The Constantia Valley is a world all its own. Surrounded by magnificent mountains, one finds an ocean of vineyards from which some of the world’s greatest wines are made. In the valley, one of the treasures is the estate of Groot Constantia which is probably the oldest of the famous Cape wine estates.

The place to be

There are two restaurants there; the one which is called Jonkershuis is very user friendly, a place where one can sit outside under the oak trees and eat a very casual meal. The other one is called Simon’s, and this is entirely a different kettle of fish—glitzy, glamorous, and very popular with the people who go there.

Just the place for a cognac

The seats are upholstered in gorgeous fabrics and there are many crystal chandeliers to be seen.

Very glamorous

You can either eat inside or outside –whatever suits you. The food is excellent as four of us discovered the other day. We started with snails in a delicious cheese sauce, chicken and duck liver paté, and magnificently grilled calamari with a spicy dressing.

Chicken and duck liver pate

We went on to mains of Picanha cut beef rump done to perfection Portuguese style. We asked one of them to be medium rare and it was, and the other to be merely medium which it also was; this tells you a lot about what is going on in the kitchen. These were served with a superb sauce of chimichurri butter melting all over the meat —heaven.

 

Picanha steak

The one guest had a superb Thai green Curry done with mussels and pieces of fish which was delicious, and the other one had slow roasted lamb shoulder with hasselback potatoes — pronouced “superb.” We consumed two bottles of unoaked Kleine Zalze Chardonnay—still great stuff– and finished up with the two Don Pedros and two coffees. The bill was about 2400 Rand which gives you a good idea of where the place fits.

 

Smell the money

Beautiful young people kept walking by showing off their finery and many a Louis Vuitton bag was in evidence —some of them even real. Also to be seen was plenty of jewellery and lots of false eyelashes, which seem to be de rigueur at the moment.

Very flashy

The service is desultory, and quite a few times we had to leave the table to find a waiter. This will not do, as it lets the side down, chaps. However, do not be put off– try it for yourself— take money.

 

SIMON’S AT GROOT CONSTANTIA PHONE 021 794 1143