A prestigious new list of the top places in the world to see in 2016 starts off with the Cape Winelands, which, as it happens, have also just featured for all the great food and wine you get on the so-called “gourmet trail”.
The highly esteemed Robb Report says in its Top 21 Destinations for 2016, “South Africa’s perennially picturesque Cape Winelands region has long been a popular day trip from Cape Town. But the birthplace of Pinotage is making a compelling—some would say conclusive—case for an extended stay among its valleys and vineyards.”
For places to stay it mentions La Residence, Delaire Graff Estate and Richard Branson’s Mont Rochelle. It also mentions the new Leeu House, sister property to the company’s newly acquired Le Quartier Franςais.
In the Telegaph, meanwhile, reporter Graham Boynton says that there has been a “gastronomic revolution” in the Cape over the past decade and that Cape cuisine is “up there with the best in the world”. The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Francais in Franschhoek and The Test Kitchen in Cape Town are in the San Pellegrino list of the top 100 restaurants in the world.
But he goes on to name a dozen other restaurants and wine estates seriously worth a visit
- The Test Kitchen, Cape Town. Luke Dale-Roberts’ restaurant is the “hot Cape Town ticket”, so book way in advance. “Innovative dishes, many with strong nouvelle Asian cuisine influences and/or classical French references, draw on fresh South African ingredients.”
- The Pot Luck Club at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock is Dale-Roberts’ “cheaper and less formal” eatery.
- Greenhouse at the Cellars Hohenhort Hotel, Constantia. The 45-seater restaurant “offers cutting-edge cuisine with an emphasis on local ingredients. Liveried waiters deliver duck and porcini pastille and slow-roasted crispy duck with honey ginger jus. It is an adventurous menu that doesn’t take itself too seriously.”
- Foodbarn, Noordhoek. “Chef Franck Dangereux serves up a Cape version of French country cuisine as well as outstanding tapas. In the summer, well worth visiting is the Thursday market which takes place on the slopes of Cape Point vineyards, a giant picnic featuring wines from the estate and food from local producers.”
- Waterford Estate, Stellenbosch. “One of the most tourist-friendly wine estates. Cellar master Kevin Arnold not only makes marvellous wines (the flagship Jem, the Library Collection blends) but also leads vineyard safaris through the estate and conducts chocolate and wine tastings at the winery.
- Vriesenhof, Stellenbosch. Former Springbok Jan Boland Coetzee’s “pinot noir is worth the journey alone. The 2011 grenache is also worth tasting”.
- Delaire, Stellebosch. The gorgeously situated wine farm/hotel of diamond magnate Laurence Graff has two restaurants. “The main one provides spectacular views of the Simonsberg mountains to go with lunch on the terrace, described as ‘bistro chic’ and featuring estate-grown ingredients. The farmed kabeljou (Dutch for cod) is delicious. However, I would recommend dinner at the property’s small, discreet Asian restaurant Indochine, where a five-course chef’s selection includes delicious tuna tataki and Thai tom yum khaa for around £35 without wine.”
- Tokara, Stellenbosch. Owned by the banker GT Ferreira, “It is both an award-winning winery and the location of one of the Cape’s most innovative restaurants, the latter offering one of the great views in the area. Although chef Richard Carstens has a penchant for Franco-Asian fusion, the dishes are somewhat elBulli-ish in their deconstructive creativity…. That you pay just £18 for Carstens’s tasting menu is extraordinary.”
- The Tasting Room, Franschhoek. “Chef Margot Janse is the godmother of the new Cape cuisine. Recognised as one of the top nouveau chefs in the world, Janse says her food is a celebration of indigenous South African ingredients. Dishes such as salted farmed kabeljou and confit suckling pig with fynbos caramel provide a startling gastronomic adventure.”
- Foliage, Franschhoek. “Opened by Chris Erasmus, a Margot Janse protégé who is already getting rave reviews for his cuisine.”
- Bread & Wine, Franschhoek. “For lunch I recommend (this eatery) on the Moreson Estate, where the chef is Neil Jewell, a transplanted Englishman known as Mr Charcuterie in the Franschhoek Valley. His wagyu bresaola and biltong (dried beef) and mouth-watering cauliflower cheese risotto are triumphs.”
- “It would be remiss not to visit Anthonij Rupert Wines, the most beautiful winery in the area, with two tasting rooms and great views of the Franschhoek Valley and the Groot Drakenstein Mountains.”