It’s often all too easy to overlook restaurants in hotels. It can seem a ‘safe option’ for lonely travellers grabbing a quick bite with a book before returning to their solitary room to prepare for the next day’s meetings.
Or you could think of it the other way – a captive audience of sophisticated travellers who’ve eaten and drunk their way around the world and who are expecting something similar from you too.
I think this is how Malika van Reenan thinks of her guests, setting her own personal bar extremely high and offering quietly-confident dishes which are well-executed, made from excellent ingredients, which are just darned tasty.
That was my feeling anyway after being invited to enjoy a tasting menu at the restaurant. Rather than try and arrange big fancy-schmancy wine dinners, Signal prefers to partner with a wine farm and offer a menu throughout the month, making it a great choice if you have friends, family or work colleagues from out of town – you always know that there is something exciting and unique on offer.
Our month saw Rustenberg featuring at the hotel with their wines imaginatively-paired to a 5 course meal by sommeliers and managers Martin Drotsky and Marlvin Gwese. When you do wine pairings, the course you most often struggle with is dessert because so few farms offer a sweet wine.
So when there IS a dessert wine, it seems particularly perverse of the boys to partner it with the starter! But that’s what they did, and the Rustenberg Straw Wine proved an interesting and accurate match to Gorgonzola Crème and Poached Pear served with a Saldanha Oyster with cucumber, celery and vanilla salsa.
Star dish of the day was Miso-glazed Quail with Sweetcorn Risotto, Tomato Petals, Popcorn and Bacon Crumbs – a sticky, sweet, savoury, salty combo which was easily handled by the complexity of the Five Soldiers Chardonnay. Rustenberg’s flagship wine, the John X Merriman, was given the main course of Braised Lamb Shoulder with exquisitely-light wild mushroom ravioli and a rich mint and cranberry jus and the nicely balanced, not-too-sweet dessert of camembert mousse was good with the Roussanne although I think I would’ve liked to have tried the straw wine here as well to end the meal.
All round, a thoroughly-enjoyable evening out. The staff are friendly, efficient and know their stuff (alright, I admit I taught half of them about wine but that’s all!) and all the little touches that make for a top quality meal such as good bread, nice linen etc etc were in place.
Signal Restaurant at the Cape Grace Hotel - don’t forget about it next time you’re looking for a top-class meal in town. You’ll be doing yourself a serious disservice if you do.
Tasting Menu - a 5 course meal with wine R825, without wine R540. There is also always a full-on vegetarian alternative pairing menu as well. Go to their website www.capegrace.com for more details of upcoming menus.