If you follow the R44 out of Cape Town you’ll eventually find yourself in one of the area’s most sophisticated destinations: Cavalli Estate. Indigenous gardens surrounded by iconic views of the Helderberg mountains are complemented by modern, pared-back buildings designed by estate operations director Lauren Smith in collaboration with Bouwer Architects. With sustainability as key, the estate prides itself on contributing to and protecting its environment. And this mindset is continued in the 100-seater eatery that is the first Green Star-rated restaurant and exhibition space in South Africa.
At the entrance to the building, an indigenous vertical garden acts as a living mural that constantly evolves. The celebration of the outdoors continues inside with foyer gardens and an abundance of natural light. A public art gallery, wine-tasting lounge, private dining room and wine boutique occupy the basement level, while the ground floor plays host to an open-plan, spacious restaurant and a show kitchen. Outside on the patio, sunken seating areas add character to the dining space, which all face onto a dam and magnificent views that roll on and on into the horizon.
Recently appointed executive chef at Cavalli Michael Deg has big plans for the restaurant, namely, his project, One at Cavalli. While still sticking to their everyday gourmet menu, every month chef Michael will select one hero ingredient to form the basis of healthy and delicious dishes that will be added to the ever-evolving menu. ‘I believe strongly in using local and seasonal produce and wish to place emphasis on not making over-complicated dishes, but rather using fewer ingredients where we can let the quality of the produce shine,’ he says. Cavalli will also be placing more emphasis on vegan and vegetarian dishes.
When asked about his favourite dish on the Cavalli menu, the chef highlights a pork cheek starter: ‘We’re serving a 10-hour slow-cooked pork cheek cooked in a master stock – it’s as soft as butter. We serve it with pork scratching, naartjie gel, pickled naartjie, goat’s cheese croquette, rocket and chilli pesto. It’s a whack of umami and ticks all the boxes in terms of texture, acidity and sweetness.’ It sounded so delicious that we decided to head down to Cavalli Estate to test the menu ourselves.
After sampling the pork cheek starter, we also tasted a beetroot-cured trout dish, which was deliciously refreshing. For mains, we highly recommend the za’atar-crusted ostrich fillet, which features falafel, labneh, date chutney and parsley sponge – an amazing amalgamation of flavours that come together in a fascinating way. For non-carnivores, the beetroot gnocchi is a masterpiece. Dramatic textures combine with light flavours for highly satisfying meal.
Dessert offered a range of delicacies, but the almond-glazed chocolate bar with elements of orange was impossible to resist. While the chocolate itself is rich and smooth, the fruity additions refresh the palate between bites. Throughout the meal we suggest you stick with Cavalli’s own wine. The sommelier can whisk you from glass to glass as each meal presents itself, resulting in a delightful pairing of complementary flavours.
The best part? Every single course comes with a vegan option, including vegan wine and tasty vegan chocolates at the end of the three courses. This, in itself, is proof that Cavalli is on top of trends when it comes to contemporary fine dining.
Visit cavallistud.com for more information or to make a booking.