Sunday, February 6, 2011

Revel in Romance & Rosé this Valentine’s at Simonsig’s Cuvée Restaurant

It’s February in the Cape – summer’s happiest month – and Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. You know the one – that day that’s steeped in nostalgia and fairy tales, rooted in loving proclamations, reckless abandon, confessions and promises, filled to the brim with sweet nothings and everything else in between. It’s a day of passion – passionate love for some and fear and loathing for others. Will you have an unforgettable one? Will you find that someone in time? Or do you think it’s just a lot of hoo-haw invented by the likes of Hallmark? No matter which side of the emotional fence you’re sitting on we can’t seem to get past this day without feeling something and to be honest, so far I’ve been feeling like a bit of a skeptic.

After all, Valentine’s falls on a Monday this year – the most mundane of all days in the week – and with a job full of travel and tired evenings it seems like a lot of effort just to say “I love you” to someone I see every day. So when my special someone suggested we make it our own day and celebrate a little early, I was surprised to hear myself instantly agree, taken over by the whims of my secret romantic side or perhaps shot through the heart by Cupid’s golden arrow.

And so it was that we found ourselves at Simonsig’s signature restaurant, Cuvée, for an afternoon of carefree conversation, fine dining, premium wine and celebration. Upon arrival we were treated to a tasting of the Méthod Cap Classique range – lifting our spirits like the bubbles in our glasses. I must have forgotten my inner skeptic back in the car since I forgot all about my initial reservations while wandering under the oaks in the garden.

Set under a vine-covered trellis, the Cape Dutch building created a romantic setting and the nearby fountain trickled a slow melody in the heat of summer’s embrace. It was a cool relief to come indoors and sit like VIP’s, enjoying the view of the mountains framed by floor-to-ceiling drapes in soft hues of beige, cream and sultry grey. The darkness of the wood floors and tables created a rich feeling and the sound of jazz vocals moved softly through the air, a faraway voice of crystallized emotion. A modern mix of kitsch and style, the décor included chandeliers formed by a medley of glassware and china, suspended from the rafters in the double volume space above us, and silver light fixtures gleaming from their view of a century’s old wine press.

In the spirit of the occasion we chose the Rosé-inspired menu, only available until the end of April, which celebrates the earthy, berry flavours of the Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Brut Rosé. Our waitress, Wilma, treated us to a graceful balance of attention and privacy between courses. We started with a taste of tender-crumbed bread, bursting with sundried tomato, offset by butter cream. Next we indulged in ostrich carpaccio, presented with cherry compote, earthy green sprouts and tangy goat’s cheese, drizzled with a red wine glaze. The combination of sweet and sour, creamy and sharp danced together in our mouths. Our entrée was an experience in each bite – seared tuna, perfectly pink in the centre – sealed in a jacket of coarse pepper, complemented by star-aniseed roasted plums, anointed with a creamy lemon butter sauce and punctuated by bits of walnut that melted in happy glory. Dining on this food made us feel like royalty but we weren’t finished yet – our final en core was a palette-cleansing dessert of icy orange marmalade and macerated berries that left us feeling refreshed, light and completely spoilt.

After this experience my inner skeptic seems to have vanished without a trace, and with a few weeks left before the “official” Valentine’s Day I’m starting to rethink my feelings on the matter. Why not celebrate with your best friend on that one day of the year? Does it really matter how the tradition began so long as you believe it? And if there’s any way to take the ‘mundane’ out of Monday, a brush with Cupid and time at Cuvée certainly can. Looks like I’ve been shot through the heart after all.

It’s not too late - reserve your Valentine’s Evening at Simonsig’s signature restaurant, Cuvée – perfect for pampering or even a proposal under the stars. The 3-course dinner includes live jazz by The Limehouse Trio, a bottle of Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Brut Rosé and a box of handmade chocolates. 19h00 on Monday, 14 February for R350 per person. Vegetarian options are available upon request. Choose between:

· Starter: Roasted Duck, Beetroot and Pomegranate Salad OR Venison Carpaccio served with Crisp Apple, Gooseberries and Mustard-Dill Sauce

· Entrée: Beef Fillet Medallions enriched with Roquefort Cheese, Walnuts and Wild Mushrooms OR Sesame-crusted Norwegian Salmon with Wilted Greens

· Dessert: Dark Chocolate Fondant with Cherry and Marzipan Marbled Ice-cream, and Cointreau-infused, Macerated Watermelon with Orange Zest and Watermelon Sorbet


· AMBIANCE: Romantic luxury – it’s Valentine’s all year long

· LOCATION: Outside Stellenbosch, on the Kromme Rhee Road between the R44 & R304

· HOURS: Lunch Mon-Sun 11H00-15H00; Dinner Wed, Fri, Sat: 19H00-22H00

· EXTRA SPECIAL: Book a private occasion in the luxurious Van Niekerk Room

· RESERVATIONS: Phone 021 888 4932 or email

Note: The Rosé-inspired menu is available for a limited time until the end of April. Available as a set two- or three –course menu for lunch or dinner, it includes a flute of Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Brut Rosé. R160-R190 per person

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