Black Bamboo: An Encounter with Magnificence

Social Savage (he said):

Black Bamboo has for some time now been on our restaurant bucket list. We had a brief introduction during the Constantia wine evening (A Week of Wine Part 1: Constantia Wine Route Tasting at Black Bamboo), and were very impressed by what we saw, particularly the sculptures all around. So to our surprise, we were invited for an evening of magnificent food, shitloads of wine, and a nice bed to sleep it all off in. How could we refuse?

The whole day was filled with surprises. The first one came early – they booked us into the Presidential Suite. Which is, as you can see, pretty fucking presidential (which president is up to you). Basically, the room is as big as our entire townhouse. It even has a bigger Nespresso machine!

I have mentioned the sculptures, and this time around we could get a much more comprehensive look. Walking around the complex, you’ll find these everywhere; right out there in the open, and hidden away in all sorts of nooks and crannies. FYI, all these sculptures are for sale. We roamed around for about half an hour, and then we decided it’s time for a drink on the comfy couches outside the dining room.

Then it was time for dinner. Walking in, the wine rack welcomes you to what is in store – rarities and works of art. We were treated to their seven course tasting menu, with each course being paired with a wine that best brings out its characteristics. I’m not going to deprive you of the experience by going into too much detail. Just know this: the food is absolutely incredible. As in Michelin Star type incredible. The Sommelier paired each dish with such expertise, that no wine ever overpowered the food. Everything was always in perfect balance. My surprise of the meal was the AA Bardenhorst Papegaai – a Chenin Blanc-based blend. I’m not the biggest fan of Chenin, but this one legit blew me away.

After a lekker chat with Chef Pellie, it was time to call it a night.  With our bellies full of incredible food, heads numb from incredible wine, and hearts content we drifted off to sleep (read:  passed out) in a magnificent bed.

Black Bamboo is not exactly a budget-friendly restaurant. But save up and go do the tasting menu with the wine pairing. You will leave there with a new-found appreciation for Chef Pellie’s art. Because what he does is without a doubt art. And to see his art interacting with all the wines is equally worth it. Round it off with a stay at the Menlyn Boutique Hotel, and you have all the ingredients for a spectacular weekend.

Accommodation and all meals were graciously sponsored by Menlyn Boutique Hotel and Black Bamboo.

BoozyFoodie (she said): 

I can honestly say that this was one of the most impressive and purely luxurious experience.  It was an absolute thrill to be invited to experience this venue to the full extent, so we immediately organised babysitters for our pugs before anyone could say ‘what the….’

And everything was just perfect right from the start – Menlyn Boutique Hotel and Black Bamboo is in my humble opinion the ultimate innercity escape in Pretoria.  The room we stayed in had all the luxuries that you would expect from a boutique hotel – and will be the perfect stayover for the discerning business traveller as well.  Nespresso machine with a good variety of pods, and other drinks as well.  My pet hate is getting two sachets of coffee and sugar per day, and then having to ask the reception desk for more. The mini-bar is well-stocked with snacks as well – but I contained myself, we had a feast to look forward to! It is so relaxing to stroll around on the grounds of the hotel, can sip cocktails at the crystal blue pool, or go for a relaxing massage at the spa.  Told you, the ideal staycation – and more!

I’ve been fascinated by this venue for quite a while now – two things immediately grabbed my attention.  The dramatic and bold works of art by renowned local artist Anton Smit and Chef Pellie Grobler’s gorgeous looking dishes.  And as we found out, it isn’t only striking and stunning on photos, but also in real life.

This is such a stylish venue, and the service is utterly professional and courteous.  So yes, as expected.  But there’s something else in the mix as well – passion and pride.  And that is so obvious from every dish served.  Chef Pellie strives to change the menu up every 3 weeks or so, which is no mean feat. So that also means that you will always be treated to fresh and innovative flavours and be surprised by new seasonal creations every time.  I take my hat off!

But let me run you through a few highlights of the dinner and wine pairing.  At first I thought that I may not go into too much detail, because I want you all to take the time to experience these delicious dishes yourself – but let me at least give you a taste!  Pardon the pun.

The food and wine pairings were on par – and beyond.  What I really enjoyed is the fact that a lot of smaller, boutique wineries were featured – some known as ‘to look out for’ and some I must admit, I had to Google first.  And that is exactly how it should be – to learn and experience, and to be exposed to new and hidden talents.

The pea veloute with grilled asparagus, burnt onion dust and crispy quail egg was one of the most beautiful dishes I’ve had in a very long time.  A true feast of the senses – colour, texture, taste – perfection.  This paired so well with the AA Badenhorst Papegaai blend Noble Savage raved about.

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On that note – I must just mention, most of the dishes served were simply almost too beautiful to eat.  Almost.  I just sighed, took a photo, stared a bit, and dug in!

Our sommelier also greatly contributed to our enjoyment of the evening.  He was extremely knowledgeable (but not in the patronising wine snob way), and shared a lot of interesting titbits about the wine and the winemakers.  What we also thoroughly enjoyed, was that the wine servings were quite generous. No tasting glass portions in sight, which was great. Especially if you want the full winepairing experience.

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I am very thankful that I don’t have the choose a ‘favourite dish’ of the evening!  Because honestly, it will be impossible.  Next up was this gustatory Ricotta Gnudi. Ricotta dumpling with pickled fennel, parmesan shavings and fennel oil.  Two words people – freaking (f……g) astounding!  Once again, perfectly complimented by a Highlands Road Sauvignon Blanc.

And yes, I do suspect that I may run out of descriptive nouns soon.  Especially looking at this:

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Let it roll of your tongue while you read it out loud:  “Blackened Cod on the Grill with Beetroot Mousse, Apple Balls, Goats Cheese Quenelle and Smoked Blackberries”.  Heavenly!  Another perfect combination of colour, taste, texture. Dreamy indeed.

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And yes, more to come!  This is the slowcooked Lamb Belly with smoked chakalaka.  Such an innovative and interesting twist on a tradition South African favourite! Succulent and bursting with flavour.

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And the magic just kept coming out of the kitchen!  Behold…. Roasted Springbok Loin wiht carrot puree, crispy carrot tops, and oh man….  just pure perfection.  I know I sound like a stuck record, but it is what it is.

Decadent desserts to follow – two of them!

This beaauuuutiful creation is the Raspberry and Tarragon Roulade with raspberry cookie dough mousse, fresh raspberries, raspberry crisp and raspberry sorbet. The combination of slightly tart raspberries and tarragon was just mindboggling.  Enjoy this while sipping on Radford Dale Thirst Gamay and again – bliss.

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And the spectacular Baked Alaska with burnt honey custard, cranberry puree and cranberry vodka sauce.  Served with the delicious Paul Cluver Gewurztraminer. Luscious.

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By this time, as you can imagine, we were on a food-and-wine high!  How much awesomeness can you squeeze into one evening?  All of it, it tell you!

A phenominal experience!

And, it is still not the end of our heavenly gastronomic tour de force didn’t end there.  The next morning we woke up to a feast o’ breakfast. With the most perfect Eggs Benedict – and an impressive spread of pastries, fresh fruit, cheese, spreads….

The perfect ending to the perfect staycation.

Chef Pellie, this was truely a world-class experience!  My only regret was that we didn’t spend more time chatting to you – but yes, during peak service time on a Saturday night isn’t the best time to make chitchat! And I hope I managed to get all the dishes right 😉 LOL! And yes, I agree with your motto – changing Pretoria, one meal at a time!  And you, Sir, is doing it in style.

PS:  I am thrilled to see that Black Bamboo will be taking part in Restaurant Week’s Autumn edition!  The ideal opportunity to experience this incredible restaurant!  But you honestly don’t have to wait for that long!  The menu is on the website http://www.theblackbamboo.co.za/  You will find something on the menu for every taste, and I actually think the meals are very well priced.  We WILL be back!

Accommodation and all meals were graciously sponsored by Menlyn Boutique Hotel and Black Bamboo.

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