Written by : Matthew Ibbotson
Places high up in the mountains are usually reserved for wily goats and intrepid hikers, but now such a spot is also home to the legendary restaurant La Colombe. In its newish residence at Silvermist Estate it sits high above the Constantia Valley. The stunning location is befitting a restaurant that has been so instrumental in making Cape Town one of the food capitals of the world.
La Colombe has launched the careers of a string of chefs that continue to influence Cape Town's foodie culture. Names like Franck Dangeroux and international award-winning chef Luke Dale-Roberts have all been a part of building the reputation of one of the finest eating experiences in the world. It is the job of the exceptionally talented, Executive Chef Scot Kirton to continue furthering La Colombe's legendary status.
On arrival at La Colombe we were struck by the simplicity of the architecture and décor - it is almost like being in a sophisticated yet rustic-chic tree house. The main section of the restaurant is double volume, and leads onto an enclosed deck that looks over the picturesque Oranjekloof, framed by giant Eucalyptus trees. The subdued muted tones of the restaurant's interior allows the breath-taking natural beauty of the mountain top location to shine through and of course it does not distract from the star attraction, Chef Scot's food art.
La Colombe's french signature is evident across the menu, but it is also filled with unexpected surprises and a twist of Asian influence. We started with La Colombe's signature 'Tinned Tuna' - a dish that brings entertainment to the dining experience and challenges the diner to interact with the dish. Once you have opened your sealed tin can, you are encouraged to guess the ingredients inside. A zesty combination of the freshest yellowfin tuna, a delicate combination of ponzu, citrus, ginger, wasabi, sesame seeds and shitake mushrooms. Perfect to awaken both the taste buds and the imagination.
The gourmand menu proved to be a satisfyingly slow-paced afternoon full of delights. Poached oysters in a creamy velouté, tempura-wrapped seaweed topped with caviar and tiny cubes of apple that add crunch and a perfectly balanced extra flavour dimension.
We enjoyed a palate cleanser - a cocoa butter shell ball with a mouthful of granny smith, cucumber and tonic liquid that bursts out as you bite into the shell.
The rich bone marrow with a sting of lemon acidity balanced by the slight sweetness of the borage flower is worth a mention, as is the perfectly cooked sea bass surrounded by a delicately flavoured velouté with a bright splash of herbaceous, bright green salsa verde on the plate - but as every foodie knows tasting is believing.
When dining at a restaurant of the calibre of La Colombe we are reminded that we are not just eating extraordinary food, but are privy to the art of plating and the theatre of fine service.
Each plate is an Instagram moment, with delicate pops of colour or otherworldly coral-like structures of the crispiest pork crackling. Even the plates are carefully selected to compliment each dish - ranging from the now famous tuna tin to wooden tree stump-style plates.
The service by the well informed waitrons is impeccable. The timing of each dish was perfect, with just enough information on the accompanying wine and why it was selected to pair with the dish. Innovative pairing is the passion and responsibility of sommelier and manager, Jennifer Hugé.
La Colombe is quite evidently still one of the top restaurants in Cape Town. It should be a tick on the bucket list for every local diehard foodie and a definite inclusion on any global foodie's pilgrimage. Book in advance, as this establishment's popularity has not waned over the years.