Prime summertime outdoor dining season is sizzling. Tryn’s newly renovated terrace – nestled in 340-year-old Steenberg Farm’s vineyards – is shining in its annual turn in the sun. Catharina’s Restaurant, which used to occupy this site, closed in 2019, leaving big shoes to fill. Happily, executive chef Kerry Kilpin has more than risen to the challenge. We find it hard to believe there’s anyone that won’t be won over by this inventive and flavour-packed menu.
Tryn’s true scale is hidden until the final moment. You’ll enjoy floating through the meticulous gardens before arriving at the restaurant – an elegant enclave with a bold colour palette of burnt orange, mustard, ruby and jade. Cape Town-based Bone Interior Design Studio has crafted the restaurant with lots of panache. The devotion to detail is exquisite, from the cushy velvet seating through to the finishes in solid wood, stone and copper. When the sun goes down, it’s gorgeously romantic in here. But at lunchtime, it’s especially intoxicating to sip wine on the inviting terrace with jewel tone colours casting their sophisticated sparkle across every corner.
On the tidy menu of starters, main courses and desserts, there’s plenty of meat and humble vegetables. But it’s chef Kerry Kilpin’s elevation of fish to hero status that steals the limelight. The menu changes every few months to guarantee the freshest in-season plates. Your journey starts with sparklingly fresh oysters – a palate-awakening mix of lime and ponzu granita, coriander and chilli – and every step of the three-course expedition gets increasingly exciting from there. Starters include plump and tender scallops with creamy cauliflower, peas and vanilla-infused velouté; delicate tuna crudo paired with pan-fried prawns, avocado, wasabi and a well-balanced nori and ginger vinaigrette; and tempura prawns atop smashed avocado, diced pineapple, coriander, mint and crushed peanuts with jalapeño syrup and miso mayo.
For the main event, don’t expect a robust main course. This is a refined restaurant that serves up elegant dishes without being stuffy. The mushroom risotto with Parmesan, sundried tomato pesto and broccolini is sensational, while the ethically sourced fish with prawn bisque comes with flourishes such as butter-fried fennel, asparagus, tomato salsa and Pommes Anna that turn it into something you’ll want to order again and again. Effortless, but also staggeringly considered. The herb and Dijon mustard-crusted lamb rack, served delicately pink, has a mix of flavours you’d never put together on your own – pumpkin purée, spinach and shimeji mushrooms with lemon and rosemary jus – but will want to when you leave. There’s also star anise and orange glazed pork belly, confit springbok neck with gooseberry gastrique, veal escalope with mushroom arancini and panko-crusted aubergine steak on a bed of black rice. Don’t skip a side of the truffle and Parmesan fries – they’re exceptionally crunchy and moreish.
Finally, if you have a sweet tooth, finish with the dark chocolate mousse. The light mousse and the pistachio and white chocolate ice cream are simply delicious. Or go for the tonka bean baked cheesecake – with a sweet burst of clementine salsa and guava, served with an intense tangy and citrusy sea buckthorn frozen yoghurt – which is perfect for cleansing the palate.
As with many memorable restaurants, it’s the service that really sets Tryn apart from its competitors. The staff, flitting back and forth pouring award-winning wines, are plentiful and delightful. To that end, don’t be shy when it comes to asking for recommendations on what to order. Few restaurants in Cape Town, let alone the whole country, are quite as difficult to leave.
Steenberg Farm, Steenberg Road, Tokai
021 713 7178