The River Café at Constantia Uitsig has always been a favourite for a good old catch-up or girly lunch.
The food was, well, quite alright but the beautiful leafy setting and great service were the memories that lingered.
Luke Dale-Roberts of La Colombe has got his Merlin's hands on the place and with a few key changes, it is now playing with the big boys.
Scot Kirton, who has been one of Luke’s right hands at La Colombe is now in the drivers seat as executive chef. His style is fresh and simple with a contemporary feel and a twist of French, in other words, innovative and a superb taste experience.
The wonderful thing is that you can go for the perfect eggs benedict or a burger (the real deal) and not have to break the bank or feel pushed to eat something fancy.
You can also enjoy the taste sensations of grilled asparagus with porcini and bacon, or slow-braised pork belly. Not to be missed is the crisp confit duck leg with a port and walnut dressing and the confit of lamb shoulder. Is your tongue hanging out yet?
Click here to see a gallery of some of the beautiful dishes we had the pleasure of wrapping our mouths around.
We sat down for a chinwag with Scot:
Q: Where did your love of cooking begin – can you pinpoint an incident or moment when you knew this would be your future?
A: Hard to say, all my life I’ve wanted to cook, my first memory is of me making 15 different types of cup cakes, from peanut butter flavored to milkshake flavored ones. There’s nothing more satisfying than executing something well, it gives me great pleasure.
Q: What is the highlight of your career so far and why?
A: Helping la Colombe to be the number 1 restaurant in the country and now taking over the River Café where I can create all my own dishes. There’s a lot of satisfaction in creating a dish and having people thoroughly enjoying it.
Q: What is your style of cooking?
A: My style of cooking is, anything goes as long as its delicious!
Q: What is the most exotic thing you have ever tasted?
A: The most exotic thing I have ever tasted would have to be calf brains. Floured, pan fried in butter and glazed in port.
Q: What inspires you?
A: Eating at good restaurants inspires me, as I always want to be better and eating another chefs’ great dish inspires me to always want better for my restaurant.
Q: What is the worst meal you have cooked?
A: The worst meal I’ve ever cooked, must be one of the staff meals I made at La Colombe. It was ox tongue off cuts pureed into a soup. It had the ability to induce groaning from both the kitchen and front of house staff. It boiled away on the stove looking like a pot of sewerage. Disgusting!
Q: What, in your opinion, is the most underrated ingredient?
A: The most under rated ingredient to me is snoek. Prepared properly its one of south africas tastiest fish!
Q: What do you cook at home?
A: I don’t get to do much cooking at home but when I do, I like to make my own pizzas. Theres something so satisfying about smelling fresh dough baking in your home.
Q: What is your favourite thing to cook?
A: My favorite thing to cook would have to be fresh asparagus pan fried in butter and garlic.
Q: What is your most successful seduction meal?
A: This would have to be anything you’ve prepared yourself from scratch. Women love a capable man in the kitchen!
Q: What, in your opinion is sexy food?
A: In my opinion sexy food is beautiful food made with fresh seasonal ingredients. As long as you are passionate about what you are doing it will always reflect in your cooking. All my food is sexy food!
Q: What is your favourite food and wine combination?
A: My favorite food and wine combination is definitely a good Chianti with a big chunk of red meat.
Q: If you'd like anyone to cook for you, who would it be?
A: I’d like Thomas Keller to cook for me; he truly is an inspiring man.
Q: If you could have dinner with 6 people in the world, anyone, who would they be?
A: Six people I would like to have dinner with would have to be Superman, Darth Vader, Emmanuelle, Tin Tin, Papa Smurf and the Incredible Hulk.
Q: What cookbook are you reading at the moment.
A: Bouchon by Thomas Keller (it’s the style of food we are aiming to do at the River café).
Q: What is your favourite place to eat in SA?
A: Favorite place to eat in SA is my mom’s house.
Q: What are your best foodie memories?
A: They are always the earliest ones. Where you can eat with gusto, sheer enjoyment with food all over your face and no one will say otherwise. That never changes.
Q: Who is your food hero?
A: Marco Pierre White.
Q: Food villain?
A: Jamie Oliver.