{eat} Silver linings and celebrations at Steenberg’s Bistro Sixteen82

A recent visit to Steenberg‘s Bistro Sixteen82 reminded me of the inevitability of the changing seasons and how we should embrace a daily practice of gratitude, whilst always seeking for the silver lining.

Introduction

With the 2021 harvest cloaked in bittersweet tradition this year after the relentless alcohol bans our wine industry faced in 2020, wine makers across the Cape tried  to make the most of what they could salvage. As sure as the seasons change, the grapes needed to part from the vines, and even with so much uncertainty shrouding the way through the devastation left behind, we glimpsed tiny silver linings as the wine industry embraced small mercies.

Steenberg Farm, in true Steenberg style, celebrated the recent harvest by centering their new seasonal menu around the humble grape. I was elated to be invited for lunch at BistroSixteen82 a few weeks back, and eager to spend an afternoon dining in the dwindling summer sun. Steenberg, being only a small step away from my front door, has always held an extra special place in my heart. Every time I step into their breathtaking tasting room, it fills my heart with so much joy and sheer anticipation of the magic that will soon be filling my plate and glass. But Steenberg is also about much more than its food and wine; the magic lies in the team of people who form the foundations of the estate.

Background

Named after the year in which Steenberg was established, Bistro Sixteen82 first opened its doors in 2009, and has been the tapas and bistro-style darling of the dining world ever since.

The Bistro Sixteen82 menu is a constant evolution, keeping up with seasonal produce and featuring inventive dishes that complement the finest locally sourced ingredients. With breakfast, lunch and late-afternoon tapas menus to choose from, the Bistro provides dining with an inimitable contemporary spirit.

Executive Chef, Kerry Kilpin, loves to create food which is seasonal, flavourful and bursts with freshness.

“My greatest inspirations are derived from significant occasions in my life. On my travels to Thailand I developed a love and passion for Asian food. From shopping at the local food markets to creating my first authentic Thai dish, I was in heaven. You will notice a common thread in what I do and who I am. Love. I cook with love and my food is love.”

The venue

Once you’ve managed to drag yourself away from Instagramming the stunning art installation that forms the focal mid-point of the tasting bar, you’ll find your way into the open arms of Bistro Sixteen82. A stylishly intimate dining area inside spills out onto an umbrellaed terrace, with sweeping views of Steenberg’s signature indigenous gardens, and further back, the signature Constantia mountains.

We took a seat next to the wrap-around infinity pool, reflecting the moody summer clouds of the early afternoon. It was pleasantly full in a social distanced way, without ever feeling overcrowded or stifled. Just the mere location of the bistro sets you up for an unforgettable afternoon, long before your first delicious sip of Steenberg’s 1682 Chardonnay Cap Classique.

The food

I’m a long-standing and devoted fan of Chef Kerry Kilpin’s work. Having also spent a significant amount of time in Thailand over the years as she did, I’m always enthralled with her dynamic interpretations and bright presentation of Asian ingredients and flavours. Coupled with their beautiful, vibrant locally sourced produce and a gorgeous South African element, every bite of her food is pure love heaped on a fork.

Starters

To tingle our taste buds further after the bread course (with fresh Sauvignon Blanc grapes on the side!), we decided to share the Panko-crusted cheese fritters and the Beef tataki, paired with the suggested options of the Steenberg Sphynx 2018 and Nebbiolo 2016 respectively. Chef Kerry also spoilt us with treats from the kitchen in the form of the Curried baby calamari, which was simply delectable. Needless to say, we finished every single bite, and for a while I thought I lost Tim as he lingered in the beef tataki and Nebbiolo pairing for a substantial amount of time, a dreamy look of pure enjoyment on his face.

Mains

Without thinking twice, Tim settled for Chef Kerry’s signature Roasted pork belly, and I opted for a fish dish from their specials board. Childishly excited by the prospect of fresh Cape Bream, I couldn’t wait for it to arrive, or to taste Chef Kerry’s Asian impression thereof. We paired our  mains with Steenberg’s two exceptional Sauvignon Blancs, the Black Swan 2019 and the Rattlesnake 2018.

Interlude

After a little pause, blissfully lapping up the sun, the ambience and the welcome chatter that filled the space, we were ready to look at the dessert menu. I felt a fleeting touch of sadness, as dessert always signals the downhill roll to conclusion. As I expected, this afternoon was needed and so gratefully received by us both. It was a welcome change of pace, a refreshing change of scenery and a quiet act of self-care for our senses. I felt somewhat lighter, somewhat giddy after an injection of vitamin D, great conversation, even better company, five-star food and a taster of all my favourite wines. But alas, we were not done yet. 

Dessert

Our beautiful waitress chose our desserts, based on our interactions throughout the afternoon. With a keen sense of observation, she got to know us through our choices of wine and food, and couldn’t have been more spot-on in her suggestions. For Tim, she chose the Ariaga Chocolate Namelaka, without knowing about his burning love for chocolate and Turkish Delight. And for me, the Lemon Posset, without knowing my obsession with this sun-coloured citrus fruit.

And then just a little bit more – treats from the kitchen. A beautiful bowl of chocolate truffles, served with a glass of 1682 Chardonnay Cap Classique. Because I really couldn’t think of a better way to round off a meal that will be remembered and talked about for weeks to come.

In conclusion

Before we reluctantly left Steenberg, we had a stroll through their gardens, and peeked at the laden vines down Semillon Street. My shoulders relaxed back into their sockets and my soul felt soothed and nurtured. Everyone needs to experience the silver lining of Steenberg at least once, but preferably often, and with intent.

Thank you Chef Kerry, the Bistro Sixteen82 team and Steenberg Farm, for having gifted us with the absolute pleasure to recharge and unwind in your embrace for the afternoon. Thank you for the spoils, the treats and the general feel-goods that makes every visit to your home such a memorable and silver lined occasion.

Second photographer: The Tall Hedonist, aka 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.

The Little Hedonist endorses responsible drinking.
Don’t drink and drive. Not for persons under 18.

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