Kyle Burn, head chef at Jordan Restaurant, has been working with George Jardine since 2008 in Cape Town, so it is no surprise that they share the same philosophy and have a similar style. On the beautiful Jordan Wine Estate George oversees the menu and keeps a beady eye on the high standards, yet it is Kyle who keeps the show on the road. What heartened me when chatting to this dynamic duo before lunch, was that George is insistent that it is Kyle who should be getting the praise, not him. “As you get older you learn to keep it simple, less is more. Kyle cooks like I did at that age,” he says.
Kyle is constantly inspired as the menu changes weekly, each Tuesday. An Asian influence is delightfully obvious in the dishes, reminiscent of his tenure at Nobu in Dubai. Classically French-trained, he was then taught by George the importance of building a relationship with suppliers. His motto is, “Keep it local, seasonal and fresh.”
The restaurant and food is contemporary, relaxed, tasty, “not uptight” says Kyle. The core of the cooking is flavour and technique. Here they get a whole fish, uncleaned, and prepare it from scratch themselves. Or George goes hunting, and the same happens with the carcass of meat. George’s ethos is one of generosity, so no diner will ever leave hungry. Previously there were dishes that never left the menu – 60% of sales were mussels, the soufflé and steak. They have broken that mould to work with whatever is fresh that week, but there is always beef on the menu. These chefs share my feelings about provenance – that people are interested in the produce, knowing the importance of where it comes from – the closer to home the better.
After the salad of grilled shittake mushrooms with yuzu and soy dressing, crushed sesame, spring onion and avocado I settled in to devour the whole-roasted quail with a sour dough and sage stuffing. Honeyed carrots, chorizo and a brown lentil fricassee were the perfect partners. My colleague waxed lyrical about her short rib and the pan roasted silver bream. We competed for spoon space in the delectable lemon and poppy seed soufflé with vanilla ice cream. Regulars flock here, no surprise, for the two, three or five course menu, all good value, and arguably one of the most beautiful winelands settings.
After a superlative lunch enjoying the view over the rim of a glass of Jordan “Inspector Peringuey” Chenin Blanc, we drove out relaxed and happy. Moments later we witnessed the miracle of birth – a cow who had literally minutes before calved, was licking her baby. We watch the calf take a few tentative steps and then take her first ‘meal’. Now that was food for the soul.
Den Anker commands the best view of the favourite table in Cape Town – Table Mountain. A stalwart of the bustling V&A Waterfront, it has been recruiting regulars from home and away for more than 20 years. In summer the view of the mountain will warm your heart, in winter it will be the generous flavours and good value. This winter forget about the drought and the cold – it is time to take advantage of their fabulous special, the Perfect Pair. Enjoy two of their Belgian beers and two dishes their famous mussels, beer-battered fish with a piquant fish curry and rice, or the burger. Great value at R125 – available until 7pm daily. It was heart-warming to see the restaurant busy and bustling at lunchtime, proof that there is no substitute for good food, service and value. It was also fun to watch my friend being ‘bibbed’ up for her plate of mussels – the service is attentive, informed and charming.
From cows to sheep. That night we met some of our favourite friends for a quiet, casual supper at Black Sheep Restaurant in Kloof Street, Cape Town, in driving rain. Also full to overflowing – I love that Capetonians are finally climbing out of their hibernation to eat well. The blackboard menu beckoned, and I chose the crispy calamari with chilli, my man the polenta with artichokes dish, and our friends the pork and hake dishes. All got top marks, as did the friendly service.
All the eating out required in my life needs to be balanced by healthy, lighter choices when given the chance. Meeting a young and energetic friend in the restaurant business for a quick lunch in Mouille Point, we decided on Newport Deli where the salad selection is large, and the flavours too. I devoured the parma ham, mozzarella and tomato salad, watching each mouthful of the falafel salad being equally appreciated. Spotting the lighthouse and a shaft of sun outside the window did much to life, my spirits and lighten my load (hopefully the kg gathering around my waistline too) on a sunny winter’s day.
JHP GOURMET GUIDE™ AND SWISS
How exciting to get such a positive response from the chefs in the 2017 JHP Gourmet Guide™ when we announced the Swiss International Air Lines Culinary Innovation Award for the 2018 guide. The most innovative, creative chef will be winging their way, with a partner, business class on Swiss International Airlines to a culinary experience in Europe.
Watch this space, and tell us on our blog who you think is SA’s most innovative chef in the current issue.