Thursday, October 04, 2007

Groote Post

I've been longing to play at being a real food blogger for ages, wielding my camera to photograph every dish and capture each nuance of flavour, as I enjoy a leisurely meal at one of the country's finest watering holes. Last weekend the opportunity finally came. It was our wedding anniversary, my sister-in-law had discovered a lovely country restaurant less than an hour away, so we left the children behind and drove off unencumbered to enjoy ourselves.

We'd almost fallen at the first hurdle, as having been sick the week before I only tried to book on the Saturday for Sunday lunch and not surprisingly they were full. Disappointment threatened, but my husband asked them to phone if they had a cancellation, the universe was looking after us, and a few hours later they duly did.

Seven kilometres of dirt road led to this West Coast wine estate, through dry undulating hills scattered with the last blooming of spring flowers. A last turn of the track leads you into a pocket in the hills, an oasis of green and trees, studded with a whitewashed Cape Dutch farmstead and its outbuildings. It's small. What would have been a modest family farmhouse, houses about ten tables, spread through the high ceilinged rooms.

The food was good, unpretentious, country food concentrating on good, fresh ingredients, with the short menus, offering three or four choices per course, changing daily. No attempt at Michelin stars here, just attractive food and interesting flavours.

We decided to share a starter, in order to make it through to the pudding intact, and chose the leek, dill and feta pie with roasted tomatoes. It was full of flavour and not at all heavy, the feta keeping to the background.

The main courses were tasty but unadventurous. My lemon and chilli chicken was succulent but quite plain, the chilli could have danced a little more strongly on the tastebuds even for me, but the chips that came with it were the best I've had in ages and the salad nice but quirkily presented in a tea-cup, which was a bit awkward to eat from!

My husband's lamb curry was good too without breaking new ground.

I wasn't quite full enough to share a pudding. I chose the lemon, almond and polenta cake, which was moist and lemony with that slightly gritty polenta texture.

My husband went for the pear tart, also good with crisp pastry and a rich custard filling over the pears. He gave up the attempt and left me to despatch the rest of it, though I couldn't quite finish.

The service was friendly, unhurried but efficient allowing you a leisurely meal but there were no overly long gaps between courses even though they were full.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself, snapping each dish as it came and whisking the food from under my husband's nose to get a photo before he dug in! We hadn't eaten out in a grown-up restaurant for such a long time, that it was also a novelty being able to sit back and savour our food and chat, without cutting up food for someone or supervising outside play in between courses.

We're definitely going back there, in fact I'd better book now for Sunday lunch when my parents come to visit soon.

Groote Post
upon Darling Hills
022 492 2825


  1. Ooh lovely. And now that you're a real food blogger, and a tame one at that, I can ask you some questions. How do restaurants react when their customers start photographing their food? Or do you do it on the sly? Or do you tell them you're reviewing it on your blog, hoping for a free coffee?

    Yours sincerely,
    Intrigued of Germany

  2. This restaurant was pretty relaxed and they didn't even give me strange looks, as I whipped out my camera, though some of the other guests were amused. Mind you blogging is still almost unknown to the general population here. We did get a free glass of wine for our wedding anniversary though.

    I've only heard of a food blogger saying once that a restaurant asked her not to take photographs and that was a London place with an elevated opinion of itself, I think!

  3. Sounds lovely Kit - and trust me, you were a "proper" food blogger even before this post!! Happy anniversary :)

    And Charlotte - most restaurants don't mind too much, although the waiters do often give you worried looks as if you may be an unknown food critic. Staff are also often baffled - at Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons the waitress offered to take a picture of me and Johanna, unaware that we had no intention of takign any pictures of ourselves!

    Some restaurants ask that you don't take pictures of other customers (fair enough) or use flash (ditto). And one place (Yauatcha) in London told us straight out to stop as photos are "against the rules". I subsequently heard that they stopped another blogger as he was still walking to his table and told him "no photos unless HQ approved them". Who ARE these people?! If the Fat Duck & Gordon Ramsay have no objection to customers taking photos, why should they?

    I usually don't ask - I figure if I'm paying for food, it's mine to photograph. I use a compact camera and I don't use flash, so often people don't even notice I'm taking pics. If I'm asked to stop, I may produce mt blog "business" card and see if that changes their minds, otherwise I'll just sulk quietly ;-)

  4. Is that what real food bloggers do? I always think of you as a real food blogger - coming here always makes me hungry.

  5. Kit, thank you so much for your kind words today. Also you did a wonderful job here with both the photos AND the descriptions, my mouth acually started watering!

  6. That polenta cake looks to die for! Great pics...

  7. You are a real food blogger aren't you?
    I love reading your daily adventures in the kitchen, your homemade meals and watchng your children grow from such love given.


Thanks for your comments - I appreciate every one!