A delightful House Party
The point was made again this Sunday, as much as we plan ahead, try to bargain with the gods, individually and en masse, Mother Nature has the final say.
The Garden party that hosts Mari Vermaak and Gerrit Bruwer were planning, to launch Chef Patron Henry Vigar’s Spring Tasting menu, at La Mouette Restaurant had to be relegated indoors
Mari and Henry in the courtyard
Yes, a pity because the courtyard with its majestic fountain is quite the place to spend a long lazy Sunday afternoon in Sea Point, and a pleasure I am yet to experience.
La Mouette photo property of foodandthefabulous.com
But, the team at La Mouette (“The Seagull” and if you know anything about Sea Point, you’d agree it’s rather an apt name) needn’t have worried. Whilst Spring failed to show up for the party, the gorgeous old Victorian that houses the restaurant, which they’ve affectionately dubbed “The Mayor’s Lady” turned on her charm, to the delight of her guests (60 odd when I checked).
The house, a white-washed beauty replete with dark wood window panes and a gorgeous wooden stair case, has several rooms each with its own special nooks, benched seating at windows and fire places dotted throughout, and even a mini bar downstairs. It could have been raining and gusty out, but on this particular Spring day I removed my coat at one point and sat quite cosy, in a sleeveless dress.
Upstairs houses a double sided bar, with cushy low seating all round and tables in rooms that have been partially and very cleverly opened up. I hadn’t been to the old restaurant that was previously there, so I can’t be sure if this is a new renovation done especially for La Mouette or not. It is a wise use of space. I spotted the DJ mixing up his tunes, and both my husband and I agreed- this is the perfect haunt for loungy drinks on a Friday night. Why ever didn’t we venture up here on previous visits? I must add that my husband eyed the flat screen T.V above the bar and asked if I thought they’d play the Barcelona games if we requested nicely. I’m yet to ask.
Think modern opulence in terms of the decor: large wrought iron chandeliers, black and silver with splashes of colour on velvets, bold prints on cushions, mirrors in the right places, and dark tasteful wallpaper. A measure of restraint keeps the focus centred on the house and its quirks and your senses focused on the food.
On arrival, we were welcomed by Mari, shown our table and invited upstairs. Here we lounged comfortably and enjoyed a passion fruit and Vodka cocktail. If it isn’t already, it should be included on the menu, and labelled The Passion. Go ahead, that one’s one me!
Seated at our table, we were served mini focaccia breads and complimentary glasses of Tokara Zondernaam Sauvignon Blanc, and we eagerly awaited the arrival of the 6 course tasting menu.
The first course was the now legendary truffle and cheese croquettes. I am still not able to discern the essence of the truffle. Perhaps repeat visits are required to remedy this. They are lovely, delicate and infinitely more-ish.
tomato gazpacho was creamy, not too chilled and the winner was the accompanying sweet polenta ice-cream sandwich. It resembled a shortbread biscuit, but was so much more. A delicious and unusual combination.
The wild oysters were served in a shallot, fresh tomato and truffle dressing. I must agree with the sentiments of the patrons at the table next to us, whilst it was flavoursome, the taste of the oyster was somewhat overpowered. Perfect though, if you’re a shy oyster newbie.
I thought the salad of panzella (a bread), a warm slice of grilled chicken breast and smoked mozzarella was perfectly seasoned and actually suited the cold. Look, I’d eat it on a warm day outdoors too, but it wasn’t so crisp as to leave me cussing at the rain.
The next course was a choice of angelfish or beef sirloin. We both opted for the latter and it was beautiful. Served with a buttery béarnaise sauce, dotted with a rich bordelaise gravy and watercress puree (a vivid green) and fries.
Dessert did beg for warmer weather: a carpaccio (I still do think the words “very finely sliced” will do) of pineapple, sprinkled with fresh mint with coconut sorbet and passion fruit jellies. Sipping The Passion and enjoying this in La Moutte’s courtyard, is on my list of summer favourites already.
Overall, the service was attentive (Mari chatted freely with guests and head waiter Frans responded well to my questions), food excellent and the venue a welcome respite from the blustery cold.
Sea Point needed The Mayor’s Lady to put on her prettiest frock and throw us a party. Next time, we’ll be in her courtyard enjoying the sunshine and more of Henry Vagar’s culinary delights.
Cost: R200 pp
La Mouette (Mari or Gerrit ) on 021 433 0856, Twitter: @teamlamouette or visit the website for details on the Spring Menu and prices
The opinions expressed above, and interpretation of the menu and ingredients presented, are mine alone. I apologise for inaccuracies, if any.
No offence to the establishment, chef or staff is intendLove to hear your thoughts!