The Art of Food, Dullstroom, 082 324 7594
Review by: Mignon van Zyl
Found in the small trout-fishing town of Dullstroom, The Art of Food is unlike any other restaurant on this side of Mpumalanga. For starters, owners Dave Pym and chef Christine Hamman have cleverly fused plaaskos and modern gastronomy. With a deli downstairs and gourmet restaurant upstairs, they’ve created a new restaurant category and named it ‘plaasy’ – classy with touch of plaas. Facebrick walls display works of art, and creative food presentation continues the theme.
The food has been inspired by molecular gastronomy icon Ferran Adrià, and Christine’s constantly changing menu could easily fit into a Johannesburg five-star restaurant. Two standard and must-try dishes are the chicken and mustard vol-au-vent with deep-fried rocket and cherry compote (R80), which is a spin on your favourite chicken pie recipe, and the Scotch egg with cheese crisp and red pepper purée (R68). The latter is served on a slate tile and looks more like a work of art than a traditional breakfast.
At night, The Art of Food transforms into a gourmet eatery that’s elaborate but cosy with candles and a great atmosphere. We booked a table to celebrate a special birthday and were blown away by the attention to detail in everything from the food and friendly service to the perfect mix of classic and modern background music. The only thing missing was bubbly (which they did not have on the night).
The men enjoyed the three-way pork with crab-apple jelly, butternut purée, gnocchi and chestnut spread (R160). We girls opted for the chicken roulade filled with bocconcini and served with deep-fried spinach and black cherries (R125), and fillet with medley of onion, chickpea purée, beetroot carpaccio and a Parmesan crisp (R160).
For dessert the Gorgonzola panna cotta, topped with kumquats and brandy jelly with Cointreau syrup and pistachio tuile (R50) looked tempting, but our bellies were unfortunately full. After this gastronomic experience the lack of bubbles could (almost) be forgiven.