It was wonderful to seek some solace and look forward to spring by heading off to the West Coast. The sea view at Leeto Restaurant in the Strandloper Ocean Boutique Hotel in Paternoster is superb. The light, airy restaurant takes full advantage of the dune setting, letting the view, sea air and nature in on wind-free days. It is the perfect platform for chef Garth Almazan and his small team to produce a carefully considered menu that features local wines. Previously chef at Catharina’s, he has welcomed the move to the seaside village that has become known for culinary appeal and simplicity. The menu changes weekly, but you are sure to see a signature risotto on it at any time. It could be his verdant spring risotto with crunchy green vegetables as stars of the show, or the prawn and calamari risotto. No surprise that fish is a menu hero, as Garth grew up near Kalk Bay in Cape Town. Having a father who is a fisherman means that he truly understands seafood, and remembers the days when it was plentiful, caught by sitting with a line at the harbour. He loves cooking with firm, white fish, and ensures that the restaurant is SASSI-compliant. Most of his seafood is locally sourced, and a treat will be linefish, like sea bream, caught that morning. In an effort to source ingredients locally Garth can be found at local markets like the one in Hopefield.
Awarded with three plates in the 2018 JHP Gourmet Guide™ and lauded by food-lovers from all over the world, it is no surprise that people coming to South Africa will plan their holiday around their reservation at this restaurant. La Colombe has always wowed our team and me, and with good reason.
From the moment you walk into the new-look, recently renovated La Colombe you will be wowed. It is lighter, brighter and dare I say it, happier! There is a sense of excitement and a lightness of being from the team. James Gaag, now executive chef, has earned his place at the helm. Whilst there is still a sense of theatre in the presentation of each plate, that is where it ends. It is world-class.
Our first moment of happiness started with the first bite of sourdough bread, and we waxed lyrical throughout. The Cape Malay snacks are sure to hit a nostalgic note with locals and be a firm holiday memory with international diners. The ubiquitous tuna ‘La Colombe’ in a tin remains on the menu, enjoyed before a naartjie-glazed langoustine dish that combined perfectly with Korean duck, Israeli couscous, fennel and an umami broth. The chipotle-glazed sweetbreads with grass-fed beef sirloin are served in an inventive manner, showing origin – clever, but not contrived. There is just the right level of interaction with the friendly, informative and obliging staff who guide your epicurean journey perfectly.
Rather than giving the game away and sharing all the flavours with you, may I suggest that you make your reservation now? I left armed with a bottle of La Colombe gin to be sipped at sunset as we welcome spring.