Category Archives: Restaurants

Lunch at the Old Gaol on Church Square in Swellendam (2016-09-22) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 13 MAR 2017

Sadly, Swellendam’s Old Gaol Restaurant is no longer situated in the historic Old Gaol building (Jail for those of you who prefer the more commonly used spelling these days), but luckily it lives on, now branded as Old Gaol on Church Square, and happily housed on an equally old historic property, right across from Swellendam’s magnificent, unusually lavish NG Moederkerk (church).

The story behind this restaurant which started life, and in fact continues to live on, as an empowerment venture has always been a good one, meaning that a trip here for some traditional breads or Cape Malay dishes is well worth it because it makes you feel good for having done so in the first place.

Unfortunately for us this time around though, our experience was that the food is a bit average and the service a little slow, but thankfully the setting is good and the old house in which the eatery is situated does provide a lot of substance for some good conversation to be had around it.

That said, the traditionally prepared milk tart is fantastic!!

Sadly the weather gods weren’t quite behind us for this particular day of Swellendam exploration (we were spending a couple of nights in nearby Buffeljagsrivier), with the rain putting paid to our excursion plans for the most part.

Mind you, the girls did get to see the slightly disappointing (to me) Faerie Sanctuary, so they were reasonably satisfied at least.

Anyway.

We did buy a lot of good tasting chocolate from the local Chocolat Etc. chocolatier (situated in the Bontebok Tourist Centre near the museum in Swellengrebel Street), so that alone is often usually enough to save pretty much any day!

Plus, a few pictures of the outing.

Also, a map.

Related Link: Old Gaol on Church Square | Facebook

Lunch at Stormsvlei Restaurant and Farm Stall in Stormsvlei (2016-12-30) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 09 MAR 2017

Situated on the banks of the Sonderend River and originally part of a farm that was established in the 1700’s, Stormsvlei (translated as Storm Marsh in English) is a now tiny Overberg hamlet that forms part of the greater Swellendam area.

Originally settled as an outspan for ox-wagons that were travelling the inland route along the coast, it was once an important stopover on the old wagon route, growing around the need for wagon repair facilities and refreshments for passing travellers – especially during the festive season when families from the surrounding areas would make their way to the sea for the holidays.

These days however the hamlet has shrunk to a point of being pretty much non-existent, meaning that you could literally drive past without even knowing that you had missed it!

(Well technically that’s not quite true. The restaurant does its best to make sure that the turn-off to Stormsvlei is relatively well marked along the N2!)

Apart from the Stormsvlei Riverside Cottages, the only other notable spot in Stormsvlei is where the old hotel stands, now rebranded as the Stormsvlei Restaurant and Farm Stall – which is perfect seeing as that was exactly what I was looking for on my journey up to Gouritz with my girls for last year’s December getaway.

Basically, a place that I’ve never stopped at before.

As it turns out, the Stormsvlei Restaurant is a bit of a Swiss Army Knife, in that it acts as a storefront for a lot of local products and produce (including leather couches and dried hydrangeas by Mary Spies, a local legend apparently), a bar, a dining hall, a function venue, as well as a lovely garden retreat – perfect for light meals out in the sun then.

The girls and I took full advantage of the good weather by first knocking back some cool refreshments and then tucking into a small lunch – double for me because as it almost always works out, one of the girls never quite feels like eating on the day!

We took our time wandering about the garden and inspecting all the flowers (including the nearby Hydrangea growing operation), browsing the art and antiques hanging up throughout the venue, and of course enjoying the rather tranquil ambiance – not to mention marvel at the surprisingly large amount of people that kept filtering in for a bite to eat!

I guess that then means that Stormsvlei is a lot more popular with travellers than what I would have thought!

Anyway, a rather rewarding little discovery for us then.

As expected, with it being just myself and the girls, entertainment for me translated into taking a fair bit of photos over the course of our lunch stop (much to the eventual annoyance of both Jessica and Emily I might add).

These are some of the better ones that came limping out of that particular crop:

Bonus: Just in case you also want to make a stop here on your next journey down the N2…

Related Link: Stormsvlei Restaurant and Farm Stall

Celebrating at the Lekke Neh Kids Carnival on Weltevreden Estate in Stellenbosh (2017-01-08) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 27 FEB 2017

We only discovered the beautifully restored, historic Weltevreden Estate last year. Packed with all manner of interesting art and sculptures, the classic Cape Dutch manor house and homestead is home to a brilliant little eatery that trades by the fun name of Lekke Neh, a wine tasting room, conference and wedding venue facilities, exquisite grounds, and most important of all – if you have little kids like we do – a separate, super kid friendly area known as the Kids Carnival – complete with a fantastic selection of playground equipment and of course kid friendly food choices!

As it turns out, we’re not the only ones fond of this place – my sister Claire also rather enjoys it, and so despite them living all the way out in Constantia, we were surprised to get an invite to join them for a family get together for their little boy’s recent birthday celebration.

Needless to say, our girls were rather excited by the prospect of heading out to The Carnival once more!

On such a beautiful summer’s day, the kids had an absolute blast playing on and with all the kids stuff, while we got to sit back as a family and tuck into some rather satisfying food.

(That said, if there is one constant disappointment when visiting The Carnival area at Weltevreden is that the service there is really, really poor. I think we’ve been there now four or five times in total, and each and every time we have come away complaining about how bad the service actually is! Pity.)

Nevertheless, the kids had an absolute ball, and that is what it really is all about, isn’t it?

Anyway, Chantelle and I are still overdue for a proper dining session at Lekke Neh (which really looks good), so yeah, I reckon we’ll be popping in there a couple of times more before they close up shop for the winter season…

Oh, and of course when I could grab a moment, I did wander around a bit in order to snap a few pictures of this beautiful estate (which incidentally has an official heritage status – it was declared a National Monument in 1975!).

Bonus: In case you are keen on discovering this great little gem for yourself, here is a nice and nifty map:

Related Link: Weltevreden Estate | Facebook

Lunch at Skilpadvlei Wine Estate in Stellenbosch (2016-10-20) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 25 FEB 2017

Way back in October last year, on a beautiful and windless Thursday afternoon, Chantelle and I picked the girls up from their respective playschools and headed out towards the Stellenbosch winelands, making our way to the super popular Polkadraai Strawberry Farm for an enjoyable strawberry picking session. (Midweek, because that place is far too busy on a weekend come strawberry picking season!)

Anyway, following our romp in the strawberries (which the girls absolutely loved), we decided to round off the outing with some lunch, and so we did a u-turn and headed back down the road to the nearby Skilpadvlei Wine Estate, known for its local wine, accommodation options, its use as a beautiful wedding venue, and if you have small kids, it’s impressively large wooden jungle gym!

Whilst the inside of the restaurant is always a nice and quirky affair, we almost always sit outside to take in the tranquil vineyard views, and this day was certainly no different. With the place almost entirely to ourselves, we enjoyed a great lunch, with the girls wolfing down their food as fast as possible in order to maximize their play time in Skilpadvlei’s great kids play area.

Not that I was complaining mind you… ;)

Oh, and in case you are wondering about the rather unusual/charming name of this wine estate, i.e. Tortoise Marsh in English (admittedly, perhaps not the best translation), it stems from the large colony of tortoises who purportedly called the vlei home in the 1800’s.

The estate has notably been in the hands of the Joubert family since 1917, with the fully operational 78ha farm being primarily made up of 55ha of vineyards, 3ha of olive groves, and of course the rest seemingly being taken up by that jungle gym of theirs…

Also, I did my best to annoy Chantelle with my camera phone as much as I could on the day:

So, in summary, a good family stop (as always) for us.

Bonus: a handy map so that your kids can bug you to head out that way as well:

Related Link: Skilpadvlei Wine Estate | Facebook

Milktart Pancakes at Koffie Stories in Gouritz (2016-12-31) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 16 FEB 2017

We enjoyed a great end of December family vacation in the seaside holiday/fishing village of Gouritz (aka Gouritsmond) last year. One of the nice little discoveries that we made whilst there was this tiny little coffee shop squeezed into the premises of Swanepoel Algemene Handelaars (General Dealer) on the outskirts of the town.

Koffie Stories (which is now in its new location and under new ownership) has kind of drifted from its original premise as being Gouritz’s first ever coffee shop where you could actually go for a cup of coffee and pay to hear a story told by one of the locals, transforming itself instead into a more conventional coffee shop/eatery (and art gallery), though still sporting a very homely atmosphere.

The coffee is not bad (and well priced), but the real draw card is by far their dessert filled pancakes – with the milk tart filled and peppermint crisp tart filled pancakes demanding that we go for tea pretty much each and every day that we stayed there!

So just a heads up then if you have a sweet tooth and find yourself in Gouritz one day…

(Also map in case you too need to taste these rather tasty dessert pancakes)

Related Link: Koffie Stories | Facebook

Pizza at the Shuntin’ Shed in Bot River (2017-01-04) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 06 FEB 2017

Another one of those little South African towns that have become forgotten once rail became less important and national roads were built to bypass it is Botrivier (or Bot River which doesn’t sound nearly as nice), situated at the bottom of Houw Hoek pass, at the foot of the Hottentots-Holland Mountains.

Despite attempts by the local wine industry (there are in face quite a few wine estates dotted around the area) to try and revive tourism to the Botrivier area in recent years, the town itself remains one not really warranting a visit unless you are heading there for some very specific reason.

Now I was particularly keen on finding new places to stop over the course of our recent December holiday to Gouritz (honestly, I’m a little tired of stopping in Buffeljagsrivier every time we head down to the Mossel Bay/Garden Route area via the N2), and succeeded in doing this on the drive there (Stormsvlei and Riversdale), as well as on the way back home again (Heidelberg).

For our final ‘new stop’ of the trip, I opted to turn into the little town of Botrivier, making my way to the old railway station, specifically in search of the quirky little shunting shed that in 2007 was converted into a bar/restaurant – aptly named The Shuntin’ Shed.

Popular with the locals as well as the biking scene, The Shuntin’ Shed is known for their beer, pizza, sticky ribs and Sunday roast.

The seating is actually made up from converted railway sleeping bunks, and there is a lot of rail-related memorabilia on display, as well as quite a few quirky ‘treasures’ from the 70’s and 80’s dotted all over the place.

In other words, a lot of fun conversation fodder if you are there with people from those particular eras!

Apparently the place can get pretty raucous at times (which makes sense considering that it is at its heart a fun loving pub), but made for a perfectly interesting little late lunch time stop for the girls and myself.

That said, it’s not really all that kid friendly (unless they are REALLY good at entertaining themselves), so perhaps leave them behind before dropping in for a rather unusual pub experience.

Just in case you need to place it on the map:

Related Link: The Shuntin’ Shed | Facebook

Coffee at Delish in Heidelberg (2017-01-04) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 05 FEB 2017

It is hard to miss Delish as you whiz past Heidelberg on the N2 towards the Garden Route, thanks to the bright red shed (the wine shop), large signage and bright yellow sunflowers dotted all around.

The girls and I opted to stop and stretch our legs there on our way back from our delightful year end holiday in Gouritz, and we were pleasantly surprised with what we found.

At its heart, Delish is a restaurant that specialized in homemade goods such as wood-fired artisanal breads, pies, jams and sauces, catering for both the locals and those in a hurry/in need of a leg stretch stop along the N2. (Sunday lunch specials are a big hit apparently).

There are three places to sit down and eat something, namely inside the cosy little restaurant/farm stall, outside under the shaded deck, or out in the garden like what the girls and I picked on the particular morning. (Mind you, I didn’t really have a choice – the girls saw the little jungle gym when we parked!)

As I mentioned earlier, there is a good selection of wines to be bought from the dedicated red wine shed, whilst inside the restaurant there is a space filled with all manner of homemade treats on sale.

It’s a lovely, friendly space, and both the girls and I rather enjoyed our little impromptu stop – even if it was just for something small this time around!

Bonus: In 2015, the team behind Delish made a little video showcasing what they do:

Finally, just in case you need to picture it on a map:

Related Link: Delish | Facebook

Lamb Pie and Chips at Stoepsit in Vleesbaai (2017-01-03) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 15 JAN 2017

December saw us enjoying a nice getaway to Gouritsmond for a bit of a year end holiday. Whilst for the most part of our trip we enjoyed good sunny weather, a little bit of the overcast stuff did creep in towards the end of the stay.

This prompted us to abandon our swimming trunks and head out towards the Vleesbaai/Boggomsbaai area, specifically on the lookout for a little restaurant in middle of nowhere which seemingly is on every local’s radar judging by the amount of cars seemed to always be parked out in front of it!

As it turns out, during the December holiday period, Stoepsit (with its hard to miss red tractor out in front) operates just about every day, and apart from its little curio shop (Die Winkel), great bar setup and reputation as the local wedding venue, it is also home to a brilliantly roomy restaurant area – a great, unconceited place to sit down and enjoy some good food, drink (they have an extensive and well curated wine list) and of course company.

We lucked out in a way in that on the day that we chose to show our faces, they were in fact not too busy, meaning that the girls had more than enough place to run around and make a nuisance of themselves without bothering too many other patrons.

After sampling some interesting d’Cider ciders (produced by Lukas Wentzel, wine maker at Groote Post Vineyards in Darling, i.e. literally on the other side of South Africa!) and browsing the little Stoepsit newsletter (or as they like to tongue in cheek call it ‘die koerant’), Monty, Cheryl and myself set about the difficult task of picking out what to have for lunch from their nice and focused menu.

Funnily enough, all three of us opted for a pie on the day, and I have to say, the resulting lamb pie with chips that was eventually set down before me was absolutely superb!

As mentioned earlier, Stoepsit and its little curio/homemade treats shop is open primarily during the December holidays, though the restaurant does cater for Sunday lunches out of season – being known in particular for its Kontreikos spread. (Coffee and cake are apparently also available on Saturday mornings).

Outside of that, it is also available out of season as a venue for weddings, birthdays and pretty much everything in between. So yes, well worth popping in for a visit if you find yourself in the area on a day that they’re actually open! ;)

Naturally, here is a handy map in case you want to head over and check out the place the next time you are holidaying in the Vleesbaai/Boggomsbaai area:

BONUS: If you look on the map, you will find something marked as Johnson’s Post that seems to sit in the middle of nowhere, but at the same time is accessible from Gouritz, Vleesbaai, and Boggoms Bay. Obviously, curiosity dictated that I needed to seek this place out, and as it turns out, Johnson’s Post is literally the rural farm area’s local post office and general dealer, consisting of essentially one old, slightly run-down house in the middle of nowhere, with a superb view of the Gourits river below it!

Despite the slightly telling name, who would have guessed it!?

Related Link: Stoepsit Restaurant | Facebook

Snacking at Asara Wine Estate & Hotel in Stellenbosch (2016-10-15) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 02 JAN 2017

One Saturday in October last year, Chantelle and I decided to take the girls out for a spot of strawberry picking at Polkadraai in Stellenbosch. However on arrival at the strawberry farm it was immediately clear that pretty much the entire Cape Town must have had the same idea as us, and so we did a u-turn and headed back towards Stellenbosch, looking for something else to do instead.

Then a brainwave hit me – I’d previously visited the five star Asara Wine Estate & Hotel in Stellenbosch for a business meeting with Distell, and have wanted to show the place off to Chantelle ever since. So I took a chance and turned in by Asara’s manned gates and stated that I was off to visit the deli (which I think I remember having spotted that last time I was there).

As it turns out, they do have a deli on-site – and surprisingly it is a pretty cool little find.

If you aren’t familiar with Asara, then know that it is an award-winning wine estate and 5-star hotel billed as being situated in the heart of the Cape Winelands. Breathtaking views, tranquil atmosphere, upmarket service – well you get the picture.

Previously known as Raphael’s (where I previously had enjoyed a lunch), mise en place is the new destination fine dining restaurant at Asara, while the Sansibar is their casual, bistro-style dining option.

However, the spot that we were interested in seeing as we had our two little ones tagging along with us was Asara’s main courtyard and more specifically, the deli that then opens up onto it.

I was super surprised to find the deli stocked with all manner of exciting baked treats, and was even more taken aback at how well priced the finger snacks were – pretty soon we had placed an order for all manner of niceties, before selecting a table outside and then sitting back as our array of treats was brought out to us in a manner which I’m more than happy to dub as being a ‘simple high tea’ experience! ;)

The view from the courtyard is spectacular, the service is top notch, and amazingly, this was such a cool, well priced treat that all three of my girls thoroughly enjoyed!

(In other words, I guess we’ll have to head back that way sometime soon then – though maybe without the girls this time around so that Chantelle and I can give some of their other offerings a proper go…)

As always, a useful map:

Related Link: Asara Wine Estate & Hotel | Facebook