Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Lunch at Benguela on Main, Somerset West

Benguela Cove winery is on the hillside overlooking Walker Bay, on the road between Bot River and Hermanus. Owner Penny Streeter OBE has now opened a fine dining restaurant nearer to Cape Town on Main Road and Coronation in Somerset West. We experienced the great food and newly released wines there on Friday
They have taken a large corner house and it now has beautiful modern and elegant interiors with comfortable chairs. There is a small deck on the side.
Banting is so hard when faced with fresh home-made bread such as this and a good flavoured butter
Sommelier Denis Garret, who hails from France, was on hand to show us the wines
We chose from the current menu, The chef changes it frequently
Lynne's Amuse was very clever. Baby mushrooms with fresh fennel and amasi (thick sour milk) The combination of mushroom with fennel is a revelation and a lovely palate cleanser
John was pickled red cabbage with pear and broccoli in amasi. Chef Jean Delport is certainly very talented and the food not only tasted wonderful, but was beautifully presented. We think Somerset West is going to love this restaurant, as will people visiting from other places
Lynne's starter of light as air, rich Chicken liver parfait. This dish always separates the men from the boys, as it is not easy to make. We had a very bad sour and metallic one recently. Lynne ordered it specifically to see how it would perform. A huge success. It was accompanied by an onion crisp, squares of a wine jelly, clever smoked raisins, which added another dimension, and a thick, sticky, fruity preserve (dates and raisins) with some dots of fromage blanc. It came with a warm slice of toasted brioche
John's rather small starter of Norwegian salmon gravadlax, folded into buckwheat blinis with crème fraiche and topped with fish roe, was great but you don’t want to share any of this. We drank the new Matilda’s Secret 2015 with this, which needs more time as it has just been bottled. We then tasted the 2014, which is full of the perfume of elderflowers and cool, crisp and layered on the palate with muscat and elderflower notes, but nice and dry. We hope they keep serving the 2014 for a while. The Matilda’s Secret range is made for Benguela Cove by Johan Fourie at the KWV
Time for the main courses, so time to taste the Benguela Cove 2014 Pinot Noir. It has a pretty floral nose with roses, incense and violets, with some cola and mulberry on the palate. It is very young and needs more time, so it is not really ready to drink now, but will be in time. We also tasted the 2014 Chardonnay, which was made by Kevin Grant. Its rich marmalade nose has layers of lemon, nectarine and English gooseberries. A great food wine. Lynne drank this with her fish main course
John drank the 2014 Shiraz which is rich and spicy with vanilla, cherries and cinnamon, the soft rich flavours of the wine was the perfect pairing for his extremely tender Kroon duck in a Five Spice sauce. It was done two ways, confit leg and crisp skinned, grilled breast on a medley of carrot, with roasted potatoes, bok choy and an Asian duck jus. It looks like a 1960 Jackson Pollock Action painting
Offer Lynne crab and she will take it. Always. Her main was almost two dishes. Crisp aromatic soft shell crab, with crisp shitake mushroom slivers and soft mushrooms beneath, with wilted spring onion strands (difficult to cut or eat) with a monk fish 'fillet' coated in intense mushroom dust. We learned the fish had been confit and then, with the dust applied, it was fried till nearly crisp on the outside and tender and moist within. It had great flavour. The dish was anointed with a good onion cream, lightly pickled. A touch of acid always offsets rich flavours so well
We had two side orders: pommes frites with good aioli (not the right potatoes for chips sadly, for while they looked crisp on the outside, the centre was watery) and tender stem broccoli with black sesame on a purée of Romanesco and a miso & ponzu sauce. All good flavours
Our urbane, attentive and interesting waiter Jack Black
We passed up on dessert and had a cheese board. All local cheeses except for the Danish Blue. This came with melba toast. We followed this with two good strong double espressos
Lynne talking to the waiter about the food
A collection of Benguela Cove wines above the bar
Making coffee
They don’t need a pianist as it’s a player piano - flip a switch and it plays itself.
A cheese and meat platter being prepared for other guests
It is an open kitchen, nice and quiet and a hive of activity
Chef Jean Delport at the computer with the owner’s son, Adam Streeter, who manages the restaurant
There is a function room upstairs which is available for hire
Another view of it
The vinoteque
Thank you Chef for a lovely meal. We hope to bring you lots of new customers
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2015

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