I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I love a good surprise! And I think this year, thus far, nothing beats the good surprise Haute Cabriere had in store for me. I thought I had been to Haute Cabriere before – for a wine tasting – and silly me didn’t bother double-checking the location before I embarked on the drive out to Franschhoek. Except, when I got to the estate I thought was Haute Cabriere, I realised that I had, indeed, been mistaken, and ventured through to the opposite end of town to finally end up at the real Haute Cabriere. My friend Nads, who joined me for the adventure, had a hearty giggle, and the Haute Cabriere excursion was already off to a good start.
The first thing that struck me when arriving at Haute Cabriere was the view. I was so lost in the mountains that I had to remember I first had to park my car before being fully free to admire in peace. And then I remembered that I was already 20 minutes late for my reservation due to my wine estate location mishap, so Nads and I hustled over the restaurant, promising to savour the views before driving back to Cape Town.
But the restaurant was just as spectacular. It may be an enclosed area to protect you from the elements, but the entire restaurant at Haute Cabriere is made of glass, guaranteeing an unobstructed view of the Franschhoek valley. And what a view it is. For someone like me who’s dined at the most gorgeous locations with the best views (Tintswalo Atlantic comes to mind as a particularly memorable gem), I don’t think much beats the restaurant at Haute Cabriere. The restaurant space isn’t made to be comfortable and warm and cosy. Why focus on that if the view is so deserving? The only thing that distracts from the view is the fantastic food …
Like all good experiences, our lunch at Haute Cabriere began with some bubbly (and non-alcoholic Appletiser for Nads, who doesn’t drink alcohol), which was quickly followed by the most divine bread plate with tomato jam and some pre-starters. One of the pieces of bread was infused with red wine – definitely my favourite! And the tomato jam, which I didn’t think I would like, ended up being amazing!
As pre-starters, Nads had the smoked mozzarella arancini (R30). And I opted for the pork crackling puffs with spicy BBQ mayo (R20). Little nibbles are great to start, especially at Haute Cabriere where you’ll undoubtedly need some time to enjoy the views, sip your MCC, and study the menu. The menu isn’t particularly large but everything on it sounds extraordinary, so making a pick can be decidedly difficult.
We had decided on our mains straight away – upon recommendations from our fantastic waiter, Foster, who hands down has made it to the top of our waitro-meter for best waiter ever (right next to wonderful Gracious from Cowboys & Cooks and Mike from Foxcroft). There is good service, and there is exceptional service. Foster exemplifies the latter. He knows the menu, wines, and the estate itself extremely well, led us on a little cellar tour, talked us through everything we needed to know, and helped us decide when we were stuck. Even the Appletiser to start to match my bubbly was his idea! But he’s also kind, gentle, and very, very entertaining!
The Many Starters To Choose From
Waitro-meter aside. Back to the food. So the mains we had decided on, but the starters all sounded so good. Fresh oysters, steak tartare, steamed prawns, cured tuna … How can a girl possibly decide? Nads ended up choosing the cured tuna, served with creamy horseradish and herb vinaigrette (R95). Foster was adamant that I have to pair the MCC with the oysters, so I went for half a dozen fresh wild oysters (R120). Well, I say she chose the former and I the latter, but we did end up sharing everything.
The wild oysters were great. You’ll get much more of a salty ocean taste from the wild oysters than you ever get from farmed oysters. And Foster was right, these did pair brilliantly with the MCC. The tuna was fantastic as well. Actually, it was so good that I don’t think it needed quite as much horseradish and herb vinaigrette as it came served with, though these were lovely as well.
On To Mains
For mains, Nads chose the pan-fried line fish of the day, served with chargrilled and marinated courgettes, tomato and spring onion salsa, and herb-salted chips (R195). The line fish of the day was the Cape Gurnard, which I wasn’t familiar with, but both Nads and I enjoyed it. A quick note on eating fish: The WWF South Africa rates the Cape Gurnard as a Green Fish, but at the time of publication the SASSI website has it on the Orange List. I always like to check if the fish being served is sustainable, and The SASSI List is the best way to do this. I highly recommend it to make the world a bit of a better place.
I ordered the venison loin, served with a thyme and garlic sauce, roasted cep mushrooms, and pommes anna (R225). The venison of the day was kudu, which is a delicious meat and one not found too often in restaurants in South Africa. I was born and raised in Namibia, which is definitely the land of plenty when it comes to venison and sustainable meat, and my heart always skips a beat when I get to enjoy a taste of home away from home. The meat was super tender and I loved the dish. Big kudos (no pun intended) also to the amazing potatoes – so divine! Of course, I enjoyed some of the gorgeous Haute Cabriere wine with this meal.
After mains, we needed a little break and took a stroll down into the garden to catch the fresh air and soak in all the views! But before long we were ready for dessert, so we hopped up to the restaurant again for the last stretch of this unforgettable journey. Nads went for the coconut yoghurt panna cotta, served with poached plum and a plum jelly (R65). I opted for the warm almond cake, served with amaretto ice cream (R75).
The panna cotta was divine, and I loved the tartness of the plum! But my almond cake was next level amazing. Nads didn’t like it all – turns out she’s not a fan of marzipan. But I enjoy the finer things in life (hee hee, kidding – I’m just slightly obsessed with marzipan), and this dessert was literally a match made in heaven. My mom is equally obsessed with marzipan, and I can’t wait for her to come to visit so I can drag her to Haute Cabriere and try this cake.
Visit Haute Cabriere
We didn’t want to say goodbye to Haute Cabriere, the wonderful Foster, or Monise, the lovely manager, but the drive back to Cape Town lay ahead of us and the restaurant was closing up shop for the afternoon. So we took in the views one last time, and headed out – already anticipating our next visit!!! Needless to say, Haute Cabriere was phenomenal and I can only highly recommend it. Get all the details below and make sure you plan a visit soon while the weather is still nice!
Thank you to all who made this visit so spectacular and the whole Haute Cabriere team for being so loving, kind, and all-round fantastic!
Address: Haute Cabriere Wine Estate, Lambrechts Road, Franschhoek
Call: +27 21 876 8500
Article Date: February 2020
MISSED OUR LAST ARTICLE? IT’S A SOUTH-EAST ASIAN CHICKEN STEW RECIPE.
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