Story of a Plate: Beef Cheeks at The Local Grill

Credit: Steve Maresch

On the menu: Beef cheeks – ragù served on mashed potato*

*As last year’s winner, The Local Grill recently hosted the awards ceremony for the 2017 Steakhunter Championships (which saw Cape Town restaurant Rare Grill take the honours for both overall winner and Newcomer of the Year.) On that occasion we enjoyed a special version of their beef cheeks dish, not as currently described on the menu, but with the extra touches that owner Steve Maresch lets us in on below.

Both the starter, and the story that you told about it, were excellent at the awards ceremony. How did it come about?

Steve: We’ve been operating The Local Grill since 2002, and the whole idea of nose-to-tail – which in the restaurant world really translates into a no-waste philosophy – has always been very important to us. But back in the early days, suppliers found it difficult deliver cuts like beef cheeks, since it was more economically viable for them to sell the whole cow’s head. When we eventually found smaller suppliers who were able to source cheeks for us, we started experimenting with just putting them in the pressure cooker with a bit of star anise, and eventually some vine-ripened baby tomatoes, and just letting those ingredients speak for themselves. Continue reading “Story of a Plate: Beef Cheeks at The Local Grill”

Story of a Plate: Octopus at La Tête

On the menu: Octopus, fennel and sea spinach

The octopus was phenomenal. Would you mind telling us how the dish came together, with the fennel and sea spinach?

Chef Giles Edwards: As with most of the dishes, it’s really about the supplier. Our chicken hearts come from Angus at Spier – they’re amazing, so I think about how I can make them appealing to everyone else. I put a deep-fried potato bake on the plate, and it just works perfectly with the dish, and it becomes an attraction – it’s the same with the octopus. I always cook it the same way; it just comes down to what I pair it with and how I use it. The octopus comes from South Coast Fisheries, who source it from False Bay. It’s Atlantic octopus, and there are not many restaurateurs buying it. Continue reading “Story of a Plate: Octopus at La Tête”

Story of a Plate: Bread and bokkom butter at Wolfgat

 

On the menu: Part of “Strandveld snacks” at the beginning of lunch

We were intrigued by all your dishes, but especially the bread with bokkom butter, which was like a bagna cauda, but West Coast style. Can you tell us about how that came about?

Kobus van der Merwe: At Oep ve Koep (our previous space which is still run by my family), we used to serve a fried bokkom* fillet in different versions – there was a breakfast-y one with egg, and we did a seared watermelon with bokkom and seaweed. And then everyone in the kitchen always grabbed and dipped their bread in the pan that we fried the bokkom in, because the juices were just ridiculous. We fried them in a little oil, and then we added butter while the bokkoms were heating up, and then, almost as a joke, because it’s the nicest feeling to clean a pan with bread in the kitchen, we started thinking of sending that to the table, and then just refining it a little bit.

Continue reading “Story of a Plate: Bread and bokkom butter at Wolfgat”

Story of a Plate: Pork Belly at Black Sheep Restaurant

On the menu: Chinese 5 spice-hoisin Pork Belly w/sweet potato purée, Chinese cabbage & crackling

There seems to always be pork belly on the Black Sheep menu, suggesting it’s one of those dishes diners would start complaining about not being available if you ever took it off. How did it become one of your “signature” dishes, and what’s the story of this particular iteration?

Chef Jonathan Japha: When you’re cooking for a restaurant of this volume, you’ve got to have some food that’s pre-done, and organised, and fully cooked, and there’s no reason why you can’t make things that are suited specifically to that purpose. Pork belly is one of those meats that really works better when you cook it very slowly for a long period of time, and because it’s already cooked, it’s perfect to have sitting in a bain marie. We keep it in the oven, with the glaze on top, with water on the bottom of the pan, so that it actually continues to cook as service progresses, and it just gets better and better as it sits.

Continue reading “Story of a Plate: Pork Belly at Black Sheep Restaurant”