Cape Town is incredibly lucky. In quite a small area in a diameter of up to two hours’ drive, the place is absolutely littered with spectacular sights and jaw-dropping views that include oceans, mountains, vineyards and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Adding the big fat strawberry to this luscious sundae treat that is Cape Town, is that you also find some of the best and most innovative foodie hideaways in this small area.
Tokara Restaurant (and wine and olive estate) is one of these absolutely magical places that have both breathtaking views, a fantastically delicious menu and topping it all off, some of the best wines in the region. Do I make my point clear enough with all these incredibly positive adjectives?
Tokara is one of those places that most local foodies know of — we have all had a taste of the wine at various dinner parties (although we rarely ever buy it ourselves since it’s not quite in the “cheap but slightly more than the cheapest price section). The venue is also famed for its views, design and art collection.
Spoilt for choice in the reasons stated above, Tokara just never met my to-do list. Well, that is until a fateful Sunday that my mom and I went for a relaxing spa day in the heart of the winelands in Stellenbosch that turned out to be an utterly terrible experience (don’t worry, this is not a name and shame piece).
Anyway, we were in dire need of some pampering and fell victim of not booking a restaurant at in advance for the beautiful and sunny Sunday. That’s Cape Town for you, if it rains you can get a table at any restaurant no matter how famed the chef, but if it’s a gorgeously clear day you best have had read it in your tea leaves a month ago.
Eventually I gave the fate to Google: “restaurant Stellenbosch”. Tokara popped up first on the list and I figured I might as well give it a bang. The restaurant gods were on our sides that day and they had a one two-seater left.
Walking in to Tokara Restaurant is what I would equivocate to a religious experience. The place is incredible. I want to find the architect and designer and just hug them for 40 minutes straight. Big open spaces, glass instead of brick walls and beautiful shapes from the tables to the simple place settings. Above all is of course the view. Located at the top of the disgustingly scenic Helshoogte Pass the restaurant looks out on vineyards, valleys and mountains, allowing you to see as far as Simon’s Town across the Atlantic some 65 kilometres away.
The food, albeit on the pricey side is worth every cent. You come here for the experience: view, wine and an amazing meal, not a cheap pub lunch.
For starters we shared a cauliflower soup topped with truffle foam, parmesan crisp and homemade olive oil from the estate. Digging deeper into the creamy delight was an array of gorgeously exotic mushrooms. Paired with homemade bread, carrot top pesto, olive tapenade and a deliciously rich butter, it is safe to say I still dream of this dish when I close my eyes.
For mains I enjoyed the roast pork belly with pommes anna, butternut purée, kimchi, radish salsa, chilli and ginger jus and my mom tried the chef’s special of deboned lamb shank served with butternut purée and stewed figs.
All of this was swallowed down with Tokara’s Chardonnay which I believe is one of the best on the market at the moment. Strong, vibrant and punched with flavour — why even drink chardonnay if it doesn’t make a strong impression?!
Fact of the matter is, Tokara Restaurant is forever embedded in my mind as one of the most incredible finds. (I use “finds” relatively as although it has been well established since 2011 it only recently plopped on my radar.)
If you’re looking for an incredible food and wine experience alongside the some of the best views the winelands have to offer, Tokara is the most fantastic, incredible, breathtaking and utterly delicious place to go. Just be safe and book in advance.
Average cost per main meal: R200 without starters or wine, more to R400-R500 if you’re going for a fuller experience
Where: Helshoogte Pass, Stellenbosch, just more than an hour outside Cape Town city
Book: You can make a booking on their website or give them a call at +27 21 885 2550. Be sure to ask for a table on the balcony or close to the window to make use of the view!