A meal at La Petite Colombe restaurant is like doing the tango with a stranger. You enter the dance floor uncertain of what to expect, and when the music stops at the end, you are left breathless and speechless. And when words are not enough, only a hearty applause will do. I am clapping loudly right now.
La Petite Colombe in trendy Franschhoek is situated inside Le Quartier Français. It is an extension of the brand from Constantia, and while most might argue that no two restaurants are ever the same, I beg to differ. It is very different in offerings but the ethos of both eateries is perfectly aligned. You are going to walk away from either with the same foodgasmic experience.
The setting is simple, the light pouring into the space through big windows is decoration enough. A few ornaments decorate the walls, the tables are bare aside from an elegant orchid perched over. It is not much, but it is just enough.
We are here for the winter menu special. It is my favourite time to experience the Cape’s food scene, and it should be yours too. Most of the top 20 restaurants offer up reduced rates for a smaller menu tasting, it is the cheapest way to start an affair with the best Cape Town has to offer. Just beware, it is addictive and once you start this dirty dance, there’s no putting baby in a corner.
The menu is priced at R450pp for a 7-course meal, and R835pp for the wine pairing.
The bread course smacks of mastery. A perfect crack and crunch on the outside, with a luscious velvet inside. I have had the yellowfin tuna dish before, and I have craved it since then. It is a bouquet of beauty. The fleshy tuna, swept up with the miso, naartjie, avocado and aubergine is perfectly on point and deserves a 10/10 for presentation, flavour and taste.
High praise, until I tasted the prawn tortellini course. Hands down, it is the single most interesting flavour profile I have tasted this year. A perfect tango is probably impossible to achieve, Head Chef John Norris Rogers, has honed in on his craft and undoubtedly achieved it. The tortellini itself is yellow and buttery, together with the delicate prawn filling intertwined in a spiced mussel and coconut veloute – then notes of sweetcorn and pickled squid – it moved sveltely and created an indescribably delicious mouthful.
The blood orange palate cleanser could very well be described as the tap dance portion of the food show. It was an unusual bitesize surprise, sorbet fashioned into orange slices.
There couldn’t possibly be a more decent preparation of the beef fillet, it melted into the accompaniments of truffled kale, porcini and wild garlic reduction. A finger swipe at the end polished off the plate ensuring the chef understood how much I enjoyed his creation.
Dessert was the valrhona caraibe and pumpkin ice-cream – it was incredible, and settled down my palate after all the leaps and sashays.
By now you might have gathered that I am a fan of the brand, and you would be spot on. Chefs Rogers has created a space for flavours to dance, emotions to join in and highs to keep bringing you back for more.
It is a tango worth trying..
Pictures: Nidha Narrandes and Andrea van der Spuy