On Friday I tried the new Winter Menu at Terroir, it being anything but wintry weather-wise. The lunch was set up at short notice by Eske of Manley Communications, who had extended the invitation on behalf of the restaurant, as my planned trip to Greyton was confirmed that morning.
Manager Collette Deg was a friendly welcoming face, who has an amazing memory, impressing in remembering my last visit, the circumstances surrounding my presence in Stellenbosch, and what I had eaten! To prevent any problems at the boom as had occurred on my last visit, I was messaged the code for entry into the wine and housing estate.
Terroir does not change much, and offers familiarity as a result. I chose to sit outside, and Collette immediately offered me a complimentary glass of Kleine Zalze Vintage Brut 2010. A jug of water was brought to the table too.
On the table was a set of Peugeot salt and pepper grinders, and I assumed that the lighter colored one was the salt grinder, and this was confirmed by the very friendly and efficient waitress. Crockery was by Continental China, and cutlery by Fortis. A woven plastic placemat, and a material napkin, completed the table decor, with wooden tables and chairs, padded with comfortable cushions. It was a surprise to hear that there is no wifi.
The Terroir À la Carte menu is on a blackboard, with a selection of five starters, five mains, and five desserts. Terroir’s Winter Special offers a bread plate, an Amuse Bouche, as well as a main course, being one of two choices from the menu, either the linefish or beef fillet, with a glass of Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection, at the cost of R195. As I couldn’t decide between the fish or beef fillet, Collette organized a taster of the linefish, and the beef fillet for the standard main course. A slate plate with focaccia and sourdough, with smoked olives and salted butter, as well as olive oil and balsamic vinegar, was brought to the table. There was no bread knife on my side plate, and this was picked up by another waitress, who brought one without me asking for it.
The Amuse Bouche was a tiny bowl with a pork spring roll and a crumbed kingklip croquette, with an interesting combination of aioli and a sweet and sour chili sauce, which was not strong at all, and was a good dipping sauce for the croquette and spring roll, and even better for the bread. The Amuse Bouche also came with a Gruyere cheese puff.
Starter choices on the Winter À la Carte Menu are seared tuna niçoise; prawn, corn and basil risotto; smoked tomato tart with a 64° egg yolk; braised lamb neck tortellini; and oak-smoked duck breast, in a price range of R110 – R135.
The linefish was cob, and was paired by Collette with the Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection Chardonnay 2015, which carried the sticker for winning the Du Monde Gold Medal. I had minute sips, as I had to drive to Greyton for the Classics for All music festival after the lunch. What impresses at Terroir is that the staff know how the sauces, a trademark of the dishes of Chef Michael Broughton, are made. The Ciboulette sauce was explained as made with cream, white wine, clam stock, leeks, and mushrooms, an excellent accompaniment to the cob (Kabeljou), served with gnocchi, carrots, peas, fennel, beans, blood sorrel, and confit onion. The line fish dish is a new addition to the Terroir menu. The fish dish was served with a spoon, in addition to the knife and fork, and it was used to finish every last drop of the sauce! Other main course options on the À la Carte menu are confit pork belly (R240), a vegetarian dish (R220), and herb-crusted venison loin (R260).
The main course beef fillet was unusual in that it was crusted with sesame, poppy,
and sunflower seeds, served with smoked potato purée, peas, roasted pumpkin, charred baby onion, porcini purée, roasted shallot, and a truffle jus. This was paired with a Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection Shiraz 2013. A hefty Fortis steak knife accompanied the fillet. I only had one of the two pieces of the fillet, finding it very salty. I had tasted all the individual elements on the plate to identify its source. The waitress went to the kitchen, and Collette had tasted elements of it too. She explained that the fillet had been glazed in soy sauce, and then had been sprinkled with garlic salt and pepper, giving the (overly for me) salty taste. I had asked Collette what a Truffle Mac was, one of the side dishes, and she sent a small taster of the macaroni cheese in a mini Le Creuset pot for me to taste.
I could not resist the dessert board when it was presented at my table, and I chose the dark chocolate bar, coffee, pansies, honeycomb, popcorn dust, a coconut tuille, chocolate crumbs, a coffee smear, peanut crumbs, vanilla and white chocolate cream, and peanut butter ice cream (R102). Ken Forrester T Noble Late Harvest was paired with the dessert choice. Pastry Chef Caitlyn Shaw crafted the beautiful dessert. Other sweet treats are smoked caramel roasted pineapple (R102), apple mille feuille (R102), cheese plate (R110), trio of ice creams and a trio of sorbets (R86).
The lunch was a spoiling one, and went far beyond the Winter Special offering, which should only have been the bread plate, Amuse Bouche, a main course of line fish or beef fillet, and one glass of wine, a steal at R195, each of the two main courses costing R195 alone on the standard menu. The Terroir Winter Special runs until 30 September.
Terroir, Kleine Zalze, Stellenbosch. Tel (021) 880-8167. www.kleinezalze.co.za Twitter: @TerroirFood @KleineZalze Monday – Sunday Lunch, Monday to Saturday Dinner. Closed for Winter break 27 June – 18 July.
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.whalecottage.com/blog Tel 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@WhaleCottage Facebook: click here Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein