Every now and then you find a dining experience that is truly special; Something that goes beyond mouthwatering flavour combinations and perfect plating. Recently I had dinner at Eike in Stellenbosch, the latest venture by Chef Bertus Basson, and I walked out completely charmed.
If you’ve eaten at any of Bertus’ restaurants you’ll know that he has a love for South African food traditions, especially ones that conjure up that blissful nostalgia. The entire set menu – a 10 course journey – plays on our unique food heritage, taking familiar flavours and presenting them as beautiful, innovative creations.
Our dinner took us through South Africa. We tasted their Springbok Bobotie, a delicate combination of springbok tartare, raviole, and puffed rice. We went to the West Coast with an umami-packed fish dish that conjured up salted bokkoms hung at the side of the road. We had Sunday Lunch, complete with steak and onions, pampoentert and potatoes. And for dessert, we got Apple Pie – and apple sorbet with meringues, combined with Canned Peaches – or rather white chocolate peaches filled with Amasi and a tart peach liquid centre – cleverly presented under Koo Peach tins.
My favourite part of the meal, however, was the Opsitkers. Afrikaans people might know the story behind this tradition: When a young man wanted to visit a woman, her parents would put up a candle, and when it had burnt out, the man had to leave. If the father liked the suitor, he would put up a tall candle, and if not it would be short. The Opsitkers is served in the middle of the meal, where you’re presented with a candle made from beef fat, and freshly baked bread. As the fat melts, you can spread it over the soft roosterkoek or sourdough, and indulge in a rich, savoury flavour.
Like I said though, dinner went far beyond the food. Each dish was presented by Chef Basson or Chef Kyle du Plooy, and each creation carried a special story. Dit was hartskos or soul food, and we couldn’t help but smile at every new course. Add to this a perfect ambience: Plush emerald green velvet chairs that keep you comfortable through the four hour food journey, set at blonde wooden tables with simplistic decorative touches, inside the historic Stellenbosch building at the bottom of Dorp Street. The acoustics were perfect, capturing a lively vibe while being contained, and the music added to the upbeat atmosphere. Finish it off with a stellar wine list and great service.
I’m excited to go back there soon and I can highly recommend you do the same. At R850pp for a 10 course meal, you’ll being treated to an exceptional experience for a very reasonable price.
For more information, visit bertusbasson.com