Start the year on top of the world at Waterkloof Estate’s ‘restaurant in the sky’
The sense of occasion started as soon as we entered the estate, driving through rolling vineyards towards the Hottentots-Holland Mountains, with the restaurant perched high up on a ridge on our left, like a fort. The spectacular location afforded breath-taking vistas of mountains and ocean, and half way through the meal, virtually the entire restaurant abandoned their tables to go out onto the deck and watch the sunset over Cape Point.
Waterkloof’s not just about the views, however, with chef Grégory Czarnecki priding himself on creating bold, innovative fare from fresh local ingredients. The menu is relatively short (on our visit there were six starters and five main dishes), but there was still sufficient variety to require some difficult choices. My partner and I both started with the Cured Fizantakraal Trout with pickled oysters. Then, while he chose the Farmed Mulloway Cob with squid ink and smoked potato, I opted for the freshwater crayfish with scallop, which was simply divine, though I also was tempted by the signature Karan beef fillet with braised beef croquette. Next time. All the dishes came simply yet artfully presented, and they surprised us by having more constituents and flavours than described on the menu, although you should bear in mind that with modern haute cuisine the portions aren’t gargantuan. We made the elementary mistake of coming here straight after a six-hour hike, but a potential crisis was averted by our attentive waiter bringing us a triple portion of bread!
It being the festive season we started with a Steenberg Cap Classique then moved onto the estate’s own Circumstance Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah, which were excellent and very well priced. All the still wines come from the estate and are available by the glass, which I always appreciate. There’s nothing worse than drooling over a wonderful wine list only to find that there’s only an unexciting house wine should you not want to share a bottle! And with half the wine list below R145 per bottle - and several wines under R100 - the drinks bill is surprisingly reasonable even if you do go mad. (An added bonus is that if you order before 8pm you can also buy wines at cellar prices to take home.)
The restaurant’s interior is light and spacious, with modern yet elegant décor and a vibrant, welcoming atmosphere. Needless to say, you should try and nab one of the tables next to the full-length glass windows, even if that means spending most of the meal admiring the vista rather than your partner. Meanwhile, the staff were excellent: welcoming, helpful, well-informed and attentive without being intrusive.
Not surprisingly the accolades have rolled in. Waterkloof was nominated in the prestigious 2013 Eat Out Top 10 Awards then crowned culinary king in the Best Gourmet Restaurant at the Cellar Door Category of the 2013 Klink Wine Tourism Awards - lauded for its cutting-edge cuisine, attention to detail, awe-inspiring location, sterling service and strong focus on natural local produce showcased in seasonal dishes that bear the chef’s hallmarks of simplicity and finesse.
At R260 for two courses and R340 for three (with only one dish attracting a supplement), Waterkloof is favourably-priced for a restaurant of this quality, especially given the spectacular and memorable location. When I feel I’ve deserved a special treat I’ll be back to sample the Degustation Menu of six mouthful-portions paired with estate wines. (R600 per person with wine or R500 per person without.)
To book phone 021 858 1491 or email [email protected]
- Fiona McIntosh