Venues

Catharina’s Restaurant

Catharina’s Restaurant
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Cost
R165 avg main meal
Ambience
Classic elegance
Food
Buffet, Contemporary fare, Modern
Payment
Amex, Mastercard, Visa
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Critic's review

Priscilla Urquhart

Food
The carefully thought-through menu at Catharina’s by newly arrived chef Archie Maclean delivers top-notch cuisine using the finest ingredients and impeccable presentation. The latest food offerings in the starter line-up include a roast sweet-potato soup served with pickled shimeji mushrooms, toasted hazelnut and onion crumbs – sublime and comforting at the same time. The grilled scallops live up to their freshness, flanked by tempura green beans, kalamata olive tapenade, crisp capers, baby leaves drizzled with squid ink, salmon caviar and a lemon vinaigrette. It may sound like too much, but it’s perfectly designed to begin your gastronomic journey into the main courses.

In a rather unusual take on grills, diners can choose from zebra, warthog, ostrich, and beef hanger steak and, for the more adventurous, a pan-fried crocodile tail served with salted crocodile brandade, a creamy dip that brings out the flavours of this unusual meat. The accompaniments of roasted garlic, blackened corn salsa and crispy fried leeks made this a rewarding dish.

Enquire about the specials menu, on which you may find two- and three-course options, each paired with a complimentary glass of wine. Dessert is an absolute must to finish off a truly epicurean experience. Choose from chocolate (chocolate cremeaux, crème fraîche sorbet, vanilla squash and chocolate crumbs), panna cotta (coffee panna cotta, Amarula brûlée, cocoa-nib ice cream, shortcake and smoked hazelnuts) and a gorgeous guava gastrique with burnt meringue, guava macaroons and mint jelly. It all works! For a more leisurely dining experience, the Sunday buffet feasts under the oaks is a treat at R345 per person (R170 for children under 12).

Drinks
Serving over 100 carefully selected South African wines and a small selection of niche international labels, the restaurant caters both for connoisseurs and casual wine drinkers. Sommelier John Chishimba is a star.

Service
Excellent. Nothing is too much trouble for the excellently trained staff, who know exactly when to approach a table for service and assistance. A friendly demeanour also bodes well for locals and foreign diners.

Ambience
Contemporary heritage is the look that has been sought after and beautifully executed. Catharina’s has a rich past, and the décor pays homage to this in subtle ways while embracing modern trends so that nothing looks out of place. Visuals on the walls and the origami swans diving from the ceiling are a tribute to the lady of the manor, Catharina Ras, who founded the estate in the 17th century.

And…
Catharina’s caters for children, too, with favourites like cheeseburgers and hake and chips at very reasonable prices.

(September 2016)

Eat Out critics dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.

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  • Richard Holmes

    Food
    Chef Garth Almazan has been at the helm of Catharina’s for over 15 years, and continues to turn out modern country cuisine in a relaxed fine-dining setting. Breakfasts are mostly aimed at hotel guests, but the excellent blackboard menu at lunchtime brings in plenty of hungry locals. Expect the likes of wintry beef bourguignon or West Coast mussels given a Malay twist. Don’t forget that Almazan is justifiably famous for his risotto, whether it’s making the most of wild winter mushrooms or broad beans and asparagus come springtime. In the evening the menu takes a step upmarket, with everything from quail ballontine to beef tartare to a lamb rack with sweetbreads to tempt you. Happily, the standard of cooking and plating seems consistent both day and night. Sundays see a set-menu ‘family feast’ at lunchtime, while in summer the restaurant’s legendary Sunday buffet is an excellent excuse to settle in at a table under the oaks. Overall, Catharina’s offers accomplished cuisine for good value.

    Drinks
    An excellent wine list that offers both vintages and tasting notes, while showcasing many of South Africa’s top producers. The award-winning estate wines from winemaker JD Pretorius loom large, and almost all are available by the glass. You’ll find an interesting selection of overseas wines and Champagnes on offer too. The bar at the entrance is stylish and well stocked, ideal for a pre-dinner cocktail.

    Service
    There’s no shortage of staff, so expect warm, friendly and attentive service.

    Ambience
    A stylish, airy space with exposed beams and screed floors, the venue has a modern country feel. In summer the handful of terrace tables offer wonderful vineyard views, while the wide hearth is best for rainy days. Origami swans grace the ceiling in homage to the farm’s original name, Zwaaneweide, while vintage map prints and wooden dioramas evoke the rich history of this iconic Cape farm.

    And…
    Set menus in winter offer excellent value for both lunch and dinner.

  • Graham Howe

    Food 
    Fresh, seasonal Cape fare is the holy grail for chef Garth Almazan, who has stamped his culinary signature on this Wineland kitchen over the last two decades. Local growers are the heroes his seasonal menus. These showcase local produce, from asparagus, wild mushrooms and micro-greens to sustainable line fish, free-range chicken, Chalmar beef and Karoo lamb.

    Almazan preserves the natural flavours of ingredients in the delicate treatment of dishes such as tomato consommé, a classic risotto and hand-chopped steak tartare with quail egg. The signature seafood platter features lightly seared scallops, yellowtail, squid, tempura crab and steamed West Coast mussels. If you’re after more robust, earthier flavours, opt for the popular Chalmar beef wing rib and smoked pork fillet. The veloutés, emulsions, stocks and sauces deftly enhance the main ingredient without ever overwhelming the light, natural flavours on the plate.

    Drinks 
    Ask the experienced sommelier to pair your choice of dish with one of the award-winning wines of this estate. Options by the glass or bottle showcase the hero varieties of the cool-climate Constantia region.

    Service 
    Service is warm and attentive, down to the refilling of your wine glass, but never intrusive.

    Ambience
    This chic space is designed for modern dining, with origami swans inside and spectacular vineyard and mountain views to take in. It’s made for long social lunches and intimate dinners. The light boxes and décor tell the story of this heritage wine farm in text and images.

    And… 
    Take the time to enjoy the story of the farm’s namesake, Catharine Ras. The tale is divided into different chapters on the menu, and tells of this historic woman, who outlived five husbands in the 17th century.

    (July 2014)

  • The food of executive chef Garth Almazan delivers full-on flavour. Highlights: duck livers with cream, mushrooms and muscadel on toast; crisp fishcakes with lemon atchar and fresh quince; Chalmar ribs with chimichurri sauce; and warm klapper koesisters with spiced orange dipping sauce and cinnamon ice cream. A light, airy space with glass walls that open onto a vista of sun-drenched vineyards.
  • Food
    Executive Chef Garth Almazan concentrates on using the freshest ingredients prepared in a non-fussy way, so that each of the elements complement each other. Take the duck livers on toast for instance: they are sautéed briefly with cream and mushrooms, leaving them very rare, as per the French tradition, and are finished with a dash of muscadel. The richness of the dish is offset by the piquancy of flat leaf parsley and the toast adds a little crunch. In a word: heaven. The fish cakes, deliciously crisp, and are served on a bed of lemon atchar and fresh quince and shredded carrot sambal, which make the perfect accompaniments. Mains include a Chalmar beef wing rib (600gm) served with a jug of chimichurri sauce and thick cut potato chips; just the thing for a hearty carnivore. The standout dessert is the Cape klapper koe’susters, warm and glazed, rolled in coconut and served with spiced orange dipping sauce and cinnamon ice cream.

    Wine
    A superior list obviously highlighting the excellent Steenberg wines and many others from this area.

    Service
    Impeccably smooth, yet warm and friendly. Such a pleasure.

    Ambience
    The room has recently undergone a makeover and the result is light, airy and fresh with plenty of light wood being used. The big fireplace is just the thing for those winter days but the huge glass walls that open onto a vista of vineyards let in lots of sunshine.

    And...
    Do a wine tasting while you are here and decide what you are going to have with your lunch. (Greg Landman, August 2013)

User reviews

  • Beautiful setting, surprisingly mediocre food and really dreadful service. Everyone at our table had to rate their meal out of 10, 10 being being the best. .........there wasnt a single score over 4. Thank goodness we had wine.
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  • Jeepers. Went for a birthday breakfast 2 weekends ago: lovely food but incredibly distracted service. Not on, since it's winter and there were only 2 other tables in the restaurant, and plenty of staff milling around out of sight. Thought we'd give it another go today (Sunday) as the food and decor/setting is lovely. We went in at 08.45 to be told that breakfast ends at 9am. No problem, but the attitude was completely unwelcoming. No smile, no nothing. As locals who live around the corner, we are not doing YOU a favour by coming out. Wanted to try the winter dinner special soon but with 1* service at a 5* hotel, they can forget about seeing us back there. Real shame! In the next review I will detail what happened when we went to Bistro1682 at Steenberg, since breakfast there ends at 11am... also a poor attitude!
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  • The Best Restaurant we have been to in a long time!
    Food was excellent. Wine was phenomenal and there is great priced wines on the menu for the quality.
    We were a group of 6 going and all of us enjoyed it so much. Great service, friendly waiter, phenomenal food. Will go back definitely. Highly recommended. Beautiful décor, stylish and awesome location.
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  • We were extremely disappointed with our experience at Catharina’s last night.
    On arrival, we were seated at our table and offered a glass of water – and then apparently forgotten. We requested a wine list from a waiter – this did not arrive.Eventually asked a different waiter for a wine-list. He had 2 in his hands, so he gave us one.The white wine arrived at our table unchilled. It tasted bad, so we sent it back and had it replaced with Cab sav.
    We decided on Gnocchi and the Risotto dish. The risotto was ok, but had far too much chilli. We did not complain about this. However, the gnocchi dish was inedible. The sauce tasted of raw flour and the gnocchi itself was stodgy. We sent it back.
    To be fair, the soup was good, as was the dessert.
    We asked to speak to the manager, who responded professionally, offering us drinks and a heartfelt apology, for which we are grateful.
    We’re still not certain whether we’ll return to Catharina’s after our experience.
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  • Thought we would give the winter menu a chance as we had two prevouis bad experiences here. smoked prawns and risotto were amazing. The linefish was sea bass and totally bland and forgettable. Gluten free carrot cake not bad. The service for the third tme was completely lacking. Sort of doing you a favour to serve you with no smiles or feeling of welcome. I asked what the amazing fragrant taste in the risotto was and got a very rude answer. We will not be back and what a shame as this is such a wonderful venue and location.

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  • Fantastic restaurant! The best service and food I have experienced in life so far. The waitress and restaurant was about perfection and customer satisfaction from the moment we stepped in. Beautiful decor and a wood burning fire. Definitely a must for any special occasion!
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  • My husband and I on our Christmas holidays decided to give this restaurant a try as it is highly recommended. The service we found to be attentive, the food was outrageously overpriced for the portion sizes albeit well-presented. The restaurant has absolutely no atmosphere and is extremely stiff and impersonal. We paid our bill with a heavy heart and left looking for a late night coffee shop.
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  • This restaurant is based in the upmarket 5 star Steenberg Hotel in Cape Town wine estate.Ten days ago they advertised their Winter special 2/3/4 course menus in the newspapers.When driving past I decided to pop, get an idea what one can expect and book for my sons birthday(something special). Well! Security asked me whether I had booked. No, I replied. Then you cannot go in. I said all I want to do is have a look at the venue for a future booking, so please relay this back to the restaurant/hotel which he did. Came back and said fully booked with private function, you cannot go in. Again I tried to state my intentions (look at the menus etc) not interfere with anybody but to look. No ways the restaurant management says if you havent booked not allowed in. If I said I was visiting the hotel he said thats a different story! So basically one must lie and you will get in, thats the message Im getting or the staff have no idea what they are doing? Maybe the management can answer that for us - and please do not use security as an excuse. I was annoyed at the arrogance of such an organisation. They advertise but if you would like to see what its all about, you get treated with a gestapo mentality... I phoned later to speak to a manager but as they change shifts no one was available(3.30p.m.)I leave it up to you to decide.
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  • We were really impressed with the quality of the food and service at Catharinas. The revamp was also very successful and works really well with the architecture and picturesque surroundings. We thoroughly enjoyed spending the afternoon there, and later had a wonderful dinner. This place is strongly recommended!
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  • As a guest of the hotel we opted to have dinner in the very well known Catharinas restaurant. What an excellent decision! From the moment we entered the restaurant, till the time we left we were made feel special. Great service, combined with excellent food and wine, we had a most memorable experience, and I would recommend this to anyone looking for something special.I cant wait to go back for more, this time for a nice Sunday lunch with the live jazz band!
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  • Absolutely wonderful lunch experience. Excellent, discreet service. Fantastic food and stylish, but relaxing ambiance. I would recommend it highly. Even the obligatory child allowed to walk around the restaurant was well behaved!
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  • Outrageous R97.50 rand for my 3 year old for Sunday buffet even though she hardly ate anything. They told me on the phone under 5s were free, then changed their mind.
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  • We booked a 60th birthday celebration and cannot thank the chef and waiting staff enough. A truly wonderful experience. The food was fantastic. Every one of the twenty guests praised the quality and presentation of the food. Top marks for a top restaurant.
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  • I took guests from England and Botswana to what was to be special event on Saturday 3/3. The service was abysmally slow and were only shown to our table at 8,45pm after arriving at 7.30. The portions were miniscule and although well presented, were terribly disappointing,horribly overpriced and when it came to desert we waited 45 minutes for it to arrive. Again the portions were laughable if it wssn,t for the price. Everyone in our party of seven, was totally disappointed by the total rip-off. We will never ever go there again. Avoid at all costs if you are looking for gastromic delight or value for money.
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  • A suberp experience, great ambience, excellent food,friendly service and reasonable prices.
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  • An excellent experience all round. Superb setting and ambience. Within this frame price very reasonable
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Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Accommodation
  • Booking required
  • Breakfast
  • Child friendly
  • Cocktails
  • Dinner
  • Eat Out reviewed
  • Fireplace
  • Functions
  • Licensed
  • Live entertainment
  • Lunch
  • Parking
  • Serves food
  • Wheelchair

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