Yesterday I was spoilt with a lunch to try out some of the dishes on the Winter Menu at Mondiall Kitchen & Bar. Mondiall Chef Stephen Mandes has devised a Winter warmer menu, both for Lunch and Dinner, with a winter special for each too. 

I was delighted to see the new gas fireplace and was grateful that Manager Candace Theron had reserved a table next to it for me. I had to take the obligatory photograph of the wonderful view onto Table Mountain from the restaurant, despite it being a grey day! 

I peaked into the function room upstairs, and was surprised to see Mondiall owner Patrick Symington working inside it. He is looking very slim and even taller than before, telling me that he is close to 2 meters tall, and attributed his new look to yoga. The decor in the room has changed with wood cladding, and big mirrors which stand on the floor rather than hanging on the walls. Patrick told me that this Winter appears to be quieter for the hospitality industry in Cape Town compared to that of last year, and perhaps more in line with the Winter of 2015. 

Downstairs, near the fireplace, the wall has been wood-clad too, and plant pictures in autumn colours have been hung. I was seated by waiter Brian, and he explained that they have a Winter Lunch Special marked on a blackboard outside the restaurant, as well as a printed Winter Specials Lunch and Dinner, each costing R185 for two courses and R225 for three courses. The Lunch Special menu includes some of the dishes which I tried yesterday, with Starter choices of mussels, a bowl of squid, and aubergine and tomato; Mains choices of Wagyu burger, Bangers & Mash, and Risotto of the day; and Desserts of steamed pudding and Tonka Bean cheesecake. The Dinner Menu options offered are Tandoori chicken kebabs, smoked pork belly, and gnocchi and mushrooms; Mains of Bangers & Mash, BBQ Baby Chicken, and Risotto of the day; and Desserts of Chocolate Noir Tart, Tonka Bean Cheesecake, and Petit Fours. 

Chef Stephen came to greet me, by which time Candace had already brought me the first Dry Cappuccino, perfectly made. I told Chef Stephen my dietary preferences, an avoidance of onions, garlic, and chili in the main, and I gave him carte blanche to select the dishes for me. He misheard me regarding the onions, and I admired Candace picking up that I had left all onions on the plates sent back to the kitchen. She questioned me about it, and went straight to Chef Stephen to ensure that there would not be any onion in the remaining dishes. I also told him that I am trying to maintain my new weight, and asked him to reduce the size of the dishes. He agreed, and I would like readers to bear this in mind when evaluating the photographs and the cost of the dishes I quote here. I first met Chef Stephen shortly after he joined Mondiall just over a year ago, having moved from La Vierge in Hermanus. I commented on Chef Stephen’s apron, which he had received from Salvin Hirschfield, owner of his meat supplier Son-of-A-Butcher. They work very closely together, and Salvin contacts Chef Stephen when he has special meat cuts to offer him.

The restaurant tables are wood-topped, without table cloths, but have a generous sized napkin, and a stand with unbranded olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a black pepper grinder. The desert salt grinder is by Oryx. I loved the wifi password for Mondiall, being ‘Love and Gratitude’!

Chef Stephen’s first course was from the Starter list, charred aubergine and tomato, plated on top of a pastry crisp, with basil pesto, radish, and whipped goats cheese (R75). It was topped with onions, which I left on the plate. Other Starter choices are a bowl of squid (R95), and Mussels served in a coconut broth with a toasted steamed bun (R95).

Course number two was a roasted Beetroot and Butternut salad, offered with unusual quinoa, sunflower seeds, orange segments, and rosemary.  It was topped with onion rings and with pickled onions, giving additional colour accents to the salad (R75). Other salads offered are Garden Gems, with baby mesclun leaves and fresh garden vegetables (R75), and Mondiall Caesar, with crispy bacon, crumbed free-range egg, anchovies, and Parmesan (R98). 

Slow roasted Lamb riblets was a dish off the Smalls selection, which is served with a tomato pesto made with pine nuts, Parmesan, and roasted tomato (R75). Normally one would be served two or three ribs. The lamb ribs are basted with a special sauce, consisting of Hoisan sauce, Chinese BBQ sauce, vinegar, sugar, and caramel. Chef Stephen and I concurred that the beauty of this dish is its simplicity. Alternative options are oysters, served both natural (R28) and gratin (R32), as well as the soup of the day (R65). 

The stand-out dish for me was the Prime Cut of the day, which was rump, and more specifically the picanha, the top section of rump steak, being juicy and succulent, Chef Stephen explained. It was served simply, with tenderstem broccoli and potato dauphinois.( R190). It is normally served with fries. From the Grill section Chef Stephen also brought me a small portion of Bangers & Mash, the sausages for which being a pork and gammon mix, and supplied by Ryan Boon Meats. The mash was served with pot gravy (R140). Other Grill dishes offered are free-range BBQ Baby Chicken (R180) and a pan of prawns served with peri-peri or lemon sauce, as well as a Chef’s side salad (R285). 

From the Favourites menu section Chef Stephen prepared Mizo-glazed Norwegian salmon, served simply with sautéed Asian vegetables, which included brocolli, spinach, red pepper, and radish (R205). Other dishes in this menu section are fish and chips (R125), Wagyu Burger (R140), game fish tacos in two sizes (R80/R160), and Risotto of the day (R155). 

From the Dinner menu Chef Stephen brought a chicken curry taster, served with potato, rice and a Cape Malay sauce and a pickled slice of lemon, fragrant and not too strong (R180). 

For a final eighth course Chef Stephen brought a platter of three desserts, so that I could taste two of their Lunch desserts and one Dinner one. I photographed each dessert separately, each being a special creation in its own right. The baked milk tart resembles a Portuguese pasteis de nata in taste, and was served with caramelised apple, Italian meringue, toasted almonds, and cinnamon mousse (R70). 

The signature Tonka Bean infused cheesecake was topped with honeycomb, and was served with butterscotch caramel sauce, cream, and strawberries (R72).  

The third dessert, which is on the Dinner menu, is the Dark Chocolate Noir tart with citrus notes, presented with a caramelised orange peel, strawberries, gooseberries, berry sorbet, and a shard (R75). This was my favorite dessert of the three. Candace organized a third cappuccino for me, and then it was time to leave. 

On the Lunch menu other dessert options are steamed pudding (R65), stuffed baked Camembert ((R140), and a selection of local cheeses (R170).

Mondiall Kitchen & Bar, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town. Tel (021) 418-3003 www.mondiall.co.za Twitter: @Mondiall_SA. Instagram: @Mondiall_SA

Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein