The latest destination pop-up restaurant at Vergelegen Wine Estate, named The River Café, is making a splash among diners in search of a stunning setting and fresh, local ingredients.
The River Café is housed in an elegant, beautifully decorated glass marquee located on the banks of the ancient Lourens River, which flows through part of the estate.
The menu is inspired by this sublime riverside setting, the kitchen garden, and the estate itself, says Executive Chef Michael Cooke.
“Our aim has been to create a relaxed lunch experience near the water’s edge, with the flow of the picturesque river beside you creating the natural music and ambience. The feedback has been terrific, it’s definitely giving guests something truly special – the restaurant setting, plus the food offering that complements the breathtaking scenery.”
The compact, unfussy menu concentrates on maximum flavour and quality. Key dishes are fish and seafood such as whole roasted trout, Saldanha Bay oysters, prawn cocktail, smoked Franschhoek trout and West Coast mussels.
Rib eye steak caters for carnivores, while vegetarians can enjoy a caprese salad of buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, or gem squash ravioli with parmesan cream, leeks and sage. Rosemary fries are available on the side, while dessert options are strawberry meringue or citrus tart with a gingerbread crumb. Service is super-friendly.
“The whole roasted trout is certainly the standout menu item, as it fits perfectly with the restaurant’s location on the banks of the Lourens River,” says Cooke.
Vergelegen’s recently launched, limited edition rosé wine – the first rosé from the 321-year-old estate – has been a popular choice on the wine list, says sommelier Christo Deyzel. A lovely rose-gold colour, with a long, dewy aftertaste, the wine is named ‘Florence’ after Florence, Lady Phillips, owner of the estate with her husband Sir Lionel Phillips from 1917-1941.
The River Cafe accommodates 30 guests in the marquee and 40-50 guests on the veranda and deck, weather permitting.