For months last year, we waited in eager anticipation for La Colombe to open its doors at Silvermist Estate. And like any restaurant brand that’s moved or changed – we wondered if it would still be as amazing as we remembered it at Constantia Uitsig.
Well, after dining there this month I can safely say that it’s better. In fact the experience begins way before you’ve even entered the front door of La Colombe. It starts at the security gate where you are met with a friendly smile (and what could almost be delight) that you are coming for dinner.
The drive up to the restaurant is rather spectacular – with a narrow brick road that winds like a snake’s tail up, up, up until you reach a clearing that overlooks the most breath-taking view of Constantia and the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town. The journey makes it feel as if you’ve left the city far behind.
After being given the task of filling some mighty big shoes with the likes of Luke Dale Roberts and Franck Dangeraux, Scot Kirton fulfils his role as Head chef of La Colombe with humble flair. He’s also the first South African head chef that the restaurant has had. Under Scot’s guidance, La Colombe has won a string of EatOut awards and was named 12th Best Restaurant in the World in 2010 ( the same year he was made Head Chef).
Everything from the playful tuna amuse bouche (served in a sealed tuna tin!) to the final petit four will have you oohing and aahing with pleasure. Scot combines sweet and umami flavours brilliantly and even though you can fill up on half the dishes on the gourmand tasting menu (8 courses) – there’s something that makes you keep going because every dish is a promise of what you could expect next. It’s as if a tiny switch goes off in your brain making you addicted to chasing the next flavour combination.
Highlights on the menu were:
Poached oyster, lemon, caviar, seaweed, apple
The fact that the oyster was cooked, made for an already interesting and creamy texture while the fresh apple added a lovely vibrant zest.
Scallop and pork belly
Pan fried scallop, Asian style pork, kimchi, sweetcorn, lemongrass and ginger velouté.
Pan seared quail breast, confit leg, celeriac and truffle espuma, smoked goat cheese
The smoky umami flavours in this dish were overwhelming (in the best way) and I couldn’t help but want more when then plate was finished!
The palate cleanser felt like it came straight out of Willy Wonker’s Chocolate factory – not because it contained chocolate but because it was a small hollow ball made of a thin substance (I don’t even know what it was!) that quite literally bursts open in your mouth unleashing a chilled fruity sorbet that dances on your tongue. A true delight that I had to experience one more time before moving onto the next course.
The presentation and plating is something to behold, making a meal at La Colombe a real visual feast that will be stored in your memory (or on your Instagram account!) for months to come. There is also a "classic 4-course menu" option for R535 per person.
They still have the signature La Colombe round tables which was nice to see. The décor is sophisticated and classy while exuding a relaxed and unpretentious atmosphere. I feel that this is attributed mainly by the friendly, warm and hospitable staff. The waitrons are happy to ask questions, chat about the new venue and even go into immense detail about how a particular element of a dish is prepared – evidence that they are genuinely interested, enjoying themselves and have been expertly trained. Even the runners have a spring in their step – knowing full well that they are just as part of the culinary theatre as the sommelier and maître d.
Speaking of sommelier, the wine service is an experience in itself and a true education for the palate. Interesting and different varietals and vintages are featured with the sommelier taking the time to listen to what you enjoy, suggest a few things, tell you how wine styles are changing, and basically ensuring that the wine in your glass is one that puts a happy smile on your face, no matter what food you’re enjoying.
I cannot wait to see what the Summer menu has in store and will definitely go back for lunch so I can admire the breath-taking scenery from the “tree-house” that is La Colombe at Silvermist.
Note: Due to popular demand, The La Colombe Winter lunch special has been extended to 30 September 2015.
Also read: Where to eat on the Constantia Wine Route.
Disclaimer: Food24 was a guest of La Colombe for this experience.
- Tessa Purdon