Simply stunning. Is that enough? Do I have to say anything else? Oh, okay then. Dornier wine farm is at the foot of the Helderberg mountains with a modern, sleek, wavy winery building perfectly reflected in a large square carp pond in front. Their Bodega Restaurant is in an old barn which has been modernised with somewhat of a Mexican feel in terms of the bright colours. Long tables outside, cosy cushions inside and a fab and awesome pirate-ship jungle gym for the kids. Ideal for a long winelands lunch.
We were there to meet the new chef, Neil Norman, ex-Paranga/Kove/Bungalow and hear what he plans to do with the menu. They talk a lot about ‘farm cuisine’ here which translated on the day into dishes such as braised oxtail (very good), pork loin with poached red apples (excellent quality meat), vegetable bourguignon (mmm, not so enthusiastic) and cob ceviche (interesting flavours, but untraditionally and slightly unsuccessfully drenched in a lot of olive oil).
Normal dishes on their menu include duck spring rolls with tomato chilli jam (R60), linefish served on a polenta cake with roast tomatoes and snowpeas (R125) and kudu on a beetroot and aubergine carpaccio topped with berries (R130). They also do the best fat chips I think I’ve ever tasted. No kids’ meals, which I find surprising in view of the facilities.
Hey – it’s a wine farm, of course the wine list is going to be good! Fair prices for their own wines (R30 mark-up per bottle from cellar-door prices and all of them available by the glass) and a good list of their neighbours as well at very reasonable prices. I always enjoy their second label wines, especially the Cocoa Hill Rosé which is a great food partner. We were also there to taste the new vintages of the flagship wines – Donatus Red and Donatus White. For my money, the white is the better of the two – a Chenin/Semillon blend utilising old bushvine grapes from Swartland as well as their own. It’s all barrel-fermented and is an extremely well-balanced, food-friendly wine.
Starters are from R55 – R80, mains from R85 – R145 and desserts R25 – R45. Value-wise, I would say it’s a bit of a mixture really, with some prices seeming reasonable (Roast Peking Duck served on sautéed vegetable confit – R125) and others seeming really quite pricey (Starter salad of local Buffalo Mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and basil pesto – R80). If their target market is families, I think they need to keep those prices in check.
Perfect for….. a family Sunday lunch with fat chips and rosé all round!