Last week, Hubs and I were invited to what was quite possibly the most exciting event of my 3 and a half year blogging career – a menu launch at The Grill Room at the Oyster Box hotel, where we were to be hosted by Executive Chef Kevin Joseph and General Manager Wayne Coetzer.
The Grill Room is the Oyster Box’s flagship restaurant, and one I’ve sat in a number of times. We’ve indulged in their Christmas-themed buffet lunch for our company’s end of year function a few years ago, and we’ve enjoyed the infamous High Tea there a couple of times, when they first started it and the bookings overflowed out of the Palm Court. It’s a restaurant that I associate with impeccable food and luxurious surroundings, and one that I’m always eager to visit.
The Grill Room has now revealed ‘The Best of The Best’ menu, featuring not only the most popular of their own legendary dishes, but a selection of new additions from one of the hotel groups’ London properties, The English Grill at The Rubens Hotel. ‘The Best of The Best’ menu is an amazing combination of popular dishes created by Bea Tollman, the President and Founder of Red Carnation Hotels, and overseen under the expert eye of Executive Chef Kevin Joseph.
I’ll reveal a few of the dishes that we enjoyed, and mention a few others that piqued my interest, but for now, let me just mention the incredible special that The Grill Room is offering: –
For the entire month of September, dinner only, guests can indulge in a two-course menu (either starter and main, or main and dessert) and a glass of bubbly, for an amazing R400. If you’re a fan (who isn’t though?) if amazing food in a truly beautiful setting, this special is a must-do.
Right, let me get into the really good part of this post – the food itself!
We were served a variety of breads to begin, and I chose the corn bread roll, while Hubs opted for the garlic bread. Both were very tasty, but I really liked the denser, sweeter corn bread, with a little fresh butter on. Each guest was then served a delightful amuse bouche that had originally been created for the recent Unilever Food Solutions Chef of The Year competition for the category of Best High tea. Needless to say, the Oyster Box won, and with the Savoury Goats Cheese Cake being one of the most-enjoyed dishes, one can easily see why. The base was made up of baked puff pastry, blended with seeds, and served with a drizzle of truffle honey, which takes a month to fully develop. Decadent and just the right size to tantalise those taste buds.
We were also served a wonderful option of white or red wines. We both selected the white to start, the Bouchard Finlayson Blanc de Mer 2016, which was a light, dry white blend that is a fantastic served with seafood, salads and especially oysters.
For starters, we really had to consider our choices. Everything sounded so delicious, but eventually Hubs settled on the Crisp Parma Ham and Mango Salad (R195), and I opted for a treat of note, the Butter Poached Crayfish with pea mousse (R250).
The Crisp Parma Ham and Mango Salad was exquisite. The Parma ham was beautifully crisp, and with the slightly charred mango, was delicious. The inclusion of nuts added an extra element of texture which was lovely too.
My Butter Poached Crayfish with pea mousse was so impressive, served beautifully in the shell with a divine butter sauce and a pea mousse that was just firm enough to stand up against the meltingly soft crayfish meat. Beautiful starter that was just enough to really whet my appetite for mains.
Kevin also ordered a portion of the Flamed Oysters with red wine Margarite (R190) for us to taste, and they were absolutely incredible. In fact, my Hubby was torn between these and his dessert for dish of the evening. The only thing he’d have changed – he’d have ordered 30 of them and not just tried one!
Some other starters that caught my eye were the Cipollini and Parsley Prawns with Chardonnay Cream (R220) and the gorgeous Vintage Hors d’oeuvres trolley (R150) that comes to the table and rotates, showcasing 18 different ‘old world’ appetizers.
After the table had all finished their starters, a palate cleanser was served, of Raspberry and Blueberry sorbet in an ice glass. Not only did we find the casing of ice unique for the serving of the sorbet, we also loved Chef Kevin’s whole idea on the plate. You eat the sorbet to cleanse your palate, then eat the cucumber swirl to neutralise the sweet berry taste. You then chew on the sprig of mint to freshen your breath.
Hubs and I then switched to the red wine, the Bouchard Finlayson Hannibal 2016. This red blend was delightfully rich and complex, and said to be a superb accompaniment to red meats and Italian dishes. A perfect partner to my lamb main.
Our choice of main dish was yet another cause for contemplation. Not only does The Grill Room offer a Carving Trolley Service with a different roast every day of the week (being Thursday, the roast was Pork Belly, Honey-Glazed with Caramelised Peaches (R220) and all accompanying side dishes, but we had the choice of the dishes from The English Grill, or The Grill Room mains.
I was seriously torn between the Midlands Beef Fillet with Béarnaise sauce and Truffle Shavings (R295), the Seared Norwegian Salmon, Mango scented with Lemongrass Butter (R320) and the Dyad of Lamb with Crumbed Shank, Minted Butter and Pan Jus (R290). Eventually, my love of lamb won, and I opted for the Dyad of Lamb. My rack of lamb was perfectly cooked and pink in the middle, and the crumbed shank was the beautiful meat, rolled up in a crunchy crust. The minted butter melted into the beautifully-flavoured pan jus, and the whole dish was topped with a beautiful paper-thin potato and herb fan. I feasted in silence and cleaned my whole plate.
Hubby was intrigued by the Pork Belly being served on the Carving Trolley, but ultimately his love of duck caused the biggest indecision. He pondered between the Roast Half Duck with sauce à l’orange (R250) and the Five-Spice Duck Breast with Asian Plum and Coriander (R270). He eventually went with the more intriguing of the two, and ordered the Duck Breast. It was flawlessly cooked, and absolutely delicious, and was served with duck springrolls that I would totally have ordered on their own. The only fault? While still beautifully presented, my dish drew the eye and stole the show that much more.
An array of the available sides were served for the whole table, and while I loved the Minted Petits Pois and the Gratin Potatoes, Hubs tucked into the Creamed Spinach and claims that the Creamed Onions were delicious. We both just regret not tasting the Duck Fat Potato Cake, as it sounds amazing! Same with the Olive Oil Mash, as if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know that Hubby and I are so OCD with our mash. If it’s not perfectly smooth, it’s not for us, and Chef Kevin promised that they served the most beautiful, smooth mash.
Other amazing offerings for main? If you’d like to share a platter, the Seafood Platter (R2200 for 2) is probably the most decadent one I’ve seen, filled with crayfish, 10 baby langoustines, 10 prawns, 250g of SASSI approved linefish, 200g of calamari, 10 local mussels, prawn curry, lemon infused jasmine rice, burned lemon, habanero butter, coriander sauce, shellfish butter and various other condiments. If its theatre you’re after, the Chateaubriand (R450 for 2) is served with leeks, mushrooms, potato, sesame béarnaise and wine jus. Both fabulous dishes for a special occasion!
Now, after all of that, can you believe we even had space for dessert? Of course – if I don’t have my sweet at the end of a meal, who even am I? I was sorely tempted to taste the Salted Chocolate Delice with Crème Caramel, Popcorn and Honeycomb Chouquettes (R95), but being the cheese cake fiend that I am, I opted for Bea’s Cheese Cake with Strawberry Coulis and Sesame Tuille (R95). I am so fussy with my cheese cake, as it might seem like a simple dessert, but it’s very easy to get it wrong. This one from The Grill Room? Probably my top cheese cake I’ve ever eaten. It was smooth, silky and just sweet enough, topped with the most delicious strawberry coulis and fresh strawberries. I’d order this again in a heartbeat – cheese cake is such an underrated dessert!
I was surprised when Hubs chose the Baked Alaska with Orange Scented Sponge, Chocolate Nougat Ice Cream, Drunken Cherries and Tuille Cigar (R95), as he’s not the biggest fan of ice cream, however he proclaimed this the best dessert he’s ever eaten, which is truly saying something.
The Grill Room also offers traditional Crepe Suzette with Cointreau, orange segments and homemade honeycomb ice cream (R125), and it was an absolute joy to watch it being made in front of us. The smell was mouth-watering.
Along with the desserts come a wonderful selection of Dessert Wines, although we didn’t indulge in this – instead we opted for tea (for me) and coffee for Hubs. The coffee was absolutely fantastic, and the little pink macarons served with our drinks were a pretty and delicious touch.
In my opinion, from a good browse at this scrumptious menu, there is something for everyone, vegetarians included – for example the Asparagus and Goats Cheese starter (R175) and the Fried Green Tomato Ravioli with Basil Tomato Sauce (R210). I highly doubt that a guest would leave The Grill Room wanting. Each dish we tasted was impeccable, and neither my husband, nor I could find fault – and we pride ourselves in always discussing each dish and pondering whether something else might have worked out better.
A huge thank you and congratulations to Chef Kevin on a sumptuous meal that will be pretty hard to top.
Please don’t forget – if you’d like to make the most of this wonderful special running, it does end at the end of September, and is available for dinner only. You can either book online HERE, email firstname.lastname@example.org,za or call (031) 514 5000.
**DISCLAIMER – while we were hosted by The Grill Room at the Oyster Box, all opinions are always honest and my own.**