At the beginning of May Karoux moved into a next door building on the main road of McGregor, a substantial improved dining space compared to its previous space, which I had only experienced as an outside stoep area. Not only is the new restaurant space an improvement, but it feels as if Chef Ryan Josten’s creative cuisine has been inspired by the move too!
Karoux has been recognized by Eat Out two years running, as Best Bistro in 2015, and as Best Country Restaurant in 2016. I have lost track of the number of times that I have eaten there since my first time at the beginning of 2016.
Chef Ryan’s partner Aimee van Hecke handles front of house, and told us that both Karoux spaces serve 30 diners. The new restaurant space is chic yet homely, a big white space. There are ceiling fans overhead, a necessity for the hot McGregor summers. The walls are decked with a mix of art, including Tretchikoffs prints, and in the hallway a Paul Kruger portrait is a link to Aimee’s family heritage. An unbelievable link between Aimee and myself was that I lived in the Winchester Mansions in Sea Point, then an apartment block, on immigrating to South Africa as a baby with my parents. Aimee’s grandmother owned the block. In the hallway is a clothed dressmaker model. The doors inside the restaurant section leads out to a back Courtyard with chip stone, and planter boxes of lettuce, vegetables, and herbs.
Wahnfried owner Michael MacKenzie was lunching at Karoux when my son and I ate there on a Sunday two weeks ago. I invited Michael to join our table. He was ahead of us in ordering, and eating. Michael recognized John Tovey, who was a well-known chef in the U.K., and the first chef to import De Wetshof wines to the U.K. Tovey now lives in McGregor. Coincidentally Danie de Wet and his wife, son, daughter-in-law, and grandchild sat at the table behind us! De Wet is recognized as the pioneer of white wine cultivars in our country, and for his role in enhancing our country’s international competitiveness in Vineyard practices, excellence in winemaking technology, and in promoting new grape cultivars, the De Wetskof website shares. Our lunch was accompanied with
a bottle of Le Lude Brut Rosé, my favorite sparkling wine, which we had brought along.
As before, the menu is written on a black board, with starters, main courses, and desserts listed. Aimee brought a board with their delicious salt crystal topped bread, with butter, to the table, and brought seconds of the bread, it being devoured immediately.
My son immediately chose the signature starter Twice-baked Gruyere cheese soufflé with Tanagra grappa sauce (R70), being a mean soufflé maker himself. He judged it to be on a par with his creations! Other starter options are potato and leek soup with Bourguigon braised snails (R65), and kudu loin Tataki with avocado, bean sprouts, wasabi crème, and ponzu and mirin dressing (R75).
Michael had ordered pan roasted hake with cauliflower purée, broccolini, and Malay-curried mussel velouté (R140) as his main course, which he allowed me to photograph. He clearly enjoyed the dish. My choice was baked homemade potato gnocchi in a Pomodoro sauce, accompanied by basil pesto and a garden salad (R110). Unfortunately for Aimee I inadvertently left a trail of the tomato sauce. My son Alex loved his aged thick-cut sirloin steak served with stuffed potatoes, a garden salad, and a delicious mushroom and brandy sauce (R180). I love the sauce so much, that I have twice previously ordered a taster portion of it, it making my mouth salivate just writing about it! We took a portion of the sirloin with us for a friend, who was unable to join us for the lunch, and Chef Ryan plated the dish as he did for my son, covering it in tinfoil on a restaurant plate, which was returned to him later in the week. Another main course option was roasted free-range pork shoulder with white bean and bacon
cassoulet, pork gravy, and Lucerne gremolata ( R140).
Michael had left at the time we ordered dessert, to prepare his Wahnfried Theatre for a movie performance. My son declined dessert. I ordered Dark chocolate mousse with Muscadel poached pear (R65), the chocolate mousse being almost as good as that which I enjoy eating at Tebaldi’s restaurant at Temenos. Alternative desserts are cardamon and jersey pannacotta with pineapple (R60); and banana bread French Toast with caramel ice cream and roasted pecan nuts (R60). Aimee prepared a perfect dry cappuccino for me.
Our lunch in the new restaurant space was even more enjoyable than I have experienced to date, enhanced by the spacious interior and resultant ambiance, and excellent cuisine.
Karoux Restaurant, 42 Voortrekker Road, McGregor. Tel (023) 625-1421 www.karoux.co.za. Twitter: @Karoux22 Wednesday – Sunday Dinner, Sunday Lunch.
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel 082 55 11 323 Twitter: @Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein