The relaxed atmosphere belies the quality and consistency of cooking on offer here, with chef Johan Stander dishing up a superb menu of contemporary cuisine. Blending Continental classics, local produce and Asian influence, it’s a globetrotting offer where marinated tofu with red cabbage kimchi or spiced pork neck with smoked apple sauce may follow the (reliably-good) gruyere and cauliflower soufflé.
The Franschhoek trout, paired with a puy lentil ragout, is superb. Strydom aims to use only SASSI-green-listed fish, and local produce is celebrated across the menu. On a later visit the buttery pastry of a delicate guinea fowl pie plated with cooked prunes and smoked cauliflower impressed. There’s a separate menu of kid-friendly fare for under-13s.
With the exception of a bubbly from Robertson, the wine list is limited to Glen Carlou wines, but that’s certainly no hardship. All are offered at cellar prices with most available by the glass. There is a small selection of local craft beers available.
Relaxed but faultless service from friendly, knowledgeable and proactive waiters.
Laid-back country feel in a thatched-roof space shared with the wine-tasting counter. A crackling fireplace warms things up in winter, but the prime tables are out on the terrace with spectacular vineyard views.
In winter the three-course menus offer excellent value for money.
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While other estates on flanks of the Simonsberg celebrate farm-to-fork and family-friendly dining, Glen Carlou plants its flag firmly in the field of contemporary cuisine. Continental influences are paired with top-quality local produce; think ostrich fillet glazed in whole grain mustard and served with a biltong croquette, the latter being a side that also appears with smoked bone marrow and suckling pig. Pork is something the chef has a good hold of here; the pork belly well balanced by Earl Grey infused prunes and a brandy apple jus. The choice for vegetarians is limited, but what there is shows plenty of thought, with a gruyère soufflé the standout. There’s no shortage of creativity in the kitchen, and this is certainly one of the more interesting menus in this corner of the Winelands. Some dishes miss the mark though: a potato and leek amuse-bouche leaning too heavily on truffle oil, and a springbok terrine both bland and dry.
A compact list dominated by Glen Carlou estate wines all sold – commendably – at cellar door prices. Nearly all are available by the glass, too. There’s a small selection of overseas wines, alongside limited local craft beers.
Somewhat of a letdown, given the upmarket approach of the menu. The experience was one of a mildly intrusive presence followed by curious absence when needed most. Needs attention.
An airy space with high thatched ceilings, which contrast with the cool screed floors. Although there’s a fireplace, it’s a space best suited to hot summer days to make the most of the glorious vineyard views. If the weather’s fine, the terrace tables are your best choice.
After lunch, take a wander through the Hess Art Collection of international contemporary works.
The menu is designed to showcase the acclaimed wines of this modern cellar, and every course comes recommended with a specific Glen Carlou wine. A gourmet influence shows in starters such as lamb rilettes, gruyère and cauliflower soufflé, and braised pork trotters, but you’ll also find earthy, smoky flavours evident in dishes like suckling pig croquettes and coq au vin with home-cured bacon.
The combinations are creative and bursting with fresh country flavours. Exotic sauces and garnishes enhance the main ingredient with the likes of brandy apple jus, tamarind and date chutney or apple and turmeric velouté, without ever crowding the plate.
Innovative, changing seasonal menus show a focus on South African ingredients, from free-range chicken and lamb to ostrich and beef. A children’s menu caters for plainer palates, while vegetarians will enjoy a hearty minestrone soup and good risotto or grilled tofu with trendy quinoa. A focus on local, sustainable and free-range suppliers shows in the natural flavours on the plate.
Here you can taste an unusual selection of global wines from Australia, Argentina, California and South Africa, owned by the Hess group of wineries worldwide.
Service is on the ball, with good advice on food and wine pairings, and recommendations of new wine releases from the adjoining cellar.
Enjoy relaxed and informal dining either inside the open-plan tasting centre under soaring thatch in a contemporary space, or on the chic deck outside, with its vineyard views.
After lunch, take a post-prandial stroll around the fynbos zen garden or the modern gallery, which exhibits works in the famous Hess Art Collection.
The view deserves a larger menu plus the duck was very small and dry - when we arrived some items on the menu were sold out as well. No sole?
This was a great time we had at Glen Carlou on 19 Feb 2013.
Food was absolutely fantastic. Had goat cheese tartlet/duck liver parfait as starter, mushroom crusted sirloin (grilled to perfection)/kudu burger (not what you expect, absolutely exceptional) as mains, peaches and cream/Amarula parfait for desserts - all paired with the suggested wines. Service was great and attentive, tasting waiter very knowledgeable in any topic.
Some of the wines we knew already, and we liked them very much, especially the grand classic. This lunch outing on a rainy, foggy and cool day was one of our highlights of our stay in the Cape Winelands lately. Even the view over to the Paarl Valley through fogg and rain curtains was fantastic (not always this blue sky/sun image).
Will definitely recommend it and return. Thank you again for the hospitality, generosity and the great time spent at your place.
With sunny regards
Franziska + Klaus Ruetschi
African Spirit Tours, Milnerton
The view is stunning from up there. The food and wine was even better. We had the duck and kudu as starters and the lamb shank and pork belly as mains. The service was great, and we are already planning to go back for the burgers. Big thumbs up Glen Carlou!