The menu and a welcome plate of snacks (dip, crisps and crudities) were brought to our table without delay setting the standard of faultless service for the whole evening. My fancy for a dry sherry as a pre-dinner drink was alas not satisfied, only the medium variety was available as is inevitably and unexplainably the case here in both restaurants and shops. But a Campari was a good second choice and got our evening off to a promising start.
Both the menu and wine list are elegant in their listing of a limited number of well-chosen dishes and wines. In fact there seemed to be as many “special” dishes as regular ones on the menu which prompts me to suggest that these should be written down, even if that would deprive our charming and entertaining maître d’ of his party piece. As well as aiding those of us with a narrow attention span the prices could also be given for each dish which, annoyingly at the verbal recitation, they were not! Each section in the menu — starters, pasta (can be ordered as starter or main course), main course and sweets — has about half a dozen dishes all mouth-wateringly described, that is providing you are not a strict non-fish eating vegetarian!
From the wine list we indulged in a bottle of Vergelegen 2010 Sauvignon Blanc (US$35) and even I for once did not grumble at the over 100% mark up as I loved the wine glasses and the wine was perfectly chilled and poured.
And so to our meal, preceded by a selection of home baked breads. My deep fried lightly crumbed porcini mushrooms were delightfully meaty and having tasted my companion’s spinach and ricotta ravioli; with a mild blue cheese and walnut sauce, I fully agreed with her pronouncement that this was a fantastic dish. Not surprising of course, given the Italian origins of the wife of our chief/patron! This was a meal to linger over and the ambience of the restaurant and the excellent placing of the tables invites just that.
Bearing in mind the Italian connection referred to in the previous paragraph and my love of lamb dishes, I chose the “special” lamb pasta for my main course and my companion tempura prawns. Both dishes arrived on piping hot plates which was a relief as our starters had been served on unacceptable cold ones. Seven large butterflied prawns with exquisitely light tempura batter with a soya dipping sauce were accompanied by. . .chips, carrots and beans, more of a homage to English fish and chips than the dish’s Japanese origins! As well as being disappointingly mundane, the vegetables were undercooked and could not be cut with the fish knife provided and so my companion abandoned the struggle.
Meanwhile I was enjoying my enormous plate of penne pasta with a delicious creamy sauce with miniscule pieces of lamb. I am sure tagliatelle (pasta ribbons) which was offered as the alternative would have been a better, less heavy choice and I would have gladly settled for much less pasta and more lamb. But then maybe I misunderstood the dish?
For desserts we had wonderfully light dark chocolate mousse and whipped cream and divine homemade ice-cream with praline sprinkles. My espresso had the required kick and was accompanied by miniature chocolate bon-bons.
A wonderful end to a meal which truly was a food experience and an evening spent in delightful surroundings with service guaranteed to induce a feeling of somnolence in even the most stressed.
Expect to spend between US$50 and US$85 per head
22 Victoria Drive, Newlands