Culinary Quest: Manor Kitchen, at Lanzerac

I’m all for innovative invention in the kitchen – to twist nature’s straightforward ingredients into fantastical and edible creations. But Lanzerac, sitting cosy in the Jonkershoek Valley, shirks the smoke and mirrors for frank delivery at its flagship eatery, and it’s scrumptious & hearty with the right menu choice.

The first meal of the day is usually my favourite, and I revel in the flavoursome ways people break their fasts around the world. As I dipped my toast into yolk my first morning on the estate, stabbing through mushrooms, and carefully flicking a bit of questionable blackness onto my fork, I wondered if I was being fair to Lanzerac’s lunch and dinner menus.

But then I got distracted as the surprisingly punchy black pudding introducing itself to my tastebuds.

The world can be plated for you at Manor Kitchen; The restaurant’s youthful cooks visibly focused on preparing whatever your heart desires from the glass-paned kitchen where diners can play culinary voyeur through.

We’re watching Buttermilk Pancakes manifest – plentiful with the rich spirit of its American origins.

We’re watching the Full English slot together – heated and hearty in fine traditional form.

We’re watching Mieliepap smoothly settling – ready to be customized with everything from butter to sugar and vinegar (trust me! It’s good.)

Want to order another breakfast option?

The amazing Manor Kitchen team that’s quite quick about churning out tasty meals, can probably make it happen. What’s not to love?!

Manor Kitchen is honestly ‘Rustic’…but with a healthy serving of Sophistication.

At Manor Kitchen, they don’t care too much about being overly stuffy and traditional, nor cutting-edge new.

If you are expecting restaurant gimmicks, slick monochrome interiors, Scandi furnishings, a celebrity chef barely in residence, or filament bulbs and a soulless white restaurant born of the latest design firm, you’ll be sorely disappointed.

Heritage saturates everything from the building bones and lofty ceilings to the menu (Smoked Snoek Bowl, anyone?) designed by Chef Stephen Fraser, and it’s not dated at all. It’s a pleasant ebb.

At Lanzerac I noticed that they care about people leaving with only good things to say and feel. They want you stuffed and satiated – contemplating heading to your hotel suite or just booking into a room for the night, on a whim.

The team is not overbearing about it though.

They ‘read the room’ so well, and those instincts and hospitality habits make for a pleasant visit – whether hotel guest, spa visitor, or restaurant diner!

Manor Kitchen’s buffet breakfast is an often talked about medley favoured by travellers, locals, kids, and business professionals with an early meeting to make. The hotel restaurant’s devotees pilgrimage here – some coming daily, weekly, and some making this estate their annual itinerary pick from halfway across the world!

It could be the award-winning wine.

It could be the views.

It could be the truly decadent hotel suites, OR it could all just come right back to the food.

The generous buffet is teeming with fresh and seasonal fruits in big bowls, pastry favourites in tray displays, cereal basics, and even morning bubbly for the likes of me!

You can pick up a few essentials and go, or unhurriedly savour your morning with a yummy bite and your dining experience offset with beautiful lighting.

Later on, there’s also the option to dig into the classical dinner dishes (including large Saldanha oysters). There is surely a reason hundreds have trekked to Lanzerac through the years, for it.

This is good, locally sourced ingredients that are prepared with skill (and storytelling in mind) and a love of food. And so, what is delivered to guests satisfies.

My excellent Waygu Beef Carpaccio was elegantly sliced and matched with the light and zesty combo of crisp celery, apple, pickled walnut, masala poached grapes, and goat’s cheese cream.

I wondered for a moment whether a minuscule drop of lime would enliven it for those not as enthused anymore by what is a Cape fixture (carpaccio) on many decent restaurant menus.

…but mine is not to redesign restaurant menus.

Its to dine; And so I stopped thinking so much, and just kept eating.

When the main event came about, I was tempted by the virtues of the meat dishes on the dinner menu. Non-meat lovers need not fear though, as there is even Proscuitto-wrapped Coq Au Vin (with a celeriac fondant that has my attention) for you to delve into.

My Veal Wellington did not disappoint, with its accompanying luscious, non-gamey sauce (which did not drown the main) definitely levelling up what could have otherwise been a dry and tough dish to finish.

My honest favourite from the meal courses (likely also because I had built up an appetite) was the bread roll at the beginning of my meal. Fresh, warm, and stocky, it was a marriage of elements of crunchiness, a generously firm exterior and a pillowy interior – all further enhanced by the sublime soft butter.

I’d make a meal of this bread!

Anyway, expect your typified Fine Dining essentials (napkin and silverware), but be delighted at the start of your dining journey with the comfortable Manor Kitchen seating – plush with leather and good cushioning.

As you recline and peruse the menu, take in the cleanliness, and the old-world glamour of the interior design, and then soak up the luxury of sensational service.

The Manor Kitchen team are, blessedly, as consistent as the hotel’s front-of-house and behind-the-scenes team – ALL working in concert, with one key purpose in mind: To ensure that regardless of any circumstance, visitors here are treated so well as to never want to leave.

It’s the quality stuff Wes Anderson hilariously brought to the screen in the first quarter of his whimsical ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’ film.

Anyway, yes! The service is 5-star come day or nighttime.

The other gem is definitely the beverages of Lanzerac. The ‘wine’ list reads like a Sommelier curriculum heavy with the weight of excellence. From whiskies at varying price ranges to prosecco, MCC, and verified champagne, as well as cognac, bourbon and so much more, if you’re parched or pacing yourself, there’s a good drink to dive into!

The estate’s own varietals are great for seasoned wine lovers, as well as those getting their first introductions.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Situated in a lofty locale, the restaurant pleasantly surprises in its unflashy ways.

Its breakfast is a humble brag born of excellent quality ingredients, adding trusty brunch & breakfast picks to the menu, and having a dependable team in the kitchen.

Dinner may not have jousting flavours on the cards, but they do deliver crowd-pleasing dining mainstays.

Manor Kitchen seamlessly manages a delicious balance of sophistication and simplicity – from their Sunday lunch to the decadent Afternoon Tea, and meals such as breakfast and dinner.

It’s in the food and it’s in the estate look, and it pleases all who enter their hallowed Manor hall.

By My Recommendation: Manor Kitchen

Lanzerac Road, Stellenbosch, 7600, South Africa

Tel:+27 (0)21 887 1132

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