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The Restaurant at Waterkloof

The Restaurant at Waterkloof
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Cost
R1400 per person for set menu
Ambience
Groups, Special occasions, Views
Food
Fine-dining food, French, Modern
Payment
Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Corkage
R85

Critic's review

John Maytham

Food

Chef Gregory Czarnecki's superlative contemporary cuisine won the restaurant the number-three spot in the 2017 Top 10. Each dish that comes out of the open kitchen is visually exquisite, technically highly accomplished, playful and inventive in conception, and does great honour to the constituent ingredients, which are of the standard you’d expect from a farm where such attention is paid to the soil and its health.

Take the plunge and go for the degustation menu – it’s worth every cent and every bite. There are a nominal six courses, but that turns into thirteen when the amuse-bouches, sorbets, extra dessert and petit-fours are factored in. Each dish is perfectly calibrated to ensure that you feel perfectly sated when the last delicious morsel is consumed.

Each dish deserves an Instagram account and an essay-length description of its own. I can still see and taste the Dijon mustard caviar that spiced up the puffed beef tendon and crispy chicken skin; the lightly smoked Saldanha Bay oyster harmonizing with a beurre blanc sorbet; and the Egg 63 – sous vide at 63 degrees Celcius, it’s served in the shell, toast-soldier style with an emmenthaler velouté. Then there are also the slices of salt-crust baked celeriac enlivened by curry brittle and passion fruit; the sea bass, perfectly cooked and paired with the tart freshness of gooseberries; and melt-in-the-mouth tender duck breast with saffron apple.

Who would have thought that a dessert containing apricot, pomegranate, fennel, tarragon and petite balls of burnt thyme could be such a satisfactory end to a stellar meal? Bravo, chef!

Drinks

Make it simple: accept the recommended Waterkloof wine that accompanies each dish on either the à la carte or degustation menu. You won’t be disappointed.

Service

Service is of a standard that befits the cuisine: accomplished, genial and non-intrusive.

Ambience

The mountaintop setting is spectacular, and so are the views. The restaurant is elegant and unadorned other than the crisp linen and high-quality cutlery and stemware.

And…

There is a particular pleasure to visiting when the Percheron draught horses are ploughing the vineyards.

(October 2017)

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

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  • Greg Landman

    Food
    Master Chef Gregory Czarnecki reigns supreme at this up-market venue, consistently turning out food that looks great and tastes even better. The menu is available as two courses, three, or a degustation with or without wine pairings.

    The amuse-bouche, a whipped goat's cheese mousse, sets the palate up for what’s to come. The sea-bass ceviche starter is deliciously fresh and tender, served with a salty snoek purée, crunchy celeriac discs and bottarga, a salted and cured fish roe. Warm bread rolls then arrive with five different butters, the best of which is black-garlic aioli.

    One of the highlights, a Joostenberg Vlakte duck breast, is served with oven-roasted turnips infused with hibiscus, a pickled turnip disc, passion-fruit dressing and a turnip-and-hibiscus puree. Never has the humble turnip been so elevated! The rich duck jus served in a cute little jug is the perfect accompaniment for this excellent dish.

    Desserts of a blood peach panna cotta or Tahitian vanilla vacherin make a great ending. Three intensely sweet caramel and chocolate offerings presented with the bill are a lovely touch, so save room for them.

    Drinks
    The excellent wines of Waterkloof are available at elevated prices from the tasting room, which is just the other side of the room.

    Service
    Of the highest standard: friendly, professional and warm. What more could you ask for?

    Ambience
    This is a spectacular setting, high up on the mountains, with giant glass walls overlooking sensational views of False Bay and the Hottentots Holland mountain range.

    And…
    Do a wine tasting before your meal to see which of the estate’s offerings suits you best.

    (September 2016)

    Eat Out critics arrive unannounced and pay their way in full. Read our editorial policy here.

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User reviews

  • Booked via app. Somehow strange to ask for a prepayment of 1200 ZAR for four persons. Reservation cancelled, we’ll find another restaurant.
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  • I visited just before the restaurany closed in June 2018. One of the most beautiful restaurant views in South Africa! After having eaten at EatOuts top 10 list I would say that this is one of three must visit restaurants (the others being Chefs Warehouse and Potluck Club). In my opinion this is also the most affordable in the EatOut top 5 list. The atmosphere is definitely suited to fine dining or a sophisticated lunch. Each course is picture perfectly plated. Unfortunately for me the menu has been too similar for too long and Im hoping to revisit this month to try the new menu. I always enjoy the scallop, egg 63 and quail. Desserts look good but can be better. The petit fours at the end are worth waiting for (they usually have a popsicle, a fancy eclair and some gourmet sweets)
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  • Terribly disappointing! The food is uninspiring, with poor or no flavour combinations and in some instances off-putting texture combinations. Don't expect any service either, wine glasses were left empty for 15-20 minute intervals, we enjoyed our dessert with used plates and butter knives as part of the table decor! If you want to pitch yourself as a fine dining restaurant, one would assume that the staff would be able execute the very basics. I cannot believe this restaurant is no. 3 on the top 10, this seriously casts a doubt over EatOut's ability to judge restaurants... Dine here at your own peril!
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  • Let’s start with the good. 1. Absolutely spectacular views from the restaurant. It is a truly impressive spot to have dinner. Note that the layout is a bit strange, it feels like a tasting room with some tables on the side. 2. Food wise, it was not outstanding (yet) but certainly very good. Presentation was excellent, and most dishes had good balanced flavours. I think the chef will go a long way. My favourite courses were the Tradestone Quail, Egg 63, and Mauritius Seabass; but since everyone at the table had a different top three it is safe to say we had a very good menu. One small suggestion, I think it was a little overdone in terms of courses. We received an incredible amount of food, and it felt like the chef was trying too hard. The food was good enough and I think he can safely cut out 2 of these. Problem areas: 1. Service was very patchy. Staff were friendly and helpful but seemed either poorly trained or inattentive. Empty glasses, used plates, butter dishes, etc were left on the table for multiple courses, we had to ask to have items removed repeatedly. They made multiple mistakes with orders, although they did correct them very quickly when raised. What I found very surprising is that the staff seemed to know very little about the wine, even though it was from their estate. When asked, the sommelier (...rather the member of staff that was handling the wine) couldn't even tell me where the wine is from, let alone provide any tasting notes or why it would compliment the dish. 2. The Wine list only contains wine from the estate itself. Whilst I’m okay to have wine from the estate when going there for a lunchtime snack, it is completely unacceptable for a restaurant trying to pitch at this level. Waterkloof’s wines are okay, but they were simply inadequate for the meal. We had the wine pairing and they simply rolled out their wine list top to bottom. Most of the glasses went back half full, or barely touched. Whilst the wine isn’t great, that wasn’t always the problem. Only having your own few wines to pick from is an impossible task even for the best of the best. One great example, the estate doesn’t have a desert wine, thus we didn’t get any wine with desert. This is absolutely shocking. The restaurant should either get a full wine list or start serving hamburgers. Conclusion On balance, despite the very good food, I simply can’t recommend this restaurant. It feels half baked, as if the owner(s) can’t decide if it’s a fine restaurant or a sideshow cafe. Given all the limitations above, I think the pricing offers very poor value for money. Especially given the quality of the local competition. Frankly, based on my experience, I am very surprised this restaurant came in at number three on the EatOut top 10. I think the chef should consider moving to a serious restaurant so his talents can shine.
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  • This was a most disappointing meal. For all the hype and the price, we were expecting something special. The food was frankly not very special and quite uninspired. A fine dining meal is meant to be a journey of flavours. This meal was a series of dishes that took me absolutely nowhere. The scallop starter was cold and lifeless with nothing to recommend it. The main of beef cheeks was slightly overdone although it was tasty. It is such a pity that a restaurant that has been elevated to such a level can serve such boring food. Until they get their food mojo back, rather go somewhere else where you can have the flavour experience that is needed at the same price.
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  • Again, and of late, it seems chefs in South Africa are not being inspired by our gorgeous produce and food anymore, and this translates directly onto the plate and into the service. While the views and decor of this restaurant and wine establishment set back in the mountains of Somerset west are amazing, the expensive wine and apathetic (and rather inappropriately dressed) front of house/hostess made this an unworthy dinner out. The food and plates themselves made it even more uneventful. It was also VERY quiet for a Saturday evening. While I applaud that Chef Greg has found his way into the Top 10 SA restaurants (Waterkloof is no 6), I think he needs to work harder to set him apart from the top 50! His cooking remains fiercely rivalled by the big brass at La Colombe and Test Kitchen, and was certainly uninspiring, in my opinion. And I am no longer willing to pay for food that is unenjoyable, lacks decadence and offers no taste explosion. Here is my review of the food: The breads and butters were delectable, smooth, and well baked - we asked for more. The shitake starter had no earthiness or wow factor. The 69 degree egg, langoustine and scallop dishes were worthy contenders. ...Everything else our table of 7 friends ate was dismal (ok probably too harsh) - it certainly was not worth the price and offered no enjoyment. The salmon was not flakey and flavourful, and the beef cheeks lacked the gelatinous glory and seasoning that could elevate them to top 10 standards. Both dishes were in our opinion over done. The quail was overly sweet. The vegetarian main 'Garden of Medley Veg' was laughable and comprised the same selection of cheesy lack lustre vegetables that arrived on everyone else's dishes. Why do chefs continue to ignore how many people are turning to green living and how vegetables/grains can be translated into gutsy ballzy delicious dishes? The cheese board was overly big for 1 person and came with thin wafers of bread that failed to awe, and with the same cheese garnish that appeared on other plates - specifically the scallop dish. Where are the popping, refreshing delighting flavours that make you go wow? One can not rely on your amuse bouches and palate cleansers and surprises from the chef to elevate you to standards... Disappointed.
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Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Booking required
  • Dress code
  • Fireplace
  • Licensed
  • Parking
  • StreetSmart affliated
  • Wheelchair
  • WiFi

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