When you travel through the world’s wine-producing countries, you’ll quickly realise how spoilt we are for choice in South Africa. And it’s not just the diversity and quality of our wines. It goes beyond that to the culinary experiences, the diverse accommodation and the many activities offered on wine estates nowadays.
The pandemic has wreaked havoc in the hospitality industry worldwide, and South Africa was not spared. Fortunately many restaurants made it through the tough times, and we were delighted when Glen Carlou invited us to try out their new menu.
The last time we were there was when the estate still belonged to the Swiss-based Hess Group. Since 2016 it has been in the hands of a South African family consortium (more about that in a forthcoming article on our Focus page) and we wanted to find out how things have changed, if at all.
When you drive up to the “Austrian ski-lodge”, as my partner in crime calls the impressive building housing the restaurant/tasting room/art gallery, you cannot help but expect something special. And we weren’t disappointed.
We first popped into the spacious art gallery with its fine collection of paintings, prints and pottery, and then sat down on the balcony with its panoramic views of the colourful garden, lush green vineyards, the valley beyond as far as the well-known Paarl Rock with the tip of the Afrikaanse Taalmonument sticking out, Paarl and the stunning Drakenstein Mountains in the background.
My introduction to lunch was a wine tasting with that marvellous vista as backdrop. The first wine tasted was also a sort of welcoming drink, the 2018 Blanc de Blancs Brut. Well, that set the table for a very memorable lunch. This was followed by four more wines (more in the promised article on Glen Carlou later).
As it was quite a hot day, we decided to take up a table inside, but still with that view in sight. We settled on the two-course menu, starters and mains, which costs R230. The three-course menu costs R305.
We were offered a flavourful Hugeunot Cheese & Truffle Oil Croquette appetiser (left) before Sharon chose the Fried Squid (with slow roasted aubergine, yellow pepper and lemon) as a starter and yours truly decided on the Lamb Croquettes (with beetroot chutney, pickled pear and rosemary). The squid was paired with the estate’s Sauvignon Blanc, while Glen Carlou’s Pinot Noir accompanied the lamb croquettes. There’s also Tomato Soup (with confit tomato, basil and a goat’s cheese croquette) on the starter menu.
This was an excellent start to what turned out to be a very enjoyable lunch!
Mains were Lamb Shoulder (with vadouvan masala crème, spiced couscous, spring onions and citrus) for my partner in crime, which is paired with the Glen Carlou Merlot, and Sirloin on the Bone (with rustic fries, black pepper and thyme crème) for me. This was paired with the estate’s Grand Classique. Very importantly, the steak was served exactly as I ordered it, very rare!
Again the combination of texture and flavours pleased both palates, while the wines worked their magic to turn the meal into a feast.
Because there are so many good restaurants in the Cape Winelands – I’m talking about those on wine estates and at wineries – that one can visit a different one each month without returning to any of them for years, but some are worth returning to sooner. The Restaurant@GlenCarlou is one of them. Don’t expect fine dining, but do expect good food, prepared from fresh ingredients, paired with good wines and good and friendly service. And the scenery won’t let you forget the experience either!
Glen Carlou’s restaurant is open all week between 12 noon and 4pm. Wine sales and tasting is available from 9am till 5pm.