Tag Archives: restaurant

Brisket at The Hickory Shack in Grabouw (2017-03-26) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 23 APR 2017

Last year December, right before our big Christmas family lunch, we ate for the very first time at the Hickory Shack in Grabouw, a Texan style smokehouse famed for both its brisket and use of a proper, Southern-style fire pit to prepare it in.

Now purely because Chantelle had already settled on making brisket for aforementioned Christmas lunch, neither of us ate Hickory Shack’s signature dish on that particular day, meaning that a return visit to give the famous brisket a go was very much in order then.

(For reference, first time around, I tucked into their delicious pulled pork, while Chantelle got dirty with some baby ribs).

So come late March this year, as is our usual style, we rocked up on a Sunday afternoon at lunchtime with no reservation whatsoever (we never actually plan on going out to lunch – it is almost always a last second decision), something that immediately bit us in the bum because the main restaurant area (the covered deck) was already all taken – resulting in the girls and myself taking a small round table right next to the smokehouse itself.

(Pleasingly, they were plenty busy, meaning that we weren’t the only table out in the sun!)

As I mentioned at the start of this post, brisket was very much on the menu for both Chantelle and myself, and while I was more than pleased when the flavourful cut of meat was placed down in front of me after a lengthy wait, sadly for Chantelle, she found herself less than enamored with a meal that had just too much fat in it for her liking.

True, she had a point, but I found myself enjoying it regardless. The flavour was all there, the chunky, handcut chips were great, the mix of sauces on the table sublime – all of which was nicely complemented by some good craft beer.

In other words, nothing for me to really complain about then!

Seeing as I took more than enough photos on our first trip to the Hickory Shack (which are already sitting quite happily at home on this blog), I was much more refrained with the phone camera this time around…

So in summary then: Coming across this style of food is still reasonably uncommon here in the area, thus making the Hickory Shack well worth a stop if you happen to find yourself driving through Elgin with a hungry belly and a taste for meat!

Related Link: Hickory Shack | Facebook

Scones, Cream and Jam at Hillcrest Berry Orchards in Stellenbosch (2017-03-05) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 09 APR 2017

As you drive through the Banhoek Valley on your way to Franschhoek, just before Pniel you’ll encounter an insignificant little entrance marked with a small signboard for Hillcrest Berry Orchards.

This so happens to be an old favourite of Chantelle’s, and we are almost always guaranteed to pull over for a quick coffee stop every time we find ourselves driving along this particular route!

Hillcrest Berry Orchards is as the name suggests, a farm known for growing a lot of varied, good quality berries. They are perhaps even more known for the wonderful jams that they produce from all these berries, though we know them almost exclusively for their wonderful little restaurant and tea garden setup – with the tables along the porch giving one an absolutely stunning view across the beautiful Banhoek Valley landscape.

The scones there are particular favourites of ours, though you must be sure to select the option with the Devonshire clotted cream! It is always great fun selecting something new to try among their large selection of jams, and from the look of things, our girls might be growing up to appreciate the scones too!

This particular outing happened as part of a fairly lengthy early March Sunday afternoon drive for the four of us  – first lunch at Eaglevlei outside Stellenbosch, then play time at The Carnival on the Weltevreden Estate, followed by a drive through Franschhoek, over the pass and on to Theewaterskloof Dam, before heading through the picturesque Viljoen’s pass to reach Grabouw, before finally shooting back home via Sir Lowry’s Pass!

(No sir, no messing about for us when it comes to lazy Sunday afternoon drives! :P)

Anyway, it really is a lovely little late afternoon spot to stop for coffee, well made scones and some particularly delicious jams.

Related Link: Hillcrest Berry Orchards | Facebook

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

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

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

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

Shopping at the Dassiesfontein Farm Stall (2016-09-23) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 21 NOV 2016

Having thoroughly enjoyed a midweek getaway to Stonehill River Lodge in Buffeljagsrivier (near Swellendam), we were making our way back home on a warm Friday afternoon via the N2 when for the first time ever (note: I’m 36 and we’ve travelled the N2 since I was a baby),  curiousity got the better of me and I decided to pull off at the Dassiesfontein farm stall – which stands literally alone in the middle of nowhere between Caledon and Botrivier.

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Chantelle and the girls were a bit grumpy at having been woken up by me leaving the highway, but they soon cheered up when a) the girls spotted the lovely donkey encampment next to Dassiesfontein’s parking area and b) Chantelle discovered the incredible treasure trove of antiques, art, fashion and food that this rather incredible place actually houses!

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Back to point a) though. Amazingly the girls were far more enamored with the donkeys than I thought they would be. It might be their smaller stature, or perhaps because of the fluffier youngling in the pack, but Jessica and Emily (although the latter from an always safe distance) seemed to both genuinely enjoy interacting with these furry four legged beasts.

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Anyway, I digress. Back to the brilliant farm stall itself. Originally the Dassiesfontein farm stall was little more than a couple of homemade goods being sold from two wagons alongside the N2, before the farm stall was eventually built in 1995. The restaurant was added a year later, and believe it or not, Dassiesfontein has been a super success from then onwards.

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These days though, the quaint thatched roof that characterised the farm stall is nowhere in sight, having been completely covered with end to end solar panels, a big 60.13 kwp generating project brought to life by the team over at RenEnergy.

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Inside however is where the real magic lies. The first thing to note is that Dassiesfontein is much larger inside than what it looks from the outside. Each room kind of spills into the next, and the smorgasboard of items on sale is simply put, jaw dropping.

Antiques, art, clothing, shoes, kids, decor, furniture, food – you name it and they sell it.

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Without a doubt, if Chantelle was here by herself (i.e. with her wallet and without her disapproving of clutter husband), I guarantee she would quite easily be lost for a couple of hours, only to then return with a boot full of stuff!

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Incredibly enough (despite that fact I suppose that I already mentioned this fact in passing), Dassiesfontein even houses a restaurant in the middle of all the muddle, a restaurant which is known for its proper ‘boerekos’ served in portions that well, ‘skrik vir niks’. (Plus, Chantelle was gushing like a fangirl when she spotted their ‘Dover’ cast iron stoves in action!)

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Oh, and then there is the cheese and dairy on sale. So, so much cheese, not to mention the butter which was being sold at such a good price that Chantelle immediately grabbed my wallet and bought a box for her baking.

Right, looks like we’ll be stopping here a little more often now that we’ve finally ‘discovered’ the place!

Also, I have no idea where all these photos come from by the way – because there are very definitely signs up all over the place explicitly reminding you that the taking of photos inside the shopping area is strictly not welcome:

It’s difficult to miss because it is literally the only thing standing in the middle of nowhere, but just in case you need a map…

Related Link: Dassiesfontein Farm Stall | Facebook

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!

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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!

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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