The concept of nose to tail eating is steadily gaining momentum in Cape Town with Chef Patron, Giles Edwards, leading the charge at his newly opened French Bistro, La Tête.
Inspired by his time spent working alongside renowned chef, Fergus Henderson, at St. JOHN – a London based nose-to- tail eatery; Giles and his brother, James, decided to brave the concept in the Mother City – opening their very first restaurant on trendy Bree Street.
The fare is a delight for daring meat lovers. And while each day is different – the experimental menu crafted around the availability of fresh, locally sourced produce; one can expect the daily likes of Grilled Ox Heart, Devilled Chicken Hearts, Trotters and even Crispy Pig’s Tails. That’s not to say that Giles hasn’t catered for the veggies (or those less inclined to brave the meaty wonders he’s best known for). Indeed, the plant and seafood-based dishes are equally as appealing as their carne counterparts; the crispy-fried angelfish sandwich a legendary lunch favourite with patrons.
Striking a balance between brave and a then little less so, my dining companion and I opted for the Octopus and Trotters starters respectively. The Octopus terrine was marvellously fresh and light – complimented by cucumber and mint to create a delicate and delectable dish. While I was nervously anticipating the Trotters, the presentation was nothing like the upside-down pig’s feet I’d been imagining. I fact, it was more like a baked stew, the slow-cooked meat exceptionally tender, tasty and rich.
The flavours are for the most part, classically French – clean, down to earth and uncomplicated – the ingredients unmasked by excess sauces and spices – subtle but effective. Emboldened, I ordered the Braised Pig’s Cheek for mains, my partner opting for the vegetarian Carrots, Freekeh and Goat’s Curd. While I was expecting a rich and heavy dish, the Pig’s Cheek was crispy and light- served with a crunchy chicory salad that offset the bacon-like flavour of the pork – the whole dish more like salad than anything else. The Freekeh, not a grain I had previously tried, was a just as wonderful – the goat’s curd creamy and tart.
While the menu may be shocking to the uninitiated and requires an open mind and adventurous palate, nose-to- tail dining is a fantastic move for sustainability as it means that no part of the animal is wasted – a tenant Giles strongly believes in. He’ll happily tell you all about it himself- mingling as he does with the diners each evening – his passion for his craft clear to all who visit.
I couldn’t quite fit in dessert, but the plate of freshly-baked, lemony madeleines that wafted past me on their way to the next table were envy inducing – yet another reason why I can’t wait to return.
Wines and local spirits are carefully curated by Giles and change as he discovers new and interesting additions. He also serves his vino at very particular degrees – the reds chilled to European ‘room temperature’.
The décor is starkly minimalist, with bare white walls and plain, dark wooden tables and chairs – a perfect blank canvas for the show that is the food. There is also no music, and while this might seem odd, the loud appreciation for Giles’ creative dishes fill the room with chatter and warmth.
It is unsurprising that shortly after their opening, La Tête was declared one of the Top Restaurants in the World to Watch by CNN- a title well deserved by this revolutionary new addition to Cape Town’s foodie scene.
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Blog post by: Tarah Darge
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