A complete wining & dining guide through the Cape… over four pit stops.
The Atlantic seaboard is the ultimate wine enthusiast’s indulgence and foodie pleasure. The coastline that stretches from the western coast of False Bay, from Cape Point to the start of Helderberg is sprinkled delish eateries and glorious views. With just four stops, we picked our top six locations, and of course, we’ll be sharing our findings with all of you. Fancy-free and unshod, we put our feet up in our hired car and took to the city center.
Cape Town – explore the city’s capital
It’s the equivalent of a hug from mother – familiar, heartening and encouraging. This restaurant is a home away from home. Let’s put it this way… it’s the kind of place you’ll eat at three times a week, and not feel any remorse.
The restaurant is well established and stands as a legacy in the city, having been born in celebration of thirty-two successful years in the restaurant industry. Owners Naldo and Victor are experienced restaurateurs who’ve put all their expertise and dedication into NV-80. Their secret? “We’re not chasing city views. We believe in two things, service and food,” Viktor says.
Their secret is paying attention to the consumer. They know you by name, and as we experienced first-hand, the customer is always treated with the utmost respect. They know every aspect of the operation of their business; they pay close attention and have positioned themselves at the top of their game. How, you might ask? It all accumulates into their delicious, consistent, flavorsome food and stellar service.
Perhaps nobody has called dishes of food sexy, but we will take the plunge, because NV-80 has a whole lot of sex appeal. It’s modern, upmarket and elegant, and is the ideal spot for locals and international clients. It seats around 140 guests and has a Miami meets Lisbon vibe, especially with the center showstopper – the bar. With its simplistic beautiful unintimidating finishes and its electric energy, it’s a heart stopper!
You’ll be tempted by the remarkable food. All the dishes are stunners, but we especially loved the prawn and steak combo, and we need to mention the sides, which enlivened each dish. Crispy French fries, wild mushroom linguine, creamy vegetarian risotto, the best dauphinoise potatoes and freshly made garlic rolls. When presented with the option to have dessert – take it! The apple tarte tatin, served warm, is so delish and topped off with their very own homemade chai ice cream. This pudding will blow your socks off! Five stars from us! Check out their full menu here.
Life Grand Café – V&A Waterfront
The belle of the ball has finally arrived in Cape Town’s V & A Waterfront. By now, we’re all familiar with the fabulous Life Grand Cafes scattered across Joburg, but this is their very first branch in the Cape. We’re thrilled about it because this beach bar eatery oozes character and personality. The location on top of the harbor is invaluable, with ostentatious vessels and luxurious yachts passing by. It’s revamped the space into a sassy scene that begs to be enjoyed with its mesmerizing views. It’s awe-inspiring. It’s all-absorbing.
The location reflects CEO Maira Koutsoudakis’s vision – it’s romantic yet edgy, vivacious yet comfortable, sumptuous yet soulful. It keeps your curiosity peaked and your taste buds tingling. While few designers have the clout to warrant such a bold design, Maira does it effortlessly. It all comes together so naturally, and because Life is a trusted brand, we have high expectations.
Self-control goes out the window when looking at the extensive menu, and if its options you’re after, this is just the spot. From sushi to ceviche, harissa calamari to chicken korma and glorious beef tartare to wood fired spatchcock chicken, we’re here to help you cherry-pick the best. If its sushi goals you’re after, the Burrito Fotomaki is supreme in its design and flavor. Choose from the crab avocado kale, the Daikon cucumber and cream cheese or the soy & miso poached chicken breast. Oh, and all the rice rolls are black! Again, always playful, pushing boundaries, always a step above the rest.
Is there anything more enticing than the title, ‘Millionaires salad‘? It had to be ordered. This palm heart ceviche concoction with yuzu lime grapefruit dressing is delicate, tangy and sublime! Wash it all down with a glass of Cab Sav, or for a non-alcoholic option try their famous Elderflower lime mint crushed ice Granita. Check out their full cocktail menu here.
Mondiall Kitchen & Bar – V&A Waterfront
Having just launched their summer menu, Mondiall Kitchen & Bar has been operating for three years and is beautiful and serene. Its set in a contemporary Brasserie style which means the restaurant is casual and informal, but remains upmarket. Restaurateur Patrick Symington, of Cape Town’s Café Dharma and Asoka fame, says that the Mondiall formula remains unchanged, and will continue to offer sophisticated, but casual brasserie-style dining experience with refined comfort food.
Think of it as a modern farmhouse – collared shirts with slipslops. It’s the best of both worlds. Their sophisticated culinary eatery is much loved, especially with their rolling view of the water’s edge, as well as the looming Table Mountain. It’s the ideal setting for a lazy afternoon luncheon, a sultry cocktail session with friends or a romantic dinner for two. It truly is a great place to unwind and indulge.
And indulge, we did! For mains we dived into the creamy, melt-in-the-mouth risotto of the day – authentic Italian style mushroom risotto – which was (cooked al dante) to perfection. We adored the spice crusted seared tuna which was jolted with a romesco sauce, crushed new potatoes and a fresh, zesty gremolata. We hate to admit, it but we regret not trying their legendary 100% Wagyu cheeseburger served with gherkins, umami ketchup and hand cut fries.
Be sure to leave space for pudding. Their sweet delicacies are all encompassing. Think Rooibos and honey crème Brule, lime meringue with coconut and almond shavings and fresh strawberries, surrounded by a decadent lime custard and a peppermint crisp parfait with flaky, buttery shortbread crumb. Complete your Mondiall meal with their Black Insomnia – the strongest coffee in the world- which comes served in the traditional way as well as a cold-brew Black Nitro.
Franschhoek – wine down in the wine lands
This wine estate is a great excuse to let all your city woes go and embark on a fairy-tale like experience. Anthonij Rupert Estate began in 1982, but the original farmhouse was built around the 1830’s. The farmhouse embodies tradition, embraces history and adds to the distinctive nature of the property.
Upon entering the estate, you’ll feel enthusiastic about its natural beauty, rose and herb gardens, evergreen trees, olive groves and of course, the vastness of the vineyards. With so much to explore, we recommend booking a glorious high tea (R180 per person), as well as a wine or sparkling wine pairing.
Whilst sipping on some red nectar, we learnt all about the Anthonij Rupert wine range. There are five; The Protea, The Terra Del Capo, The Cape of Good Hope, the flagship Anthonij Rupert wine range, The Cap Classique range – L’ormarins, and also the Litchi Eau de Vie, which is a brandy-meets-grappa-style white spirit.
Begin with a lavish lunch, served in the Terra del Capo Tasting Room. Surrounded by glass doors, you’ll be able to witness the winemaking process while you nibble on a few tapas style dishes. The peach and plum caprese salad with basil and bocconcini is reason enough to visit the estate. Busting with summer flavors, freshness and elegance, it’s lip-smacking! Try the cold smoked olive oil poached Franschhoek trout with candied shaved fennel and pink peppercorn crème fraiche – it’s presented under a glass of smoke and magic, and every bite should be salvaged.
P.S. Don’t forget to try one of their cocktails – especially the Litchi Mojito with their beloved L’ormarins Litchi Eau de Vie, fresh mint and crushed ice. It’s tempting not to go back for seconds. But remember to leave some space for the wine pairing.
Stellenbosch – frolic through the wine lands
We like to think of ourselves as wine aficionados. Not only does it sound super chic, but lately, we just can’t get enough of the vintage. So when we heard that Hartenberg Wine.
Estate, which has over a hundred species of birds, offered picnic experiences, we just had to try it out for ourselves.
This 180hectare estate was established in 1692, and when you stand before the gigantic wooden cellar doors (the oldest in South Africa, by the way), you can’t help but feel a sense of nostalgia. There’s something extremely special about this estate because there’s heritage. Here lies tradition, and it’s all encompassing.
Johann Van Der Merwe, the destinations manager, kindly took us on a private wine cellar tour, where they store and mature wine underground. They also offer private events and functions in this exclusive space. Don’t fret, there’s underground heating available because the cellar is glacial-like, especially during the summer months. As you enter this dreamlike space you can’t help but notice the twelve glass art pieces throughout the walls of the cellar. The pieces showcase the twelve steps of the original winemaking process. The estate has deep-seated roots in history, and with such pride for their story, we couldn’t wait to taste some vino.
Our absolute favorite has to be The Gravel Hill Shiraz, which is also their flagship wine. We were spoilt with the year 2006 – with its spicy notes and tangy, aggressive tannins, it was perfect and complex due to its bitter qualities. Another treasured choice is the Eleanor Chardonnay – fresh, crisp and made from the finest grapes. It’s like jumping out of freshly cut grass. This wine is wooded and creamy, and because the grapes are handpicked you can taste its excellence. This wine is also extremely cherished because it was named after Eleanor Finlayson, who worked the fields of Hartenberg and had an incredible passion for the vineyards.
So grab a bottle of your choice, sit under the evergreen trees overlooking the expansive vineyards and enjoy a picnic under the blue sky.
Hermanus – explore the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley
This boutique winery is certainly worth visiting because it’s just an hour and a half outside of the main city and not only does it serve some of the finest wines in the Cape, they also serve one of the best cheese boards you’ll ever have the pleasure of devouring.
Simply put, Bouchard Finlayson is fit for a king, with its breathtaking ocean views and mountainous landscape, it’s heaven on earth.
What we love most about this estate is its winemaker, Peter Finlayson. Peter has such a wealth of knowledge and a passion for his trade that it’s impossible not to fall in love with it too. It’s no wonder this estate is well known for producing world-class wines.
You can’t leave without tasting some of the flagship wines in this pioneering wine valley. The Hannibal 2014 is called a ‘symphony of flavors’ for a good reason – it’s rich, full bodied, and jam packed with character and refinement. It’s a cut above the rest. On the white side of life, the Crocodile’s Lair Chardonnay 2015 is glorious – unwooded and makes for a wonderful alternative to Sauvignon Blanc. Not too sweet, not too tart… it’s the perfectly balanced wine.
However, the crème de la crème has to be the Galpin Peak 2013 Pinot Noir, which has received numerous awards. It’s that smell you get from freshly fallen damp leaves, you’ll taste sweet berries and black cherries, piquant and lovely.
After all this indulgence remember to take a walk around the estate, where you’ll be mesmerized by the hundreds of fynbos species, birdlife and natural beauty of the environment.
Let us know if we’ve left out one of your favourite destinations in the Western Cape by leaving a comment in the comment box below.
Bianca Spinner is the Senior Lifestyle Journalist and Beauty Editor at Hello Joburg Magazine. Bianca is taking strides as in independent woman in the workforce and combined with her deep seated passion and love for her community, she is sure to increase her insatiable appetite for success.