Catharina’s, Steenberg Estate

20 05 2010

Elegant and cosy. Sophistication without the stuffiness. Stately and refined yet comfortable. And with all the old-world glamour of the quintessential Cape Dutch style wine estate. These were our impressions of Catharinas as we walked away from dinner last night with our bellies full of contentment. This was partly because the service was faultless (to my relatively untrained eye) and we felt immediately at ease, like welcomed and distinguished guests (even though we’d just screeched in 10 minutes late still in our work clothes). Then, by delightful coincidence, we were led to the best seat in the house – a table for two right next to the grand fireplace, cosy flames and all. I love winter fires, they create an atmosphere that money can’t buy.

And well, then of course, there was the food. The food! We were there to try out the Winter Warmer Special (R195pp), so that’s what we did… though I was sorely tempted to throw caution to the wind and sample their kudu fillet, Malay spiced kingklip, braised Karoo lamb shoulder … anyway, I was soon merrily distracted by my delicious glass of complimentary Bordeaux, and reason resumed its seat. Then the unexpected delight of a springbok carpaccio amuse bouche* arrived ‘compliments of the chef’… well I don’t mind if I do.

Our reverie was politely interrupted with ‘May I?…’ and followed by the careful arrival of our starters. I was pleasantly surprised by the blend of potato, celeriac and truffle soup. I am not usually a fan of potato soup, but this had me making a mental note to dig up some recipes in the near future and give the old Irish staple a whirl.

Mains was (perfect) ‘supreme of free range’ roast chicken on a bed of (exquisite) mushroom risotto and baby spinach leaves. And if you know anything about me at this stage, it’s how much I adore creme brulee, and it’s one of my measures at every restaurant I visit. Catharina’s amarula take on it was flawless. As was the accompanying dainty little chocolate and strawberry phyllo roll.

So. Absolutely charming. Loved it.

P.S. Book your table by the fire asap.

P.P.S. No, I was not paid to write this.

Notes
*Amuse bouche literally translated from the French means ‘fun for the mouth’, or officially, an appetiser.
“Chef Garth Almazan’s cuisine epitomizes sophisticated contemporary South African cuisine.” Read more here.
American Express Platinum Award for Fine Dining 2005-2009. Diners Club Award of Excellence Winelist of the Year 2006-2008. Diamond Award 2009.

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