Reimagine Bobotie? Don’t you dare! But if you do, make sure it is better than the recipe Tannie Sarah’s Ma passed down to her, which was passed down to her. The last place you would expect to find a Cape Malay Bobotie on a menu would be at a restaurant at the very plush One&Only Hotel. And yet, there it is, along with other South African favourites like trotter skilpadjies, morogo and pampoen poffertjies.
Ochre is the latest addition to the One&Only family at the V&A Waterfront. By definition Ochre is is a yellowish orange colour – derived from is a natural clay earth pigment of the very same colour.
It is a restaurant shaped by its plush surroundings, in a location fit for residence of the world’s greatest stars. It occupies a location on the canals water’s edge, you can arrive by boat if you so please and I would imagine that some do.
Previously Reuben’s, it was time for a shake up and clearly the idea was to reinvent Cape Town cuisine to reflect our rich culinary colours and flavours. Head chef Chris Mare has done a fine job of it too.
With the backdrop of Table Mountain, high-volumed ceilings, the deep set yellow tones are etched into the aesthetic in the carpets and hanging lampshades. Dark wood furniture make up the seating and panelling in the restaurant. It is simple and functional. As night falls the mountain glows from the sunset and you’re swept away by Cape Town’s beauty once again. I can completely understand why tourists flock to this location for dinner, drinks and celebratory evenings.
The menu is focused on showcasing local tastes and the freshest of fresh produce. There are six starters, six mains and four desserts to choose from. And for a sharing family, there are house specialities like 1kg roast lamb saddle which serves four, a 1kg beef ribeye which also serves 4, as well as a t-bone. I find this type of sharing meals more common on menus these days, and as a family person, I quite like the idea of ordering one meal to share. These are accompanied with a side of vegetables.
For starters I order the Cape Octopus which is served with West Coast mussels, key lime garlic chips and lemongrass sauce. Be wary, this is not calamari, so don’t expect succulent calamari when you order. Octopus is a little heavier, a little more chewy. The lemongrass flavouring was exceptional and the mussels sweet and succulent. A beautifully composed dish is the best way to describe it. Very Cape Town, fresh from the sea.
The pulled lamb bobotie caught my attention initially and I was eager to understand how chef had interpreted these nuances. It was the right choice. A buttery shortcrust pastry with a glossy top held together the most delicately spiced succulent pulled lamb. Other inclusions on the plate were sweet potato, a banana purée (which I could do without), brandied raisins and the obligatory addition of apricot chutney.
This dish came with a clear understanding for the need of crumbly, sweet, spicy and Capetonian. It is was beautifully balanced.
Dessert is always an area to score extra points with my tastebuds. I have confused my brain into believing that I have a separate stomach just for dessert. So no matter how much food I have devoured, dessert is served and eaten with no hesitation.
I opted for the malva pot brood potjie – a nod of approval from our host sealed my decision. It arrived in front of me still simmering from the oven, the smell of sweet steam filling the air. Smother the malva with the créme anglaise and scoop it up with some pumpkin ice-cream, then sit back and let the flavours dance on your tongue.
It is a very sweet dessert, you have been warned, but it is also decadent, with a touch of spice it is swoon-worthy. The smooth and silky pumpkin ice-cream deserves high praise.
Malva is as South African as dessert can get, and will hit the spot every… single… time.
If you are not driving make sure you choose the wine pairing or get suggestions from the very knowledgable sommelier – who rattles off with enthusiasm his understanding of fine wines.
You can choose from a two-course or three-course meal, or the sharing-style menu. I can bet they all have a Cape Town twist to them, and you will enjoy the variation no matter what it is.
Even Tannie Sarah se ouma would approve, and so do I.