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“Nice view, but no sun and food only OK”
Review of Raphael's

Raphael's
Ranked #121 of 274 Restaurants in Stellenbosch
Dining options: Late Night, Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: Late Night, Reservations
Reviewed February 13, 2013

To be fair to the staff we turned up at Raphael's just after 2.00 pm without a reservation and after checking with the kitchen were shown to a table on the balcony. In-line with the South African aversion to the sun, the balcony is under cover - so shady (and windy), even though the view was great. Service was attentive and quick without initially seeming rushed. Sparkling water soon appeared and a nice bottle of well-cooled sauvignon blanc followed shortly afterwards. Pea and mint risotto with parmesan crisp was a disappointing starter (certainly not in the same league as Bread & Wine) and while the crisp was good the risotto itself was too uniform in taste and consistency to be interesting. The Caprese tomato and buffalo mozzarella salad with pesto was well presented and tasty. For mains we both chose the deep fried calamari were served with a tasty tartar sauce and seasonal salad. The portion size was good but the batter on the calamari was too heavy and detracted from the taste of the seafood. By the time the calamari arrived, we were the only diners left on the balcony so service was over attentive to the point that we felt we were being rushed so staff (there seemed to be plenty of them) could finish their shift. The bill arrived in double quick time and we moved to the deli for coffee - this was brilliant; sheltered from the wind, some warm sunshine, amazing carrot cake to accompany my espresso and as much time as we wanted. Needless to say, we lingered for some time.

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1  Thank harrymlaw
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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50 - 54 of 89 reviews

Reviewed February 13, 2013

We were staying at the neighbouring Lovane Boutique Wine Estate and they recommended eating at Asara - we were so glad we did. We were given a table outside on the terrace with stunning views - it was a lovely warm evening and the food was fantastic, the service was outstanding and we also tasted the best wine of the holiday - Asara Bell Tower.

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Thank F&MScotland
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 27, 2012

On arrival we were seated at a table infested with ants. We moved to a cleaner table where we were ignored for 35 minutes until we notified the host that we were yet to have a waiter assigned to us. Thereafter, the wine took 25 minutes and 2 orders before it arrived. A 40 minute wait for mains revealed a rare steak despite a medium being ordered, a half eaten bread roll in our basket and no cutlery being presented with our food.The staff were clueless and unhelpful! For these prices one would expect 5 star service. Avoid at all costs!!!!

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1  Thank tessa hanan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 16, 2012

Had it not been for the excellent food I would have rated our meal at Raphael's as below average. When we left the restaurant and told the maitre d' of the diabolical service we were informed that 2 of his waiters had not turned up and that it was a student serving us! Well that's not our problem - it's not what we expected from an upmarket hotel. Amongst the blunders: we were given some other patrons' food, totally the wrong bill, had to get up to ask for dessert spoons, never had our wine glasses filled, had to request bread rolls and plates were removed before both diners had finished their meal. We would consider staying at Asara again but will give Raphael's a miss.

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Thank Voi C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 3, 2012

We wanted to celebrate, but Sunday lunch seemed out - all the usual favorites were full. A search turned up Raphael's as a possibility - and, yes, they had space for two.

We had known Asara in an earlier incarnation, when it was Verdun, a quixotic old fashioned winery. The gracious entrance up a plane-tree-and-roses lined driveway was very different from the old dirt track. We passed dams full of water after the winter's rains, and the surrounding hills were green vines as far as the eye could see. A new hotel came into view, and signs pointed to "Restaurants" - plural. We parked, and followed the signs until we were in a courtyard with a fountain and no sign of our destination. So we asked at the gift shop, and they pointed us in the right direction. Still no sign of Raphael's, but hallway led towards open doors through which we could see people at tables.

We entered, and a waiter came dashing up - had we booked? Yes we had, he checked, then led us to our table. The restaurant was a large room, with high ceilings accented by two huge chandeliers. The place was full, but the high ceilings made for a low noise level, and even a nearby table of eight children, none of whom could have been older than about 7, disturbed our talk.

A pretty waitress, Patience, appeared. "Water?" Menus, bread and a peppery olive oil and balsamic vinegar to set the taste buds alive. We talked wines - there was pink champagne by the glass, which we needed in order to celebrate, and I ordered a glass of the Asara merlot, which I know and like.

My wife ordered the cauliflower soup of the day and I a hot beetroot salad. The soup arrived in a boat, with light green decoration and some croutons to relieve the creamy texture. It was absolutely delicious, full of cauliflower flavour with just a subtle herbal undertone and enough cream to smoothen but not so much as to drown. The beetroot salad was a marvellous surprise, small beetroot chunks covered with rocket and assorted green herbs, on a bed of goats cheese and with a light dressing round the mound. The tastes mingled in a surprising, clean way.

For the main course, she had the linefish of the day, which was kingklip, on a bed of rice. It was cooked to perfection, and a generous helping of what was clearly a very fresh fish. I had the pork belly, which came nestling on a bed of mashed potatoes, and a slice of apple on each slice of meat. The meat was just right, with a crisp crackling and tender flesh. But the real taste surprise was the apple, which was so full of unusual flavours that at first I wondered what it was. It had been cooked in the rich gravy and had obviously picked up some of the essences. As a whole, it was an unexpected rendition of a classic dish in a way that made it a new classic, and Patience was quite right to have recommended it.

We shared the dessert - a banana souffle that was as light as a feather, and a salted caramel ice cream that was a toffee delight. An espresso coffee and a glass of the Asara Late Harvest wine each, and a memorable luncheon came to a close.

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1  Thank A-Nutty-Prof
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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