Tag Archives: somerset west

Succulents and Cake at Fiore Garden Centre and Coffee Shop in Somerset West (2018-04-21) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 05 FEB 2019

Originally setup in Bot River, the family owned business of Fiore Garden Centre (and coffee shop) has since opened up branches in both Somerset West and Greyton. Situated in the leafy suburb of Audas Estate, the Somerset West branch is a wonderfully tranquil space, with the grounds filled to capacity with  a rich assortment of plants, shrubs, trees, Bonsai and a host of interesting garden art pieces.

The main building itself is home to a wonderful little restaurant area, while the big shade covered patio out back offers loads of outdoor seating – the perfect spot to be considering the garden paradise all around you. The menu has a couple of breakfast and light lunch options available, and there is also a pizza oven for when you are in the mood for something a little more substantial.

And yes, they have cake.

A wonderful little Somerset West hidden gem.

Related Link: Fiore Garden Centre | Somerset West

Sand Art and Beer at Mondeor Restaurant in Somerset West (2018-04-28) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 02 FEB 2019

We used to visit the kid friendly Mondeor Restaurant at the Cape Garden Centre in Somerset West (close to Monkey Town) quite a bit in the past. Unfortunately though, the restaurant changed ownership and honestly – the change did not go all that smoothly and resulted in a restaurant that is a lot different in tone from what it used to be.

Nevertheless, politics and people aside, the venue itself remains a great one for those of us with small kids, and so if you are looking for a bright and breezy spot complete with entertainment for small children, then Mondeor still nicely fits the bill.

As always, if you are going to visit and the weather is good, make sure to pack in your kids’ swimming costumes – they might not forgive you otherwise!

Oh, and yes, as is tradition, the girls did their sand art.

Related Link: Mondeor Restaurant | Cape Garden Centre | Somerset West

Ciders and Coffee at the Lourensford Market in Somerset West (2018-03-04) Markets | Photo Gallery 21 JAN 2019

The Lourensford Market in Somerset West has easily the nicest selection of market foods and crafts on offer, with constant live music and of course the immaculate grounds of the estate to bolster the offering even further.

I have written about this great market before and as is always the case, this particular visit was as relaxing as one could get (even if we did arrive a little too close to the market’s end). The girls had sweet treats, I went a little Portuguese, and the Everson’s ciders were (as always) superb.

And if you don’t quite feel like the market vibe, then there are a couple of restaurant options, one coffee cafe, and one wine tasting room to visit instead. Which we did.

A great way to while a lazy Sunday away then.

Related Link: Lourensford Market | Lourensford Estate | The Coffee Roasting Company | Somerset West

99 Steps and a Forest Walk on Helderberg Farm in Raithby (2017-06-17) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 21 AUG 2018

Raithby is essentially a completely ignored/forgotten small farming community that lies more or less between Somerset West and Stellenbosch. While not a lot of public-facing places call this little piece of the Helderberg home, it is home to The Helderberg Farm, an old farm with a long history – some of the buildings still standing are marked as having been built in 1692!

These days the farm (literally on the secluded outskirts of Somerset West) primarily produces wine grapes, but is also responsible for a number of other small crops, including the ever popular strawberry. The grounds are open to the public, and they have an old, Cape Dutch style tea garden which is great for a cup of coffee and small treat.

Of course, that isn’t really a big enough reason to visit – instead, the Helderberg Farm hosts a number of other activities on its grounds, from mountain bike trails to 4×4 trail riding. There are running trails, hiking routes, picnic and braai facilities, a farmyard with goats, bunnies and geese for the kids, and a sprinkling of play areas for the little ones. For those seeking a bit more action, there is also clay pigeon shooting, paintball games, and gravel karts.

Oh, and strawberry picking during season as well.

The forest area can be hired out as a venue (the wide open spaces means that the Helderberg Farm is perfect for kids’ parties), and also makes for a great walking experience with the little ones (who might not feel comfortable doing one of the full hikes).

Not that you would think that mind you, listening to how my girls complain every time I try and get them to walk with me. Surprisingly enough though, the last visit saw them being game enough to attempt the steep 99 Steps path up the hill with me – and even more surprising is the fact that we all three actually made it to the top.

That said, I suspect that they were just as amazed that I actually got up there myself! :D

Side Note: Unfortunately, the biggest problem for the Helderberg Farm is the fact that it feels to be constantly in disrepair, which in turn discourages visitors, which in turn means less money making opportunities for the farm, which then ultimately contributes to the dilapidation that the farm seems to slowly be accruing as the years go by.

It’s a pity really because I love the lush green tranquility of the place, and really want for it to be doing a lot better.

Related Link: Helderberg Farm | Raithby

Eggs Benedict at Southey’s Family Bistro in Somerset West (2018-03-21) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 19 JUN 2018

Having supplanted Manuka a couple of years ago now, Southey’s Family Bistro is a super popular breakfast and lunch spot for families in the heart of Somerset West, thanks in no small part to their large back garden, outdoor seating and super kid friendly facilities (think jumping castles and slippy slides in Summer).

(The fact that they sport a well stocked boutique wine shop doesn’t hurt either!)

Seeing as this is such a popular spot for families to gather around then, we invited Chantelle’s mom and dad to drive out and join us for a spot of breakfast one March Saturday morning, which they happily agreed to – meaning that we were then left holding thumbs for a windstill, sunny day.

Which pleasingly is exactly how the day turned out to be.

Now we don’t normally go out for breakfast, meaning that on the few occasions that we do actually find ourselves at a restaurant for brekkie, it is always nice to grab something that I don’t normally get to have around the table in the morning – so this time around it just so happened that Southey’s Eggs Benedict kind of tickled my fancy.

Spoiler alert, it was plain, simple, and rather nice.

Anyway, Emily played on the jungle gym, Jessica ran amok with my phone camera, and in general, a pleasant morning was had by all.

After breakfast we needed to pop in to CABS to do a bit of ingredient shopping for Chantelle’s baking business, giving me the perfect opportunity to poke my head into the popular new addition to the Helderberg Things to Do with Kids list – the Blades Roller Skating Rink!

I’m pleased to report that it looks rather awesome and that Jessica immediately made me promise that I would take her as soon as another weekend freed up again! ;)

Related Link: Southey’s Family Bistro | Somerset West

Exploring the Estate of Vergelegen in Somerset West (2017-07-01) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 30 MAY 2018

A visit to Somerset West’s historic Vergelegen estate is always a treat, thanks to its selection of stunning restaurants, the elegant wine tasting venue, the beautiful (and functional) gardens, its rolling lawns and tree rich grounds, the fascinating history on show in the preserved manor house and library, and of course, the 300 year old Camphor and other ‘Champion’ trees dotted about the estate.

I have of course written about Vergelegen and its long history before, but it is worth keeping in mind that this wine producing estate (now owned and maintained through the deep pockets of Anglo American) was founded all the way back in 1700 – and indeed a large part of the farm’s original grounds served as the base for the eventual 1822 founding of Somerset West itself.

In other words, Vergelegen is very much integral to the story of the Helderberg region.

Surprisingly, the estate is quite child friendly these days, with a great play area and of course the large open lawns all making for a very welcome kid distraction for those times when you just want to sit back with a glass of wine (or warm cup of coffee) in hand, take in a deep breathe of crisp outdoor air, and enjoy the spectacular landscape views on offer.

One such opportunity arose just before the holidays last year, when we met up with Miguel, Retha, and her folks for a cup of coffee and a stroll around the estate – something my two little girls very much enjoyed once I told them about the bridge that needed crossing and the magical tree cave that needed finding on the other side.

They were rather pleased then when this turned out to be entirely true for a change.

Vergelegen’s well maintained grounds are always such a pleasure to explore, and indeed, whether you are interested in wine, art, fine landscapes, or even historic buildings, there is pretty much always something for everyone at this very enchanting estate.

Related Link: Vergelegen Wine Estate | Wikipedia | Somerset West

Pizza at the Lake House in Somerset Lakes, Somerset West (2017-11-12) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 06 MAY 2018

Standing right next to the newly opened Reddam House Somerset West boarding school, Somerset Lakes is a pretty good looking gated residential estate that has sprouted up on the outskirts of Somerset West – mind you, as a LOT of others have also done over the last handful of years!

Anyway, the only reason that I’ve ever even been inside this nice estate is thanks to the fact that the Somerset Lakes clubhouse is home to a rather nice, open to the public, restaurant, trading under the name The Lake House at Somerset Lakes.

They serve a fantastic array of pizzas and other light meal options, are home to a brilliant Sunday roast lunch, and of course stock some fabulous wines (which makes sense if you consider that the owners also run the hugely popular Southey’s Family Bistro, also in Somerset West).

Combining all of the above with the estate’s design aesthetic and its picture perfect lake center piece, it then quickly becomes obvious why we rather enjoy paying a visit there every now and then!

One of our last visits to the Lake House Restaurant (November last year) saw us inviting Chantelle’s folks to join us for lunch, all of which went rather well (the food was a hit!) despite the girls for a change not being on their normal standard of best behaviour – plus a rather unexpected visit from an inquisitive but cool as a cucumber stray goose.

With lunch now concluded, the next logical step (as it should always be when you visit there) was to head out along the boardwalk for a stroll around the lake. Amazingly, given that we had experienced a shower or two in the days prior to our visit, the lake was looking in a lot better shape than the last time that we had encountered it, and it was great to see all the local bird populations (who call Somerset Lakes home) in such good form.

The landscaped gardens were in bloom, a short stop at the jungle gym and outdoor fitness gym was enjoyed, and of course the entire visit was capped off with some clamber and play session in the estate’s little pine forest plantation that hides a treasure trove of obstacle course equipment within.

Pretty impossible not to recommend this place to be honest!

(In all honesty though, I’m not sure how long a private residential estate will continue to host a public restaurant, but given how much I enjoy it, I’m holding thumbs that this place sticks around for as long as possible!)

Related Link: The Lake House Restaurant | Somerset Lakes | Somerset West

Bikes and Burgers at The Cafe Racer in Somerset West (2017-10-20) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 04 FEB 2018

The Beehive building in Somerset West is old, pretty rundown and has been home to a little family run shop for years. It now also happens to be home to a particularly interesting newcomer to the Somerset West restaurant/bar scene – The Cafe Racer.

As you might guess from either the name, the logo, or the shiny hunk of polished chrome standing on two wheels outside the front door, The Cafe Racer is a restaurant that marries biking culture with beer and gourmet burgers – and rather successfully at that mind you.

The staff (and chef) are all relaxed and super friendly, the atmosphere super chill, the balcony space surprisingly nice, and most important of all, the menu mind boggling interesting.

Apart from a seriously good selection of craft beers on offer, The Cafe Racer specializes in some rather unique (and well made) gourmet burgers.

For example, my Mikachu burger (named after one of the waitresses) consists of a beef brisket patty topped with grilled pineapple, bacon, sliced banana – and then drenched in condensed milk of all things!

Chantelle on the other hand had a burger which forgoes standard hamburger buns in favour of chocolate doughnuts. Chocolate doughnuts!?! Who even thought of that!

The place is quirky, the younger crowd seems to like it, and as you might imagine, guys into bikes get a kick out of it.

So certainly a very unusual, but pleasantly enjoyable, addition to the Somerset West food scene.

Related Link: The Cafe Racer | Somerset West

Poinsettia Dam and Park in Somerset West (2017-08-12) My Life | Travel Attractions 25 OCT 2017

There are not a lot of freshwater fishing spots in the strictly Somerset West/Strand area. However, out of those few that do exist, without a doubt Poinsettia Dam is by far the most popular one with the locals.

(Or at least, that’s what it looks like and that’s also what Google searches seem to corroborate).

To be honest, Jessica and I actually stumbled upon it by complete accident the other day. We had just finished buying a new, bright green lunchbox and bottle from Mambos for her, when, after purchasing a couple of snacks for us to enjoy, I punched in a search for the Dick Dent Bird Sanctuary (Strand) into Google Maps and off we went.

As it turns out though, the incorrect search result didn’t exactly take me where I wanted to go, and instead we ended up at Poinsettia park, where after devouring our snacks, we took a stroll, then a drive along the dirt path up the dam, and finally sat and watched the fishermen try their luck.

It seems a good park for stretching legs, walking dogs and catching a fish or two, so all in all, not a terrible little discovery then.

A map – primarily because Poinsettia Dam is easily spotted from the road when travelling between Somerset West and Stellenbosch, but not quite as easily reached. (Hint, access it via Poinsettia Street).

Related Link: Somerset West