Long a favourite of the ladies who lunch, Poplars Restaurant can be found in the the beautiful, and very often overlooked, Durbanville wine route, says Greg Landman.
Poplars seems to have no intention of letting things slide. It is a lovely large house with many interesting rooms inside, which helps to break up the spaces into more intimate dining areas, should you be dining a deux. However, the large veranda overlooking the gardens is the much vied for place to be, especially in summer. The whole atmosphere is one of casual elegance without being precious about things.
The food tends towards generous portions (we like to get our money’s worth) and is very tasty without any artsy fartsy frills. The restaurant is on the D’Aria Winery championing their own range of wines and others from this famous area on the lists.
Be sure to take a look at our Wine Town of the Month.
What’s on the menu?
The menu runs the gamut from flesh to fish and fowl in many guises. The Moroccan chicken soup was packed with chucks of chicken and had just enough kick to make me sit up and take notice – a great way to start for those of us who like our food with some bite. Even though we were some way from the sea, the prawns were fat and succulent, done to a turn on the grill and drenched in lemon butter sauce. Being surrounded by famous wine farms, with some of the best red wines in the country, Poplars’ chargrilled meat goes perfectly with such a beverage. The fillet and sirloin were well-scorched, but still pink inside. The red wine jus was packed with flavour and perfectly offset the sirloin while the classic pepper sauce with the fillet was as rich as they make them. The burger at the table next to us looked great, man-sized, with caramelized onion, cheese, and chip potatoes – enough to make a carnivore cry with happiness. Baked lemon cheesecake with berries, ginger infused malva pudding with brandy custard and homemade apple tart just like Ouma used to make looked tantalising but we just had no room for another thing. Oh well, next time we will start with dessert.
D’aria Winery, Tyger Valley Road, Durbanville
+27 (0) 21 975 5736; [email protected]
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Durbanville restaurants guide
These are suggestions of places to eat in the area and have not been reviewed.
Hillcrest Estate’s restaurant serves up Cape comfort food at its best with their excellent chicken pie that’s top of the pops. This is a very popular spot for families and bikers. Do yourself a favour and pick up a bottle of their olive oil.
+27 (0) 21 975 2346; [email protected]
Diemersdal is a venerable old estate and very popular so booking is essential. Thursday evenings have been given their own special event in the form of steak night. For just R300 per couple, you’ll get a 240g sirloin steak each topped with a béarnaise sauce and served with chips, rocket salad, and oven roasted onions. You’ll also receive a glass of Diemersdal Matys Cabernet / Merlot. Not red wine fan? Swap your glass for Sauvignon Blanc for R10 extra. No dogs are allowed on the estate. When you see the size of their dogs you will understand the need for this rule.
+27 (0) 21 976 1810; [email protected]
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This charming set up can be found in a converted wine cellar, the walls of which are still stained with the wine that used to be in them. These have been made into cosy little rooms – just the place for tête-à-têtes. If you would rather eat at long tables in the middle of the long cellar, do so. Or even outside with easy chairs and open spaces. Superb charcuterie and cheese platters go with the wine tastings for an unforgettable experience.
+27 (0) 60 877 2678
A table on the restaurant’s deck overlooking a large farm pond with a jet of water shooting up is a welcomed sight on a hot summer day. In the distance the Paarl Mountains beckon adding to a relaxed atmosphere. The food is great with generous portions that are very tasty and well presented. Try the black mussels cooked in cider and mustard cream or their fabulous potato salad. Move on to huge hamburgers, fish and chips or slow roasted pork. The wine list is good too featuring the famous Nitida wines.
+27 (0) 21 976 0640; [email protected]
As the wine writer for Country Life magazine for the last 15 years, Greg has met and interviewed more than 150 of the country’s top wine makers. His articles offer unique insights into where to eat, what to drink, and where to go all over the Western Cape. With his dining companion Beryl Ormsby Browne, he has also reviewed more than 60 country restaurants for the magazine and has been a reviewer for the prestigious Eat Out Guide for 12 years. His passion for everything the winelands has to offer has led him into the world of wine tours. To find out more, visit his website Magic Grape Tours.