Tokara is a magnificent wine estate and now I have finally ticked “Lunch at Tokara” off my foodie bucket list. We had the best seat in the house with the most beautiful views! Tokara is perched on top of the Helshoogte Pass outside Stellenbosch and offers visual delights both out the window and on the plates.
Wine at Tokara
Before lunch we had a private wine tasting so we already knew which wine we wanted to drink over lunch. I always recommend that you should arrive a little early for a wine tasting when dining at a wine farm. That way you have an idea of the wines on offer and which would work best with your ordered dishes. Yes, I am a wine nerd but it makes me very happy.
The wine and wine tasting at Tokara is exceptional. Every bottle we drank we loved more and more! I picked a favourite, then tried the next wine and had to re-evaluate my life all over again. Funnily enough it was utter bliss. Tokara wines are on the pricey side so sadly we couldn’t afford to leave with casefulls but one day when I am uber rich I will be drinking Tokara wines at all my Sunday braais! That and the delicious wine made by the Sadie Family!
For this particular lunch we opted for the Diretor’s Reserve which is an exceptional white wine blend which paired well with all the dishes, especially the duck.
Richard Carstens, Chet at Tokara, creates beautiful food which is a delight to the eye and the palate.
I ordered the cumin and coriander spiced beef tartare with cured egg yolk, pickled onions, apricot, carrot and ginger curry dressing with amasi creme. I loved the warm spice from the cumin and coriander, the rich umami tartare and how the amasi creme brought the whole dish together.
We were told if the salmon ice cream story was on the menu we had to order it. I believe this is a dish Tokara is famous for. As such we also had the baked Alaska of rainbow trout, cucumber, citrus salsa, smoked salmon ice cream, ginger, soya and mirin.
This wouldn’t have been something I would have thought to order but was very clever and plays tricks with your mind. The cold ice cream isn’t sweet but tastes of smoke salmon, the sprinkles on top are fish roe and the beautiful piece of salmon is topped with a slightly sweet meringue story. Very cool and very different to a dish you will try elsewhere.
I had the roasted duck with parsnip puree, eggplant, sushi rice, gooseberry sauce and jalapeno salsa. I am absolutely obsessed with duck and really loved this dish. Richard tells me the sushi rice is actually his wife’s recipe and I was very impressed. The sticky sushi rice with the tender duck and crispy brocolli is a big win. I actually think more dishes should start using sushi rice as a delicious starch alternative to the more mainstream options. However, I did find the gooseberry sauce a little sweet and overpowering for the other more subtle fresh flavours.
The peppered springbok with pomme puree, pear, turnips, cauliflower and sauce mirroir was a thing of beautiful. The peppered springbok was exception and I don’t think I have ever had a smoother creamier pomme puree. I haven’t seen pears paired with springbok before and thought it was a fantastic combination. It had me dreaming of summer salads of beef carpaccio, rocket, blue cheese and chunks of fresh pears.
Perfect Desserts to Finish
I have visited Tokara before and left obsessed with their little olive oil cake. The menu has changed a lot since then but there is now a new version of this little cake and I knew my dessert choice was made up! The new version of the Tokara olive oil cake is served with custard and gruyere ice cream, meringue, white balsamic gel and pine nuts.
This was a more savoury twist on my old favourite and I absolutely loved it! The gruyere ice cream is sensational. I loved the cool creamy richness of the gruyere flavour. The olive oil cake is still a rich dense flavour sensation and worked well with the white balsamic gel. This is still a fantastic dish!
Jono went with the special of the day which was milk tart with coconut ice cream and a naartjie parfait with nasturtium blossoms. Whilst this was a lovely dish – I maintain mine was better ;)!
We had a wonderful lunch with Tokara and I am looking forward to returning soon! Make sure to book – especially as we are moving into the summer season! They have a beautiful deck at the front of the restaurant which is going to be amazing on a summer’s day! If you’re in the area you should pop to Delaire Graff for more lovely wines, beautiful art and great views!
- Location: Tokara Wine Estate, Helshoogte Road, Stellenbosch
- Opening times: Closed on Mondays, Tuesday to Sunday lunch from 12pm til 3pm, and Tuesday to Saturday dinner from 7pm til 10pm.
- Contact details: +27 21 885 2550 or their website