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The wondrous wine country: Exceptional dining experiences in the Cape Winelands – from Constantia to Stellenbosch to Franschhoek

Mar 24, 2020, Author: Candice May

Yes, you can do the Cape Winelands in an afternoon, but with tutored tastings and farm-to-table dining along with breathtaking beauty, eye-catching architecture, magnificent gardens and serious art collections, it’s worth staying a few days. And did we mention the wine? It was tough to single out a handful, but these restaurants on wine farms are all at the top of their game. 

READ MORE ON TRAVEL HERE.

Home base 

With 18 elegantly furnished self-catering apartments with only the finest in fixtures, appliances and linen, The Den Apartments by Cape Summer Villas in Stellenbosch is right at home in a historic town known for its Cape Dutch architecture. We highly recommend booking one of the sophisticated open-plan studio apartments (two-bedrooms are also available) at Cape Summer Villas’ most recent addition to its boutique collection of properties in the Western Cape for your Winelands visit. Situated on the top level, they have absolutely everything you need: A flat-screen TV with DStv and Netflix, a fully equipped kitchenette, air-conditioning, complimentary uncapped fibre Internet, secure off-street undercover parking as well as access to the communal rooftop pool and braai area. More importantly, most of the wineries and restaurants you’ll want to visit are between 6km and 30km away, making Uber an affordable way to get around. Cape Town International Airport is also 30km away. 

4 Dennesig Road, Stellenbosch 

066 297 4358 

www.capesummervillas.co.za 

[email protected] 

Facebook: @thedenstellies 

Instagram: @thedenstellenbosch 

La Petite Colombe 

Best for: Theatrical dining that fuses local ingredients with French flair 

The perfect pairing: Fine and Rare Wine Experience 

As part of the La Colombe group, little sister La Petite Colombe enjoys iconic status – a table must be reserved well in advance of arrival in the Winelands, especially in summer. The experience begins at the bar, where you’re served a refreshing sake-based cocktail with a zesty kalamansi foam inspired by head chef John Norris-Rogers’ recent trip to Japan. You’re then shown to your table in the relaxed yet refined glass-windowed dining room from which you can see the peeks of the Franschhoek mountains. The atmosphere is neither hushed nor stiff – instead, there’s a steady hum of animated conversation and glasses and cutlery are clinking enthusiastically. Each of the tasting menus can be ordered with wine pairings and unless you’re driving, the grand Chef’s Experience paired with the Fine and Rare Wine Experience is definitely the way to go. First, snacks arrive in an enchanting mobile garden followed by a bread course paired with a beer from Hey Joe Brewing Company down the road. From there, you can anticipate French-Asian inspired dishes with a depth of flavour on every plate and spot-on accurate pairings featuring limited-edition and boutique label wines. From the Malay tuna with avocado and coriander, to the scallop with pork, wild garlic, celeriac and katsuobushi, to the duck with langoustine, mussel and ham, each dish is more effortlessly balanced and downright delicious than the next. Ultimately, it’s all about the flavours. And don’t skip the cheese course of Boerenkaas, buckwheat and rhubarb before dessert. 

Take note: From early May, La Petite Colombe will move into a larger standalone space on Leeu Estates, also in Franschhoek. 

Le Quartier Français Hotel, corner of Berg & Wilhelmina Streets, Franschhoek 

021 202 3395 

www.lapetitecolombe.com 

Facebook: @lapetitecolombesa 

Twitter: @lapetitecolombe 

Instagram: @lapetitecolombe 

Terroir 

Best for: Seasonal produce-driven cuisine and subtly nuanced wines 

The perfect pairing: Kleine Zalze Family Reserve Chenin Blanc 2013 

Located on Kleine Zalze Wine Estate, a family owned wine farm that’s risen to prominence in both South Africa and internationally thanks to its award-winning chenin blanc and shiraz, Chef Michael Broughton’s Terroir restaurant is a regular fixture on our country’s top 10 lists for good reason. Refined bistro fare with a pronounced seasonal influence characterise the chalkboard menu of deceptively simple dishes, such as the iconic prawn risotto and dessert soufflés. We recommend starting with the elegant and luxuriously creamy prawn risotto stirred with corn, basil, langoustine butter and sauce Americaine. Another top-notch option is the fresh yellowtail ceviche complemented by the sweetness of pickled vegetables, soy and mirin and the spiciness of ginger vinaigrette, which brings a perfect balance of flavours. Moving onto mains, the fillet of beautifully cooked kob with plump, pillowy gnocchi, summer baby vegetables and velouté sauce makes for a decadent meal. Meat lovers may prefer the spectacular beef fillet with a rich mushroom purée, Pommes Anna, garlic chips and baby carrots. Your last course isn’t up for discussion – chef Michael’s chocolate crémeux with cinnamon, caramel corn and vanilla sherbet is one of the dreamiest desserts ever that will satisfy any cocoa lover. It’s comparable to a velvet-like creamy custard with an intense chocolate taste and sits atop a crumble base for fantastic texture. Once you’ve had your fill, you can work it off at the 18-hole De Zalze Golf Course designed by Peter Matkovich. 

Strand Road, Stellenbosch 

021 880 8167 

www.kleinezalze.co.za 

Facebook: @kleinezalzeofficial 

Twitter: @kleine_zalze 

Instagram: @kleinezalze 


Tryn 

Best for: Oysters and bubbly overlooking verdant vineyards 

The perfect pairing: Steenberg 1682 Chardonnay MCC 

The Steenberg Farm outpost of new signature restaurant, Tryn is sheer magic to look at with drop-dead gorgeous views, from the tranquil outstretched terrace, of the entire Constantia Valley across False Bay to the distant mountains. Dedicated to Steenberg’s 17th century founder, Catharina Ras or Tryn as she was known to her nearest and dearest, the restaurant features solid timber and hardy stone, delicate layering of textured fabrics and wall effects as well as rich burnt orange and mustard tones in soft furnishings, which coats the space with her femininity with scatterings of her feisty character. But the fabulous food is even more magical than the setting, thanks to chef Kerry Kilpin’s inventive Asian and Middle Eastern-inflected menu. For starters, order a few of the oysters with a zesty lime, chilli, coriander and ponzu granite spooned over them followed by the tempura prawns with charred pineapple and peanut salsa, avo, black garlic oil, sriracha and lime – a boundary-pushing innovative dish that packs a hefty flavour punch rather than just looking pretty on the plate. For mains, both the ethically sourced fish with an aubergine parcel, butternut, coriander, harissa and rose petal as well as the lamb rack with pumpkin purée, shimeji, English spinach, onion petals and a lemon rosemary jus are sensory overloads that make for a memorable experience. Lastly, when you’re nearing capacity, dessert is surprising yet delightful celebration of the infusion of some unexpected savoury notes such as basil, coriander, thyme and cardamom – a nod to Kerry’s clever use of flavours and textures. 

Steenberg Road, Tokai 

021 713 7178 

www.steenbergfarm.com 

Facebook: @steenbergfarm 

Twitter: @steenbergwines 

Instagram: @steenbergfarm 

READ MORE ON ACCOMMODATION HERE.

Refuel between sips 

Perched high on the upper reaches of the Constantiaberg in the oldest wine producing region of South Africa, the magnificent Constantia Glen is the place to grab local charcuterie and cheeses in Constantia. We recommend stopping by for the Constantia Glen Flagship Tasting, which includes four wines: The Constantia Glen Sauvignon Blanc, Constantia Glen TWO, Constantia Glen THREE and Constantia Glen FIVE. Our top pick is the fresh, classically styled sauvignon blanc, which combines tropical fruit flavours with well-integrated minerality. The tasting pairs well with the Charcuterie platter of prosciutto, coppa and Salami Felino with caper berries, gherkins, sourdough baguette and smoked rooibos butter or the Cheese & Charcuterie platter – a luxurious spread of fine cheeses and cured meats with sourdough baguette and homemade condiments. 

Constantia Main Road, Constantia 

021 795 5639 

www.constantiaglen.com 

Facebook: @constantiaglen 

Twitter: @constantiaglen 

Instagram: @constantiaglen 

Life is too short to not have oysters and champagne sometimes, and gourmet glamour couldn’t come finer than at Grande Provence Heritage Wine Estate in Franschhoek. Here, you can truly indulge with the new Cap Classique & Oyster Pairing that includes three uniquely dressed oysters shucked directly from the wine estate’s oyster tank to complement the character and personality of Grande Provence Cap Classiques. The Grande Provence Brut Rosé, which bursts with red berry and strawberry, is paired with two different oysters: One enriched with pineapple and cucumber salsa and another enlivened with a sliced grape, soy and sesame glaze. In our opinion, the star of the show is the beautifully balanced Grande Provence Brut paired with an oyster bedecked with kimchi and sweet lemon mayonnaise and then sprinkled with toasted black and white sesame seeds. 

Main Road, Franschhoek 

021 876 8600 

www.grandeprovence.co.za 

Facebook: @gpwineestate 

Twitter: @grande_provence 

Instagram: @grandeprovence 

Tokara Restaurant 

Best for: A feast followed by a stroll through fragrant olive groves 

The perfect pairing: Tokara Director’s Reserve White 2017 

There’s a lot more growing in these fertile valleys than just plump grapes. Tokara Wine Estate’s olive oil is known to be as exceptional as its wine, so arrive an hour before lunch to fit in an olive oil tasting at Tokara Delicatessen first. During the tasting, you’ll get to sample the estate’s four cold-pressed extra virgin olive oils, from the delicately flavoured Mission to the spicy Frantoio, as well as its preserved Calamata olives and olive paste. Afterwards, you can stock up on olive oil products and cheeses. Then it’s time for lunch at Tokara Restaurant – with the estate being situated on the top of the scenic Helshoogte Pass, the restaurant offers breathtaking views over the valley below and Table Mountain. Chef Carolize Coetzee’s menu is South African with a hint of Europe – think lots of springbok and ostrich, but also pasta and seafood. We recommend the à la carte options, however, a four-course set menu optionally paired with Tokara wines is also available at lunchtime. If you love shellfish and crave big, bold flavours, the steamed mussels with papaya, coconut, kapokbos, orange, samphire and a squid ink crisp is a must-order for starters. Also try the goat’s milk cheese ravioli with peas, green asparagus, lemon and velouté or the springbok loin with peach and apricot mebos, green beans, Pommes Anna and an apricot and buchu jus for mainsDesserts range from a hazelnut brownie to a coconut and vanilla panna cotta to a Spanish almond cake and are all superb. Of course, the wine list is extensive and carries only South African wines. 

Take note: The restaurant is closed on Mondays. 

Helshoogte Road, Stellenbosch 

021 885 2550 

www.tokararestaurant.co.za 

Facebook: @tokararestaurant 

Twitter: @tokara_ 

Instagram: @eatokara 

READ MORE ON HOME AND DECOR HERE.

Cavalli Restaurant 

Best for: A nighttime escape with glimpses of elegant racehorses 

The perfect pairing: Cavalli Black Beauty Shiraz 2014 

You’ll be forgiven for mistaking Cavalli Restaurant for an art gallery with its polished copper details, blonde wood, palm swivel chairs, Italian designer lighting and behemoth glass panels showcasing views framed by the distant Helderberg mountains in every direction. A long drive from the main gate of wine and stud farm, Cavalli Estate is this starkly contemporary space that stands out amid its other Winelands peers thanks to its sleek eco-friendly architecture and cutting-edge design. Here, head chef Michael Deg turns out creative takes on classics: Freerange Oak Valley pork with a pulled pork and mushroom spring roll, sweet potato, bok choy, fennel, chilli jam and kimchi; grilled line-caught hake lightly cured in a Cape Malay curry sauce with a smoked snoek croquette, pickled mussels, apricots and raisin crème fraiche; or vegan pearl couscous ‘risotto’ with red pepper velouté, root vegetable brunoise, almond yoghurt, pickled naartjie and a kale crisp. Dining in this opulent environment from which you can see horses gambling in designer paddocks transports you to another era, where life was slower and unapologetically more decadent. Ahead of your meal, we suggest visiting the art gallery and doing a little wine tasting (try the Cavalli Pink Pony Grenache Rosé) in the subterranean wine tasting lounge, which has a slightly nightclub-y ambience. Afterwards, you simply must pop into the glamorous in-house boutique, Equus and splurge on items like Kretschmer womenswear, Ida Elsje jewellery, L’MAD scarvesTerre d’Afrique organic skincare products and Jeanne Laubser ceramics.

 

Strand Road, Somerset West 

021 855 3218 

www.cavalliestate.com 

Facebook: @cavalliestate 

Twitter: @cavalliestate 

Instagram: @cavalliestate 

Haute Cabrière 

Best for: That perfect Winelands lunch amid postcard-worthy scenery 

The perfect pairing: Haute Cabrière Chardonnay Pinot Noir 

When visiting Franschhoek, the epicurean epicentre of the Winelands, the hardest thing is deciding which world-class restaurants in a stunning natural setting to visit. The recently renovated Haute Cabrière is an epic destination for gourmands who love fine dining and should be at the top of your list. The drive up the picturesque Franschhoek Pass sets the tone for the arrival at this unpretentious wine farm with wraparound mountain views and majestic stone arches. Rolling lawns invite you toward the expansive infinity deck, which was built when the outdoor area was transformed and encapsulated in glass – the most notable change at Haute CabrièreNow more of a destination than a traditional tasting room and restaurant, the light-filled space balances chic with relaxed while maintaining a timeless elegance. The menu is French inspired, but it’s the South African take on it that will have you enthralled. The chef’s confident exploration of tastes, flavours, textures and cooking styles comes in the form of dishes like ricotta and garden spinach dumplings with courgette, cep mushroom, cheese and celeriac foam; curried lamb spring rolls with saffron and pear chutney, coconut-infused curry sauce, yoghurt and coriander; herb-crusted lamb rack with warm spelt and vegetable ragout, roasted aubergine, lemon jus, coriander, and mint and cumin yoghurt; and homemade tagliatelle with flash-fried prawns, chilli and garlic. Each course is a taste explosion that leaves you wanting more – just don’t forego the peanut butter, chocolate and caramel bar for dessert. 

Lambrechts Road, Franschhoek 

021 876 8500 

www.cabriere.co.za 

Facebook: @hautecabriere 

Twitter: @hautecabriere 

Instagram: @hautecabriere 

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