It was sad to eat a farewell dinner at Restaurant Christophe in Stellenbosch on Friday evening, one week before the closure of this restaurant gem. Chef and owner Christophe Dehosse was philosophical about the closure, having made the decision himself, but he does love his restaurant and I am sure he will be sad too when he serves his last dinner there next Friday evening.
Chef Christophe is taking an overseas holiday break, and then returns to the family Joostenberg Deli and restaurant, which is their ‘bread and butter’, he said. They attract an interest mix of clients, ranging from nearby Kraaifontein to Constantia. Chef Christophe was a Top 20 finalist for the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards last year, but probably was not ‘sexy’ enough in schmoozing any of the four judges at that time. He is a hard-working hands-on chef, who makes an extra-ordinary amount of time in going to all his client tables, and to chat to them. He is a mine of information about other chefs, being good friends with many of them, having worked at Chamonix in Franschhoek, Au Jardin in the Vineyard Hotel, and Joostenberg. He believes in building business one-by-one, and does not want a PR agency or bloggers’ lunches to spread the word for him.
Restaurant Christophe has an amazing four-course Winter Special at R150, and Chef Christophe was very generous in allowing one to swop from the a la carte menu. Each course was paired with a wine recommendation, ranging in cost from R35 – R45. We chose to drink AA Badenhort’s Secateurs Red Blend 2010, at a most reasonably priced R35 per glass. The starter was an interesting foie gras salad, which contained celery strips, edamame beans, and snow peas, over which was drizzled a sunflower seed and walnut oil dressing. This was served with toasted brioche. Then came a baked goat’s cheese with cream, tomato and garlic, and everyone in the restaurant going oooo and aaaa!
One of Chef Christophe’s signature dishes is roast pork belly, and this main course came with honey and fennel seeds, mashed potato and braised cabbage. The crackling was delicious. Joostenberg specialises in pork, and 150 – 200 pigs are slaughtered every week, Chef Christophe told us. Joostenberg sells home-made stock, bread, croissants, patés, pies, cream, butter, and terrines, as well as home-made meals. The meal ended with a classic Apple Tart Tatin, served with a thin vanilla sauce.
We say Au Revoir to Restaurant Christophe and its team, and wish Chef Christophe all the best in his original home at Joostenberg.
Restaurant Christophe, Van Reyneveld Street, Stellenbosch. Tel (021) 886-8763
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage