Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A Saturday morning jaunt to De Grendel followed by lunch at the Salt Water Grill in Pinelands

We are members of the De Grendel Wine Club, so we get notifications of the release of their new wines. The latest release was of their Koetshuis Sauvignon Blanc and we were keen to taste it as we do rather like the way Charles Hopkins makes this wine. So, with a friend whose wife was away, we ventured off to Durbanville to find it. We like it so much that it is our wine of the week and Lynne has promoted it to her Birthday wine, it is that good. (Every year Lynne nominates a favourite wine and John responds by buying her a case for her birthday in August)

It looked as though we were the first to visit that chilly morning, but we were soon followed by more people. Usually, there is a superb view of the mountain, but it is mid-winter, the stormy Table Bay was in mist and cloud shrouded our mountain as the beginnings of a North Westerly rain storm began to come in
 Inside the comfortable tasting room, it was warm and cosy and we were very well looked after as we tasted the MCC, the Koetshuis Sauvignon Blanc, the Rosé and the Shiraz. If you belong to the club, all you are required to do is buy at least 12 bottles a year and in exchange you get discounts on wine purchases and in the restaurant and can taste the wines at no charge. A very fair exchange we think.

They currently also have a special on a box of the De Grendel Shiraz with some older vintages
Then it was a quick drive to the Howard Centre in Pinelands for lunch at the Salt Water Grill. Lynne is a member of a Facebook group called Restaurants, the Good, the Bad and the Ugly and this restaurant has had such good reviews since it opened, plus two good family reports, that we were excited to try it out. Their main focus is seafood; they title themselves a Seafood Bistro
We were the first to arrive, expecting to find it busy. Nice Bistro feel with the blue and white check tablecloths
Very friendly and helpful staff who told us about the specials of the day, which we are normally a bit cautious about, as it can point to oversupply at the end of a week, but it can also mean they have access to fresh and seasonal ingredients
We were seated on the enclosed balcony which, thankfully, was sheltered by the poly blinds. It was a very cold day. We took a bottle of wine from our cellar, a Waterford Pecan Stream Chenin Blanc 2015. The corkage charge is R30 a bottle
The bill was reasonable for the dishes ordered
 Lynne decided to order two starters (both prawns and fresh tuna had been sold to us as specials of the day) and have them together as her main course. This was the tempura prawns. Four huge juicy prawns, not in a light tempura batter, but a heavy batter as is usually used on fried fish, accompanied by a sweet chilli sauce and a slice of lemon
The other starter of Tuna Tataki. Lightly seared tuna, some black and white sesame seeds and a rather strange sweetish caramel sauce instead of the ginger, soy, lime or ponzu more usually served with it. The tuna seemed fresh, but was missing that sea flavour, almost as if it had been washed away. Lynne used the chilli sauce from the prawns to add flavour
John ordered Paella. Those deep fried morsels on top are not calamari but rather overcooked and leathery fish goujons. When John told the manager that paella should use saffron and not turmeric, we were told that they do not use saffron in the paella, it is too expensive, but substitute turmeric to get the yellow colour - and indeed many people do, but we wish they wouldn't. Read Saffron in Paella. A good tomato, onion and red pepper sofrito will add those Mediterranean flavours. Sadly, the turmeric was added with a very heavy hand, making this more a Cape Malay curry than a Spanish paella. It does have chorizo added to the seafood. It was a very large portion
Our friend Ronnie ordered the fish stew, which came topped with lots of different seafood and with some toasted bread on the side. It looked promising. Unfortunately, the sauce was completely bland, watery and tasteless and seemed as if it was only half cooked; fish stock had not yet been added. Might it have been destined, with further cooking, for the evening service? We all tasted it and we did complain. To their credit, the restaurant manager took it off our bill

We were disappointed with the meal. The restaurant has its fans
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2017

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