DINING at Woodall Country House in Addo is a delightful affair – but more delightful was that our head chef for the night was Bradley Nelson from Uitenhage.
After studying at Port Elizabeth College, 29-year-old Nelson worked as an intern at Woodall during which time he secured a scholarship to Highline Community College in Des Moines in the United States.
As luck would have it when Nelson returned to South Africa Woodall had a position open.
Nelson, who originally wanted to study sports management, says working at Woodall has given him invaluable experience, and under the guidance of owners James and Debbie Miller and the other chefs he has risen through the ranks.
Nelson, who aspires to be like Heston Blumenthal, says he loves playing with flavours and textures, and having a herb garden on hand makes this particularly easy.
Certainly his expertise shone through during our visit: dining at Woodall is a veritable feast of local flavours and textures, superbly cooked and beautifully presented.
Inspired by the flavours of local ingredients and boasting freshly picked home-grown produce the menu is complemented by an underground wine cellar filled with a comprehensive collection of South African wines.
All wines are personally selected by the owners.
The choice of starters on the night we dined at the beautiful thatch- roofed restaurant was roasted cherry tomato soup with a baked ricotta and parmesan timbale; or smoked snoek and trout terrine with a dill mustard sauce accompanied by a rocket, strawberry and pistachio nut salad.
It was a tough choice to make as both dishes sounded so delectable. I chose the tomato soup which was bursting with flavour and put any soup I have tasted to shame.
My fiance chose the snoek and trout terrine and could not stop raving about the way in which the salad perfectly complemented the fish.
After a quick sorbet to clear the palate it was on to the mains.
The Malay Spiced Duck Bobotie with poached fruit and almond couscous was a delight with the flavours of the fruit tying in beautifully with the almonds in the couscous.
The beef fillet accompanied by an oxtail cigar, herb-infused crushed potato and a trio of butter bean, carrot and pea puree was simply out of this world.
Beautifully plated, with the oxtail cigar resting gently on the puree, the beef was tender, the oxtail tasty and the crushed potatoes bursting with the flavours of the herbs.
Not much of a dessert lover, I opted for the cheese platter – local goat’s cheeses with home- made preserves and biscuits while my fiance chose the lemon and creme caramel.
This was accompanied by an almond brittle, candied peel and poached apricots. It was pronounced delicious with just the right mix of sour and sweet. Finishing up we decided on coffee instead of liqueur as we’d already sampled a great bottle of pinotage.
The Woodall dining experience is not confined to guests; the restaurant is open to casual diners depending on how many guests are booked in.
For a special treat diners can enjoy a sumptuous six-course meal at R295 per person.
For more information or to book phone (042) 233-0128 or 083-357-2102.