Restaurant review

Lunch at La Colombe is a truly spectacular experience

There is something that needs to be said when visiting the country’s most voted restaurant, La Colombe. The magical parting words “food is our theatre” really matched the experience.

Located in Constantia, about a 20-25 minute drive from the center of Cape Town, La Colombe is nestled in the heart of Silvermist.

La Colombe was voted best restaurant of the year by the Luxe Restaurant Awards 2022. They also walked away with the Wine Service of the Year award, led by talented young chef James Gaag.

As we walked into the restaurant we knew we were in for world class service. The restaurant’s design and decor is minimalist and modern, with simple and detailed touches of feathered gold cutlery labeled La Colombe. Reservations are essential to experience this gastronomic feast.

The view of the open mountains in The Dove is breathtaking, and the restaurant is spacious and could be considered smaller compared to other establishments.

Interior of the Dove. Photo credit: Andrea van der Spuy

Our server was knowledgeable, friendly and quite hilarious as he explained the menu options to us which included a vegetarian menu, reduced vegetarian, chef’s experience menu and a reduced option as well.

Celebrating a special occasion on the day, we chose the full chef experience. The wine list is extensive and the menus can be accompanied by wines. In hindsight, we probably should have gone with the wine pairings because that’s the best way to do it.

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All courses arrived with great wonder and drama with handcrafted centerpieces and cutlery made to match the name of the dishes.

It’s a menu that takes you on a journey of harvest, garden and nature inspirations. This can be seen in the first course, the dove’s nest – a trio dish, delicious bread decorated with leaves and herbs, to start.

The dove’s nest. Photo: Lisa Daubermann

As it was a Malaysian snoek pate with delicious sweet potato bread and beet tartare, every bite was nostalgic, as Malaysian snoek had the familiar flavors and spices of many South African curries. The truffle and cherry parfait had both sweet and savory flavor profiles.

Truffled cherry parfait. Photo credit: Lisa Daubermann

The third – smoked tomato and eggplant with pine nuts is a replica of the actual fruit/vegetable, the aioli or sauce is sour yet balanced. If you are not a tomato fan, it is better to avoid this dish.

The fourth dish, the tom yum, is a mussel soup inspired by Thailand but much spicier as it is served from the shell of a passion fruit, with the soup stuffed inside. The skin of the passion fruit is burned to give the charred appearance of a space eggshell from a sci-fi movie. The tom yum was full of flavor, as the broth was full bodied.

The atmosphere of the room is reserved and light, with a background of classical music. Other standout dishes include the La Colombe tuna, which is a gem. As its name suggests, it is presented in a La Colombe brand ti, the dish is delicate, light and tasty.

A lunch at La Colombe will probably be the longest and most complete. So when the Alaskan crab quail and grass fed beef arrived, dishes six and seven, I had to move to find space in my stomach. It’s not that the dishes are big, they are enough for the amount of food you are going to eat. This is probably why it is necessary that a palette remover, which is a pineapple, rum, strawberry, mint and apple sorbet, be served after the quail.

The desserts are usually a must, as is their rose, coconut and cashew mousse. The panna cotta topped with a rose was gorgeous. Be careful when biting into it, a small bite is enough otherwise you end up biting into the rose and there is a bit of display from the dessert which adds beautifully to the experience.

Silvermist Honey. Photo: Daubermann

The second dessert, a tangerine, jivara and pistachio ice cream was also a success. Pistachio ice cream seems to be trending in many restaurants. The ice cream paired with the brownie clusters was divine.

Finishing off with Silvermist Honey, a trio of sweet treats including lemon meringue, eclairs and chocolate, our dining experience couldn’t have ended on a sweeter note.

La Colombe lived up to our expectations and more, and is definitely worth a second, third and hundredth visit.