take a load off, forget the to-do list and focus instead on the culinary journey ahead of you. It’s a pleasant setting for a Sunday lunch in the country, the ambience perfectly matching the food. Indoors, there’s a rustic-chic aesthetic that helps to make the dining room a cosy bolthole on a winter’s evening.