The lesser-known wine valley has much to offer.
Nestled in the shadow of the majestic Hottentots Holland and Helderberg mountain ranges, Somerset West has long played second fiddle to its larger and more glamorous siblings, Stellenbosch and Franschhoek.
But the region has a story all of its own. Several illustrious wine estates can be found here, along with some easy-to-miss gems – a well-earned reward for those willing to take the road (or wine route) less travelled. These are our favourite restaurants in Somerset West.
1. Camphors at Vergelegen
Situated on Vergelegen Wine Estate, amid lush gardens and the 300-year-old Camphor trees for which it is named, this tranquil Winelands restaurant combines spectacular views with first-class service, making for an extremely pleasurable dining experience. Chef Michael Cooke is on hand to guide passionate foodies through the nuances of his meticulously planned wine-and-menu pairings, and the knowledgeable sommelier is only too happy to assist diners to pick the perfect accompaniment to their meal from the restaurant’s excellent wine list.
Good to know If you’re looking for a relaxed, child-friendly restaurant, Vergelegen is also home to Stables – a bistro-style eatery that opens onto a patio and large playground and offers views of the majestic Hottentots Holland mountain range.
Contact 021 847 2131, email@example.com
Location Vergelegen Wine Estate, Lourensford Road, Somerset West
2. Idiom Tasting Centre
Lying in the shadow of majestic granite mountains and cooled by winds from the Atlantic Ocean, the Da Capo Vineyards at Idiom Wine Estate benefit from a unique combination of climatic conditions, resulting in a delicious and magical range of wines. Having produced 10 exceptional vintages, the Bottega family took the next step, and opened a restaurant on their estate – a glass-walled space that combines old-world Roman architecture and contemporary design, with an outdoor terrace that boasts spectacular views.
The food is delicious, and features a delightful mix of Italian and South African cuisine
prepared by chef Calum Anderson. The spring à la carte menu opens with picture-perfect cured-trout tartare; fennel risotto; and Parma ham tagliatelle. Mains include pan-fried sea bass; sous-vide chicken breast; and melt-in-your-mouth beef fillet, while desserts of tiramisu (with a twist); prosecco and candied ginger semifreddo; and a dark-chocolate dome provide the perfect ending.
Diners can enjoy their meal as a two-course, three-course, or degustation menu, with the option to wine-pair, of course. And, if you’re more of a hands-on kind of eater, try the drool-worthy selection of pizzas inspired by various regions of Italy and the Cape.
Contact 021 858 1088, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location Da Capo Vineyards, Knorhoek Estate, Knorhoek Road, Sir Lowry’s Pass, Somerset West
3. Avontuur Estate Restaurant
Avontuur Estate is renowned for its thoroughbred horses, a curious bunch who are only too eager to oblige when called upon. Of course, it’s the award-winning wines and TripAdvisor-acclaimed restaurant that put Avontuur Estate Restaurant on our radar. There’s no question that owner-chefs Zunia Boucher-Myers and Melanie Paltoglou pour their heart and soul into every aspect of the dining experience, as this is evident in the warm welcome, attentive service, and delicious country cuisine. Perched under a vine-laden pergola with bashful views of False Bay, Avontuur’s restaurant is the perfect spot to unwind during a champagne breakfast, weekend lunch or special-occasion dinner.
Opening times Tuesday – Saturday, 9am – 10:30pm
Sunday – Monday, 9am – 5pm
Contact 021 855 4296, email@example.com
Location Avontuur Estate, R44, Somerset West
4. One at Cavalli
Located in the Helderberg’s magnificent Cape Floral Kingdom, Cavalli has become known among food fundis and scenery-seekers as the place to go for top-drawer wining and dining, (with noteworthy sustainability efforts another feather in the estate’s cap).
The restaurant is headed by chef Michael Deg (former head chef at Delaire Graff), whose dishes express his passion for fresh seasonal ingredients and bold, creative flavours. The intimate à la carte menu features six starters, mains and desserts, so if you’d prefer to hand over the decision-making to someone else, opt for the eight-course tasting menu and be dazzled by an exciting showcase of Michael’s culinary skills.
Good to know Vegetarians and vegans are well catered for.
Opening times Wednesday – Sunday, 12pm – 3pm
Friday – Saturday, 6pm – 9pm
Contact 021 855 3281, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location Cavalli Estate, Strand Road, R44, Somerset West
5. Pajamas & Jam Eatery
Though it’s tucked away in an industrial area, this veritable treasure trove is a far cry from its neighbours. Inside, old trinkets, interesting antiques, vinyls, and so much more, sourced from its in-house antique store, create a wonder-filled atmosphere. The baked treats themselves are worth the trip! And you should also try the Open Croissant: open egg-dipped croissant topped with bacon, cinnamon cream cheese, syrup and berry compote.
Opening times Monday – Friday, 7am – 4pm
Saturday, 8am – 1pm
Contact 021 854 6408, email@example.com
Location 32 Van Zyl Street, Gants Plaza, Somerset West
6. Al Dente Restaurant and Deli
If you had to look up “hidden gem” in the dictionary, there’d be a picture of Al Dente next to it! This real-deal Italian restaurant and deli in a quiet street in Somerset West is owned by Marnella Prabbia, who enlisted chef-manager Enrico Bortotti to prepare utterly delicious authentic Italian favourites. Which he does. With aplomb.
The food The spaghetti cozze e vongole (clams and mussels) is one of the tastiest you’ll eat outside of Naples. Simple, fresh and bursting with flavour. With just the right amount of fresh garlic. The lamb chops pan-fried in butter, rosemary and white wine are lip-smacking and prepared to perfection. And you must try the homemade gelato for dessert.
Service and ambience Sit outside on the terrace and enjoy the sights and sounds of suburban Somerset West. And, before you leave, pop in at the deli for some take-home goodies: homemade pasta (made fresh every day), including readymade ravioli, cannelloni, lasagne, pasta sauces, soups, cold meats, cheese, pickles, and so on.
Contact 021 852 9071, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location 16 Dirkie Uys Street, Somerset West
This small holding outside Somerset West is not a far cry from Old MacDonald’s fabled farm… Though, one telling difference could be that ol’ MacD probably wasn’t this health- and eco-conscious in his farming practices… In fact, Vredenhof Organic Estate is one of a few places in South Africa where you can buy and eat freshly harvested organic produce… all while enjoying that quintessential, blissful farm experience!
Don’t let the dark interiors and old-fashioned decor deter from the wonderfully cheery farm experience. The food is delicious, and there is an impressive array of stuff to keep the little ones entertained for hours.
Good to know Vredenhof also hosts and caters for children’s parties. They prepare delicious, healthy meals, cakes and drinks for children and parents to enjoy.
Contact 021 855 0363, email@example.com
Location Vredenhof Organic Estate
When owners Fritz and Chanelle Schoon announced that they were closing their beloved Schoon De Companje in Stellenbosch after seven fruitful years of business, discerning caffeine addicts, patisserie worshippers and bread-oholics were disappointed (to put it mildly). But the letdown was short-lived because not long afterwards, the couple opened a teeny weeny shop in neighbouring Somerset West.
Located on bustling Bright Street (Somerset West’s answer to Bree Street), the petite shop offers loads of parking (at the front and side of the building, and just behind it, accessed by a driveway to the right), and is perfect for a delicious sit-down meal, on-the-run coffee, or to stock up on croissants and baked treats.
Opening times Tuesday – Friday, 7am – 3pm
Saturday, 8am – 3pm; Sunday, 8am – 1:30pm
Contact 079 523 5078, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location 3 Bright Street, Somerset West
9. Webersburg Bistro
Webersburg’s peaceful and unpretentious bistro is situated in an enviable location, overlooking the Webersburg dam with breathtaking views of the Helderberg Valley. The cuisine is inspired by classic French countryside fare, utilising seasonal ingredients to create dishes that are complemented by the estate’s boutique wines. During summer, the outside deck is an inviting setting for a leisurely meal, while in winter, the fireplace makes eating indoors more attractive
Contact 021 881 3636, email@example.com
Location Somerset West 7129, Annandale Road, Stellenbosch
10. The Millhouse Kitchen on Lourensford
Located on the beautiful Lourensford Wine Estate, this contemporary gardenside eatery offers a cool industrial-rustic ambience, with indoor and outdoor seating. There’s an unmistakable country feel to this charming restaurant, enhanced by the delightful garden space right in front of the outside deck, where your little ones can make new friends while enjoying the jungle gym and pirate ship.
Contact 021 847 0030, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location Lourensford Wine Estate
11. Cucina di Giovanni
Known for its tasty Mediterranean-inspired dishes, the original branch of this popular eatery is the one at Waterstone Village. If you’re looking for a wholesome family vibe and a delicious array of antipasti, pizza and pasta, as well as fresh seafood, poultry and meat mains, you’d do well to come here.
Good to know Owing to the success of this long-standing Somerset West branch, the owners have since opened two sister restaurants: Cucina di Giovanni at Eikendal Wine Estate in Stellenbosch, and Cucina di Giovanni at Laborie Estate in Paarl, where the beautiful farm setting and picturesque views cap off a casual, family-friendly Winelands experience.
Opening times Monday – Sunday, 12pm – 10pm
Contact 021 850 0616, email@example.com
Location Shop 27, Waterstone Village, Corner R44 and Main Road, Somerset West
12. 96 Winery Road
For more than two decades, this popular restaurant has been serving satisfying South African favourites with flecks of international flavour.
Head chef Adrian Buchanan, who has been with the restaurant for five years, recently introduced a plates menu from which guests can pick two, three or four plates for a lunch or dinner. The plates are classically inspired, featuring smaller versions of mains dishes, such as lamb loin, pepper fillet, confit duck and spinach and ricotta tortellini. We especially enjoyed the panko-crumbed Brie, served with wild rocket and spicy bacon jam, and the crème brûlée for dessert. With Ken Forrester one of the owners, it’s not surprising that the wine menu is extensive!
Contact 021 842 2020, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location 96 Winery Road Restaurant, Winery Road, Zandberg Farm, Stellenbosch
13. Chelsea Café & Bean
A friendly neighbourhood café on Somerset West’s buzzy Bright Street, the café is tucked away in a courtyard along with a collection of boutiques, decor stores and even a spa. It’s tranquil setting – and garden-to-kitchen promise – makes it an appealing breakfast and lunch spot. Enquire about its Banting and gluten-free selection.
Contact 021 852 6757, email@example.com
Location Chelsea Village, 6 Bright Street, Somerset West
Please note On 1 April 2018, Chelsea Cafe & Bean will be moving to a new address at Gallery 91, 91 Andries Pretorius Street, Audas Estate, Somerset West
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