When an old post office gets a stamp of approval
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Where: Gillitts Shopping Centre, 1 Clifton Road, Gillitts
Open: Monday to Sunday breakfast and lunch, Wednesday to Saturday dinner
Call: 082 381 9737
Our little lunch club met on Sunday after way too long. It’s amazing how difficult it is to co-ordinate three busy diaries. But food writer Ingrid Shevlin and foodie and baker Jenny Clark of the Fat Frog were free. Jenny’s friend Sandy joined us.
I insisted we try the restaurant of acclaimed chef Brett Gentles, who many will remember as the inspiration behind Parc in Glenwood. Having opened in July, the restaurant is named for the post code of Gillitts, 3603, and boasts a much fuller and very exciting dinner menu. The ladies had eaten there many times already and love the place, but I was the slow coach who never quite managed to get up the hill. They humoured me.
As you may have guessed, the restaurant is situated in the old post office, and the old post boxes have been repainted and are on display. The kitchen is behind what was probably part of the old post office counter. The rest of the space has been painted in teal greens, neutrals and with exposed brickwork. It’s simple but effective, and thank heavens doesn’t feel institutionalised.
It’s also not licensed, so we brought our own. Although, this may change.
The breakfast menu includes many of the dishes that made Gentles’ fame at Parc. The brioche French toast with berry compote, fresh berries and crème fraîche is still very much in evidence. This alone is worth the drive up the hill. As is his Not So Benedict ‒ eggs with bacon, or mushrooms or spinach with a lemon hollandaise, capers and chives. The shakshouka, eggs in a spicy tomato and courgette sauce, is another winner.
The lunch menu takes in the “forbidden rice salad”, with beets, pickled daikon, confit tomatoes, coriander and garlic vinaigrette. There’s a seared fillet salad, steak tartare, zucchini carpaccio and a soup and quiche of the day. That’s not forgetting toasties on artisanal bread that can include kimchi, bacon and cheese. And the chicken liver pâté is worth trying.
The dinner menu is available for Sunday lunch, so we busied ourselves here. The seaweed and fermented lime salad, with pickled ginger, sesame and barbecued tofu certainly sounded interesting, as did the Franschhoek smoked salmon trout, cauliflower, pickled cucumber, blackened beets and dill crème, served with caraway rye. There’s even a steak tartare matched with chicken liver parfait.
Ingrid had to try the smoked ostrich (R85) simply because it was paired with white chocolate. This was beautifully seared loin with sweet potato, Earl Grey namalaka, and blueberries and was delicious. However, we both felt it probably didn’t need the salted white chocolate sauce.
My goat’s cheese tart (R78) was delicious: this was baked goat’s cheese on a house-made puff pastry croûte, with honey and thyme roasted grapes, lemon caviar and a microgreen salad. Those grapes were a real hit. The others fell for the porcini mushrooms (R70). This was fresh porcini mushrooms sautéed in butter with Italian parsley on grilled potato and rosemary bread, with porcini purée, Parmesan cheese, olive oil and toasted almonds. Basically, posh mushrooms on toast which was a beautiful and light starter.
For mains, we were spoilt for choice. I mused on the grilled fillet, with brocollini and wild mushroom, Parmesan pommes purée, green peppercorn jus and crispy potato scratchings. The loin of lamb fried in butter with pommes Anna, pistachio, asparagus and blackberry gastrique also sounded irresistible.
Ingrid and I settled on the linefish (R175). This was poached swordfish on top of a smoked tomato, corn and asparagus risotto and topped with lemon foam. Both the fish and risotto were excellent, the smoked tomatoes giving it a real punch.
Sandy’s mussels (R175) in a creamy Cape Malay velouté, with curry leaf, turmeric and garlic and white wine, topped with pickled ginger and fresh coriander, were another beautiful dish and a generous serving. The addition of curry leaf to the mix was inspired.
Jenny really enjoyed her meaty pork cutlet (R190) ‒ a teriyaki glazed chop with grilled plums, asparagus and pommes fondants and star anise jus. She threatened us as we eyed her crackling. “Touch, and you die.”
Well stuffed, we found our second stomachs for dessert.
Much like his famed Parc, there’s a sideboard full of the day’s most delicious looking baking ‒ brownies, Chelsea buns, a selection of cookies, hummingbird cake and carrot cake. We shared the last slice of baked cheesecake with berry coulis (R50) which was surprisingly light for a proper baked cheesecake, and a slice of the Queen of Sheba (R50), a layered tart with frangipane and a dense dark chocolate topping. It looked impossibly rich but was not overly sweet and, in small slices, was a perfect end to the meal. We washed it all down with good coffees, and here you can have your cappuccino with almond milk.
Food: 4 ½
Ambience: 3 ½
The Bill: R1 239 (for four including takeaway Chelsea buns)
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