EAT: HUSSAR GRILL, GREENPOINT

In my mind, winter has always gone hand in hand with rich, hearty meals. So when two friends and I recently went down to Cape Town for a wedding, we were looking forward to the Western Cape’s traditionally cold and wet winter weather and revisiting some of our favourite restaurants.

As usual, nothing worked out the way we planned. Yes, the Western Cape was still beautifully lush and green compared to dull, dry Gauteng, but there was absolutely no sign of winter: no clouds, no wind, and no rain. Instead, we had gorgeously sunny summer days that allowed for short sleeves and sidewalk café dining. Needless to say, the bulk of our plans changed quite dramatically.

What did however come to fruition was at least one hearty meal, courtesy of the renowned Hussar Grill’s Greenpoint branch. It’s prime positioning in Main Road, merely a few metres from the legendary Giovanni’s, gave us a splendid view of the construction taking place at the new Greenpoint Stadium and we had heated discussions on how the World Cup 2010 would change the face of this part of town.

The Hussar Grill has been in existence since 1964, with its main, and the original, branch still in operation in Rondebosch. The Greenpoint outlet was opened in November 2006 and, according to our host Stuart, has since been doing brisk business. Hussar’s décor creates a welcome, homely ambiance that manages to successfully combine modern amenities with old-school hospitality. Dark wood and crisp white table linen give a stylish impression, but don’t make you feel remotely pretentious.

The restaurant maintains its multiple award-winning reputation by going to great lengths on a daily basis to purchase only the finest and freshest produce, and it promises that this special care is reflected in every meal that leaves its kitchen. The menu is tried, tested and extensive; certainly giving us a few headaches when it came to choosing what to order.

For starters, our party of three settled on the Springbok Loin Carpaccio (R38), Fried Crumbed Camembert (R44) and Chicken Livers (R32). The Springbok Carpaccio, one of my all-time favourite starters, was probably the best I’ve tasted in months. Sliced paper-thin and served on an olive oil and balsamic vinegar base, it was topped with parmesan reggiano, rocket and sprouts; the flavours and textures a delightful taste sensation. The Crumbed Camembert also comes highly recommended, as do the Chicken Livers. Gently pan-fried with chillies and Hussar’s rich, homemade tomato sauce, it was tender and spicy.

We found the starter portions to be very generous, and combined with the relaxed atmosphere of the restaurant, decided to postpone a few appointments and rather have a laid-back, lazy lunch. Our gracious host, Stuart, joined us for a chat before we moved on to the main course.

The Hussar Grill is renowned for its superior red meat dishes and traditionally only serves its signature super grade, grain fed South African beef. It is hung on the carcass for up to seven days whereafter it is ‘wet aged’ for periods varying up to three weeks. Their T-bones are all dry aged.

With this in mind, I decided on a classic for my main meal: the Hussar Carpetbagger (R115), a fillet mignon stuffed with a combination of smoked oysters and selected cheeses and topped off with a brandy and wholegrain mustard sauce. The meat was visibly of excellent quality and prepared to my required medium order; the brandy and wholegrain mustard sauce combining with the rich, smoked oysters in a gastronomic sensation.

Also ordered was a Grilled Ostrich Fillet (R99) and Bushman’s Kebab (R120), both of which I simply had to taste. The ostrich fillet was expertly seared and a real taste sensation, perfectly complemented by the wild berry and apple schnapps basting sauce.

I was however even more impressed with the Bushman’s Kebab, which comprises of a trio of wild African game served on a garlic mash. Our kebab had kudu, eland and wildebeest, and all three were simply gorgeous.

We declined dessert, and instead ended our meal with Hussar’s trademark Chocolate Vodka Martini – not only the perfect way to round off a delightful meal, but enough reason to go back regularly!

Haute cuisine and trendy food outlets certainly have great value, but sometimes, nothing beats a good old steak. I was immensely impressed with The Hussar Grill and now understand why it is so highly regarded by many members of Cape Town’s gay community.

The Hussar Grill is located at 107a Main Road in Greenpoint and at 10 Main Road in Rondebosch. They are open for lunch and dinner, and advance booking is advised. The Hussar Grill can be contacted on (021) 433 2081 (Greenpoint) or (021) 689 9516 (Rondebosch). Website: www.hussargrill.com

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