THE Bishop’s Mistress rocks on a Sunday, when Chef Dean Jones, aka The Singing Chef, gathers up his team to set up a lunchtime braai in the garden.
The leisurely Sunday lunch feast they serve can last for several hours, and provides an opportunity to kick back with a cold beer or fancy cocktail, followed by a variety of juicy grilled meats and numerous sweet summer salads. Patrons who hustled to book tables inside this British-style pub during the winter months, now flock into the shady garden, exchanging formal winter attire for shorts, rafters and flip flops, floaty dresses and sandals.
Last Sunday, roses and fuchsias were in full bloom, and the green lawn and shady trees looked inviting. Seating was at comfortable custom-made picnic benches (with backs), and smaller tables and chairs for couples and groups of four. The Bishop’s Mistress has a secret weapon in the form of maitre d’ Dylan Gous, who greeted us warmly, and escorted us to our table.
We immediately felt welcome, and great service continued with the arrival of our attentive waiter, Rodney. Although having recently returned to Zimbabwe after a sojourn in Tanzania, and being new to the service industry, Rodney was able give a proper, slow pour to George’s Castle Lite, holding the glass at an angle of 45 degrees, and creating a tight, long-lasting head of foam. My gin-based cocktail garnished with blueberries in hand, we settled down to enjoy the scene.
Choosing the right type of live music in a restaurant can create a unique ambience, and the sweet sounds of professional singer Nicola Kinnaird encouraged us to eat more, drink more, and to stay on longer. Nicola’s rendition of Brown Eyed Girl, Van Morrison’s nostalgic love song first released in the 60s, held everyone entranced, as did Sweet Home Alabama, a country rock tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s love for the American South.
Before turning our attention to the sumptuous braai buffet, we decided to explore the starter menu. Chef Dean’s twist on Bunny Chow, an Indian fast food originating in Durban, was extraordinarily good. Tender bread rolls, with a texture resembling dumplings, were stuffed with a flavoursome beef curry. Freshly made raita (yogurt and cucumber), a kachoomer of onion and tomato and a garnish of micro greens were the perfect foil for this spicy snack.
Chicken and duck liver parfait with cranberries was velvety smooth, perfectly seasoned and delicious; prepared with the attention to detail and skill for which Chef Dean is known, this is one of the most popular dishes on the starter menu.
Hungry guests made their way to the buffet table, as juicy beef kebabs, chicken and bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin came off the barbie. Salads were a vegetarian delight, with great bowls of roasted butternut and feta cheese, potato salad in a mixed herb salsa, mixed green salad with cucumber ribbons, and a tangy fresh watermelon salad.
Aromatic panna cotta, beautifully presented, was the perfect choice for dessert, although creme caramel and sticky toffee pudding provided alluring alternatives.
The long-awaited moment arrived when The Singing Chef briefly left his duties and joined Nicola Kinnaird to perform Sonny and Cher’s classic 60s flower power pop duet, I Got You Babe. The rendition was spellbinding, but this wasn’t the end of the day, as patrons continued to arrive, salad bowls were continually refilled, and kebabs were still sizzled on the braai.
Later, George and I made our way inside to the bar, where barista/mixologist Sean was shaking up creamy coffee martinis, a dangerously delicious after dinner cocktail made with coffee, Kahlua, vodka and cream. Finally, a cappuccino made from Signature Espresso Blend roasted coffee beans was served. Full of flavour, steaming hot, and with a luxurious milk foam, this had to be the best cappuccino I’ve tasted in weeks.
Chef Dean is ‘going all out’ with preparations for dinner on Christmas Eve. Traditional turkey and gammon ham with cranberry compote are on the menu, to be followed by mini Christmas puddings and mince pies. Beaded Christmas trees made by local artists, and pulling crackers, will decorate the tables.
In anticipation of the arrival of Santa Claus, expect to see Christmas stockings hanging from the mantlepiece. Christmas is just around the corner, and turkey and ham will be on the menu during the month of December. Give thought to booking your Christmas party well in advance, and if your extended family is huge, or you have a multitude of office staff, consider hiring the entire venue.
Before the festive season gets underway, take time off to enjoy a Sunday lunchtime braai at The Bishop’s Mistress. The sweet songs from Nicola and The Singing Chef will make your day. A Matter of Taste Charlotte Malakoff