Tag Archives: restaurant

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

Scones and Juice at Terra Madre in the Elgin Valley (2016-09-10) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 06 NOV 2016

The exuberant and bubbly chef, restaurateur, foodie and… property entrepreneur Nicole Precoudis certainly has more than just a little experience when it comes to the food business, having both owned and worked in plenty of restaurants over the course of her career.

Grabouw’s Elgin Valley region then most certainly lucked out when she decided to make it her home, and in 2013, following a stint as partner in and head chef of Oak Valley’s The Pool Room (which both Chantelle and I love), she thew open the doors of her and her family’s 18.5 hectare working apple and olive farm and launched the Terra Madre Market, which (open on only a few select occastions) specialized in “slow-cooked regional fare, farm fresh produce, sourdough bread, baked goods and more – all prepared on the farm”.

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Fast forward to September 2016, and Terra Madre, now producing an excellent champagne style apple cider (the Terra Madre Pomme Classique Dry Elgin Cider) as well as the most delicious fresh pressed, single varietal apple and pear juice that I have ever tasted, launched their Food Barn in order to complement their growing food delivery business.

Somehow, I managed to catch wind of this opening, and because I was looking for something to do over the weekend with my girls, I headed out to the Elgin Valley and turned off onto the Viljoenshoop Road, the first time that I’ve ever actually done that funnily enough.

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Although the signage is a bit poor, the GPS got me to the right gate, which confusingly was closed. However, nothing that a quick chat over the intercom couldn’t solve, so a quick farm road hop and the girls and I ended our drive up to the Terra Madre Barn – which was open for business… more or less.

Because I was coming in blind, I was kind of half expecting a little deli or something along those lines – however, the actual setting is a by far cooler one. In essence, you phone up ahead, book a lunch slot, and then get treated to a proper family luncheon out in the middle of the orchard  – and by the smell of and description of the food being prepared in the kitchen, those lucky people who had gotten this part right were definitely in for a major treat!

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Naturally, opening day, as it so often does, was not really going entirely to plan, with a lot of running around and things happening all over the place. However, the wonderfully affable Nicole and her family immediately made us feel welcome, and so we ordered some nice little scones off of the bake table and settled in to enjoy the surroundings.

Unfortunately for us though, in all the chaos of everyone getting ready for the actual lunch service, our order was kind of forgotten about – though that said, the girls didn’t seem to mind much. They were pretty much all over the place, making themselves at home, running around everywhere, sprinkled with bouts of Jessica randomly handing out hugs to anyone she could find!

Nicole brought some of the Terra Madre apple juice for us to try, and it is by far the best apple juice that I have ever tasted – a sentiment with which both the girls wholeheartedly appear to agree with. (Also, when our coffee and scones did eventually get served, well let’s just say that the scones were some of the best that I’ve ever had as well!)

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We thanked everyone for their hospitality, and made ourselves scarce before the real lunch time guests arrived, but not before we of course took a stroll around the grounds to admire the orchards and surroundings.

(That said, both Jessica and Emily were far to enthralled with the little puppy running about outside to care much about anything else that I was trying to show them!)

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So now that I know the setup (and apparently it has since been tweaked a little bit), I look forward to our next visit to Terra Madre where I can show off what looks to be an absolute gastronomic treat to Chantelle – making sure of course to take full credit for discovering this gem before she did.

A map in case you want to explore this interesting addition to the Elgin Valley tourism scene:

Related Link: Terra Madre | Facebook

Lunch at Beulah Farm Deli outside Yzerfontein (2016-09-04) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 29 SEP 2016

Having spent a lovely Sunday chasing wild flowers in the Postberg section of the West Coast National Park with Chantelle, the kids, and my folks, we decided to end off a successful day with a bite to eat. Unfortunately, the Geelbek Restaurant inside the park was a little too busy for our liking, and so we exited the park, put in some petrol at Yzerfontein, and then popped into Beulah Farm Deli for a (very) late lunch.

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Interestingly enough, this visit to Beulah came almost exactly a year after we had first discovered it, and there have been some subsequent changes to this quaint eatery that Chantelle so immediately had fallen in love with the first time around.

Most noticeable is of course the fact that the pork charcuterie specialists Eighteen94 CureSmiths have moved out, rebranding themselves as The Flying Pig cureSmiths and setting up shop in Darling instead – though their cured meat is still available in the deli section of Beulah. In their place is now a bakery operated by Brett and Anli Nortier of Rosemead Artisan, meaning that all of a sudden Beulah Farm Deli now sports a lot more baked goods on the menu!

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Honestly, I’m a little less excited about the place than the first time we experienced them. To me they’ve lost a bit of that sense of being hip, a sort of place that would sit perfectly in somewhere trendy like say Obs (Observatory) in Cape Town, and have instead embraced a more practical, West Coast farm stall eatery approach. Nevertheless, the interior remains ‘interesting’, and the food and coffee were perfectly good.

(Of course, I could be talking rubbish because Chantelle still seems to like it very much. Plus, the place seems to be very popular with both the locals and travelers alike!)

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Anyway, after a pleasant sit down bite to eat, refreshed and ready for the road (it had after all been a very long day of driving), we said our goodbyes and headed back down the R27 – because if you live in Gordon’s Bay like we do, then you still have quite a long road ahead of you in order to get back home! :)

The deli itself is essentially right next to the more well known West Coast Farm Stall. I’ve submitted the location to Google Maps, but it might not be showing up for everyone just yet. Nevertheless, here is the map as it currently stands:

Related Link: Beulah Farm Deli | Rosemead Artisan

Play at Vredenhof Organic Estate in Somerset West (2016-09-03) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 25 SEP 2016

Having been tasked with entertaining ourselves for the day while Chantelle treated her mother with a birthday high tea at the Mount Nelson, the girls and I stumbled across a great little find in the Somerset West area – Vredenhof Organic Estate.

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Billing itself as an organic, eco friendly estate of the Cape Winelands, the estate is run by a Swiss family that immigrated to South Africa from Geneva, Switzerland, settling at Vredenhof in 2002.

Following their belief that processed foods are inherently nutrient poor and that poor food quality is a leading cause of many health problems, they established Vredenhof as an organic farm with a farm store in order to supply locals concerned with their health with good quality, fresh organic produce all year round.

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Vredenhof itself is a farm of 27 hectares situated on Bredell Road between Stellenbosch and Somerset West which has been certified organic (complying with European organic standards) every year without interruption since 2004, either by AFRISCO or SGS.

Around 50 different herbs, fruits and vegetables are grown, and you are guaranteed to almost always find something rather unusual being grown out in their fields. Organic seeds are both produced and bought, with sowing and harvesting happening all year around.

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Of course, absolutely nothing of the above are things that interest the girls or myself – what we were however interested in seeing was Vredenhof Organic Estate’s absolutely fabulous play area, which simply put, one of the better ones that I’ve seen in a long time. Covered in wall to wall Disney story murals, the play area features wooden castles, walkways, a pirate ship, and even a gypsy caravan.

(In other words, expect to lose your child to their play area for more than just a little while!)

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On arrival, the girls and I first explored the lower ends of the premises, playing with the giant chess set, examining the mini golf course, and of course interacting with the pigs, goats, and yes chickens that roam about in the pens.

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From there we had a stroll through the rose garden, wandered about the gazeebo, examined the giant stone harp and bucket well water features, looked at the seedlings in the nursery section, splashed in the fountain, admired the art in the art studio, studied the carrots and other vegetables in the farm shop – and then sat down for some coffee, milkshake – and delicious carrot cake.

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It was at this point that my kids ran off to play, leaving me to enjoy a peaceful morning of contemplation over a nice cup of coffee.

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Also, I took a LOT of photos on the morning – much to the annoyance of my kids of course!

Here’s a handy map if you want your kids to experience this brilliant playground for themselves:

Related Link: Vredenhof Organic Estate | Facebook

Fish and Chips at The Boathouse Restaurant in Kleinmond (2016-08-20) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 24 AUG 2016

Chantelle and I decided to make an impromptu afternoon trip out to Kleinmond with the kids, making our way past Rooi Els, Pringle Bay and Betty’s Bay via the beautiful coastal route that is Clarence Drive.

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After a bit of driving about and looking at all the houses that make up this small coastal town (including the famous – or perhaps infamous – Western Province rugby supporters’ home that is literally decked out from top to bottom in blue, white and disas!), we next headed down to the popular tourist spot that is Harbour Road, opting to grab a bite to eat from The Boathouse Restaurant – pretty much because the girls were ready to rebel if they didn’t get ice cream right that moment!

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Reminiscent of old fishing villages dotted along the southern US coastline, Harbour Road is actually a pretty nice, albeit tiny, waterfront development that puts together a great mix of tourist friendly, colourful shops and restaurants pretty much down a single road, with everything clustered around Kleinmond’s popular fisherman harbour.

Mountain peaks behind you, ocean to the front – it really is a beautiful location to sit and enjoy a beer in!

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With her face still freshly painted following Courtney’s birthday party in the morning, Jessica selected which seats we were to sit in (she chose an outside table with a comfy couch at the side), and after ordering some ice cream for the girls, Chantelle and I got down to the hard business of selecting what we ourselves actually wanted for lunch.

As it turns out, fish and chips at the Boathouse is a great choice!

(Also, the surprisingly named Sxollie Cider happens to be quite nice as well. Go figure.)

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Not a bad way to start an afternoon that would still see us take a stroll around the small harbour area, as well as brave a small section of the neat coastal walkway!

Related Link: The Boathouse | Harbour Road

Exploring the Spice Route in Paarl (2016-08-06) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 16 AUG 2016

Chantelle and I enjoyed a rather good weekend at the start of August, with the two of us enjoying a rare date night that saw us catch a South African production of the musical comedy “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” at Theatre on the Bay in Camps Bay. Unfortunately, despite being technically good and a well performed routine, neither Chantelle nor I walked out of the theatre having enjoyed the show, and so instead, took a scenic drive around the coast, before ending up back in Bellville where we let nostalgia dictate that we enjoy a midnight milkshake (and pizza) at the almost always dodgy (at night) Bellville institution that is Starlite Diner.

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Having spent the night at Monty and Cheryl’s place (that’s where the girls were sleeping), the next morning saw us pop through to the Willowbridge shopping centre in Durbanville, where we met up with the visiting Terrance over some coffee and tart at Pulp, giving Chantelle at last a chance to catch up with him and his travels.

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The girls enjoyed their time too (the outdoor jungle gym is always a hit!).

From there, leaving Terrance behind, we then next embarked on a drive along the N1 to Paarl, where despite some phone GPS hiccups, we successfully navigated our way to Paarl’s popular tourist attraction, the Spice Route.

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Located on what was previously known as the Seidelberg Wine Estate, the Spice Route is the brainchild of successful and well known South African wine producer Charles Back, who first started work on the project around 1997.

Home to the Spice Route Winery, the unique Spice Route is intended as a tourist and locals friendly hub that curates some of the finest artisans, allowing them to showcase their produce and share their knowledge with both the public and each other.

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Currently the Spice Route is home to thirteen fantastic ventures. In terms of restaurants, you have the Barley & Biltong, La Grapperia, DV Cottage Cafe, and the popular Bertus Basson offerings. There’s also cured meats from Richard Bosman, and treats from Brenda’s Deli. In terms of alcohol, you obviously have Spice Route Winery, Wilderer Distillery as well as one of the granddaddies in the current craft brewery game, Cape Brewery Co., better known as CBC.

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The Trading Company has all manner of interesting items for sale, while artists display their varied work at The Barn Artist’s studio gallery. Beautifully ornate glass creations are created and displayed at the exciting Red Hot Glass studio, while those in search of chocolate decadence definitely need to pop in to DV Artisan Chocolate for a tasting session!

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After strolling around and taking in all the sights and sounds, we settled on enjoying some handmade ice cream, with Jess immediately diving straight into her chocolate cone and Emily devouring whatever ice cream dared come close to her face!

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Although technically kid friendly (there is a kids area, though it caters better to the slightly older children), I think the Spice Route is better explored as an adult, meaning that this is now firmly on our list of places to visit the next time Chantelle and I manage to slip away for some weekend time without the kids!

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The views from the elevated estate are magnificent, the vibe is fantastic, and if you haven’t visited the Spice Route before, then you definitely should make a plan to do so, because it is simply put, fantastic.

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And yes, of course I took pictures!

(I wanted to also pay a visit to the iconic Taalmonument while in the area, making it as far as the gates at the top of the hill, but unfortunately by that stage both girls were tired, grumpy and half asleep – meaning that I will have to tackle that trip another day!)

Related Link: Spice Route | Wikipedia | Spice Route Winery

Catching up with Terrance at Wild Clover and Weltevreden (2016-07-30) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 09 AUG 2016

It has been five years now since good friend Terrance (I’ve known him since school days) left our sunny shores for a life of teaching English in Japan. He has of course subsequently made a life for himself over there (Ryan and I were lucky enough to attend his wedding in Komagane back in 2014), so I doubt that he will ever call this part of the world home again.

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He has however been pretty good in coming back to South Africa in order to spend time with his folks from time to time, and as circumstance would have it, this year we got to catch up twice – back in February where I introduced him to the Vergelegen Estate (and caught a screening of Deadpool in the process), and now again at the end of July.

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This time around though, as both he and I were flying solo (more or less – I still had the girls with me), I opted for a kid friendly venue which lead to us meeting up at Wild Clover, a frequent favourite spot for the Gordon Bay Lötters!

The girls and I arrived a little early, so we did a spot of exploring around first, but pretty soon we grabbed a table (they have a new chef, so the place is pretty popular again!) and were joined by an eager Mr. Brown for some craft beer, pizza and a great catch up session!

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Still eager for some more time swapping stories, I next suggested that we move up the road to Weltevreden, as the play area at The Carnival (which we only recently discovered) is nicely shaded and makes for a better afternoon play spot than Wild Clover.

Pleasingly he was keen, and so a quick drive later (Jess enjoyed being his passenger in the Citi Golf), we were once again seated and chatting, with the girls happily running around searching for ladybirds and whatnot.

All in all, not a bad way of catching up on all the news from the Land of the Rising Sun! :)

Related Link: Terrance Brown | Weltevreden | Wild Clover