There’s very few things in life I love as much as I love fine dining. Well, ok, that might not necessarily be true – but fine dining does rank pretty highly on the ‘Makes Benike Happy’ scale. And there’s very few places that can beat La Colombe.
I’ve visited La Petite Colombe in Franschhoek before, and absolutely loved it. But no amount of pre-planning or excitement could have prepared me for the La Colombe experience. It is truly next level, and resulted in one of my most joyous afternoons the last few months.
This Is La Colombe
La Colombe is a little hidden on the Silvermist Wine Estate in Constantia, but this just results in an unbeaten exclusivity and incomparable charm. Match that with astounding views of the mountains and the Constantia valley, and you’re already in for a treat. The restaurant itself is surrounded by glass windows, allowing for an unrestricted view. This definitely makes it seem like you’re tucked away in nature, and you may be happy enjoying a plain picnic in that setting.
But there is nothing plain about the food at La Colombe. Far from. Over the next few months, the restaurant is presenting its Winter Special Menu (R495; add R450 for pairing). This is in addition to the Chef’s Menu (R1495; add R995 for pairing). We went to try the Winter Menu, but ended up having a few courses off the Chef’s Menu as well. This isn’t standard, but gives me the chance to share some extra dishes with you, in case you do decide to go for the Chef’s Menu over the Winter Menu.
Seeing there is an endless supply of courses, I’m not entirely sure how to lead you through the menu. There’s too much to say and too much to rave about. But let’s just start at the beginning and work our way through.
Upon arrival, we were presented with a little palate cleanser to get us ready for the culinary experience. My friend Genevieve, who was lucky enough to join me, was entirely unfamiliar with the whole fine dining experience, and it was a real treat to see her reactions to individual courses, textures, and different presentations. This initial palate cleanser is presented on a forest table, and you literally have to ‘pick’ your egg from the forest. It’s tons of fun.
Trio of Starters .. and Bread
After enjoying a welcome cocktail, we moved on to a trio of starters: Foie Gras & Mushroom, Springbok Marlin Tataki, and Burnt Lime Lamb Roti. All of these are beautifully presented, and definitely not boring to eat. And, of course, they’re full of flavour. My fave? Probably the Foie Gras & Mushroom, even though I’ve vowed to stay away from foie gras coz I don’t support the way it’s made.
This was followed by a sweet potato bread portion, served with Wagyu Drippings and Oxtail. The sauce is prepared at the table (see video above), and while this is definitely one of the most exciting dishes serving-wise, it wasn’t my favourite of the day.
Mussel Curry In Passionfruit
From here we moved on to a mussel curry dish, served in a burnt passionfruit. This was immensely fun. Why? Coz you’re presented with little scissors to cut open the passion fruit and reach the seafoody goodness on the inside. There is no actual passionfruit flavour, so no need to worry about the stark contrast. The curry itself was absolutely divine – even for a non-curry lover like me.
Tuna ‘La Colombe’
After the seafood dish, we moved on to the Tuna ‘La Colombe’. This is probably the most photographed dish at La Colombe – and rightfully so because it’s so interesting. Well, it won’t seem interesting at first as all you’re presented with is a can of tuna. Like those crushed tuna meat cans you buy at any local supermarket … But when you open up this tuna tin, you’re greeted with the most divine tuna tartare. This course also came served with a Blind Tasting – in a black wine glass – and you get to try your sommelier skills in identifying the wine.I was horribly off – but let me know if you do any better. (Hopefully the wine will change and I don’t give it away in the picture below.)
Quail & Langoustine
From here we moved on to the slightly bigger portions. First up, a quail and langoustine dish with labneh. I love both quail and langoustine and while I initially thought the pairing was a little odd, it did work very well. Obviously, because it’s La Colombe and everything they do works well. I also loved the presentation of this. Isn’t it pretty?
Highlight: The Naartjie Palate Cleanser
Before moving on to mains, we experienced the highlight of La Colombe: A naartjie palate cleanser. Ok, perhaps it’s not the highlight food-wise, but presentation-wise you can’t get anything more beautiful than this. Served on a platter of dry ice, you’ll literally have a whole show to enjoy before indulging in the palate cleanser. It’s beautiful, and looking back at the pictures still makes me insanely happy.
The Main Meals
Thai Coconut Linefish & Chicken with Sweetbreads
Following this we tried two main dishes, one from the Chef’s Menu and one from the Winter Menu.
- Chef’s Menu: Here we had the Thai Coconut Linefish, which I absolutely loved.
- Winter Menu: Chicken with sweetbreads and mushroom. Chicken would never be my first choice at a restaurant, but you won’t go wrong with this chicken dish.
The Cheese Chest
We were thoroughly satiated … but still not done. After our mains, we were presented with a Cheese Chest, and we got to pick a cheese to have with some crackers and preserve. The cheese is made at La Colombe, and is heavenly – soft, creamy, and delicious. There’s a variety of cheeses to choose from, so there will definitely be something to satisfy you.
Dessert was absolute chocolate heaven, with bahibe, blood orange, and smoked almond. My favourite here was the dehydrated chocolate mousses (it’s the one sticking up in the picture below), which was simultaneously rich and creamy and soft and crackly. Definitely a brilliant dish when it comes to texture contrasts – and perfect in flavour.
Trio of Dessert
We had reached the end: Coffee, together with Speckled Eggs, Cashew & Salted Caramel chocolates, and a Rooibos Macaron. These, as the first palate cleanser, were presented in a little garden, and you could hunt for and pick off your dessert bites.
You Have To Try La Colombe
We were pleasantly full after all of this – not stuffed, but happy. Four hours, a gazillion bites … and absolute heaven. Even though La Colombe is quite a distance from town, I would highly suggest grabbing an Uber (or a designated driver) so you can enjoy the full pairing experience. It definitely does add another level of excitement. But La Colombe also offers a whole range of non-alcoholic cocktails and other beverages to enjoy – as Genevieve did.
To conclude the experience, we received a little mint chocolate – but I saved this for the following day and enjoyed the little flashback to La Colombe heaven.
Get Your Experience Here
For all information on La Colombe, see details below. Also check out the full Winter Menu here and the Chef’s Menu here.
Address: Silvermist Wine Estate, Constantia
Article Date: July 2019
MISSED OUR LAST ARTICLE? IT’S A HONEY CINNAMON OAT FLOUR CAKE RECIPE.
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