There are many reasons to opt for tap water over bottled mineral water when dining out locally: the quality is of a high standard, there’s minimal carbon footprint involved and you get to save money that you can then spend on wine.
Harvest, the restaurant on KWV property Laborie in Paarl, only offers Vivreau filtered water as a waitress unapologetically explained to us during lunch yesterday. To make matters worse, this is passed off as “mineral water” on the menu. Management were good enough to waive any charge once we’d raised our dissatisfaction, however.
With KWV cellarmaster Richard Rowe and co. currently making cracking wines as well as big-name chef Matthew Gordon consulting, there was plenty of reason to be excited about the prospect of a meal at Harvest. The experience ultimately was only so-so.
Salads to start and my calamari, rocket and chourico salad (R66) was very tasty overall, although marred by one or two of the rocket leaves not properly washed and still sandy. The wine was KWV The Mentors Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (R190) which showed well: juicy and full with intense lime fruit before some pyrazine bite, good texture, soft but sufficient acidity. Score: 16.5/20.
For mains, I opted for 300g sirloin steak (R98) with Café de Paris butter (R18) as did my wife while the couple dining with us chose to share West Coast mussels in a garlic, Chardonnay and cream sauce (R98).
Service which until now had been well-meaning if a little amateurish now became unacceptable. A delay in bringing cutlery for the mains – some of us resorting to using knives and forks from the starter course which had only partially been cleared away while others waited in vain for new eating implements.
My steak was neither much better nor much worse than anything else you would find in the winelands – so much for the input of the exalted Gordon. With barely a mouthful left, a plate of crispy onion rings appeared at the table with only the vaguest expression of regret for its late arrival from the waitress. Presuming that it was a non-discretionary part of our meal, we ate them and jolly good they were, too. Only on being presented with the bill did we discover that they were an optional extra charged at R18.
Wine with our steaks was KWV The Mentors Orchestra 2009, winner of the trophy for best Bordeaux-style red blend at the 2011 Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show. This is in a modern idiom with ultra-ripe dark fruit and smooth, soft tannins. Very slick but I could do with a bit more tannic grip. Score: 15.5/20. It sells for the not insignificant sum of R285 a bottle and when our bill arrived, it had to be pointed out that it had not been included in the total.
Service generally left a lot to be desired but sitting on the terrace in the shade of some grand old oaks with a view of the Drakenstein mountains, we still managed to have an enjoyable afternoon.