Legs dangling, the little girl sits gobbling down her lunch while tugging happily at her pigtails. She’s picked the Hawaiian Pizza (R 35) from the Kiddies Menu, and the promise of ice cream (a trio of flavours for R 20) keeps her at the table until she’s finally excused to go and play with the other children on the jungle gym. Parents can keep an eye on their little ones while enjoying their own meals from the open terrace. And in case the children tire of the swings and the slide, there is also a barnyard area complete with ponies, goats, and some very fuzzy alpacas.
The Barouche Restaurant at Blaauwklippen is a great spot for a family outing. Weather-permitting, you can experience the delights of al fresco dining by the creeper-covered manor house and the barrels full of potted plants. For those who prefer indoor dining, there is also spacious seating inside, with rattan lounge chairs and calm décor.
The menu features traditional dishes with a creative twist, such as the Ham & Eggs (R 55) which are not what you think. Parma ham and egg are combined with smooth ricotta as a stuffing for ravioli, and this is served with a full-flavoured pea veloute in a pasta bowl. Lemon is a great addition to this dish to cut through the creaminess, and the texture of the ravioli is a success – just firm enough to battle any potential for a mushy mess.
Another starter, the Charred Carpaccio (R 65), is an attractive presentation of cumin-rubbed Wagyu beef tenderloin, greens, and pine kernels. The meat is a bit thicker than would normally be expected from a carpaccio, but this is entirely fitting to match the strong cumin flavour and the nuttiness of the pine kernels. The greens are sweet, not bitter, and the snowy layer of salt flakes lends just the right amount of seasoning.
While the creative twist seems to work for starter portions, the mains are perhaps a bit too ambitious. Both the Salmon & Kingklip Cakes (R 95) and the Leg of Lamb Bobotie (R 125) feature some heavy-handed elements that threaten to overcrowd. The fish cakes are satisfyingly meaty but also chewy and a tad fishy, the latter being bravely combated by pok choi and bitter greens on the side. The corn and wasabi aioli in the dish could also use some more oomph, while the sauces in the Bobotie could perhaps be sparing. The innovative dish with the lamb baked in a short crust pastry has so much potential as a sweet-and-savoury contrast, but toppling it off balance is the sweet-on-more-sweet combination of truffle and lemon thyme custard, apricot chutney, and caramel banana mousse.
Thankfully, dessert takes a more efficacious turn. The crust on the Tarte Tartin (R 55) is properly buttery and flaky, and the rhubarb’s tang plays well with vanilla ice cream. And in case you might have been hoping for a trio of ice cream like the pigtailed little girl, you are strongly advised to opt for the Iced Gateau (R 55): iced strawberry and lemon gateau with Cointreau infusion. The creamy not-too-tart layers for the sweet tooth, the tiniest whiffs of the Cointreau for a breezy citrus taste – it’s everything a grown-up summer dessert should be.
Summer at Blaauklippen is enjoyable for children and grown-ups alike. I hear they even have a weekly family market on Sundays, and who doesn’t love a fuzzy alpaca?
By Esther Lim
Barouche Restaurant, Blaauwklippen Vineyards, R44 Stellenbosch
Hours: Breakfast & Lunch Mon to Sun @ 9am to 5pm | Dinner & Tapas Wed to Fri @ 4pm to 9pm
Tel: 021 880 8222