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Lanzerac’s historic front courtyard is timeless and serene as we enjoy aperitifs and canapés in autumn sunshine. You wouldn’t know that in 2017 a fire gutted several of the main hotel buildings and closed it for a whole year. But this grande dame of Stellenbosch – a favourite destination of international visitors and local families for almost 60 years – is now fully restored to her former glory, and the smiling staff are clearly enjoying her new lease on life.

We were at Lanzerac’s Manor Kitchen for a chef’s table, tasting Chef Stephen Fraser’s new winter menu paired with the heritage wines from the estate. While cellarmaster Wynand Lategan told us the story behind the Mrs English Chardonnay, we watched the final plating of our first dish through glass windows looking into the busy kitchens. An exotic mushroom salad, king oyster, shimeji and shitake with red quinoa, goats’ cheese, and zesty burnt-orange crisps, paired stunningly with the lightly oaked chardonnay, complementing each other with citrus, earthy and smooth characteristics.

An intermediate of classic venison tartare featured wintery flavours of kale, pickled radish, a nugget of bone marrow, and activated charcoal mayonnaise, a perfect foil for the Bordeaux-style Le General 2015. Our main of lamb cutlets, seemingly so simple, was a classic re-imagined, keeping the palate entertained to the last mouthful with green olive pesto, cauliflower replacing rice in a creamy risotto-style base with a touch of truffle, and gentle earthy beetroot with a rosemary jus. Together with the Pionier Pinotage pairing it was unanimously declared a hit.

A hush fell upon the table over dessert: It wasn’t the prettiness of the plating – though with mellow orange curd, macaron, meringue, pistachio cream and shreds of fresh raspberry it was a feast for the eyes – but the winning combination of flavours. Sipped not with a traditional dessert wine but with Bergstroom, a limited-edition sauvignon and semillon blend from the cellarmaster’s experimental collection, this pairing really worked impressively well, keeping dessert light and fresh, despite the sweetness of meringue.

Beyond being spot on with his pairings, Stephen hits that sweet spot in fine dining, combining elegant classic cuisine with thoughtful and contemporary flavour combinations, without overcomplicating the plate.

Lanzerac | 021 887 1132 |

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