You know those people who are all ‘ho, hum, just ignore me on my birthday’? Well, I’m not one of them. I love my birthday. As it fell on a Sunday this year, I hardly needed an excuse to turn a mere birthday into a birthweekend.
Celebrations officially started on the Saturday, with a visit to the Pichulik studios in the morning, before heading off to Bistro Sixteen82 for lunch. One of our absolute favourite spots to visit (you can read about previous visits here, here, here and here…and our lunch at Catharina’s here), we hadn’t visited in a year and were keen to see what changes had been underway – with them changing chefs and doing a little refurbishment in the interim.
A beautiful spring afternoon, we were all about experiencing the restaurant in a new light – but some things will always stay the same. And one of those delicious, delicious things is the Steenberg 1682 MCC – undoubtedly my favourite from their range of bubblies, rumour has it it’s soon to be joined by a fourth sparkling member (ahem, Chardonnay Pinot Noir). Keep an eye out.
I had scoped out the menu online, naturally, and was excited by the number of vegetarian options available, but upon being seated I was handed an entire vegetarian menu to choose from. The excitement! It’s easy to feel like a bit of a leper when dining out, it was wonderful feeling so welcome from the outset. We opted for a three-course menu – and not tapas. I ordered the courgette and gruyere fritter, with roasted vine tomatoes, chargrilled red pepper coulis to start, the butternut and sage risotto for mains, and the hazelnut chocolate terrine to end. The Mr started with the 5 spice venison carpaccio, the beef and shiraz gnocchi and bread and butter pudding to end.
Before we officially started the meal, we enjoyed fresh bread and an amuse from the kitchen – a panko crusted cheese fritter with clementine and thyme jam. With thanks to new chef, Kerry, for pleasing both our vegetarian (and meat-eating) tastebuds right from the start.
While everything we ate was (expectedly) delicious, my standout dish was the first one I had – the courgette and gruyere fritter. In the battle of the starters, it beat the venison carpaccio hands down – and we’re starting from quite a high base. The char from the red pepper coulis permeated the entire dish – combined with the creaminess from the cheese, sweet roasted vine tomatoes and fresh peas and herbs, it was a complete knockout of a dish. The Mr went back for more than one ‘taste’.
Mains swung the other direction – we both ironically ordered quite wintery dishes for such a lovely spring day – but it was the Mr’s that apparently came out tops. While my risotto was properly delicious – gooey with stringy cheese – Luke could not stop raving about his gnocchi. By the end of the meal I’m sure he was about ready to get onto his knees and thank the kitchen for inventing such wonder, and proudly exclaimed to our waitress that it had made his ‘top 3 death row meals’. I believe it’s meant as a compliment.
Luke enjoyed the Nebbiolo with his meal, as he always does. I had my eye on the Magna Carta – Steenberg’s flagship wine – but just couldn’t bring myself to order it. We’ll one day chat about this wine, but in the meantime as I still consider myself somewhat of a white wine newbie, I fear the nuances of one costing R525 a bottle might be somewhat lost on me. One day.
Dessert was always an easy choice for me – give me all the chocolate – while Luke asked for our waitress’ recommendation. Surprisingly, after the feast of chocolate, the bread and butter pudding was the next most popular dessert item. As this is something we would never have normally ordered, the Mr thought it was worth a try. Made with brioche, dates and Amarula, served with honeycomb ice cream and a toffee sauce, I fear it’s ruined the pudding for him for life. That is, it was so good, nothing else will likely come close.
Thank you to Kerry at the team at the Bistro for taking such good care of us.
Note: We enjoyed our meal as guests of Bistro Sixteen82. All images and views are my own.