It’s always a treat to visit the Mount Nelson – whether you’re having breakfast at the Oasis Bistro, High Tea in the lounge, drinks on the terrace, or a late-night burger in the Planet Bar. And then there’s the Chef’s Table – dinner at one of three tables set in an alcove off the main kitchen prepared by chef Rudi Liebenberg and his team.
Our evening started with a leisurely drink in the chic Planet Bar before being escorted into the bowels of the kitchen to enjoy the theatrical culinary experience that was to follow. Our five-course meal, designed with local, seasonal, fresh, tasty and exciting ingredients, was brought to the table by a team of chefs, each of whom carefully described the dish they presented. Although we did not have the wine-paired menu, head sommelier Pearl Oliver was ever-present explaining the subtleties of wine-pairing to the lively occupants of the other two tables.
The five courses
Our meal began with canapés – a choice of breads and three flavoured butters (olive, herb and bone marrow) with a small glass container of fresh crudités grown by Abalimi Bezekhaya, a micro-farming project in Khayelitsha and Nyanga. The first course – a cold seafood salad of grilled tuna, sesame-crusted salmon belly and poached marron in a spicy tomato-and-ginger broth – was refreshing and very tasty. It was followed by a delicious salad of baby beetroot and nectarines with a cashew-nut crème and pea shoots with a lemon dressing.
We were not too full to enjoy the next course: pan–fried duck breast with a maple-and-celeriac purée, a confit duck tortellini and green summer vegetables with a reduced duck jus. The fourth course – grilled springbok loin, chakalaka, braised neck, carrots and morogo – although flavourful, felt incongruous with the rest of the meal but would be appreciated, no doubt, by international diners.
The “chef’s surprise” of a lamb pot with foraged exotic mushrooms, shaved truffle and a slow-cooked egg was utterly delicious. And the pièce de résistance – a chocolate torte garnished with gold leaf, ice cream, brownie and blueberries – was a fitting conclusion to our meal.
It does sound like a lot of food, but the small portions, beautifully executed, ensured we thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Would we go back and do it all over again? Yes, please!
The Chef’s Table can be booked for one guest or a maximum of 12. Reservations are essential. Deli items prepared by the chefs are also available for sale to take home as a souvenir of the evening.
Time Monday – Saturday, 6.30pm – late
Cost R665 (five courses); R1155 (five courses with wine-pairing)
Note prices will change in November 2016
Contact 021 483 1948, email@example.com
Where to find it Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel