Tuck into the restaurants of Somerset West
Somerset West has a lot going for it. Often thought of like a smaller version of Stellenbosch, this region is anything but and has a lot of unique qualities that set it apart. For a start there is no university, oaks are hard to find and the proximity to the sea is most appealing. Just down the road, you will find one of the longest beaches in the world with warmish water. It’s also a great place to eat out and it’s not too far from Cape Town itself. Some good food and wine are to be had here from fine dining to relaxed fare. These are some of my favourite places to feed the inner person.
With views right over Somerset West all the way to the distant sea and mountains, one could be forgiven for going there just to sigh over the feeling of bonhomie that grips one here. The terrace is just the place to be when the weather is playing ball, but the interior is cosy and inviting.
Here the cuisine has no frills and fancies, just great food, good to look at and in generous portions – very much in keeping with the country manner. The menu is vast with many vegetarian and fish options. The pastas are available in half or full portions which is always a great idea. The duck liver pâté with cranberry chutney and homemade Melba toast – none of that boxed stuff can be found here – is superbly rich, as are the mussels in saffron and lemon sauce with a touch of garlic and chilli – real stick to the ribs fare. The grilled Norwegian salmon is pricey but superb; it’s served with crispy capers and lemon butter sauce, perfect for taking the edge off all that richness. My favourite dish is the chicken and prawn curry. The tender pieces of chicken and shelled prawns are served in a rich curry sauce with just the right amount of bite to keep it interesting. If you can resist the pecan nut pie served warm with your choice of cream or ice cream and nut brittle, you are stronger than I am.
+27 (0) 21 852 7584
95 at Morgenster
Giorgio Nava, that most accomplished of Italian chefs, well known in Cape Town, has this upmarket little jewel of a place right on a lake on the late Giulio Bertrand’s iconic estate.
Obviously the thing to eat is pasta in many forms but do not expect pizza – it’s not that sort of place. Your doctor might not like you enjoying a serving of Giorgio’s rich pasta dishes, but there are times in everyone’s life when you have to live – just a little. For the carnivores, you should know that Giorgio is hailed for his selection of meat – from his own farm – and there are hearty dishes like grilled beef fillet with hand-cut fries, and slow-roasted pork belly with salsa verde and mash – simply brilliant. The desserts like his famous chocolate fondant will satisfy any sweet tooth. And to drink? The fabulous Morgenster wines are of course available at your request.
All in all, the setting is as tranquilising as it comes, and the service is impeccable.
+27 (0) 21 204 7048
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Stables At Vergelegen
While there is another (fine dining) restaurant at Vergelegen, much prized by the cognoscenti, this is the one to go to if you have youngsters in tow. Not only that but you will find prices a lot friendlier on the pocket, and there is a great place for the kids to play.
Mom and Dad can get some great bistro-style food here, including great starters like ostrich carpaccio with smoked Atlantic sea salt and fried chicken livers with a hint of chilli and cream, nice and rich. Mains include Stables’ famous sirloin hamburger packed with all the trimmings and bacon to warm the heart of any carnivore. Their onsite bakery delivers delicious treats all day like fabulous croissants, milk tart and cheesecake to die for. The pizza oven is kept busy with 9 different offerings, the best of which is the smoked salmon with cream cheese – very decadent. The knockout dessert is deep-fried ice-cream in phyllo pastry with a rich caramel sauce. Obviously the famous wines are just the thing to have while grazing and gazing over the fabulous views.
+27 (0) 21 847 2156
The Millhouse Kitchen
Lourensford Estate is one of the most popular places to go to relax in Somerset West, especially with like-minded friends. World-renowned for their wines, this estate has more to offer visitors like the Coffee Roasting Company which hosts coffee toastings while offering a delicious selection of cakes and the Lourensford Market held on Friday evenings and Sunday mornings – a Somerset West institution.
At The Millhouse Kitchen, the accent is very much on delicious food with no frills and fancy bits with a dab here and a spot there. The hand of chef Bjorn Guido can be seen in the Italian and French-inspired dishes on the menu. The chicken liver parfait with port and elderberry jelly and spiced pear chutney is a deliciously rich way to start, as is the antipasti platter, enough for two or three with cheese, cured meats and some gorgeous olives. The wood-fired pizzas are great with some unusual toppings like chevre, tomato, basil and honey, as well as all the usual favourites like chicken, avocado and pineapple – a definite no-no in Naples but great here. The hamburgers are man-sized with all the trimmings like aged cheddar and pickle, and the meat side of the menu is covered by an excellent grilled fillet, sirloin and rump with the best hand-cut chips this side of the mountain.
+27 (0) 79 717 3799
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