A day wining and dining in the Winelands would usually result in one thing (apart from a full belly and general merriment) – a suffering wallet. The market focus at Simonsvlei seeks not to strip you of cash, but fulfill you with a wine farm experience without the exorbitant costs. Eat@Simonsvlei, aimed at locals and with a focus on family-friendly dining, caters to children, couples and friends who are keen to get out of the city and spend the afternoon eating a homely, flavourful meal in the Cape Winelands.
Just outside Paarl along the R101, a first glance at the wine menu would assume you’re buying by the glass. But no, the wines are so well priced you can expect to pay anything from R35 for a bottle. Light, easy drinking and perfect when paired with a menu aimed at easing even the fussiest palette, go expecting friendly service and a relaxed ambience, complete with jungle gyms and a kiddies menu.
Rob Hahn, head chef for the last three years (since the restaurant underwent a revamp and rebrand), has more than 25 years of global chef and hospitality experience under his belt. He takes notable pride in creating a menu that, without frills and fuss, nourishes and leaves patrons feeling warm and welcomed.
Drawn to Cape Malay cooking and flavours, Rob recommended the ‘traditional, with a twist’ bobotie, which we gladly obliged (R95), as well as the day’s fresh catch of Norwegian salmon, cooked to buttery perfection (R130), but not before trying the coconut, chilli and ginger mussel pot to start (R60). Paired with the flagship Hercules Paragon SMVC 2012 (R85) and Rob’s company we were off to a good start. We followed our meal with a wine tasting in the adjacent tasting room (six wines, R20). Simonsvlei also features conference and venue facilities catering to business meetings, weddings, birthdays and even children’s parties. Rob will personally tailor the menu to suit your taste and budget.
Simonsvlei, although not a wine farm itself, serves more as a co-op for passing visitors. Stop off for a wine tasting, meal, picnic or product stock up. If you’re not into fine dining, the pizza oven, open sandwiches and light salads will certainly fill the gap. Unpretentious, and an easy forty minute drive from Cape Town, it’s an affordable way to escape life’s bustle, surrounded by friends and family.
Photography Bernard Myburgh Words Lisa Wallace