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South African Cuisine Restaurants
To savor this wealth of cuisine on holiday, here is a sampling of restaurants that offer this varied splendor...
The Africa Cafe
213 Lower Main Road, Observatory
telephone (021) 479553
Portia and Hector De Smidt, a black and white couple of mixed marriage, opened The Africa Cafe in their home in Cape Town in 1992. A thriving success, they have moved to a colorful, two-story building . Here, amid a gaily-painted decor with whimsical Zulu fertility dolls hanging from the ceiling, they offer excellent real Afrikkaner fare. Served family style, the tab is 50 rand per person, or about $12 for platefuls of appetizers, entrees, dessert, and coffee or tea. The menu includes Ethiopian white curd cheese, a tantalizing couscous and date salad, sweet potato balls with sesame seeds, ostrich in a paprika sauce, chicken curry, Egyptian kasha with brown rice and lentils, pea and potato patties, phyllo pastries of spinach and peanuts, fruit kebabs, and coconut ice cream.
L'Auberge du Paysan
telephone (024) 842 2008
Frederick Thermann runs the elite French restaurant, L'Auberge du Paysan. Dining on tapestried chairs in the elegant restaurant set with bouquets of enormous red roses, the service, wines, and food are superb; the tab is $39 per person with wine. The menu features a petite salad of seafood: smoked salmon, crayfish, and mussels accented with grapes and green salad; grilled springbok in red currant sauce with huge Portobello mushrooms, red cabbage, and potato balls. Dessert showcases individual ice cream-filled pavlova with raspberries, adorned with nasturtiums. L'Avenir Chardonnay/Riesling 1994 and Bertrams Pinotage 1990 is poured.
Bientang's Cave Seafood Restaurant
telephone (0283) 23454
Whale watching from June to December is great sport at Bientang's Cave Seafood Restaurant, an open stone cave in a seaport about an hour's drive from Capetown. In a breath-taking setting above the sparkling sea, whales cavort 10 meters away. The staff serve a seafood buffet commencing with bouillabaise, followed by grilled white salmon, yellowtail, and king klip, and a half dozen salads including potato, pasta, calamari, coleslaw, carrot and pineapple, and waldorf. Warm bread pudding with rum sauce and cherry ice cream round out this feast. Dining is by reservations only. The price is $15 per person for lunch or $17 for dinner.
Le Quartier Francais
The menu tantalizes at the 52-seat Le Quartier Francais, a premier wine country restaurant with a 17-room auberge. In ambiance and style, it parallels California wine country cuisine. Specialties include half-shell mussels in sparkling wine, ostrich carpaccio, roast monkfish with basil on truffle pasta sheet, duck breast with sweet potato gnocchi and gooseberry chutney, and white and dark chocolate mousse with passion fruit ice cream or frozen lemon parfait and ginger plum ice cream.
Gerard Moerdyk is a charming Colonial African restaurant. The house was built in 1920 by Moerdyk as a wedding gift to his wife, the second cousin to Paul Kruger. A typical menu includes an elegant cream of butternut soup floating a viola, a composite entree plate
of three dishes in little souffle cups -- bobotie, venison pie, and chicken pie with three sambals of pineapple relish, chutney, and tomato and onion relish; rice, and fresh vegetables; and a brandy pudding with whipped cream and chocolate ice cream. The tab: $24 per person with a fine Zonnebloem Cabernet Sauvignon 1990 alongside, priced at $13 a bottle.
The Coach House
Old Coach Road at Agatha, Northern Province
telephone (0152) 307 3641
This is a five star inn with lovely spacious guest suites and a pool overlooking the lush grounds and Drakensburg Mountains. One would love to linger there for days. With a renowned, black executive chef, Lucas Ndlovu, the cuisine features seafood and game and emphasizes the mangoes and avocados grown on the local plantation. A candlelit dinner at round tables includes Dindinnie mango with prawns in a curry sauce or baked avocado with Madagascan crab, Peanut Soup, baked Sabie trout with fresh green beans and carrot puree, and a fabulous dessert trolley bearing bittersweet chocolate torte with cream, mango cheesecake, walnut meringue with lime curd, and fresh tropical fruit salad. Dinner per person is 85 rand or $21.
Royal Grill in the Royal Hotel
The five star Royal Hotel offers deluxe upscale dining in its Royal Grill, a beautiful stained glass high-ceilinged Colonial dining room. A five course wine dinner, including the vintages, is priced at 125 rand, around $31. At round linen-draped tables aglow with candles in hurricanes, the menu commences with a wafer-thin vegetable carpaccio of eggplant, sweet potato, and mushrooms laced in a pesto sauce with shreds of granna. A potato and leek soup with truffles and bacon, paupiette of sole and salmon on mushroom risotto, and tournedos of beef with mustard sauce and a vegetable bouquet follows, partnered by a silken Douglas Green Cabernet Sauvignon 1978. A continental dessert trolley holds a dozen sweets: among them, trifle, cream puffs, apple tart, and cherry yogurt pudding.
Chez Patrice at the Balalaikai Hotel and Crown Court
telephone (27 11) 322 5047
This is an elite restaurant. A stellar dinner offers a taste-tingling salad of marinated ostrich with raisins, Cape crayfish quenelles in a vanilla-scented curry sauce with a Plaisir de Merle Chardonnay, eland fillet in a guava and green peppercorn sauce, and a dessert plate of roasted sliced mangoes on a caramelized honey-pistachio sauce. Exceptional wines to enjoy include Buitenverwachting Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon; Thelema Cabernet Sauvignon Stellenbosch Reserve 1991 and Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot Stellenbosch 1992; Glen Carlou Chardonnay Paarl 1994; Warwick Trilogy, Cabernet Franc 1994, and Pinotage 1995; and Kanonkop Pinotage Stellenbosch Reserve 1993.