This side of the Helderberg is turning into a little slice of foodie heaven with top restaurants at Rust en Vrede, Hidden Valley, Guardian Peak and now Haskell Vineyards. Editor-in-chief Sam Wilson and wine editor, Cathy Marston cracked an invite to a delicious lunch to celebrate the launch of this new kid on the block.
Setting – the restaurant is in a newly-adapted building high up on the mountainside and when people say ‘sweeping views’, I guess they must be talking about Long Table. We stepped outside onto the broad terrace and the world literally fell away beneath our feet. Breathtakingly gorgeous, it made me want to sit outside, drink wine and just look at the view forever. Inside the feel is very rustic with bright rugs on the floor and a comfy tasting section. Lots of chalk boards and a nice roaring fire in the middle.
The Food – Corli Els is the chef/owner of The Long Table (she leases the space from Haskell). Previously at Guardian Peak, she changes the menu every day according to what is fresh. On the day we visited, we got Roasted Organic Roma Tomato Soup (she barters for the tomatoes from a friend in Grabouw – her side of the deal being that she has to drink a lot of rum apparently!) followed by homemade Mushroom Ravioli with mushroom sauce and a Citrus salad. The soup was sweet and rich and came with very good homemade bread and the mushroom ravioli was perfectly al dente, very creamy and tasty. To follow was a couple of hearty winter warmers – Oxtail, off the bone, wrapped in caul fat and oven-baked and a Lamb Pithivier – loin wrapped in phyllo pastry with tangy veggies. Sam wasn’t too keen on the Oxtail (she thought it was quite fatty) but the lamb was a joy and a pleasure with tender pink meat melting in the mouth. We finished off with an ‘orange plate’ – orange cake, confit and mousse with honey-ed phyllo crisps.
The Wine – GM and winemaker Rianie Strydom is one of the newest (and well overdue) members of the Cape Winemakers Guild and makes some of the most beautiful wines in 3 continents – if you don’t believe me, then try her Shiraz which just won the Tri-Nations challenge. Even though the restaurant isn’t owned by Haskell, it carries all their wines at tiny mark-ups which is as it should be. They also offer a wide range of imported wines (one of the owners of Haskell does this as a sideline), again with very small mark-ups so you can get a NZ Sauvignon for little more than you would expect to pay for a SA one. We tried Rianie’s new Bordeaux blend as well which she isn’t going to release for another year – damn, I want it now!
Price Range – pretty fair I’d say. If anything, the starters are verging on the pricier side (R50-65) but mains are very good value (nothing more than R105 and that’s for Oxtail and Lamb Shank) and desserts are even better on the bang for bucks scale – nearly all R35. Good portion sizes too so if you’re on a budget, I think sharing would be the way to go. They also do breakfast – unusual for a wine farm – and I am soooo going back soon for French Toast Pockets with Black Forest Ham, Gruyere Cheese, Canadian Maple syrup and rocket (R39)!!
Perfect for – an entire afternoon spent lazing around with good friends, preferably at least one of whom is pregnant so you can eat great food, drink lots of fantastic wine - and then make them drive home!