When two foodies meet for lunch, it’s always a production but when the opportunity came to dine at one of South Africa’s most iconic and internationally acclaimed fine dining establishments, we knew it would be a true spectacle.
La Colombe is located in the picturesque Silvermist organic wine estate at the top of Constantia Nek, with breathtaking views overlooking the Constantia wine valley, False Bay and Hout Bay. A setting befitting a world-class dining experience.
As the day approached, we read more about Chef Proprietor Scot Kirton’s philosophy and approach of fusing Asian and French cuisine in the pursuit of excellence and perfection on each plate. Our foodie hearts began to skip more than just a few beats.We slowly breathed out our pre-lunch jitters as we descended the stairs into the foyer of the one restaurant we had been dreaming of visiting since its opening. For weeks, we had peeked at the seasonal menus, read all the reviews and salivated over the images. But in that moment, we were walking towards the glass doors and in a few short minutes, our afternoon matinee with La Colombe commenced.
As we took our seats at a tableside window, with sweeping views of the lower-lying vineyards and gloriously etched Cape Town mountains, we excitedly pulled our menus closer and glanced around the restaurant, which was filling up fast over the lunch hour.
An open, airy space that brings together serene natural surroundings, we immediately felt welcomed, not only by La Colombe’s easy embrace, but even more so by the people who nurture this famous dining room.
Classically understated, the setting is suitably chic as one would expect from Eat Out’s 2019 Best Restaurant in South Africa. Muted hues of earthy tones, cloud grey and elegant whites, presenting the stage to support the impressive acts which were soon to follow.
From our arrival to our reluctant departure a few hours later, we were enveloped by genuine hospitality, sincere conversation and a bounty of friendly charm. Our host for the day, Alex, supported by our effervescent sommelier were an intricately rehearsed expression of culinary passion.
Throughout our lunch, several other players were introduced table-side; whether it was to replenish drinks, remove plates or simply offer friendly conversation. One of the absolute crescendos was having La Colombe’s Executive Chef, James Gaag, stop by our table and chat to us about his influences and innovations in the current menu.
These centre around the delivery of classic signature dishes and the endless array of sublime new inspirations which form the mainstay of La Colombe’s Tasting Menu.
The freshest seasonal produce, uncomplicated clean flavours and classical elegance with impeccable service and an award-winning winelist make La Colombe a truly unforgettable experience.
As we took a breather between courses, we couldn’t help but admire the seamlessness of the experience. It was as if the wait staff participated in some unspoken relay, one smoothly handing over to the other. From placing the next dish to sashaying into our wine pairing explanation, each person had their specific role to play. Whilst one steps onto centre stage, the rest of the team are waiting in the wings for their cue.
With the backstage in full view of the dining room, it’s not the stereotypical situation of “all seems calm on the surface.” Here, the tranquillity is tangible, quietly filling the space with soft, companionable tones from the back. With meticulous attention to detail, La Colombe provides a space in which the theatrics of dining take the spotlight.
We were lucky enough to experience the full Chef’s Menu, paired with a beverage flight. We keenly skimmed the menu for that one dish that has enthralled us on social media. Tuna “La Colombe,” paired with a blind tasting. Even before we could let our imaginations run wild with thoughts of what the tin and black glass could possibly contain, our first course arrived, with all the visual indulgence you could possibly imagine.A miniature garden filled with morsels of marlin tataki. Hand-carved wooden mushrooms, each holding a different taste journey, just big enough to melt in one bite. Springbok, liver parfait and a lamb roti that rendered us speechless. As in any great production, it is the silence that speaks volumes and this was just the case as we savoured each delicately prepared course – each as innovative, breath-taking and delicious as the one before.
Other highlights included the Kerala style duck, paired with a gorgeous red from the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. The Thai coconut line fish was a bowl of pure enjoyment; served with a gorgeously textured 2015 Chardonnay.
Our ultimate indulgence came in the cheese chest. Filled with handcrafted waxy rounds of the finest and creamiest cheeses, ceremoniously presented in a glass box and paired with the sommelier’s best selection of dessert wines.
A dining experience at La Colombe far exceeds anything you’ve read or imagined. Throw all your pre-conceptions about fine dining out the window and experience food the way it was meant to be served. Yes, the menu is one of the defining foundations of the experience, but it’s so much more than just what’s on your plate. It’s the people, the service and the heart.A standing ovation at the end of our lunch would not have been misplaced. It’s an afternoon we will reminisce about for a long time. We were transported into a wondrous world of imagination, where a cast of talented people entertain and mesmerise you with incredible culinary surprises.
As the seasons and menus change, each visit to La Colombe is a new experience. We will treasure our carefully hand-written menus and origami doves until we take our seats for another afternoon of magic!