Last week, my partner and I were fortunate enough to be invited to The Square Restaurant at The Vineyard Hotel for a Tastes of 2016 dining experience and a nights stay at the hotel. Having heard wonderful things about the event, we were both very excited. Various wine estates are celebrated during the year with a food and wine pairing dinner at The Square and together with the wine makers, the chef creates a four course tasting experience to enhance the flavours of the wines on show. Morgenster Wine and Olive Estate was the star of the night when we visited the restaurant and we couldn’t have had a better experience.
On a surprisingly warm winter’s evening, we were welcomed at the hotel entrance by the parking valet, a hint of the great service to come. After checking in, we made our way to the tasting room where guests of the event were mingling and sipping on glasses of red. We found our hosts and were handed a glass of Morgenster Nu Series 1 Sangiovese 2015, a vibrant ruby red with cherry, coffee and vanilla undertones. The Square Restaurant Manager opened the event and the Managing Director of Morgenster Wine Estate, Judy Dyer, gave us some information about the estate, the wines and the olive oils that the estate produces. The Square Restaurant Chef then explained the menu to us which certainly got our taste buds ready to go!
The restaurant is incredibly elegant, with a magnificent glass roof, white high-backed chairs and low-hanging interesting light features. Indoor greenery and a pretty fountain make the restaurant feel spacious, modern and fresh. We were seated with the Restaurant Manager, the Food & Beverage Manager and the Morgenster Team so we received special treatment and a few added points of interest about the wines and olive oils produced on the farm.
Before our First Course arrived, we were offered a range of fresh breads and rolls with an array of pâtés and butters made with the olive oils from Morgenster. The White Truffle Butter made with White Truffle Extra Virgin Olive Oil was a definite favourite at our table!
Our First Course was a Chicken and Apricot Roulade with a goat’s cheese mousse, a mango purée and crisp toasted almond flakes, beautifully paired with the Morgenster White 2014, a dry Sauvignon Blanc made in a classic Bordeaux style with flavours of apricot, pineapple and litchi. The chicken was incredibly tender and the wine highlighted the apricot and the mango purée in the dish.
The Second Course was Homemade Gnocchi with a mushroom cream, crunchy mange tout and chorizo crumbs served with the Morgenster Italian Collection Caruso 2016, a soft blush dry Rosé with notes of guava, candy floss and berries. Between courses, Judy explained to me how their olive oils are made and gave us a brief overview of the different olive oils that they produce. I must admit, I’ve never really thought much about the quality of different oils and was sure that they all tasted pretty much the same…until I tasted the Morgenster Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The olive oil was smooth and almost creamy with subtle fruit flavours and a clean finish.
For the Third Course, we were served Glen Oaks Free Range Pork and Cranberry Polpettone wrapped in smoked bacon, pommes croquette, pea purée, butternut parmentier and caramelised onion jus. The dish was full of vibrant colours and was plated beautifully. This course was paired with two wines, the Morgenster Lourens River Valley 2004 (a fruity medium bodied Merlot with tobacco, liquorice and spicy notes) and the 2009 (a fruity full bodied Merlot with cassis, raspberry and rose petal flavours).
The Fourth and final Course was a Mint Infused Brûlée with pistachio and oat crumble and a mint coulis paired with the Morgenster Italian Collection Tosca 2012, a fragrant red with notes of English toffee, caramel and sweet cinnamon. Most certainly my favourite dish of the evening, the brûlée was absolutely heavenly and the addition of mint was the perfect end to our meal. After a creamy cappuccino, we headed off to our Mountain View room, a luxurious space with gorgeous décor, crisp linen, fluffy robes, a designer on-suite, a pretty balcony and spectacular views of the hotel gardens and the eastern slopes of Table Mountain.
After a refreshing night’s sleep, we enjoyed a buffet breakfast at The Square Restaurant. Breakfast is served from 7am until 10:45am on weekdays and 11:15am on weekends – perfect for someone rushing to a business meeting or for a leisurely late breakfast with friends or family. The hotel puts out quite a spread and we were treated to steaming coffee and fruit juices, cereals and yoghurts, fresh fruit, traditional hot breakfast items, cheese and deli meats and a range of bite-sized pastries.
The restaurant and hotel staff are all incredibly attentive and have obviously been through thorough training. It’s fantastic to see that they genuinely enjoy what they do. The food throughout our stay was delicious and presented with care and the service was impeccable. Thank you to The Square Restaurant and to The Vineyard Hotel for a wonderful fine dining experience. Should you want to experience the Tastes of 2016 food & wine pairing for yourself, the last four dinners are on the 9th & 23rd September and the 7th and 21st October. Book now to reserve your spot!