So many places claim to be of a luxury that only the gods could have created; phrases such as “opulence”, “grandeur” and “award-winning” are thrown around far too easily and the affect of true extravagance has been watered down. It’s good then to wipe the slate clean, to reevaluate one’s perceptions of real indulgence and place a new location on the pedestal.
Cavalli Estate on the R44 between Stellenbosch and Somerset West is home to some champion-bred horses, an art gallery, tasting room, ridiculously large whiskey/whisky collection and a stunning restaurant. It’s an imposing sight and no expense was spared on its development with future plans for more vineyard plantings, a cellar and accommodation underway.
Invited to spend the day there earlier this year, I stupidly forgot to bring my camera so was delighted to be invited back for lunch at the restaurant as part of the Rose Rocks media launch (you can read more about that here) to which I made every effort to try and capture my day at this remarkable place.
The Restaurant, Equus, launched in November 2013 and won the Eat Out Style Award last year. The space is grand with high ceilings, chrome accents, sleekness across the board and a view from their outside “deck” that is marvelous.
Chef Hylton Espey who only started in February, has already drawn many admirers…
His off-the-land ethos, low-carbon footprint and SASSI supporting menu is inspired and he is a true artist when it comes to developing and constructing is dishes. He’s a remarkable guy, all-consumed with offering the best cuisine that uses sustainable produce, the majority of it coming from the estate itself.
The food is not cheap, but it’s worth every penny; the flavour compositions are some of the best I’ve ever tasted. The starter that we had, Citrus-cured salmon, red wine poached pear, Num-Num gastrique and spiced almonds, is a dish I would eat over and over again
Cavalli have two wine ranges and are looking to expand further. Their entry-level consists of The White Knight Chenin Blanc, Pink Pony Grenache Rose and Black Knight Shiraz – yes, all their wines are equine-inspired. Their Flagship range consists of two big reds, Warlord which is a huge (7 cultivar) 2009 red blend and the Rogue 2010 Pinotage, Malbec blend. My favorite of their entire range is their gorgeous white blend, the Cremello which is made from Chenin, Chardonnay and Verdelho.
I would recommend buying a bottle of wine at lunch rather than heading downstairs into the tasting room which is a little too dark and hidden for my liking AND If you do order wine in the restaurant, you will be helped by one of the best Sommeliers I’ve had the pleasure of conversing with. Excellent knowledge and the most friendliest of temperaments.
As for art, they have a “contemporary gallery which showcases the Estates private collection of modernist South African Art alongside a commercial space for rotating group exhibitions of contemporary art.”
For more details on the estate, visit their website
Restaurant Hours: Wed- Saturday 12am-3pm, 6:30-9:30pm and Sunday: 12- 3pm