Franschhoek is probably one of my favourite places to visit. It’s close enough to Cape Town to be the perfect day trip destination but it’s different enough from the bustle of the city to provide that getaway feeling. There are dozens of things to do in Franschhoek but, of course, the wine estates are always winners. The most recent wine estate I visited was Mont Rochelle (always a favourite) to dine at the newly re-opened Country Kitchen.
What Is Mont Rochelle & Country Kitchen?
Mont Rochelle, as you may know, is Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Limited Edition wine estate. I’ve visited before to dine at their luxurious Miko Restaurant but the estate also boasts a hotel, pool, tennis court, and a spa. It’s also on the wine tram route, so you can expect dozens of excited visitors getting off to enjoy a wine tasting and indulge in an array of dishes.
The wine tram destination is the more casual Country Kitchen, which, as its name suggests, offers that real country food feel, with home-cooked, simple dishes that delight in both presentation and flavour.
This is also the spot where you’ll indulge in a delicious Mont Rochelle wine tasting. The estate focuses on various cultivars, including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon. My personal favourite? The Mont Rochelle Chardonnay!
How Does One Get There?
If you’re doing the wine tram, then, of course, you don’t need to worry about getting there. The “shuttle” drops you off right in front of the Country Kitchen. If you’re driving, then I’d definitely suggest switching on your GPS and having a look at the directions before getting in your car as the turn-offs are easy to miss.
This suggests that Mont Rochelle is off the beaten track, which, indeed, it is. In stark contrast to some of the larger estates in the area that are easily accessible from the main road, like Haute Cabriere, Mont Rochelle requires you to take a few turns off the back roads to get there. And that’s exactly where its charm lies.
Offering unparalleled views of the Franschhoek valley and that almost “untouched” feel (almost because it can become quite the bustling hub of activity), Mont Rochelle is exactly the spot you’d want to visit for a gorgeous getaway.
Lunching At Country Kitchen
The Country Kitchen is currently open over the weekends (from Friday lunch) and public holidays for lunch, dinner, and wine tastings. Wine sales are restricted to lockdown regulations.
So Sabine and I chose a lovely overcast Saturday and drove out to Franschhoek for a delicious lunch. Of course, I didn’t pay attention to Sabine’s GPS navigation and missed the turn-off but luckily I remembered from my previous visit that there was another way to access the estate and we quickly re-routed, arriving shortly thereafter.
I was rather surprised at just how busy Country Kitchen was. Turns out the wine tram was having a very busy day and tons of people were coming and going to enjoy the wine tastings.
After filling out some required Covid-19 documentation, Sabine and I settled into the quieter restaurant section, ready to study the disposable menu. Menus are also available via a QR code so you don’t have to touch anything or make use of disposables. I merely chose the physical menus for photographic purposes.
The Country Kitchen Menu
The Country Kitchen menu offers you pretty much what you’d expect from a casual dining establishment on a luxury wine estate.
You’ll find a selection of traditional and gourmet starters, like buffalo wings, calamari, and deep-fried camembert, sharing platters for two, cheese and charcuterie platters, and a selection of mains. The latter includes casual staples like burgers and butter chicken, as well as steak and SASSI-approved line fish. And, of course, the whole menu is rounded off with gorgeous desserts, wines, and other beverages.
But, as you’d expect from a wine estate, all of these dishes are presented fine-dining style, maximising flavour and beauty to offer you utterly drool-worthy food. And all of that at very reasonable prices.
While browsing the menu, Sabine sipped on a glass of Mont Rochelle Chardonnay 2019 (R90), while I, as the designated driver, opted for a non-alcoholic mocktail, the Vir-Gin Blueberry, Apple & Cinnamon Tonic (R70). The mocktail contained Elgin blueberry, apple, and cinnamon puree, topped with sparkling water, and served with lemon.
I loved that the mocktail wasn’t sweet at all. Mocktails can often be quite sugary, whereas this one was refreshing and delightful. The buttery Chardonnay, of course, was a winner as well.
For starters, Sabine went for the Calamari (R90), glazed with Asian dressing and served with lemon mayonnaise. This dish usually comes deep-fried but as Sabine follows a low-carb diet, the kitchen offered grilled calamari instead. I’m personally not a fan of deep-fried foods, so was overjoyed that the accommodation could be made – so that I could steal a few bites!
The calamari dish included tubes, rings, and tentacles. Both Sabine and I loved this dish. The lemon mayonnaise was a brilliant addition and I could have easily gobbled up a mains portion of this.
I chose the Klein Karoo Hand-Cut Venison Carpaccio (R95), served with chilli, ginger, spring onion, coriander, and sesame seeds, with a teriyaki dressing. The venison on the day was Springbok, which I always enjoy. Of course, I’m also always a fan of carpaccio, so this was the perfect dish for me. Slightly on the chilli-esque side but so full of flavour that it was absolutely delightful.
Sabine is a carnivore pure, so choosing the Grilled Beef Steak (R160) was a no-brainer for her. The dish is composed of a 200 g grilled Karan beef steak with Madagascan green peppercorn sauce and a tomato, red onion and basil salad, as well as rosemary salted potato fries. She absolutely loved her steak — cooked perfectly to her preferences.
I wasn’t sure which main to choose but when I heard the Garlic and Parsley SASSI Line Fish (R130) of the day was kingklip, my choice was made. This dish is served with a salad of green beans, tomato, baby potato, red onion, poached egg, and basil pesto.
I did think the addition of a poached egg was slightly bizarre and I certainly would have never thought of this but the combination actually worked really nicely. The fish itself was also beautiful — tender and full of flavour, as good kingklip should always be.
Two notes on the starters and mains: Both came out surprisingly quickly (kudos to the kitchen) and were beautifully presented. Dining out is such a visual experience and these dishes were an absolute delight — to look at and to eat!
While browsing the beverage menu, I had spotted a Malva and Coffee Milkshake and pencilled that as a possible dessert. But, alas, I then looked at the dessert menu and found Eddie’s Malva Pudding (R65), served with butterscotch sauce and Amarula ice cream.
I certainly can’t say no to anything that includes butterscotch or Amarula, so I was sold. And what an excellent choice this was. Turns out the Country Kitchen’s malva pudding is probably one of the most delicious malva puddings I’ve ever had – and I’d go back just for this!!!!
Sabine, as a low carber, opted for a frothy cappuccino as dessert, while I paired my pudding with a creamy latte. Coffee is always the perfect ending to a deliciously extravagant lunch.
Visit Country Kitchen
All in all, our visit to The Country Kitchen at Mont Rochelle made for a blissful Saturday. Good food, good drinks, and a gorgeous location. What more could you wish for?
Next time I visit, I’d love to add in a full wine tasting too – by dragging along another designated driver or staying the night in Franschhoek (preferably at Mont Rochelle, of course). It’s been a while since I enjoyed the full range of Mont Rochelle wines and current lockdown restrictions meant we couldn’t purchase any bottles while visiting. But this may all change in due course.
For now, taste some wines, delight in the food, and enjoy the gorgeous Mont Rochelle food! Virgin Limited Edition wouldn’t have it any other way.
Get all the details below or book online. Due to Covid-19 precautions and limited seating, booking is highly recommended.
The Country Kitchen
Address: Mont Rochelle Wine Estate, Franschhoek
Call: +27 (0) 21 876 2770
Article Date: September 2020
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