Mike Basset still has what it takes

Revisiting chef Mike Bassett’s Myoga is like visiting an old friend that you haven’t seen in a long while and then having such a good time that you find yourself wondering why you let so much time pass between visits? Sometimes absence does make the heart grow fonder and when it does, it is really good to connect again.

Ten years ago Mike Bassett was an award-winning chef known for his innovation and creativity but the restaurant industry is fickle and foodies fall in and out of love, and so do chefs. For a while food was not Mike’s primary love and he embarked on a series of other creative pursuits, all the while still running a successful restaurant. Some said they missed the love despite the restaurant remaining full with foreign visitors and loyal diners and so the accolades disappeared. It is often said that you need to fall out of love in order to rekindle a passion. And that is exactly what Mike has done. With sparkling eyes, he declares that ‘It is an absolute joy to cook again.’ Mike Bassett has fallen back in love with food. And it shows. In every dish on his menu, it shows.

Myoga offers a tasting degustation menu that is different from the tasting menus found in other restaurants in that it offers so many choices. Officially it is a 7-course tasting menu offering no less than five (sometimes six!) options for each course, but the chef generously adds an additional dish of whatever food he is entranced with at that time, as well as a delightfully clever and delicious surprise at the beginning and the end of the meal. At R620 per person for a tasting menu that includes a wine paring (R355 without wine) this tasting menu offers incredibly good value for money. In fact, at these prices the tasting menu under-promises and over-delivers.

The innovation and creativity which won Bassett the hearts of food-obsessed diners and gathered all those awards is clearly evident in every one of these dishes. It is playful (think Grabouw lamb boerewors scotch egg curry spice, with hanepoot jam, whipped goats brie and sweet jus), comforting (try the butternut stinging nettle naartjie risotto with blue vein clotted cream and toasted pistachios) and sophisticated (try the black salted squid, black aioli, anchovy lime condensed milk, white almond gazpacho sphere, Iberico ham and celery scented potato). Every dish is beautifully presented – an artwork on a plate. The Black Forest Memories dessert is a wonderful story on a plate; the cherry cheesecake sphere, chocolate log, chocolate mousse, hot dark mousse, dark sponge, morello ice cream, chocolate streusel and chocolate blini is breathtaking.

Mike believes in, where possible, locally sourced foods and, always, from ethical suppliers. His heart is in his food and as such it has to reflect this, from source to plate.

Myoga has recently undergone a revamp and the lighter, whiter space is welcoming but still sophisticated, making it an ideal lunchtime venue as well as a special place for dinner.

Diners familiar with Mike Basset’s cooking and remember him from his Ginja and early Myoga days will be delighted with what is happening at Myoga. Those who have not yet had the privilege of experiencing Bassett’s food will be thrilled at the new discovery.

Open Tuesday to Saturday for lunch 11:30 – 14:30; Monday to Saturday for dinner 18:45 – 21:30; from 29th November until the end of December, Myoga will be open for Sunday lunch from 12:00 – 14:30 serving a la carte menu. Myoga Restaurant is situated at The Vineyard Hotel in Colinton Road, Newlands. Bookings are advisable, call (021) 657 4545 or email eat@myoga.co.za. For further information visit www.myoga.co.za