River Cafe Review

Restaurants on wine farms range from fantastic to very average. I have been to a few which are very obviously taking advantage of their location. They think that because they are on a wine farm they can charge the earth even though the service is really average and the food worse. However, it’s a magic combination when you find a great restaurant situated on a wine farm. I recently reviewed Tokara, which was great but very pricey.

The River Cafe at Constantia Uitsig is another restaurant on a wine farm which is well worth a visit. There are probably as many tables outside as there are inside, which is good because on a nice day the al fresco option is definitely the option of choice. However, if the outside is fully booked, lunch inside is not something to lift your nose at. The old building is nicely decorated in a modern but homely style. I have eaten both inside and outside and enjoyed both experiences.

The service is above average. The waiter was MIA a couple of times but apart from that, no complaints. The wine list is fairly broad in style and price so one should not have a problem finding something to suit one’s requirements. The River Cafe has a lovely ambiance, due in no small part to the fact that it is always full (booking is recommended, especially if you want an outside table).

The River Cafe has a lot of positives, but 2 of them stand out: the location and the menu. the menu is very reasonably priced, especially considering you are situated on a wine farm. During lunch time they offer sandwiches and light meals in addition to the Main Course menu. So if you are not wanting something heavy or don’t feel like spending a lot, you can have the Chicken and Mushroom Pie (R50) or the Roast Lamb Sandwich or the Grilled Chicken Breast (also both approximately R50). Otherwise you can try one of the delicious sounding salads (eg. Roasted Butternut & Gorgonzola) for around R60. Those in the mood for something more serious can decide between Pasta (R60), Linefish (R80), Fillet (R80), Lamb Burger (R50), or many others.

On my last visit I had the chicken pie which was delicious and a couple of weeks before, I had the Lamb Burger which was superb. The time before that I had the Linefish, also stunning. One of the reasons the food is so good, I believe, is that their first option is to use organic and free-range produce. I think we should support restaurants who do this, our lives could be at stake (read my article ‘Where is James Bond’ for more on that).

In my 8 years in Cape Town, I have only eaten there about 5 or 6 times and that is something I regret. Constantia is much closer than a lot of other wine farms and the River Cafe never disappoints. I will definitely be going more often.

By the way, if you have a sweet tooth, my tip for dessert is the Chocolate Hazelnut Brownie. It’s beyond words.

4 Comments

  1. Gabriel May 16, 2007 at 1:34 pm

    U must try the Constantia Uitsig Restaurant for a Sunday/Sat Lunch. The food is really spectacular! Tip, Springbok Loins….

  2. Nick July 25, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    The food is good if expensive. The problem is the car park. In the winter I suggest you wear a pair of wellingtons because the car park is like a building site. It is full of pot holes, awash most of the time and for some reason a vivid red colour which stains and ruins your shoes and clothes (not to mention the car always needs washing after a visit). Until this issorted out I will not use them in the winter months (As a local, when the tourist are not here, this something they SHOULD be comcerned about!

    Nick (Constantia)

  3. Dax September 25, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    Had lunch at River Cafe and thought I should update my review as it is quite old now.

    The menu is a bit more focused now. There are a few daily specials on the blackboard then the menu offers breakfasts, lunch starters & mains and desserts all on one double sided page.

    We opted for a chicken pate starter (R45) to share. Which was very good, nice light patΓ© served with fresh bread. For mains we ordered fillet burger (R85), salmon nicoise salad (R85) and butter nut & beetroot salad (R65). For dessert we shared an apple crumble served with ice cream (R45).

    We had a carafe (250ml) of Uitsig sauvignon blanc (R52) and another of the Uitsig unwooded chardonnay (R50). Both were pretty good.

    I can review all the dishes in one go, they weren’t bad but they weren’t great either. Nobody raved about their food, nor did anyone complain. So I would say the food is average. It’s not silly expensive and it’s still a lovely setting, especially on a fine day.