Millhouse Kitchen & Compass Box Whisky
It was a dark and stormy night. Seriously. I had to travel 100 kilometres to Somerset West and back. Now if you know the travel plans of Capetonians in the rain, you’ll know we don’t have any desire to leave our homes. We hibernate. We “cocoon”, as the New Yorkers say.
I had a professional obligation – guest judging at The Compass Box Art of Blending evening, this time at The Millhouse Kitchen on the Lourensford Wine Estate. I’ve written about the Compass Box evenings before, here….
First, the estate. Lourensford has a bit of a history. It was founded way back at the start of the 18th century. From its basic roots in winemaking it has morphed into a destination for locals and tourists, boasting an exceptional wine experience for visitors to its cellars. The restaurant on the property is one that that I’m happy plan a day around….you know, one of those long, lazy days….
The Millhouse Kitchen at Lourensford has Bjorn Guido as its chef patron. He is young. Very young, 25 or something. I confess that I was a bit skeptical when I discovered that. But he is damn good. He has created a venue perfect for anything from breakfast, a business dinner, to long Sunday lunches with the family, where the kids can run around in safety, (and enjoy meals from the special kiddy menu), where the adults can enjoy superb classic meals or a simple, perfectly made pizza. And of course there are the wines, a superb selection at very decent prices. Bjorn’s aim is to source all his ingredients from the immediate surroundings and has struck up relationships with suppliers on who he can rely. And it shows. Good food, served with love. Skills learned from Peter Templehoff at Cellars-Hohenhort & Ronnie Bonetti of the River Café in London. He then came back home to Holden Manz, in the Franschhoek Valley.
The Millhouse Kitchen has a warm, welcoming feel, something that can be lacking from a city restaurant. Perhaps there is something about a restaurant on a wine farm that just makes it just a bit more…homely. The style – perhaps rustic Italian is the best way to describe it.
Dinner was a herbed flatbread. Proper. Thin. Crispy. Steak. Chocolate Torte. Food for the soul. I’m not going to go into detail about the food. Download the menu. Go there. Try it out. You will be very happy. Then the whiskies. I love watching different groups of people experimenting with blending. Pipettes, small bottles of cask strength spirits from Islay to Speyside and eventually, the competitors presented their creations to judges Leon Adams, the head sommelier, ultimate bubbly blonde Charlotte from Liquidity and to me. The names are as varied as the styles of whisky, from Ode to Burns to Ambuste to Sea Breeze and ten others inbetween. A great night, lots of fun and definitely worthwhile braving the storm.
Tel: 021905 9066