Get There While You Still Can: River Café Pop Up, Vergelegen

Words: Crush

River Café at Vergelegen has to be the prettiest pop up spot this summer by far. If you haven’t been, you only have until about April to do so, so don’t delay! The café is situated literally alongside a bubbling brook that runs through the property and the setting could not be dreamier. The sound of water as it swirls and cascades downstream, the tree-lined bank and twittering indigenous bird life make it a truly special experience.Vergelegen-River-Cafe

Change is a-coming

Because of its riverside location and the threat of flooding once the rainy season hits, the structure is very much a temporary pop up (no extensions by popular demand), so if you want to experience it, and you should, now is the time.

The café (and its upcoming replacement – more on that later) are a stopgap while Camphors, the estate’s fine dining restaurant concept, is revamped.

As foodies, always on the lookout for what’s new and happening, it’s fun to have pop ups come and go – their limited life span gives us all the more reason to make sure that we don’t miss out.

While it feels sad that it’s temporary, there’s something to be said for having a really memorable experience with the knowledge that it won’t be there forever… a bit like the circus coming to town – fleeting yet thrilling.


Look and Feel

The café consists of an outdoor deck section, as well as indoor seating and honestly both are delightful. While the outside may seem the only place to be to take in the riverside feel, the interior is just as lovely.river-cafe

The inside ceiling is decorated with pretty, low-hanging florals, complemented by a black and white chequered floor and cosy, homey elements.

It all comes together to provide a very laid back yet upmarket setting. The whole venue benefits from a view of the river, so even if there isn’t a table available outside, you’ll still enjoy the views from the indoor setting.


Café Classics

The menu at River Café suits the venue perfectly, a simple selection of tried and trusted café classics, with modern twists that elevate the dishes.

For starters we tried the calamari noodle dish with chorizo, paprika dressing and tat soi greens. The fragrant oil from the fried chorizo coated the noodles and calamari as a silky, flavourful sauce and the greens brought freshness to the dish  The seared tuna was perfectly cooked with hints of heat from the wasabi mayo and crunch from radishes, sesame seeds and flecks of nori.

The offering of mains included a mussel dish, risotto and the two dishes that we tried – trout and steak. The fillet of roasted trout was an exceptionally generous grilled portion of fish with delicious lemon butter and roasted baby potatoes. The rib eye steak, another classic was served with a brandy mushroom sauce and satisfyingly jammy pearl onions.

We enjoyed all courses with Vergelegen’s Chardonnay 2020, a young wine that showed much more depth than its age – definitely a wine I definitely will look out for again.

Sweet Treat

If there is ever an apple crumble on the menu (and note to chefs, there hardly ever is!) then I know that’s what I am having for dessert. This dish sat perfectly within the menu of aforementioned café classics. Sure, there are plenty of other interesting things to be made but sometimes a solid and dependable favourite is the right choice. Done well, it can be sublime and this one really was. A short and generous crumble that melted in the mouth, well balanced sweet-tart apples and served with both custard and ice cream, tick-tick!.


Say Au River-oir

As we move into the colder months of late autumn and winter, the River Café will be replaced by the Cabernet Café, a new offering in a venue more suited to the season – exactly where on the estate it will be is yet to be revealed. The venue and menu will both be different and we look forward to seeing that come to life.

Just like the big top that appeared overnight in town but then disappeared just a few weeks later, River Café’s existence is set to magically vanish. So, experience a little bit of something special while you still can, get in touch and secure your riverside seats before it’s gone. | Facebook | Instagram

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