Cappuccino Quest: Cosecha Restaurant In Paarl Outside Cape Town, South Africa, Makes Great Food But Dire Coffee
If you're looking for a change from the traditional fine dining cuisine found at many South African wine estates then Cosecha Restaurant, with its Latin inspired cuisine, offers a welcome alternative - but, unfortunately, the cappuccinos aren't as skillfully prepared as the food.
Last month I joined a group of friends for lunch at Cosecha Restaurant, which is at Noble Hill wine estate in the Simonsberg-Paarl district in Paarl just outside Cape Town. The restaurant offers "Latin inspired" fare, in the form of a mix of South American and Mesoamerican cuisine (such as guacamole, tortillas, taquitos, and esquites).
Surprisingly it doesn't offer many vegetarian options - of the 11 main courses there is only one, plus a few side dishes and starters - which was a real disappointment as there is so much one can do with tacos, tortillas, quesadillas, and nachos.
I therefore ordered the option: zucchini and red pepper enchiladas, which included "grilled vegetables with pepita and gooseberry salsas" (R95). It was beautifully presented and comprised three enchiladas filled with roasted red, green, and yellow bell peppers, onion, and zucchini (baby marrow), topped with the gooseberry salsa, which was sweet and very tasty, with a zingy aftertaste, and the pepita (pumpkin seed) salsa, which was a bit tart on its own but complemented the rest of the flavours well. The dish was garnished with spring onion, radish slices, and a red chilli.
Although I really enjoyed it - flavour wise I can't fault it, bar the slight tartness, and visually it was well balanced - the portion was too small for me and, as is the case with most wine farms (and many city centre restaurants), felt overpriced (although much of the cost probably went to the gooseberries, which are expensive locally). Even after having already snacked on the free table starter, comprising roughly processed chickpeas served with (rather bland) plain nachos, I still felt quite hungry.
The restaurant's menu board listed a selection of desserts, which I assume change frequently. On this occasion our options, all of which were priced at R35, included Oreo cheesecake, carrot cake, chocolate peppermint cake, and flourless chocolate cake. We wandered inside to view the selection as it is on display in a fridge cabinet (along with a large tequila selection) and I chose the New York cheesecake. The desserts are served ungarnished and the portion sizes are adequate for most people. The price is also reasonable.
To end the meal we ordered cappuccinos and filter coffees. The coffee, unfortunately, was the low point of the experience.
The restaurant is physically quite small, so booking is strongly advised, but it still felt comfortable and spacious. It's open for breakfast and lunch, with seasonal specials that change daily. You can also opt for a picnic, which you need to order with your reservation, and can enjoy it on the lawn overlooking the dam.
The estate produces a small batch of extra-virgin olive oil each year so, after our lunch, we had intended to wander to the estate's olive-tree orchard, which apparently comprises 600 trees, but were told that the area was closed for renovations.
I'd like to see the orchard so I'll happily return to do so. Hopefully by that time there will be more vegetarian variety on the menu and the problems with the coffee will have been resolved.
Cappuccino (R19). This is a reasonable price, and quite a surprise as wine farms usually charge too much.
My cappuccino was handed across the table and passed to me but my spoon was still pointing towards me. Coffee had been spilt down the cup.
200ml, which is the correct size.
Above: This is the cappuccino that I drank.
One of my friends had slightly better foam, which you can see in the photo below, with a reasonable balance (light-dark contrast), although it was a little off centre, and an unbroken ring of crema. Mine (pictured above) didn't have a crisp dark ring right on the edge and it looked as if the foam had been topped up (badly), which messed with the balance. The microfoam was good, however. It didn't degrade quickly, bar a few bubbles in one section of the crema, and had a velvety sheen, although it was only about half a centimetre thick. Unfortunately all the cappuccinos were served with a dusting of hot chocolate on top.
The cup was lukewarm, as was the coffee. Better lukewarm than too hot, which can destroy the foam and the coffee, but it could have been a little warmer.
It looked as if there was too much milk, so the foam-coffee-milk ratio was also off. My notes after my first tasting of the coffee say "a heady mix of bitter and sour". I think I was in a lyrical mood as I had enjoyed the enchiladas but what that really meant was the coffee was awful, with nothing but bitter and sour tastes overpowering any flavour. It was very badly made - the espresso shot may have been under extracted and it's possible that the portafilter wasn't cleaned after each shot was tampered but I have no way of knowing as the coffee is made inside the building - and was a disappointment as the foam was surprisingly well made. We were told that the coffee came from Origin
in Cape Town.
Above: This is the cappuccino that had slightly better foam.
3/10. My notes later say "such an enigma - good foam but awful, awful coffee" and, as a result, I'm giving points mainly for the foam (the coffee alone gets a 1). Our table ordered four cappuccinos and three filter coffees and the unanimous consensus was that the coffee was horrible - so much so that members of our party complained to the waiter, who acknowledged that we weren't the first people who have done so and intimated that the fault lies with the coffee supplier, which I dispute. There is nothing wrong with Origin's products. It is more likely that something is wrong with the machine or the person making the coffee needs more training.
12 November 2016
Address: Noble Hill, Klapmuts-Simondium Road, Simondium, Paarl, South Africa
Phone: +27 (0)21 874 3844
Hours: Wednesday to Monday, 10:00 to 17:00; closed Tuesdays
Cosecha Restaurant Online: Official Site
This Cappuccino Quest (and the dessert) was sponsored by a friend of brainwavez.org - thank you! You can sponsor one too by inviting one of our writers out for a drink (if you know them - don't be creepy if you don't!) or donating via Ko-fi.