Terroir: Getting the basics just right

Terroir: Getting the basics just right

Mother City Fine Dining

By Bianca Coleman

Terroir: Getting the basics just right

There’s nothing like a spontaneous and delightful luncheon in the winelands. My friend Diva and I were in the Stellenbosch area picking strawberries and were fortunate to secure a table at Terroir at Kleine Zalze.

I have eaten there many times before and chef Michael Broughton always impresses me by being almost as immaculate at the end of service as he is at the beginning, with not a hair out of place (although there might be a few splashes of sauce on his whites). This is testament to the extensive planning and preparation that takes place beforehand, ensuring everything runs smoothly. It’s no surprise that since opening in 2004, Terroir has been in the Eat Out top 10 an incredible nine times.

During the summer months, al fresco dining on the patio is the place to be, while in winter, the inside of the restaurant is warm and cosy, with a fireplace. Waiters and waitresses are well informed about the ever-changing seasonal menu, which adds to the overall experience.

Since our lunch, things have changed somewhat. The lunchtime menu has been pared down drastically to allow Broughton to focus more on dinners. So now, instead of the full chalkboard menu, there are just two dishes available Mondays to Saturdays. These are grass-fed sirloin or line fish, with triple-fried chips, and a glass of wine. Thus our fortune continued by being able to choose from the full menu that day.

Meals begin with a selection of bread designed to tempt even the most hardened of low-carb followers. I know I can never resist. We received a special treat from Broughton to start, in the form of seared tuna with tosazu sauce, cucumber and ginger.

I told Diva the prawn risotto with Americaine sauce is one of Broughton’s most famous, and insisted she try it. She was not disappointed. With the menu change, this is not currently officially on the dinner menu but I believe if Broughton does not add it – at the very least as a special – there will be riots.

I chose the duck breast with duck leg kromeski (a croquette), prepared with sweet elements of pear and sultanas, and the saltiness of gorgonzola cream sauce. This dish has been revised to be served with parsnip purée, rainbow beetroots, radish, coriander and orange sauce.

To finish we shared the dessert of cheesecake (piped swirls inside paper thin slices of apple) with yuzu, blackberries and apple doughnuts. It is perhaps redundant, given Terroir’s multiple accolades, to say everything was utterly divine.

For dinner and Sunday lunch, starters will now include salad of tomato, buffalo mozzarella, basil yoghurt and beetroot: chicken liver and foie gras parfait with brioche, pear puree, ponzu and roasted walnuts; and teriyaki seared tuna with watermelon, bacon, kewpie mayo and sweet and sour sauce.

Main courses are the duck as mentioned above; line fish, potato gnocchi, mushroom and Pernod; roast lamb rump and braised lamb neck, pea puree, olive tapenade and confit tomato; and for the vegetarians, open “lasagna” of butternut, browned butter, watercress and hazelnuts.

For dessert there is marinated mango with passion fruit, pineapple, buttermilk and banana ice cream sorbet; dark chocolate bar with hazelnuts and vanilla ice cream; and a  trio of ice cream with chocolate and almond crumble.

Broughton sums up the philosophy behind the food at Terroir as follows: “It’s all about big bold flavours, where the basic ingredients in every dish are stretched to the top of their flavour profile.” He is uncompromising in insisting that above all else, the food must do the talking.  “It’s simply the place to go when you’re in need of really good food.

“I think Terroir’s formula for success is based on every member of our team, both at front-of-house and in the kitchen, working hard to get the basics right. Consistency needs to be the common thread in everything that we do, from the service to the quality of ingredients and degree of creativity that goes into each element on the plate.”

Terroir, which is off the R44 in Stellenbosch, is open Mondays to Saturdays for lunch and dinner, and on Sundays for lunch only. Reservations are highly recommended. To book, call 021 880 8167 or email restaurant@kleinezalze.co.za.