37th Best Restaurant in the World
Trip Start May 12, 2009
13Trip End May 24, 2009
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Simonsig. I thought the wine at Ken Forrester was good, Simonsig was even better. They make champagne (well sparkling wine) in addition to red and white wine. Similar to Avontuur you could only make 5 selections from the list. This made it difficult since Amy wanted to share a tasting again and she prefers champagne. We started off with 2 champagnes, and then Amy said I could pick the rest. By the time we got to the reserves, we only had one more selection. Not the best pre-planning, but the pourer said that he would give us a taste of all 3 reserves since we traveled so far. I really enjoyed the Frans Malan Reserve which is a blend of pinotage (which is a blend of pinot noir and hermitage) and cab sauv. We ended up purchasing a bottle since it was much better than the 180 rand price tag would suggest.
L'Avenir. Situated on top of the hill off the main road, L'Avenir is known for their pinotage (which winery isn't in South Africa). The wine maker is french and decided to open wineries in South Africa and Chile. The wines were very good and JB purchased a bottle which is best if aged 8 years (we will see about that one). The pourer asks us how we found out about the winery. Besides the huge building on top of the hill with the name plastered on the side of it, we read about L'Avenir in Travel + Leisure. It was one of the 10 lesser known wineries of the area. She then tells us how she was trying to convince the owners to make an even bigger sign to really bring in business. Personally I think that would be overkill, but we just nodded and agreed with her. Afterward we asked her what other wineries we should try and her recommendation was Bellevue, for very good pinotage (but not as good as L'Avenir).
Tokara which is on the way to Franschhoek (our destination for this evening's dinner). Excited to try the number 2 rated restaurant in the Stellenbosch area (according to trip advisor), we find out that Tokara's restaurant is closed. So we quickly tried the wine and also enjoyed the olive oil tasting that they had (to get something to eat). The olive oil was better. Not saying the wine was bad, but we were hungry and the wine seemed to be a bit mass produced (comparable to Sterling in Napa).
After dropping off the girls, JB and I decided to hit up one more winery. We went to Klein Zalze as it was close to our hotel. Once again the wine was decent. The pourer also told us to go to Bellevue as the wines are brilliant (better pinotage than L'Avenir). He also says that windhoek is the best beer in the area. Nothing against South African beer, but he prefers the Namibian Windhoek (which is named after a city in Namibia, I learned this later as we were flying home and I saw the city on the plane's satellite map).
Stellenzicht for one more taste. We got there 5 minutes before 5:00 and the pourer did not look happy. She was just about to head home before we walked in, but agreed to give us a quick 3 wine tasting. Feeling bad, I purchased a bottle of the shiraz for 45 rand and back to the hotel we went.
The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Francais. Recently named the 37th best restaurant in the world, the reviews were too good for us to pass up. We got a reservation a month before our travels, so there were some high expectations. The menu is broken up into 6 appetizers, 6 entrees, 4 cheese courses, and 4 desserts. Each item has a specific wine pairing to go with it. You can either choose a 4, 6, or 8 course meal or go with the Chef's Tasting menu (which was 8 courses perfectly selected by the kitchen staff).
After undoing my belt and the top button of my pants, we headed back to the car to drive to Stellenbosch and call it a night. I wish I could have walked home as this was one of those uncomfortably full moments.
Where I stayed