Today we’re heading for the wine growing region of Elgin. It’s about an hour’s drive from the centre of Cape Town over the magnificence of Sir Lowry’s Pass which is a real feat of engineering with stunning views. As roads go it’s in a league of its own. And once you reach the other side you’re in a different world…the world of Elgin. A get-away-from-it all destination with fabulous food and wine to sample – just up my street. And also an area that I didn’t know much about before, so time for a voyage of discovery. And I’m going to start by discovering a new restaurant. Why wouldn’t ya?
Turning off the motorway down a winding road past vineyards and apple orchards (Elgin is officially Apple Country and the trees are laden with them at this time of year), we headed for South Hill vineyards, set in its beautiful valley. The restaurant, The Gallery looks out over their Cabernet Sauvignon vines. It’s a light-filled, airy space with a lovely little bar and seating on the lawn. The perfect place to settle in for a little pre-lunch wine tasting and take in the tranquility that is South Hill.
South Hill’s wines are simply wonderful (more of that in later post). I can’t go wine tasting without purchasing a selection of new beverages to take home…is it just me? So the inevitable transactions took place and then it was time to eat. Lunch is served here from Wednesday to Sunday and the bistro-style menu today had a choice of six starters and mains made using local, seasonal ingredients.
First up a little something extra from the kitchen, a vibrant, tasty pea soup. Simply yum, a classic dish that I’m going to make more often myself. Love sipping soup from a mini cup.
Continuing on today’s pea theme, this is one of the nicest starters I’ve had this year. Goat’s cheese wrapped in cured ham and baked and served with a pea panna cotta. I say it all the time, I love a panna cotta but I’d never experienced the joy of a savoury one before. My life hadn’t been complete…the warm creaminess of the cheese, the saltiness of the ham and the sweetness of the melting pea panna cotta made for a dreamy combination.
The soup of the day was tomato. It seems that Elgin tomatoes are in a class of their own, producing a beautifully sweet and flavoursome vibrantly red soup.
The Indonesian chicken came stir fried with noodles, vegetables, sesame seeds and soya.
The rib-eye beef burger came topped with a generous helping of sweet caramelised balsamic onions, crispy fries and salad. A good burger is hard to beat and this was right up there, obviously made from superior beef and perfectly cooked.
As I said Elgin is Apple Country so when you spot an apple tart on the menu you simply have to order it. Served here with bourbon vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce, with a light, flaky pastry and thin slices of the lovely local fruit.
And then time for a chocolate fix with the chocolate orange fondant and vanilla ice cream. A grown-up version of ice cream and chocolate sauce with the warm chocolatey centre oozing out gently over the ice cream and the delicately zesty orange flavours.
What a good start that was to my Elgin Odyssey…and there’s plenty more to come. Watch this space.
The Gallery restaurant is at South Hill Vineyards, Valley Road, Elgin.