So I’m lucky enough to live on the border of one of the best wine regions in the country – Constantia – and I was recently invited to explore a few of the wonderful wine farms of the valley courtesy of the Constantia Wine Route. My first visit was to the (new to me) Eagles Nest estate (which you can read about here), and then it was off to lunch at the recently opened Open Door Restaurant at Constantia Uitsig (the old River Cafe)
I’ve celebrate many a birthday – my own and those of family and friends – in this spot, but since it’s revamp I had yet to walk through the door…
And I was pleasantly surprised! The restaurant has changed quite substantially inside. The interiors are far more modern and I was struck by the beautiful bar area (and gorgeous floor).
The restaurant has been divided into various areas including a bright breakfast area with large windows looking out onto the scenery beyond, a traditionally decorated central area, perfect for lunch and a more moody space, with dark charcoal walls, minimalist decor and an amazing vine installation on the wall, ideal for dinner. An interesting aspect of this new space, is that all the areas are designed to be used for their specific purpose eg. the breakfast area will never be used for dinner.
After our brief tour of the interior of the restaurant, we got to do a quick jaunt of the estate and meet the new winemaker, the rather dashing Jacques. Firstly he displayed his excellent sabrage technique and then we enjoyed a glass of their MCC while taking a wander over to the new bike park Well, it’s not new to me, I’ve already spent quite some time here with my avid mountain biking son! If you haven’t been yet and have kids between 5 & 50 then I advise you pop in soon!
This exciting new offering is just one of the changes happening on the estate since the new owners took over about a year ago. A new eating area is already under construction at the bike park and there are plans afoot for a renewed wetland area, picnics, Babylonstoren-style gardens and an impressive new eco-friendly cellar and wine-tasting area.
After working up an appetite, we were only too pleased to be greeted with bountiful bread baskets and more wine!
And the food? Well there were no complaints from around the table when it came to the tempting choices on the lunch a la carte menu. I opted for a starter of crayfish tail and a main of braised lamb neck with butternut, roasted garlic and baby carrots. The meat was meltingly tender and very moreish. It was a rather large portion for lunch, but who was I to pass up the opportunity?
These were a few of the other options on the lunch menu…
During our meal each dish from the menu was paired informally with one of the estate’s wines. The highlight being the golden Reserve Chardonnay served in the prettiest of glasses! I’m not too much of a wino but I can tell you that this was delicious… and their website can tell you “The nose is complex with butterscotch, vanilla and fresh pineapple. The palate is very elegant and leans more to an old world style with a great balance of minerality, fruit and texture.”
All in all this was a lovely lunch time venue for a day out in the Constantia winelands, and would make for a great evening out too I’m sure.
Upmarket yet unpretentious, Open Door Restaurant is a great addition to the valley… and with it being right on my doorstep I’ll be sure to be popping in again, and again…. and I certainly look forward to celebrating many more birthdays in this same spot, albeit with a few new changes!
Images: Kathryn Rossiter
Disclosure: I enjoyed this meal as a guest of Constantia Uitsig and the Constantia Wine Route. All views and images are my own.