Pop-up restaurants are trending globally and as the name suggests they are about offering fine dining experiences for a limited time, often in unexpected and quirky places.
I attended such an event recently at The Homestead, with guest Chef Joszka of Cargill’s fame. As Capetonians we are pretty spoilt for choice when it comes to wonderful venues in great locations, serving fabulous food so was surprised I had never heard of The Homestead, which is in Constantia rd, Plumstead.
It’s a beautiful 1820 heritage building, a renovated Cape Dutch ‘farmhouse’. The lush garden is an ideal setting for sundowners or a garden party with the wraparound ‘stoep’ perfect for al fresco dining. The abundant vegetable and herb garden is often the inspiration for a menu selection, using the freshest home grown produce available.
The menu for the ‘wine and dine pop-up restaurant’ evening was curated by Chef Joszka in conjunction with Food Fanatics head chef, Elrika. Each course was carefully considered, to not only taste sensational but pair with the excellent wines from Iona, while factoring in seasonality and the availability of fresh, organic produce.
Before being seated at the two beautifully decorated long tables, we enjoyed bubbles and canapes out in the garden with very welcome gas heaters helping to keep the winter evening chill at bay.
Then it was into the dining room, with its unique Victorian look and feel, for the meal. The crisp white linen, crystal glasses, unusual handcrafted crockery and vases of flowers adding to the ambience.
Ahead of service, Chef Joszka explained his menu selection and assistant wine maker at Iona, Bobby Wallace, provided some history about the farm and background on the wines being served.
To whet the appetite we were served freshly caught kabeljou ceviche with a glass of chilled, crisp Sauvignon Blanc. The delicate lime, gooseberry, herb and ruby grapefruit notes were a perfect match for the tart, slight acidic and heat of the dish.
The starter was a modern twist on a classic: Crayfish Thermidor served with a mushroom, leek and gruyere cheese, which was melt in your mouth delicious. Art on a plate but it was equally fabulous to eat and complemented by a glass of Chardonnay.
For main we had Beef fillet, Bordelaise Sauce and Potato Dauphinoise. The portion was more than generous, the fillet spot on with a hint of pink in the middle. The ‘One-man Band Blend’ - shiraz, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot , mataro and viogner - was full bodied and robust enough to deal with this bold and rich dish.
Dessert was probably the most controversial dish of the night: Gorgonzola Crème Brulee. The buttery blue cheese flavour was evident but it was juxtaposed with the sweetness of the vanilla. Smooth, creamy and delicious. Sweet, but not – in fact just the right amount of both savoury and sweet - like a cheese platter after a meal.
We ended the meal with a rather gutsy Iona Coretto Grappa, served with an Almond and Orange Biscotti. I must confess to dunking it into my grappa, reminiscent of an Ouma Rusk but with an alcoholic punch!
A strong cappuccino was the fullstop to a wonderful evening.
The entire evening from discovering this ‘hidden gem’ of a venue to the food, wine and company was a wonderful experience and even nicer to learn that The Homestead and Food Fanatics recycle almost everything and have their own composting and grey water system.
Plus they support a local primary school in Grassy Park with fresh produce.
The cost: R495 which makes it really good value for money – you’d be hard pressed to find a 4-course food and wine pairing for this price … so totally worth it.
The next pop-up restaurant date is to be confirmed but for more information about these, the venue itself or catering by Food Fanatics go to www.foodfanatics.co.za