The Manor House Restaurant at Meerendal is known for its good food. On weekends people flock there for breakfast. So if you want to eat there, book a table. They are tenacious about keeping the tables aside too. We have arrived without a booking and been turned away, despite there being empty tables. We were informed that they were reserved and were being kept, despite the fact that the place was half full.
One afternoon in mid week I managed to get a table. I was seated out on the verandah, shaded by white umbrellas, and perfectly positioned to take in the view all the way down the valley. The Manor House Restaurant is around 300 years old, and is built in the Cape Dutch style. The place looks regal and exudes old Cape charm. I settled down to look at the menu.
The starters consisted of baby calamari with garlic and chili, set on aubergine which was delicious. There was also a choice of chicken livers or carpaccio of beef with herbs and parmesan which sounded good, a lovely light Mediterranean starter on such a warm day. I quickly passed over the soup of the day due to the heat, but was informed by the waitress that today it was vegetable soup. There were several salads, calamari, smoked salmon, or parma ham and pear salad.
For mains they offered Rack of lamb, or a huge 750g rib-eye beef, fillet of pork or chicken and parma ham. All of which sounded good. On the lighter end of the spectrum there was a seafood risotto and a lamb and beef ravioli. Being a pasta fanatic I decided to have ravioli.
For me, one of the best ways to judge a restaurant is on the kind of bread that they serve. The Manor House serves delicious freshly baked bread – both white and a delicious whole-wheat loaf, studded with dried fruit.
The ravioli arrived, pockets of pasta filled with beef or lamb, coated in a Rosa tomato sauce. For me the ravioli was a touch under cooked, I feel ravioli should not be al dente to quite that extent. The sauce was good though with a nice acidity.
When I was done, I struggled to get the attention of the waitress and after twenty minutes, eventually gave up on dessert, and went in search of the bill instead. I got the impression that as it was just me, the service was not as attentive as it could have been.
The food and the setting are lovely, but I have been let down by surly staff several times now, and feel that this is something that they need to address. I also feel that they need to promote their desserts more. The table next to me got pudding, but only after making a point of asking what was on offer from their waitress. I quite liked the look of the apple pie they were served, but sadly never got to taste it. Overall I left feeling a bit cheated by the mediocre experience.
Then I went and looked at their deli and wine tasting room. There used to be a lovely alfresco restaurant here, which is gone, and all the space is devoted to wine tasting. There were a few pickles and chutneys dotted around, which were not very inspiring. I feel sad and rather nostalgic for that old café, and feel they may have lost something when they integrated it with the Manor House. The Manor House restaurant can offer some superb food, but the execution of their service can sometimes be lacking.
Address & Contact Details:
The Manor House Restaurant can be found on the Meerandal Wine Estate on the Vissershok road (R 48) on the Durbanville Wine Route.
You can contact them on +27 (0)21 975-1655 – Remember to book a table!