A New Look and New Menu at
La Colombe, Constantia
La Colombe has been a part of the culinary landscape of South Africa for as long as the fine-dining trend has existed and possibly even before that. It’s no mean feat to maintain that level of excellence and it’s down to a seriously dedicated team who are passionate about what they do. Current Executive Chef, James Gaag, has been a part of the team since the restaurant’s first days at Uitsig and took over the reigns at the pass earlier this year. The restaurant has undergone a recent revamp and we visited to experience the new look and new menu at La Colombe.
A fresh look for La Colombe
The restaurant’s revamp has been headed up by Hayley Turner from Bone Studio; it is clear when you sit in the restaurant that there is a distinct synergy between outside and inside and this creates a seamless flow. The restaurant’s interior has been remodelled to remove the private dining area, which has opened up the space considerably. A new wood panelled service bar area is also a feature.
The lightwood chevron floor, sage green curtains and natural interior finishings reflect the Silvermist forest that surrounds the room, adding to its treehouse feel. The feature wall of trees at the back of the restaurant, by artist, Lucie de Moyencort, also carries through the theme of bringing the outside in.
Look up to see the strategically placed doves, the namesake of La Colombe, crafted by local artist Lameck Tayengwa.
The New Menu at La Colombe
While the interior revamp happened, so did some changes to the menu. The menu is fresh and continues with that signature La Colombe expertise and theatre.
The full gourmand menu is a whopping 11 courses and can be paired with wine. There is also the option of the reduced gourmand menu which will see you opting for a choice between dishes on three of the courses.
The wine pairings have been very specifically curated by sommelier Joseph and features unique and possibly lesser known wines, many of which you may not yet have tried.
It is impossible to detail all 11 courses as detail is the name of the game here – each dish is exquisitely intricate. A bread course is not just a bread course, it’s a featherlight Parmesan sablé with black olive, as well as sourdough with spiced pork lard and housemade chorizo.
A palate cleanser is also not just a palate cleanser, instead, it’s a swirling mist hiding a frozen passion fruit shell that holds a refreshing cocktail of calamansi (kumquat), passion fruit and lime with margarita foam.
The Theatre of It
The element of wonder is an integral part of any fine-dining menu worth its weight and the new menu at La Colombe has it in spades. The first glimpse is a course entitled Cape Malay Snacks.
A black wooden box arrives at the table with two mini rotis on top – these contain fried deboned wing with carrot pickles and the fragrance of Cape Malay Spices in tiny dots of sauce. The box is opened to reveal two further snacks of Mozambican prawns, also dressed with Malay curry spices and pickled vegetables. Smoke contained inside the box amongst herbs releases aromatic notes into the air as you dine.
Regular diners will be glad to know that that the famed La Colombe Tuna dish remains – it has become somewhat of an institution and the attempted removal of it from the menu sparked an outcry!
Several incredible dishes followed and standouts were the Hoisin Glazed Sweetbreads and Wagyu Beef dish and the Pan-fried Linefish.
The sweetbreads dish is centred around sweetcorn – mini corns arrive on a coal grill at the table and these are then added to a beautiful glass box-styled dish of creamy sweetbreads and seared wagyu that both just melt on the tongue. Bites of crunchy fresh corn and a sweet creaminess from corn purée and corn mayo round off this exceptional dish.
The pan-fried linefish of the day was Mauritian Sea Bass served with herbed bulgar wheat, scored seared squid, pancetta and smoked mussel velouté. Paired with this course was a glass of ‘Ou Steen’ Chenin Blanc from Longridge, an unusual but brilliant wine. These two courses were on par for our dish of the day but the pairing of the linefish dish with that Chenin eeked out a first place win by just a nose.
Drawing to a Sweet Close
I’m a fan of a cheese course but I can also never pass up dessert, so I love the fact that the full gourmand menu allows you to experience both. The cheese course is a delicately smoked Stanford cheese catalan with rhubarb, pecan nut ice cream and sherry pickled onions. The cool nuttiness of the ice cream is the perfect offset for the creamy cheese set custard and each bite has you wanting more. We loved the sweet-savoury balance of the dish which was so finely tuned.
Dessert is a heady blend of the flavours of tonka bean, coconut and strawberry. A blissful strawberry sorbet with compressed strawberries and a silky smooth coconut and tonka bean panna cotta. Sigh…
A Garden that Inspires
The new menu at La Colombe is course after course of highs and the final one finishes it off with a sense of whimsy. A beautiful stand of petit fours arrived, each containing ingredients inspired and found in the gardens around the restaurant. A lemon thyme marshmallow lollipop, toadstool macarons (rose geranium flavoured), and After Eight-inspired choc-mint candy floss that had us feeling like kids at the best funfair ever.
Across the board, the dishes on the new menu at La Colombe were both beautiful and intricate in their flavours – from the tiniest shaving of the smallest radish garnish to the consciousness of colour and texture.
It is no secret that you pay a premium for this experience and so you should be wowed by each course; you should be left wondering “how did they do that?’ and marvelling at the minute details. At La Colombe absolutely every element and detail is considered and the result is a dining experience that is, as always, consistently world class.
Enjoyed reading about the new menu at La Colombe? Read more about our visit to sister restaurant La Petite Colombe in Franschhoek.
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