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Where to get fantastic food in the Overberg – your 2018 bucket list

Just over the mountain from Cape Town, these sleepy villages offer up some of the best food in the Western Cape. But don’t expect anything fast and flashy – this is slow, comfort food for leisurely feasting. (Each of these restaurants was rated highly enough to make it into the 2018 issue of Eat Out magazine, which is on sale now.)

Betty Blue Bistro (Hermanus)

Celia Rabie’s pretty spot won highly commended in the coffee shop category for the Western Cape at the 2017 Best Everyday Eateries. Betty Blue Bistro will lift your mood with its pops of yellow and quirky touches. The sunshine floods into the food, too. Try a yellow breakfast of corn fritters, scrambled eggs, peppers and tomatoes. Pancakes also feature, and other options include a monster pulled-pork burger or green Thai green curry. There’s also a range of kids’ options on the menu.

A colourful table of breakfast food at Betty Blue Bistro. Photo supplied.

Creation Tasting Room (Hemel-en-Aarde Valley)

The stand-out experience here is the seven-course tasting paired with estate wines. The pickled hake and poppadom is a lively match for the aromatic viognier; the hearty lamb shank pairing wonderfully against a syrah-grenache blend. There are charcuterie platters, chocolate pairings and a blackboard menu, too. Provenance is highlighted here. Look forward to a charming country hustle-bustle in this light-filled space with stellar views.

Gabriëlskloof (between Botrivier and Caledon)

Breakfast is a hearty affair: try the roosterkoek with bobotie mince, poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce. Lunch offers rib-sticking, farm-style fare, including generous pork belly (ask for it crispy) with mash and Asian-style duck leg with harissa pumpkin purée. For dessert, try milk tart souskluitjies (dumplings) with burnt honey custard. In summer, sit outside and enjoy the views over the rolling hills.

Havercroft’s (Stanford)

This low-key country restaurant is one of the must-visit spots in the Overberg, with chef Brydon Havercroft serving a compact menu of signature dishes and seasonal plates. A riot would break out if the devilled lamb’s kidneys came off the menu, but also don’t miss the pork belly with beetroot-and-apple chutney. For vegetarians, the tagliatelle of artichokes and olives is as memorable. Brydon is also famous for his chocolate éclairs. The restaurant is set in a cottage, with the best tables on the patio, where you can soak up mountain views.

A curry at Havercrofts. Photo by Katharine Jacobs.

The Hickory Shack (Elgin)

An old barn is where the team at this old-fashioned Texas barbeque restaurant dry rubs meat, smokes and slowly prepares meals in a traditional smoking pit. Lunch is informal, presentation rustic, seating inside or on the wooden deck. The brisket won’t let you down, and only the best free-range pork, beef and chicken is served: from glazed ribs to pulled pork, sausage and chicken. Enjoy sides like buttermilk mash, corn salad and coleslaw. For dessert, tuck into ice cream, waffles or cheesecake. It’s child- and animal-friendly.

The-Hickory-Shack-by-Tasha-Seccombe

The Hickory Shack. Photo by Tasha Seccombe.

Hook, Line and Sinker (Pringle Bay)

This cosy, intimate and rustic eatery has just celebrated its 20th year. Fresh seafood is enthusiastically prepared over flames in the open kitchen. Expect starters of rich, creamy soup or mussels, and mains such as Durban hake with a lightly spiced tomato-and-onion salsa, tuna in a signature bourbon sauce, and wild prawns in Malaysian oil, served in a pan to share with rice and hand-cut chips. If you can squeeze in dessert, Jacqui’s crème brûlée or chocolate pot are worth undoing your belt buckle for.

La Sosta (Swellendam)

Stylish Italian cuisine. You might begin with cured salmon carpaccio with cubes of cucumber-and-celery jelly, wasabi mayo, apple spheres and lemongrass milk, or ravioli filled with pork and beef and served with a corn-and-taleggio cheese sauce and porcini. All pasta is made from scratch and gluten-free options are available. The springbok shank with creamy mash is a highlight. Desserts are traditional: think tiramisu, intense chocolate cake, and perfect panna cotta. Be sure to book well in advance – it’s a popular spot.

A work of art at La Sosta. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

La Trattoria (Stanford)

Some of the best Italian fare in the Cape is dished up in this homely restaurant. While a range of delicate antipasti and meat dishes is offered, the home-made pastas are the true star of the compact menu. From silky fettuccine with Napoletana sauce to the excellent gnocchi with brown butter and sage, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Do ask if the amatriciana is on offer: made with pork cheeks and pancetta in a tomato base, it’s utterly delicious. To finish, you can’t go wrong with a scoop of gelato. They host monthly jazz evenings.

Italian posters inside Bella Casa

Keeping to the Italian theme inside Bella Casa Trattoria. Photograph courtesy of the restaurant.

Manor House at Stanford Valley (10km from Stanford)

Inventive country cooking from the open kitchen. For starters, try crisp bobotie spring rolls or fried artichoke hearts with silky peppercorn aioli. Mains range from an ever-popular beef burger to pork belly with teriyaki glaze. The standout in winter is the perfectly cooked risotto of seasonal waterblommetjies. For dessert, choose between
the home-baked cheesecake topped with berry coulis and
a classic malva pudding. The restored farmhouse has modern country charm.

Manor House tomatoes

The home-grown tomatoes at Manor House Restaurant in Stanford. Photograph courtesy of the restaurant.

 

Mogg’s Country Cookhouse (Hemel-en-Aarde Valley)

This charming bistro continues to offer some of the best country cooking in the Cape. The compact menu focuses on homely fare made with care. Pork belly with moreish crisp crackling arrives on creamy mustard mash; fishcakes are given zing by curry sauce, while vegetarians should love the baked polenta with Mediterranean veg and caper-parsley drizzle. If there’s a signature dish it’s the lamb shank in a lattice of puff pastry on slow-roasted root veggies. Leave space for delicious dark chocolate tart with salted caramel. Lawns and a kids’ menu make this a great spot for the whole family.

Mogg's Country Cookhouse

Mogg’s Country Cookhouse. Photo supplied.

Springfontein Eats (Stanford) – nominee for the Top 10

There are no quick bites at Springfontein Eats, where chef Jürgen Schneider blends his Michelin-starred background with local produce to conjure up an impressive multi-course dining experience. Meals begin with wonderful fresh breads, before a succession of amuse-bouche plates. The local trout done three-ways is superb, as is the flavour-packed ravioli of wild mushrooms picked that morning on the farm. The farm’s extensive vegetable garden provides plenty of organic produce. Mains hint at the hearty cuisine of the chef’s homeland, with duck breast plated in a rich jus and topped with sweet crumble of crispy duck skin. Desserts are equally inventive, and the wood sorrel ice cream with orange couscous is as memorable as the generous plate of petit fours that will finally send you rolling out the door. The adjoining whisky lounge offers a wonderful selection of single malts.

A dish from Springfontein Eats. Photo supplied.

The Tasting Room at Stanford Hills (Stanford)

A chalkboard menu of casual country cooking hops across the globe. Start with suitably fiery jalapeño poppers and move on to Moroccan lamb stew or roasted pork belly. Springbok koftas with hummus and tomato jam are cooked perfectly and delicately seasoned. There’s a wonderful meze selection of breads, local cheeses, cured meats and preserves. Situated in a renovated farm cottage, the rustic setting boasts panoramic views, with large lawns and playgrounds for the little ones.

Beautiful surroundings at The Tasting Room at Stanford Hills. Photo supplied.

Tredici (Swellendam)

Artisanal bread and goods are baked on the premises daily. The breakfast menu offers the likes of slow-cooked oats with stewed fruit compote, crumpets with bacon and banana, and Belgian waffles with mascarpone, bacon, honey and toasted pistachios. Lunch runs the gamut from soups (served with house-made bread) and antipasti platters to share to gourmet sandwiches, burgers, pies, substantial salads, pasta, pizzas and risotto. There are also kids’ menus for breakfast and lunch. Browse the shop before you leave.

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