A couple of weeks ago I went to La Colombe for an utterly exquisite dining experience. I would say lunch, but it really is just so much more than that. It’s a culinary journey that delights all your senses, so settle in for a good three to four hours to thoroughly enjoy this. The head chef team have recently returned from a worldwide tour and have brought back inspiration to create their new spring menu. I was delighted.
Nestled high up the mountain of Silvermist Estate in Constantia, La Colombe has a very calm and relaxed atmosphere. You know you are in one of the best restaurants in the country but you are made to feel completely relaxed and at home. The service throughout the day is impeccable too, with highly professional staff floating around you silently catering to your every whim. You never in any way feel like they are intruding. Georgia, who was our dedicated waitress for the day was superb. Each course is presented with detailed explanations and their sommelier Tongai Joseph Dhafana pops in and out to describe the wines selected to accompany your course. You can ask him detailed questions about where the grapes were sourced from, or the time the wine spent on the lees and he will have the answers for you. Its this level of service and finer detail that separates a good restaurant from an exceptional one.
The dining experience starts the moment you arrive and are invited to pluck an ‘egg’ out of the nest in a garden display. In just one bite, a white chocolate enrobed burst of citrusy yuzu explodes in your mouth and awakens your palate. The amuse is brought to the table in the most beautiful table garden display and each bite more delicious than the next. Marlin tataki which you lick off a burnt lime, a tiny lamb roti, springbok, mushroom, liver parfait sandwiched between delicate brick pastry and a kitchen cocktail. This is followed by a bread course to end all bread courses. Wagyu drippings and bone marrow are melted in a pot at your table gueridon style and served for you to dip your individual sweet potato pull-apart bread into. Delectable.
The next course was a mind-blowing mussel curry served in a passion fruit that had been burnt and resembled a Game of Thrones like egg. We were given small sharp bird scissors to cut it open and a small spoon to eat the contents. Sublime!
The La Colombe signature tuna tin was presented with a black glass for a mystery blind tasting. My friend cleverly was able to identify the exact wine – both estate and cultivar, and the exercise was rather fun all round. The content of the tin had a Mexican flavour twist which was utterly delicious.
The next course was quail stuffed with langoustine in a Kerala style sauce, which was delicate and once again delicious. Everything was delicious so my favourite adjective is pretty standard across the meal. A palate cleanser of naartjie sorbet was presented with clouds of dry ice which is always so delightful.
Then follwed the Thai coconut line fish, which landed up being Moonfish. One very large specimen had arrived in the kitchen that morning and I had seen head chef Jess van Dyk post it on Facebook. I was thrilled that a little piece of it landed on my plate as I had never tasted it before.
The meat course was Karoo lamb and Jerusalem artichoke and we were invited to choose our own knife from a tray of beautifully hand-carved knives to eat it with. I also loved how the sauce was served from a giant turnip bulb. These playful presentation touches throughout the meal made it so memorable and extra special.
The cheese course was a chest of individually wax wrapped mini cheeses and we were invited to pick our favourite. Basically impossible, so I just picked one. This was served with delicate home-made crackers and made me wish I coud be eating this every day of my life.
The dessert course of banana, hazelnut and tonka bean was one of my favourites. It was flaour and texture adventure and left me wondering why banana is rarely in the limelight like this.
Just when we thought that was a sweet enough note to end our meal off on, we were presented with the final treats of a speckled egg, cashew & salted caramel, and a rooibos macaron, delightfully presented dangling in a tree and hidden amongst the foliage.
As you leave the restaurant in a somewhat mesmerized state, you are given a tiny box of more treats and a mint glazed chocolate disc wrapped in a tiny envelope. Its as if they can’t give you enough. Really. Executive chef James Gaags philosophy about flavour always coming first on the plate shines though with every bite and I will be daydreaming about this meal for a long time to come. It goes down as one of the most memorable of my life.
marlin tataki, burnt lime, lamb roti
springbok, mushroom, liver parfait
sweet potato, wagyu drippings, bone marrow
south african craft beer
mussel, passionfruit, curry
saxenburg white blend 2011 (coastal region)
tuna ‘la colombe’
kerala style quail, langoustine
momento grenache noir 2017 (western cape)
thai coconut linefish
creation ‘the art of chardonnay’ 2017
karoo lamb, jerusalem artichoke
marianne ‘floreal’ 2009 (simonsberg – paarl)
the cheese chest
banana, hazelnut, tonka
delheim edelspatz 2018 (stellenbosch)
cashew, salted caramel
R1495 with beverage flight – add R995
R 545 Per Person | 7 Courses – Add beverage flight R480 p.p.
Valid lunch only
Monday to Sunday including public holidays.
from 1 September until 30 November 2019.
*I was invited as a guest of La Colombe to experience the new Spring Chefs Menu
My recent review of sister restaurant La Petite Colombe in Franshhoek
Find me on Instagram