I’ve long loved De Grendel wines and there’s always a few bottles in the house when we’re in Cape Town. Their Rose is the perfect summertime quaffer and is great value and their Merlot is also a favourite. So imagine my excitement when I heard about a new restaurant that had opened at the winery! And even more excitement to discover that it’s less than half an hour from central Cape Town in the Durbanville wine region, which I’d never visited.
It’s certainly not long before you find yourself in the rolling hills of the Durbanville area. We meandered around for a while checking out the scenery and making mental notes of other places to visit and then we headed for De Grendel. A winding road leads you way off the main drag, past vines, cows, sheep and goats.
The restaurant opened at the end of April 2012 and the building looks all new and sparkly! As you walk through you can look down into the cellar and check out the stored wine barrels and huge metal vats filled with vino. Totally gets you in the mood.
The restaurant has a rustic charm and comfort and sits up on a hill overlooking a small lake and then down towards Cape Town. You have a full-on view of Table Mountain, Signal Hill and Lion’s Head as well as the sea and you can even see the Cape Town stadium (built for the 2010 World Cup) in the distance.
Settled and happy, it was on to the important business of lunch! First thing was to order a bottle of Rose (R50) and then time to peruse the menu. You can choose from the set menu which is R225 for three courses or eat off the a la carte. The menu’s clever in that it lists the ingredients rather than describing the dish so you’re not entirely sure what you’re going to get! For example my starter (I ordered off the a la carte) said: duck, edamame bean, five spice, parmesan, shitake, arborio, pot pourri. I like the sound of the flavour combinations but for some reason wasn’t really expecting risotto (the arborio should have given me a clue really). It was truly amazing, depths of flavour, beautiful tender duck, amazing mushrooms. A real gasp-of-delight starter.
Terry ordered off the set menu which is really great value. He started with the beef tartare – love the way it was served with the beautiful quail’s egg balanced on top.
Here’s the list for my main course: Pork fillet, scallop, orange, pernod, cabbage, honey, black pudding. The pork was cooked sous vide and then seared, honestly the tenderest, tastiest pork I remember eating, the scallop was large and juicy and packed with flavours and the black pudding so soft and silken. A delectable dish with each element amazing on its own.
Terry went for Angel fish, cafe de Paris baby corn, baby corn, baby potato, red pepper, olives, sugar snaps, garlic. Angel fish is often overlooked in an area that abounds with beautiful fish, apparently it’s one of chef, Ian Bergh’s favourite ingredients and it’s beautiful. Has a denser flesh and meatier flavour that a lot of fish.
And for dessert it was a South African favourite: Malva pudding. Warm and comforting and perfectly cooked so it melted in the mouth.
Well, I’m telling everyone about De Grendel and trying desperately to find an excuse to head out there again before we return to London (which is very soon). Today’s lunch made me realise summer is nearly over in Cape Town – it was a very autumnal meal and very welcome too on an extremely blustery day.
De Grendel is at Exit 18 off the N1 motorway. Find out more at www.degrendel.co.za