Monday, April 09, 2007

Savoy Cabbage, Cape Town

Rating:4.5/5 0.5
Yes the red brick walls, glass and steel staircase and cabbage chandeliers are nice, but this place has actually shown me why food is more than sustenance and how dining is more than biological.

First thing you'll notice is that the menus are printed on ordinary, plain paper. Nothing fancy here folks-- it's not leather bound, there are no photos, no frills, just a list of dishes with ingredients that I've never heard before: courgette flowers with chevre, crottin with mesclun, paw-paw salsa, almond crespelle... Here was a whole new world, a whole new vocabulary and since I had no dictionary, I'd let my tastebuds do all the thinking.

For starters, I recommend the pan-fried duck foie gras with grilled mango and toasted brioche (ZAR150) as well as the tartare and carpaccio of yellowfin tuna with ginger and wasabi mayonnaise (ZAR75). (Pan fried duck foie gras is actually glorified liver spread but oh, oh what glory was in this particular dish!).

As a main dish, have a go at the wildebeest loin with spatzle, butternut flan and a spiced port sauce (ZAR145). I don't even know what a wildebeest looks like but I must say that they're very tasty. It's like having a very tender steak with much more flavor.

The roast lamb rump with creamy haricot beans, confit fennel, roasted garlic and thyme jus (ZAR125) was equally as divine but I preferred the wildebeest. Both meat dishes paired perfectly with the Warwick 3 Cape Ladies 2003 (ZAR186) red wine. The wine was described as voluptuous (!) and it supposedly celebrated the role of women in wine making. (Whatever.)

The seafood dishes (Yellowtail with parsnip purée; grilled kingklip with lentil salad) did not appeal to me as both were too "fishy" for my taste.

At ZAR39 each, the desserts were so good they had to either be immoral, illegal or sinful. For chocoholics like me, I highly recommend the hot chocolate pancakes which are mini crepes drowning in semi-bitter dark chocolate.

The portions of each dish are just right (neither too big nor too small) and each with exquisite plating. The knowledgeable staff were unobtrusive and the used plates were cleared magically and new cutlery appeared out of nowhere. How do they do it?

I probably did not take too much notice of the waiters because I had a little too much of the Ferreira's White port (ZAR 18) and the Wilderer's Williams Birne grappa which tasted like bad gin with a pear aftertaste. Nobody told me that those were meant to be sipped so I took them like tequila shots. (Not a good idea.)

Yeah, yeah Savoy Cabbage is a silly name but I think it's more of a statement that they don't need anything fancier because they let their food do all the talking.

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