Sad day when Cape Town’s Caveau closed wine bar at the Mill

AS IF IT wasn’t enough for us to deal with the prospect of the Mother City’s home of rugby moving from the leafy southern suburb of Newlands to the stadium in Green Point by the sea at the end of next year, the closing down of the wine bar and deli at Josephine’s Mill just around the corner from the bull ring came as a stomach blow for many. It was great sitting in the shade under some big old trees, listening to the sound of running water in the stream below and sipping some of the numerous options offered by the glass while nibbling on a choice of charcuterie and cheeses or indulging in something more substantial from the menu.

Apparently turnover at the Mill wasn’t sufficient to warrant renewing the lease in March, so they packed up in Newlands just as they were setting up new premises in Century City off the N1 freeway out of Cape Town. The original Caveau continues at Heritage Square between Bree and Buitengracht streets near the city centre, however I reckon the success formula here is as much about the charming courtyard served by three restaurants as it is about the winelist – probably more so. A wine bar culture has been slow to take off in South Africa, even on the doorstep of the Cape winelands, and while Heritage Square makes for a lovely lunch venue it falls short of showcasing SA wine in all its glory.
My latest visit? Great spot near fish pond across the floor from really old grapevine, plenty of room to relax, courtyard about 80% full, sunny weekday afternoon. The only interesting Chardonnay by the glass: Paul Cluver at R68 a hit – generous serving, delicious. The only Pinot Noir by the glass: Paul Cluver 2009 at R80 – fruitless, disappointing, couldn’t finish. Wine chosen to accompany tasty steak: Cederberg Cabernet 2007 at R267 a bottle – hit the spot. Sirloin from HQ restaurant: R160. And good coffee to finish… Enjoyable couple of hours, but glad there was somebody sharing the bill. Special occasion stuff!