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Wining and dining with the whales: Where to eat in Hermanus

Hermanus in the Overberg is the place to be for some of the best land-based whale-watching in the world. From July to December, southern right whales make Walker Bay their home and the cliffs of Hermanus are crowded with people craning their necks to catch a look at some of nature’s most spectacular creatures. There’s a resident whale crier who summons visitors when a sighting occurs, so you’re not likely to miss the big moment.

A colourful spread from Betty Blue. Photo supplied.

The big question, however, is where to eat and drink while there. No longer the sleepy little village it once was, Hermanus has hot competition in the restaurant stakes. (Not to mention the culinary hot spots of nearby Stanford or the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley.) Here are 14 ideas for eating in the town, ranging from classic Italian to country markets, with an emphasis on enjoying food at your relaxed best.

For an indulgent breakfast: Betty Blue Bistro


Celia Rabie’s pretty brunch-and-lunch spot is guaranteed to lift your mood. The white interior bursts with pops of yellow and all sorts of quirky touches. The sunshine floods into the food, too. Try a yellow breakfast made with corn fritters, scrambled eggs, yellow peppers and tomatoes; or a yellow salad loaded with pineapple, passionfruit, sweetcorn, almonds and coconut flakes. Other innovative dishes include coconut, lemon and poppyseed toast with mascarpone and caramelised fruit. Lunch sees some inventive pancakes (think bobotie, pulled pork or coronation chicken) and fish tacos. Pancakes are the hero of the pudding offering, too – it’s hard to say no to lemon meringue or caramelised apple-crumble pancakes.

Lemon-meringue-pancakes-at-Betty-Blue

The lemon meringue pancakes at Betty Blue Bistro. Photo supplied.

For a scenic lunch: Bientang’s Cave

Located right at the water’s edge near the cliff side, Bientang’s Cave can justifiably claim to have that all-important quality of location location location. The menu specialises in seafood of all kinds, from fresh oysters to crayfish. The bouillabaisse is delicious and the seafood potjie, packed with prawns and mussels, is known far and wide. There are good meat dishes like fillet steak and burgers, but the thing to eat here is fish in its many guises. The wine list is a prize winner and there is no BYO.

The view from Bientang's Cave. Photo By Jaco Voges.

The view from Bientang’s Cave. Photo By Jaco Voges.

For a sunny day: The Burgundy Restaurant

If you’re overnighting in Hermanus, what can be more delightful than a delicious breakfast with superb coffee at Burgundy, plus an unparalleled view across the bay to the shore on the other side? The eggs Benedict (also available in a banting option) is perfect, with succulent smoked salmon. You could also go for lunch and get stuck into one of the best steaks in this part of the world. (The green pepper sauce is a delicious add-on!) Burgundy’s extensive menu ranges from very good pastas and fabulous lasagne with chips, a speciality, to burgers and plenty of seafood options. The excellent wine list features many of the area’s top wines, all well-priced.

The sunny setting at Burgundy Restaurant. Photo supplied.

For sampling local wines: Creation Tasting Room

The menu here is centred around the incredible estate wines, so you can look forward to a seven-course paired extravaganza. Specific dishes will change as the seasons do, but you can expect to see local produce used in inventive ways – such as pickled hake with flavours of sweetcorn, coriander and apricot, topped off with a poppadom.

Wine tasting and lunch at Creation. Photo supplied.

For a fish supper: Fishermans Cottage

This homely spot changes its menu regularly based on what’s available and at its best, and is written up on the famous blackboard. Some of the specialties, however, include a seafood curry, roasted bone marrow and freshly-caught and simply prepared linefish.

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For a morning stroll: Hermanus Country Market

If you wonder where everyone is in Hermanus on a Saturday morning, look no further than this very popular country market. While the emphasis is on food, there are many craft stalls worth looking into. Food includes pancakes, kudu hamburgers, strawberries dipped in chocolate, plenty of cakes, meat pies and pastries, fabulous home-made breads, fresh farm eggs and cheese. Long trestle tables are packed with everyone having a jolly good feed in a country style. There are tractor rides for kids, while mom and dad can indulge in excellent craft beer and designer cocktails. It’s a veritable feast!

 

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For a hearty, home-cooked meal: La Pentola

Located on the first floor, this popular spot boasts one of the best views of all the restaurants in Hermanus. Tuck into salmon sashimi with almonds, crème fraîche and gooseberries; or a perfectly seared KWV fillet with brandy and Madagascan pepper cream sauce, which comes with scrumptious potato croquettes – a little like clouds of mash.

For something a little different: Lizette’s Kitchen

Chef Lizette Crabtree spent 10 years in Southeast Asia before Africa called her home, and it shows on the menu that’s peppered with Asian-inspired dishes. Inside it’s a cosy, welcoming spot. The interior is eclectic: hip bar stools and a custom bar share real estate with occasional zebra stripes. A pot-bellied fire keeps things cosy, and there’s an outdoor deck for sunny mornings when the brunch menu beckons.

 

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For a lunch in the garden: Moggs Country Cookhouse

With such fertile surroundings, Moggs has an endless abundance of fresh, seasonal ingredients that are the inspiration for the ever-changing menu. Depending on the day, you could sit down for a slow-cooked lamb shank pie in homemade pastry, or a Middle Eastern-inspired chickpea-and-aubergine salad. The lawns allow for the kids to run around so you can enjoy your lunch in peace.

For neighbourhood vibes: Molteno’s

Molteno’s is easily the most charming restaurant in all of the Hemel-en-Aarde, as you feel like you’re having dinner at a friend’s house. The menu is unfussy and has a very Italian feel, with heaping bowls of seafood pastas and risottos. Don’t skip the fish of the day, however, it could be hake roasted in the pizza oven, served with a zingy lemon butter and wedges. It’s perfection.

 

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For a fancier affair: Origins at The Marine

The world-famous elegance of this iconic hotel is unmatched in these parts. With rolling lawns that take you to the edge of the cliffs overlooking the bay, the ambience is of light and relaxed sophistication. The menu features small plate starters to share, such as excellent tuna tartare with pickled kohlrabi, and succulent spiced fish cakes with chilli jam and macerated tomatoes. The standout main dish is the Walker Bay fish curry with coconut and pickled carrots, closely followed by really good Elgin free-range chicken with roasted baby beets and aubergine cream. The upside-down apple tart with walnut ice cream and sage-caramel sauce is the perfect way to end.

The beautiful setting at Origins at The Marine. Photos supplied.

For the whole family: Pear Tree

Located right on the beachfront, this spot offers more casual outside seating during the day, and a slightly more swish interior. Kick things off with tomato and goat’s cheese arancini then progress to lightly beer-battered hake and chips. Finish with a deconstructed tiramisu with orange cream and a coffee caramel.

Pan-fried kingklip with creamed courgette and a smoky butternut risotto. Photo by Romy Wilson.

Pan-fried kingklip with creamed courgette and a smoky butternut risotto. Photo by Romy Wilson.

For a simple slice: Rossi’s

This cosy family-friendly Italian spot serves great thin-crust wood-fired pizza. The lasagna and cannelloni get rave reviews, too. It’s been going since 1985, and remains very popular with locals, so make sure you book. They also offer takeaways, unless things are really busy.

Curious to find out what else this scenic town has to offer? Visit their website for more information.

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