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

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.

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  • 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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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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