The biggest food news this week was that Knysna’s illustrious Pezula Hotel and Spa had launched Café Z (pronounced “zeeee”). Their famous Zachary’s Restaurant will now open on Fridays and Saturdays only but the same, wonderful cooking team will provide a more economical menu the whole week via Café Z on the lower level, near the pool area and that impressive statue of the soaring bird.
So i kidnapped a mate and went to explore the gastronomy above the Eastern Head.
4pm is an odd time for a meal. Most lunch guests were finishing up whilst the dinner crowd had yet to arrive. It presented an opportunity to engage the staff. I’m a firm believer in food and conversation so was happy when they obliged. Over the course of our dining we chatted to Fiky the events manager, Greg the chef and Chantal, the trainee chef. We got to hear about their coffee being exclusively roasted by Deluxe Coffee Works and that the majority of the vegetables on the menu were from their own farm further along the Head. Even the chickens are sourced locally. I’m an admirer of “support local” so Café Z was, early on, on the way to a thumbs up.
We chose to skip the starter, reckoning that a main meal and a dessert would be ample (it was!). I told the kitchen to surprise me, not only because i enjoy surprises but in the hope that they’d bring me a meal they were particularly proud of – they did. It was the Roast Champion Chix Farm’s Young Chicken, a treat considering it was from the dinner menu which had yet to begin. It was tasty yet subtly spiced. Oddly, my attention was drawn more to the vegetables which ranged from roasted marrows and beetroot to crushed (a consistency somewhere between boiled and mashed) potatoe seasoned with thyme and lemon butter. I can honestly say that those were my favourite veggies of the year and would gladly have ordered a whole plate if it were available.
My mate owns a restaurant (which won’t be mentioned here as this is Café Z time). He’s a baker and chef too. That means that he’s more difficult to please than me who has a fetish for most foods. He decided to challenge their concepts of sandwich by ordering a ciabatta filled with roast vegetables, cheese and wild rocket. As you can see from the photo above, it’s a big presentation. Like me, he found the veggies to be impressive. His one criticism was that it needed more smoked mozzarella (because it tasted so good). I stole a piece – yummy.
He ordered his dessert whilst i left the staff to surprise me again. We took a break on the patio with wine and beer. However, in less than 10 minutes a waiter gave us the nudge-nudge, wink-wink that they were ready. My companion’s was a buttermilk, panna cotta with pineapples and ginger sauce (my memory stands to be corrected) . I took a mouthful but it wasn’t to my liking because my sensitive tongue warps with citrus (i can’t be an honest, pineapple critic). Nevertheless, he said it was fine. And i loved my cheesecake! I’ve never tasted a texture like that – initially dry but then suddenly creamy and satisfying. I always enjoy strawberries and the sorbet scoop was excellent. The highlight was the roasted and sweetened macadamia nuts – absolutely delicious (i want more). Additional kudos to the zesty decoration.
With drinks, the bill was approximately R300 for 2.