Written by Crystle-Day and Julian
You might have heard South Africa being called the rainbow nation: a country of many different ethnicities. Naturally, this has influenced its cuisine. South African foods range from European stews and sausages to Indian and Cape Malaysian curries to the glorious braai (similar to a barbeque). However, what unites all South Africans (and their food), is an overwhelming love of meat. This is where Pinotage really nails it. Speaking to Ryback and Toby, it’s clear that they pay a lot of attention to the quality of their meat. All meat is sourced locally and specific instructions are given to the butchers as to preferred cuts and ageing. It’s a business model that has seen some success: Xi’an’s is the fifth Pinotage restaurant opened in China.
Pinotage is located in the far south-west of Gaoxin. A taxi ride from the South Gate will cost you about 30 RMB, but those who make the trip will be rewarded with an elegant, yet relaxed ambiance. Tasteful African music set the tone and our English-speaking waitress was attentive, but never annoying. The service was snappy, almost too much so as our main course arrived while we were finishing our starters, but this is nothing new in China.
The menu reflects the upmarket feel of the setting with the most expensive item being ‘The Beast’: an 800-gram T-bone steak (360 RMB).Main courses start at 70 RMB and can be ordered in different portions for sharers or gluttons. For those on a budget there’s the ‘Braai’ lunch menu, which offers generous skewers of meat (10-20 RMB). The variety of generous, tasty and beautifully plated carnivorous options is where Pinotage excels. It’s difficult to choose between the succulent beef wellington, falling-off-the-bone lamb shank, biltong carpaccio, the juicy ostrich burger, the best pork ribs in Xi’an, steak that isn’t over-spiced or over-cooked, the spiced boerewors sausage or the Durban Indian bunny chow (curry served in bread). In addition, Pinotage carries a large selection of South African wines that offer great value for money. The menu has been designed to be a sommelier’s dream. On Ryback’s suggestion we tried the vegetarian open ravioli of pickled beets with goat’s milk cheese (which is something we normally would never have tried). Paired with a chardonnay, it was a true delight, as was the entire experience at Pinotage.
Pro: Pinotage wins points on its ambiance, food presentation, wine list and service, but its meat is its stand-out performer.
Con: It’s quite far out of town, and the natural desire to splurge could bankrupt some of us.
Recommendation: The striking bone marrow: an arch of halved beef femur carries its contents, topped with thick oxtail stew. It’s delightfully rich and a must to share with friends.
Conclusion: Pinotage will be welcomed by all meat-lovers in Xi’an (although they do have vegetarian options). Its menu is a joy to explore, with plenty of exotic options when it comes to food or wine.
Average price: 150
Room 204, 2nd Floor, Buliding B,Greenland Central Plaza,No.1 Jinye Road
( 锦业路1号绿地领海大厦B座204 )