On 23 November, we visited the five star Roots Restaurant at the Forum Homini Hotel, Letamo Game Reserve. It’s located in Kromdraai, in the heart of the Cradle of Humankind. This place is beautiful. Quiet and serene.
Even though you’re only 10 minutes away from the closest mall, it feels secluded; away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The reserve boasts a variety of animal species including Eland, Impala and Springbuck, to name but a few.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by our server and seated at our table. We had a beautiful view of the deck leading onto a small man-made dam. The Roots dining concept is built around creating delicious dishes with locally-sourced produce.
We had made our reservation for the 6-course menu, prepared by Executive Chef, Chris Tustian. Hubby took a wine pairing.
Our server presented to us a selection of breads with amuse-bouche (a small, complimentary appetiser) soup shooters, duck liver pâté and whipped butter to whet our appetite for what was to come. The breads were delicious and hubby and I had to continuously remind ourselves that 6 courses were still on their way.
The first course was a red cabbage gazpacho (chilled soup) with mustard ice cream and pickled cucumber. Hubby’s was paired with a Lindelize wine by Weltevrede. The house Sommelier explained the choice of wine to us in great detail. He has a wealth of knowledge and personally selects wines to pair with each of Chef Tustian’s dishes.
The gazpacho was absolutely amazing – cold and sweet – yet it packed a slight punch. The mustard ice cream complimented the red cabbage perfectly. Fair enough, it’s not the most attractive of dishes, but once you start, you literally end up licking the plate.
Our second course was cured salmon served with radish and mange tout, roast lime gel, cauliflower shavings, salmon tartare (raw salmon) and polenta. Hubby’s was paired with an interesting white Merlot, called The Italian Job. I had a sip and must admit, this wine complimented the dish very well. It’s not as deep and heavy as a traditional Merlot; much lighter. The cured salmon was moist and very well-seasoned. The saltiness paired well with the subtle sweetness in the wine. The roast lime gel added an interesting sour-bitter flavour to the dish, something I didn’t expect to like, but ended up loving!
Third on the menu was a chicken boudin (basically a chicken sausage *she types as chefs in the world cringe*) served with yellow pepper caviar, asparagus, pak choi and baby aubergine puree. This course was paired with a wine called Arné, by Terra Del Capo. The chicken was succulent and moist, and very well seasoned. The combination of flavours worked very well together and made for another delicious course.
Our appetisers were now completed and we were served a refreshing apple palate cleanser.
Course number four was ostrich served with a cherry butternut koeksister, cheese crumble, sweet potato rosemary gnocchi, wild mushrooms and salted caramel pear puree. Hubby’s was paired with a heavy, woody Star Hill Shiraz.
The ostrich was well cooked and seasoned – medium rare, moist and tender – no issues there, and the dislike was definitely turned into a like. The koeksister and gnocchi however, disappointed. The cherry butternut was incredibly sweet and the gnocchi was burnt and very tough. My fork couldn’t pierce it and my knife couldn’t cut it, so I ended up picking it up with my fingers.
The salted caramel puree added a nice sweetness to the dish and the wild mushroom flavour was deep and woody, well complimented by the Shiraz. Overall, not the best dish, but not a complete let-down either.
Our fifth course was an iced lemon verbena (a leafy herb with a strong lemon flavour) soufflé served with dark chocolate branches, lemon curd, lime and coconut marshmallows, and mint meringues.
Hubby’s was paired with a dessert wine – Chantelaine by Altydgedacht. Now usually I am used to small-ish portions with these types of fine dining experiences – this soufflé however was quite large. A little bit of everything in one bite worked together very well – the flavours were harmonious – lime, lemon, mint, coconut.
The final course was a divine caramel mousse served with liquid cranberry nougat (my favourite thing on the plate), velvet sponge, lavender labné (a soft cream cheese made from strained yoghurt), cranberry roulade and passion fruit ice cream. This one was beautifully presented.Hubby’s was paired with another dessert wine, this time a Ken Forrster NLH by Waterford.
Quite the combination! Everything worked and tasted sublime, but… the lavender labné was terribly bitter and revolting to be honest. Luckily I have this habit of tasting everything separately first before I combine it. The passion fruit ice cream however was sweet and summery, but to be honest, I would have been very content with a bowl of liquid cranberry nougat. This was probably one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted. My mouth is literally watering as I type this review.
All in all, the experience was one for the books. Our server adequately explained every dish and the Sommelier was nothing short of amazing. He explained each and every wine pairing in such detail and his passion for wine was infectious. The ambience was romantic and relaxed, and the presentation of the food was beautiful.
I give Roots Restaurant a well-deserved 4 out of 5.
Have you ever had the pleasure of dining at the Roots Restaurant? Share your experience with me below.