De Warenmarkt is a pleasant mixture between a buzzing artisanal food market and a friendly local restaurant, housed in the heart of Stellenbosch, in a beautiful heritage building.
You can pick and pay for delicious morsels from different stalls and either sit down to enjoy them in the communal eating court, or take them back home or to the office. Everything is top quality and reasonably priced in general, but the real attraction of De Warenmarkt is being warmly greeted by proud operators at every stall, who enthusiastically inform visitors about their speciality products, share helpful information to help you choose, and give out little tasters.
The concept takes the ordinary market to a next level. Around Cheese has hand-picked local artisanal cheese from all over the country; Mano’s Bakery offers freshly baked bread; and Yumminess sells delectable patisserie, waffles and crêpes, its counter beckoning with the alluring smell of pancakes in the air, and a selection of sweet and savoury fillings.
A pop-up restaurant is part of the concept. The celebrated chef-and-wife team, George and Louise Jardine, were cleverly picked to do the opening run. Their food so good you’ll lick your fingers and scrape the plates, and the menu brims with humour, with items like Dr Bones (bone marrow on sour dough) and Love Buns (lamb curry brioche bunny chow). I hope the pop-up restaurant will carry forward this momentum, with the choice of the successive guest chefs of paramount importance.
At the butchery counter of Ryan Boon Speciality Meats, visitors are welcomed with the old-world charm of three blockmen, neatly dressed in white formal shirts and large aprons. This is a carnivore’s heaven: plump sausages strung on hooks, little game birds delicately placed side by side, aged prime cuts on and off the bone, Karoo lamb, an assortment of marinated meat delicacies, and even wild boar from Wellington.
Everything is organic, and if it’s important to you to know the provenance of your meat, Ryan’s team members have done their homework. A deli selection towards the back supplements the offering with dairy products, pickles, charcuterie and much more. Fresh vegetables, cold-pressed juices and further creative ideas are installed for future development.
A selection of craft beer from Devil’s Peak brewery and ciders is available. A wine bar in the back part of the building serves a selection of wines and drinks, with the selection carefully curated by sommelier Higgo Jacobs. With strong competition in the form of magnificent coffee on every corner in Stellenbosch, Deluxe Coffeeworks rises to the occasion at the market.
We are warmly greeted by operations manager Tasha, who enquires if this is our first visit before explaining the concept. Friendly faces talk you through the products and allow you to taste before you choose.
Heritage green-shuttered windows and white-washed exteriors blend seamlessly with contemporary bricks, steel and antique wooden floors inside. A cosy central fireplace exudes warmth, while one entire glassed wall will open up to extend to an outside seating area on sunshiny days and sultry evenings. Rustic wooden tables, covered with sheets of multi-purpose brown paper, chairs and benches offer a variety of seating options, all wrapped in earth-coloured tones.
Ample parking is available just across the road next to Decameron.