A visit to Towerbosch feels a little like stepping into the pages of a fairy tale.
A visit to Towerbosch feels a little like stepping into the pages of a fairy tale. We arrived at a seemingly deserted cottage set in a lush, green dell. The mist perched on the edge of the forest seemed to welcome us with a peculiar stillness. We edged our way across a small bridge, unsure if we were heading in the right direction, until we spotted the tell-tale whisp of smoke escaping from the stone chimney. The doors to the restaurant opened and we were welcomed out of the cold and into the beautiful interior, complete with roaring fire, a cosy library nook and an eclectic assortment of curiosities hanging from the ceiling and walls. We settled in at our table, a circular booth right near the fire, and thus began our afternoon at Towerbosch.
Our meal started with ‘gesuurde plaas botter’ – a house speciality, served with homemade sourdough. Anyone who has made sourdough knows that it comes from a live starter, which has to be nurtured and coaxed into this amazing bread. We could have just gorged on bread and butter alone, but this being the country it was served with duck liver pâté and a chenin jam. The combination was sublime and from that moment on, we knew we were in for a country feast.
Next was a starter of lightly cured Bresaola, served with Huguenot cheese, garlic aioli and pea shoots, which add a lovely fresh nuttiness to the dish. We enquired about these little sprigs and were told that they are cultivated by one of the kitchen staff, who lovingly waters and whispers sweet nothings to them daily.
Following that was farmed kob, atop vichy vegetables and a zingy citrus emulsion, which was light and packed with flavour. The kob was cooked perfectly and had a rich, golden sear on the flesh. These first courses were paired with Knorhoek’s Pantère Chenin Blanc – a gorgeously honey-coloured wine, with definite notes of guava and tropical fruit.
For the next course we moved on to the award-winning Pantère Cabernet Sauvignon, the perfect pairing to our beef cheeks, served with a silken parsnip puree and crispy sweetbread pops. I won’t lie and say that the sweetbreads were not met with some trepidation! Of a table of four, this was a first for all. For those not in the know, sweetbreads are glands, and while this may sound unappealing, these deep fried nuggets were crispy, creamy and perfectly complemented the beefy cheeks. Also not a very common menu item, the cheeks are courtesy of Ryan Boon meats, and make the perfect, pull-apart braise, served with a red wine jus. The chefs believe in nose-to-tail cooking where possible, and these unusual ingredients were given pride of place in this dish.
For dessert, a playful Tonka Bean macaron with rhubarb coulis and burnt marshmallow. The macaron was one of the best I have tasted, a light crisp shell with a perfectly gooey, chewy centre and just the right balance of creamy anglaise filling – heaven!
After our meal, we asked to chat to Chef Westley, and were joined by him and his lovely wife and sous chef Carmen. One could not hope to meet a more unassuming, and yet deservedly worthy of praise pair. There are no airs and graces about the couple, and yet the food they put together is refined without being laboured, and elegant without being pretentious. A balance that is very hard to achieve, but seems effortless for them both. We sat chatting for hours and left with an understanding of people, who just truly love what the do.
Towerbosch manages to achieve just the right amount of country authenticity, without feeling rural. Everything from the friendly staff, to the beautiful setting, the moreish food and the quirky decor, it’s all woven together. It made complete sense when we eventually clicked that translated, ‘tower’ means magic; it was the final whoosh of the wand that tied the story together. I knew I should have checked to see whether the window frames were made of gingerbread.
Country authenticity, without feeling rural.