SECRET DINER: Father’s Day treat was no hassle
Where: Protea Mall, 1 Chartwell Drive, uMhlanga
Open: Monday to Saturday 11am to 6pm
Call: 031 001 0200
It was Father’s Day and it called for something special. Even though none of us are fathers - unless you count two well-fed fur children - we were definitely going to step out in the same dining room that’s served us so well in the last almost 100 days.
So with the lockdown regulations still pending to open up the restaurant industry, we decided to take up a Father’s Day hamper from Durban’s acclaimed Chefs’ Table, which certainly took the idea of a humble hamper to a whole new level.
It was impressively presented, complete with a menu and clear instructions for cooking and reheating, and a note from the chef wishing us a happy Father’s Day.
Each separate component of the four-course meal was bagged or bottled or wrapped complete with herbs to garnish. The cheese course was an optional extra and we decided to go the whole hog.
First up was the bread course - a beautiful fresh baguette that just needed finishing in the oven - along with their signature flavoured butters and the restaurant’s own olives. We enjoyed this with a top-notch bottle of bubbly bought for the occasion.
And then came the trout salad. This was a roulade of trout and goats cheese along with an apple slaw and a lovely selection of leaves, properly dressed and finished off with generous quantities of trout roe.
I am sure the chef would approve of our attempts to plate this delicious course that washed down easily with a bottle of Springfield’s best sauvignon blanc.
The pièce de résistance was the beef Wellington. This was beautifully presented with its lattice work pastry on the outside and had to be cooked in a hot oven for about 40 minutes.
The result was magnificent. The chef among us managed to get the timing just right for a perfectly rare steak and crisp golden pastry. The addition of truffles to the mushroom duxelle made for a luxurious and deeply flavoured dish. It was served with beef jus - gravy to most of us - along with crisp hasselback potatoes and a selection of whole root vegetables, carrots, onions and beetroot.
All too delicious, especially washed down with a bottle of Meerlust Rubicon saved from the raids of the cellar before lockdown 3.
Dessert was a delightfully boozy banana and rum sponge served with caramel crème fraîche. It had to be flamed with generous quantities of rum at the table which added it’s own drama. A thoroughly enjoyable although quite intense dish.
The selection of top local cheeses included a mature Cheddar, two unusual goat cheeses and a Gorgonzola, along with preserved ginger and melon jam.
The Chefs’ Table always spoils its patrons with a plate of their own home-made truffles after the meal, and the hamper was no exception.
As we finished off with coffee and port it was almost time for a little afternoon nap. Except the sun was already setting over the Berea on the day of the winter solstice.
It would be an early night before the office called on Monday.
Food: A special feast
Service: A special table
Ambience: A special occasionThe Independent on Saturday