37th Best Restaurant in the World

Trip Start May 12, 2009
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Trip End May 24, 2009


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Flag of South Africa  , Western Cape,
Friday, May 15, 2009

We didn't get a wake up call this morning thinking that we would have no problem waking up in time for breakfast (which ended at 10).  However at 10:15, the phone rang and it was the waiter at the restaurant wondering if we were coming down or if he should put the food away.  We felt terrible that they kept the food out for us for so long, so I told them to just clear the food away.  After waking Amy, we got ready and met JB and Lindsey, who enjoyed their breakfast on time (and made sure to tell us how fantastic it was), to start the days events.  

The weather was overcast, but at least the rain was holding off.  We decided to head north and work our way back towards Tokara (which is supposed to have an excellent lunch spot) and then eventually our hotel.  The first stop was Simonsig.  I thought the wine at Ken Forrester was good, Simonsig was even better.  They make champagne (well sparkling wine) in addition to red and white wine.  Similar to Avontuur you could only make 5 selections from the list.  This made it difficult since Amy wanted to share a tasting again and she prefers champagne.  We started off with 2 champagnes, and then Amy said I could pick the rest.  By the time we got to the reserves, we only had one more selection.  Not the best pre-planning, but the pourer said that he would give us a taste of all 3 reserves since we traveled so far.  I really enjoyed the Frans Malan Reserve which is a blend of pinotage (which is a blend of pinot noir and hermitage) and cab sauv.  We ended up purchasing a bottle since it was much better than the 180 rand price tag would suggest.  

Our next stop was to L'Avenir.  Situated on top of the hill off the main road, L'Avenir is known for their pinotage (which winery isn't in South Africa).  The wine maker is french and decided to open wineries in South Africa and Chile.  The wines were very good and JB purchased a bottle which is best if aged 8 years (we will see about that one).  The pourer asks us how we found out about the winery.  Besides the huge building on top of the hill with the name plastered on the side of it, we read about L'Avenir in Travel + Leisure.  It was one of the 10 lesser known wineries of the area.  She then tells us how she was trying to convince the owners to make an even bigger sign to really bring in business.  Personally I think that would be overkill, but we just nodded and agreed with her.  Afterward we asked her what other wineries we should try and her recommendation was Bellevue, for very good pinotage (but not as good as L'Avenir).  

Bellevue was a little bit further north so we decided not to go today.  Not to mention it was close to 2:00 and half of our party had yet to eat for the day.  We drove to Tokara which is on the way to Franschhoek (our destination for this evening's dinner).  Excited to try the number 2 rated restaurant in the Stellenbosch area (according to trip advisor), we find out that Tokara's restaurant is closed.  So we quickly tried the wine and also enjoyed the olive oil tasting that they had (to get something to eat).  The olive oil was better.  Not saying the wine was bad, but we were hungry and the wine seemed to be a bit mass produced (comparable to Sterling in Napa).  

We started to head back to the hotel in order to get the girls back in time for their 4:00 massage appointments, but decided to stop quickly for lunch.  We stumble upon a strip mall with a Steers (their version of Outback Steakhouse), a pizza place, and a bistro called Eat Well (which was the groups decision).  We wanted something small as not to fill up for dinner, but once we saw the menu, all bets were off.  JB and Lindsey shared a meal.  The kitchen split it for them and brought it out on 2 plates.  You would think that they each ordered a full size.  I got a burger and could just barely finish.  

After dropping off the girls, JB and I decided to hit up one more winery.  We went to Klein Zalze as it was close to our hotel.  Once again the wine was decent.  The pourer also told us to go to Bellevue as the wines are brilliant (better pinotage than L'Avenir).  He also says that windhoek is the best beer in the area.  Nothing against South African beer, but he prefers the Namibian Windhoek (which is named after a city in Namibia, I learned this later as we were flying home and I saw the city on the plane's satellite map).

There was still 15 minutes before all of the wineries closed, so we quickly head to Stellenzicht for one more taste.  We got there 5 minutes before 5:00 and the pourer did not look happy.  She was just about to head home before we walked in, but agreed to give us a quick 3 wine tasting.  Feeling bad, I purchased a bottle of the shiraz for 45 rand and back to the hotel we went.  

The girls were just finishing up with their massages and we could all relax before we had to leave to go to Franschhoek for our 8pm dinner.  The drive was a short 45 minutes, as we crossed the mountain to the other valley (quite reminiscent of heading to Sonoma).  Dinner was at The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Francais.  Recently named the 37th best restaurant in the world, the reviews were too good for us to pass up.  We got a reservation a month before our travels, so there were some high expectations.  The menu is broken up into 6 appetizers, 6 entrees, 4 cheese courses, and 4 desserts.  Each item has a specific wine pairing to go with it.  You can either choose a 4, 6, or 8 course meal or go with the Chef's Tasting menu (which was 8 courses perfectly selected by the kitchen staff).  

We all decided to go with the 6 courses with wine (you can leave the wine off if you choose).  The fun is that you can choose any 6 courses.  Amy decided to have 1 app, 1 entree, 2 cheeses, and 2 desserts.  I went with 2 apps, 2 entrees, 1 cheese, and 1 dessert.  Amy and I sometimes share, but we still had a few overlaps.  JB and Lindsey made sure that there were 12 different courses between them.  The amuse bouche came and it was a shot glass of porcini soup.  Not a good start, as if you know me, I hate mushrooms.  Wasn't terrible, but I could have done without it.  Amy and I both started our real meals with the crayfish (South Africa's version of lobster).  It was great.  I was glad that we both got this as it meant more for me.  The next course was tuna, which was good, but not as good as the quail that Amy ordered.  Amy was 2 for 2 at this point, but her lead would quickly shrink as she was only having dessert the rest of the way.   The next 2 courses for me were the duck and wildebeest.  Both excellent as I take the lead of "best orderer" back from Amy.  Just before the next course, JB was regretting his selection of the cheese course and asks the waiter if he can switch to the crayfish.  The waiter says that the appetizer sous chef had cleaned up for the night already, but if we didn't mind waiting a little longer he could make it happen.  Since we needed a small break anyway from eating, JB decided to make the entire kitchen run circles for his crayfish.  It was the right decision as the cheese course was just alright for me dog.  For dessert Amy and I both got the panna cotta which was good as well.  On top of the 6 courses, we got another dessert (a blondie) and then the meal was finished off with a small plate of mixed cookies.  If I knew about the extras, I would have gotten 3 apps and 3 entrees.  All in all, the meal was fantastic and compared to restaurants of similar quality in Europe and the States, the 690 rand price tag per person was awfully cheap.  To say it was the 37th best restaurant in the world though might be a little aggressive.

After undoing my belt and the top button of my pants, we headed back to the car to drive to Stellenbosch and call it a night.  I wish I could have walked home as this was one of those uncomfortably full moments. 
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Comments

best restaurants on

yes i am travelipod member .the service is quite well.i am much satisfied with this service.add restaurant

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