Chef Tim Walker’s carefully crafted dishes are a delight at the Beach Hotel, writes Louise Liebenberg
A visit to Ginger always promises to deliver a sophisticated and high quality dining experience, and that is why this up-market restaurant at Port Elizabeth’s Beach Hotel is such a favourite for special occasions.
I myself have wonderful memories of the times Mom and Dad would glam up for a celebratory dinner at the Bell, which used to be the Beach Hotel’s flagship restaurant.
My sister and I were too little to tag along (taking children to a fancy restaurant was a faux pas in the ’70s, unlike now) but upon their return a mint choccie or dainty dinner roll for each would magically appear from Mom’s little black Balenciaga bag.
Any chance to dine at the Beach Hotel is still met with excitement in our home and so my husband, Salvelio, and I were happy to be the guinea pigs for head chef Tim Walker’s new tasting menu at Ginger last week.
Seated next to us, you guessed it, was a couple celebrating their anniversary.
Served daily, the tasting menu includes a choice of two starters, two main courses and two desserts, each paired with a glass of wine from PE Hotel Group MD Trevor Lombard’s legendary cellar. Alternatively you may also do the tasting without wine.
Lombard personally chooses many of the wines served at Ginger and makes sure the list changes every few months to keep things interesting.
Cooking from their open kitchen at the far end of the restaurant, chef Tim and his team soon set the tone for our night of fine dining by serving a delicate amuse bouche of poached prawn on leek and pea puree, topped with spring onion, slivers of radish and a scattering of sesame seeds. Add a dot of prawn vinaigrette and the flavours soared.
Having studied at the SA Chefs Academy in the Cape, Tim spent some years in the local industry and has solid international experience under his belt. He’s been the guy in white at Ginger since 2014, and continues to innovate.
Our charming waiter, David, presented the starters next: Cajun-fried calamari for Salvelio and chamomile cured salmon for me. His was served with the 2016 Remhoogte Chenin Blanc; mine with the 2011 De Wetshof Finesse Chardonnay. We accidentally mixed up the wines but decided both suited each other’s dishes almost as well as the original pairing.
The calamari was deftly spiced and the crispy chorizo and mango-coriander salsa with it made for an unusual but winning combination.
The salmon dish was beautifully subtle in colour, flavours and plating, but could’ve done with just a tad more citrus yoghurt dressing.
Mains were a triumph, particularly my slow-roasted duck breast with confit duck risotto balls served with smoked carrot puree, stem broccoli, pale pink baby beets and a beetroot-thyme velouté (chef’s speak for a velvety sauce). With its smoky flavours, interplay of textures and vivid palette this is the ultimate winter dish. It was finished off with bits of super-crispy, deep-fried kale.
I don’t even like kale but this approach takes the leafy veg to new heights in my book!
Salvelo’s butter-roasted venison with truffle infused sweet-potato mash, wilted spinach and raspberry and sage jus was an equally fine winter choice. We enjoyed the 2014 Remhoogte Bushvine Pinotage with the duck and the estate’s 2013 blend of cab, merlot, shiraz and pinotage with the venison.
Add some sublime fennel-and-honey ice cream for me, and roast ginger and thyme brulee for him, washed down with the Nederburg Chenin Blanc Noble Late Harvest, and the meal was a hit.
- Bookings for Ginger are on (041) 583-1229.