Thursday, November 1, 2012

La Colombe (Cape Town)

La Colombe is situated in a beautiful valley below Table Mountain in the Constantia Uitsig vineyard. It ranked 12th in the world on the Pellegrino 50 best restaurants list in 2010, which made it the best restaurant in Africa (at the time).

I suspect that it was a case of affirmative action.

First of all, the taxi ride there was shady. The meter ran up much more than the guidance online, I didn't speak 2 of the 3 languages, and because the numbers were going up in South African Rand and to the hundredth decimal, I was about to have a heart attack.

And then, after dropping us off, the taxi driver insisted on waiting for us and not charging us the waiting fee. Really awkward and inconvenient for him...

Roasted tomato and red pepper mousse with sourdough and seed bread: 6/10. It was a whatever moment. But so far I was not suspicious.

Then I saw this! a chalkboard presentation! Interesting concept but unwieldy.

Steak tartare with avocado on top with rice cracker: 8/10 a very interesting combination! I liked it very much because the avocado seemed healthier than creme fraiche. The cracker was delicious but was completely incapable of scooping up the dip. I also don't understand why it's made of rice... it didn't exactly go well with the raw steak.

Fried onion and horse radish dip: 3/10 It tasted like friend tempura dough that stuck in the teeth and whipped mayo. There was no indication that onions were involved in this dish.

Time for our presentation! A lot of the a la carte dishes sounded very good, but I have never had anyone describe to me all the garnishes and the construction of the dish. Although interesting for the first 3-4 items, it really dragged on, and honestly I didn't care if I had a dollop of beet or carrot on the side. Perhaps the chef visited EMP and went off the deep end?

We couldn't be bothered, and picked the smaller tasting menu and added a scallops and pork belly dish in the middle. The other menu was earth, wind, water, fire, and love.... and I didn't want to eat Captain Planet.

Quail and celeriac veloute: 8.5/10 The veloute was amazing! The quail and truffle mouse richened the flavors of the soup further, and I was absolutely enjoying this... until I had the find the bone on the quail leg in the soup. The confit leg was awkward to eat and had lost most of its flavor, which makes no sense if they actually made it confit. The quail breast, on the other hand, was tender and delicious. The chunks were still too big for the soup, but I was hungry so I didn't care.

Salmon carpaccio and tartare: 6/10: The waitress kept on telling us that our tataki was coming. The other menu, probably under earth, had a springbok tataki, and I found the waitress imprecise and misleading. In any case, this was well prepared. The alternating creamy and savory sauces scattered in dots was a nice touch. there was too much salmon, and it was relatively low grade for the 12th best restaurant in the world.

Scallops and pork belly: 5/10 Here is where the dinner entered a death spiral. The sommelier brought us a new wine to match this dish even though we were quite behind on our wine pairing at this point. Only at the end of the meal did we realize that it was not complimentary... but about half the cost of a 6 course wine pairing!

The pork belly with glaze was quite good, but the scallops were undercooked and under-seasoned. And then there were the peas! The peas were undercooked to the point of tasting like grass, and completely clashed with the rest of the dish. They were all hidden like little taste bud mines, and I had to find them all to get them away from the edibles.

Hake: 3/10 45 minutes after that last course, this overcooked and dry hake showed up. I gave up after 3 bites and went to wander around the ladies room. I was not surprised to find more undercooked peas. We can make better hake in our oven in 5 minutes.

Lychee palate cleanser: 9/10 The waitress noticed our practically untouched hake, and started getting nervous and chatty. That's when we realized that there was no palate cleanser before the red meat course, so we ordered this for ourselves. It was delicious. It was basically shaved ice with little lychee jellies on the bottom.

At this point, the waitress was still telling us every little detail about every dish, and since I read the menu, I was getting quite tired of it all. "Bring on the next course!" I said.

Steak: 8/10 Despite being completely upset at this point (the dinner was now pushing on 2.5 hours and we only had 4 courses), I have to admit that the steak was quite good. Very well seasoned and tender. Also, I was able to dig in before the waitress came over and described everything, so I was able to discover the garnishes for myself, which was delightful. They turned some scalloped potatoes into a nice pretty square block. It was all very creative... but they put the stupid peas in the dish again! At least this time they were visible.

Parsnip cake: 7/10 it was reasonably good, but not very creative. It looked interesting, but when I cut into it, it was just a cake.

Petit fours: 4/10 I had 3 of them and gave up. The chocolate truffle was sickeningly sour on the inside. Meringues were too hard, and the turkish delight was actually just a massive jelly with very little flavor or delight.

The whole dinner took over 3.5 hours! I've had dinners with twice as many courses that did not take so long. A lot of it was the lag between courses and the long-winded descriptions. The food was okay overall, but did not live up to the standards of being one of the best restaurants in the world.

I. Was. Not. Impressed.

No comments:

Post a Comment