Food with verve & polish

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Confit duck leg

There are no false steps at Mariella’s Restaurant. Here, chef Brendan du Preez makes sure glamour is on the plates of food.

Beautifully positioned above rolling vineyards on Capaia Estate near Philadelphia, the splendidly restored 1725 Victorian building is a grand lair — with swift service to match.

Sally forth with starters such as the suggestive Jiggly Blues where the creamiest blue cheese panna cotta is chased by parmesan crisps and fresh sprinklers. Fried to golden crispiness, the Patagonian calamari is casually dusted in black pepper and below it, squid ink aioli for lubrication and pea shoots for company.

Prepare to swoon when ordering the confit duck leg as a main. It sits on a small lake of sweet sherry duck jus, arm-in-arm with fresh cherries and a jaunty topping of crispy parsnip. The Vegan Cube dish is ambitious and thoroughly enjoyable. Bright baby carrot lozenges and shallots accompany the garlic pan-fried chickpea panisse covered with roasted cashew nuts and a harissa sauce which makes a stand-alone statement.

To seal the deal, the Round Ones has a respectable acidic and creamy balance with its dark chocolate mousse balls, fresh honeycombed berries and ooh, salted caramel. Or have a helping of nostalgia: a warm apple crumble served with cinnamon ice cream.

At Mariella’s, quality begets quality in all they have to offer — including the wines.

For weekend reservations, book well in advance: 021 9721103; Botterberg Rd, Philadelphia.