Jollity at Jonkershuis
Walking towards Jonkershuis Restaurant at Groot Constantia evokes images of scenes in art films where extended families and groups of friends gather around long tables laden with food and where sensory feasts are had under clumps of trees.
Jonkershuis offers a diversity of locations – from tables on the front lawns under shady trees with a spectacular view that stretches all the way to False Bay to a covered courtyard that often buzzes with conversation, from cosy dining next to the fireplace on rainy days to cool seating between the thick-walled rooms of the gabled house that is home to the restaurant.
Jonkershuis means dower house. Traditionally a jonkershuis was either used by the widow or dowager of the estate-owner or by the elder son of the nobleman after his marriage. Once you have arrived at Groot Constantia it’s difficult to believe that you are a few minutes away from the city – a feeling of yesteryear and of gracious life on a wine farm envelop you for as long as you choose to spend time here.
Jonkershuis offers bistro-style food using the best produce of the Cape (think snoek pâté, fishcakes, black mussels and ostrich carpaccio), often reflecting the Malay heritage (think beef samosas with peach and cumin chutney or bobotie with sultana and almond turmeric rice served with cinnamon butternut) of Cape Town.
I can personally vouch for the utterly delicious pea and asparagus risotto with a touch of mint and enough parmesan to satisfy a turophile (the ultimate cheese lover). At the risk of sounding boring I will also return for the sticky pork belly with butternut and pear puree. Then again the Estate Tasting Plate allows you just that – taste a variety of dishes from the menu. I’ve also read a blog that waxed lyrically about the chicken curry and “all its trimmings”. First-hand experience makes me recommend the oven-baked cheesecake with lemon and cardamom curd. It puts me in good company – it’s winemaker Boela Gerber’s favourite as well.
Alternatively visit Simon’s Restaurant and Deli that, like Jonkershuis, offers al fresco dining with a view, of the Groot Constantia vineyards this time. In winter you cuddle up to a large fire.
At Simon’s you can choose between craft wines or the wines of Groot Constantia. Starters include game carpaccio with marinated mushrooms, smoked tomato gazpacho, duck liver parfait served with grape and thyme jam, and bobotie dumplings; mains range from a mean burger to to peri peri chicken but also seared Norwegian salmon and Cajun grilled Patagonian calamari.
Chocoholics can toss a coin to decide between dark chocolate parfait with fresh berries or chocolate brownies with vanilla ice cream.
Whilst you order your last glass of wine your kids – if you have any - can happily, and safely, play under the trees or feed the ducks in the pond in front of Cloete Cellar.