Anywhere there are world-class wines being made – from crisp sauvignon blanc to silky shiraz – the coexistence of a hotbed of first-class restaurants with delicious food is surely a given. Whether you’re planning to spend a day or a week exploring the Cape Winelands, a culinary destination with a whimsical blend of beauty and wine, we recommend squeezing these three new dining experiences into your stay.
Editor’s pick: The new La Petite Colombe
With its whitewashed walls, tree-lined walkways, colourful bushes and sculpture-filled grounds, La Petite Colombe’s new home at the picture-perfect Leeu Estates is right at home in the historic town of Franschhoek, known for its Cape Dutch architecture. The interiors of the restaurant’s glass-windowed dining room surrounded by natural light balance out this old-world vibe – think a subtle and neutral colour palette of creams and beiges, hand-painted ceramics and dove feather fabric that reminds us of the restaurant’s heritage and name. More importantly, with a fanciful dose of cosmopolitan global influences, the dining experience is unlike anything else in the Winelands. If you can, spring for the elegant 11-course Chef’s Experience tasting menu with wine pairings, in which head chef John Norris-Rogers is unafraid to push the envelope. It will set you back a pretty penny, but for foodies looking for an elusive mix of haute cuisine and local ingredients, the experience is nothing short of sublime – c’est superbe. Dishes will be familiar to fine-dining gazers, but there are modern touches and luxurious ingredients, too. There’s the snack course with beautiful foliage-inspired presentation served in the lounge area, followed by a mesmerising lavender-scented cloud of honey brioche with duck liver and rhubarb. Then there’s the dry-aged duck with prawn, szechuan, peanut and hoisin; an edible masterpiece that leads the way for larger dishes like the confit salmon with bacon sambal, asparagus and quail egg and the Karoo lamb with harissa, salsa verde and chickpea. The well-orchestrated ride, which plays with textures and temperatures while remaining grounded in flawless execution, ends with the famous sweet trolley of next-level desserts. Furthermore, the service is familiar and remains superb, with staff seamlessly ushering in each course, and there’s a sun-kissed patio terrace for al fresco dining in the warmer months. Showcasing a mastery of ingredients and presentation, this is a truly special restaurant that everyone should aspire to dine in.
Leeu Estates, Dassenberg Road, Franschhoek
021 202 3395
beyond at Buitenverwachting
In a converted thatched building set on the mountain slopes of the historic Buitenverwachting, world-renowned chef Peter Tempelhoff – who has roots to super-chic Cape Town restaurants FYN and Greenhouse – draws culinary influences from South African cuisine. The light-filled beyond is the latest opening in the Constantia Valley with design elements that borrow from natural textures, and it’s already a smash hit. The menu here is an essentials-only à la carte selection – including lobster tempura with homemade Japanese mayo, cold oysters, Durban prawn with tandoori cauliflower steak, African ancient grain risotto and a Madagascan chocolate and coffee roll – but everything here is so good you won’t need many more options. Some dishes are deeply traditional, but some throw unexpected yet decadent flavours into the mix, like the truffle-filled burrata. The free-range ostrich tataki with pickle gel and drizzled with heavenly horseradish mayonnaise and spicy chirizu sauce is a veritable tongue pleaser, while the sustainable line fish with Saldanha Bay mussel cream, coastal plants and an elegant dusting of saffron is local fish in its purest form. Make sure you ask about the secret, off-menu tasting menu that’s also available.
Buitenverwachting, 37 Klein Constantia Road, Constantia
021 794 0306
Sharing plates at The Werf Restaurant
The Werf Restaurant, the provenance-steeped restaurant located on the picturesque Boschendal Wine Estate, is real-deal farm-to-table fare – and a visit comes complete with stunning views of the imposing mountains. Using organic produce sourced directly from its food garden and ingredients from nearby farms, executive chef Allistaire Lawrence creates sharing plates depending on what’s bountiful that day. The new dining concept dabbles in fresh produce – from melty deep-fried camembert with figs, seed crackers, pecan nuts and rocket oil to a stone fruit salad that comes dressed with burrata, prosciutto and French dressing – and the food is plentiful. Other highlights include delicious, tender and juicy thick-cut marinated Angus sirloin with charred onion purée, baby onions and beef jus as well as a refreshing ceviche treat of yellowtail, kimchi, yoghurt, carrot and ginger dressing and crispy sago. For dessert, choices like a wonderfully smooth, creamy and zesty lemon tart with raspberry sorbet and peppermint shortbread will end a perfect lunch in the shade of the oak trees. A decadent meal is best paired with Boschendal’s sauvignon blancs, chardonnays and pinot noirs, or one of the creative ‘Winetails’ that may look like an Italian aperitivo, but it won’t taste like one.
Boschendal, R310 Pniel Road, Groot Drakenstein, Franschhoek
021 870 4209