Christmas in the winelands

October 23, 2014
by Emma Odendaal
in Travel
with 1 Comment

Why not make this Christmas holiday a real holiday and allow someone else to do the cooking and washing up? The Cape winelands has a plethora of restaurants offering Christmas Eve dinners and Christmas day lunches. Set menus, buffets, foodie experiences, home-style traditional cooking – it’s all here.

Backsberg-RestaurantBacksberg, Klapmuts
Christmas lunch: R470 per person (price includes gratuity, R230 for children under 12)

Backsberg’s restaurant specialises in South African cuisine, so expect traditional Christmas fare but with a summery local twist. The buffet lunch kicks off festivities with a glass of Backsberg bubbles, salmon terrine, platters of prawns and calamari, Cape curried fish and roll mops. Move on to the lamb on the spit (Backsberg’s weekend lamb spit braais are legendary), gammon, roast turkey, tongue and all the trimmings, trifle, Christmas cake, cassata, malva pudding, to name a few. A good options for kids with the jungle gyms, gardens and laid-back atmosphere. www.backsberg.co.za

De Grendel, Durbanville
Christmas lunch: R950 per person (price includes gratuity, R250 for children under 12)

As the most expensive Christmas lunch on offer in the winelands (that we could find, anyway), De Grendel’s five-course lunch is also one of the more extravagant. Yet, unlike the other set menus listed here, each course is paired with wine (and guests receive gift from De Grendel), so you won’t have any unexpected surprises when the bill arrives. Canapés are served with a glass of MCC. Smoked duck breast with foie gras follows, then asparagus, bacon and truffle brioche and a main of lamb rib, loin and fillet with baby carrots andcourgettes. A deconstructed trifle ends proceedings. www.degrendel.co.za

Delaire Graff Estate, Franschhoek
Christmas lunch: R885 per person for adults and children

This wine farm on Helshoogte Pass does everything on a grand scale, and you can expect the same with its Christmas lunch. The set menu seems simple enough; duck terrine to start, herb-crusted line fish with beurre blanc as a intermediate course, spiced lamb rump with roast aubergine purée, goat’s cheese fritter and black olive jus for mains and cherry mascarpone mousse, vanilla sponge, meringue and chocolate tuille for dessert. But we hear that the festive decorations and other little ‘extras’ have in previous years been spectacular. www.delaire.co.za

Diemersdal, Durbanville
Christmas lunch: R350 per person

Lunch at the Farm Eatery, a stable turned restaurant, promises to be a simple, homely one – perfect if you’re after something reasonably unfussy. It starts with an amuse bouche and citrus cured trout. Then you have the choice of roasted quail or rack of lamb with broad beans, potato fondant and spiced carrots, followed by a palate-cleansing sorbet. The crème caramel, sour cherry compote, raspberry macaroon, brownie and halve ice cream dessert promises to be a mouthful.  www.diemersdal.co.za

Grande Provence, Franschhoek
Christmas Eve: R875 per person
Christmas lunch: R875 per person

If you need one reason to book your meal here it’s the 18-hour Karoo lamb croquette with smoked potato, pickled baby beets and masala jus. Or there’s the sous-vide quail with scotched quail egg, toasted quinoa, caramelized onion soubise and forest mushrooms. And that’s just your choice for mains. The four-course set menu may be too cheffy for some, but if you have a foodie in the family, you can’t go wrong here. Food is presented like artwork and the atmosphere is extremely elegant. www.grandeprovence.co.za

Lanzerac, Stellenbosch
Christmas lunch: R528 per person (price includes gratuity, children under 12 R265, children under five eat for free)

Buffets aren’t for everyone, but if you’re finding the set menus too restrictive, consider the variety you’ll get at Lanzerac – everyone will be happy with their meal. (Plus tots eat for free.) There’s a soup station where you’ll find a cream of asparagus soup with honeyed ham and pecan nut as well as a white Christmas soup. Ten salads and cold starters await; from traditional four-bird terrines to pickled fish and salmon platters. On the carvery beef fillet with Yorkshire puds, garlic-rubbed leg of lamb and turkey with chestnut stuffing headline. But there’s oxtail in Pinotage sauce, salmon trout, baked ham, duck fat-roasted potatoes and all the trimmings, too! Dessert is equally bountiful; Christmas cake, mince pies, red velvet cake, meringues, baked pear, raisin and brie parcels, white and dark chocolate mousse … the list goes on. www.lanzerac.co.za

Loursensford, Somerset West
Christmas Eve dinner: R350 per person (kids under 12 R100)

A refreshingly uncomplicated three-course dinner at The Millhouse, with the choice of a watermelon and goat’s cheese salad or chili and lime prawn skewer with tomato soup to start. Main options include traditional roast turkey, slow-cooked pork belly or a grilled beef fillet. Choose from a chocolate torte and lemon tart for a sweet finish. www.lourensford.co.za

Simonsvlei, Paarl
Christmas lunch: R320 per person

The most affordable Christmas lunch option we could find, and one of the more traditional, seemingly home-style menus. Eat@Simonsvlei’s set menu offers three choices for each of the three courses. For starters, baby marrow and ricotta tart, salmon and snoek roulade or chicken parfait. In a nod to tradition, deboned turkey breast stuffed with pork and sage and wrapped in pancetta, as well as cranberry glazed gammon and chargrilled salmon feature on the mains. End with white chocolate tartlets, pavlova with summer berries, or strawberries and cream trifle. www.simonsvlei.com

Steenberg, Tokai
Christmas Eve: R750 per person
Christmas lunch: fully booked

At the time of writing, Steenberg’s Christmas day lunch was fully booked and there were just a few spots available for dinner at Catharina’s on the 24th. Although on the pricey side compared to some of the other offerings here, the price includes a glass of Steenberg 1682 bubbles and an elaborate menu. There are just two options for starters, including herb-crusted carpaccio or salmon sashimi with fresh and fried daikon, salmon roe, spicy sweet pepper purée and watercress oil, and chargrilled lamb rack, pan-fried lamb sweetbreads, pea risotto, grilled asparagus and sauce vierge. Dessert is a chocolate chestnut mousse with eggnog panna cota, raspberry foam and honeycomb. Unlike most other options listed on this page, a vegetarian menu is available. www.steenbergfarm.com

  • Emma Odendaal was deputy editor of Wine magazine and managing editor of Getaway and is now doing cool stuff at Fresh Living. She contributes to various food and travel publications.

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One Comment

  1. Tom KallisJuly 19, 2015 at 4:56 pmReply

    Will Lourensford Estate be having a Xmas dinner this year (2015)

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