For a memorable meal a few things have to happen. I have four criteria: honest food made with care and love, gracious service and hosts, beautiful surroundings and the best possible company to share it with. It is not often that all these elements fall into place together but when they do the occasion remains in my thoughts for weeks after.
Last Sunday, all these four elements come together at South Hill’s restaurant, The Gallery. Met by our gracious hosts, Kevin and Sandy King, we were shown to The Gallery restaurant which is the actual gallery space filled with the most beautiful art and sculpture. The art is specifically curated for the space and is a wonderful eclectic collection of South African work. And to amplify the visual beauty of the space, the tables in the restaurant offer beautiful views of the surrounding vineyards.
This is where chef Damian Dearlove serves bistro-style meals. He has been working hard to build relationships with local suppliers and producers to be able a offer menu of locally sourced produce and ingredients. Ingredients are procured from the fertile Elgin Valley, Bredasdorp and Stanford amongst others. He keeps the menu seasonal (it changes daily) and in constant reference to the area where the restaurant is situated. His style is unfussy, providing comforting meals with classic combinations to please many tastes at very reasonable prices. As we walked in, my eyes were drawn to a table enjoying Chicken Pie (made from roasted free range Elgin chicken with Leeks and Mushrooms) and the menu had a few more classics to enjoy, such as Sautéed Chicken Liver, Sweet Chilli & Wholegrain Mustard Butter & Bruschetta and Chargrilled Sirloin of Aged Beef, Portobello Mushrooms and Gratin of Cauliflower.
I will easily judge a restaurant on just the dessert menu, which for me must be the crowning glory of the meal. We were not disappointed and I would happily get in my car right now to go back for the Apple Tarte with Ginger Anglaise and the incredible Caramelised Pineapple Chardonnay Syrup & Tropical Fruit Sorbet. (Ask for extra syrup because you do want to eat it directly out of the bowl.)
South Hill and Kevin King wines feature on the wine list at exactly the same price as what you pay for it at the cellar (bravo!). We were blown away by the South Hill Cabernet Sauvignon Rose 2012 (at only R50 a bottle), made from grapes specifically harvested with Rose in mind and is dry with an incredible strawberry jam nose. The South Hill Blanc de Blanc Methode Cap Classique 2008 was a hit (both of us ardent bubbly drinkers), refreshing and light with a hint of apple cider. The Kevin King 2012 Pinot “Bazza” (served chilled) offered as much enjoyment. Some of the wines are available by the glass (again at very reasonable prices) and South Hill does not charge for tastings.
My lunch partner Dawn Jorgensen captured it all in one sentence on Sunday: “All the best things are at the end of a long dirt road”. A mere hour’s drive from Cape Town, South Hill offers a wonderful quick city escape. Surrounded by beautiful scenery, exceptional art, good food and wine which does not melt your credit card and friendly happy service makes it worth the visit.
The Gallery Restaurant is open for lunch from Wednesday to Sunday from 12.00 – 15.00. To reserve a table call 021 844 0033 or check out South Hill’s website.
* I was invited to lunch by South Hill