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First taste: Bertus Basson’s De Vrije Burger in Stellenbosch – reviewed

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De Vrije Burger takeaway in the heart of central Stellenbosch is the latest venture of Eat Out Top 10 chef Bertus Basson, in partnership with his wife Mareli. Eat Out critic Hetta van Deventer-Terblance has a first taste.

Fast facts

Cost: R75 for the basic burger
Good for: Casual takeaways and family-friendly meals
Serves: Burgers and soft-serve ice cream
Star rating: Food and drinks 4, service 4, ambience 4

Food

This creative and hardworking duo is behind popular eateries such as Overture, Spek & Bone, The Deck at Hidden Valley and Bertus Basson at Spice Route.

The Melrose-and-biltong burger at De Vrije Burger. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The difference here is that De Vrije Burger’s menu features only one thing: a seriously good 200g free-range beef burger with all the trimmings – lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and double cheese – at R75. Diners can choose a patty done medium or medium-rare. Additional toppings can be ordered to build the burger, such as Melrose cheese and biltong, smoked chilli sauce or bacon. Hand-cut chips in three flavours are optional extras (R30–R42.40): barbecue, cheese or peri peri. The latter, made with fresh chillies and sweet-and-sour spices, should come with a warning for being highy addictive.

Bertus’s menus often feature a thread of authentic South African flavor. In this instance the salad option, uitpakslaai (unpacked salad), will bring back memories of gatherings with friends and family (especially in Afrikaans communities) of the 80s and 90s. It indicates a salad that is not tossed, but can either be composed of layers or, more commonly, ingredients packed in neat rows with different salad ingredients on a large, flat, often foil-covered tray. De Vrije Burger’s uitpakslaai (R35) is simple but highly recommended, with a creamy dressing at the bottom and layers of crisp lettuce, peas, tomato, olives and onions.

Drinks

Water, soft drinks, and a small but adequate wine list featuring wine by the bottle (R120–R135) or carafe (R40–50), and two craft beer brands (R35) can be enjoyed on the premises.

Service

Food is served takeaway style, with a friendly and welcoming reception. Owners Bertus and Mareli might pop in.

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Ambience

Minimalist, with a palette of white and blue. Four small rectangular wooden tables and chairs spill out onto busy Plein Street, where patrons can enjoy a drink or finish their burgers straight from the grill.

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And…

Don’t leave without your free ice cream. Photo supplied.

You are entitled to a free draairoomys (soft-serve ice cream) with each burger. Otherwise buy one for R5, topped with 100s and 1000s sprinkles.

Have you been to De Vrije Burger for a bite? Write a quick review and Eat Out will pledge a meal for a hungry child through Rise Against Hunger SA. Write a review now.

Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.

Brought to you by Retail Capital, sponsors of the Eat Out Retail Capital New Restaurant of the Year Award. Want to find more new restaurants in your city? Check out our new restaurants section.

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