There’s a time for subtle evolution, and there’s a time for an overhaul. On Steenberg Farm in the Cape’s Constantia valley, the five-star hotel’s signature restaurant has reopened after a long-awaited major revamp.
Now called Tryn, in honour of Catharina Ras, who first settled the land here in 1682, the new focus is immediately evident in the revamped décor. A pair of striking private-dining areas flanks the entrance. Gone are the paper swans and demure white tablecloths, replaced by a bold colour palette of burnt orange and mustard that stretches from the deep-buttoned booths (book ahead) through to a sleek new bar area. A glass of Steenberg’s superb Brut Chardonnay while you peruse the menu is all but compulsory.
Chef Kerry Kilpin — who also heads up the farm’s Bistro1682 — is in charge of the kitchen at Tryn and fans of her cooking will feel right at home, with many of the plates an upscale reinvention of familiar flavours and inspiration. Kilpin is a dab hand at blending classical training with Asian and Middle-Eastern flavours. Expect the likes of steak tartare tarted up with pickled daikon and ginger, or sustainable line fish with notes of harissa and rose petal.
Start with an oyster or three — here with lime, chilli, and ponzu — before moving on to starters of the excellent beetroot tataki, or tempura prawns with charred pineapple. Mains are mostly meaty, but Kilpin’s excellent risotto, changing daily, and a plate built on shimeji mushrooms will keep vegetarians happy. For a lighter lunch, the quartet of creative salads offers plenty of choice.
There’s an extensive wine list alongside, including the full gamut of Steenberg releases ensuring an excellent by-the-glass offering. If the Cape Doctor is at bay, the tables out on the terrace, overlooking vineyards and mountain, are about as fine a culinary escape as you could ask for in the winelands this summer.
• From the November edition of Wanted 2019.