Chef Archie Maclean has settled in at Catharina’s, bringing his own flair for only the freshest ingredients used imaginatively. There is nothing tricky about this cuisine, no frills, no pretensions to haute anything, just great food, packed with flavour, always looking good enough to eat. The idea of a little blob of something here, a smear of something else there, and a cube of something that has to be explained to you is totally alien to him.
The lunch menu is delightfully light, with the prawn and smoked salmon ravioli with a delicious dill crème sauce and micro greens taking first prize. Then there is the lovely rich venison gratinata, with king mushrooms, artichoke hearts, capers, parmesan cheese and pickled aubergine. The pan-fried line fish is a knockout, served with smoked paprika potato purée, as is the slow-roast pork belly with broccolini and blue cheese jus.
The chocolate fondant with vanilla bavarois and white chocolate sorbet is an irresistible way to end.
Of course the famous wines of the estate are a must, sitting as one is in the middle of the vineyards from which they spring.
Smooth, knowledgeable and professional.
The Constantia Valley is the home of some of the finest restaurants in Cape Town, some terribly haute and others very user friendly. Here, large glass doors let in plenty of light. Adding to the ambience is light modern wood furniture. On the walls are whimsical cut outs and there is a large open fire place for those chilly days and nights. It is elegant, but very relaxing.
Start off with some of their superb bubbly, which is just the thing to get those tastebuds going.
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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).
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.
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.
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.
Catharina’s caters for children, too, with favourites like cheeseburgers and hake and chips at very reasonable prices.
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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.
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.
There’s no shortage of staff, so expect warm, friendly and attentive service.
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.
Set menus in winter offer excellent value for both lunch and dinner.
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.
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 is warm and attentive, down to the refilling of your wine glass, but never intrusive.
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.
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.
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.
The iconic Catharina’s offers a special seasonal menu this winter. Choose two courses for R185 or three for R215 and tuck into hearty starters like roast cream of tomato soup, or a seafood croquette with tempura veggies and tomato salsa. Mains include sous vide pork belly with crushed potatoes and stir-fried vegetables, or battered kingklip and chips. If you’re after dessert, there’s a sticky date pudding, sorbets and an Amarula crème brûlée from which to choose.