My dining out surprise of the last couple of months came during a meal with friends in Majeka House.
I experienced wonderful cuisine at the hands of Head Chef Tanja Kruger just before she headed off to Paris for a stint with Michelin starred chef Alain Passard.
It was a surprise as Majeka House had not been on the radar for me and no one had said to me “You must eat there!” as they do with most other Winelands venues.
Up until now the vibe about Makaron Restaurant and Majeka House has been the place itself, the decor, the rooms etc. Now, they are all very nice, and Majeka House is different – albeit set amidst twee suburbia in Stellenbosch.
But the real star is Chef Tanja and her cooking.
She is a real talent and is one to watch.
She can cook, and cook creatively, and is not afraid to show it. Her menu is inventive, the pairings imaginative and most importantly, they work.
Too often chefs will revise a menu and you can almost see the thought processes; “ooh, this is trendy and on track, I’ll try a bit of that, and throw in a bit of the other with a bit of you know what”. And the results are usually dishes that don’t work, are ill conceived and taste dreadful.
Tanja Kruger is cooking food that is delicious, informal in its own way, and it’s food that people want to eat. I mean, who would have ever thought of Mushroom Bolognaise with Lime Spaghetti? Or Tarte Tatin of the Day?
An aspect of the menu I loved was the drink pairings. Yes, a great selection of local wines by the glass, but also wonderful pairings of craft beers with each dish. I had the biodynamically farmed lamb, yellow carrot puree and mint sauce caviar with a chilled bottle of Darling ‘Black Mist’ Dark Ale.
Meat, fish, poultry and game abound on the menu. How about “Study of Rabbit, succotash, prune puree, tomato dressing”. You could have had that with a De Meye Shiraz or a bottle of Birkenhead Honey Blonde Ale. Succotash, by the way, is a North American Indian dish of beans simmered with corn kernels and tomatoes.
Before I finish, I must mention Tanja’s triple cooked chips. It’s a reason enough to travel to Stellenbosch. We had to order two portions as our group demolished the first portion.
I can’t wait to visit again. She is just back from Paris and is busy concocting her summer menu, which promises new flavours and a lightness of touch.
Josephine Gutentoft is on board as the new sommelier and restaurant manager, new rooms have opened, and it looks as if Majeka House and Makaron Restaurant are well set for the new Summer season starting soon.
For accommodation and table reservations or for further information call Majeka House and Makaron Restaurant on (27) (21) 880 1549; email email@example.com; or visit www.majekahouse.co.za.