(An SA Blog Beta post from Your Correspondent.)
La Colombe, part of Cape Town’s famous Constantia Uitsig wine estate, has a reputation as one of the city’s finest restaurants. Many gourmets put it in their top three, year-in, year-out. I got a chance to make my own evaluation last night, as a guest of my lovely assistant’s company, which chose the restaurant for its year-end party.
French cuisine is what’s on offer, of course – but La Colombe takes an extra step and employs French servers to guide you through le menu. This is fairly impressive – we were off to a good start.
A treat from the chef arrived: pate de foie gras on crostini. Half the table rejected it on moral grounds, but I had an information-hungry public to consider (namely, you). The pate was heavenly.
First course for me: breaded, pan-fried goat’s cheese drizzled with berry coulis. Not bad, but too much. Goat’s cheese is rich, and if I’d eaten all of it, that would have been dinner. The chef could halve this easily. Meanwhile, my lovely assistant had fruits de mer: prawns, mussels and calamari in a delicious cream sauce, with hints of saffron and chilli. Score: Me .5, Lovely Assistant 1.
The second course arrived: filet de boef, encrusted in black pepper and served with a parmesan sauce. The beef was perfect – four long, beautiful, pink tips – but it was stranded in a small pond of the sauce. Overkill, once again. As I chewed, I watched my assistant across the table frown over the day’s line fish, Cape Salmon. Unfortunately, it was dry. (Cape Salmon is often dry – I recommend avoiding it in restaurants. Kingklip, Yellowtail and Butterfish, on the other hand, usually don’t present this problem.) Score: Me .5, Lovely Assistant 0.
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We waited with great anticipation for the final course. My terrine du chocolat noir au caramel was tasty enough – though lukewarm; my assistant’s apple tart was soaked to the point of mushiness and, quite frankly, below par. Score: Me .5, Lovely Assistant 0.
Overall: 7 out of a possible 10, a good score. The service at La Colombe was perhaps the evening’s rarest treat of all. It ran like clockwork – this is so uncommon in Cape Town that it’s worth booking a table solely for the experience of being a gently-handled and well-attended-to guest.
Food: 2.5 out of a possible 6, not a poor score for a high-end Cape restaurant. As is the case with many fine-dining establishments in Cape Town, the starters outshone the mains and desserts. The dish of the evening was the fruits de mer, which would cause envy among any of the chefs who manage La Colombe’s peers – in South Africa and, indeed, France.
Wine: we enjoyed a light, crisp Chenin Blanc from Stellenbosch’s L’Avenir estate, followed by full-bodied 1998 La Motte Kalkveld Shiraz, both brought in specially by my lovely assistant’s company. I noted that La Colombe offers Overgaauw wines from its cellar at a comparable price, and would conjecture that these might have made for a slight improvement, if doing so wouldn’t get her into trouble.
I recommend La Colombe for an elegant, relaxing evening out. For more information, visit the Constantia Uitsig home page.