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First taste: Where there’s smoke, there’s PJ Vadas

Hearts audibly broke around the country when barbecuing genius PJ Vadas announced his plans to leave Hoghouse. Fortunately, the heartache was short-lived when it was revealed that he was setting up shop at Spier Wine Farm once more, this time to open Vadas Smokehouse & Bakery. Jess Spiro popped in on opening weekend to get a taste of the new spot.

Fast Facts

Cost: Approximately R300 per person
Food type: Barbecue
Best for: Big group lunches, families
Star ratings: Food and drinks: 4; Service: 4; Ambience: 4

Food

While you’re definitely here for the meat, what sets Vadas Smokehouse apart from any other barbecue joint is the snack offering. It features delicate dishes like whipped hake served with a boiled egg – resplendent in its fishiness – and homemade crisps, as well as hand-chopped steak tartare with greens and toast. Proper chicken liver pâté accompanied by crispy chicken skin, however, is the one to return for. The freshly baked bread kicks off the meal wonderfully, arriving with butter and hummus, and is  particularly delicious with the toasty baba ghanoush with pickled and raw veggies.

 

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If you know PJ, you’ll know to expect smoked meats and fried chicken – and you’ll find those in abundance on this menu. The meaty section comes priced per 100g, which is great for sharing or tasting a little bit of each. There are the usual smoked brisket and pork belly suspects in all their low-and-slow sticky glory, but there are also unusual options, such as tequila-cured and hot-smoked salmon trout with citrus and smoked duck leg with honey and fennel flowers.

The fried chicken is not to be missed. It comes perfectly crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, with a moreish smoked honey sauce for dipping. If you’re looking for some greenery for added virtuosity, the simple garden green salad with fynbos vinegar and olive oil will cut through any meaty richness. Similarly, the fire-roasted broccoli with toasted macadamia nuts and a mustardy dressing is the perfect side to all that smoke.

 

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Sweet treats come from the bakery and could comprise a lemon meringue tart, strawberry pie or PJ’s infamous life-giving pasteis de nata.

 

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Drinks

The drinks list is neat and tidy, with a well-priced range of Spier’s wines, as well as local beers available by the bottle or on tap.

Service

While most of Smokehouse will be familiar to Hoghouse fans, one thing Vadas has turned on its head is the style of service. Here, you fill out your own order and take it to the attending staff, who then bring it out once ready. It’s simple enough, once you know what you’re doing. (Vadas Smokehouse & Bakery pays its staff an all-inclusive salary, meaning tips are welcome but not expected. Read more about all-inclusive service salaries and the controversial tipping debate here.)

Ambience

There really isn’t much else that can beat sitting outside, under the trees on the expansive lawn, with kids pottering about and families lounging in the sun. The ambience here echoes the ethos of the restaurant – easygoing, welcoming and perfectly leisurely.

 

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

A ‘first taste’ is a review conducted in the first couple of weeks after a restaurant’s opening, when it is expected that the chefs and staff will still be finding their feet.

Have you also managed to snag a table at Vadas Smokehou zse & Bakery already? Write a review on our new app, which you can download for free here

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