My family and I decided to head out to Cavalli Estate for our family lunch. It was actually a bit of a sad day for us as it would have been my mom's 57th birthday and it was her first birthday that we had to spend without her. We picked Cavalli because it had been one of her favourites (back when it was called Equus - see my previous post about it here). It is such a stunning venue and serves great food, so it was just what we felt like.
The estate is actually a wine and stud farm. The name, “i Cavalli”, is Italian and means “The
Horses”, and, on your way to the restaurant, you drive past the beautiful stables and can see the incredibly well-kept Saddlebred horses in the fields.
The décor inside the restaurant is really pretty with simple, earthy and copper touches that make it modern and chic. You can sit inside (see below) where they have a large fireplace that makes it super cosy in winter.
We opted to sit outside on the terrace because it is just too pretty to sit inside (unless it's freezing). The views of the Stellenbosch mountains and the dam are just stunning (see below). The water is so clear that you can see a few fish. The whole setup is just so peaceful and relaxing. It's one of my favourite outside-eating places.
We decided to try Cavalli's Cremello white wine (see below). It's a 2015 rich white blend of Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Verdelho. It has flavours of passionfruit, vanilla, orange blossoms, lime and marmalade. I really enjoyed it, and I'm not really a chardonnay fan. It was R225 a bottle off the restaurant menu, but you can buy the bottle from the tasting room downstairs for R125.
Between the 9 of us, we ordered quite a few dishes, but the ones below were some of our best ones.
First up, was this starter of Pulled Pork Cannelloni (see below) for R80. It was served with caramelised apple, shaved chestnuts, juniper sauce and a celeriac emulsion. It was delicious and presented beautifully. The apple was a great addition to the dish.
I ordered the Cured Seabass (see below) for R85 as I'd never had Seabass before, and I like giving new things a try. It was served with pickled radish, wasabi avocado, compressed cucumber, sea lettuce and yuzu gel. I really enjoyed this dish! The fish was cured nicely and I loved the presentation - how they managed to get the radish to stick I don't know. But the standout for me was definitely the wasabi avocado! It was super tasty! I've had wasabi mayo, but the pairing with avo was awesome! (I'm going to try this with sushi soon...)
The main courses all looked great, but this one was particularly pretty. It's a Cardamom Sirloin Steak (see below) for R 190 and it was so beautiful with all the pink colours. It's served with prune beetroot purée, smoked mash, fermented blueberries, and beef tallow. The smoked mash was delicious and the sirloin was tasty. I think it's one of the prettiest plates I've seen in a long time.
I ordered the Glazed Duck Breast (see below) for R185. I'm usually a bit wary of ordering duck breasts, as they can be a bit dry, but this one was really lovely. It was served with miso aubergine pancakes, sweetcorn purée, bok choi and a ginger jus. The duck was cooked beautifully (still a bit pink, which freaks some people out, but it's not dry that way) and the jus was delicious. Bok choi was something new for me too - it's a type of Chinese cabbage, and tasted like a combination of cabbage and kale, but with a bit of a sharper taste. It's apparently quite good for you and I felt super healthy eating it!
No one at our table could squeeze in dessert, except Granny. (She has a sweet tooth and almost always has space for dessert. She even ordered two starters, instead of a starter and a main - as the waiter cleverly suggested - so that she could squeeze in something sweet).
Here is the Almond Glazed Chocolate Bar (see below) for R85. It's served with "elements of orange" which is an accurate description of what's on the plate. I wouldn't know what it tasted like, as I wasn't offered any, despite a few longing looks, but the plate was emptied, so I'm sure it was delicious! 🙂 (Side note: I'm 99 percent sure she doesn't read my blog.)
I've been to Cavalli about 3 or 4 times now and the service is really great. Our waiter was friendly and smart - encouraging us (but not forcefully) to buy a better bottle of wine than we perhaps would have. He was attentive and I liked the kind way he spoke to my grandmother.
I also like the 'extra touches' you get at your table: the bread with homemade flavoured butters (see below left) served before your meal, and the sweet treats (see below) served at the end of your meal, even if you do order dessert.