Category Archives: Restaurants

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

Pulled Pork from the Hickory Shack in Grabouw (2016-12-22) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 01 JAN 2017

The Hickory Shack has been operating for about a year now, situated just past Grabouw on the Thandi Estate off the N2 in the Elgin Valley. The concept behind this interesting eatery is a simple one – bring an authentic Texan smokehouse experience to South Africa.

To this purpose the team have a dedicated smokehouse shack set up (complete with menacing skull hanging off the side), in which dwells a simple but effective brick and mortar fire pit where the pit master then works his magic from.

As you would then expect, the menu contains a lot of slow roasted meat, including the ever popular brisket, mouthwatering good pulled pork, and ribs. The food options are further complemented by a great selection of local craft beers, and of course, this being Elgin, all the locally produced ciders are front and center as well.

Music from the South is the soundtrack for the restaurant, so go in knowing that you are about to hear a lot of banjo being played (honestly, it gets a bit much after a while), but nevertheless, you can just imagine that the vibe gets pretty fun on a full house evening at this slightly remote destination!

The girls loved the freshly pressed apple juices, Chantelle and I loved the handcut chips, excellent meat and brilliant array of interesting sauces – not to mention the fun presentation of the food, all of which means that I guess then that we’ll be making a return run to the Hickory Shack sooner than later.

It is after all, just over the mountain behind us…

As always, a handy map: (Not that you can miss it though – not with that beautifully cared for, bright red, classic Chevrolet Apache truck standing out in front of the shack!)

Related Link: Hickory Shack | Facebook

Food and Sculptures at Tokara Delicatessen in Stellenbosch (2016-09-17) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 29 DEC 2016

I used my weekends to visit a LOT of different places this year. One of the more visually interesting outings came about in September, when I took my three girls out for a light lunch at the Tokara Delicatessen, situated on the stunning Tokara Wine and Olive estate at the top of Helshoogte Pass outside Stellenbosch.

Tokara is itself a very upmarket estate, so it is pleasing that the team saw it fit to create a secondary, child friendly venue in the form of the excellent Tokara Delicatessen.

Given the farm’s elevated location, you are afforded stunning views of the surrounding mountains, down into the valley below, and all the way across False Bay for that matter. Both the vineyards and olive groves stretch as far as the eye can see, and picturesque is really the only word that fits the scene as you arrive in Tokara’s parking area.

Tokara is know for four things – its wines (made of grapes from three separate districts – Stellenbosch, Elgin and Hemel-en-Aarde), its range of exquisite olive oils, it’s leading fine dining restaurant, and its extensive collection of art and sculptures.

It is this love of art and sculpture that first greets you as you exit the car, with a wide variety of modern sculpture dotted all around the grounds of the Delicatessen and neighbouring Olive Barn.

Peacocks roam freely and visitors enter the ground with an immediate sense of wonder and awe thanks to the beautiful and visually interesting surroundings.

There is a beautiful deck outside the simple but elegantly designed deli, great for warm sunny days, while the cosy interior with its walls of glass simultaneously makes for the perfect winter venue.

There is a large lawn for kids to run around and play on, with the garden itself also dotted with a host of very interesting sculptures to take in (and in some cases, play on!).

The deli’s food is of course much easier on the wallet than Tokara’s restaurant proper, but pleasingly the deli’s food is just as good, with us thoroughly enjoying what was set down before us on the day.

Naturally, Chantelle was in love with every single aspect of the place, whilst the girls were far more interested in running about outside than sitting inside with boring old mom and dad!

(Obviously I did a lot of strolling about as well, snapping loads of photos and ambling about the openly accessible vineyards and olive groves out back whenever the opportunity arose.)

With lunch done and Chantelle’s interior/product browsing curiosity now sated, the girls and I then trundled down Tokara’s sculpture path, an easy walk through the olive trees and then down the road to Tokara proper, with the route again being dotted all along with some interesting sculptures and pretty flowers to boot.

So in summary: Even if it is just a visit to the kid friendly, more accessible Tokara Delicatessen at Tokara, you can’t help coming away from that place feeling just that little more… sophisticated.

Highly recommended.

Here is a useful map if you wish to explore the exquisite world of Tokara yourself:

Related Link: Tokara Delicatessen | Tokara

Bratwurst from Hoghouse BBQ & Bakery at Spier in Stellenbosch (2016-09-11) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 08 NOV 2016

Based in Ndabeni, Hoghouse Brewing Co. started out as a craft brewery before expanding into artisan bread making and believe it or not, Texan-style smokehouse barbeque food. Following a successful season or two of their popular bakery at the ever beautiful Spier Wine Estate outside Stellenbosch, the Hoghouse BBQ & Bakery is now back bigger and better, with a giant new smoker and a tasty barbeque menu to go along with it!

sdr

Having come to Spier for a bit of bird watching at Eagle Encounters, we decided to give the Hoghouse BBQ & Bakery a go for a lightning quick lunch – and pleasingly, despite the lack of a booking, they were able to help us out with a small table right before the lunch rush began!

sdr

If you are looking for smoked meat decadence, then Hoghouse’s menu certainly doesn’t disappoint, but because we were a  little on the clock, it had to be something small – hence some handmade fries for the girls to nibble on (they were too busy rolling around on Spier’s lawns in any event to even bother with actual food!), a good looking salad for Chantelle, and a bratwurst hotdog of all things for me.

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Mind you, I wasn’t just content with savouring their food alone – no, I also enjoyed one of their signature craft brews which happily turned out to be well worth it in terms of flavour.

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The staff were awesome, the vibe really cool, and surrounded by the Cape Dutch architecture and beauty that is Spier’s grounds, pretty much everything now points to the fact that we need to head out that way again for a proper lunch as soon as the chance arises.

After all, have you seen that BBQ listing on their menu!!!

A handy map:

Related Link: Hoghouse BBQ & Bakery | Facebook | Spier Wine Estate