Thursday, July 18, 2019

A Riebeeck Valley weekend. 4. Lunch at Bayleaf & Thyme, Supper at Mama Cucina

Bayleaf and Thyme restaurant for lunch
Wine farms close early on Saturdays in the Riebeek valley, so we had not made any appointments for the afternoon. We had made an appointment for lunch at Bayleaf and Thyme which is in the main square in Riebeek Kasteel. but were a bit late from our superb tasting at Meerhof, which went on till nearly 2. But we phoned and the restaurant was fine with our coming late. It was actually too warm to sit at the table they had kept for us on the sunny porch, so we headed to the shaded side of the verandah and the terrace
We had chosen this restaurant because, after a heavy breakfast, most people wanted something small and fresh
It really fits the bill
They have a daily blackboard menu as well. Those pancakes were tempting, but we resisted
It is nice and crisp, white and light and airy inside
An unusual but talented way to use bottle tops! The cakes look good
And they have a bar, should you want something other than wine
This was the Butternut, caramelised onion and feta cheese filo pasty tartlet which comes with a generous salad
Many of us had the Olive and tomato tart with goats cheese and salad. Good crisp pastry, lots of flavour
and just the right portion size. Olive oil and Balsamic vinegar are available for you to dress your salad
The Caesar Salad without the chicken
and the hamburger and chips comes dressed with caramelised onions, a barbecue sauce, pickled gherkin
and is topped with camembert cheese 
Just chilling in the shade
or having serious discussions. We had a great lunch and we do recommend it. Prices are reasonable
We all had freedom that afternoon to do whatever we wanted. Many went for walks,
some watched the Wimbledon womens’ final; others napped or read

For dinner that night, we were booked into Mama Cucina, which many recommended to us as the best restaurant in the valley
There were differing opinions; some preferred Old Dalby
They are also in Riebeek Kasteel and just around the corner from the main square
Do red check table cloths remind you of Italy? 
They have a standard menu, but the blackboard menu is the one most of us ordered from. It is changed daily
We opened the three bottles of 1999 Swartland Shiraz we had been gifted
Sadly the first bottle was corked. The other two had corks that resisted extraction and broke up
The wine was fruity and good at first, but soon became rather porty, not surprising after 20 years
We were happy to pay R40 corkage on them, but we also ordered other wine for the table
Lynne, who was not very hungry, ordered the Warm Beef salad with an Avocado and Mayonnaise guacamole, which had quite a chilli kick. The beef was in small slivers in a very salty and savoury sauce with chickpeas beneath. Perhaps a good way for the restaurant to use up leftover roast beef? Dressed with slivers of cucumber, raw onion and a lavender stem (we always remember the Masterchef judges comment: "If it is not edible, leave it off the dish")
An enormous plate of Gnocchi with Saffron Chicken with green olives and a lemon sauce, nearly defeated its male recipient
The Caprese salad of baby tomatoes, basil pesto, basil leaves and fior de latte mozzarella morsels was flavourful,
but the tomatoes had seen better days and were bitter. We did send most of them back and told the restaurant why
They made no comment
Drinking an old friend's red wine. The winemaker is Roberto, son of Eugene Mori from Casa Mori in Bottelary, Stellenbosch
John ordered the Quattro Stagione pizza for dinner and could only eat half of it
He got a doggy bag of the rest but then mistakenly left it in our room's fridge the next morning when we checked out!
We hope the staff enjoyed it
Tagliatelle with Roasted red onion, Pesto and spinach
We did not get photos, sadly, of the two dishes that people enjoyed the most, the Aubergine Melanzane
and the dish with Squid steak and Calamari which was raved about as so good
We made the wrong choices, evidently

The kitchen staff: Cathleen Smith, Madeleine Arendse, Elmien Swarts and Suzette Engelbrecht
Not an Italian amongst them. They have been well trained to make these dishes

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