Tuesday, April 04, 2017

96 Winery Road turns 21!

As we discussed during the lunch held last week, there are not many successful restaurants who can claim to have survived this long under the same owners. 96 Winery Road certainly fits the bill. Partners Ken and Allan Forester, Martin Meinert and chef Natasha Wray are still involved and the restaurant continues to provide superb food. At the celebration we tasted the all time favourites from their menu over the last 21 years, paired with some of the great Forrester Meinert wines
Arriving for the celebration, we were welcomed by PRO Nicolette Waterford and Restaurant Manager Allan Forrester and served glasses of the Sparklehorse MCC made from Chenin Blanc
Some respected members (and some would say survivors!) of the wine industry: Wine Selector for Woolworths Allan Mullins, Dave Hughes, author, judge and wine personality; and in the background Angela Lloyd, wine judge and writer
Inside the restaurant
Canapés were excellent: Small crisp puff pastry rounds topped with caramelised onion and balsamic reduction
Wagyu beef tartare with melba toast
Enormous Kataifi pastry wrapped prawns with a light creamy sate dipping sauce
Allan Forrester in charge!
The two Forrester brothers. Ken arrived just as we were sitting down; he had been busy on the farm
The celebration menu. These are the dishes that have been huge successes over the years that customers demand that they are still on the menu
Ken begins the lunch with a little history
Mosbolletjies is a rich bread traditionally made using the juice of fermenting grapes (or mos) . The dough is rolled into rounds and they are packed together into the loaf tin before rising and baking so that it can be easily pulled apart when serving
We began with a Meinert Riesling, the German Job. Crisp and dry with nice acidity to ping off the food and no terpenes
Titled New Style Sashimi this was raw sea bass sashimi in sesame oil & soy sauce, topped with a mild wasabi mayonnaise, sprinkled with sesame seeds and spring onions . Sea Bass sashimi was new to us, it was very good
The four partners, Alan Forrester, Ken Forrester, Natasha Wray and Martin Meinert
The next course was a morsel of tender and gooey pork belly with very crisp crackling. It was served on rather sweet caramelised sweet potato puree with a homemade (by Ken's mum) tomato blatjang (chutney). This was served with the 2016 Ken Forrester Old Vine Chenin Blanc Reserve. Dusty, grassy with faint cooked apple on the nose. Crisp and cooked apple on the palate, a nice tingle of fruit acid on the end. The wood is there but in the background, adding fullness and richness
A wonderful palate cleanser at this point, the Wild mushroom Cappuccino, so rich and creamy, wild mushroom (and some truffle?) aromas, with lots of mushroom texture, topped with a foam and a cheese straw. John was served an alternative, a delicious spinach and potato soup
The Reserve Chenin being poured
No one was weakening at this point and the next course was a delight. Crisp Panko crumb encrusted tender calamari in a taco shell, with Pica de Gallo salsa, salty black beans and an Ancho chilli mayonnaise to add a great hit of warmth
The FMC was then served. Forrester Meinert Chenin or F...ing Marvellous Chenin to quote Ken. This is his offering to Chenin, the wine that challenges all others in the Cape. So concentrated, so layered, so chic, clean lemon, apricots and peach, some spice and many other Chenin references
A memory on the wall of what went before, Gatrile’s restaurant in Johannesburg that Ken used to own. John remembers it well. He says it was where all the advertising people used to go
The final main course (which turned out to be two) was about to be served 
so out came the 2006 vintage Devon Crest made by Martin Meinert. It is an elegant and intense Bordeaux blend with incense, maraschino cherries on the nose, Cherries and cassis on the palate with some chalky tannins, built to last and it still has some time left. it is drinking so well and was so good with both of the dishes that were served
Totally wicked hand cut chips with a hint of truffle to go with the mains
John cannot visit this restaurant without ordering this dish, the famous Duck and Cherry Pie, which Ken brought with him when he 'immigrated' from Johannesburg and Gatrile's. Full of tender duck in a rich red cherry sauce topped with light puff pastry
the other main was the famous "Hollandse" Pepper Fillet, so tender with the warm black pepper and thick cream and brandy sauce, a total indulgence
This is how it was served
By this point, some of us were begging for mercy and then the dessert arrived. Three restaurant classics. A classic crème Brulée, a 96 Winery Road Ice cream, rich with red fruit notes and chocolate sauce, and a light as air chocolate torte. We had the honeyed T Noble Late Harvest with dessert. Coffees too .... What a wonderful way to celebrate 21 years
Alan telling us about how they got to the menu. Customer insist that these dishes stay on the menu so, if you remember them, you can be assured of finding them there on your next visit
All the dishes were cooked by the current chef, Adrian Buchanan, who can ably recreate all of these but cooks his own dishes in his own style as well


A cheerful (and probably full) Alan Mullins with Linda Potgieter at the end of a marvellous day
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2017
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