A couple of weeks ago, the PR for Bistro 1682 asked if I’d like to pop in for a meal and a chance to experience chef Kerry Kilpin’s menu. Well, we all know that given a choice between eating a 3-year-old’s leftover Pronutro (rock hard by lunchtime, obvs) OR meeting a friend for a cheeky lunch complete with zero offspring, a glass of bubbly and a procession of beautifully dressed plates – well there is no question now is there?
Oh, and the fact that 1682 is a 5 ½ minute drive from my house – even better!
It felt good putting on some extra makeup in the middle of the day and heading out the door to freedom a decadent lunch a deaux with one of my besties.
We arrived at the same time and were ushered to a banquette table in the corner of the restaurant – looking out over the terrace and the Telly Tubby-esque lawns that really do make you feel like you’re in another world. 1682 used to be a regular for The Captain and I – a very good friend of ours was the chef previously and when Charley was a baby we used to have a night nurse once a week and a subsequent supper at this lovely valley local. That seems to have fallen by the wayside and I could kick myself because our lunch was seriously good – seriously!
We kicked off with some homebaked bread, olive oil and olives to nibble on – I had to hold myself back from scoffing more of the bread which was delicate yet robust but I knew that we had a treat in store and boy was I not wrong! We decided to share three starters and a main course which I think worked perfectly – two starters didn’t feel like enough especially given the choices on offer.
First things first – three of the juiciest tastiest oysters I’ve ever had. In my life. Harvested in Namibia, it’s been a while since I had one of these beauties and their salty flavour combined with with a perfectly balanced sweet and sour shallot vinaigrette was simply freaking sublime – I felt like I was on holiday! And add a sip of Steenberg bubbly to the mix – and I wasn’t so sure I was going to come back! I was in such a rush to get these into my mouth i didn’t even style the pic – it was a sommer shoot and eat moment!
The Beef Tataki – this is now something of a signature in the Constantia Valley and I’m pleased to say 1682 does it proud. Beef fillet is seared, thinly sliced and dressed with a generous confetti of truffled corn, soya laced exotic mushrooms, chilli, mayo and rocket – it’s a crunchy, heady flavour experience where each mouthful is more Umami-crammed than the next. A dish you can’t go wrong with ordering (unless you’re a vegetarian, but I’m not).
Panko Crusted Cheese Fritter – this was not my first choice but my BFF is a cheese freak and said it’s her favourite thing on the starters menu. Sheesh guys, it was amazing!! Three perfect crumbed, rounds of cheese with little dollops of goat’s cheese mousse on a bed of greens with courgettes and dollops of tomato and chilli jam. Again – a lovely balance of crunchy, sweet, salty and umami flavours in this dish – chef Kerry seems to love to bring in Asian flavours and it really works.
West Coast Mussels in a light basil velouté with a tomato and red onion salsa. I have a thing about mussels and I have gotten to know how different restaurants do theirs – Olympia’s are garlicky with a thin but pungent cream sauce – Den Anker’s mussels are all about the mussels and less about the broth they come in. These mussels were both – my friend is not a mussels fan but eventually she couldn’t handle my oohing an ahing and tucked in – and loved them. Trust me, they are outstanding – juicy and plump and perfectly steamed in their sauce – not too creamy but creamy enough to warrant plenty of mopping up with extra bread.
Our main course was a linefish i’ve never had before – Hottentot or Cape Bream as its also known. It was served on a bed of lentils and topped with Asian mushrooms and crunchy beansprouts. It was sublime to say the least – read more about what made it even more special below.
What also made our lunch so special was that my friend and i could take 1.5 hours out of our day to have a quality connect over quality food. Without feeling that we’d over indulged. I mean, it really was an indulgence but I didn’t feel gross afterwards. I loved how decadent lunch felt in a place that is just five minutes from my home and I loved that I can access it at any time – breakfast, lunch or dinner. It reminded me that life is too short for a below par muffin with a friend – I’ll take quality experiences over quantity any day.
A couple of things that stood out for me
The tableware – while most of our dishes were plated on traditional white China, our mussels for example came in the most beautiful handcrafted dish – I love this new addition to 1682’s classic style
Our service was excellent! Our waiter knew exactly what she was talking about, she was enthusiastic without being cringy and she was that excellent balance of attentive without being overbearing. The restaurant got really busy towards 2pm and she managed to continue attending to us while keeping her other guests happy.
1682 is piloting a new app and it’s AMAZING! It’s called Abalobi and it’s a hook-to-cook concept where subsistence fishermen are able to get their catch to restaurants on the day of purchase but most importantly they are paid a fair market rate for their catch! Fishers upload their catch and can track their offerings and payments via the app. Then on the other side of the app, the consumer scans the QR code on the table and can read about their particular catch of the day as well as who caught it and where it was caught – it takes provenance to a completely new level! I can’t wait to see this roll out in other restaurants that take their supply chain seriously and I take my hat off to Chef Kerry who has embraced the app and what it means for marginalised subsistence fishermen and women – I never normally order linefish in a restaurant and because of the app and the guarantee of freshness, there was no way I was going to miss out.
I loved the experience and loved being reminded of the quality dining destinations available to us lucky Capetonians – I’ll definitely be back for more – in fact, I’m booking early supper with The Captain there this week! Judging by just how busy they were for lunch, i would say bookings are a must – you won’t be sorry!
To book at Bistro 1682, click here