{eat} A true hidden gem in Constantia: Phantom at Purple Rayn

We are quick to say we’ve found “a hidden gem” when we come across an experience we’ve enjoyed and that might not be known to many people. Today I believe, fully and completely, that I’ve found the Cape’s best hidden gem. Situated like the sparkling crown jewel in the Queen’s tiara in the green belt of Cecilia Forest, you will find Phantom at Purple Rayn Boutique Guest House.

Introduction

An invitation to experience the newly opened Phantom Restaurant at Purple Rayn Boutique Guest House left me a bit flabbergasted. A restaurant at a guest house? Yes, I know it’s Constantia, but still. Is this my vibe? What to expect? And why have I not heard of this place before? I was way too intrigued to pass up the opportunity, and, as we all know, I was way too childishly excited about having a night out with good food and wine.

Background

Purple Rayn Boutique Guest House is owners Riki and Sara’s first taste of hospitality. Old hands at entrepreneurship and totally comfortable at running successful businesses, this is their newest venture and a pursuit for passion and excellence. With Sara’s eye for the aesthetically pleasing and Riki’s jovial approach to his guests, this power-couple is a match made in heaven.

They opened doors in December, which explains why this is all new to me. Opening doors in the middle of season is gutsy and bold; but they have taken it all in their stride, keeping humble and honest about their food and offerings.

Securing super-talented chef and innovator, Chef Warren Carney, and a small hand-picked team for the Phantom kitchens, is what sets the bar very high.

Inspired by Asia and it’s influences in sharing platters, sushi and unusual flavour combinations, Phantom strives to create an authentic and mouthwatering Asian feast for their diners. The menu offers a selection of Asian inspired tasting plates which changes weekly.

The venue

Now let’s talk about the guest house briefly, before we dig into dinner. As you wind your way through the dense and lush Cecilia Forest via Rhodes Drive, you can’t help but wonder where you’re about to end up. Through the gates and up the steep driveway, all of a sudden you have to brake and marvel at the beauty that opens up in front of you. There, tucked between tall trees and backdrops of mountains lay not a tiny little B&B with stone walls and a thatch roof, but a uber-luxurious, seriously modern holiday destination all under one roof.

At this point I need to say that there is, except for the Phantom restaurant and a handful of boutique guest rooms, also a spa, hair salon, bar, entertainment area, lounge, cafe and two swimming pools on premises. For the sake of this blog, I’ll only be focusing on the Phantom restaurant and the food, because let’s be honest, I’m a little hedonist after all!

*Disclaimer: Please excuse the dark, grainy, over-saturated cellphone photos – I was camera-less for the evening. Worst timing ever. These images sure doesn’t do justice to the dishes that were served that evening – hopefully my words do. Here’s to returning soon to take some proper photos!

After the initial breathtaking first glances at Purple Rayn Boutique Guest House, I parked outside on one of the many sloping levels of the premises, overlooking the gorgeous pool and entertainment area. All I could think about at this moment was the potential of sunset photos from the roof top!

We were shown up to the rooftop for sun-downers with glasses of bubbly as we waited for everyone to arrive and I finally got the opportunity to take those glorious sunset images. We were a magnificent crowd for dinner, even if I must say so myself (!) and the evening promised to be full of laughter, good food, wine and memories.

As an added bonus, Lourensford were expertly pairing their selection of wines to the menu, and, unbeknownst to us at this point, we would be treated to a chocolate and wine pairing at the end of the night.

The menu

Once we were seated in the classically elegant rooftop venue, the wine was poured and the first of our shared tasting plates arrived. The appetisers included dishes of Diwali oysters and a bread and mayo course.

If you don’t know this about me, I’m allergic to shellfish. The kitchen made very clever and innovative substitutions to the shellfish on the menu, without changing the entire dish. So I still felt included in terms of the presentation, but with subtle alternatives to cater to my dietary restriction. Bonus points for not just serving me half a butternut with creamed spinach, or a slice of quiche instead.

When I say that dining at Phantom is an experience, I actually mean it. The milk bread and mayo course was so simple; bread and mayonnaise. But it was of the best bread I’ve ever tasted, and the dish allowed you to mix your own homemade mayo, before marrying the two components in the holiest of matrimonies.

Wine glasses topped and cutlery changed, we moved on to the next course. It just kept on coming, one after the other; the one as impressive and beautiful as the last.

Whilst we took a breather between dishes, we admired the changing night-sky, shifting from pink to black whilst sipping on a range of gorgeous Lourensford wines. Riki and Sara casually chatted to the tables in passing, and shared interesting stories about their ventures between courses. There were audible gasps from the floor as the wait staff carried beautiful bowls and plates to the tables, and I think a new record was set that night for the most photographed dinner ever!

My favourites included a rice-less poke bowl and the ostrich tataki with ginger, coriander, coffee and carrot. I think the ostrich was an overall winner, as I could hear people asking for seconds!

Then we were presented with the serious contenders. I absolutely loved the sweet & sour chickpea dahl served with paratha, the lamb flatbread and the sushi. Oh, the sushi! I’m a recent new-comer to the sushi craze and I was presented with the most beautiful tray of veggie sushi – vibrant, tasty, fresh and so pleasing to the eye!

And just when we thought we couldn’t anymore, they brought out two of the best desserts I’ve ever tasted. EVER. And I’ve been tasting desserts for a very long time, trust me. The first was a white chocolate, miso, sesame and orange creation that hit the ball right out of the park. It was sweet and creamy and fruity and brittly and nutty and tart and syrupy – I tried to savour each mouthful as long as I could, because it was simply sublime. The combination of ingredients seemed logical, but yet they come together as a pleasantly surprising creation.

The other dessert was a dish with ginger, honey comb, cheesecake, ginger bush and cinnamon. Again, gloriously indulgent and incredibly more-ish.

The grand tour and a few final words

We were lead into a late-night tour of the guest house facilities after dessert. I didn’t think I’d possibly have enough “wow’s” left over after that meal, but nothing could’ve prepared me for what we were about to see. I would have to write a whole other blog on the guest house itself, but for the sake of brevity, let’s just say I wouldn’t mind spending a week in this stunning little haven in the forest. It’s understated elegance and classic minimalist feel absorbs you into a luxurious get-away in the heart of our city. I’ll spoil you with a few images below…

On our return, Lourensford was waiting for the grand finale – the wine and chocolate tasting. Just close your eyes and imagine this for a moment: their limited release Chardonnay with orange Dark chocolate, Lourensford Estate Merlot with dark cherry chocolate, Lourensford Estate Shiraz with dark chili chocolate and their unique Honey Liqueur with dark mint chocolate.

A bonus for me was that we got some precious moments to chat with Chef Warren after he untied his apron strings for the evening. He sat down at our table and shared his visions and ideas for the restaurant. He spoke of the small dedicated team that works alongside him, and about his passion and commitment to boundary-pushing dishes using quality ingredients, and making it accessible to locals of and visitors to Cape Town alike. Another true hidden gem, this Chef Warren Carney.

In conclusion

Getting back to the saying, “a hidden gem.” This one is so good, I don’t even want to share it with you guys, but because I am a lover of good food, good people and good, honest trading, I urge you to visit Phantom at Purple Rayn. It has a way of turning a meal into date-night. It turns a glass of wine into the ultimate sun-downer experience. It turns a quick lunch into an unforgettable afternoon of memories shared. It turns a romantic meal into a treasured few hours spent in good company. Phantom is simply outstanding; similar in the the way it proudly perches in the tree tops overlooking our beautiful city.

Second photographer and photo credit: Timothy P. Gibson

The Little Hedonist has made every effort to ensure that the information in this post was correct at the time of publication. However, I do not assume any liability caused by errors, such as price, menu changes, opening times, and contact details.

Disclaimer: I was invited to this event in my personal capacity. There was no expectation for platform coverage in the form of a blog, or social media posts. This is my honest and truthful opinion and review thereof. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are solely those of The Little Hedonist, given in good faith and in no way influenced by the company or its affiliates. All images, unless otherwise stated/credited, are also my own.

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