Thursday, October 25, 2018

Lunch at 95 at Parks, Wynberg

A memorable lunch at 95 at Parks restaurant this week brought back lots of memories. It was where we had our first official date, on Lynne’s birthday 19 years ago. And, sadly, this was the first time we had been back. It was then under the expert hand of Michael Olivier. Now, the restaurant is ably run by Giorgio Nava who also has 95 Keerom, 95 at Morgenster and Carne. It has an Italian theme and Lynne had spotted a voucher on Hyperli for their current special, which prompted our long delayed visit. We love proper Italian food (and we don't mean pasta and pizza) and the menu had Lynne’s favourite dish, Fegato (liver), which the Italians do so well. The house has a really impressive vegetable garden and the produce is used in the dishes
Inside, some impressive murals from the past. There is wood panelling, astro turf grass on the walls
The wood panelling and floral curtains do add a certain 'park' feel
We were impressed with the free bread offering, the good, fresh and slightly bitter green olive oil and balsamic vinegar and very good homemade tangy and crisp olives. You get brioche, good crisp ciabatta slices, superb parmesan crisps and some crunchy sesame sticks
We knew we were going to have meat for our main courses, so we stayed local and ordered one of our favourite Constantia wines, Buitenverwachting’s 2016 Meifort, a red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Soft and full of dark fruit and elegance. We used to sell a lot of this wine at Main Ingredient. The Meifort 2014 won the Riedel Trophy for the best Bordeaux style red blend in the 2017 Old Mutual Trophy competition and it was awarded 4½ stars in Platter; wine does not have to cost the earth to be excellent
A Campari mural in another section of the restaurant
The special menu. The deal was two courses (starter and main, or starter and dessert) for two R299. Incredible value. Sadly, the offer runs out at the end of October. But go anyway, the food is good
Lynne’s starter of salmon tartare on a bed of avocado with capers, onions, parsley, sprouts and extra virgin olive oil . It needed a bit of seasoning, but was fresh and well made. Served with brioche, lemon and a dressed salad of rocket and spinach leaves. She knows that raw onion is a component on most tartares, but is not a fan and could do without it. It adds astringency and stays on the palate too long and can overwhelm such a delicate fish
John said the carpaccio of beef was one of the best he has had
topped with a well dressed salad of spinach and peppery rocket with grated parmesan
Nice to see sound baffles attached to the ceiling. It means that the ambient noise is low
and you can hear yourself speak. So many restaurants need these
There is also jazz background music, soft enough not to be too intrusive
John ordered the 300g sirloin steak. Giorgio Nava is famous for his meat and so this was a no brainer for steak loving John. It is a generous portion and the quality and flavour were much appreciated. John says it had the right char on the outside, was tender and juicy and perfectly pink inside. The dishes came with one free 'side' so we ordered another each. He had the Swiss chard spinach and matchstick potatoes. They were not crisp as requested, but had great flavour
Lynne’s Fegato (liver) was extremely well cooked. She asked for medium rare and got it. Soft as butter and nicely coated in a seasoned flour, it had great flavour too. It came with caramelised balsamic onions and a good sauce. Not sure if it was calf's or lamb's liver, but a joy to eat and a large portion. The Swiss chard was just OK, but we are spoiled by growing our own baby spinach. We asked who the chef was; his name is Jonas (our waitress did not know his surname) and is from Rwanda. He has worked for Chef Giorgio for over 10 years
Lynne’s side of creamy mashed potato. Somehow an essential accompaniment to liver,
especially if the sauce is good, and it was
About to begin our main courses. There were temptations on the dessert menu but, sadly, we were too full. The wine, side dishes and service cost us R270 extra, which we were very happy to pay
Service was willing, but very slow; apparently because of a lack of staff
They’d had a very busy service the previous night, we were told,
and so there were only two serving staff for the restaurant that day
A room for a group doing private dining
The bar
A wonderful collection of copper jugs
The solarium
The other front room
And, from the terrace, a view of the Constantia mountains
We will definitely be back and not after 19 years, but much sooner 

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