It's worth road-tripping to Polokwane just to dine at Basil’s Restaurant
This fine-dining eatery in Limpopo consistently offers up splendidly old-school, Escoffier-inspired culinary classics, writes Anna Trapido
Superb service and delicious dining are always the order of the day at Basil's Fine Dining Restaurant.
Situated inside the Protea Hotel by Marriott Polokwane Ranch Resort, on the outskirts of Polokwane, this underappreciated Limpopo eatery consistently offers up splendidly old-school, Escoffier-inspired culinary classics.
The hotel hosts quarterly, five-course food and wine pairing evenings. A recent dinner showcased the combined talents of executive chef Dan Gee and Spice Route winemaker Charl du Plessis.
The people of Polokwane are often bypassed when it comes to epicurean events - which may partially explain why the 120-seater restaurant was full to capacity with uber-excited diners.
In his opening remarks Swartland-based winemaker Du Plessis said: "The response is amazing. It is gratifying to see how interested everyone is."
Gee said: "One of my main goals is to expose Polokwane to the beauty of fine dining. When we first started holding these food and wine pairing evenings they were not that popular but a few people came and they told friends and over the past couple of years it has grown. Now we are always fully booked. This time we could have sold the tickets twice over."
Five courses of exquisitely innovative pairings followed.
Seared scallops with seasonal fruit salsa and coriander cream were charmingly compatible with the tropical tastes of Spice Route Sauvignon Blanc, 2018.
A silky smooth wild mushroom soup with goat cheese ravioli and twirl of truffle reduction were accompanied by 2017 Viognier, which had the depth and complexity to moderate the intensely creamy soup and complement the earthy, meatiness of the mushrooms.
Gee and his brigade are superb sauce makers. Not those silly squeeze-bottle dots, but proper, complex sauces that unify and structure the component parts of a well-conceived meal
Gee and his brigade are superb sauce makers. Not those silly squeeze-bottle dots, flavoured-oil dribbles or unsightly smudges of blended goop that pass for sauce in most modern restaurants, but proper, complex sauces that unify and structure the component parts of a well-conceived meal.
The beautiful, butter-finished, glistening port jus which enrobed the third course duck confit was just such a sauce. I am not ashamed to say that I ran my finger around the plate to get at the last drops. Well, I suppose I am a little ashamed. But I would do it again.
The duck and jus were paired to perfection with smooth, cherried and beguiling 2016 Spice Route Grenache.
Polokwane portions are generous and my appetite was flagging by the time the trilogy of pork plate was put in front of me. Fortunately, greed kicked in and I thoroughly enjoyed sipping Spice Route Chakalaka 2016 with the melange of pressed pork belly, pulled pork spring roll and pistachio and sage-stuffed ballotine pork fillet.
Deliciously indulgent complexity was everywhere apparent in the final pairing of Spice Route Pinotage 2016 with dark chocolate torte and caramelised orange segments.
At a cost of R500 per person for five courses with wine, the price is at the more reasonable end of what one can expect to pay for such stylish fare.
For Polokwane-based people the food and wine pairing evenings at Basils are easily accessible but, even if you don't live in Limpopo, this is (as they say in the Michelin Guide) "une table excellente, merite un detour." So, what are you waiting for? A delicious detour awaits.
• Basil's Restaurant is located in the Protea Hotel by Marriott Polokwane Ranch Resort, 25km south of Polokwane on the N1 R101, Farm Hollands Drift. Visit marriott.com