Eike Restaurant, A Personal Experience – celebrating our Heritage!
“A success of a chef is the sum of a lot of small things done correctly”
At Eike Restaurant in Dorp Street, Bertus Basson delves deep into his childhood memories with experimental set menus that celebrate local ingredients and culture.
It is a lovely winter’s afternoon when we arrive at the restaurant, a long room with dark wood beams and all the characteristics of a traditional Stellenbosch house. Soft local tunes play in the background. The light falls on soft green simple art-deco style vases filled with Spekboom branches.
On one end is a beautifully coloured hand-made tile wall. A traditional cabinet is positioned in the centre and on the other end is the open kitchen with a row of “ringside” seats.
Smooth white simple frames with tiny images in each frame, tell the story of what we hold dear of our heritage. The Protea, our national flower and a Koeksister from Dutch origin, made by deep-frying dough and then dipping it in an ice-cold sugar syrup. The Springbok tells the story of our country’s national animal and also the name of our national rugby team. The tiny image of the Castle of Good Hope, the bastion fort built in the 17th century in Cape Town, is the last image to complete this special remembrance wall.
At Eike Restaurant Bertus managed to create the right ambiance to allow his customers to be comfortable and immerse themselves in a complete and memorable dining experience.
“A recipe has no soul, you as a cook must bring soul to the recipe” – Thomas Keller –
Eike truly interacts with our indigenous cuisine. The menu starts with snacks. A traditional bite size smoky flavoured quiche and a snoek snack flavoured with apricot jam. But it is when the ‘Opsitkers’ arrives, that the story begins…….
This candle (waiting up candle), harks back to the historic farm era, when the farmer would light a candle when a suitor arrived to visit his daughter. The suitor would need to leave when the candle burned out, so a well-liked suitor would get a larger candle!
Soft and crusty bread rolls (mosbolletjie) with homemade makataan butter are put next to the candle. It is then that you think about the veld and sandy soils of the Kgalagadi region of the Northern cape, where you get this edible wild watermelon vine that can grow up to 10 m long. Once this butter is melted you add the nutmeg and makataan.
The first bite of the ‘mosbolletjie’ brings back nostalgic memories of how your grandmother kneaded and rolled the mosbolletjies and put them in the oven.
Next are the pickled beetroot and artichokes served on a beautiful flower plate. It is clear that the chef wants you to experience a clean fresh earthy taste with this dish.
The garlic and potato soup comes with a soft cooked egg, bokkoms and lumpfish roe.
The taste of Bokkoms take you to the West Coast region of South Africa. This well-known delicacy is a whole salted and dried mullet; also known as ‘fish biltong’. The ‘roe’ come from a small lumpfish caught in the North Atlantic Ocean and the Baltic Sea. Roe are naturally grey or coloured red or black to make it more appealing.
“Cooking is about emotion, it’s about culture, it’s about love, it’s about memory “ – Massimo Bottura-
The Main Course
It is here that Bertus brings in the flavours of his childhood into the recipe with fresh roasted hake and West Coast mussels in a smoked mussel sauce. The Cape West Coast has some of the world’s best seafood – especially mussels. Situated a mere 80 minutes drive from Cape Town, Saldanha Bay is truly breathtaking in the contrasting textures of ocean, beach and sky. It is here that one experience the most delicious mussels, cooked over the coals, the mussels take on a smokier, full-bodied flavour. All these flavours captured on the plate, complete with broad bean tips from his own Jamestown garden!
The sirloin is grilled to perfection with old fashioned pumpkin cakes. The flavours of vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg so comforting and familiar, it makes one long for your grandmother’s kitchen.
“ Candy – Dessert is childhood, the best and bright moments you wish could have lasted forever” – Dylan Lauren-
In South Africa, winter is our citrus season and therefore the dessert plate features just that: a fresh naartjie sorbet. Another family favourite on the menu is baked date pudding, pear and vanilla ice-cream. But it is the macaroons filled with milktart that is our choice for the day!
The first Dutch dairy farmers who settled in the Cape of Good Hope in the middle of the 17th century called it Mattentaart. The first recipe of this Milktart was listed in Thomas van der Noot’s book, Een notable boechen van cokeryen ( A notable Book of Cookery)
After we finished our coffee, we had to leave with a sigh and the wish that it could have lasted forever….
The last word
For Bertus cooking is not a job, it’s a passion, he understands that the one experience that brings us all together is food. And he loves every minute he spends in the kitchen, the heat, the pressure, the patience and always with a sense of humor.
Read our blog – Chefs and their Pets – At home with Bertus Basson
To book an experience at Eike Restaurant – Click here