In our job, we are often hit by moments of sheer, unadulterated delight.
Cath Shone and I had just such a moment, when sitting in the majestic glass box that is the new Restaurant at Waterkloof.
And don’t think I use the word majestic lightly. As we turned up to drive the climb into this Somerset West wine farm set high on the slopes of the Schaapenberg, we were intrigued by the winding dirt road (‘where did they hide the bloody place?’) right until we saw the restaurant.
“Holy shit, I think we just found Howard Roark’s home base,” said Cath.
“Indeed,” I said, before catching her eye awkwardly. (I can never figure out if it’s a good or a bad thing to have read The Fountainhead.)
But look. Isn’t it quite the modern definition of majestic? (Have a gander at our awesome gallery.)
Those views, people. It’s a special kind of classy when you’re doing a wine tasting and the wine person says, “This Peacock Ridge Sauvignon Blanc? It’s from those grapes down there,” and waves her hand nonchalantly down to an eye-poppingly gorgeous corner of the vista that’s before you.
It’s also pretty funky to be sipping thoughtfully next to the glassed-in gravitational wine cellar, complete with folk bunging grapes down a press.
The wines themselves are set to be great, as Waterkloof‘s vineyards share the same aspect and soil as the best from Vergelegen. They have our wine editor, Cathy Marston, very excited (‘a winery set up by a perfectionist, funded with overseas cash, with a passionate young winemaker and that land?’ It doesn’t get much more exciting!’). I am also told their Circumstance Rosé is THE summer sipper of the moment.
But it was view plus food which really got Cath and I doing that little bop of happiness in our chairs. When reviewing swanky spots, we tend to order food we wouldn’t generally go for. I am not a fan of kingklip or chickpeas, and often find springbok too gamey... so I gamely ordered all three.
Well, gosh. There’s a reason sexy chef Grégory Czarnecki got to spend decades in some of the finest Michelin star restaurants in France... he can balance a flavour like nobody’s business.
The kingklip blanc manger (kind of like a really light paté) was fantastic, the chicken tortellini perfectly offset by butternut and chickpeas... but the springbok and brinjal (or ‘eggplant caviar and roasted aubergine’ as the menu told me loftily) were truly superb.
Seriously, it made bits of my soul happy.
But not as happy as the chocolate explosion that was Cath’s dessert: chocolate ganache (which we decided would be better named chocolate heroin, it was just so “Aah!! Chocolate!”) and the most irrepressible crème bruleé brownie combination; crackling bruleé, the creamiest custard and then wham... a moist, deep chocolate finish.
But it was the French cheese platter which made me start blinking slowly, waiting for gout to attack.
But enough with the words: look, look – we have pictures.
All that, plus carafes of perfectly paired Waterkloof wines... well, Cath and I didn’t make it back to work that afternoon. Some experiences need to be savoured for a little longer than just the outing time.
Love my job.
Waterkloof Restaurant was reviewed by Sam Wilson, Editor-in-Chief, Food24. Follow her on twitter.