By Bianca Coleman
Glen Carlou is famous for its chardonnays so it’s not surprising that many of the dishes on executive chef Johan Stander’s current winter menu are paired with them. A reluctance to part with any of the glasses meant our table got rather cluttered after a couple of courses into our sampling feast, but they are all just too good to send away – whether you like them with, or without oak.
The Restaurant at Glen Carlou is combined with its expansive tasting room under a high thatched roof, furnished with deep couches, and a fireplace. There is a long wraparound balcony where you can sit in the sun and drink in the fabulous view of the vineyards and Paarl mountains along with your wine.
Our favourite starter was the light-as-air gruyere and cauliflower soufflé (R65), which is served with spinach crème, mint, coriander, and walnuts. Served with the 2014 unwooded chardonnay, it made a strong case for being a vegetarian.
Other choices include a springbok terrine with wild mushroom puree, kumquats, and Malay dressing, which is recommended to be taken with the 2013 Quartz Stone chardonnay; a pear tartlet, with gorgonzola, hazelnut dressing, goats cheese, and Parma ham; smoked hake brandade, labneh, fresh vegetable slices, and orange and grapefruit dressing (it goes well with the 2014 chardonnay, as does the slow roasted butternut soup flavoured with orange and peppers, and garnished with pressed Danish feta and truffle cubes); and a salad with smoked chicken, homemade bacon, brioche, anchovies, crispy onions, and Glen Carlou dressing. Yes, have it with the unwooded chardonnay.
We did put the chardonnay down – but only for a little while – for our one main course of whole grain mustard-glazed ostrich fillet, beautifully pink in the middle, with biltong croquettes and a bordelaise sauce. With this we drank the divine Curator’s Collection malbec 2011. The other dish we sampled was the masala roasted sea bass (the restaurant uses only SASSI green list fish) with spinach and lentils, cardamom, saffron and coconut cream, pickled cucumber, and a carrot and fennel salad. The wine for this dish was the 2013 Quartz Stone chardonnay.
Glen Carlou’s reds shine with the hearty winter dishes like slow roasted lamb shank, beef sirloin with oxtail and smoked bone marrow croquette, duck and Szechuan pepper pie, and pork belly. There are interesting side dishes to be ordered with your main courses – salt roasted beetroot with chorizo and aioli; potato wedges with smoked tomato relish; and green beans with almond and anchovy – along with the more conventional Greek salad or roasted root vegetables.
Dessert pairings are simple: the recommended wine for all of them is The Welder, a natural sweet chenin blanc. We tried the boeber – which is a traditional Cape Malay recipe for a warm milky drink, although the base of this one is a rather thick sago with chewy balls – with guava mousse, guava sorbet, and guava poached in the sweet chenin. It’s a lot of guava, but I was okay with that, because I love the taste, but not the fruit in its natural state. The pips, you see.
We also had the Cape brandy pudding, with coffee ice cream, pistachio crumble, buttermilk gel, and brandy jelly. Valhrona petit pot au chocolat with honey mousse, roasted dates, and rum and raisin ice cream; and a baked Granny Smith apple with mincemeat stuffing, spiced mascarpone, sweet toasted seeds, and creme anglaise are among the other dessert offerings, as well as a selection of five cheeses with lavash (flatbread) and preserves for the not-so-sweet-tooth.
Kudos to the restaurant for sourcing only SASSI (South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative) Green List fish, and serving H20 purified water.
Besides the individual price of each dish, you can order as follows: starter & main R190, starter & dessert R125, main & dessert R185, starter, main & dessert R255, cheese supplement R40. There is a children’s menu for under-13s only.
Where: Simondium Road, Klapmuts. Call 021 875 5528 for reservations.
When: Daily 11am to 3pm