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Food, Lifestyle, Reviews

Winter wining and dining at Waverley Hills

It’s not often that Jeanne and I clamber into the car and drive a distance in Cape Town’s cold wintery weather, simply because – when it’s so bitter outside – we prefer the luxury of lazing around in bed snuggled beneath our warm feather duvet and renting some or other movie on DStv. But, when an invite to try Waverley Hills’ new winter menu appeared in my inbox, we couldn’t resist. 

Having never been to Ceres or the surrounding area before, we had, therefore, never been to Waverley Hills up until now (although I have enjoyed a lot of their wine). I know, it should be a crime, but it’s one of the many areas Jeanne and I have yet to explore.

Maybe we had not been because it is a little bit out of our way, or because we have never made the time to get in the car and take a drive out there, but I am so glad we finally did.

The drive is long-ish at approx. 1 and a half hours from Cape Town and, although it sounds too far for most, it is so worth it (as we discovered).

The views are breath-taking and seem to go on forever, the little towns along the way are quaint and draw you in making you want to get out and explore each and every one, and, obviously, ending up at Waverley Hills is – in my opinion – like finding that big ol’ pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

The Saturday we chose to drive to Waverley Hills was a particularly moody one, with bouts of showers and rays of sunshine trying to push their way through every cloud but, in drought-ridden Cape Town, it was just what we needed and beautiful nonetheless.

The restaurant

Waverley Hills’ restaurant is charming. The main restaurant is spacious, modern and minimalistic, but warm, inviting and comfortable all at once.

Its natural wooden finishes paired with greenery and wall decals portraying tall trees bring all the things we love most about the outdoors inside. What’s more, their floor-to-ceiling windows ensure that they further incorporate the outdoors by surrounding diners and wine connoisseurs with views of the lush countryside scenery that can be enjoyed regardless of the weather.

If that wasn’t enough, there is a huge roaring fireplace at one end of the room providing much-needed warmth in the winter months. Perfection!

The menu and meal

The menu at Waverley Hills has limited options, but that shouldn’t put you off. The menu, although small, has something every diner will enjoy and covers all the bases.

Starters

For starters, both Jeanne and I chose to have Gambas Pil Pil (prawns fried in spiced paprika, garlic, parsley and oil, with a side of warm ciabatta). I chose to have mine with a glass of the suggested wine – Waverley Hills Cabernet (no added sulphites) which paired perfectly with the seafood.

It’s very unusual for Jeanne and I to choose the same thing when we review a restaurant, because we like to try as much as possible. However, I think it sounded so good and, seeing as both of us love prawns so much, it seemed like the right dish for us.

When put down in front of us, I think both Jeanne and I gawked a little. This pretty little bowl filled with deshelled prawns sitting in a bright orange oil looked, well, more than appetising – and I think I had to remind Jeanne we had to take photographic evidence before we got stuck in.

The prawns were soft and cooked to perfection, the oil golden and packed with flavour, and every single mouthful was an explosion of goodness that I never wanted to end. Ja, that sounds about right!

Main course

For the main course, I chose the Kabeljou Fish and Chips (soy and ginger marinated kabeljou with spiced mushy corn, fries and lime mayonnaise), while Jeanne chose the Venison Loin (with beetroot jus, honey caramelized baby beetroot and a smoked potato mash).

I had never tried kabeljou before, so I Googled what kind of fish it was while we were browsing the menu (to make sure it would be something I would enjoy). After extensive research, I decided it sounded like the kind of fish I would enjoy and I really liked the sound of the sides that accompanied the dish.

My main was delicious, although I wished it had been grilled instead of cooked in a batter – but that is just my personal preference as I find batter (in general) to be heavy and filling. That being said, the batter was lighter than expected, spiced well and, overall, super tasty.

The fish inside the batter was flakey, cooked well and moist, just like it’s supposed to be, and it is a fish I would order again in the future.

When it comes to the accompanying sides, the chips were amazing. They were hand cut and crispy on the outside, but tender and fluffy on the inside. I dipped them in the lime mayonnaise, which took them to a whole new level taste-wise, and they paired well with the fish.

The star of the dish for me, however, was the spiced mushy corn. I have honestly never tasted anything quite like it, and I wish I knew how to recreate it at home because we would eat it every week.

It was creamy and sweet, delicate and oh-so-freaking-scrumptious and I have dreamt about it (a few times) since our visit. Yum.

Next up, Jeanne’s choice. I always talk about my experience trying Jeanne’s food, because I always have to try a nibble or two so I can give you my opinion.

(Full disclosure: I am not really a fan of venison. But, I still tried it so I could let you know my thoughts).

My first bite of venison – in a very long time – was surprisingly delicious. It was soft and tender and very smokey. Once coated in some beetroot jus, the smokiness was toned down a notch, making the meat a little sweeter and easier to enjoy.

The baby beets tasted like absolute heaven, sweet and crunchy and perfect together with the meat and jus – if there were more, I would have had to have done a swap with Jeanne. Lastly, the mash. Oh, that mash. Honestly, it was like eating (what I can only imagine) a silky smooth cloud.

Needless to say that Jeanne cleared her plate and loved every single mouthful, making it a clear winner.

Dessert

Now by this stage, Jeanne and I are usually far too full to even contemplate dessert. But, after regretting the decision not to have dessert at Lupa Osteria the other week, we decided to squeeze one in. I mean, it would have been criminal to have driven all that way and leave without trying something sweet, right?!

So last, but certainly not least, Jeanne and I chose to share their Chocolate Brownie (only if it did not have any nuts, which it didn’t) and we were not disappointed.

Their brownie came warm (hell yes, did you read my mind?) with a perfectly sized scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream (which was not too sweet and not too creamy) on top and, boy-oh-boy, it was the perfect way to end our meal.

The browny was a perfect consistency (not too fudgy, but not dry), with a crust on the top and the perfect level sweetness. The ice cream almost acted like a palette cleanser that you could eat between mouthfuls of browny, or as a cool accompaniment perched on top of each spoonful. An utter delight.

Final thoughts

There’s not much else I can say about Waverley Hills other than it’s worth it. It’s worth the beautiful yet long drive to get there, its great value for money when you look at the prices on the menu, and they have thought of absolutely everything.

The location is stunning to look at, the restaurant a treat and their staff are as warm and welcoming as the roaring fire.

The five hours we spent driving, eating, talking and indulging in all things divine were well spent and we cannot wait until our next visit. Thank you so much for having us.

DISCLAIMER – while we were hosted by Waverley Hills for lunch, all opinions are honest and my own.

To book your very own lunch or dinner reservation at Waverley Hills this winter, visit their website or give them a call on 023 231 0002.

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