On a windy Cape March Thursday afternoon we chose to seat ourselves outside at a table for two instead of the sheltered inside, lifting the hefty wooden chairs in the hopes of finally spotting the owl family said to flit around the oak trees at Catharina's at Steenberg.
The outdoor setting was ideal for sampling executive chef Archie Maclean’s specially created pocket-friendly lunch option. While munching on the complimentary breads – ciabatta and sourdough with soft golf-balls of butter for smearing – we decided we'd not double up and rather each try one of the options for all three courses (you can decide between a two- or three-course afternoon feeding frenzy), with just two options per course.
For starters you choose between a savoury mushroom and pecorino risotto topped with slivers of fungi that made us think of all things wintery or the chicken confit (meaning its cooked to perfection in duck fat) Caesar salad. The salad, with big shards of Parmesan and bits of salty, crispy bacon and croutons for crunch on a bed of creamy mayo-drenched cut greens is delicious.
These, with a glass of the chilled Catharina's Semillon that we thoroughly enjoyed last time, are just perfect for a summer's day outside.
Moreish mains and delightful desserts
Best you prepare your belly as mains is a choice of the seafood pasta - a heaving bowl of linguini brimming with mussels and chunks of fish - or the blackened sirloin steak with hand-cut chips and cooked cubes butternut, cooked at the temperature of your liking: For me that's medium-well. So yum, especially when paired with a super-thick chocolate milkshake.
Seafood linguini with tomato-basil sauce topped with rocket and feta 'salad'.
Fittingly, dessert was next. On the menu it's a choice of the South African at heart, toffee rooibos-tinted creme brûlée and 'frozen melktert' cinnamony scoop or the more international seasonal sorbet trio with fresh pastel-pink cranberry, fruity red strawberry and palest pineapple with a clever spoon-shaped wafer. Both contrast well with a strong cappuccino.
Time for the negatives and recommendations! Well, I fail here. These portions are generous and because everything is so good, I really can't help you in deciding between two of the three courses, though the chicken Caesar starter, sirloin mains and creme brûlée dessert proved to be popular orders with other tables. Price-wise, you're looking at R165 for two courses and R195 for all three from Monday to Saturday.
Ducks honked in the distance and drank from the stream along the perimeter of the outdoor eating area, grey squirrels bounced with puffy tails on the lawn and the wind whizzed through the trees as we watched golfers head towards the courses but alas, still no sight of those owls. Though we hear they were seen on the estate the previous day, it seems we just keep missing them, so our quest to spot them continues as we happily make our way through Steenberg's latest taste sensations!
*Leigh Andrews was a guest of Catharina’s at Steenberg Estate. For bookings, contact +27 (0)21 713 7178 or email and follow Catharina’s @CatharinasR on Twitter or Steenberg Estate on Instagram and Facebook. Click here For a reminder of Andrews’ review of Catharina’s wild menu, and here for a reminder of her review of their food-and-wine pairing flights.
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