If you thought Durbanville was that urban sprawl next to the N1 as you leave town, do think again. Here, a short ride from the city, you are in the gorgeous countryside which is the Durbanville Wine Route. One of my favourite places to go has long been Cassia Restaurant at Bernhard Veller’s Nitida estate. On the edge of the valley looking down to the distant Paarl Mountains, a ring of antique cannons perched on the edge of a small dam guards the approach to the farm. The new chef there, talented Danielle Adams, is cooking delicious food in generous portions for an eager audience. The Sunday we went there the place was packed. We sat inside but you can also sit outside should you want to do that. Ah, tranquillity.
We started with three starters—cheeky! I just couldn’t decide –they all sounded so good. The lemon pepper seared tuna dressed with a pineapple salsa and balsamic mayo, served with a tortilla crisp and grilled lime was just the thing to get those taste buds jumping up and down with joy—fabulous. The mushroom risotto topped with sliced roast duck breast was creamy and delicious, but the Springbok carpaccio was sublimely unbeatable, taking the whole idea of carpaccio to new levels, soft, silky, deliciously irresistible–ok I gush. The Cajun spice it was cured in was just the right touch, the arugula mousse, Spanish salsa, oven dried tomatoes—nice and crunchy –and the grated parmesan, all did their best to make this dish memorable
Mains were roast Supreme of free range chicken served on spiced rice and topped with toasted almond salsa which was delicious but which could have done with some kind of jus.
The roast beef with Yorkshire puds risen so high—how do they do that?—was one of the best I have ever eaten. The beef was served rare, packed with delicious flavour, tender in the extreme, topped with a rich red wine reduction which had all those flavours you always long for but rarely get. The Yorkies could be cut with a spoon allowing all that gravy to get to the good parts-yum. Roast potatoes and spring veggies done in the oven completed the satisfying picture.
Danielle makes a delicious—I believe –crème brulee done 3 ways but that was not on offer on Sunday—all the more reason to visit during the week, so I had the trio of vanilla panna cotta in the cutest little bottle, a wedge of chocolate torte, and a deconstructed milk tart also in a tiny bottle, all served with a Nitida Tinkery shot—Late Harvest delight—what a treat!
The Nitida wines are available of course—we had a bottle of their Semillon—perfect—but there are others from the area. The service is impeccable and friendly. Do get there and see for yourself what the fuss is all about.
CASSIA RESTAURANT AT NITIDA PHONE 021 976 0640 BOOKINGS ON WEEKENDS ESSENTIAL