Head chef James Gaag is a chef who is creative, playful, thoughtful and inspirational. With chef proprietor Scot Kirton they have secured three-plated La Colombe at number 114 in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, but watch this space…
They have crafted a chef’s menu that is unparalleled. It’s a series of crescendos from the first burst that erupts as you are invited to pop a white-chocolate ball into your mouth. Service is attentive, intuitive and instinctive and genuine.
I love the simplicity of the surroundings, there is no contrived décor, you are here to appreciate every nuance of the dining experience. It’s all about the food and its sensory appeal, but you are reminded discreetly of the forest environment. The bark and greenery on the perfectly pressed white tablecloth form the platform for the amuse bouche, served with a kitchen cocktail. Heavenly. It may be a trio of lamb roti with marlin tataki on a burnt lime, or a foie gras with mushroom and Springbok ensemble. Even the bread course has tableside service, sweet potato bread rolls that you scoop into a concoction of Wagyu chippings, oxtail and bone marrow, decadently rich, and paired with a beer.
The passionfruit, blackened, is served on a wooden board with scissors. Slice it open to that expose a piquant Cape curry that showcases Cape flavours, yet still allows the mussels to be the hero. Here is a dish that stands out, despite its simplicity. It works.
They have tweaked the ubiquitous, much-anticipated signatory La Colombe tin of yellowfin tuna with guacamole, cumin, chipotle and citrus, a duet with wine served in a black glass, adding mystique to their magic. It’s not that we are competitive, but my man and I were thrilled that our guesses about the wine matched!
After selecting cheeses from the chest of miniatures that have been ‘manipulated’ on site, there was time for a quick chat to James. Lovely to have a chance to wish him bon voyage as he takes a well-deserved break to gather more inspiration from dining at other globally-iconic restaurants. Chefs at this level don’t holiday, they live their craft.
The last notes of an unforgettable dining experience were sweetly played in a speckled egg, a cashew-salted caramel and a Rooibos macaron, that popped into our mouths to end the way it began – with a burst.