Thursday, August 23, 2018

Birthday lunch at Chefs Warehouse, Beau Constantia

We are great admirers of Chef Liam Tomlin and the innovative food he and his chefs prepare. On Lynne's birthday last year we celebrated at the Chefs Warehouse in Heritage Square in town. We have since been to Thali, his Indian restaurant. This year, she chose to go to the Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia. It was a grey and fairly chilly day but the views from the farm do make up for it
The wine tasting facility is on the top floor, the restaurant is below
Aross the valley you can see both Constantia Glen and Eagle's Nest wine farms
We arrived early for our 12 o'clock booking, so went to have a look at the vegetable and herb garden the chefs use
Even in winter, there are some good alternatives
Winter vines enjoying the good soaking they are getting this year and just waiting to burst into bud
They make lovely patterns across the steep slopes
Studying the lunch menu and making notes
  We asked if they would let us drink a very special bottle of wine and were very happy to pay the R80 corkage they allow on just one bottle. This lovely elegant wine has floral hints and the typical just struck gun flint notes, while, on the palate, it is lean and crisp with limes and lemons, minerality and length. It went so well with everything on the menu.  It's a Sauvignon Blanc from Pouilly-sur-Loire, in the Nièvre département of France
It has an open kitchen, so you can watch the professional chefs working so well and mostly in silence
We chose to eat from the Tapas menu - R800 for two
You get everything on this menu, served in three stages
Our lovely waitress Justine was very good at giving us a very full description of each dish
We began with two lovely crisp buttery slices of layered paratha topped with lime marinated, lightly seared angelfish, resting on cream and topped with a lime chutney and coriander sprouts. The spicy chutney made this dish, it was like popping candy! The fish was fresh, succulent and a bit shy
The second dish in the stage was slivers of oh so lightly smoked beef entrecote carpaccio, Vietnamese peanuts in a creamy sauce, topped with fresh herbs and puffed rice
Coal seared tuna, which made it smoky, topped with a light as air umami miso cream, warm Szechuan spiced cashews, silken tofu cubes and tempura crisp mustard greens. A great balance of different textures and flavours
  We shared the portion and this is it halved and on show out of its dark bowl
Vineyards through glasses, not darkly
When a risotto is cooked perfectly and the flavour is true, you have a wonderful dish like this green parsley and cheese risotto. It comes with horseradish, an onion soubise cream and fried ham hock that added the right amount of salt and smoke. So satisfying, so warming on a bitter winter's day
Described as a Sweet Potato and Corn Masa "Gratin" Toasted Parmesan Catalan, this was a delicate roll of thinly sliced potatoes set on its side, toasted on top, and served with a spicy moroccan lime vierge sauce and a warm corn 'chutney'. Topped with a crisp fried tapioca flour spiral, dusted with grated parmesan, and some lime segments. Complex but complete, a joy for vegetarians
The final stage of three dishes.  First a smoked linefish (Cape bream that day) Bhadji with very drisp batter, on a saffron and onion masala sauce, with curry bush and swiss chard dressing (the herb oil was outstanding), and it was finished with a lemon and milk paneeer sauce
There was magic on this plate. Tender, flavourful rich debonded lamb rib with a Gruyère cheese cream, even richer walnut caperberry and raisin jam, deep fried sage leaves and dots of a fruity red gel - berry or beet? The magic was the Puffed Pie Crust, dusted with cheese. As you picked up this light as air piece of pastry, it went pouff in your mouth and disappeared leaving just butteriness and flavour
The final piece de resistance Char grilled slices of smoky and tender venison, pink and tender in the middle, crisp outside, meltingly tender inside, parsnip beignets (why is this wonderful vegetable so neglected in the Cape?) Accompanied by a BBQ cashew nut purée, crisp crumb and a good treacly jus.  There were pieces of confit blood orange, something new for us. The taste of the venison changed completely when accompanied by this, good but it masked the enjoyable smoke
A superb meal, just one point is that the many of the dishes have a rich cream accompaniment and the richness of these does affect ones liver a little. The Sauvignon Blanc helped to cut it. Chef has now changed this menu for a new one, so do go and try it. He does this regularly according to the seasonal and local foods available.
We had not one inch of space for dessert, John managed an Espresso

Chef Ivor Jones hard at work on the Pass
The bill
Amusing and clever signage in the loo

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