Saturday, November 28, 2009

Cape Town Dining - Jardine

After Foodbarn our expectations were quite high for Jardine, one of the highest rated restaurants in Cape Town and even the country as a whole. Alas, our taxi ride there was ill-fated. Our driver claimed to know where it was, so we didn’t pop back into our hotel for the address. After some aimless driving around he admitted he had no idea where he was going, and apparently no one on the other end of his ever-crackling radio had access to Google. After 20 minutes of driving up and down the road it was supposed to be on, and even a failed attempt to stop and ask another hotel (FYI, dodgy tourist hotels apparently don’t know where restaurants on their own streets are located), we finally found it.

Hallelujah! We entered only to find that we were in fact the only ones there. Weird given our reservation was for 7 and we were late, right? They made us wait for our table even though there was quite literally not another diner upstairs, but we didn’t know that yet, so we just unwound over a glass of champagne. Upon being seated, we began to question why no one else was there. For sure the stretch of road it’s on is un-scenic and appears to be across from an adult video store, but Jardine has received such accolades that I assumed more people would be there.Fortunately within half an hour of being seated other diners trickled in, and by the time we left, it was reasonably full. It’s never fun to eat alone!

Prices were notably higher than we had found at Foodbarn, so I opted for the 2-course a la carte, and Mr. At chose the 3 course, and we split his dessert. Everything at Jardine was of course very tasty, it is indeed very elegant with gracious service, but it didn’t quite live up to the standard Foodbarn had set just the night before. For the higher prices, things weren’t quite as delicious!

The west coast black mussels in my appetizer were wonderfully succulent (aren’t anemic little mussels the worst?!), but the coconut milk, ginger and lemongrass broth was so lightly flavored that it didn’t have much impact.

My first of many lamb dishes on the trip came with 3 different petite cuts, vine ripened cherry tomatoes, and vegetable fricassee. The meat was tender and well-prepared, but compared to other lamb dishes had in South Africa, this one didn’t stand out for me. It was lovely to look at though!


The highlight for both of us was the fantastic presentation of the vanilla soufflĂ© flambĂ©, alight with Grand Marnier and cooled by a dollop of vanilla ice cream. I’d never had vanilla souffle before, and I must say it’s not as compelling as chocolate (what is really?), but still it was entertaining and subtle end to the meal.


All in all, Jardine just doesn’t have the cost to deliciousness ratio that Foodbarn has, but the preparations and service were still top notch. it’s so tough in a country with so much great food to compare – elsewhere this meal might have wowed me, but we ate amazing meals nearly every night of our trip, so it was pretty stiff competition!
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