Tag Archives: restaurant

Scones, Tea and Jam at Hillcrest Berry Orchards outside Stellenbosch (2020-08-30) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 13 MAR 2021

Without a doubt, Hilllcrest Berry Orchards has now for years been our family’s most favourite spot to tuck into scones with jam and cream. Perched up high on one of the slopes of the gorgeous Banhoek Valley, on the outskirts of Stellenbosch just before you reach Pniel, its welcoming terrace offers spectacular views over the surrounding mountains and is perfectly positioned to catch all those warming rays of sunlight. In other words, the perfect spot for a cup of tea or a plunger of coffee!

Hillcrest Berry Orchards is of course primarily a berry producing farm, though they are far more famous for their huge array of delectable jams produced from those aforementioned berries, packaged in their very recognizable, cutest of little glass jars. The farm shop is where you’ll find a full assortment of frozen berries, jams, dessert toppings, relishes, jellies, berry vinegars, liqueured berries and gifts, as well as freshly picked berries when they are in season during the summer months. In addition to the farming and jam producing activities, the farm also offers accommodation options in the form of two comfortable self catering cottages.

Then of course there is the eatery section of the business. Armed with a cosy fireplace warmed interior section and the gorgeous outdoor terrace, Hillcrest Berry Orchards is open for the always important business of eating throughout the year, offering a good choice of meal options that cover both breakfast and lunch, as well as a very enjoyable high tea experience. That said, we pretty much only ever visit there for their delicious scones, topped with a selection of interesting jams and of course that divine Devonshire clotted cream of theirs!

Obviously, with the various Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns that kept us indoors pretty much the whole of last year, getting out and about really wasn’t a thing (for anyone), but we did at least manage to squeeze one very unplanned visit to a quiet Hillcrest Berry Orchards in, following a day of escape to see the fields of yellow canola at Dassiesfontein and gather chocolate supplies from Huguenot Fine Chocolates in Franschhoek.

Lemon Meringue at the Rambling Rose in Montagu (2020-10-28) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 08 MAR 2021

It is funny, but when we did finally manage a Covid-19 escape to Badensfontein in Montagu, I was so in need of a break that we didn’t actually do a heck of a lot while away on holiday – which as anyone who reads this blog would know, is a rather strange thing for us indeed. So although we did drive around the town for a bit of sightseeing, fulfilled an order for Monty at Drie Berge Winery, poked our noses in at Capedry home of the Cape Dried Fruit Packers, petted the bunnies at Guano Cave Resort, and watched the nesting sacred ibises from the Leidam bird hide, most of our holiday time was spent back in the cottage, sitting on the stoep and admiring the view.

That’s not to say though that we didn’t nip out for a treat to eat every now and then, and on the day that Chantelle left us to go back home and bake, we finished off her stay with a little sightseeing jaunt around the town, followed by some coffee and lemon meringue at Tripadvisor darling, the Rambling Rose. Situated in an old building along the main road (technically part of the R62 route) that runs through the small town of Montagu, the Rambling Rose describes itself as a country kitchen – a mix of a coffee shop, a farm shop, a bakery, and given the amount of curios and gifts on offer, a little dose of treasure shop as well.

We sat down to tuck into our lemon meringue, chocolate brownies, coffee, and waffles with ice cream treats in the comfortable courtyard, where the girls immediately busied themselves playing with the various cats walking between the tables. While we were suitably impressed with Rambling Rose’s Covid-19 protocols, we did unfortunately hit them on a day when the baked goods were unfortunately a little on the old/dry side of the scale, which was a pity because overall the setting was cozy and very welcoming.

In any event, it did get us out of the house and allow us to bid a fond farewell to Chantelle as she hit the long road back home to Gordon’s Bay, leaving the girls and I to pick up supplies and head back out into the hills to Badensfontein, so that I could set up yet another evening braai while the girls entertained themselves with a refreshing splash in the splash pool.

Breakfast at Aan De Eike in Swellendam (2021-01-12) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 07 MAR 2021

Earlier this year we stayed in Swellendam at the comfortable little Aan de Heuvel self-catering cottages for a couple of days. As it turns out though, Aan de Heuvel actually forms part of the Aan de Leisure Collection, a small enterprise that operates a number of accommodation options in South Africa’s third oldest town, including the lovely Aan de Oever Guest House, the mid-range and affordable Aan de Eike Guest House, the Battenbergs self-catering, and of course the aforementioned Aan de Heuvel cottages.

Aan De Eike is the largest offering in the group’s stable and as such acts as their official base of operations and home to all their facilities, including a travel desk, souvenir and gift shop, large outdoor swimming pool, a small gym, sauna, and of all things, a bicycle wash bay. (Mountain biking is a popular pastime in Swellendam). There is also a small on-site restaurant, and having been alerted to it when we earlier had picked up the keys to our cottage from the office over there, we decided to one morning rather indulge in something a little nicer than just settle for boring plain toast or cereal back at the house.

Sitting on the main road and open to the public, this welcoming space acts as a neat little Swellendam hub, and we enjoyed taking advantage of their wide open space, lush green lawn, and of course plentiful shade from all the surrounding oak trees.

Pork Belly Lunch at Sweetwell outside Stellenbosch (2021-01-16) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 06 MAR 2021

Having enjoyed an enthralling, thought-provoking morning of wandering about the magnificent Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden in Paradyskloof, Stellenbosch, Chantelle and I decided to further make the most of not having the kids with us by going out for a nice lunch. In the mood for Eisbein and knowing fully well that they do indeed do a good one, I suggested the restaurant at Sweetwell, situated along the R44 on a farm plot in Raithby (on the outskirts of Stellenbosch).

Pulling in at the Hennie & Allison Cronje owned farm, the clouds were grey and heavy but the rain thankfully all gone, meaning that the ivy laced, hydrangea decorated terrace was looking mighty inviting, even more so thanks to the absolute dearth of people. Again, great for us wanting to avoid crowds during this Covid-19 pandemic, but of course horrible for people trying to keep their businesses alive. Anyway, we walked up to the stoep, located a table and got comfortable, only for me to come to the stark realization that Eisbein was not currently on the menu.

Of course, in retrospect this makes complete sense. Eisbein is something that has to be prepared long in advance, and so if you aren’t guaranteed customers, it is probably best not to offer it at all. At this point in time, reducing wastage HAS to be on the mind of anyone running a food related business, that’s for sure! In any event, no problem, because the one thing Sweetwell also does particularly well is pork belly, and as expected, it was decadently good -that pork crackling, pure genius! (Of course, this was unfortunately still during the alcohol ban phase of our South African Covid-19 lockdowns, so no delicious wine to pair it with – and as we all now know, Coke Zero doesn’t quite cut it! :D)

Although their on-site deli is now a thing of the past, Sweetwell is also home to two pretty neat lifestyle/home decor businesses in the form of Rustic Rose and Casa Caro Lifestyle, plus there is then Sweetwell as an event venue option itself, with its pretty, manicured exterior and its vibrant, visually interesting interior – perfect for high teas, bridal showers and the like.

Thin Crust Pizza at Woodpecker Pizzadeli in Swellendam (2021-01-13) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 04 MAR 2021

Having already mentioned that we woke up birthday girl Emily with cupcakes and LEGO, darted about the Bontebok National Park in search of buck, and devoured a waffle with ice cream at Ikigai, it is also worth noting that after a bit of swim time back at the guest house, we again ventured out onto the quiet, shaded streets of Swellendam to snuffle out some supper in the form of pizza from the aptly named Woodpecker Pizzadeli.

As it turns out, the Woodpecker Pizzadeli is actually the on-site restaurant attached to the Early Bird Guesthouse, serving a variety of meals (including vegetarian options) and, when not in Covid-19 lockdown mode, offering a wide selection of wines and craft beers too. That said, with the word ‘pizza’ so delightfully highlighted by being stuffed in the restaurant’s very own name, we were pretty much there for one thing and one thing only!

Pleasingly (for us, obviously not so much for the restaurant), the eatery was extremely quiet, giving us the space and confidence to take our time in sitting down to tuck in and enjoy their delightfully thin crust pizza combinations. Plus, as a completely unexpected nifty little bonus, the guys even showed up with some ice cream and a balloon for the birthday girl following our mains.

Springbok Venison at Tangram at Durbanville Hills Wine Estate (2021-02-24) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 27 FEB 2021

Generally when the core Touchwork team gets together for lunch it is always someplace in the Steenberg/Westlake region of Cape Town, which makes completes sense given that it is both the area where our office resides as well as where everyone but me is actually based. I’ve been working as a software developer for the company since 2007, and although we were a decent sized team for a fair while, it’s actually now been a number of years that I’ve been working completely alone, developing, maintaining, and managing our Kinetica SaaS platform.

This is perfectly fine of course, primarily because Kinetica is something that I created more than 10 years ago and thus have a personal vested interest in seeing it stay alive and thriving, but in the time of a deadly global pandemic it goes without saying that it is a lot smarter to have some backup just in case things do go… wrong. Pleasingly we found a young, enthusiastic, Durbanville-based developer to join our team and so, while we patiently wait out his notice period, headed out to lunch for our first ever face to face meeting.

This then is how we found ourselves travelling to the outskirts of Durbanville to Tangram on the Durbanville Hills wine estate, a lovely, award winning restaurant at the top of the winery, which itself is perched on the top of a hill with a view in pretty much all directions – including that iconic one of Table Mountain as it stands looming over Cape Town on the edge of Table Bay. Durbanville Hills is of course known for its very popular range of wines, much of which owes it character to its closeness to the sea air, balanced with the warm airflow around the hills, as well as the soil of the area, but interestingly enough, it doesn’t really have any history behind it, having only really been established in the 1990’s when seven or so grape farmers from the area decided to band together with the help of Distell to found the cellar as a joint venture and thus start producing wines on a commercial scale.

In terms of the restaurant experience, it is actually quite a lovely one. Passing through the wine tasting section and the Dylan Lewis leopard sculpture guarded cellar at the bottom, you ascend the stairs to reach the Tangram’s dining hall, all modernly outfitted with a warm touch and neat aesthetic, and of course featuring a lot of big glass panel to make the most of the view on offer. (There is also a bastille which you can walk out on to get a view over the vineyards, Table Bay, Cape Town, and Table Mountain in the distance, though my suggestion would be to wait a little until the cooler months when the dusty brown grass of summer gives way to something far more luscious green.)

Some excellent wine, good company, a delectable pork belly starter, and a sumptuous springbok venison main then all nicely came together to make for an exceptionally enjoyable experience, even if quite removed from our usual stomping grounds.

Burgers at The Orchard in Grabouw (2021-01-03) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 25 FEB 2021

Having spent the whole morning at Adene’s Farm Flowers out in Wolseley, we took a leisurely long scenic drive back home, heading through Villiersdorp with an eye on eventually grabbing lunch from The Hickory Shack, a particularly excellent smokehouse on the outskirts of Grabouw. However, on arrival at the skull mounted shed in the Elgin Valley, we were disappointed to find Hickory Shack rather super busy – in other words, super not okay to visit during this current Covid-19 pandemic. Saddened, we pointed our nose back in the direction of Sir Lowry’s Pass and tried our luck next with a visit to Rojaal. Damn, it turns out that they have since been forced out of business thanks to all the crippling lockdowns.

Okay, no worries, we then hopped over to the ever popular Peregrine Farm Stall in the hopes of scoring lunch. Ah, should have known that with an adjective like ‘popular’ in that previous sentence, Peregrine would also be outrageously packed with people in this time of the Coronavirus! Right, so properly disillusioned now (with moans of hunger surrounding me), I threw my last dice and pulled up at The Orchard, another one of Grabouw’s famous on the N2 farm stalls.

Success at last! Almost completely devoid of people (bad for the business of course, but excellent for us), The Orchard ticked all the right boxes. Little to no people to have to work our way through, a lunch menu, and that all important option of sitting outside in the fresh air to eat. (The availability of grass to run on and things to clamber over for the kids was discounted given how hot it was on the day. You would have ended up with 3rd degree burns if you went down a jungle gym slide!)

The Orchard’s farm stall section itself is actually worth mentioning. It is particular spacious, well stocked with all the things that you would expect from a farm stall, and has a delightful array of home bakes and other sweet things to take back with you on the road. In terms of the eatery section, the menu is uncomplicated but features a little something for everyone, and on this particular outing pretty much everyone ended up having either a chicken or beef burger with fries on their plates.

So although it wasn’t originally on our lunch time venue list, The Orchard definitely stepped up to the plate for us, and honestly, sitting at a table shaded by a tree with no one one around was absolutely perfect. Definitely not looking for ‘vibe’ at least until the vaccination rollout is well and truly underway!

Sudoku and Bistro Fare at Alex on Fire in Somerset West (2021-01-23) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 01 FEB 2021

Tucked away in what is best described as one of the more tired looking parts of where Strand meets Somerset West is a relatively new, sparkly eatery gem named Alex on Fire Moto Bistro. Bearing in mind that subtitle, given the fact that the bistro is situated just behind a popular motorcycle workshop, and taking into account that kick-ass logo, this is of course then another one of those eateries that takes its heart from the biking fraternity – which makes sense considering the fact that co-owner Derek Chester-Browne has for many years been part of the local motorcycle scene. That said though, this is certainly no simple biker’s joint.

Housed in a heritage property and in possession of a beautiful Burmese teak bar that comes from a once popular Somerset West watering hole that has long since burned down, the Alexandria Hotel, Alex on Fire is actually a quite decent eatery that serves some pretty upmarket styled food and just so happens to have a little something for everyone on its impressive (for a bistro) menu. Again, this makes complete sense if you consider that Scott Hendrie is the chef at the wheel, which, if my LinkedIn stalking skills are correct, has him as having previously helmed some of the Cape’s top kitchens, including Le Franschhoek Hotel, Dieu Donne Restaurant, Pepper Club Hotel, and Val de Vie Polo Restaurant.

Given the intention to be a bit of a home to all, Alex on Fire actually does a great job of catering to kids, complete with a fun little adventure styled kids play area that features a magnificent boat stuck in a tree treehouse! Our particular visit fell within the period where Coronavirus Lockdown rules equalled prohibition, so no comment on the drink available but as you can tell from the photos the food came out of the kitchen looking (and tasting) pretty damn good!

An added bonus worth mentioning is that on arrival both the kids and the adults received a neat little entertainment pack – colouring in for the girls and a page of sudoku, wordsearch and crossword puzzles for the adults – a near perfect distraction while you wait for your food and maybe don’t have anything left to say to one another after having spent pretty much the entire year staring into one another’s eyes thanks to the global pandemic the world is currently engulfed in.

SCV Wine, Brandy and Beer Tasting at the Barrydale Cellar (2019-07-02) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 30 MAR 2020

This is South Africa so of course we try to produce wine pretty much everywhere, and the Klein Karoo is certainly no exception. Situated along the Huisrivier river, right at the entrance to the diminutive town of Barrydale is the Barrydale Cellar, a well known local winery and brandy distillery that also plays home to a pretty unique restaurant experience in the form of the Cellar Restaurant.

In 2005 the Barrydale Cellar and neighbouring Ladismith Cellar joined forces to form the Southern Cape Vineyards (SCV), the umbrella label under which both wineries now produce their wines. In addition to the wine, the cellars also produce a range of other alcoholic drinks, including beers (like the Lady Lager and Barry Ale), ciders, grappa, and of course brandy, with signature lines like Oude Molen and the premium Joseph Barry being the most well known of these.

There is a small intimate tasting room at the Barrydale Cellar operation that allows you to get more familiar with their product lines, but for most the allure of visiting the cellar is of course the Cellar Restaurant – a restaurant space tucked into an old brandy aging cellar with its raw brick walls, aged cement roof, stacked wine barrels and rustic copper light fixtures. There is also a complete brewing room situated behind a glass wall, allowing you on certain days to actually see first-hand how some of the craft beer gets brewed.

On this particular visit of ours we were of course obligated to taste all the wines (which were excellent), but sadly enough, our plans for the day did unfortunately not include a meal at this most interesting looking restaurants. Oh well, another time then…