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Jessica's Restaurant is situated in the country town of Montagu which is about 2 ½ hours from Cape Town. This understated country restaurant could easily compete with a few fine dining restaurants in Cape Town and Stellenbosch.
The restaurant is located in the home of married couple Adele and Werner Joubert. The chef at Jessica's is Heinrich-Werner, and he is Adele’s brother – so the idea of a family cooked meal immediately springs to mind. But that stereotype would be completely wrong. Just because they are a family and in a country town does not mean that they are delivering second rate cooking or service. In fact, they may just be the most under-rated restaurant in the Western Cape. It is my resolute hope that they get noticed and awarded this year.
We started our evening with Pernod Prawns and a Salmon Trout Tartar. The Pernod prawns are tiger prawns that are gently flambéed in Pernod. They are set atop a ginger and saffron risotto and drizzled with a wasabi vinaigrette. This dish readily brings out the flavour of the prawns. The mild wasabi adds a gentle kick to the dish. It really is a playful dish and is a lovely way to start an evening under the stars.
The Salmon Tartar is a carefully thought out starter that includes capers, dill, onions and sour cream. The sour cream really adds to the texture of the tartar and it is not as overpowering as the more commonly used mayonnaise. Salmon tartar is a dish that easily spoils if the salmon is not fresh. This dish was fantastically prepared and the balance of the tastes was magnificent.
My main meal was a flavour filled Gaeng Goong Gai – a Thai curry with tiger prawns and chicken. This mild curry has hints of garlic, ginger, Thai spice, green curry paste and a lovely coconut milk sauce and is served with a basket of jasmine rice. My partner settled on a tourist favourite called the Karoo Trio. It is a serving of tender grilled cutlets of ostrich, springbok and Karoo lamb that is served with a side of vegetables.
We were most impressed with the sparkling grape juice from the Uitvlugt wine farm as a thirst quencher. The Weltevrede Tricolore 2009 which has a distinct undertone of black cherries, blueberries and plums complimented the Karoo Trio magnificently. Tricolore is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and the gorgeous solid syrah that Weltevrede produces.
From the moment we stepped into this restored Victorian Montagu home, we found art on the walls from local artists – and incredible hospitality. Adele and her brother Werner and her husband Werner enthralled us with their cooking, presentation and service.
Overall – I would easily recommend Jessica’s restaurant for an award.