South African restaurants are somewhat of a rarity in London, but if more were like High Timber, then surely it won’t be long before we see this little known cuisine flourish on our high streets. The backing behind High Timber is considerable: Stellenbosch’s most lauded wine estate, Jordan wine estate, one of the most famous South African restaurateur in the UK, Neleen Strauss and rising star, Mircel McSween who has been a chef at Rules, Fredericks and Adam Street Private Members’ Club.
Considering its close proximity to the city, the decor is relatively relaxed compared to neighbouring restaurants.It does have one of the most spectacular views of London you will see, facing Tate Modern, The Globe Theatre and Millennium Bridge; although there are possibly too many poles on their terrace, which does obscure the views if you are sitting inside. There is also a rotating display of artwork from talented South African artists for you to admire during your meal.
The food might sound familiar but it does have a distinct South African touch; the biltong croquettes has a much stronger meatiness to its flavour compared to the English version and has a spicy kick from the peppadew ketchup. Peppadew are sweet piquanté peppers grown in South Africa. The heritage tomato and crab salad is colourful and appetising with well-balanced flavours, especially with the accompanying white balsamic feta dressing.
Thoughtful flavours are very much in evidence for the main courses too. I tried their five-spiced duck breasts, which was cooked to a beautiful pink colour and richly flavoured with five spice powder. The garnishes are colour-matched with tasty pea and broad beans with shiso cress and pistachio yoghurt. If steak is your dish of choice, then you should visit on a Friday when they offer a steak with chips and a glass of Stellenbosch wine for only £20.
Their selection of wines are simply stunning, make sure you ask their management team to take you for a tour of their cellars and private dining spaces. The cellar table is cosy and rustic feeling in the confines of their red wine cellar.
I paired my duck breasts with a silky smooth bottle of Nelson Estate Shiraz 2009. It is a complex wine with strong notes from dark fruits and rich mocha notes and a smoky finish. Do ask their helpful and knowledgeable staff for wine recommendations. You could do a lot worse on a Friday night than enjoying sumptuous South African food and wine with amazing views of London.