Venues

Tokara

Tokara
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  • Location 021 885 2550
  • Phone Number Tokara, R310 towards Franschhoek, Helshoogte Pass, Stellenbosch, Western Cape
  • email reservations@tokara.com
  • Website URL http://www.tokararestaurant.co.za
  • Opening Hours

    Lunch: Winter - Tuesday to Saturday 12noon to 3pm; Sundays 12noon to 3pm; Summer - Monday to Sunday 12noon to 3pm

    Dinner: Winter - Tuesday to Saturday 6.30pm to 10pm

Cost
R180 avg main meal off à la carte menu
Ambience
Classic elegance, Family friendly
Food
Fine-dining food, French, Modern, South African, Vegetarian
Payment
Mastercard, Visa
500

Critic's review

Linda Scarborough

Food
The cooking of chef Richard Carstens is characterised by bold flavour combinations, often bringing local and Asian-inspired ingredients together, and precise techniques. This year the dishes seem to pop off the plate – innovative, well seasoned and delicious.

Starters tempt with the likes of beef tartare spiced with cumin and coriander, beetroot done three ways, and Richard’s trademark smoked and cured trout with sushi rice. You might instead opt for the mushroom ravioli, which is silky and beautifully seasoned, singing with the flavours of garlic, lemon, parmesan and truffle; or the quail, which delivers with golden crispy skin and umami flavour, with the high notes of Asian notes of ginger, radish and tamari playing nicely with earthy brown-butter crème.

For mains, the roasted duck with aubergine is superbly cooked and layered with rich, comforting tastes of parsnip purée and tender eggplant with a bright gooseberry sauce, but the addition of sushi rice feels a little out of place.

The portion of smoky fire-roasted miso beef is faultless, with complementary sweet-potato purée, mushrooms, spinach and buckwheat. Other appealing options include peppery springbok with pomme purée, turnips and pears, the line fish of the day, and fried tempeh for the vegetarians.

If you want to snack on some extra sides, try the triple-cooked chips with ponzu and a little dish of tangy homemade ketchup.

The sweet ending of caramel-poached pears with honeycomb and lemon ice cream is masterful, with the sweet familiarity of the fruit slivers lifted by the quenelle of surprising, fresh citrus creaminess. The olive oil cake with gruyère ice cream and white balsamic gel is bold but less successful, while a chocolate mousse with coffee ice cream should please most palates.

Drinks
Start with a glass of perfectly pink Silverthorn Genie brut rosé and then be guided by the able staff. Wines made by Tokara and other local producers make the offering a rich one with opportunity for surprises and spoils. The Tokara Reserve Collection chardonnay and sauvignon blanc go down a treat.

Service
A friendly welcome at the front desk sets the tone. Waiters are solicitous but discreet and knowledgeable about the dishes’ compositions. Sommelier Jaap-Henk Koelewijn is deeply knowledgeable and passionate about the wares on offer, gives wise advice, and has perfected the art of reading what a table needs.

Ambience
The deck overlooks the curve of the vineyards over the rise to your right and the sprawl of lush farmlands towards the mother city in the distance. It’s simply spectacular. Tokara’s interior is modern and bright, with glass on two sides, elegant wooden furniture and futuristic light fittings reminiscent of constellations of stars. Everything feels cool and effortless. Try to get a sneak into the pristine kitchen on your way past the front desk. If you’re an art lover, be sure to examine the pieces dotted around, in the tasting room, the cellar, and at Tokara Delicatessen. You can’t miss the silver word-trees as you enter the main building.

And…
Be sure to stop at the Tokara Delicatessen on your way out to stock up on estate’s famous olive oil, kalamata olives and olive paste, local SA cheeses, charcuterie, coffee and chocolate truffles – all of the highest quality.

(September 2016)

Eat Out reviewers dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Click here to read our editorial policy.

  • Ambience
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  • Food
  • Graham Howe

    Food
    Richard Carstens, one of South Africa’s most adventurous chefs, is renowned for his creative fare, which draws on contemporary Japanese, French and Spanish influences, and cutting-edge culinary techniques. Explore the fifth flavour of umami on a menu inspired by classic flavour and texture combinations, accompanied by sublime sauces, relishes, purées and emulsions, like a yuzu buttermilk or turnip sauce.

    The attention to detail is evident from the start with a breadbasket and Tokara’s superb olive oil on arrival, and is carried through to staff brushing crumbs from the table between courses. Guests can expect delightful surprises like springbok in black pepper and hibiscus juice, or duck in coconut tamarind sauce.

    The chef’s compositions may be complex in preparation, but are clean and uncluttered, and deceptively simple on the plate. Some signature dishes always remain on the seasonal menus: try a Franco-Japanese interpretation of seafood, like ponzu-glazed line fish with sushi rice and wasabi, or miso beef with pickled mushroom and ginger sauce.

    The treatment of the main ingredient is always delicate, with layers of taste and texture. Never fussy or complicated, the presentation is elegant and artful without signs of artifice on the plate. Vegetarians can go for a walk on the wild side with this menu, from starters through to mains, sides and sweets.

    Drinks
    An excellent wine list goes beyond Tokara’s own cellar wines by the glass and bottle to more of the Cape’s top labels.

    Service
    On the ball and well heeled, with in-depth knowledge on ingredients and the composition of dishes. Expect excellent sommelier advice on food and wine pairings.

    Ambience
    This showpiece glass, steel and stone cellar restaurant atop Helshoogte is all that is cool and contemporary. Sit back and watch the action in the gleaming open glass kitchen.

    And…
    Enjoy a pre-prandial wine at the new bar looking into the kitchen. On a sunny day, book a table on the deck to appreciate the spectacular vistas of vineyards as far as the eye can see.

    (September 2015)

  • Eat Out

    Food
    A glorious setting, fabulous food, good service and value for money put Tokara on the must-go-again list. Chef Richard Carstens’s love of combining French and Asian flavour and experimenting with new techniques and ideas is evident in all his dishes. Innovative his food may be, but overcomplicated it never is – this is modern cuisine with clean flavours. The plating style remains simple and beautiful, with the menu sporting expertly cooked dishes like roasted cob with mussels, calamari, lemon cream and squid-ink brioche. The calamari perfectly accentuates the fish and plump mussels, while the brioche and lemon sauce bring a depth of flavour. Wonderfully tender grilled char sui beef is matched with celeriac purée, demonstrating Richard’s passion for Asian flavours, while the vanilla crème with caramel apples, sorrel ice cream and buttermilk brings the meal to an elegant and well-composed end.

    Wine
    Refreshingly, not all of the pairing suggestions made by sommelier Jaap-Henk Koelewijn were for Tokara wines. The list is quite small, but there are one or two interesting options, including the odd wine from the coastal regions. Some cool beers and a nice cocktail list round off the experience.

    Service
    Top notch. Service is brisk and efficient, but also attentive and informal, which complements the playful novelty of the food.

    Ambience
    Perched on a hillside overlooking the vineyards, the restaurant shares the building of glass, brick and steel with the Tokara wine tasting rooms. With an industrial chic feel and a heavy emphasis on art, the venue is as polished as ever, yet remains unpretentious and intimate.

    (August 2014)

  • Food
    Chef extraordinaire Richard Carstens (Eat Out Chef of the Year in 2005), has experience in Asia and Australia and it shows in his imaginative cuisine – always delicious, sometimes surprising, great to look at and even better to eat. Starters include the dish of roasted salt-crusted sweet potato with butternut, goat’s cheese, orange, yoghurt and wasabi, a fascinating melange of flavours and textures. The pan-fried calamari with crisp prawn, risotto, almond gazpacho and parsnip and vanilla veloute sounds as if it won’t work, but does, brilliantly. Richard’s wonderful take on slow-roasted pork belly is paired with sushi rice, apple pickle and tamarind coconut sauce. Pan-fried springbok with parsnip purée, turnip, pear and teriyaki butter will bring a tear to a carnivore’s eye. Chocolate pavé with Cointreau ice cream, confit orange and vanilla is a match made in heaven for this famous liqueur.

    Wine
    The excellent Tokara wines take centre stage. Sommelier Jaap-Henk Koelewijn is on-hand to guide you through it all.

    Service
    Smooth and seamless from a dedicated team who know their stuff.

    Ambience
    Very industrial chic with some serious artworks thrown in for good measure. The view from the deck is worth the price of admission.

    And...
    Do a wine tasting before your meal to see which wines please you.(Greg Landman, September 2013)

User reviews

  • We were so lucky to have found this beautiful gem of a restaurant & estate while driving around looking for our Wedding Venue. We ended up falling in love with Tokara and had our Wedding Reception there last year, just after their stunning renovations! We also used their Wine Tasting Area as our venue for 'Cocktails and Canapés' for our guests while we had our photos taken. Top class food, beautifully presented.... Chef Richard can be very proud of himself and his team. Every dinner and lunch we have ever had here was fantastic. Beautiful surroundings... vineyards, art and beautiful modern decor. Our only 'crit' would be that the 'drinks menu' lacked a few ordinary drinks (like Appletizer and 'coolers', etc.), especially on a hot day during lunch time... but Tokara Wine is fantastic and goes down well with any meal. We look forward to having many "Anniversary Dinners" at Tokara in the future.
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  • The View and service were excellent. We're big fans of Richard, setting us off with high expectations. The trout and Asparagus Broccoli starters were fresh and perfectly balanced flavours - light and filling to pre-empt the main event. Tokara Sauvignon Blanc was an outstanding companion. Worth a mention. Springbok Main was perfect in many ways, flavour, texture, hidden little jus and ice cream. Take a bow. Then unfortunately all of this was let down by the fish of the day that was clearly defrosted fish, very glassy in texture and overtly fishy in smell - a let down for the standards we know the chef expects. We quite honestly agreed that we've had better fish at Ocean Basket - not to be rude, but honest. Yes we know the franchise can give you great value for money at times, but we expected Tokara to at least get the basics right, so we only had a quarter of that meal. Note that my partner and I love to share meals. All in all it was a wonderful meal, because of the view, staff, wine and the wonderful meals that preceded the disappointment. Definitely worth the visit - we'll be back to try more on the menu to complete our Tokara experience.
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  • i loved the Master Chefi food we had in Tokara , Stellenbosch. Such finesse , great presentation. was there to celebrate my daughter's birthday. We were treated with a glass of bubbly, on the house. and spoiled by the limitless views of green hills and amazing trees all around. Can't wait to go back. and treat my self and overseas guests to such a classy dining experience.
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  • Dinner at Tokara was fabulous. The setting and wine recommendations were amazing but the hero of the experience was the tasting menu. Presentation, technique, interesting and exciting food combinations, generous portions vs other top class tasting menus in Cape Town - this was a highlight in a week of gourmet dining in the Cape. Highly recommended.
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  • I've been to Tokara more than once, mostly on a Saturday afternoon with some friends. I was surprised to see food weighed, but it's all worth the price, and delicious too, so's the wine. Tokara is very welcoming, beautiful place and ambient, but everytime i go back there hoping it'll be different. My husband has said: NOMORE! We've decided not to go back there, because on 2 occasions we were turned away purely because there weren't any tables available. The Manager didn't even tell us that we were most welcome to sit on the leather couch and wait until a table becomes available. As we were about to leave, more than one became available, which gave us a choice,we quickly brought it to her attention, but sensed her negative body language. She discussed us with her staff and made us feel like barbarians, because now, we couldn't decide where to sit. The waiter was sweet, but its stuck in my head. Anyway we enjoyed the food and wine, but said never again. This has been on my mind ever since, and now I can move on.
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Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Booking required
  • Child friendly
  • Cocktails
  • Dinner
  • Fireplace
  • Food
  • Functions
  • Licensed
  • Lunch
  • Parking
  • Serves food
  • Vegetarian
  • Wheelchair

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