Idiom is reached via a long and winding road, and the final destination is well worth the drive.
From its elevated setting on the slopes of the Helderberg, Idiom Restaurant & Tasting Centre offers spectacular views of False Bay dropping away below, and to its back, vineyards and rugged, fynbos-covered mountainside.
The glass-walled restaurant overlooks this landscape, with indoor and outdoor seating both making the most of the vista. While all this glorious natural beauty is breathtaking, the dining experience more than meets the challenge to complement it.
From beginning to end, we were enormously impressed by the service, the thoughtful attention to detail, and the above-and-beyond effort made by the kitchen to accommodate our dietary requirements. As for the food itself – simply magnificent.
Chef Calum Anderson has cooked for celebrities including Ellen DeGeneres, the British royal family, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Clinton, Sheikha Al Mayassa of Qatar, Brad Pitt, Andrea Bocelli, Michel Roux Snr, Fran Drescher and William Shatner. And now his team has cooked for us.
“Our focus is on contemporary cuisine bringing to life a fusion of our family’s Italian heritage as well as modern flavours and textures of the Cape. We have 17 different grape varieties from all over the world planted at Idiom, giving us plenty of scope for inspiration,” notes Roberto Bottega, who has headed up the project of developing the Idiom Tasting Centre.
“Over the last two years, we have been working to establish the identity and desired direction of our Restaurant and Tasting Centre. Our main trading window is lunch, to take advantage of the views. Our primary goal is to create a top class food offering to match the scenery and complement and showcase our Idiom wines. We offer a ‘Contemporary Dining’ experience, which is a two- and three-course seasonal menu, with a recommended wine pairing for each dish. We want customers to have a memorable visit to Idiom.”
Dear Roberto, you have successfully accomplished this mission.
We came in with the usual low carb, low sugar requirement, and a menu – printed and tied with a satin ribbon – was created especially for us, with three courses each with two options, as well as their recommended wine pairings. We went ahead and ordered everything.
I began with the starter of cured trout tartare, with dolce verde, crème fraiche and dried olives. Served with the 2015 Idiom Viognier, this simple description doesn’t even begin to do justice to the beauty of what appeared on the plate, let alone the explosion of flavours on the palate.
My friend loved her choice of lamb ragu paccheri with salsa rossa, bone marrow and mint gremolata, with a glass of the 2015 Zinfandel. Again, the flavours sang in harmony. Her main course was a vegetarian option of black beluga lentil roulade, steamed asparagus, truffle sweetcorn, and charred spring onion; the plate was a study in yellow and green, a work of art. The wine pairing was the 2015 Semillon.
I had the duo of braised pork belly and roasted pork fillet with broccoli puree, sunflower seed crumble and kale gnudi (a type of dumpling and an acceptable way to consume kale). The wine served with this was the outstanding 2013 Barbera.
I’m not normally one for desserts but the kitchen outdid itself with the creation of a coconut sorbet (please, bring me a bucket of it) with salted apricot and orange broth poured at the table. My friend had the dark chocolate dome hiding under sheets of chocolate, with hazelnut anglaise, rose ice cream and raspberry sauce. The wines were Imperium White Gold Viognier and Imperium Black Gold Merlot, respectively – neither of which was overly sweet. What a wonderful finale to an incredible meal.
“Each Idiom wine has its own unique character and flavour profile and we actively try and express those characters in the culinary offering, often using the colour spectrum as a guide,” says Bottega. “Our current team in the kitchen, under the leadership of Calum, has a good understanding of this concept. The cured trout starter paired with Idiom Viognier and the lamb ragu paccheri paired with Idiom Zinfandel are two of my current favourites on our chef’s new menu.”
The man is not wrong. Guests can also request older vintages from Idiom’s library, and enjoy wines at close to cellar door prices. This season’s two-course menu is R315 a person and three courses is R390. Wine pairings range from R30 – R90 per course depending on the wine.
* To book a table – and you absolutely must – send an email to email@example.com; or call 021 858 1088. The entrance to Idiom is via Knorhoek Estate at the base of Sir Lowry’s Pass.