There are a myriad of reasons why Cape Town outranks the rest of the country, and the continent too. Food is right up there on this list. The best wine, finest beaches and bountiful vistas secure this spot on the list too.
The Mother City’s culinary culture is influenced by the freshest produce, astute wine pairings and accomplished chefs. One such chef is Michael Broughton, Head Chef of Terroir at Klein Zalze in Stellenbosch.
I try not to do too much homework on a restaurant before I eat there. I want to be completely neutral. But as we all know from Game of Thrones spoilers, it’s hard to ignore the grapevine. Word around town is that Chef Broughton knows how to throw down a good sauce. I was ready to taste for myself.
Terroir has many obscenely beautiful qualities, not least of all is its location. At one with nature, dining outside is a must, where you get to lap up the manicured gardens, listen to chirping birds and watch golfers teeing off in the distance. The restaurant is simply styled with uncomplicated wooden tables, comfortable chairs and gleaming cutlery. Let the food do the talking then.
The menu evolves with the seasonal produce, and it is displayed on large wooden chalkboards placed next to your table. While the concept is charming, I’m not sure how practical it would be when the restaurant is busy.
We’re presented with four starters, four main courses and four desserts to choose from. While some might find that limiting, I find a small menu allows for the chef to represent his talents impeccably. And I would be spot on at Terroir.
Each dish was indeed a representation of Chef Broughton’s skillset – and yes, his sauce is really all that and a bag of truffle chips.
My starter, the Prawn Rissotto with Americaine sauce set the tone for the dishes to follow. Succulent plump prawns on a bed of rissotto, dotted with sweetcorn drenched in a sauce of tomato, cream and gruyere cheese. It was a harmonious combination of the highest order.
A main course of beef fillet with a silky carrot puree, Anna potato (similar to a potato gratin) and mushroom ketchup was a blend of clever, well thought out combinations that worked together effortlessly to create a well composed dish.
The flavour of the beef was extraordinary. I can only conclude that the meat was carefully marinated for a period of time. How you get that right without the chewiness remains Broughton’s secret.
Dessert was possibly the most delicately created pistachio soufflé I have ever tasted. It was paired with dark chocolate ice cream and a caramel sauce. Each dip into the soufflé released aerated spoonfuls that literally melted in my mouth. Cooked perfectly through, top to bottom and not a whiff of egginess – another trick Chef Broughton needs to share with the world. I waddled out a few kgs heavier with absolutely no guilt. The meal was worth the weight I just gained.
It is no wonder the restaurant was awarded One Plate status in the 2018 edition of the JHP Gourmet Guide™. Terroir is worth the excitement. If I can say this about a restaurant 13 years after it opened, then you can bet your bottom dollar it is worthy of the high praise. With award-winning wines from the vineyard to pair with the meals – it is a complete sensory excursion – one that you must experience first-hand.