Our food is very local, earthy & real, says Delaire Graff's new head chef
Simplicity rules as chef Kevin Grobler takes the reins of this Stellenbosch wine estate's fine-dining restaurant, writes Kit Heathcock
A stately avenue, manicured gardens with not a leaf out of place despite winter weather, bronze cheetahs by artist Dylan Lewis calmly surveying the dramatic mountain views: first impressions at Delaire Graff wine estate confirm its reputation for finely-tuned luxury.
Vast wooden doors silently swing open, reminiscent of an Indiana Jones movie, and you’re greeted by the familiar green face of the original Chinese Lady by Vladimir Tretchikoff. It feels like stumbling upon a treasure trove, notable artworks catching the eye pretty much everywhere you go.
We’re visiting Delaire Graff Restaurant for its 10th anniversary and a lunch to introduce head chef Kevin Grobler. He’s not new to these kitchens, having worked there under Christiaan Campbell, then Michael Deg, until the travel bug bit and took him to spend three years as head chef at celebrated Michelin-star Jan in Nice, France.
Serendipity brought him home, first to open Le Petit Manoir in Franschhoek, and now to head up the kitchens where he first earned his stripes.
Sustainability and ethical produce are top of Kevin’s agenda, and he’s enjoying working from the estate vegetable garden.
“Our food is very local, earthy and real. It’s about allowing the purity of flavour, local provenance and sheer beauty of the ingredients to shine,” he says.
His brief from estate owner Laurence Graff is to keep things simple.
Through the meal we discover that this is next-level simple — pared-down fine dining, fewer fancy flourishes but all the skill and technique, focusing on just one or two star ingredients in each dish.
Our menu was inspired by the estate’s top wines, both as pairings and used in the dish.
Salmon cured in Cabernet Franc Rosé with a deliciously smoky tomato broth, accents of lemon gel and crispy capers.
Next a delicious fresh pea mousse with bocconcini mozzarella, black olive crumble, and peas cooked in the Banghoek Reserve Chardonnay.
Boschendal beef short rib slow braised in the flagship Botmaskop 2017 red blend, the meat rich and succulent, with Jerusalem artichoke puree and onion crisps, on the side some perfect crispy fries and French beans, classic and memorable.
A festive dessert of roasted guavas and dark chocolate cake, port gel and some smooth caramel dulce crémeux finished us off nicely, the views of clouds scudding over mountaintops completing the feeling of being on top of the world.
• Visit Delaire Graff Restaurant at the Delaire Graff Estate in Stellenbosch. See delaire.co.za/dining
This article was originally published in the Sunday Times Neighbourhood: Property and Lifestyle guide. Visit Yourneighbourhood.co.za