Driving to Idiom Estate is a bit like travelling to another part of the world. At first you take your normal route through Somerset West and the tangles of traffic. Finally free, you nip through the small community at Sir Lowry’s Pass Village. Then, in an instant, the chaos is replaced by lush paddocks on either side of the country road, leading into rows of vineyards that climb up the steep mountain slopes. Up up and up you go. And finally the magnificent stone building lies in front of you, surrounded by 360 degree views of the Helderberg valley, the mountains on one side and the ocean in the distance.
We couldn’t have picked a more perfect day to visit their restaurant in the clouds. Their dining room, with floor to ceiling windows and a wrap-around porch, offers a prime location to soak it all up, glass of Prosecco in hand. It was a day for slow dining and lazy conversation.
We had been invited to taste their latest menu, which brings together the family’s Italian heritage with flavours from the Cape. Two years since opening, Idiom has definitely settled into itself, more comfortable with the food and wine offering they want to serve their customers. I got the feeling that their kitchen had a clearer focus, serving dishes that were packed with flavour, and filled with finesse without being overly showy and complicated.
They have a range of dining options. You can go for the full 5 course degustation menu (R900 with wine or R700 without) or opt for a 2 course (R315) or 3 course (R390) option. The last two come with suggested wine pairings, which can be purchased additionally for around R50 a glass. I was particularly impressed by their Pan Fried Seabass, perfectly prepared and showing off beautifully balanced flavours that shone without overpowering the fish. Another standout was their beef fillet, which captured the hearty comfort flavours of a classic Italian stew.
If you’re not that keen on the formal dining, they also have a selection of pizzas – which had me drooling with envy as they passed our table. Or go for their Antipasto platter, piled with charcuterie, artichokes, peppers, olives, pesto and fresh bread. Personally I’d probably go back, chill out on their porch and have this with a bottle of wine.
In the classic Italian style, the food and wine are meant to for each other and the Idiom wines pair beautifully. Our favourites were the Idiom Viognier 2015, and the Idiom Rhone Blend 2010. Honestly though I’m a big fan of Idiom’s wine in general so I’d recommend them all. If you’re not familiar with them, make sure you work in a tasting while you’re there.
Before you leave, it’s also worth asking the manager about their selection of Italian wines hiding in an underground cellar. They have a huge selection from various regions in Italy, giving you a unique chance to sip your way through the Italian countryside without having to buy a plane ticket.
I am certainly planning a trip back to Idiom over the summer. The scenery, art and architecture itself is enough of a motivation and luckily there’s plenty of tasty treats to entice you while there.
For more info, head over to their website, idiom.co.za