Gourmet Guide’s Jenny Handley indulges in fine dining with V&A harbour views at the La Colombe family’s new establishment, The Waterside.
(As featured in the Gourmet Guide here.)
Number seven, or tying for number six with PIER above, the La Colombe family has expanded their fine dining restaurants, to loud applause. Both these establishments, having opened in the V&A Waterfront on Christmas Eve, share the same, spectacular harbour view. The tugs chug, the boats go in and out, and one’s heart beats faster with the wonders of the joys in living and dining in the Mother City.
Our ebullient welcome of the milk bun with a trilogy of arresting flavours was a memorable one. Flavours of roasted garlic with smoked pine nut and rosemary, chicken liver parfait with rhubarb and salsa verde and the beef tartare with oat and jalapeno, were rich in taste yet light on the eye – each as aesthetically delicate as the other. The oysters, an add-on available to diners, caught our eyes as they whisked past.
A Garden On A Plate
My colleague and I agreed amicably to order differently from the chef’s menu. The salmon with shimeji, avo and Thai broth for me, the assiette of tomato with labneh, zaátar and baby ghanoush for her, to start – a glorious garden. Her pork belly with prawn, corn, peanut and Szechuan looked as good as my light yet substantial pea risotto with truffle and goat’s cheese. Our main courses too were delightful – the line fish with mussels, squid, Black Forest ham and cauli for me, the gnocchi with tender stem broccoli, pickled carrot and salsa verde for my teammate.
I devoured the mango, pistachio and milk chocolate while watching the beautifully plated cheese selection getting rave reviews. When the bonbon chest was presented, we finally relented and both chose the same flavour – salted caramel. Yum.
A quick interlude with chef Roxy Mudie was a fitting finale…this first-class view is in good hands. Her inspiration comes from the water, explaining the loaded influence on seafood. Small details in the dishes make her upbringing evident – after growing up in the Middle East and New Zealand (dad was a chef), she travelled extensively. Her first fine-dining experience was at La Colombe. She then enrolled at Silwood and worked at La Colombe.
The palate cleanser of a granadilla ice lolly is quintessentially Capetonian, and the first dish to be conceptualized when she was planning her menu. Roxy’s favourite dishes include the fish, and ‘the stack’, that captivating amuse bouche trio – these truly set the bar for the other dishes. At home you will find her tucking into dumplings or lazy food, like Thai cuisine or a good curry.
Service here is at the same level as the rest of the LC family, yet less formal. I asked Roxy to describe her food. “It’s a mix of fine dining and playful elements, a fusion of different cultures. I want diners to leave having enjoyed an incredible meal, but not feeling that it was stiff or unapproachable.”
I Wonder Why…
Have you ever wondered why the cutlery rests are removed from the table before dessert? To prevent them disappearing as a souvenir of a spectacular meal! At R795 the Chef’s menu is good value. The array of wines by the glass and cocktails, with a comprehensive wine list, make this worthy of more than a dash – sit back, enjoy the view and savour every morsel. To describe it in a nutshell – five-star casual.