You get theatre and then you get La Colombe. The 73rd best restaurant in the world was recently re-opened after an interior revamp by Bone Studio. It now feels like an understated “treehouse” in the forest of Silvermist, Constantia — where the remarkable menu, presentation, and acute attention to detail by executive chef James Gaag are the stars of the show.
The new-look menu has not lost that unmistakable La Colombe signature — the super-clever tinned tuna trick is still a star turn — and this time there’s a heavy emphasis on the forested world in which the restaurant resides. The minute you step through the door, an amuse-bouche before you sit down is a burst of juicy flavour inspired by a refreshing forest berry. From there on, every inch of the experience is a reminder why La Colombe is one of the top 10 restaurants in the country.
Revealing too much about the dining experience is a little like giving away the central plot of a gripping drama: it really spoils it for future guests, taking away the element of surprise and delight that are most certainly part of the expertly crafted experience.
However, to give you some tantalising tidbits: there are two menu options from which to choose — the extended 11-course gourmand menu or a reduced version of eight courses, where the diners get to make some choices along the way. There’s a vegetarian option, and you can opt to go with or without the sommelier’s wine picks.
Of all the courses, I’d have to choose the chipotle glazed sweetbreads, seared wagyu beef, sweetcorn, buttermilk, and coriander as my favourite. It is presented as a delightful mini barbecue in front of every diner, and the smokey southern aromas were quite transporting. Each course is designed in painstaking detail to reflect the beautiful forested surroundings of the restaurant, and, you can expect everything from dry ice to candy floss along the way.
Of course, no La Colombe review would be complete without mentioning that unique combination of impeccable, five-star service and down-to-earth warmth that the restaurant has made its hallmark. With the food a dead cert, this is an achievement that puts La Colombe right at the top of my list.
- From the October edition of Wanted magazine.