Ho­tel cui­sine scales new heights

There are so many great dishes to chose from, we had to ask our waiter to come back twice

African Independent - - BUSINESS -

AN email dropped in my in­box re­cently and I couldn’t help but gig­gle at the sig­na­ture. We live in a world where noth­ing is static, so when PR ac­count man­ager turns into “con­ver­sa­tion ar­chi­tect”, you can’t help but smile at rein­ven­tion. Some­times it works and some­times it doesn’t.

While con­cep­tu­alised and man­i­cured food is just get­ting started, the food engi­neers, AKA chefs, are rein­vent­ing the cau­li­flower and throw­ing cab­bage to the wind. Don’t be too star­tled when you sit down at a restau­rant in a ho­tel and get an unimag­in­able five star food ex­pe­ri­ence, a far cry from ho­tel cui­sine a decade ago.

Tow­ers Restau­rant at the Cape Town Mar­riott Ho­tel Crys­tal Tow­ers in Cen­tury City has iden­ti­fied their pa­trons as food con­nois­seurs and is cater­ing for their dis­cern­ing palates.

The cui­sine they are serv­ing is a hop and a skip away from fine din­ing, you get all the frills with none of the costs. In the foyer of the Crys­tal Tow­ers you are wel­comed with warm hel­los, and an in­tense sense of style. High vol­ume ceil­ings with cur­tains drop­ping from above con­ceal loung­ing ar­eas where guests can stall com­fort­ably be­fore they check in or after they have over-eaten. You are not sure what to ex­pect when you are seated at Tow­ers. The menu is a sur­prise, noth­ing at all like you would ex­pect from a res­i­dent ho­tel restau­rant.

There are so many in­ter­est­ing dishes to chose from, we had to ask our ac­com­mo­dat­ing waiter to come back twice. Beef tartare, tuna Ti­taki or prawn risotto, choices, choices.

I set­tled for the Car­damom orange cured sal­mon – great choice. Aes­thet­i­cally it is a mas­ter­piece.

Taste­wise it was a multi-lay­ered af­fair of un­usual flavours paired to cre­ate a beau­ti­fully com­posed dish. Rich av­o­cado, pops of wasabi may­on­naise, peanuts, pick­led cu­cum­ber and a roe vinai­grette with slices of del­i­cately flavoured sal­mon – a food en­gi­neer in­deed. It makes sense that head chef Hen­rico Grobbe­laar stud­ied to be an en­gi­neer be­fore be­com­ing a chef. He has mashed up his pas­sion for food and his pre­ci­sion, to cre­ate un­worldly com­bi­na­tions.

For my main course I opted for the lamb loin – served with smoked chick­peas, but­ter­nut gre­mo­lata, rain­bow car­rots, and a tahini emul­sion – an­other out­stand­ing dish.

There was noth­ing to fault in ei­ther of th­ese dishes. As you drag your fork through your plate, each bite is more in­tense in flavour than the last.

You can’t help but be amazed by the thought process be­hind th­ese well com­posed haute cui­sine.

Other main cour­ses on the menu in­cluded fish of the day, red miso pork belly, game loin and a list of grills.

I didn’t need too much en­cour­age­ment for dessert. I knew the sweet course would show up and show off. And it did. A snowy co­conut ice cream, in­tense white choco­late granita and caramel with panna cotta on a crum­ble proved to be sooth­ing end to my meal.

The panna cotta could have been a lit­tle lighter in tex­ture though. Beau­ti­fully plated once again, and the ex­e­cu­tion was per­fect.

The menu ac­counts for vary­ing tastes, from pasta to game, and sea­son­ally fresh in­gre­di­ents raise the bar too.

The prices are on par for the qual­ity of food you are served but you are def­i­nitely get­ting more than you bar­gained for on the cre­ativ­ity front.

Grobbe­laar lives by the quote: “Pas­sion is what gives mean­ing to our lives. It’s what al­lows us to achieve suc­cess be­yond our wildest imag­i­na­tion.”

As a trav­eller, I love the fact you can check in to your room, walk down to the restau­rant in your ho­tel and be served a meal of this stature.

If I had just landed in Cape Town and that was my starter meal, it would set the bar in­cred­i­bly high for the rest of my stay.

I would go as far as to call the chef a food engineering ar­chi­tect.

FOOD EN­GI­NEER: Ex­ec­u­tive chef Hen­rico Grobbe­laar

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