Category Archives: Stellenbosch

The table 1

The Table at De Meye

I’m all fascinated by this trend to serve just one meal. We cook it, you eat it. It seems to fit in with my musings on how difficult is must be to run a restaurant with a big menu – how do you know how much of what to buy? How do you know whether everything is still fresh? How do you decide what to order and how sad are you when the other people are eating something tastier? all this makes me warm and fuzzy at the thought of a single, set menu, which is what The Table does. REALLY WELL.

Their system is thus: only open for lunch on Saturday and Sunday. Devise a mouth-watering menu and publish it on your website a week in advance. Take advance bookings and require a 50% upfront deposit (to discourage last minute cancellations).  When people arrive, feed them wonderful, food served on big help-yourself-there’s-more-in-the-kitchen platters from which the whole table dishes up and stuffs themselves. all ingredients are fresh, locally sourced and everything seems to be made in-house, down to the marmalade and the bread. And for drinking, all the De Meye wines are available at a tiny mark up from cellar prices – lovely and very reasonable.

We booked for Saturday 28 July and turned out to be the only guests there (which seems an unusual thing and appears correlated to the rugbies or whatever sport seems to be happening right now) (in fact it seems that for the next 2 weeks they are not open on Saturday to account for this). We loved being there by ourselves though. The place is beautiful, and the weather was perfect, chill in the air but sunny and bright. Our menu was wonderful – have a look – I absolutely stuffed myself and we didn’t manage to finish everything. It was rich, warm, fresh and delicious winter food. I loved the pork belly and the duck pate, but ended up stuffed on carrots, cabbage and marmalade, they were so good.

After main course, we went for a walk waddle around to create the requisite space for the chocolate cake. We basked in the sun and generally fell about until they asked if we wanted some blankets, and proceeded to serve us desert on the lawn under the trees in sheer bucolic trance. I felt like I was in a Hollywood Indian Summer montage, complete with lens-flares and overexposure. Oh, and the cake was good too.

Heaven. Please go there. Lots.

Overture Review

By common, unchecked consensus, this may be my first choice since the unmentionable purple vegetable related restaurant. Of which we shall not speak. And if it is such, I forgive myself all my brinjally sins! Overture is Redemption!

Overture was on Eat-out’s list of top-10 restuarants of the year, which can or cannot be a good thing. More that that, every single of the 17 people who made comments on eat-out website said things like:

– best restaurant experience ever!

– most wonderful service ever!

– amazingest food ever!

And it was all true.

Overture is at Hidden Valley wine estate, so named because you will u-turn at least once on the way there and there are windy, dark country roads which seem entirely too long to fit into the space on the map where the farm should be. Overture itself is a summery lunch place, which is why we obviously needed to have dinner there in winter*. We got there on time (40 min from cape town) and it was dark, and cold, and unobvious where to go, and did I mention the cold?

This concludes any negatives I may have had, and at this point we get to the restaurant.

We’ll need to go for a summer lunch. It would have the most amazing views – wraparound balcony high up, with vineyards as far as the eye would be able to see, were there light. In winter, the inside is a modern, wood-and-stone-and-metal type building, with warm light and high ceilings and one of those completely open kitchens for additional entertainment.

The staff were lovely. We had 3 people looking after us, which normally is a bad sign (purple! vegetable! alert!) but wasn’t here. I remember most of their names, which is a good sign (thank you Vision and Brenda!), and they were omni-present, very helpful, knowledgeable and had a sense of humour.

Tap-water test: Passed with flying colours. “Would you like some still or sparkling water?” “A big jug of tap water would be nice?” “Certainly, ma’am.” With a smile. And that was it. And the very lovely Brenda ensured water glasses were never empty. Yay!

Bits and pieces: Lovely, warm bread served straight away with olive oil, and every time we were finishing a plate of food, mop up sauce with!. Also, baby marrow mousse/soup taster thingy served straight after ordering to make sure we were never empty-handed. And delicious things they were!

Wine: This is a no-bring-your-own-place (we checked in advance), but they have, beside wine list, a very recomendable food-and-wine pairing thing. Which I recommend. The deal is, their 3, 4 or 5 course menu can be served with matched wine or not. It is unusually reasonable to do the matching thing, and well worth it. It is so reasonable, in fact, that I was expecting the wine portions to be measly, I mean, elegantly restrained. Instead, they were enormously bountiful and very tasty to boot. The idea, I gathered, was to make sure that we always had something to drink. For example, the Chicken Liver Pate and Snails starter dish came with a glass of noble late harvest on the menu, which was delivered ahead of the food, along with an unexpected and unmentioned glass of delicious chardonnay, to “have something to sip on while you wait for the food”. Bliss! And danger to designated drivers, a position from which I was allowed to abdicate half way through the evening with some relief (thank you, Jess!!!).

Now for food: 3, 4 or 5 courses, as said, where all items from the menu are eligible for the deal. So 2 mains followed by 2 deserts and a starter is fine, IF you are insanely hungry and have a couple of spare stomachs to stuff five courses into. Or your name is Landlord, Evil Landlord. (Though he at least had his starter-starter-main-main-desert in the right order.)

The prices are actually very reasonable, ranging from R195 for 3 courses, no wine, to R350 for 5 courses, with ample rivers of wine. We ended up having around 4 courses each, according to a rather complicated matrix:

Course 1:

(All): The kingklip, smoked, with poached egg and a hollandaisy but not really creamy whitey sauce. Paired with Hidden Valley Rose, which is suprising un-rose like (tastes more like a white, which is how I like my Roses). Lovely. Rich. Mope-plate-with-bread-to-hoover-up-the-sauce-y.

Accidental (involuntary muscle twitches!) stealing of last bit of kingklip from Stv’s plate done by me. I am sorry! There is no excuse!!!

Course 2:

(Jo and EL): Snails cooked in red wine with Chicken Liver Pate. Served with a creamy green (why green? I don’t know!) sauce. Paired with aforementioned Late Harvest/Chardonnay duo. Very very rich, but lovely flavours. Snails not tasting snail like, pate very fluffy and light but rich at the same time. This was kind of the theme for the day. More bread. Mop, Mop.

(Jess): Spinach Soup with bread dumplings with cheese inside. Rich and wonderful. With one of the 2 Sauvingnons.

(Stv): Malawian-heritaged fish from Bredarsdorp (local ingredients thing) something like talepi? tamale? Thumbelini? Something of the sort. With risotto bianco and tomato risotto. Surprisingly, my favourite flavour combination for the evening (cue coveting Stv’s dish. Tuck fingers under seat for dining safety). Yum and light and fluffy and all those things. With another Sauvignon, judged even nicer than the Spinach Soupy one.

Some under-the-tablecloth bread trade observed between the Fish and the Spinach Soup. Just saying.

Course 3: (Wondering if we can actually have any more than this, despite firm 4 course plans)

(Jess): Duck. I cannot remember how it was done or what it came with, only the extreme juicy deliciousness of it. Mmmmhmmm… duck…. And it came with the Hidden Valley Merlot, which was dark and berry-y and the wine winner for the evening by universal, glass-sharing concensus.

(All others): Pork Belly. Rolled into a little rolly thing. With root veg. And other things. Emergency systems kicking in, memory closing down to make room for expanded stomach. It was awesome. With HV Pinotage, which was classic and fitting and unfairly pitted against the Merlot. Poor Pinotage.

Course 4: (Tam-da-Dam!)

(EL): Duck, and Merlot, and going (reasonably) strong.

(Jess): Malva pudding with cinnamon ice cream, under protest, shared with Stv in order to ensure survival.

(Jo): Sits this one out. Moans. Holds extremities. Gets teased by waiters about early defeat. Digests furiously..

Course 5: (To the Escape Pods!)

(EL): Slightly pale. Braves Malva Pudding. Shows no appreciation for cinnamon ice cream.

(Stv, Jess): Sensibly avoid any more food. Not even my most excellent desert.

(Jo): I’m having rib-eye steak for desert! My life is complete! The waiters are impressed! (Or horrified. Don’t care.) I may explode, but: Rib eye steak, medium rare, with a thin sliver of rare liver (!) (It works, but not as course 4. Liver spurned for purposes of retaining a little bit of digestive tract.) With lots of tiny mushrooms and deep-fried gnocci (works!). And Shiraz.

*Falls under table*

This, Ladies and Gentlemen, was a Fine Meal.

*Note for winter: it is small inside, and the outside tables are out of the question. So book early. By all accounts, book early in summer too. They are popular. We booked aweek in advance and got lucky, there was a cancellation! (It’s good good good so do it anyway!)