First Fridays, held on the, First, Friday of every month at The Kitchen @ Maison, saw myself and Chris Von Ulmenstein being reminded just why Maison ticks so many boxes of a very particular and refined list of what I at-least adore about eating out and truly experiencing a journey in hospitality.
Welcomed by friendly faces as always Julian showed us to our table. In true Maison style, wooded boards laced with refurbished paper displayed a five course table d’hote menu. Charcuterie | Octopus | Trout | Thighs | Kuji. At R400 a head with the most influential musicians serenading a variation of local Sophiatown predictions to sultry Latin American an ode to love and joy, the evening was bound for success.
With the varied menu I missed the option of adding a flight of wines (similar to that of their commendable premium tasting) this would have elevated a few dishes and completed a full circle journey for me. If not a full flight perhaps even suggested Maison wines per course, however often this makes a space and menu feel pretentious. An eatery I have never felt Maison was. So perhaps this is the reason?
Maison is known predominately for two wines Chenin Blanc velvety mouth-feel with lovely nutty flavors, lightly spicy undertones and an elegant smooth finish and Shiraz smooth, elegant wine, reminiscent of evenings on the veranda at Maison. Dark cherry & chocolate flavors on the nose i often find works well with Charcuterie
Charcuterie being the first course, a roaring fire a table or two too far away, i went with the renowned Shiraz. Indicative to the farm, all the cold slices from Bologna to a variation of saucisson, pates, spreads and a quince jam that paired with the freshly baked bread could melt your heart, not just the homemade coriander butter.
The crisp tempura-esque octopus** on mildly bitter pomelo-similar to grapefruit- followed, a beautiful use of colors popped on the stark white plate. A pity for me was that the flavours in no manner popped on my palette. A simple dish-perhaps intended, left me feeling like the dish was incomplete. Chris however loved the clean fresh flavours. You can’t please everyone?
**I am also a little bored of octopus, its almost as if their testicles and the over use across every eatery i have visited of late has sucked the appeal out of what was such a niche exciting ingredient.
The trout was something that intrigued me, more so how it was prepared. Laden with course salt the family style portions were whole baked and the residule salt removed. I had often seen this done with a whole chicken by JamieO if i’m not mistaken, and wood oven roasted-as was our trout. This retains the moisture of the fish and indeed stuck true to its word. The fish was delicious a little salty in parts but was complemented by a braised fennel and sweet corn salsa.
The Sous-Vide Chicken thigh was my favorite, a perfect winter dish, filled with flavour, super tender and topped with Sriracha-another ingredients i think has seen better days and is a bit outmoded but still one of my favourite ingredients to add a little smoke and spice to a dish. The persimmon is a new discovery for me and i loved the sweetness that complemented the smokey sriracha that corseted the thighs.
Dessert was a contemporary Asian dish, a rhyme to rice. Kuji (fermented rice, a brewers yeast type flavour) ice cream bedded on a homemade waffle and topped with variations of puffed rice. The textures were exciting and the tart, acidic ice cream was a welcomed new discovery for my palette.
Whilst I loved the new experience and discovering a fascinating new dish-i missed the “sweetness” of dessert, a course I normally least look forward to because of its sweet nature(yes I’m confused too).
I ordered the Maison Straw Wine-hints of honey, raisins and vanilla I found this to work well in balancing the tart acidity of the Koji.
A beautifully creative menu and dishes,mostly and a fun evening!
Maison First Fridays, perhaps call them to book, the venue is quite small for winter and maybe request a menu in advance just to make sure the menu appeals to you.If i know Maison the #FirstFridays menu will be very du jour and seasonal so expect exciting new dishes to mine and space to be limited.
Maison Wine Estate THE TASTING ROOM & DELI: Open 7 days a week 10:00 – 17:00 THE KITCHEN: Open Wednesday to Sunday for lunch 12:00 – 15:00