Let me tell you a story about our delightful Tuesday night dinner experience at Homespun by Matt, and how this Table View restaurant is serving as a pioneer for contemporary South African fine-dining and specialised wine pairings...
Once we opened the door to the magical portal of Homespun and whisked our way through the curtain, we were warmly gret at reception.
While taking in the warm, slightly steampunky vintage mirrors, copper pipes-and-bare lights décor, most of which is crafted by energetic owner Matt Schreuder, his friends and family; every single member of staff stopped by to say hello and welcome us back, including Matt himself, so we soon felt like special guests.
But this special treatment is just part of the magic of Homespun – you’re never just a number. We were swiftly whisked away to ‘our table’ 420 – the candelabra-ed, hotel-door-turned-restaurant-table is the same one we’ve sat at on every other Homespun visit.
Described on their own Instagram profile as offering ‘contemporary fusion’ food, they promise: “Trust us, you are in for something new.”
Matt said that wine pairings are a particular passion as he loves the relationship wine has with food. While the flavours you’ll experience are sensational, a meal at Homespun is a real “adventure through food, craft cocktails, wine and grooves,” all enhanced by Shreuder’s fantastic storytelling skills and passion for ensuring his customers understand the different elements on the plate and enjoy the overall experience by focusing on all the senses.
That Homespun magic: The personal touch
He makes the time to chat to every single table, sharing magical tales of his latest travels and foodie finds over the course of the evening, while never disturbing the meal.
We were also assisted throughout the culinary experience by long-time favourite waitress Ashton, who took great care in providing a detailed description of the mouthwatering options as well as recommendations based on personal preferences.
Our table was already decked with a jug of water and lemon slices, but we got further into the celebratory mood with cocktails.
At our table, these ranged from the classic Long Island Ice Tea with sugar-free cola and spicy Bloody Mary to the deliciously sweet Homespun original Pineapple Express, which is surprisingly bubbly thanks to the ginger ale topping. Complete with Bacardi, vanilla syrup and pineapple juice, this is an experience in itself, served in a pineapple-shaped jar with dehydrated pineapple and strawberry garnish.
Engaging the senses in the theatre of food and wine
Then it was time for food! As there were four of us and there are four options for starter, four for mains and three for dessert, we went for one of everything and all sampled bites, constantly placing new forksful near each other’s mouths saying “Try THIS! Wait, try it again with a bit of this!”
For starters, the choices start with the most charmingly presented ostrich potjie
soup, lit at the table and served with a round of kudu boerewors
, biltong dust, samoosa dip, mielie pap
crisps and chakalaka
Next on the list is the crispy Cape Malay baby squid with Homespun's curried marscapone, blueberry puree, peach emulsion and burn corn, declared by my dad to be "better than all the calamari dishes I’ve just had in Greece!"
Then comes the caprese, which includes soft fried goat’s cheese croquettes, semi-dried tomatoes, beetroot jelly, buttermilk, rocket, basil oil and an out-of-this-world balsamic ice cream; and finally the creamy, melt-in-your-mouth charred aubergine vegan option, complete with lightly smoked cherry tomatoes, coconut-cream puree, pickled avocado and walnut paste.
My mom declared the caprese the winner of the starters’ course, but my dad said the same thing of the squid, as did my husband of the ostrich potjie, so rest assured that whatever you pick, you can’t really go wrong.
These were paired with the Rietvallei Dark Cin Cinsault, Nitida Riesling, Lanzerac Pinotage or La Brie Chardonnay, and Rustenburg Cab Sav respectively, with the red wines decanted into enormous goblets that make the occasion all the more festive.
All were perfectly plated on blue and black backdrops that really make the foodie colours pop, turning your Homespun experience into a true feast for the eyes. This is South African food with a twist. The fusion style cooking means you’ll find classic elements reincarnated in an utterly delightful way that makes the tongue sing.
Speaking of singing tongues, a highlight of the heritage menu is the palate-cleansing ‘naartjie
sorbet’ second course – served with the ‘electric daisy’ buzz button, topped with bubbly for drama and candied naartjie
peel to counter the bitterness of the specially transported Szechuan flower from Madagascar.
Quickly reassured that yes, the beautiful decorative flowers on the plate are edible (we’d recently eaten elsewhere, where this was not the case), we began with caution but soon rode wild with the wind.
You can feel those taste buds getting a refresh as the popping candy-like sensation sweetens and almost scrubs away the taste of your starters, leaving your palate truly cleansed like never before and ready for the courses to come. Beware; even water will taste a little funny after this experience as your tongue goes into overdrive for a while!
Next, it was time for mains – typically the star of the show, but every course is something to savour here. My fish allergy means I was ruled out of sampling the two seafood options but I hear they were as amazing as they looked.
This included the wild sea bass with octopus, oyster samoosa, rooibos
chutney gel and citrus aioli paired with Warwick First Lady Unwooded Chardonnay; and the butter-poached salmon with prawn dumplings, prawn consommé, pickled avocado, cucumber salsa, togorashi
mayo, yuzu sphere and a splash of movement as the dehydrated flakes swayed in the breeze, washed down with Springfield ‘Life From Stone’ sauvignon blanc.
The vegan main was also a winner of smoked shiitake mushrooms with ragout, truffled sweet potato, honey-Worcester sauce-marinated water chestnuts, tempura avo, onion caviar and carrot-citrus puree with a choice of the Rustenberg cab sav or Rietvallei Cinsault; and I was delighted to find my Homespun go-to meal was an option for mains...
South African classics with a contemporary twist
It’s the crispy gammon with burnt orange and fynbos honey reduction keeping the meat moist and flavourful, moreish pecorino custard, with pickled wild mushrooms and teriyaki glazed baby veg, paired with the fruity Creative Block #2 as opposed to the Darling Cellars pinotage as the light sweetness enhanced the citrus notes of the sauce.
All were large portions yet we effectively licked our plates clean and again each declared our own plate the winner. Hmm… make of that what you will.
For dessert, we buckled down for the innocent-sounding crème brulee, jazzed up with side dish of kiwi-basil sorbet, white chocolate crumb, sweet potato-cardamom puree and berry compote; as well as the creampuff-like filled ‘milk tart’, with koesista, Amarula caviar, Kahlua dom pedro ice cream and shards of buttery Tonka bean brandy snaps artfully scattered on the plate.
The truly stand-out dessert dish is the ‘breakfast’, complete with cornflakes ice cream, cappuccino butterscotch, strawberry dust, Valrhona passion fruit puffed rice, marshmallow nubs and perfect block of honeycomb.
Creamy, sweet and soft on the tongue, these were all a fitting end to the meal, especially when paired with the ‘espresso’- and ‘rooibos’-flavoured dessert wine options of De Krans Cape Tawny and the peachy African Rooibos Vermouth.
Keeping things sweet
The close-knit team regularly works on pairing options together and sit at a long table discussing the various tastes before opening house, as Matt believes in training his team beyond the parrot-fashion menu recital, so they can give richer recommendations based on the various sensory sensations the menu offers.
Psst! If you’re looking for something extra special, try Homespun’s own Mourvèdre wine, now in limited stock.
Personal favourites from the night? I’d go for the Caprese starter (that balsamic ice-cream must be tasted to be believed), the gammon mains and the crème brulee dessert, with the Cinsault a stand-out from the wine pairings. But keep an eye out for other innovative options, as the Homespun team is constantly soaking up best practice from elsewhere and giving it their own spin…
Conversation with the chef on the contemporary cooking trend
Before expanding the team, Matt’s time was so thinly spread that he didn’t really have the energy to be creative, he was just trying to run a business. Now that they have time to work on better dishes and more sophisticated plating and theatrical serves, their already weeks-long waiting list will likely only increase.
Before rolling our way out the door into the magical night, it was time for a brief one-on-one conversation with Matt. He explained that their menu features the South African favourites we love, like boerewors and biltong dust Rooibos and Amarula, but in a brand new way.
Setting the context, Matt said he watches a lot of Chef’s Table
, which reminds him of his time working in fine-dining in Europe. He also likes to ‘story’ his menu and find out why things are done in a specific way and how to enhance them.
Matt says French fine-dining still dominates the European fine-dining scene – almost everyone is doing it. But there’s also a rising tide of avant-garde chefs saying, “You know what? Screw French fine-dining. Everyone wants to pay for the special occasion of eating French food, but this is Germany, or Spain, or Italy, so let’s go back to our own roots.”
One by one they did so, modernising the 300-year-old recipes that have been passed down through the generations and presenting them in a delicious new way.
That’s exactly what Homespun is doing, as a pioneer of contemporary South African fine-dining. Salut!
Following a fantastic adventurous night of culinary delights bursting with spectacle and flavour, we all dubbed this our favourite Homespun visit yet, despite having visited to celebrate numerous special occasions over the years.
The downside? This is no last-minute decision or quick night out - prepare by booking as far ahead as you can, and set aside the whole night for the meal. Even with swift service and ordering everything within the first ten minutes of being seated, we spent almost three hours fully experiencing the Heritage menu.
Also, we found that the wines from the three-course pairing equate to two-and-a-half glasses per person, meaning you'll be over the limit so ensure you have a teetotaller in your party, or end off with an Uber.
Only a handful of the celebratory meals you've had in your lifetime will truly stand out. A main course here, a dessert there. But when you have a full three courses of pure taste magic, you know you're at Blouberg's newest culinary gem, Homespun...
Leigh Andrews 5 Sep 2016
That said, we walked away thoroughly delighted, once again charmed by Matt’s storytelling, the team's skill behind-the-scenes and the overall magical meal experience they spun around us. Thank you, Homespun! *Leigh Andrews was a guest of Homespun. Note that Homespun is only open for dinner – daily from Monday to Saturday, from 6pm to 11pm, and the four-course Heritage menu is available Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout October 2019 at R295 per person. The wine pairing is an additional R175 per person. Booking is highly recommended. Click here to view their menus and sign up to their mailing list, and keep an eye on their Facebook page for their regular food and wine pairing evenings. Reservations are confirmed once you receive a confirmation SMS – click here or call 021 556 2824 to submit a reservation request. Note that they always have something fun in the pipeline and the tasting menu, offering smaller portions so you can sample more of them, and classic a ’la carte menus, which offer more contemporary international fusion, are still on offer each night, so you’re really spoilt for choice!