New to the Midlands food scene is Granny Mouse Executive Chef Shaun Dampies. Having being lured away from beneath the shadow of the mountain back in Cape Town, Chef Shaun has brought a lot of energy and enthusiasm along with him. He’s worked in Cape Town and in the US, and comes armed with over a decade of experience and a passion for fine ingredients and food. I wanted to explore the workings of his kitchen and see how food magic is made. This effusive man was pleased to share his knowledge and to give me a taste (quite literally) of what to expect from the menu.
He happily showed me how the signature slow roast pork belly is made*. This was followed by a plating demonstration of the popular chocolate dessert. As it was just after lunch and a short while before dinner, I apologised in advance and said that although I would probably taste the food, I asked that he not be offended when I only have a bite. I was saving stomach real estate for supper later. I needn’t have bothered. After one bite I had to have another. Which led to another. And within an embarrassingly short amount of time I decimated the lovingly plated creations.
That pretty much set the devouring pace for me for the rest of the weekend. I ordered something. Took a bite. Blinked. And scoffed the lot with wild culinary abandon.
We gave the Eaves a go for dinner. That’s Granny Mouse’s fine dining restaurant, nestled atop a narrow staircase beneath a thatched roof . It’s an intimate spot, imbued with smokey scents of thatch, wood and countryside weekends. They have a set menu available, with or without wine pairings, but we opted to go à la carte. The chilly weather prompted me to order a starter of the roasted red pepper & tomato soup, which contained sous vide lamb breast, roast tomato, pickled onion & spiced lentils. The lamb was succulent and I savoured the texture and flavour of the added lentils. My better-behaved half, Gareth had the confit duck roulade with crackling, orange marmalade, black cherries, corn and red pepper salsa, and butternut purée. I loved the whimsical strokes of the purée on the plate and although the flavours had sweet notes, they weren’t oppressively cloying and it didn’t overpower the duck.
Please forgive the quality of the images, my camera chose our dinner as the point to call it quits and shuffle off it’s digital coil, leaving me with nought but a temperamental phone with which to capture these beautifully presented dishes.
For mains Gareth opted for the peppered beef fillet with rich ox kidney pie, butternut purée, basil pesto, carrots & bacon. This is a rich, hearty meal that if you are a committed carnivore, would find satisfying. I decided to go for something different to what I am used to and had the tandoori chicken roulade with coriander pesto, yoghurt panna cotta, sautéed spinach, roasted potato & lentil risotto. I really delighted in the playful pairing of a panna cotta and a curried meal. The combination was fun and it worked.
If it weren’t for the fact that we ate the slow roast pork belly and dark chocolate dessert plate earlier, instead of just photographing it like I should have, we would have had space left over for dessert. Very sadly this was not the case, but it just means we will have to go back!
I have to add honorable mention for breakfast here. The Bistro is the more relaxed dining establishment at Granny Mouse and it’s also where guests enjoy breakfast. Us shivering Durbanites nabbed a spot right by the fireplace (I was practically sitting in it), ordered our coffee and perused the menu. I always have the same thing wherever I go: the pedestrian, run-of-the-mill eggs-bacon-etc breakie. This time I figured, routine be damned. Gimme somethin’ sweet. Opting to live on the breakfast wild side, I chose flapjacks with crème fraîche and berry compote. Oh my. Forget bacon and eggs, people. If you are at the Bistro, order that. Talk about a sweet ending to your weekend!
Although we didn’t get to eat lunch at the Bistro, friends of ours recommend it for indulgent comfort food, such as the lamb shank. Next time we swing by I’m definitely grabbing that. And if you want a really private space to dine there’s the wine cellar (although I am not sure I could be trusted there…).
I think it’s safe to say that under the helm of Executive Chef Shaun the food is in good hands. The menu we enjoyed is delicious, beautifully plated and in some cases quite imaginative but devoid of pretentiousness. It is a worthy representative of the Granny Mouse “Welcome Home” atmosphere and ethos and I look forward to enjoying more meals there in future. I am hoping to see some trout and other wonderful locally-sourced treasures make an appearance on the menu too 😉
Have you had a great meal at Granny Mouse recently? I’d love to hear about it! Please share in the comments 🙂
*Recipe post to follow separately – stay tuned!