MAKARON RESTAURANT is cementing its reputation as one of the most exciting dining destinations in the winelands with a compelling new ‘small plates’ menu from Head Chef Lucas Carstens.
Makaron, situated in the stylish Majeka House & Spa on the outskirts of Stellenbosch, has long been known as a haven of fine food and gorgeous design. In November of 2016, this luxury small hotel scooped a coveted international award in recognition of their world class interior design. Named as the Best Design Hotel in Africa & the Middle East at the Condé Nast Johansens Awards for Excellence 2017, the property was praised as a ‘wining, dining and super styling destination’.
Now, just in time for winter, Carstens is heating things up at this Etienne Hanekom-designed gourmet destination with an innovative menu of small plate cuisine.
“Globally, there’s definitely a trend towards small plate tapas-style dining, with people sharing flavours and textures around the table,” explains Carstens, who took the helm of the Makaron kitchen in 2015. “The idea here is flexibility, and we want guests to decide for themselves how they discover the menu.”
That flexibility comes courtesy of an exciting menu offering of 18 small plates, dreamt up by Carstens from a well-thumbed notebook of ideas, and inspiration collected from cookbooks and his own culinary discoveries.
“I’ve always been a big fan of State Bird Provisions in San Francisco, a rustic-urban eatery where the focus is on small plates served yum cha style so guests can choose what they’d like to eat” explains Carstens.
That same sense of discovery finds a home on Carstens’ new offering at Makaron. Although the menu is broken into a recommended journey of ‘Suggested Start’, ‘Followed Up By’, ‘The Serious Choice’ and ‘To Finish’, guests are left free to curate their own culinary experience.
It all begins with an amuse bouche of leaves from the Majeka vegetable gardens, tossed in rooibos vinegar and served alongside korrelkonfyt, sourdough and butter. It’s a perfect scene-setter for a menu that ably showcases Carstens’ ever-growing skills behind the pass.
“We are definitely incorporating more modern techniques in the kitchen, but we’re also focusing on just a few ingredients in each dish, showcasing those as the hero on the plate,” adds Carstens.
A fine example is the pan-fried springbok rump. Plated on a bed of caramelised red cabbage purée, it arrives topped with bacon crumb, pickled red onions and a beetroot crisp. A handful of ingredients expertly prepared and delivered as a striking dish of bold, uncomplicated flavours. The Chalmar sirloin is also a unique take on a bistro-style staple. Here, Carstens delivers it with a memorable hit of ‘umami butter’, enriched with miso, dried shitake, confit garlic and dried sea lettuce.