Considering its diminutive size, Stanford is blessed with an almost unreasonable number of stellar restaurants. Here country-style food is prepared using the amazing produce the area has to offer and is generously served up by passionate, hands-on restaurateurs. We’ve rounded up eight of them so you can plan your next roadtrip with your belly in mind.
Eating in this tiny slow-food spot feels like visiting friends for dinner. Beautifully fresh food – some of the ingredients harvested from the owner’s subsistence farm – is prepared in the open kitchen, with just a handful of tables inside. Think asparagus and broad bean gnocchi, slow-roast pork belly, or a mulberry panna cotta. They also offer inventive brunches and lunch – when the tables on the stoep overlooking Stanford’s main street are the place to be. You’ll need to book for dinner.
Bubbly Innes will welcome you like an old friend, while husband Brydon cooks up comfort food that punches above its weight. The devilled kidneys served on crunchy rostis is a favourite that regulars won’t let the couple take off the menu. The Keralan fish curry has excellent flavour and depth and, thanks to a chickpea flour batter, the fish holds together well. The desserts are irresistible, too – Innes quips that those who don’t order dessert get a free rescued kitten from the vet next door, and we’re sure those kittens have yet to be given away.
This pretty cheese farm boasts pigs, precocious goats, and picnics. The thing to do here is to fill your basket with local produce in the shop and find a spot on the grassy lawn. Great for families with young kids, and people of all ages who wish to picnic with small goats in attendance.
Lionello Giovannetti and his father Corrado serve up wonderful handmade pasta and homemade gelato at this charming Italian restaurant. The attached ice-cream parlour, Don Gelato, offers creamy, dreamy gelato in wonderful flavours. (There’s even a mozzarella one, with its signature slight tanginess.)
Bookings fill up weeks in advance at this magical country-style kitchen. Mariana Esterhuizen has a knack for making comfort food. Think white-almond-and-garlic gazpacho spiked with ice blocks containing edible flowers, and juicy confit du canard with a brightly coloured salad fresh from the garden. Also try the doodskoot, a daring drink consisting of shots of espresso, amaretto and grappa. Husband Peter Esterhuizen runs the front-of-house with plenty of charm and wit. There’s no card machine, so take cash, and be prepared to spend two to three hours worshipping food.
The Stanford Valley Guest Farm, overlooking the beautiful Akkedisberg mountains and valley, is a glorious location for a country-style lunch. On the menu: excellent comfort food. Think perfectly cheesy risotto or melt-in-the-mouth pork neck. Ask for a table close to the window to make the most of the stellar views.
This is a fancier option: Chef Jürgen Schneider combines his Michelin-starred background with local produce to conjure up an impressive multi-course dining experience. Think hearty dishes like duck breast plated in a rich jus, topped with a sweet crumble of crispy duck skin; or intense oxtail. The interior has a bright and modern farm feel with exposed stone walls, a thatched roof offset by modern art, and blond wood furniture. Bag a table near the wood-burning stove in winter, or out on the terrace in summer. The Springfontein Bar(n) offers wine tastings and lighter bites.
This is a more laid-back breakfast and lunch option – great for families with kids.
While you taste wine and snack on tapas, let the little ones run around on the grass, play on the jungle gym, row across the dam, or make friends with an exceedingly friendly sheep named Stuart.