We started our culinary journey in South Africa with the “Estate Experience” at Rust en Vrede Restaurant.
The Rust en Vrede restaurant is run by John Shuttleworth (Head Chef) and his wife Andrea (Front of House). John joined as sous chef in 2009 and took over as Head Chef in 2011. Only having opened in 2008, Rust en Vrede was almost immediately internationally lauded and included in the San Pellegrino Top 100 Restaurants in the World (highest ranking 61st in 2011) and ever-present in the top 10 of the Eat Out Magazine best restaurants in South Africa (winner in 2011). That is until last year’s edition where Rust en Vrede was nominated but didn’t make the top 10 of the Eat Out Magazine Awards.
Does that mean that they dropped the ball? As you can see below, I think they have certainly not. We had an excellent dinner with impeccable – quite formal – service (not surprising as they won the Eat Out Excellence in Service Award for 4 consecutive years: 2010-2013). It does, however, give a good reflection of the fierce completion in fine dining in South Africa!
Chantal already enjoyed the Estate Experience with Erica when we were in South Africa in 2013 (Koen and I got to go to The Test Kitchen, so nobody felt left out), and the ladies were so enthusiastic about it, that we put Rust en Vrede on our itinerary again.
This Estate Experience is their 10-course all-inclusive food & wine pairing surprise menu that is a unique creation for that day, that cannot be re-created in its entirety because of the limited quantities of the products used for the food and the scarcity of the wines selected. They indicated that it this “journey” will take an average of four to five hours to complete (which is indeed correct, we were the first to arrive and one of the last to leave).
The Experience already starts with the majestic twilight views from the road leading to the restaurant, being greeted outside and once ushered inside we were in for many treats (👍 = favorite dish of the evening):
This Estate Experience will set you back R2000 (€115 / $130) per person but is truly all-in: all food and drinks, coffee/tee and gratuity. Furthermore, it came with a complimentary bottle of 2013 Rust en Vrede Estate Wine (their Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot blend that we have seen in the shops for R400+) when we left the restaurant.
Although Chantal’s 2013 Experience was even more elaborate (cigars and digestifs also included) and extravagant in the wine pairings (a 1939 Maury Vin Doux Naturel from Domain Pla Del Fount and 1993 Rust en Vrede Estate Wine were among the ones served!), this is a great deal and definitely a once in your lifetime experience. However, a light lunch and drinking a lot of water in between to cope with 10 glasses of wine is highly recommended!