The Skinny on Somerset West
Somerset West is a dream destination for city slickers who would one day to own a two-storey home with a sprawling garden where the kids and daschunds can cavort –free from roaring traffic and 4am noise. Until that happy day, urban Capetonians and visitors can make trips to this genial suburb, which offers fantastic scenery and activities.
Erinvale Golf Club and Estate
Opened in 1995, this golf estate was the first of its kind in the greater Cape Town area. Developed by Ian Player and his golf legend brother, Gary, the estate is still a well-maintained and impeccable golf club, made even more picturesque by its location at the foothills of the Helderberg and Hottentots Holland Mountains. For the golfing enthusiasts, the 18-hole course designed by Gary Player himself is a golfer's delight and the clubhouse and bar guarantee a warm and inviting atmosphere.
No Somerset West experience is complete without a visit to the multi-faceted Lourensford Estate. With so much to see, do and taste, a whole day can be spent exploring the wonders of this pristine plot. Founded in the 1700s by Willem Adriaan Van der Stel, Lourensford is a benchmark in winemaking and touring.
Naturally, the wine must come first. The tasting options include:
Chocolate and wine tasting: R55 per person
Standard wine tasting: R30 per person
Not only do you savour the vineyard's wine, the chocolate is specially made for Lourensford. The tasting room is open from nine to five every day save for Christmas Day and Easter Friday.
This cheese is not of the everyday supermarket variety. Healey's is authentic farm style cheddar, free from flavour enhancements, artificial colouring and preservatives. The cheddar is made from unpasteurised full cream milk and undergoes maturation for a minimum of eight months, after which it can be matured for up to two years. Once tasted, you can expect the full, nutty flavour that only a well-made cheddar can deliver.
Coffee Roasting Company
In addition to wine, chocolate and cheese, Lourensford continues to wow your palate with the Coffee Roasting Company. A stop at the roastery will allow you to watch the beans in action, while you can take a few bags home. The coffee lovers will be spoilt with a choice of African blends, such as the Limu blend from Ethiopia and Mapanga AAA from Malawi. The roastery is open seven days a week from nine to five.
Helderberg Nature Reserve
Take time out to stretch your legs and bask in the richness of the Cape's incredible biodiversity by going hiking in the Helderberg Nature Reserve. The site started out as a flower garden but was declared a nature reserve in 1960 to safeguard the Mesic Mountain fynbos. Today, you can take a walk along any one of the circular trails and enjoy a respite from the concrete and noise. If you're lucky, you may spot one of the three species of tortoise including the mountain tortoise, the angulate tortoise and the padloper.
Contact: 021 851 4060
Like them on Facebook: Friends of Helderberg Nature Reserve
Hours: 1 December-28 February: 07:30am – 8pm, March and November: 7:30am- 7pm, 1 April-31 October: 7:30am- 5:30pm
There are scores of Somerset West restaurants that cater to every appetite and personality.
Like the name, this place is fabulously Greek, festive and bursting with life. Opa claims that they have the best moussaka in town, however, you can feast on a variety of Greek delights –from dolmades to a mezze platter for two. You may find picking one out of the six authentic Greek dips a struggle, so order the Opa dip platter to enjoy them all.
Contact: 021-851 2618
Address: 171 Main Road, Somerset West
Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 11:45am - 10pm and Sunday at 11:45am to 3pm
Fred & Max
The arrival of Fred & Max immediately gave Somerset West an additional shot of glamour and style. Not only are the burgers listed in Cape Town Magazine's Top 35, the two guys behind the eatery have fashioned a place that successfully marries old-world charm and excellent service with sleek décor. Expect mega milkshakes, fresh coffee and decadent pancakes, all served in a laidback, cool environment.
Address: Fairview centre shop 4, 33 Caledon Street, Somerset West
Follow them: @fred_and_max
For those wanting a sophisticated dining experience with five-star dishes and the service to boot, Henri's is where you will find the upmarket dinner you crave. Situated in a modernised Heritage building, Henri's is lauded for their signature steaks and seafood. The fillet is a must-try while the crispy, Patagonian calamari gets anyone's mouth watering. Not just experts in serving customers succulent savoury dishes, the desserts are legendary. Try the baked chocolate fondant with Chantilly cream and be feel as if you've entered heaven.
Contact: 021 852 6442
Address: Cnr Lourensford and Main Road, Somerset West
Hours: Monday to Saturday 12pm till late
The Mooiberge farm stall is found on the road (the R44) between Somerset West and Stellenbosch, although you would be hard-pressed to miss it. Decorated with large strawberries, a family of scarecrows and several other colourful farmyard animals, Mooiberge is a strawberry paradise come summertime. Join in the fun and pick some of the best strawberries in the country before perusing the shop for an array of fruits, nuts, jams, juices, ice cream and cakes. Suitable for romancing couples, large families, tour groups and students, strawberry picking among the crazy characters at Mooiberge and snacking on the plump, pink fruit is guaranteed to put a smile on anyone's face.
Address: corner of R44 and Annandale Road, Stellenbosch
Hours: Monday to Sunday from 8:30am – 6pm
If it's shopping you're after, you are in good company. The following are wonderful places to purchase anything you need, from speciality foods to treasured curios.
Woemann Brock and Eurolane both stock scrumptious German deli foods
Triggerfish Brewing Co has a respected selection of quality craft beers (and a restaurant). Follow them @TriggerFishBrew
The Somerset West Mall is the answer to every need, from chemist to hair salons.
Somerset West has a variety of both indoor and outdoor things to do and getting around in your rental car makes it possible to immerse yourself in it all. Take a trip along the Spice Route, which is found in the Winelands or have a look at what you can get up to in Cape Town.