Myoga Restaurant serves sublime food in a sublime location overlooking the gorgous gardens of the Vineyard Hotel
How many times have you been out for dinner and said I spent that on that, the service was sloppy, that could have come out of my mother in law’s oven twenty years ago, overcooked, undercooked, dry-as-leather and just plain uninspiring.
Too many times to count I’m guessing.
More and more often when I eat out I prefer to opt for a (sometimes) slightly more expensive restaurant which offers the complete experience. I am not saying there isn’t a place for the 1am greasy cheese, but when I put on my favourite shirt and slap on my Eau de Cologne from the back of the bathroom cupboard, I want the complete experience! I don’t get dressed up for no good reason is my attitude.
When you walk towards the restaurant through the pristine gardens with Table Mountain seemingly bending over to take a peek into the kitchen of Myoga, you immediately realize this is the complete package. Myoga is located in the luxurious Vineyard Hotel and overlooks the hotel’s breathtaking gardens – the same gardens that Lady Anne-Barnard use to enjoy in the early days of the establishment of the Cape.
I have come with the intention of a fine dining experience and it is delivered from the moment you enter. It is not overly stiff – quite the contrary – it is fairly relaxed and open. This award-winning kitchen is on show for all to see. It’s part of the entertainment and in a sense the show for the night. Where could you have more drama than a five star kitchen? Beware, the live screenings of the kitchen in the bathrooms make for enthralling viewing. Unfortunately, I can’t report back spotting an overweight sous chef scraping out the mixing dish while hiding behind the fridges. It’s fascinating to watch the speed and precision of this highly trained team in their kitchen. One day I’ll catch them doing something wrong.
Myoga, in recent years, has become renowned for its ‘tasting menu’ and this is again part of the complete experience I was talking about. There aren’t many tasting menus that offer quite this variety of choice and this makes it perfect for the novice, and experienced, fine diner. It is an education on the palate for people who have not experienced this level of cooking.
Celebrated executive chef and owner, Mike Basset, with his team is constantly developing and updating the now famous ‘tasting menu’. Myoga offers a contemporary fusion cuisine menu that offers extraordinary flavours and platings to delight the eye. Myoga likes to call it an ‘east meets west’ menu which crosses a multitude of cultures and flavours.
The new menu has made a subtle move towards simpler food – where well-sourced ingredients stand proud and there are fewer fussy broths than there were in past menus. Mike has a strong ethos in his kitchen to use free-range and local produce. ‘Being able to trace products to their particular source is important to me,’ states Mike. Chef Mike also does all the shopping for ingredients for the restaurant because he believes there is less wastage that way and he can also ensure the best quality products. ‘The average restaurant suppliers cannot match this level of quality,’ says Mike.
Our evening began with a refreshing virgin cocktail of Lemon and Mint with Elderflower which brought out a fresh zing. Throughout the evening an array of different virgin cocktails appeared for my pregnant guest. It was lovely for her to still have the experience of a well-made drink to pair with the dishes – another piece of the complete experience. Sommeliers, Lisa Gorgde and Jade Forbes, Myoga’s beverage duo, kept me happy with some expertly paired local wines while the cocktails flowed, starting with a Steenberg 1682 Brut.
Then the Myoga 7 course gastronomy express began with the exceptional rhythm and timing of a classic steam train. Our gastronomy journey was timed to perfection allowing us to linger on the fresh, delicate flavours of the smoked trout ceviche with a light, airy wasabi spuma. Then it gathered momentum with dishes like the risotto with mushrooms and roasted garlic truffle cream. Deliciously rich but just light enough to leave you desparately wanting more. This dish has not been allowed to leave the menu as it is so popular with the more frequent guests. There is general consensus amongst the team that the chef responsible for this risotto could well be one of the best risotto makers of all time!
Just when we were thinking that this journey couldn’t get any better, out came dishes like the Thai inspired green curry chowder (sublime) followed by a macaroni cheese with an upgrade – macaroni combined with a rich white sauce made from goats cheese and white cheddar, surrounding an island of sweet tomato chutney with small pieces of chorizo adding a spicy top note. Simple and full of flavour it keeps you optimistically scraping your fork on the bottom of your empty plate.
The main stop for me was the BBQ Pork Tenderloin served with pan crisped potatoes, sautéed apples, red cabbage, chorizo, asparagus, red current jus and chive sauce – fruity and sweet, the crispness of the sautéed apple and red cabbage balancing the red current jus and chive sauce. This was a stop on the journey that I could have stayed on forever but then I would never have experienced the sweet heaven of the Fudge cheesecake with coffee ice cream and cocoa macaroons.
My guest and I left Myoga feeling spoilt, and in many ways privileged, to have been able to have enjoyed this complete experience where the food, wine and virgin cocktails are so delicious and where the waitrons are there only to delight you with their exceptional skill. This is the type of restaurant where gastronomy and service is put under the microscope and when it comes up as faultless and entertaining as our evening at Myoga was, you know their jobs are being expertly done.