With the Cape Town summer now in full swing and its long days of abundant sunshine (and wind, dammit!) it’s always a double win if you can find somewhere that can cater for vegans along with an epic view and the chance to sit outside. The Green Vine Eatery at Silvermist Wine Estate in Constantia is one such place. Run by Chessa Louw and her partner Kyle, the estate is very much a family business (her father is also her landlord and Gregory the winemaker is her brother!)
Address: Silvermist Wine Estate, Constantia Main Rd, Constantia
Hours: 8am-5pm Mon-Sun, Seasonal Dinners & Events
Since Silvermist Estate was acquired in 1984, it’s taken a huge amount of determination, perseverance, and patience to get to where the it is today – a thriving wine farm producing a yearly harvest, an organic vegetable garden (more on that later) an (unofficial) animal sanctuary and of course a restaurant that offers wholesome food that caters to all tastes and dietary requirements.
Chef Rui van Coller sent out a number of vegan dishes from the menu for myself and Bae to experience. And what an experience it was.
First up was a mini version of their Green Burger (R125) topped with vegan cheese (Violife), avo and onion rings (usually served with a choice of chips or side salad). I hate it when a burger patty is too dry and falls apart the moment you pick it up but this was bound together perfectly and retained moisture. I could have eaten 4!
Next up was Bae’s favourite, the All Day Rosti – renamed on the vegan menu as The Constantia (R105). I’ve tried to make a rosti once at home and failed miserably, so I always have the hugest admiration and envy when I see one on a menu and it comes out of the kitchen looking like this:
The rosti was crunchy but soft, which clearly makes Chef Rui a Rosti Ninja and the combination of flavours from the mushrooms, sautéed tomatoes, avo, pesto and farm greens sent Bae’s taste buds into meltdown. I ate mine without the avo (allergic), and I too could have eaten 6!
Both dishes were paired with the Silvermist 2016 Sauvignon Blanc (a harvest that produced a limited 13900 bottles) which is, of course, was vegan and free of any artificial pesticides, chemicals, herbicides, and fertilizers.
Chef Rui then took us on a Green Vine trip to Italy with a Carrot Sweet Potato Gnocchi (R120) and a Woodlands Pizza (R99) with caramelized onion, rocket and seasonal ‘veggies of the day‘ from the garden on the estate. It was a crisp, thin base and Chef Rui wasn’t shy with his veggie toppings. Gnocchi is one of my go-to comfort food dishes and the texture and density of this one made it all the more ‘moreish’! Definitely no disappointments here! The red pepper sauce was especially good!
The final two dishes left us suitably swollen around the waist but grinning with satisfaction. Oh, wait…did I say ‘final’?! My mistake. There was one final ‘final’ dish which we were told wasn’t on the menu yet. Something that Chef Rui has been perfecting – a Raw Vegan Blueberry Cheesecake with a date and pumpkin seed base. WOAH!!!! The result was a beautiful balance between the creamy body of the cheesecake and the sweetness of the base which wasn’t too sickly or rich.
Between darting around the restaurant preparing for 3 large parties that were joining them for lunch, Chessa managed to grab 15 minutes to sit with us and enjoy dessert and have a chat. It was interesting to hear the journey her and Kyle have been on with the estate and restaurant, the animals that she has unofficially given homes to (bunny rabbits bounce around the lawn, there are pigs on the estate) and to learn how a mum of three manages to balance everything between running a business and family life. She has a sharp eye for detail which was great to observe.
Chessa then made the welcomed suggestion to get off our butts and explore the estate, more specifically the organic vegetable garden. Kyle and his team have pretty much created their own one-stop-shop for fruit and veggies in a garden that rises up the slope of the mountain like an ancient vegetable pyramid.
From butternut, beetroot and courgettes to gooseberries, pomegranates and strawberries, edible flowers and various herbs… if there’s something that they can grow and use in the restaurant then they’ll grow it! It was wonderful to see exactly where some of the ingredients of our lunch had come from whilst at the same taking a moment to consider the time and effort that went into growing and nurturing the veggie patch. It must be an amazing gift for any chef to explore the garden at work and be inspired by what is ripe and ready to be used in the kitchen.
The Green Vine Eatery ticks a ton of boxes. It offers great home cooked food in a relaxed setting and has knockout views (depending on where you sit). There is also wine tasting on site and the aforementioned garden is open to customers to explore and admire: perfect for families! It’s also a fantastic place to visit if you’re a group with a mix of dietary attitudes and requirements.
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