I have been wanting to write this post for almost two years. That is exactly how long the lovely man and I have been wanting to go to La Colombe.
I think it started after we experienced Luke Dale Roberts at The Test Kitchen, but to be honest, not much excuse or justification is needed to explain the longing to experience Scot Kirton’s kitchen mastery in the most beautiful of settings.
The lovely man and I have experienced many fantastic meals at the estate and were absolutely beside ourselves with excitement when the booking was finally made to experience their winter special – three courses for lunch at R240 pp.
The sun was shining, I had just bought a new camera (these are the first photographs I took with it) and I was with my lovely fiance – the day was already perfect, before we’d even started eating. Of course, it got better. We were seated in the courtyard, facing the little fountain, with trees all around. We were treated to amuse bouche before even ordering – duck parfait with shallot jelly and macadamia nut crumble, beef sausage rolls with smoked tomato sauce and pork scratchings with a horseradish cream.
The duck parfait, served in an egg shell was delicate, light and the perfect little start to the meal. The sausage roll was genuinely meaty, complimented perfectly by the sweet and smokey tomato relish. The pork scratchings were light, crispy and disappeared as soon as they hit your tongue. We were off to a good start.
After a little discussion we ordered our three courses – with three options per course (one vegetarian) Luke and I chose the remaining two options between us. He started with Jerusalem artichoke velouté, wild mushroom and foie gras sphere, confit duck leg with lentil purée. We had no expectations (the mention of lentils was never an exciting addition for me), but taste wise – it was the highlight of our entire meal. The velouté was unbelievably smooth – like thickened cream – and hid the most incredible flavour. Rich and woody, with a little sweetness, I could blissfully sip this out of a mug for lunch every day of the week. The meaty duck and mushrooms stood up to the richness of the velouté, and the earthy lentil puree was surprisingly delicious.
I ordered the salmon carpaccio and tartare, pickled shitake mushroom, sesame crema, salsa verde and nori puff – it was a beautiful sunshiney day and wanted to make the most of it with a light and bright starter. Firstly, this won as the most beautiful dish of the day – a work of art on my plate I almost regretted having to demolish it – almost. The salmon was light and a touch of summer on a fork – with the wasabi laced salsa, the textures of carpaccio and tartare it was the most appropriate dish for the day.
Heading on to mains, the lovely man ordered the duo of chicken, sous vide breast, wild mushroom stuffed leg, carrot and turnip, smoked pomme puree, creamed savoy cabbage, black forest ham and a thyme jus. Quite a mouthful, it was a delicately conceived dish, reminiscent of the flavours of a classic roast. The wild mushroom stuffed leg added interest to the tender flesh, and the thyme jus was well used by Luke – not a smear was left on the plate.
It’s unlike me to order two fish courses, but I had to make the most of the sunshine, so decided on the pan- fried hake, Asian lentil salad, cashew and lemongrass purée, coconut and lime veloute. The hake was perfectly cooked – I expected nothing less – and La Colombe triumphed again by making me enjoy lentils in a dish (you can see I’m a little biased against them). The flavours were light and delicate – the coconut, lemongrass and lime did have me thinking of a Thai green curry, which I struggled to shake throughout the meal.
On to dessert – I chose the rose and coconut pannacotta, cashew pebbles, orange blossom yoghurt, lime syllabub, rose foam. My last experience of pannacotta was rather disastrous (a restaurant in the Garden Route, where the texture was not dissimilar to butter – you could place your spoon in it, lift the pannacotta up and hold it upside down). So, if there was one place who could repair the damage, I knew La Colombe would be it. My beautiful, delicate plate of pink arrived – and it was perfection. The logs of rose and coconut pannacotta gently wobbled apart when touched by my fork, and melted as soon as you placed it on my tongue. The rose foam was gentle and fragrant and the cashew pebbles added a little interest of texture. A light, delicate and fragrant end to the meal.
The lovely man chose the slightly more wintery option of parsnip cake, chocolate and parsnip cremeux, quince butter, smoked almond ice cream, naartje reduction and crumble. We were a little apprehensive at the thought of parsnip cake, but the smoked almond ice cream piqued our interest. The cake was moist and earthy, and gently sweet. The chocolate and parsnip cremeux was dark and rich, and the ice cream quite significantly smoked. The perfect accompaniment with a glass of whiskey, perhaps? I found myself stealing quite a few forks full from Luke’s plate.
When we thought the meal was over, we were presented with a tray of petit fours to enjoy with our lattes – choosing between Turkish delight, orange almond cake, marshmallows, nougat and salted caramel chocolate truffles – or rather not choosing at all – we sampled everything.
We spent close on three hours enjoying our meal, the scenery…the wine – and were very well fed. An absolutely perfect afternoon, I’m already planning on returning and trying their 5-course tasting menu. Watch this space.
Note : Our lunch was paid by us in full and this review was entirely my own idea – I was not asked or compensated in any way.