Cuvée at Simonsig, Stellenbosch
Contact: 021 888 4932
Beryl keeps an eye on the culinary scene with a vigilance that would do credit to a hawk eyeing a tasty morsel in the undergrowth. Who goes where, and who does what to which ingredient is like mother’s milk to her. Friends of hers – she has them everywhere – told her that Lucas Carstens (ex Terroir, and Reuben’s at the One and Only) was doing delicious food at Cuvée at Simonsig in Stellenbosch. So guess what? She had to go see for herself.
The room is a delightful blend of whimsy, with gorgeous pieces of old Cape Dutch furniture and crystal chandeliers intermingled with modern touches like items of silver and porcelain scattered here and there, cosy and elegant. The cuisine is deceptively simple, no frills and tricky things to obscure the main purpose – taste and visual appeal.
We started, of course, with a glass of their famous Kaapse Vonkel, the first MCC made in SA, which Beryl pronounced “perfect” with her starter, a prawn, pawpaw and avocado salad (R70) with just a touch of chilli and ginger to offset the richness of the other ingredients. The warm ox tongue I had (R65) was served with the most delicious sweet mustard sauce I have tasted in a long time.
Beryl had the line fish (R130), sword that day, perfectly done, the skin crisp and the flesh succulent, served with tempura mussels, coconut rice balls, kachumber (onion, tomato and cucumber salad) and a delicate laksa sauce. “Like dying and going to heaven,” said madam. My 300g aged rib-eye steak (R120) was perfect – as I had ordered, medium rare, red in the middle, not pink, served with a deliciously rich peach mampoer butter and crispy onion rings.
We shared two desserts, vanilla panna cotta with tiny chopped strawberries and white chocolate ice cream (R65), nice and rich but not overly sweet, and the milk tart crème brûlée, silky smooth and also rich. “Darling, you can always tell a chef by his crème brûlée,” said Beryl with a knowledgeable air, as she gave this one her imprimatur.