I just spent 5 days eating, drinking and exploring my way through the beautiful Stellenbosch region of the Western Cape, where some of the country’s top winemakers and chefs are changing the way South Africans and international visitors alike eat, drink and experience wine and the winelands– in a good way.
When I first moved to Cape Town in 2010, I had very limited experience with wine. I had no idea how to differentiate between Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc and if it wasn’t sweet I wasn’t drinking it. Over the past four years, my knowledge of wine has really grown, as has my passion for the way it tastes, is grown and made and pairs with food.
My week with #Stellenblog, a sponsored campaign hosted by StellenboschWine Routes, in association with iambassador and Destinate, introduced me to a whole variety of exceptional wines and restaurants that I had never tried before, but also to the Stellenbosch community and a few fun activities that are a necessary break from the food and wine.
Here, I list some of the places you need to ad to your Stellenbosch foodie bucket list.
8 Places To Eat In Stellenbosch
From fine dining to gastronomical ingenuity, relaxed winelands picnics to gourmet finger foods – there are too many delicious dishes in Stellenbosch to choose from! In true South African fashion, “hospitality” translates to “feeding” which means that you are never more than an hour away from another snack or meal.
If you read this blog regularly or follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that food is my hobby. It’s the one thing that I truly pursue, no matter the cost. I spend my time and money exploring and experiencing delicious food, while fashion and other hobbies get put on the back burner.
I always feel that a destination’s food is a great way to understand the culture, lifestyle and people, and if this is the judging criteria then Stellenbosch as a whole can be explained in one word: Delicious!
1. Terroir at Kleine Zalze
Multiple-award winning Terroir lived up to all my expectations. I had heard so much about this restaurant and as always, I was slightly worried that it wouldn’t live up to the hype. Fortunately it did, in every way. The rain bucketed down outside as we dined in the cosy restaurant, sipping on Kleine Zalze wines (my favourites were the Chenin, Chardonnay and Shiraz) and enjoyed every mouthful. Not to be missed.
Very often, restaurants with views like Tokara’s take it for granted that their stunning location will make up for their less-than-inspiring cuisine, which could not be further from the truth for Tokara. Overlooking red sand lined hills with green vines, set against an azure blue sky, the setting is the perfect backdrop to chef Richard Carstens’ thoughtful and light menu.
His food is beautiful, delicious and relatively low-calorie. Dishes like yellowfin sashimi with sushi rice, mushroom-encrusted fillet steak served with tender stem broccoli, cauliflower and truffle soup and light, airy desserts that are just sweet enough paired with the farms wines make for a restaurant you will want to come back to again and again.
Is it food or is it art? Another restaurant where the view, the wine and the food compete for attention, chef Gregory Czarnecki manages to create plated art that tastes as good as it looks. Waterkloof wines are famous and it’s easy to see why. What I didn’t expect was the plate after plate of jaw-dropping food. Soils and foams and edible “sponges”, dining at Waterkloof Restaurant is not just lunch, it is an experience.
4. Majeka House
Surely one of Stellenbosch’s best kept secrets, MajekaHouse’s breakfast spread of homemade butter and yogurt, freshly baked breads and their signature canele (a small French pastry with a soft and tender custard center and a dark, thick caramelized crust), fresh juices served in tiny medicine bottles (cleansing juice, green energizer and more) and the smoked salmon served in small jars on ice is one of the best winelands breakfasts you’re likely to have. Tea and coffee served in delicate, ornate cups and other small touches make this guest house a favourite with the discerning locals, and it’s not hard to see why.
5. Bodega Restaurant at Dornier
A seasonal menu created around fresh, local ingredients and the farm’s stunning wines, Bodega‘s tapas menu is designed just how I like my food; small, delicious portions that are perfect for sharing. Their patio is the kind of place where you want to spend long, boozy lunches eating with your fingers and sipping on Dornier’s wine.
6. Schoon de Companje
Quickly becoming a Stellenbosch institution, Schoon DeCompanje is a family collective made up of artisanal baker Fritz, his butcher-girl sister Katryn, ice cream maker wife, the gorgeous Chanel, baristas and more. The whole experience of Schoon just feels healthy and good. Breads are made from top quality flours, sure to please even the most gluten-fearing individuals amongst us. Go there for breakfast, lunch, ice cream or to purchase some top-quality meat, just go there.
Easy, relaxed, delicious. This is how I can describe Middelvlei. With their great wines, delicious gourmet boere braai (farmer’s bbq), relaxed atmosphere and possibly two of the nicest owners you’ll ever meet, Middelvlei is a family business with a family-centric mindset. Don’t know anything about wine? Travelling with your kids? There is no snooty winemaker behaviour here. You get the idea that the owners are having as much fun as you are.
A Stellenbosch institution, Spier has recently closed their Moyo Restaurant (it was time, to be honest) but their hotel restaurant is still open and serving delicious food. I love that they are growing their own, organic vegetables and keeping happy chickens for their eggs. Spier embodies the “farm-to-fork” mindset which we have been seeing a lot more of in the Western Cape and which I hope will inspire more of the same in the future.