Dawn Kennedy – Oct 7th 2011, 16:12
The Roundhouse offers breathtaking views, impeccable service and food that dares to remain raw.
It looked as though the cherry-red sun that was dropping over the horizon as we arrived at the Roundhouse had sunk to the bottom of the verjuice cocktails that greeted us. From the moment that a smiling waiter opens the car door to greet you with your first name, until the moment when the same door is closed by him to bid you goodbye, the Roundhouse sets an impeccable standard of service that is attentive yet unobtrusive.
The staff at the Roundhouse are so much a part of the pleasurable experience. They lend arms to escort you down stairs and offer a level of chivalry that is balm to a soul ruffled by modern rudeness. Moreover, the atmosphere isn’t stiff – there’s no maitre d’ breathing disapprovingly down underlings’ necks. The Roundhouse achieves something rare in South Africa: an atmosphere of gentility that, at the same time, is utterly relaxed.
The Somerset Room must be one of the Cape’s most romantic spots. Tables dressed in immaculate white linen are pressed against windows that offer unrivalled views across the Atlantic Ocean and Twelve Apostles. The circular space probably adds an element of feng shui. Even the background music is refined at the Roundhouse. The discreet tunes by Eric Satie mix gently with the blings of couples who clink their glasses.
The four-course à la carte menu and tasting menu is available throughout the year:
The strikingly knowledgeable Swedish sommelier’s loving and intricate descriptions of each beverage was a highlight of an evening that moved along like Beethoven’s pastoral symphony. The pairings were inventive and added an intriguing dimension to the flavour of the evening.
I didn’t expect to be drinking cider at the Roundhouse, but NV James Mitchell’s Gone Fishing cider (organic and brewed in Elgin) added a playful sweetness, a touch of ploughman’s lunch, to the water buffalo saucisson with pistachio and peach chutney.
The Roundhouse caters for vegetarians with aplomb, with the organic patch vegetable starter a dish of Zen beauty that pays homage to the array of textures, colours and tastes found in nature. I was mesmerised by the root that was left to trail from the radish like a stray hair. I can’t think when I last tasted celeriac. This knobbly root, somehow Gallic in temperament, never finds its way into my kitchen because it needs so much scrubbing to prepare, but braised in goats’ milk, it came up shining.
The buffalo, braised for 12 to 15 hours, was so tender that it pulled apart like toffee pudding. The apricot soufflé rose proudly like a chef’s hat. It was a theatrical moment when the dessert spoon of ice-cream that the waiter placed on top melted into the soufflé.
If you want to treat someone like royalty, escort them to the Roundhouse.
Open for dinner Tue–Sat, 021 438 4347
4 chosen courses: R420
4 chosen courses with pairing: R640