Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Restaurant Week lunch at Restaurant Jardine, Stellenbosch

To say we have been meaning to visit this restaurant for months is no lie; when we saw it was on Restaurant week we felt there was no excuse not to book and plan well ahead. We think George is one of the best chefs in South Africa and he never disappoints us. His sauces are legendary and we never allow any to go back to the kitchen
A warm welcome from his wife Louise, who very kindly sent us complimentary glasses of Graham Beck Brut Rosé. Chef George was not cooking on Friday, but we know he always trains his staff so well that the food would be the same as if he had been there, and we were right
The Jardines have recently refurbished this compact restaurant on Andringa Street in the centre of Stellenbosch. We arrived at 12 and parked in the Eikestad mall
In the other room
First comes the bread and how witty the design of the serving 'plate' - looked like a butcher bird's hoard! Warm seed load, some Banting crackers and some speared baby cucumbers, carrots and radishes to dip into the aioli topped with pesto
The menu: Two courses for R250, three for R300 and some great choices
We decided that a bottle of Pinot Noir from Oak Valley, their Sounds of Silence would be a good match for many of the courses we were having. We were with two friends who are both vegetarian
The vegetarian starter of new season globe artichokes, light potato gnocchi, crisp sage and a parmesan cream sauce
John chose the delectable terrine of smoked chicken and leek, with truffled leek dressing, creamy chicken liver parfait balls and crisp chicken skin
Lynne is convinced hers was the best, although it had some competition. East coast hake and prawn Boudin blanc (white sausage) slices on crushed pea purée with chervil, in a sea of marvellous prawn bisque. the boudin slices were topped with nasturtiums. Delicate boudin with texture of the prawns and fish, deep and wonderfully flavoured bisque. One to remember for a long time. Clean plate returned.
On to the main courses. John chose the perfectly pink and tender peppered fillet which had been seared; the onion was stuffed with rich braised brisket, falling apart. It same with a square of potato fondant, a good rich jus and some spinach  purée
The vegetarian main course was a poem of fresh glazed Kokstad porcini mushrooms, with mushroom mousse balls rolled in hazelnuts, quince and kale, on a crisp, tart, fine flaky pastry base. Just how to showcase simple fresh mushrooms
Another deceptively simple dish for Lynne. Sea Trout, moist and perfectly cooked with crisp skin, served with broad beans - yes! And kale - no! Sprouts and crisp waterblommetjies. This had a lovely light cream, lemon and chive sauce
We are being served a LOT of kale recently, so we assume it is in season. This was quite soft and edible but it is not our favourite vegetable, it has little flavour and is often so hard to chew and sometimes has a texture like glass (not here). We are told it is healthy. So is spinach. Please - leave it for the cattle.
And so to dessert. We can often pass, but not here. We all succumbed and had no regrets. This was the Valrhona chocolate mousse, fruity with tropical flavours, dark, light and sublime, topped with the Valrhona torte - rich and dense with crisp edges like those on a brownie, topped with a creamy chocolate ice cream. Signs of satisfaction were heard. And another four clean plates returned to the kitchen – yes, we did decadently use our fingers to swipe up the remains and prolong the joy. Thank you George and Louise, a memorable meal
The bill followed four good double espressos. R810 per couple for three courses with wine and service seems very reasonable for food of such quality

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