Bring a British winemaker, an Aussie architect and a French chef together in the Heidelberg wine region and you get the distinctly Afrikaans-named Waterkloof Estate.
Already well known for its wines (their rosé is the only local rosé sold at Harrods), the spacious new restaurant opened doors in December last year and is fast becoming one of the places to lunch on weekends.
Judging by the restaurant's minimalist lines and industrial chic, you’ll either love it or hate it. If the latter’s the case, the great food and breathtaking vistas across tranquil False Bay will soon have you thinking only beautiful thoughts.
Waterkloof lies on the slopes of the Schaapenberg, between Somerset West and Sir Lowry's Pass village. After turning off the Main Road and climbing up through the fynbos, a gentle turn brings the concrete and glass cube - that houses both the 120-seater restaurant and winery - into sight.
And then you’re hit by the jawdropping views of False Bay, from Cape Point to Gordon’s Bay.
Having grown up in a food- and wine-loving family, owner Paul Boutinot has placed as much emphasis on the quality of the restaurant as his wines. The venue was designed by Aussie Mitch Hayhow around the concept of ‘transparancy’.
It is light and airy thanks to the 10m-high glass cube that protrudes beyond the exterior on the one side, and flows into the sleek tasting lounge with its state-of-the-art gravitational cellar on the other.
Apparently the first strong South-Easter brought the glass crashing down spectacularly! But then the estate is almost level with the top of Sir Lowry's Pass and the Hottentots-Holland mountains, and Waterkloof's logo is “the god of wind...”
Natural wood softens the concrete of the interior and there's a wonderful flow between the wine tasting counter, production cellar and vat storage, something Cape-based Franc Böhm Studios are credited for. Vibrant modern art livens up the double-volume mezzanine area.
Classically-trained French chef Grègory Czarnecki brings his experience of a decade working in Michelin-starred restaurants to the menu – but with a superbly light touch.
Starters include oyster mushrooms with a soft-boiled egg (gently coddled in a deep-fried potato rice 'nest'); butternut crème brûlèe with hazelnut crisp, goats cheese terrine and Granny Smith apple, and a thin tart of vegetable 'a la Grecque' with coriander. All are R60 – although a starter of asparagus risotto can be bumped up to a main portion for R90.
Fish dominates the mains: Cape Salmon in a sesame crust with mango and white balsamic vinegar; grilled Kingklip and ratatouille-stuffed calamari with pancetta crisp and olive crumble; oven-roasted Yellowtail, and a sublime seared Tuna in panko crumbs (Japanese-style breadcrumbs) accompanied by tempura vegetables. Meat lovers are catered for with confit of lamb shoulder or duck leg and Springbok loin.
Wine is exclusively from Waterkloof, with a recommendation accompanying each dish – and very reasonably priced per glass.
Open 12.30 to 3pm and 6pm to 10pm, Monday to Saturday, and for lunch only on Sundays. The Restaurant at Waterkloof, Sir Lowry’s Pass Village Road, Somerset West; tel: (021) 858-1491; firstname.lastname@example.org, www.waterkloofwines.co.za
Words: Fiona McDonald