Choosing a place to eat in Stellenbosch can be challenging, considering the overwhelming number of amazing options. Choosing a restaurant is often about choosing one that is right for the occasion. I’ve been fortunate to eat at many Stellenbosch restaurants and thought I would share with you some places and what they are good for.
There are plenty of fantastic restaurant options in the town of Stellenbosch itself, but for this list I have selected restaurants that are on wine farms. Each of them is a very different experience, and the estates are different sizes too.
Middelvlei – Best for authentic South African experience
Most visitors to South Africa that encounter ask me where they can experience genuine South African food. It’s quite a tough question to answer, because most of the dishes we consider quintessentially South African are made at home and there are few restaurants that offer a large selection. Some places might have an interpretation of a bobotie, or one could recommend a Malay focused restaurant. But actually, South Africa is famous for the braai and we all love to braai.
Middelvlei wine estate offers an authentic braai experience. So authentic in fact, that their best customers are locals who want a good, social braai but don’t want the mission of doing it themselves!
It’s a 3-course braai experience. The first course is warm, homebaked bread served with butter, jam and snoek pate. This is so delicious I could have just had a ton of that for lunch! The main course is a piece of boerewors, a chop and a sosatie for each person. Accompanied by mash potato, pumpkin fritters and a green salad. And, a favourite of mine, a braaibroodjie.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the dessert is delicious, hot melva pudding served with ice cream. Enjoy a glass of superb Middelvlei wine with your meal (treat yourself to a wine tasting before lunch to find your favourite wine) and finish off with a cup of coffee.
It’s a kid friendly option too. There is plenty of open space for kids to run around and there are animals they can interact with. Order them a kiddies snack box and let them braai their own marshmallows.
Terroir at Kleine Zalze – Best for fine dining
Terroir was recently recognised as one of the top 10 restaurants in South Africa, for the 9th time. This substantial feat is a testament to the standard of this fine dining establishment. Chef Michael Broughton’s reputation as a saucier of note is quickly verified on the plate, with each sauce being a rare showcase of balance and flavour.
I’ve eaten at Terroir several times over the years, enjoying both lunches on balmy summer days and intimate, cosy dinners indoors on chilly nights. I’ve made a point of ordering across the menu and have always been impressed.
On my most recent visit to Terroir I enjoyed dinner with a friend, and the experience was once again superb. For starters we tried the prawn risotto with Americaine sauce and the ceviche of Yellowfin Tuna, kohlrabi, aiolo & avocado. The prawn risotto is one of the flagship dishes at Terroir and it is indeed delicious, but the ceviche was absolutely spectacular, I can’t recommend it enough.
For mains, we ordered another flagship dish, confit pork belly, mustard sauce, fennel & apple salad and the vegetarian option of mushroom ravioli, parmesan, asparagus, confit tomato & oyster mushroom. The pork belly was delicious, a perfect winter dish. For dessert we shared the trio of ice cream which was refreshing and true to flavour.
Being a fine dining restaurant, the experience at Terroir is more than the sum of the courses. The irresistible freshly baked breads brought for the table are served with butter and quality olives. The amuse bouche really gets the taste buds excited for more and when you think you’re all done, you’ll receive fantastic petit fours to go with your coffee. A meal at Terroir is a gastronomic journey which should not be rushed.
We opted for the pairing and enjoyed amazing Kleine Zalze wines with each course. I can highly recommend starting your evening with a glass of bubbly too.
Eight at Spier – Best for farm to fork
Eight has been offering farm to fork dining for a few years now. In fact I reviewed it in March of 2010. But they have decided to shake things up a bit and introduce a tapas menu for evening dining. I was invited as part of a media group to experience the new offering and I’m very excited to share the experience with you because it was awesome and you’ll want to keep it in your list of dinner options.
Spier has been undergoing some changes over the last couple of years, refocusing and revamping. The result has been a much improved offering on every level. Whether you are visiting Spier to eat, taste wine or tour the beautiful historical property by audio tour or even Segway, you’re going to have a splendid time.
There is a no longer a Moyo at Spier, which is a good thing. The newcomer is The Hoghouse and it’s amazing. I haven’t had a chance to eat there yet, but it looks beautiful and they make the best pastéis de nata I have ever tasted. Seriously, do not go to Spier without getting yourself a pastéis de nata from The Hoghouse.
But back to Eight. The only negative about the evening was that I could not finish all the food that was presented. Everything was so delicious! The dishes are not overly complicated, allowing the quality ingredients to shine. We enjoyed dishes like sustainable fish with ginger and chilli, oxtail croquettes, grilled flank with chimichurri, mustard seed and potato wontons. Some of my favourites were pasture-reared hanger steak with hollandaise, sticky pork belly with peas, coriander and mint.
We drank Spier wines which is always a treat. I love their flagship range, 21 Gables, but the Creative Block range is also phenomenal.
Longridge – Best for something new
Longridge wine estate hasn’t really been on my radar until recently. I’d not heard much about it, then I had the opportunity to taste a couple of their wines at a wine event and I knew I had to visit. I made sure I was early for lunch so that I could enjoy a wine tasting too. I’m glad I did that because not only are the wines fantastic, but they are paired with unusual foods which work really well. It’s not just another wine tasting pairing, it’s evident that a lot of thought has gone into the choices.
The restaurant at Longridge as great views and offers inside or outside dining to suit the season. The menu is surprisingly sophisticated. I’m not a fan of escargot but when they are pan fried in parsley garlic butter and served with sweet shallot mousse, watercress gel, parmesan tuile and pangrattato, it’s hard to resist. But resist I did, and opted for the special, marrow bones. My dining partner selected the smoked duck breast with confit duck croquette, marinated cucumber, baby leaf salad, teriyaki glaze & a citrus gel.
For mains, every menu option was so appealing that we couldn’t choose and opted for the specials which were rabbit done 3 ways and seared fresh tuna topped with butter poached prawns. There were other items on the plate (as you can see from the pictures) but I forgot to take a pic of the specials board and can’t remember the details of all the elements. But it was delicious, and that’s what counts, right?
We were so full after 2 courses we decided to share the selection of homemade ice creams and sorbets. But next time I might skip the starters so I can have the decadent chocolate tart or fresh strawberries served on sticky meringue!
** I did not pay for any of these meals.