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Tulbagh Restaurant Review: Reader’s

(An SA Blog Beta post from Your Correspondent)

This post is an extension of the Tulbagh 6-Part Serial Adventure! (3/6).

Restaurant Review: Reader’s
12 Church St., Tulbagh
+27 (0) 23 230-0087
Closed Tuesdays. Reservations essential.

This splendid establishment comprises two small, elegant dining rooms in a long, whitewashed, thatch-roofed house; a few friendly cats; a sprightly, rubicund proprietor-cum-chef-cum-server in Carol Collins; and a delightful, creative menu which changes daily.

Visitors are greeted with a glass of sherry before being seated. This welcoming custom is one that other establishments should consider adopting!

I and my lovely assistant began by sharing a courgette (zucchini) and Camembert soup, which was a delicate light green, and equally delicate in flavor – surprising, given the tendency of ripe Camembert to overpower. Score: .75 out of 1.

The mains arrived. My beef fillet with amarula cream and gooseberry sauce was perhaps a touch too sweet (the caramel of the liqueur masked the tartness of the gooseberries), and was trumped by my lovely assistant’s tuna steak with ginger and capers. Both items were served with a plate of perfectly roasted potato wedges, and steamed vegetables sprinkled with sesame seeds. But a third main – prepared off-the-cuff by Carol, for an impromptu and strictly vegetarian addition to our table – beat all. It was a cous-cous salad with basil pesto and julienned, steamed peppers, and it deserves a permanent place on the menu. Scores: Me: .5; lovely assistant: .75; impromptu 3rd diner: 1.

Dessert, however, topped everything that had come before. My piping hot Cape Brandy Pudding was nutty, darkly rich and buttery, and slowly absorbed the scoop of Carol’s homemade ice cream perched next to it. My lovely assistant went for the trio of said ice cream – which has to be the dining highlight of the summer. Carol is incredibly inventive with her dairy! The ice cream flavors were – you couldn’t possibly anticipate this – garlic & chocolate, balsamic vinagre, and chilli. And they were simply delicious, a triumph of culinary syncretism. Scores: Me: .75; lovely assistant: 1.

Final scores:
Food: 4.75 out of a possible 6. As those who know Your Correspondent’s standards will attest, this is an extremely good mark.
Wine: 6/10. A 2002 Krone Syrah from the nearby Twee Jonge Gezellen estate. Perfectly serviceable, if somewhat flat.
Ambience: 7/10. Elegant but relaxed and unfussy. Look out for Foxy, a small, cute dog of uncertain breed who wanders in occasionally from next door, to recieve tidbits from diners.
Bill, inluding wine and extra main course, excluding tip: R313.
Recommendation: Highly Recommended.