My long-held opinion that great food and great views very seldom go together (one is almost always sacrificed at the expense of the other) was sorely tested over my week in the Western Cape.
Fabulous meal followed fabulous meal, and almost all of them with a side order of viewporn. 

Not everywhere hit the spot (see my opinion above), so you could say the exceptions prove the rule. 

The most exceptional was Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia – a wine estate on the back slopes of Table Mountain (with glorious views even from the ladies’ loo). 

I’ve been to four of Liam Tomlin’s restaurants in the Chefs Warehouse group – always well above-average with a talent for pretty plates and bold, often Asian-influenced flavours. 

But my third visit to Beau Constantia last week really nailed every one of my hospitality markers from the moment I stepped through the door. 

Exceptional service from Maitre D Tyrone and server Josh, with humour, warmth and intelligence, guided us through the R900 4-course menu (two options on each, excludes dessert) so we chose one of everything to share and added the oysters as an optional pre-starter (as well as dessert). 

There wasn’t a missed beat here, the cooking from Ivor Jones’ team was faultless. Playful, textural, bold and creative fusing unmissable local Cape ingredients such as snoek, yellowtail and Karoo lamb with the likes of Asian pickles, Dashi, Balinese Mint and Japanese sauce vierge, and delicately tweezered micro herbs and spring groundcover petals from the vineyards … it was like whizzing Around the World in 80 Mouthfuls. 

Sure, all top restaurants around the world do foams, jellied pearls, emulsions, smears, smoke and mirrors but not all of it is well executed (some flavour combos that sound good in theory are a disaster on the plate). 

There’s quite a lot of brown butter on this menu, but it changes character from Moroccan with the asparagus to salted lemon with the celeriac risotto (an eye-popping flavour bomb). 

A savoury cooked cream made with aged local Gruyère-style cheese called Gruberg (wait, what?) served with smoked snoek (a native oily fish), egg yolk and truffle, with airy Amagwinya (a doughnutty fried bread also known here as vetkoek) to swipe through it. Well, it’s not just a mouthful on the page, it’s a multicultural whirling dervish. 

Having shared each dish (no cheating!), one of the most difficult to hand over was the wild honey and lavender crème, a brilliant take on crème brûlée with honeycomb as the crunchy topping.

I’ve eaten well, I’ve eaten exceptionally well, I’ve dined extravagantly and at length all over the world. But this meal, with a view over the vineyards and all the way to False Bay, superb service, wines and company has parachuted straight in to No.1

(With apologies to the diners at the next table (and to the people of Peru and China) who were liberally doused in Beeslaar Pinotage when I managed to upend my glass in spectacular fashion. Not classy, but swiftly mopped up and taken care of as if nothing had happened. Classy) 

Other honourable mentions:

Chef Munashe Kwaramba’s Hari Kitchen on the Topiary estate in Franschhoek, whose peanut soup with chilli oil had brilliant depth of flavour (and great views from the verandah)

De Grendel restaurant in Plattekloof, with ever-changing Table Mountain views and accomplished cooking from chef Ian Bergh and his team. A highlight was the pan-fried yellowtail with tempura prawn, mussel velouté, sweetcorn and broad beans

Foxcroft in Constantia, part of the La Colombe stable, led here by Glen Williams. The set lunch menu is great value, the lamb three ways a winner, especially paired with Van Wyk Family Wines Syrah (but there’s no view here, so concentrate on the food and wine!) 

I will write further on the sensational wines and estates I visited in a separate post.

© Linda Galloway 2023