The Camphors at Vergelegen signature restaurant takes its name from the ancient giant camphor trees, planted in 1700, situated in front of the historic Homestead. The restaurant overlooks expansive lawns and beautiful trees complementing the overall dining experience and creating an ambiance never to be forgotten. After only a year of operation, Camphors was awarded eighth place in the Top Ten restaurants in South Africa, in The Eat Out DStv Food Network Restaurant Awards 2013, as well as being the Regional Winner - Wine Tourism Restaurant - in the 2014 Best of Wine Tourism Awards, Great Wine Capitals. In the Eat Out Mercedes Benz Restaurant Awards 2015, Camphors received a Top 20 nomination and in the 2016 awards, was again placed in the Top 10. Vergelegen produces classical wine varietals and the ever changing menu reflects a modern take on classical international and local food dishes, specifically designed to complement Vergelegens award-winning wines. The Sommelier and his restaurant team guide diners through the menu and recommended wine selections to ensure a relaxed and memorable food and wine experience. This experience is tailored for both wine and food connoisseurs and everyday visitors alike who want to enjoy an unpressured dining experience. Regrettably, Camphors is not child-friendly. For tables of 8 guests (or more), a reduced option a la carte menu is recommended.
TRUE TO SOURCE On the historic Vergelegen Estate in Somerset West camellias bloom in winter, roses in summer. All year-round chef Michael Cooke shines in the shade of the 300-year-old camphor trees. His tour menu is a sequence of superlative dishes orchestrated to enhance the award-winning Vergelegen wines and showcase the true essence of the property and its surrounds. Michael is passionate about provenance. “Dont look for a Canadian scallop when you can do more with a carrot or onion. Explore a product, use different techniques with a singular ingredient. The seasons are hard to follow, constantly fluctuating and unpredictable, so we follow the ingredients instead. In season you can taste the sun in the product, we need to hold the integrity of it and respect the ingredient. An ingredient needs to be true to its own flavour – an apple must be the most ‘apple-iest of apples,” says Michael. Their ethos never changes, its about responsible, ethical sourcing and minimizing waste whilst maximizing the menu. Front-of-house and behind the scenes work seamlessly. His origin-based originality is obvious, plating shows provenance – like the estate chestnut with garden leaves and wild herbs served in a wooden bowl surrounded by dried leaves that have scattered on the lawn. A shining example of creating textural contrast is the smoked snoek and oyster – a creamy rendition of a classic served with oyster that has been cured, smoked, dehydrated and shaved over the dish, with crispy sago chips. Desserts will never disappoint, look out for the BBQ quince with yoghurt and ginger, a delicate blend in which every mouthful is memorable. The menu may only mention three flavours of a dish, but know there will be plenty, and they will pop. “This is a fun way to cook, it challenges us to show a lot of responsibility to products. Plating is about showing guests where ingredients come from.” Chef Michael Cooke