The De Grendel restaurant has been on my “To Eat” list for many months. Friends of mine spend every celebratory event there (real or imaginary celebrations) and anyone I know who has eaten at this vineyard restaurant in Panorama has waxed lyrical about the experience.
It didn’t take long to find out why. We were busy admiring the beautiful views stretching as far as the ocean when we were presented with a menu filled with delicious-sounding ingredients and no idea of how they were presented. This element of surprise is an integral part of the De Grendel experience, as are the locally sourced ingredients and prevalence of farm produce. It’s a fresh, inventive take on a lunch (or dinner) menu, and one I would happily get used to.
We began our meal with two superb starters – a Spanish-inspired squid and prawn dish with tomato panna cotta and chorizo (beautifully spiced), and a Thai-infused scallop and soft shell crab dish with tom yum, lemongrass and celeriac. Both were multilayered and fragrant, each mouthful a gift.
Mains were a difficult choice – beef fillet with oyster mushrooms, aubergine and steamed bun, grilled lamb rump with Emmental, pepper hummus and gremolata, or pork belly and pork fillet with bacon, potato and orange? As carnivores we were only slightly tempted by the wild mushroom and truffle arborio and the linefish with smoked butternut risotto (although how gorgonzola, fennel, pine nut, yoghurt and beetroot combined would have been a discovery all on its own). We chose the pork dish – highly recommended by our wonderful waitress – and the lamb, and both were exceptional. Generous portions with a perfect combination of flavours that packed a punch but didn’t overwhelm the palate.
Somehow we found space for dessert (don’t we all?) and chose the light and lovely strawberry-cream panna cotta with balsamic, berries and lemon curd alongside the strong coffee bavarois with cake crumble, nougat and meringue. The gingerbread ice cream and pecan nuts were the perfect complement to the intense coffee flavour.
Of course, De Grendel is as famous for its wine as its food, and the superb Rubaiyat red blend was the ideal accompaniment to our meal full of surprises. If you’re looking for somewhere special to celebrate, De Grendel may just be your new favourite spot. Well worth adding to your list!
Words: Bridget McNulty | Images: Supplied