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Cape Town - I’ve driven past Nitida Wine Farm in the Durbanville Hills on numerous occasions and always did a double take when slowing down (on purpose) to steal a look inside Cassia Restaurant.
The parking lot’s always full and restaurant patrons always look like they’re having a jolly ol’ time. And I look over to my hubby and ask the all-important question: “When are you taking me there?”
His answer is always the same: “soonish”.
So I finally got my “soonish” when presented with the opportunity to sample the restaurant’s new winter menu - and I had high expectations after waiting almost a year.
We made a plan to do dinner on a Saturday night - perfect weather for winter comfort food.
The restaurant itself is a lovely country-style venue that caters for corporate functions and weddings. Combining fine dining with seasonal varieties makes for an interesting menu - and the type to suit everyone’s pocket.
The winter lunch/dinner menu is an assortment of local produce with some exotic types thrown in strictly for your tastebuds’ pleasure.
For starters we had the smoked haddock soup with poached egg and pommes allumettes (R45). For culinary virgins, like myself, pommes allumettes is the nicer, French way of saying thinly cut potato chips.
The soup itself was a creamy concoction of slivers of smoked haddock with a single poached egg placed in the centre - a visual feast that delivered on taste and aroma.
The Cassia Asian crispy duck salad with miso and citrus dressing (R55) was an exotic explosion of different flavours coming together. The sourness of the lemon coupled with the crispy duck worked perfectly well together, with both ingredients balancing each other.
For mains I decided to try one of Cassia’s signature dishes: seared Norwegian salmon on homemade tagliatelle and saffron clam sauce (R135). I was a bit apprehensive when I noticed the dish on the menu - my relationship with seared salmon is a somewhat love-hate story. Either it’s really well-done or half limping off the plate. And to my utter pleasure, it was the most delicious piece of salmon that I’ve ever had. Lightly seared on the underside with a touch of pink in the middle, the salmon instantly melted in the mouth and was so fresh that it tasted of the sea. There was nothing I could fault. Even the homemade tagliatelle with the saffron clam sauce added a touch of subtle flavours without overpowering the salmon.
Suffice to say, I’d finished most of my main course without realising that dessert was next on the list. With sweet treats like the chocolate fondant with sweet and sour pepper chilli syrup and rose petal cream (R55) or the deep-friend ice cream with koeksisters (R50), it was really hard for me to say no.
The starter dishes are so big that they can be served as light meals and the mains are also fairly big, so if you plan on taking in a full three-course meal, then make sure that you pace yourself.
Another winning formula that Cassia has implemented quite well is to serve their award-winning Nitida wines by the glass, so if you fancy yourself a wine connoisseur, you could do your own food and wine pairing, or get one of the well-informed waiters to recommend which wines complement your dish of choice.
The restaurant itself is a laidback and cosy affair with a roaring fire taking pride of place during winter evenings. There are also private dining rooms where you could do intimate dinner parties looking over the vlei.
Easy on the pocket and a pleasurable experience, yes I’d have to say that Cassia definitely met all my expectations. - IOL
Average price of meal: R100
For more info, visit Cassia Restaurant’s official website: www.cassiarestaurant.co.za