Camphors Restaurant at Vergelegen
Camphors fine dining restaurant is nestled in the beautiful lush gardens of Vergelegen Wine Estate in Somerset West.
Camphors restaurant is nestled in the vast gardens of Vergelegen Wine Estate in Somerset West. The magnificent nature that surrounds the restaurant is what inspires dishes on the fine dining menu, each created under the guidance of Executive Chef Michael Cooke.
The L-shaped restaurant is decorated in a chic, contemporary style with glossy black tables, chairs in plush silver velvet and a roof that twinkles at night. The outdoor section boasts a large deck with an incredible view over a section of lush garden that forms a perimeter around an impressive rolling lawn.
The story of the estate is told through dishes on the menu – they sound deceptively simple, but the dishes are complex, with intricate details that bring all of the flavours together. The team use the extensive gardens of the estate not only as inspiration for dish ideas, but to forage for wild ingredients, giving the dishes a real sense of place. What diners eat has been either tended to in the herb and veggie garden, or has been picked wild from the forest or surrounding shrubs and veld.
The meal starts off with a basket of breads baked fresh in-house. Served with this is an ash butter, which deceptively resembles a beautiful square of granite, but once you cut into it, you will find soft butter full of the flavour of charred leeks. Also accompanying this is a whipped malted cream cheese with a buttery granola crumble on top. It is very tempting to polish off the whole basket but beware, there is plenty more to follow, so make sure you save room. We of course did not heed our own advice and ate every last bite. Next a beautifully plated board of crispy cheese beignets were sent out by the chef – topped with port caviar, they were the perfect amuse bouche to prepare us for starters.
We enjoyed a stunning teriyaki yellowfin tuna starter, lightly seared and served with crispy soft shell crab, fresh apple, tamarind jelly and bergamot gel. The beef starter combined grass-fed beef tartare and braised shortrib with a silky gorgonzola cream and fresh pomegranate. Both dishes over delivered in terms of flavour and with plating that showed delicate restraint.
Just before mains were served we enjoyed a palate cleanser of refreshing granita served with and a whip of cream to offset the iciness – so delicious.
For mains I opted for the pork belly, and my dining partner, the duck. Both dishes were generous portions with intricate sauces and flavour combinations. The pork belly was accompanied by baby carrots and a guava sauce, and the confit duck was served with beetroot done various ways, umeboshi plum and a unique duck ‘Scotch egg’, which consisted of duck meat encasing a silky smooth butternut centre.
Desserts were equally heavenly, Strawberry with pistachios and a stunning dish that resembled a dewy bramble, with chocolate mousses, bursts of berry flavour, meringue and jellies. Each were like precious artworks that almost seemed to beautiful to disturb… but of course we did.
The stunning menu, accompanied by the chic surroundings makes Camphors at Vergelegen an excellent choice for celebrating a special occasion. The service is top notch and the friendly wait staff are very well versed in the menu and make the dining experience a pleasure.
Camphors was deservedly listed in the 2015 Mercedes Benz Eat Out Top 20 Restaurant in South Africa, so should feature on any foodie's bucket list.