EAT – NUVO CUISINE

I love food: Eating it, preparing it, reading about it, and even just watching other people make it. (When you look at my build you can probably deduce that fairly quickly). Unfortunately, the rest of my family isn’t particularly bothered with exotic dishes and fancy ingredients and when we do all go out for dinner, it’s normally to a place where they know they’ll get filling and value-for-money food. Don’t get me wrong: I’m equally at ease in the Spur as I am in any given five star restaurant, but I do prefer my restaurants to not be of the franchise variety; the type of place where you can pick up on the personal touches and where food is not just a meal on a plate, but something well-thought-out and well-prepared.

It is for that exact reason that I’ve fallen in love with Nuvo Cuisine. A small haute cuisine restaurant situated in the tiny Old Farm Centre in Faerie Glen, Pretoria, I found it to be so well-hidden that the only reason anyone would know about it is because they live in the area or are friends of the owners. How I discovered the restaurant is beside the point, really, but as my best friend and dinner date would confirm, it’s quite a find.

Nuvo Cuisine is owned and operated by Cornè Grobler, who believes that his patrons should receive personal attention and therefore only allows 25 diners per evening (the restaurant can accommodate 40). Our waiter for the evening was the charming Cornel, who seated us outside on the patio where we could enjoy both our cigarettes and the gas heater in peace and quiet. Closed-in by patio curtains, the “smoking section” is sheltered from Gauteng’s freezing winter nights and feature remarkably comfortable wrought-iron furniture. We gave Cornel carte blanche when it came to recommending a decent red wine, and his choice of a 2003 Tall Horse Merlot was spot on – light and fruity, it was a perfect start to our dining experience.

I always find menus to be quite daunting, and, although Nuvo Cuisine’s menu is well planned, I was distressed about being so spoiled for choice. My friend was also a bit indecisive due to this, but after a rushed debate, we decided on the Springbok Carpaccio (R48.00) and Seafood Risotto (R45.00) for starters. The divine shavings of springbok fillet were served with an olive oil and white Balsamic dressing and Pecorino shavings, and finished off with a delightful fig preserve. The seafood risotto was heavenly, with the medley of seafood perfectly complementing the rice; cooked the traditional way in white wine, stock and cream.

“If you’re used to your plate being piled sky-high with food, the portions at Nuvo Cuisine might appear to be small…”

After our starters Cornel recommended a 2003 Kleinbosch Merlot – slightly heavier on the palate, but again a fantastic choice that worked well with our main courses of fig and nut wild duck (R92.00) and ostrich filet with lime and black pepper (R84.00). The duck was brilliant and a real taste sensation – a tender breast stuffed with figs, pecan nuts, herbs and Parmesan shavings, then oven baked and served with a fig and citrus reduction laced with cream.

My friend’s ostrich filet was also remarkable: Cornè marinates the meat in Bulgarian yogurt, pan-fries it in butter and serves it with port, lime and a caramelized Demerara sugar sauce. All main courses are served with pan-fried potatoes and julienne vegetables. While the vegetables did wonders for the presentation, my partner in crime noted that he would have preferred something like couscous with his ostrich. Nevertheless, we thoroughly enjoyed the meal.

Nuvo Cuisine excels in a multitude of areas. The venue is quaint, comfortable and up-market, and the service top notch. As a host, Cornel is charming and well-acquainted with what’s on offer. As the owner and chef, Cornè is the restaurant’s backbone and the personal attention he gives to every aspect of the restaurant is more than just commendable. If you’re used to your plate being piled sky-high with food, the portions at Nuvo Cuisine might appear to be small. However, it is exactly what is to be expected of an haute cuisine meal and the portions are quite filling. The food is fresh, tasty and well prepared and the presentation beautiful.

Nuvo Cuisine is open for private functions and will gladly design a menu to suit your needs. They also have a monthly wine-tasting evening where you get to sample the chosen estate’s wines and enjoy a three-course meal from a set menu.

Nuvo Cuisine is situated in the Old Farm Centre, 283 Old Farm Road, Faerie Glen, Pretoria. Bookings can be made on (012) 991 3396, 082 776 2502 or nuvo@mweb.co.za. Because the restaurant only accommodates 25 diners per evening, it is advisable to book ahead. The restaurant is closed on Mondays, but is open for breakfast and lunch Tuesday through Saturday from 09:00 to 15:00, and dinner from 18:30 to 22:30. It is also open for lunch on Sundays between 12:00 and 15:00.

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