Restaurants on wine farms range from fantastic to very average. I have been to a few which are very obviously taking advantage of their location. They think that because they are on a wine farm they can charge the earth even though the service is really average and the food worse. However, it’s a magic combination when you find a great restaurant situated on a wine farm. I recently reviewed Tokara, which was great but very pricey.
The River Cafe at Constantia Uitsig is another restaurant on a wine farm which is well worth a visit. There are probably as many tables outside as there are inside, which is good because on a nice day the al fresco option is definitely the option of choice. However, if the outside is fully booked, lunch inside is not something to lift your nose at. The old building is nicely decorated in a modern but homely style. I have eaten both inside and outside and enjoyed both experiences.
The service is above average. The waiter was MIA a couple of times but apart from that, no complaints. The wine list is fairly broad in style and price so one should not have a problem finding something to suit one’s requirements. The River Cafe has a lovely ambiance, due in no small part to the fact that it is always full (booking is recommended, especially if you want an outside table).
The River Cafe has a lot of positives, but 2 of them stand out: the location and the menu. the menu is very reasonably priced, especially considering you are situated on a wine farm. During lunch time they offer sandwiches and light meals in addition to the Main Course menu. So if you are not wanting something heavy or don’t feel like spending a lot, you can have the Chicken and Mushroom Pie (R50) or the Roast Lamb Sandwich or the Grilled Chicken Breast (also both approximately R50). Otherwise you can try one of the delicious sounding salads (eg. Roasted Butternut & Gorgonzola) for around R60. Those in the mood for something more serious can decide between Pasta (R60), Linefish (R80), Fillet (R80), Lamb Burger (R50), or many others.
On my last visit I had the chicken pie which was delicious and a couple of weeks before, I had the Lamb Burger which was superb. The time before that I had the Linefish, also stunning. One of the reasons the food is so good, I believe, is that their first option is to use organic and free-range produce. I think we should support restaurants who do this, our lives could be at stake (read my article ‘Where is James Bond’ for more on that).
In my 8 years in Cape Town, I have only eaten there about 5 or 6 times and that is something I regret. Constantia is much closer than a lot of other wine farms and the River Cafe never disappoints. I will definitely be going more often.
By the way, if you have a sweet tooth, my tip for dessert is the Chocolate Hazelnut Brownie. It’s beyond words.