Belthazar Restaurant and Wine Bar, V&A Waterfront.
Going for a bit meat at Belthazar, the punter can get more than bargained for. If you dine in the al fresco area that is, where a smorgasbord of passing female flesh can be observed between the sirloin and fillet.
Belthazar is, perhaps, better-known for its wine-list which is longer than the number of South African rugby players now plying their trade in France. And it is indeed a vinous version of Kubla Khan’s seductive pleasure dome, although we were going for the meat.
My guest was an Afrikaans writer who has just published his first novel. We were on a mission to celebrate this auspicious occasion, as well as the writer’s recent fortieth birthday. Nothing special: just a bit of booze, bloody meat and babe-watching, whilst keeping tabs on the quality of the food and service.
I kicked off by ordering a bottle of Pol Roger NV. This is just the kind of champagne to enjoy as a palate-cleanser: the fruit being bright and brisk enough to kick the taste-buds and gastric juices into action. Vintage champagne is a meal on its own, the greater palate white and more intense mousse seducing all senses so as to make all following nourishment obsolete. (Okay, and,the vintage stuff,is a lot more expensive.)
For starters my writing buddy chose escargot. These were fat and sans shell, served with generous lashings of golden garlic butter one could probably smell all the way to Robben Island.
“Fuck, this is good,” was the answer I got when requesting an opinion on the experience the sustenance was providing to our 40-year old author.
I had paper-thin slices of prosciutto with a deliciously refreshing summer melon. The prosciutto perfect: nutty, sweet, savoury. I could have had half a pig by itself.
Jonathan Steyn, Belthazar co-owner, waltzed along at this stage to inquire about our main courses so as to select an appropriate wine. By this time I had convinced the author, who has a voracious appetite for and keen knowledge of beef, that the rib-eye steak was superb. Aged for eight weeks and emanating from the beast’s less-used neck region, the steaks cook in their own fat once they hit the grill.
Jonathan mosied off and returned with Sequillo Pinot Noir 2006, Eben Sadie’s venture into Burgundy., This was new to me, but not the knowledge that the wine should be kept cool as it was a scorching summer day. It was thus decanted, with the decanter placed on a bed of ice, keeping it as the perfect temperature of slightly below 16?+¦?????+¦???-¬C for the duration of the meal.
The meat came along and the plate had that simple, no-nonsense appearance steak-eating requires. A chunk of beef. Fries. A knife that looked as it has been swiped from a Rambo set.
I had ordered a Madagascar pepper sauce, and the author one of blue-cheese.
Upon biting into our steaks, we realised the sauce was unnecessary. The meat was perfectly cooked to medium rare. It had the sensuous fatty quality of well-hung beef, with the flavours pronounced and bordering on the gamey.
Sauce had not been necessary: this steak is the kind you can have bareback.
The Sequillo Pinot Noir did not disappoint. Layered in pure Burgundian forest-floor and dried truffle, it has a savoury juiciness reflecting the sunshine of the South.
Belthazar is made for lingering, so things did not end with the main-course. The author got his chops around a brownie, while I selected a sticky toffee. Both were served with rich vanilla ice-cream. These were followed by espressos and enough grappas to concuss a buffalo, but we were just getting started.
Red-blooded men know when to stop, and it wasn’t just then. Yet.
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,E. Louw Joubert
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