Housed in the tasteful boutique hotel Majeka House, resting on the periphery of Stellenbosch, Makaron Restaurant has firmly cemented itself as one of the Cape Winelands’s most stirring dining spots. Thanks to its elegant interiors, the hotel nabbed the ‘Best Design Hotel in Africa & the Middle East’ accolade at the Condé Nast Johansens Awards for Excellence 2017. However, the restaurant’s Head Chef Lucas Carstens, proved that the cuisine on offer is of outstanding calibre too, with the institution of their fresh ‘Small Plates Menu’.
The notion of small plate, tapas-style dining is being warmly embraced the world over. This is unsurprising given that it allows diners the pleasure of sharing their food and the liberty to choose whichever dishes tickle their fancy. Having noticed the dismay of diner’s at having their food choices dictated to them, Lucas was certain that the new menu would appeal to their desire for a less restricted dining experience.
The menu comprises of a tempting array of 18 small plates, created by gathering inspiration from several cookbooks and enlisting his own findings about the culinary arts. He recommends a four-step sequence to follow when devouring the fare, although this is by no means mandatory. It begins with ‘Suggested start’, succeeded by ‘Followed up by’ – next up is ‘The serious choice’ and the last offering is ‘To finish’. We were delighted to have the opportunity to sample this series of courses.
Before the ‘Suggested start’ was brought out, a medley of green leaves from the Majeka House vegetable garden was served. Being accommodating of guests’ personal tastes, the thoughtful waiters gave us the option of enjoying the leaves with or without a spray of rooibos vinegar. This condiment was not the only part of the meal that was a nod to its South African heritage, as the leaves were complemented by mielie pap croquette and a slice of sourdough bread topped with moskonfyt. This tantalised our palates, resulting in eager anticipation of what was yet to come.
To continue, we feasted on the ‘Suggested start’ of charred cauliflower, sweet corn and cabbage, mixed with grated parmesan. Lucas admitted that this divine starter was inspired by the home cooking that he basks in with his loved ones. Plates were licked clean by the time the ‘Followed up by’ course was placed on the table. The baby marrow risotto was our delicacy of choice, and a popular one amongst patrons. Its Arborio rice, cooked to perfection, was accompanied by raw mushrooms infused with truffle. Nevertheless, the winning ingredient was shavings of cured egg yolk, with a taste much like that of cheese.
The course that we looked forward to the most, ‘To finish’, made for a sweet ending to an already blissful repast. We polished off a bowl of softened dark chocolate, together with almond milk ice cream. According to Lucas, he switched to preparing much of what is offered on his own, in the Majeka House kitchen, including almond milk. As dessert lovers, we didn’t stop after trying the milky treat! We also reached for the cinnamon ice cream sandwiches, made by consulting an original milk tart recipe from C. Louis Leipoldt. These mini sugary delights looked too adorable to eat, but we couldn’t resist taking a bite before saying our goodbyes.
When 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm daily (closed on Wednesdays from May – September)
Where Majeka House, 26 – 32 Houtkapper Street, Paradyskloof, Stellenbosch
Cost Without wine pairing: R450 for four courses, R565 for five courses, R675 for seven courses; With wine pairing: R770 for four courses, R940 for five courses, R1 100 for six courses
Contact +27 21 880 1549,
[email protected], majekahouse.co.za
Photography Courtesy images