Gary Jordan. George Jardine. Golly. Gee. Could it be destiny?
Since that nice Scotsman George came “home” to SA after his stint in Australasia and opened Jardine in Bree Street, he’s been a fixture at the top end of the Cape dining scene, deservedly winning gong after gong.
And ever since that nice redhead Gary and his gorgeous wife Kathy bought their Stellenbosch farm, they, too, have been winning gong after gong with wines that travel the world in a blaze of glory.
So when Jardine and Jordan hooked up… well, potayter, potarter, tomayter, tomarter. The Restaurant at Jordan has got to be a winner, however you approach it.
It opened this week, and it is magnificent. Jordan is a ridiculously pretty farm, and the views are postcard. There is a bountiful walk-in cheesery, filled with curdy, goatsy, crumbly, creamy cheeses, and some Jordan honey (who knew Jordan did honey?). There is a walk-in wine store. George has a wood-burning oven so big it could be used as a crematorium. At a soft “friends-and-family” launch, I snuck into the kitchen to check it out; from its depths, George was retrieving and turning ash-charred crusty loaves that smelled like paradise.
I loved the meal. No menus for the soft opening, but you can’t miss that unmistakable Jardine stamp: absolute confidence, thorough sophistication, no pretension. There was a fresh and frothy cauliflower and chilli amuse bouche shot; freshly-smoked salmon; lamb; a little mouthful of sweet before we were set loose on the cheese. The pairing with Jordan’s wines was impeccable, truly an illustration of how the whole can enhance already impressive parts.
I had been dreading George and Louise (his wife and right hand) disappearing into the Stellenbosch hills. Bree Street is central; wine farms are a campaign if you have to drive home at night. But, oh happy day, George assures us that his little jewel in Cape Town’s restaurant crown isn’t going anywhere. He’ll have his hand firmly on the wheel, albeit remotely, some of the time. He has absolute and deserved faith in his sous chef, and the hot team in Bree. (And they are h-h-hot: the bakery guy, Jason Lilley, has a secret fan club that guarantees mountains of croissants sashay out of his stylish little hole in the wall.)
Will The Restaurant at Jordan pull it off? Well, Gary and Kathy have done incredible things in their time, including recently opening a restaurant in London, without ever apparently taking their eye off the main ball. And in his time, George has been in charge of hotels so big and diverse they could swallow the whole of the V&A Waterfront.
I think they can do it.