The other day a friend phoned me and invited me to join her and some others for lunch at Simon’s at Groot Constantia. I readily accepted the invitation, in expectation of great company and good food. But as I was driving there, I began to worry a little about the potential price of the meal. I even considered calling the group to suggest a change of venue. When I got the Simon’s and looked at the menu, I was glad I didn’t as it is quite reasonably priced.
There is something calming about driving through a wine estate. As I drove through Groot Constantia to get to Simon’s, I enjoyed the Autumn colours which the trees displayed and appreciated the rolling vineyards with mountains as a backdrop. We are very fortunate to have several wine estates basically in the middle of Cape Town. Constantia is a very short drive from most places and it offers top quality estates with fantastic dining options such as La Colombe, The River Cafe, Buitenverwachting Restaurant and others, including Simon’s.
The hostess welcomed us and showed us to our table. While waiting for the rest of the dining party to arrive, I passed the time by paying some attention to the decor. Simon’s is actually a very big restaurant. There is a large al fresco dining area, which must be lovely in summer but this particular day was quite cold. There is a large smoking section of the restaurant which also houses a bar, and finally there is the non-smoking section which also has an additional level upstairs. Despite its size, Simon’s manages to create a warm ambiance and manages to fill the space well. The dark wood and ‘wine cellar’ type doors remind you that your are at a wine estate, but the restaurant is bright and airy thanks to the huge windows.
My friends arrived at about the same time as my hunger. We snacked on the bread, which was good quality, while perusing the menu. We decided to try some starters and chose the Mussels in a white wine, cream and thyme sauce (R39). The mussels themselves were fantastic and the sauce was tasty but a little clumpy. We also ordered the Tomato Soup (R28) which was great. For mains, 2 of us ordered the linefish (R79), which was Dorado. Although the veggies were not bad, we were quite disappointed with the fish as it was very dry and the lemon butter sauce was too rich. The Miller’s Thumb still serves the best Dorado I have ever had. One person had the Fish & Chips (R62), they were happy with the dish and the chips were great. The best meal was also the cheapest, the Madagascan Pepper Burger (R48). This was a really top notch burger served with chips.
The girls decided they needed to try the desserts, so we ordered a Lime Cheesecake (R29) and a Warm liquid centered chocolate and banana bread pudding (R34). Both were very good but I’d go for the latter option if I had to choose.
The wine list was surprisingly approachable. There is a selection of wines from various estates and some very reasonably priced options as well as some higher end options for those who like to spoil their palates and punish their wallets. We selected the Groote Post Old Man’s Blend (R90) is it is a reliable, reasonable red. A glass of Sauvignon Blanc cost us R24.
The service didn’t draw attention to itself, but I left with the impression that the staff were friendly, which is not all that common these days. I enjoyed my lunch at Simon’s despite my initial reservations and will definitely return sooner rather than later.
Simon’s at Groot Constantia
Tel: 021 794 1143
I had lunch at Simon’s the other day, nearly two years on from when I wrote my original review.
This time it was a fine day and we sat outside. The menu has changed somewhat in the last two years and the prices have gone up, as one would expect.
I had the bobotie wontons to start (R38) and they were delicious. We also ordered the tomato, feta and olive salad (R42) which was lovely and fresh.
For mains I ordered the ceasar salad (R55 + R10 for chicken or anchovies) and I really wasn’t impressed by it. I’ve been hearing about restaurants who don’t use real anchovies but serve ‘anchovy style’ fillets of pilchard or some other substitute and I think this might be one of those places.
Anyway, moving on… two people ordered the seafood trio (R140) consisting of linefish, prawns and calamari. They loved it and it did look good. The fourth dish we ordered was the beetroot, butternut and goat’s cheese salad (R58) which was fine.
Just out of interest, the pepper burger which used to be R48 is now R68.
With out food we enjoyed a bottle of Springfield Sauvignon Blanc (R155) and a bottle of Groot Constantia Sauvignon Blanc (R165).
There are so many lunch options in and around Constantia, but let me tell you why you might want to eat at Simon’s. I was actually entertaining friends from overseas that day and had neglected to book at a restaurant. Trying to book at Bistro 1682 at Steenberg or the River Cafe at Constantia Uitsig was a waste of time as they were full. We decided to just drive to Simon’s and see if they had a table, which they did. So if you find yourself stuck for an option at the last minute, give Simon’s a try.
The other reason to go there is that for a restaurant on a wine farm, the prices are really quite reasonable.