A rare tartare and a foodie’s gnudi

Steak tartare with with diced red onion, capers, Dijon mustard, cornichons and chilli and topped with an egg yolk.

Steak tartare with with diced red onion, capers, Dijon mustard, cornichons and chilli and topped with an egg yolk.

Published Jul 29, 2023



Where: Gillitts Shopping Centre, 1 Clifton Road, Gillitts

When: Sunday to Tuesday 8am to 2pm, Wednesday to Saturday 8am to 9pm.

Call: 087 265 4308

Chef Brett Gentles has always produced food with inspiring flavours and food where the whole menu is interesting and you battle to decide what interesting combination you’d like to try. His food is always very fresh in flavour. So when Mother wanted to go to a concert in Kloof, I suggested a pop-in here for lunch.

It was certainly worth it.

The restaurant itself is fairly basic ‒ it was an old post office, hence the name is the postal code for Gillitts, but it is comfortable and on a Sunday lunch, full. Mom found it a little noisy and we asked if we could sit outside on a beautiful winter's afternoon after the big chill. Fortunately there was a spare table.

Chicken livers on toast with tomato and Parmesan salad.

Breakfasts here are legendary, the selection of Benedicts having a serious reputation. In fact even for Sunday lunch these were flying out the kitchen. There’s oats, a fruit and a power bowl, pus things on toast which may include eggs, but also offers good vegetarian options like ricotta, stone fruit, honey and toasted sesame seeds, or herbed ricotta with roasted veg and chilli oil, or hummus roast tomatoes and crispy onion flakes. Naturally, avo and mushrooms feature as well.

There’s zucchini and corn fritters, French toast and Parmesan polenta topped with spinach poached eggs and truffle oil. Turkish eggs feature dill yoghurt, chilli butter, and mint and coriander. Almost every dish has something of interest.

Ricotta gnudi with with beurre noisette, wild garlic, sage and parsley, topped with rocket, Parmesan and toasted pistachios

The lunch menu takes in an interesting array of open sandwiches ranging from smoked salmon with the traditional works to rare sirloin with Emmental and caramelised onions. Salads are exotic, the vegan inspired miso and sesame glazed aubergine with rocket, basil, toasted cashew nuts and grilled pineapple looked inspiring. Otherwise there’s a daily quiche, a daily soup (it was tomato) and daily pasta along with a couple of burgers and a very reasonable rump steak and chips.

On Sunday lunch the dinner menu features as well. Mom looked no further than the steak tartare (R85), a dish she had never tried. This was mixed with diced red onion, capers, Dijon mustard, cornichons (French-style gherkins) and chilli and topped with an egg yolk. It was accompanied by garlic aioli, basil oil and some good sourdough bread to mop it up. This was an exceptional dish, the flavours wonderfully balanced and the whole fresh and light. Full marks.

Cape Salmon on wilted Asian greens in a soy and miso glaze and crispy rice noodles.

I wanted to try the famed chicken liver pate, but made the mistake of telling the waiter I’d have the chicken livers (R100), not realising there was an “on toast” version on the breakfast menu. These were perfectly cooked chicken livers with a tomato and Parmesan salad and a good chilli oil. I enjoyed them nonetheless, the chilli adding quite a kick.

For mains it was my turn to try something I’d never had ‒ ricotta gnudi (R170). Gnudi are similar to gnocchi, except made from ricotta instead of potato. These larger dumplings were served with beurre noisette, wild garlic, sage and parsley, topped with rocket, Parmesan and toasted pistachios, which were an inspired touch. It was a subtle but beautifully flavoured dish. It was also incredibly rich, I could barely finish it. It might have been better to have one less dumpling and a side of lightly steamed greens just to cut that intense cheesiness.

Mom relished her line fish of Cape Salmon (R190) served on wilted Asian greens with a soy and miso glaze, sesame seeds and crispy rice noodles. More beautiful flavours.

Other mains might include lamb cutlet with braised red cabbage with apple, lamb fat carrots and pommes cigar, or roast chicken on a pea and pearl barley “risotto” with shiitake mushrooms, crispy pancetta and Parmesan cream. The risotto here is always good, but this time it was cauliflower, which steered me towards the gnudi.

After all that rich ricotta, I couldn’t face another morsel of anything with cream or cheese. I had wanted to try the saffron and white wine poached pear with “baklava” and pistachio ice cream, but at this point even the humble lemon posset was beyond me. A selection of home-baked cakes and fresh scones also features. Next time.

We did enjoy excellent coffees, before heading to Kloof for a wonderfully energetic (if slightly under-rehearsed) concert from the Durban City Orchestra. A fitting end to a fine meal.

Food: 4 ½

Service: 4

Ambience: 3 ½

The Bill: R704

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