You know it's going to be a fabulous evening when you look down the menu, realise that there are six courses, six different wines (and some bubbly on hand) and realise that you need to make plans for alternative transport home.
That was how our evening at Harvey's at Winchester Mansions kicked off where we were to experience the new winter meny – and boy, it did not disappoint in the "fabulous" stakes.
We kicked off the evening with a glass (okay, two) of bubbly in the Harvey's bar, which was a wonderfully warm respite from the cold outside. Comfortable couches, friendly staff and an exuberant host – the restaurant's managing director Nils Hecksher – made the Harvey's Bar quickly feel like home, and we lingered over a few glasses before moving to the restaurant for dinner.
The restaurant, like the bar, is simply designed, with soft lighting and ample space. From its exterior on Sea Point's famous Promenade, Harvey's is unassuming – charming and pristinely white, with an exquisite view of the ocean for sundowners on the balcony. Inside, gleaming marble floors and opulent furnishings contribute to a sense of grandeur without seeming overbearing. The staff, upon our arrival, were courteous and efficient – offering to take coats and jackets and keep them aside.
With a chef's table prepared by Jochen Riedel – who, according to the invitation "has cooked for Russian presidents and European celebrities" – the evening promised high standards, and we were wowed by each course.
The menu consisted of star anise marinated salmon, spicy lentil curry, mushroom flavoured kingklip, ostrich neck chartreuse, nut crusted springbok loin and a trio of African-inspired desserts – each expertly paired with wine.
Easily my two most favourite dishes were the kingklip – set on sautéed leeks with truffle flavoured potato velouté – and the springbok, which was presented on butternut potato rösti with broccoli and an orange jus.
It was the kingklip, paired with an amazing pinot noir from Kleine Zalze, that won my tastebuds' enthusiastic approval as it was delicately spiced and perfectly cooked, accompanied by an exquisite potato velouté. I could have happily indulged in this as my main meal for the evening.
The nut-crusted springbok, which was paired with a Delaire Shiraz, was tenderly cooked and again, beautifully flavoured – rich, sumptuous and wonderfully accompanied by the wine. If you're looking to indulge just that bit more, the Springbok is a superb choice.
A table favourite was the ostrich neck chartreuse – which was delicious but far too rich for my taste – and easily the winner in the wine stakes was the delectable Warwick Pinotage.
And, of course, what's a sumptuous dinner without dessert? We were provided three mini-desserts: Amarula & mango delice, malva pudding and Cape Velvet crème caramel (my personal favourite), paired with a very sweet Asara Spirit of Chenin dessert wine.
A scan down their menu revealed mains courses ranging from between R100 to R185 – not unreasonable for a decent meal out.
With a great atmosphere and a great setting, Harvey's at the Winchester Mansions is a wonderful venue that offers a gorgeous view of the promenade and wild waters beyond whilst indulging in top quality cuisine.
Visit the Winchester Mansions website to learn more or call them at 021 434 2351 to book a table.