Chilled-out alfresco lunch at Avontuur

Today I’m continuing on my quest to explore the restaurants of the Winelands around Somerset West. We’re visiting beautiful Avontuur for a spontaneous light lunch. Nothing wrong with that.

Avontuur has a sweeping drive that leads up between two fields enclosed by white picket fences and home to families of horses. In fact, as well as for its wine, it’s known as a thoroughbred stud farm – and is home to about a hundred horses. We saw three mothers with their foals in the field just in front of the restaurant. A beautiful sight. The horse/wine combination seems popular – read about our visit to Cavalli by clicking here.

Avontuur has a lovely verandah/terrace area set out with tables looking out across the fields and vines towards Table Mountain. Beautiful, dappled light shades the tables and we were soon settled and perusing the menu. There’s a good choice of salads, fish and meat dishes – today we were tempted by the specials.

First up, mussels in a Thai-style sauce. Simply a match made in heaven. The mussels were amazingly succulent and sweet paired beautifully with the creamiest of Asian sauces. One of those dishes where I wanted to lick the bowl. So yummy!

Lunch at Avontuur

Plump, juicy mussels in a delightful Thai sauce

The hake was served with a crunchy crust on a coconut sauce. South African hake is delicious and the flavours and textures of this lovely tower were delightful.

Lunch at Avontuur

The freshest of hake with a tower of goodies

Lunch at Avontuur

A peaceful scene in green and white

And here’s another lovely sight – the horses and their foals happy in the field in front of the restaurant.

Avontuur exudes serenity with its welcoming service, great seasonal food and sweeping views. It seems like time spent on their terrace is good for the soul…

Lunch at Avontuur

Horses are part of the view at Avontuur

Lunch at Avontuur

The perfect alfresco dining scene

Lunch at Avontuur

Views across greens and blues towards Table Mountain

Today’s price point

Lunch for two (one course each) with a bottle of wine cost R44o (about £28 at today’s exchange rate), including a tip.

Avontuur is just off the R44 between Somerset West and Stellenbosch.

Reunion lunch at Avontuur and thoughts afterwards

I know it makes me sound ancient, but when I grew up there were:

No mobile phones

No internet

Therefore no email

And actually, when I think about it, no credit cards!

All that adds up to: No get-out clauses…you’re on your own and make the most of it!

So when I headed off to university, aged 17, I embarked on (in retrospect) a great adventure. From the farm in Zim, where I grew up, it was a couple of hours to Harare and the airport, then two flights and another long drive at the other side to Rhodes University in Grahamstown.

It was 1980, in the depths of apartheid and I had been accepted to study journalism. My father’s last words to me at the airport were: “If you end up on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela, I’m not coming to fetch you.” In other words, behave yourself!

Then I ended up in  a totally unfamiliar environment, with very little opportunity to get in touch with my familiar environment.  I think  I spent hours every day writing letters to my family and friends (all positive) though I was scared most of the time. Sounds pathetic, but that’s the way it was.

My three years at university were educational, mind expanding and….well, mild.  I was the one who photocopied their notes to give to the cool people who partied all night and therefore couldn’t make the lectures. I think I had maybe 20 alcoholic drinks in three years. People who know me now don’t believe it.

Anyway, I did also make some really good friends in that time. But because of all the above reasons and others, I totally lost touch with most of them, especially as, since then,  Zimbabweans of my generation tended to  scatter across the globe, often far from family and friends.

Then came facebook. I was a little sceptical at first about revealing aspects of my life but hey, it is all in your control (pretty much), what you post and who you allow to read it, so I took the leap, a while ago now. And it’s been so much fun finding people spread far and wide and reconnecting. Of course, not everyone’s on facebook, like my friend Adi who I went to university with.

As luck would have it, her cousin is married to someone else we went to university with. Nikki  is a friend of mine on facebook, met up with Adi at Christmas and sent me her phone number. Fortuitously Adi lives near Stellenbosch, which is close to Cape Town, so we arranged our reunion over lunch at Avontuur.

Avontuur describes itself as the “home of fine wine and fast horses”. As well as a winery, it’s a stud farm, nestling on the southwestern slops of the Helderberg mountains. A beautifully peaceful setting.

The menu focuses on local, seasonal food and has a real feel of summer about it at this time of year (obviously I guess!). My Oratorio platter was a cornucopia of delights with smoked salmon trout, marinated onion rings, prawns, horseradish, coleslaw, potato salad and oven roast vegetables. It looked and tasted beautiful and was just the perfect dish for a sunny lunch on the terrace.

My beautifully bright and tasty platter

My beautifully bright and tasty platter

Adi went for one of their quiches of the day, tasty chicken, served with an array of salad.

Homemade quiche of the day

Homemade quiche of the day

My lovely mother, who also lives in the area, made up our threesome for lunch. She tucked into this beautiful fillet of beef served with brown mushrooms, rosemary and Madagascan green peppercorn butter. Predictable choice, Mom (sorry, she nearly always orders steaks in restaurants)!

Luscious, saucy steak

Luscious, saucy steak

Here’s the view as you drive up to the gate.

home

It was so lovely to see Adi again, we didn’t stop talking and laughing. And Avontuur was the perfect place – lovely, friendy but unobtrusive service, tasty food made with the best of ingredients and a chilled, beautifully scenic setting.

Within 10 minutes of getting there my Mom said: “It’s obvious you two are good friends.”. And we hadn’t seen each other for over 30 years.

Thank you facebook (and Nikki) for getting us back in touch. And for bringing back all those memories

Avontuur is just off the R44 between Somerset West and Stellenbosch (close to Somerset West).