Idiom delights

Idiom exececutive chef Irwin de Vries puts the finishing touches to his Panko crusted Mozambican prawn starter, served with crushed wasabi avocado, aioli and a coriander and pine kernel pesto.

Perched high on top of the hill above Sir Lowry’s Pass Village, at the end of a long and winding road, you will find Idiom – the home of De Capo Vineyards, owned by the Bottega family.

It now boasts a winery, conference facility, pizzeria, wine tasting area and a fine dining restaurant, and it is the latter I had the pleasure of visiting as a guest of patriarch Alberto Bottega recently.

Whenever I read about “breathtaking views”, I am inclined to reach for the requisite pinch of salt, but in this instance, no explanation can do justice to the majesty of the shifting panoply of views which graces Idiom, from the majesty of False Bay, Cape Point in the far distance to the south, to the kaleidoscope of cloudscapes which graces the Hottentots Holland mountains to the north, on a cloud-moody day.

The architecture of the newly-erected building is classical in style, with its Roman arched, stone-clad exterior. Inside, it is svelte modern in both the wine tasting area, and the purpose-designed kitchen, where executive chef Irwin de Vries marshals his team to produce the culinary delights which I enjoyed.

The fare is billed as fine dining, and in the context of flavour complexity and presentation it most certainly is, but uncharacteristically generous of portion.

By that I do not mean typical gargantuan South African portions. Rather, it is a case of a three-course meal leaving you with a sense of having eaten well, but not too much – an elegant sufficiency.

The menu is also a joy to behold. Explore Idiom offers a series of well-priced light meals at between R125 to R150 – an antipasto platter for two, two salads for two, and a sumptuous pork and beef burger.

The Idiom Food and Wine Experience offers four starters and three each mains and desserts, from which you can choose two courses at R290, three at R390 and four at R490, each course paired with a generous glass of one of Idiom’s fine wines.

Literally a steal at the price, this is a departure from the typical fine dining establishment which is inclined to charge eye watering prices, for what a food writer friend calls “skid marks on a plate”.

A clever “Kidiom Menu” offers a pasta, beef or chicken main, and an ice cream dessert, all priced at R75 or less.

I started with the pea, mint and asparagus spear risotto, perfectly paired with the 2012 Idiom Collection Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, a white blend in the classic Bordeaux style.

It was divine, the risotto exquisitely prepared with the classic “bite” texture to the rice, luxuriantly creamy, with bright and distinct flavours of pea, mint and asparagus, finished with crunchy Parmesan crisps.

The flamed beef fillet with smoked exotic mushrooms, potato fondants, steamed seasonal greens and a cabernet sauvignon reduction followed, again perfectly paired with the 2010 Idiom Collection B-Blend – cabernet sauvignon, merlot, petit verdot.

I finished off with the Rooibos tea infused pannacotta served with Cape snowbush infused compote set on an almond Genoise sponge, paired with the Idiom Imperial White Gold, a voluptuous natural sweet viognier.

It’s worth noting that all the dishes I ordered off the menu were completely gluten-free, without me having to ask for special treatment, a welcome relief from the usual routine of having to explain exactly what I can and cannot eat.

My dining companions’ meals – which included the panko prawn, and and the porcini mushroom and goats cheese ravioli starters, the rack of Karoo lamb main, and the amoretto coffee tiramisu dessert – were all equally exceptional, and perfectly paired with appropriate Idiom wines.

All in all, an exceptional, value for money dining experience in a beautifully appointed and furnished venue with soul-feeding views that is well worth the drive.

Bookings are essential. Call 021 858 1088, or go to www.idiom.co.za, to make your reservation. The dining facility is open Wednesday to Sunday during the day.