As much as you can do endless research into the best restaurants that a country offers, there’s nothing better than a recommendation from someone who you trust.
Ashleigh has become a firm friend during my first year of blogging and her blog Quintessentially Me is a fantastic source of information on travel, restaurants and clean eating. Ashleigh was born in Brighton but grew up in South Africa and was an absolute fount of knowledge while I was planning my trip. Her childhood best friend and fellow blogger, Sam is also a South African living in London. Though I’ve never met Sam, we share a huge passion for food and she was kind enough to write me an extensive list of foodie recommendations in and around Cape Town.
Ashleigh suggested that we try one of her favourite restaurants, La Colombe, once voted No.12 in the prestigious San Pellegrino Restaurant Awards. Actually it wasn’t only Ashleigh who recommended it, while we were in Cape Town, La Colombe was a name that kept coming up as a big favourite.
I made sure I booked well in advance for such a top notch restaurant and I was really looking forward to a spectacular lunch. However, on the day we ended up getting spectacularly lost and arriving nearly 40 minutes late, I was of course stressing about missing our reservation but the staff at La Colombe reassured me they wouldn’t give away our table and when we arrived they we so lovely and welcoming.
I was immediately struck by the gorgeous views….
Though the day was slightly overcast it was still beautifully warm and the cloud didn’t stop us enjoying the views of Constantia Valley in Hout Bay. Actually the reason that we got lost was our GPS was trying to direct us to La Colombe’s previous premises instead of the current location at the Silvermist Wine Estate at the top of Constantia Nek.
Sensing our stress built up from plenty of google mapping, route recalculations and phone calls, the lovely waiting staff quickly poured us a glass of wine and presented us with the menu.
First an amuse bouche of yellowfin tuna, ponzu citrus, ginger and yuzu, sweetly presently in a tuna can.
Mr S started with beef tataki with anchovy and parmesan dressing, poached quail’s egg, coriander mousse and black pepper puffs. The beef was cooked beautifully and it was so artfully presented.
My dish was also pretty as a picture: Alaskan snow crab served with yellowtail ceviche and cubes of umami jelly and avocado. It was the perfect light and refreshing dish for a slightly muggy day.
The beautiful creations are work of internationally acclaimed Head Chef, Scot Kirton. Starting with no training, in four years Scot worked his way up to sous chef at Haute Cabriere before working for Gordon Ramsay at The Savoy Grill for two years. In 2007, Scot became Sous Chef at La Colombe, under South Africa’s top chef Luke Dale Roberts. In 2010 Scot was handed the reins of La Colombe and became Head Chef, creating a menu of seasonal ingredients using cooking and techniques straight from the heart.
The innovation is clear, especially with the palate cleanser which arrived nestling among some pebbles. We quickly popped the cold balls of cocoa butter into our mouths and they exploded with a zesty liquid inside.
Despite clever amuse bouches, palate cleansers and white table clothes, the atmosphere at La Colombe is incredibly relaxed. The room itself is very simple so that the visual stunners are the view and the beautifully presented food.
I chose panfried kingklip served with caramelised cauliflower, bok choi, mussels, cashew and lemon crumble with salsa verde veloute. The menu is primarily classic French but the Asian influences introduced by Luke Dale Roberts are still prevalent. I found the resulting fusion produces very clean flavours that aren’t overpowered by creamy sauces or butter.
Mr S chose sous vide Karoo lamb loin with pickled aubergine, tomato puree and fondant potatoes. Once again both cooking and presentation were perfect. Scot is a big advocate of the sous vide cooking method in order to achieve a perfect tender and evenly cooked piece of meat.
Desserts were total star of the show:
Bitter chocolate with a velvety and creamy texture paired with perfectly tart raspberries cleverly prepared three ways (consomme, puree and pickle) and set against the sweeter straciatella ice cream.
Ginger curd served with cashew cake, mango sorbet, black sesame, kalamansi (a small citrus fruit) and buttermilk. I loved the way Scot combined the sweet and bitter ingredients to create different flavours notes resulting in puddings that weren’t overly sweet.
Petits fours of truffles and Turkish delight were presented beautifully in a wooden log lined with stones, mimicking the gorgeous natural environment of the valley and surrounding trees.
Our lunch at La Colombe was absolutely faultless; delicious and beautifully presented food, a relaxed environment and kind and attentive service.
Thank you, Ashleigh for such a fantastic recommendation.
Silvermist Wine Estate