It took a bit of juggling to find the perfect day to visit the newly opened Tintswalo Kitchen restaurant, given the very wintery weather we are experiencing in the Cape this year. We chose a day ten days ago, and my dining partner Gary Peterson and I were very excited about the visit, with alterations having been done to Tintswalo Atlantic during the earlier Levels of Covid Lockdown, in adding a separate in-house Guest Lounge and Bar, the creation of a new Small Plate Menu concept, and the appointment of a new kitchen team.
And how perfect it turned out to be, with the best possible weather, the company of Gary, the best view possible, delicious dishes, and superb service.
Ahead of its reopening for the Tintswalo accommodation and Tintswalo Kitchen dining, I had received a media release with relevant details, to which I had added information which I had received from Tintswalo Atlantic GM Melissa du Rand. So we had some idea of what awaited us, but were still blown away by ourvesting experience.
The appointment of Sean Klette as Executive Chef (right, holding a bottle of award-winning ADHARA extra virgin olive oil I brought for him), with two of his former The Shortmarket Club colleagues, has raised the bar of the Tintswalo restaurant significantly. The Shortmarket Club restaurant was owned by one of our country’s leading chefs, Luke Dale Roberts, and sadly it became one of the first Corona Lockdown closure casualties. What is a lovely story is that Chef Sean worked at Tintswalo ten years ago, fresh out of the HTA School of Culinary Art, a hospitality training school in Johannesburg. Knowing that he was available, and could bring two of his colleagues, was a winning recipe for Tintswalo, not only in knowing the Tintswalo property, the kitchen, and its ethos, but also with the level of cuisine which the team has been used to preparing under the watchful eye of its then Executive Chef Wesley Randles, and Chef Luke of course. The menu created by the new team is one described as ‘Small Plates’, one choosing five dishes out of a number of options in four categories: Seafood, Meat, Vegetarian and Vegan, and Dessert, the order of eating them being in the hands of the chefs. The cost is R650 per head.
The greeting at our arrival at the Tintswalo entrance gate was far more friendly and efficient than I remember it from my past visits. We parked inside the property at the entrance gate, and the shuttle bus arrived almost immediately, taking us down the steep slope below Chapman’s Peak Drive, getting a first taste of the view across the bay, Tintswalo having a dream location right at the water’s edge. GM Melissa du Rand was already awaiting our arrival, and greeted us warmly, like we were friends coming to visit, her bubbly personality and lack of stiffness being ideal for this position. We were introduced to a new Barman from The Stack, another recent Covid closure casualty, and shown how the former Lounge section had become part of the restaurant too, allowing more patrons to be seated, basically making the front building the restaurant. Now Tintswalo is able to cater for local South African diners as well, given the greater capacity, booking availability for locals having been very restricted in the past.
We received a Mango mocktail immediately, refreshing with its mango syrup, fruit, and sparkling water. There was so much to see, that we left it at the entrance table, and showed Gary the extended deck with its beautiful view across to Hout Bay, walking through the building, Melissa highlighting various aspects to Gary as a first-time visitor. The first Ithaca suite which she showed us was one inspired by the Greek Isles, and Gary was chuffed that his blue and white striped shirt matched the interior perfectly. She showed us the new in-house guest lounge and bar, at the far end of the property, using some of the previous lounge furniture, but adding new touches, and a very striking painting dominating this area. A little kitchen has been created here as well, for the preparation of bar snacks as well as of snacks for guests lying at the pool. A first for the property is the addition of a Spa room.
We returned to the terrace, and it was intended that we sit in a more sheltered terrace section, with plastic partitioning, but the day had become so sunny that I requested a table on the outside deck. Nothing is too much trouble at Tintswalo, and it was set up quickly while we drank our Mocktail.
I have a severe aversion to cutlery changes and additions, with waiters stretching over one, so it was a delight to see a full range of cutlery requirements at each place setting. I do not remember the menu stand from previous visits, it adding such a professional touch to our table. Melissa offered us a glass of bubbly, the waiter informing us that it was from Hout Bay Vineyards, keeping it totally local.
Even though Gary and I knew each other mainly from Facebook, and had never visited a restaurant together, I was amazed that three of our five dish choices were the same. We were served house baguette with pesto butter, to get our palate ready.
The first dish was a delicious mushroom parfait accompanied by slices of brioche toast, the parfait creamy and pairing well with the Brioche. I loved everything about our second dish, hake being the white fish of the day, served on a bed of sautéed leeks, and a watercress velouté, with a Parmesan crisp, and lime caviar, a sophisticated dish in is preparation, presentation, and taste. I suggested to Melissa that a fish knife would be a good touch, and one arrived immediately. Our third dish was a Braised Hoisin Beef Short Rib served on a bun, with pickled cucumber, fresh ginger, and a Vietnamese salad.
My fourth dish was a wonderful crispy and crunchy Szechuan caramel fried baby squid, served with a lime Crème Fraîche, while Gary ordered the Pulled Park Taco with grilled corn and cabbage salad, and a lime and chili dressing.
Our desserts differed too, I choosing what was the most beautifully presented Chocolate Marquise with dried berry meringue, hazelnut crème patisserie, praline dust, and a brandy snap biscuit, a beauty in its presentation. Gary ordered Pistachio Baklava with macerated blood orange and honey ice cream.
The ’Small Plate’ Menu description is a misnomer, and prospective diners should not fear that they will leave Tintswalo hungry. It was a meal ‘Just out of the Ordinary’, the Tintswalo slogan, always surprising visitors with its improvements, the bar very definitely having been raised on this visit when it comes to the food quality and presentation, and the service much improved. And the backdrop, or is it the foreground, of the view is unique, and is different each time, depending on the position of the sun. I cannot wait to go back, and Gary was blown away by the lunch experience too. On Facebook we were certainly the envy of our Friends, when we each posted our photographs.
Tintswalo Atlantic, Chapman’s Peak Drive, Hout Bay. Tel 021 773-0900 www.tintswalo.com Twitter: @TintswaloLodges Instagram: @tintswalo_atlantic @chefseank
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein, My Cape Town Guide/Mein Kapstadt Guide Instagram: @Chrissy_Ulmenstein @MyCapeTownGuide
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