(27 Dec 2017) FOR CLEAN VERSION SEE STORY NUMBER: 4130800
A Cape Town restaurant is celebrating becoming one of the top 10 fine dining restaurants on the review website TripAdvisor.
La Colombe prides itself on its experimental, creative cuisine, and even takes guests on a trip into an enchanted forest as part of their tasting menu.
Guests are wowed with a futuristic-looking dish at La Colombe in Cape Town. This one features kalamansi sorbet, sake, pineapple and lemongrass.
And now a selection that tests all five of your tasting senses - bitter, sweet, salty, sour and Umami.
Back in the kitchen, chef proprietor Scot Kirton is hard at work. But if he and his 25 staff had any free time, they would be celebrating.
La Colombe has recently taken seventh place in the list of Best Fine Dining Restaurants Worldwide on TripAdvisor.
It's the only African restaurant in the top ten.
"Being voted as one of the top restaurants in the world by TripAdvisor, it's an incredible honour. It means the world to the team. We put in 14 to 16 hours a day here, every day. And just to be recognised for what we put in, it's incredible," he says.
One of the 12 dishes on the set menu is quail and sweet corn chawanmushi.
It includes corn veloute sauce and miso aubergine.
Kirton says the cuisine at La Colombe is a fusion of different tastes.
"The cuisine at La Colombe, it's modern, French, exciting, hints of Asia. And very theatrical at the same time."
There is only one sitting each for lunch and dinner at La Colombe restaurant.
Diner Tyler Crowe describes the La Colombe experience.
"Versus coming to a traditional restaurant it feels like here you're coming more for the experience, you're coming for an experience, where it's, you're sitting down, they're taking you through this whole suite of flavours, course after course, with wine pairings. But at the same time there's an adventuresomeness to it with the combination of flavours that you don't see in a lot of other places," he says.
La Colombe is located at the Silvermist organic vineyard and the restaurant serves several of the wines that are made here, such as the Silvermist Sauvignon Blanc.
"We carefully pair food and wine here at La Colombe. Each of the 12 dishes has a specially paired wine selected by our team. All wines are sources locally so as to showcase South African wine," says sommelier Joseph Dhafana.
Back in the kitchen, La Colombe's head chef James Gaag is creating the restaurant's signature tuna dish.
It consists of slightly seared local yellow fin tuna with a tartar sauce.
Pickled ginger, coriander and avocado are further ingredients.
"One of the very first dishes we developed, which is our signature Tuna La Colombe. It comes in a sealed tuna can and that's all the description that's given to the guest as well. So basically, it's put down in front of the guest. The waiter then explains this is a signature dish, but that's all they'll tell them. And the game is then to open the can, identify the ingredients as best you can. And if you get stuck there's a list of ingredients on the back," he says.
The tuna dish is not served at the patron's tables, but in the so-called "enchanted garden".
Here the Mad Hatter from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland entertains the La Colombe visitors.
Diner Rene Rohrs enjoys the theatrical element to the La Colombe experience.
"You're just taken on a wild ride. Every course is a surprise and it's delicious, and it fills you. And then you're taken to an enchanted forest where you're completely surprised. You have an experience like you haven't seen in any other restaurant. I frankly just wasn't expecting it at all. And it just kind of tickled me," she says.
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