I’m a huge fan of tasting menus. I mean, what’s not to love? Different flavours, good wine, new experiences – it’s all pretty rad.
Sadly, though, they’re usually quite pricey …. that is until Harbour House launched their new tasting menu that comes in at just about R300 per person.
I’ve visited Harbour House dozens of times before, both as I Love Foodies and in my personal capacity.
Harbour House is consistently excellent – the service is friendly and efficient, the food tasty and well-prepared, and the views always spectacular.
So when I was invited to the launch of their new tasting menu at the V&A Waterfront Harbour House, I was pretty bleak that I was out of the country and had to give it a miss.
(Not taking away anything from my wonderful holiday with my family, which is priceless.)
But, lucky me, I had the chance to visit for lunch with my sister, Sabine, a mere two weeks after the launch.
And I was super psyched to finally be visiting the V&A store, which is a much closer and more convenient option for me, with beautiful views of the harbour.
Introducing The Tasting Menu
Before I dive into my experience of the new tasting menu, let’s give it a quick overview.
- BBQ Jackfruit Rillette (BBQ pulled jackfruit, brioche, nectarine-raisin chutney, fennel and celery slaw); paired with the Beaumont Chenin Blanc.
- Harbour House Arancini (roasted butternut, creamy Gorgonzola, citrus aioli and crispy curry leaves); paired with the Neethlingshof Unwooded Chardonnay.
- Caramelle En Brodo (seared scallop, lemon ricotta caramelle, parmesan, fennel, burnt cauliflower puree, served in a seafood broth); paired with the Graham Beck Pinot Noir.
- Beef Rib Eye (grilled rib eye, truffle mushroom sauce, pomme frittes and arugula salad); paired with the Thelema Bordeaux Blend.
- Panna Cotta (Brazilian tonka bean spiced panna cotta, chocolate crumble, and miso custard); paired with the Catherine Marshall Dessert Wine.
The new tasting menu gives diners quite a few options:
- 3 courses without wine (R195)
- 3 courses with wine pairing (R315)
- 5 courses without wine (R285)
- 5 courses with wine pairing (R485)
This makes it by far the best value-for-money tasting menu I have ever come across.
Usually, you’ll be looking at a minimum of R500 per head without wine pairing. While every tasting menu I’ve ever had has been exceptional, it just isn’t feasible for everyone.
It comes as a bit of a surprise that the tasting menu at Harbour House is so affordable, relatively speaking, as this isn’t your average, cheap restaurant.
It’s really lovely, though, to now have a tasting menu that’s way more accessible, with the same quality you’d expect from Harbour House.
The I Love Foodies Tasting Menu Review
We went for the full 5-course tasting menu with wine pairing to give you a review of the whole experience.
So let’s get started.
First off, I really enjoyed the tasting menu. I think it’s excellent value for money.
The menu also exposes people to different flavour profiles and new and unusual foods while still incorporating enough familiar tastes to not be overwhelming.
bbq pulled jackfruit, brioche, nectarine-raisin chutney, fennel and celery slaw
You start your journey with the jackfruit, common overseas but still new and exciting in South Africa.
Jackfruit has a dense and fibrous texture. It can be cooked, chunked, or shredded, and is often used as a vegan alternative to pulled beef or pulled pork.
I’ve had it as a meat substitute numerous times in London, and, as a non-vegan, I don’t think it tastes like the real thing.
But, it also doesn’t quite taste like a fruit or vegetable either, absorbs flavours quite well, and definitely matches the texture, so I can understand why vegans choose this as an alternative.
Nonetheless, I think it’s great that Harbour House has added this to their menu to give more South Africans a taste of the new in thing.
I enjoyed the BBQ flavour with the chutney’s sweetness, which is broken quite nicely by the crunch of the celery and fennel salad.
The brioche is also excellent, which I was quite surprised by as I’m not usually a brioche fan.
roasted butternut, creamy gorgonzola, citrus aioli and crispy curry leaves
The arancini were nice and hearty, and I enjoyed this dish, even though I’m not usually a gorgonzola fan and wouldn’t necessarily choose to order it.
It’s a good portion size, too (as is the jackfruit dish), which is a nice way to start a tasting journey.
I really enjoyed the citrus aioli and the crispy curry leaves, which added some texture and gentle tartness to the dish.
Caramelle En Brodo
seared scallop, lemon ricotta caramelle, parmesan, fennel, burnt cauliflower puree, seafood broth
I was a little disappointed with this dish, but it was also the one I was most looking forward to – I’m a huge fan of scallops and have them whenever I can.
I liked all the individual flavours of the dish: The scallop was great, as it always is, the cauli puree was fantastic, the caramelle was interesting but enjoyable, and I even liked the intense flavour of the seafood broth.
But I didn’t like them all together.
Scallops are very gentle in flavour, and I thought the cauli puree and seafood broth were too overwhelming for the delicate scallop. This is great, of course, if you don’t like the scallop flavour as much as I do.
Since everything was served in the broth, the puree and caramelle turned into a soggy mush, which I also didn’t like.
My personal opinion is that it would be far better for the seafood broth to be served on the side so that you can then mix the flavours if you wish or keep them separate if you prefer. And, no mush.
That said, not everyone is as sensitive to something going a bit mushy, and this may very well be a personal preference. Try it and let me know.
grilled rib eye, truffle mushroom sauce, pomme frittes and arugula salad
I enjoyed the rib-eye, and I loved the mushroom and truffle sauce, though the basting was a little on the sweet side.
It was a good, hearty portion, though, and a great way to conclude the menu’s savoury section.
My only note would be that the arugula salad this dish is supposed to come with is nothing more than a garnish and can’t really be called a salad at all.
Of course, this doesn’t affect the actual dish, but is worth noting in case you’re a little surprised.
I did mention it to the manager on the day; he agreed, and we all had a good laugh about it, so things may change in a future revision of the menu.
tonka bean spiced panna cotta, chocolate crumble, and miso custard
There must be a reason why “saving the best for last” is such a popular expression, and Harbour House does just that with its tasting menu.
The tonka bean panna cotta is divine! Even divine is an understatement. I love panna cotta, and this is one of the best ones I’ve had!
Tonka bean has a fruity, spicy vanilla flavour and works well with panna cottas.
This particular dish is also served with a miso custard, which tastes like a rich and creamy salted caramel sauce.
The combination was perfect.
The dessert also wasn’t sweet at all, making the pairing with a nectary dessert wine excellent.
Truly, this dish alone makes the whole tasting menu. It’s that good.
The Wine Pairings
On that note, I have to include a quick mention of the wine pairings.
Apart from the Graham Beck Pinot Noir and the Catherine Marshall, I didn’t really think the wines were gentle and easy-drinking as standalone wines.
Still, they worked excellently in the pairings, enhancing flavours, complementing flavours, and, in some instances, changing the whole flavour profile.
The dishes with wine pairing are definitely an excellent option.
Some Final Thoughts
Overall, the new Harbour House tasting menu is exceptional value for money.
It takes diners on a journey through a host of diverse and unfamiliar flavours while keeping enough traditional flavour profiles within the dishes to not be wholly overwhelming.
I’m certain the tasting menu will adapt and change as the months pass, and I’m certainly looking forward to what other great things Harbour House has in store for us.
For now, check out the tasting menu at either the V&A Waterfront or the Kalk Bay branches of Harbour House.
Visit Harbour House
Here’s all the information you need on the two Harbour House branches.
Address: Quay Four, Ground Floor, V&A Waterfront E-mail: email@example.com Call: +27 21 418 4744 or +27 21 418 4748
Harbour House V&A Waterfront
Address: Quay Four, Ground Floor, V&A Waterfront
Call: +27 21 418 4744 or +27 21 418 4748
Harbour House Kalk Bay
Address: Kalk Bay Harbour, Kalk Bay
Call: +27 21 788 4136
Article Date: February 2021
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