One of the oldest operational wine farms in South Africa, Laborie produces some of the best Methode Cap Classique and an array of award winning wines. It can be found in the fertile Paarl valley with the legendary Paarl rock as its backdrop. The convenience of its situation just off the main road is belied by its atmosphere: while visiting the new Harvest at Laborie restaurant recently, the tranquil atmosphere made me feel a thousand miles from the hustle and bustle.
The restaurant is a new addition to the farm which was built in the 1600s. It’s been carefully constructed to retain the colonialist feel and the choice of décor seamlessly blends the century-old antiques with very modern finishes and elements. Even the large pot plants outside have LED lights inside them to illuminate the area for evening guests. Laborie possesses a certain cool minimalism that’s met and embraced by the warmth of its history.
It was a hot sunny day and we took the choice of dining outside on the stoep, overlooking the vineyard and rolling hills of Paarl. As we sat soaking up the views, sipping our chilled drinks, we were greeted by internationally acclaimed consultant chef, Mathew Gordon who gave us a warm welcome and shared some of the wonderful history of the venue. This warmth of manner proved to be typical of all the staff who, while friendly, knowledgeable and relaxed, gave their service so unobtrusively that their efficiency went almost unnoticed.
Ordering from the menu proved tricky due to the wide choice that carefully caters to all tastes. Its contemporary South African focus thrives on fresh and organic produce from the Paarl Winelands with a distinct emphasis on free range Karoo lamb and beef and fresh line fish. I was impressed that there was also a kids’ menu, and then noticed the jungle gym near the stoep. This is clearly a very family friendly establishment.
Given the surprisingly reasonable prices the portions turned out to be larger than expected. All the dishes were beautifully presented and the flavours phenomenal, though top of our list was the succulent calamari and rocket salad starter and the main courses of perfectly cooked Asian-inspired yellow fin tuna and a delectable melt-in-the-mouth slow-roasted duck which my duck-obsessed companion proclaimed to be the best in the Western Cape.
In the heat of the sun our stuffed bellies became a bit uncomfortable so we retreated to the cool and relaxing lounge area near the bar for dessert. Peach cheesecake and a warm chocolate tart with homemade kit-kat ice cream and a small chocolate spring roll were nearly the last straw.
Abz Faheem Abrahams
Harvest at Laborie serves lunch seven days a week and breakfast on Saturday mornings. The restaurant is also open for dinner on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.