Equus Dine at Cavalli Estate
The view at Cavalli over the valley of Stellenbosch is simply unmatched. The stunning restaurant is contemporary in design and minimally decorated, giving it an uncluttered feel that really lets the food served here shine.
The sleek interior is furnished with stylish lightwood and copper finishings and the glass front leads out onto a deck, which overlooks a small dam and is flanked on either side by sunken lounges.
The menu for lunch is a perfect balance of bistro-style food but served with fine-dining panache. The evening menu is completely fine dining and Chef Hylton Espey pushes the boundaries with stunning plating and bold flavours. His food philosophy is very much influenced by the surrounding estate and what is fresh and available from the gardens.
We dined for lunch and were wowed by every course. Our starter of Citrus Cured Salmon was utterly melt-in-the-mouth and was served with red-wine poached pears, delicate dollops of numnum gastrique and almonds. Everything from the choice of plate to the flavours was perfection. For mains, we enjoyed the Pork Belly served with an exquisite carrot purée and caramelised apples as well as the Sweet Chilli and Beer Battered Prawns served on brioche with grilled Cos lettuce. Both dishes were superb and not one single item on the plate was out of place. When we chatted to Hylton he explained that one of his evolutions as a chef has been to not feel forced by traditional thinking to include a starch, protein and veg on every plate. Also, not to feel that every dish always needs a sauce, but rather how carefully crafted elements can bring a dish together. This is absolutely evident in the food.
For desserts, we opted for the Chocolate Eaton Mess and the famous Gingerbread Spiced Cheesecake. Both are served in a deconstructed manner and individual elements bring in the tastes and textures that give each dish its signature flavour. Again, both plates were equally stunning in flavour and presentation.
We sampled a selection of the Estate’s wines with our meal, with the beautiful Cremello, a blend of Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Verdelho, being a table favourite.
Cavalli celebrates floral biodiversity and the preservation of this is an integral part of the fabric of the estate. The restaurant is the first green-star rated restaurant in South Africa and uses an intricate system that includes the design of the building, the use of the dam in cooling, solar power and more, to make it as eco-concious as possible. One can tell that every element, from the slick design of the building right down to the choice of cutlery has been a well thought out decision. Both the food and the experience have set the bar high for us in terms of what is current, fresh and delicious.