Delaire Graff Estate is any art, food and wine lovers dream location. Upon arriving at the estate the beauty of the landscaped driveway grasps your attention, but it is not until you reach the main building that you notice the many large sculptures. The sculptures along with the breathtaking view immediately fill you with a sense of tranquillity.
When walking towards the main reception area, you have an amazing view of the main building with all the natural design features they incorporated into the design from the stone cladding on the walls, wooden roof features to the stone flooring as you enter the building. All of these elements just emphasised the presence of nature and made you feel part of the surrounding landscape.
Upon walking inside the reception area, you are welcomed by a very large portrait of a Cape Malay woman by talented South African Artist, Lionel Smit above the reception desk along with Vladimir Tretchikoff’s “Chinese Girl”. This Chinese girl is also often referred to as the Mona Lisa of kitsch and was the most popular art print of the twentieth century. She is only on display from 10 am to 5 pm so make sure you do not miss her as she is truly a sight for sore eyes.
The main reason for our visit to this estate was the restaurant, and especially its dessert course the “Mushroom Terrarium”. After seeing a photo of this masterpiece on one of their social media posts, I knew where our next culinary feast would be.
The entire experience at the restaurant was amazing. Upon entering the restaurant, you are greeted by the lovely host, and while being accompanied to our table, the art experience continues with artwork by William Kentridge, Frank Benson, Sydney Kumalo and Stephane Graff to name only a few.
After we had been settled in at our table, we were greeted by our waiter and were served the amazing “bread basket”. I thought to myself that if this is a taste of what head chef Michael Deg had to offer, then boy were we in for a treat. After showing the waiter the photo of the mushroom terrarium, we were informed that this item was available as part of their tasting menu experience. He did not even have to twist my arm, the tasting menu it was.
It was time for our first course of this eight-course tasting menu. The canape “Soft Shell Crab With Dill Aioli” The aioli had a perfect balance and worked very well with the crab. I loved the wooden boards that they used for the plating of bread as well as the canape. The restaurant also offers a wine pairing with the tasting menu, which was really tempting but after just finishing the estate’s wine tasting before dinner we decided to rather focus on the food.
The second course was an “Amuse Bouche” and consisted of a piece of gemsbok rolled in biltong spices and sesame seeds, a gentleman’s relish and pickled onion. Chef Michael brought out the dishes himself and explained a bit about it. He had my husband at….. BILTONG. The meat was extremely tender and moist, especially considering that venison can be cooked perfectly and still feel dry.
The third course – “Freshwater Crayfish, Asparagus, Kale, Jalapeno And Coriander” The asparagus foam was very smooth, and the taste of asparagus in the foam is not as intense as I would have expected. The kale on the plate brought that extra little bit of crisp that for me just tied the entire dish together.
The fourth course – “Line Fish Squid Ceviche, Oyster Mushroom, Bok Choy, Spiced Lemon Dressing” The ceviche was cured perfectly with the flavours being light and fresh. The citrus flavour was balanced beautifully heroing the fish. I really loved the lemon sauce; it was like little lemon drops from heaven that added that little extra burst of citrus flavour.
The fifth course – “Beef Tail And Tongue” When it comes to beef I prefer to stay away from both the tail and the tongue. Something that I would not order, but like the previous courses it was just amazing. Who knew that oxtail and tongue could taste like this? The meat was so soft and the different flavours the chef-infused within the beef was just mind blowing. It just melted in your mouth. WOW. That is all that I could say about this dish. It was hands down my favourite of the savoury dishes for the evening.
Pallet cleanser – “Lemon And Jalapeno Sorbet With Gin Jelly” The combination of the lemon and the jalapeno was just brilliant I would never have thought to combine the two, and with the almost bitter touch of the gin jelly, it made for a great pallet cleanser.
The sixth course – “Karoo Lamb Neck, Garden Peas, Mebos And Black Olive Jus” Again meat was so soft and tender. You could pull it apart with a butter knife.
The seventh course – Pre Dessert “Mushroom Terrarium” It finally arrived. When you look at the dessert, it looks like something out of a fairytale. It consisted of so many elements. Chef Michael explained each element in detail. At the bottom of the glass was the yoghurt pannacotta, followed by chocolate soil, chocolate twigs, apples compressed with elderflowers, Shimiji mushrooms, honeycomb stones dipped in white chocolate and a honey meringue mushroom. Every single element of this dish was done to an absolute perfection, and the taste was really something spectacular. This dessert was so intriguing that it could have been the pressure test in a master chef final.
The eighth course – “Naartjie Parsnip, Chocolate Air, Oatmeal And Macadamia” I really loved the plating of this dish. The combination of the naartjie and parsnip was just brilliant and complimented each other so well. The different textures just tied the dish together. It was a beautiful finish to this tasting menu.
As the coffee and petit fours came out, I was not sure if there was any space left in my stomach. Every single item on this tasting menu was amazing. This was by far one of the best meals I have had. Every single course complimented the next, and each course was presented beautifully. It is no wonder that the restaurant is amongst South Africa’s top 20 restaurants. I would highly recommend the restaurant to anyone any day. Chef Michael, you get the DBM splash of approval.