Translated from the French, Terroir means "a sense of place" or "soil" to most people. For me it was first and foremost a seven-letter word I once put down to win a game of scrabble. Until last week that is, when I was invited to Terroir to try their winter menu.
Now, I think about a beautiful setting, unbelievable food, and a charismatic chef who looks like one of Carrie Bradshaw's ex-boyfriends in Sex and the City. Not gonna say which one.
On Friday afternoon The Lovely Jules and I hopped into Paddy (her green Mini Cooper) and took off for Kleine Zalze wine estate in the bicycle lane also known as the N2. (Roadworks… sigh.)
When we arrived at Terroir it took my breath away. We entered via a charmingly understated veranda with tables laid out in an intimate setting which I could wax lyrical about; but then that would leave no time for the food.
As our cheeks touched the seats we were greeted by a friendly hostess and two glasses of bubbly. Nice touch.
The chef, the multi-award winning Michael Broughton, came over to introduce himself and chat about the new winter menu. He explained how they will constantly revise it and work on new dishes to keep it fresh. It all sounded so very appetising, though not nearly preparing us of what was to come.
The choice of starters available at the moment are: a light and fluffy prawn risotto, pig trotters you would want to write home about and a melt-in-your mouth potato gnocchi. They are all outstanding, but I'm going to have to put my flag into the pig's trotters. Sensational. Not a hoof on the plate as one might imagine, but rather shredded meat off the bone mixed with bacon and mushroom, wrapped in a rice paper parcel and served with a mustard and parsley drizzle and a poached quail egg.
(Bizerca is also about the pigs trotters at the moment. Has SA food gone recession-chic already?)
The three choices for mains at the moment are: grilled line fish (kabeljou) served with seasonal vegetables and fish fritters or a rump steak (which could have come on the rarer side) with a béarnaise sauce and thick, crispy home made chips – not fries. The vegetarian choice was a tomato tart. I'd have to go with the steak, because the sauce is just out of this world. Michael does a mean sauce.
For dessert : you can choose between a cheese board or two other desserts. The selection changes often and there is always a good choice from a pear and Frangelico crème brulee to orange gratin with white chocolate sorbet. We were lucky enough to be the first to try a newbie… chocolate torte with a caramel ice cream known as dulce de leche.
The winter menu consists of three courses at R195, which can sometimes be a bit much, so they offer diners two courses for R150.
The wine list is terrific. As well as the fabulous estate wines (the tasting room is next door for a convenient pre-lunch wine tasting), there is a selection of other local wines to choose from. The estate wines are all extremely reasonably priced on the menu: The Pinot Noir 2007 for R135 a bottle for example or the Cellar Selection Chenin Blanc 2008 at R65 a bottle.
This, coupled with remarkable food makes the whole kit and caboodle brilliant value …if you don't mind a drive out to the most beautiful place, on the narrowest motorway on earth!
Go and try it. I'm off to the gym!
Cath Shone is Food24's Restaurant Editor. Email her on firstname.lastname@example.org or review a restaurant here.