Venues

Fresh at Paul Cluver

Fresh at Paul Cluver
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Cost
R95 - R170 avg main meal
Ambience
Comfy & casual, Family friendly
Food
Country-style fare
Payment
Mastercard, Visa
500

Critic's review

Lisa van Aswegen

Food
Fresh lives up to its name in an inspired way. Not only is much of the produce sourced from the bountiful vegetable garden located on the estate, but chef-owner Damian Dearlove's approach to these quality ingredients is with a light touch that sings on the palate. The small menu changes often, but expect the likes of beetroot and goat's cheese tart – simplicity itself, but sweet, savoury and utterly moreish, served on tatsoi and rocket.

The prawn-and-calamari saffron risotto hits the mark with perfectly cooked rice and a splash of greens to add vibrancy. A nod to its country setting is the country terrine served with all the trimmings, like homemade chutney. Mains are hearty, again building on the bounty on offer: pork neck is rolled and succulent, served with silky mash and wilted baby leeks. A lamb bredie is unctuous, redolent with a zesty tomato sauce, dollop of crème fraîche and finished with spring onion; the cumin cauliflower adds depth of flavour.

Desserts make the most of local fruits: think citrus tart with marmalade ice cream, or apple, pecan and granola crumble served with green-apple sorbet. Or try a cheese platter, a simple end to a delicious meal.

Drinks
Estate wines, including some reserve options, as well as local ciders pair beautifully with the food on offer.

Service
Co-owner and Damian's partner Niki Hall-Jones is a bubbly ball of foodie enthusiasm and personally checks on all her guests. The local wait staff are well informed and endlessly patient with those who can't make up their mind what to eat!

Ambience
Inside, communal tables encourage a convivial feel with a fireplace roaring away and fresh flowers adorning the tables. On a balmy day, the long garden is scattered with tables and umbrellas, while the resident dog gets a scratch in now and then.

And…
Take the time to stroll around in the magnificent fruit and veggie garden.

(September 2016)

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

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  • Greg Landman

    Food
    Most of the vegetables and herbs come from the garden on the Paul Cluver estate, as do the fruit – we’re in Elgin, after all – so everything is really as fresh as can be. Country style cooking with robust flavours and generous portions is what Fresh is all about, and owner Niki Hall-Jones goes from strength to strength doing just that.

    The menu is a daily affair on the blackboard that changes seasonally. Starters of classic vichyssoise with crème fraîche and snipped chives, and country-style pearl barley and vegetable soup served with pork dumplings will make you feel like you’re tasting these ingredients for the first time.

    Homemade Cumberland bangers and mash with red-onion gravy are way beyond anything any pub could dream up, and the homemade chicken-and-leek pie, with the lightest puff pastry cap, has devotees coming all the way from town to get at it.

    Finish up with the irresistible Elgin apple tart with crème anglaise and homemade vanilla ice cream, or the pear-and-hazelnut tart with cinnamon mascarpone.

    Drinks
    The famous Paul Cluver wines are the perfect foil for this kind of cooking; take your pick from the large range. Also make sure you try the excellent apple cider made in the valley.

    Service
    Look forward to service with a smile, in the country manner. Bear in mind everything is made right there, so relax and let out your belt a notch or two.

    Ambience
    It’s very cosy in winter with a coal fire going and communal, long tables encouraging diners to get to know their neighbours. But really it’s at its best in the summer, when there are tables out on the grass, just perfect.

    And…
    Do phone ahead to make a booking, as the hours change seasonally.
    (August 2015)

  • Jeanne Calitz

    Food 
    What a lovely country style restaurant this is, and the perfect way to round off a wine tasting on this award-winning wine farm. Just remember to book in advance; the shared tables fill up fast. As the name suggests, there’s a big focus on freshness here. Chef and owner Niki Hall-Jones uses what’s in season and available from the estate’s ample vegetable garden.

    On the cold day of our visit, we skip over alluring starter options like the pear, gorgonzola and rocket salad and the caramelised onion and camembert tart in favour of the two soups, a broccoli and blue cheese version for my friend, and a roasted beetroot version with garlic and onions for me. Deemed suitably satisfying, they made way for the mains. We opted for the Norwegian salmon and – this is apple country, after all – a pie of gammon simmered in apple cider and served with potatoes and Elgin apples. The pie is fine, if a little on the sweet side, but the fish is lovely: pan-fried to perfection, and served with steamed green veggies, potatoes Dauphinoise and a wonderful lemon butter crème fraîche, the zesty addition of which just lifts the entire plate to a new level.

    On the dessert menu, the options include a cheese board, baked dark chocolate pudding, a lemon meringue Eton mess and a homemade orange ice cream served, intriguingly, with a salad of peeled oranges, dates, rosewater and fresh mint. The latter is a revelation, a wonderful combination of creamy and crisp flavours. You’d think that it shouldn’t work but it does, extremely well. It's easily the best dish of the day.

    Drinks 
    The excellent Paul Cluver wines are available, some of them by the glass, as well as three South African bubblies. If you’re not in the mood for wine, there’s also the local Everson’s handcrafted cider on offer, as well as homemade lemonade and some rather fine coffees made, at the time of our visit, by the organic and Fair-Trade accredited beans from Bean There Coffee Company.

    Service 
    Not 100% smooth, but then this a country-style restaurant (indeed, Fresh won our 2012 Best Country-Style Restaurant Award) and you wouldn’t want things to be too formal. Besides, everyone here (including patrons and staff) seems to be in such a good mood. Just relax and go with the flow. Also take into account that everything is prepared from scratch, daily, and may take a bit of time. But good things come to those who wait.

    Ambience 
    It’s a simple establishment, really: a wooden building with huge glass windows, gleaming wooden tables meant to be shared, and a fireplace to keep things cosy in winter. It’s hard not to be charmed by the friendly plattelandse vibe.

    And... 
    Don’t be surprised if you step into the loo to find it’s an outdoor setup, flanked by screens and greenery for privacy. It’s quite fun, though – it feels a bit like going camping, with the exception that you can go back into the warmth and sit down to a fine meal and delicious wine, with proper cutlery.

    (July 2014)

  • Food
    Fresh produce reigns supreme in chef Joan Lancefield’s country kitchen, and what doesn’t come straight from the Cluver vegetable gardens is sourced nearby. This simple approach runs through to the food, with straightforward yet delicious dishes on a menu that changes daily. Flaky beef pie, gorgeous salads and succulent roast chicken are regular favourites.

    Wine
    Only Paul Cluver wines on sale, but at cellar door prices. The chardonnay and pinot noir are outstanding, and good matches for Joan’s menu.

    Service
    Wonderful, with Joan spending nearly as much time hosting guests as she does in the kitchen.

    Ambience
    A cosy rustic space, with chunky wooden tables and wonderful vineyard views.

    (RH, October 2012)

User reviews

  • This was one of the best wine farm lunches I have had this year! The ceviche with the tuna was yum and I ate all my duck to the bone. The hosts at the farm were just amazing- wowed by Damian . Coming back again :)
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  • Fanastic country spot that's a scene straight out of Stealing Beauty: long leisuerely lunches on the lawn, superb food, fabulous wine and Niki's incredible hospitality makes you feel as though you a visiting a close friend for lunch. One of my favourite restuarants in the Overberg that has a unique brand of magic all of its own
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  • The omens were not good. We arrived late, courtesy of the stop-gos on the road from Bredasdorp, just as the fickle September Boland weather decided that we had had our dose of sunshine for the day. This would not have been a problem but for the fact that we were 8 people and a dog and were due to sit outside. Cue another rabbit out of the hat from the owner, Niki (the outside table was already a work-around solution to accommodate a late booking) and two minutes later we had a table inside and our dog had the play-date of his life with Niki's equally energetic black labrador. Within minutes of arriving the pasta napolitana was on the table and disappearing down the throats of our gannets (the tagliatelli was fresh, the sauce had a slight sweetness, all clearly wasted when consumed at such speed, although second helpings were ordered). Now to the serious part - the adults' food. The restaurant's name, "Fresh", is well chosen for it describes perfectly the food. The ingredients are local, seasonal and - well - fresh. Every ingredient is given the space to express itself in the dish, but is not allowed to dominate. The food is not overly complex but it is far from unsophisticated - plenty to keep the palate interested. The menu is small (4 of each course), so you run the risk of there not being something for everyone's taste, but it is a means of keeping the quality higher than the prices. Everyone had their highlights, from a beautifully pressed game bird terrine which was surprisingly subtle to gnocchi in a heavenly and calorie rich cream, blue cheese and walnut sauce (perfect as the rain continued to pour) to a granadilla eton mess - who needs berries when you have the sourness of the granadillas standing up to the sugary meringue and blended with thick cream. And if that is not enough to tempt, there are Paul Cluver wines at cellar prices. Service was what one would expect of an intimate venue. And on a day where the temperature fell towards single figures, the roaring fire and rustic touches which soften an essentially modern structure and give it its warmth created a cosy, intimate feel. It was 4.30 by the time we dragged a bedraggled, exhausted dog into the car to join the rest of Cape Town as it crawled down Sir Lowry's Pass back to reality. We'll be back - quite possible for October's menu - 3 days and counting!
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  • I had the pleasure on Heritage Day to be invited to Fresh at Paul Cluver for lunch! I was very excited as I have not yet had the opportunity to do so! Well, i was very impressed to say the least! Besides the fact that it is so simple and refreshing excuse the pun, we were a large group and made to feel welcome the moment we arrived! Their philosophy of using fresh, local and sustainable ingredients that are in season peaked my interest straight away and the food.....hhhmmm totally delicious, fresh, clean and beautifully presented! The toughest decision was deciding what to choose from the menu and when our meals arrived there was silence for the first time the entire day, while we all tucked in! I'm hooked and cannot wait to return to see what the seasonal menu will offer!
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  • Saturday was a day to look forward to and boy it really delivered! Or should I say Fresh @ Paul Cluver really delivered. My partner and I planned a sojourn into the country to have lunch with a dear friend whom we hadn't seen for a while. We booked a lunch table at Fresh and arrived around 12h15. We were met on the rolling lawns outside the tasting room by the gorgeously friendly resident Maitre dog called Elvis, who took it upon himself to ensure we knew exactly where we were going and we just humoured him along. Entering Fresh is like entering a friends home. The atmosphere is warm and relaxed, Niki is the best hostess and the smells emanating from the kitchen under chef Damian's keen eye, have you drooling before you are even seated. It was lovely to see that the menu has been updated to include wine pairings. This suited me perfectly, I nestled into my first glass whilst my companions sensibly stuck to drinking beer. We all ordered different starters, one Vichyssoise that was proclaimed to be viciously good, the mussels on my right looked so yummy I just had to steal one and they were, whilst I ordered the Carpaccio of Linefish which was just delicious and reminded me of my sabbatical in Peru, a slight resemblance to Ceviche but not exactly, just delicious. When mains came around the home we call Fresh was reasonably busy with wonderfully happy atmosphere, lots of laughter, with our table being perhaps a little louder than the rest but no one seemed to mind. Once again we all had something different, I couldn't help but order the Karoo lamb, my partner the Gnocchi and our friend the fresh Linefish. Silence practically fell as we tucked in, everything was truly moreish. Fresh is definitely the right name for the establishment as all the ingredients down to the garnish seem to burst with flavour. I was the only one who braved stretching her midriff by ordering desert. The chocolate & blueberry fondant was sensational, albeit the bridge to far, kindly my dining partners who insisted they couldn't fit in another morsel, landed up helping me to the point of scraping fingers across the plate to clean up all the sauce. We all loved our dining experience at Fresh @ Paul Cluver. It was a totally memorable day, made more memorable due to Niki, Damian and Elvis being such wonderful hosts but the food, oh the food, I wouldn't hesitate to go again and again.
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  • We had the most outstanding sunday lunch at Fresh yesterday. Seasonal fresh menu, well priced and absolutely delicious. Beautifully presented food, non-invasive and friendly service. And no complaints when the food is being complemented with Paul Cluver wines! Niki is very friendly and takes the time and effort to visit each and every guest in the restaurant. I can't wait to visit again soon.
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  • Fresh at Paul Cluver was incredible. Superb food and wonderfully warm service by a charming hostess and staff. Truly a delightful, satisfying and memorable experience. We shall definitely be returning to sample the sumptuous and varied menu.
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  • My friend and I adore good food and like to visit as many restaurants in the Helderberg and beyond area as we possibly can. We recently had the privilege of dining at Fresh for lunch this past Saturday, August 29th. Two words: gastronomic feast! We were seated at the communal table which is just a lovely idea. The wine (Paul Cluver Village Pinot Noir) was superb, atmosphere most cosy and comfortable and the food delicious! Truly a fantastic experience all round. Please go. Don't delay. But book in advance. And enjoy - as we did!
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  • Fresh at Paul Cluver must be one of the most perfect lunch venues imaginable. The decor is stunning - wood and glass, relaxed and beautiful - and in good weather the seating is outside on lawns surrounded by gardens, orchards and mountains. Every mouthful of our food, much of which was grown organically right on the premises, was utterly delicious, and Niki and Damian bent over backwards to make our day perfect. I can't wait to go again. Oh, and be sure to find an excuse to powder your nose while you're there, the loo is awesome!
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  • Fresh at Paul Cluver is my happy place. From day one, this wonderful gem of an eatery is always tops in terms of menu (using fresh, seasonal produce), setting and service. I would recommend Fresh any day of the week and twice on Sundays. Wishing Niki, Damian and their dedicated staff a bumper season. They deserve every accolade
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  • Brilliant food in an amazing atmosphere with great attention to detail. Very relaxed and chilled out, but at the same time there is a drive to perfection with simple but challenging menu to choose from. A repeat favourite of mine.
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  • We recently had a family lunch outing to Fresh @ Paul Cluver and what a find. The food was completely outstanding - and accompanied by the freshest, grown-on-site, picked-that-morning greens. The chef Damian Dearlove (formerly of the Mount Nelson) is masterful, and owner Niki Hall-Jones is a delightful host. The country setting is stunning and the restaurant is beautifully filled with light (the bathroom is worth a visit, trust me on this). Highly, highly recommended.
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  • Discovered this gem of a restaurant a few months back by introduction and as the name suggests, the setting and menu provides just that - the freshest ingredients in the most natural setting. Niki has grown this country spot into one of Elgin's best eateries and the addition of chef Damian has made sure the menu kept to the original promise of fresh local produce, mostly from the region or the seasonal garden. A few favourites include the home-made chicken pie and when in season, the artichokes with lemon butter is a must have! And the fresh warm bread served at each meal...heavenly! The selection of Paul Cluver wines are perfect and the new Cluver cider the perfect addition for summer! No amount of description however can put across the experience of dining at this magical country spot, give it a try...hot summer lunches in the garden under the trees or cold wet days in front of the fire, you'll be impressed either way!
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  • I've only been there once and I'm dying to come back again! I had an amazing experience all round, the beautiful scenery, the atmosphere in the garden was great! It feels good knowing that the vegetables are all freshly grown right there and the restaurant staff were also exceptional! The food was next level and you couldn't really ask for more cos the wine was great too! :)
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  • Very fresh. Also delicious, friendly and worth the drive from Cape Town. The service is relaxed, matching the atmosphere. We're already looking forward to the next visit. Soon, as the week's menu offered many possible choices.
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  • ....AND Yet another fantastic sunday lunch at Fresh. Niki, your a rockstar!
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  • Great venue! ! Fresh indeed! Nikki's infectious personality and energy just made the experience even more awesome. Loved the food and the portions are just right. Go on and try it!!
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  • I discovered this gem of a restaurant by introduction about a year ago and have been back several times in the last few months. Each times seems to just get better! ...we feel like family and certainly gets this welcoming and familiar treatment every time we go back.

    Owner and chef, Niki has a natural talent for food and for allowing you to enjoy it with abundance. Her passion and incredible dishes never seem to fail to impress.

    This is a magical place and this is evident in Niki's approach in dealing with each guest and extends to the friendly staff; the setting is unprecedented - cozy and warm in winter and 'Fresh' and inviting in summer when seating is outside on the green lawn.

    Without fail one of best spots to visit and guarantee you will fall in love like we have...
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  • We have had two meals at Fresh on Paul Cluver Wine Estate - what a gem of a place - the menu is in line with the restaurant's name "Fresh" - there is no fixed menu - Chef, Nikki personally came to our table and brought the new menu for the day - I had a Asian 5 Spice Pork Salad and others had the green chicken curry - there is no kiddies menu but my son tucked into the bowl of pasta drizzled with olive oil - the food is great and the best part is you get to sit in the beautiful gardens under the trees and relax
    The second meal was a late breakfast after doing a mountain bike event with friends - everyone enjoyed their meals and commented about the beautiful setting - this restaurant is definitely worth a visit

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  • Great breakfast! Amazing setting!
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  • Fresh is definitely one of those unique Elgin gems that makes for sublime and (often) boozy lunches under the trees. While the space is equipped so that you can be seated inside or out, it is really delightful to sit outside. The Niki - the proprietor and chef - is hands on and it reflects on the service, which is consistently good. The menu is testament to the name - all the ingredients are 'fresh' and the menu changes according the chef's mood. This makes for inspired dining as nothing on the menu is too fussy and simple meals are done very well with an emphasis on quality of ingredients and subtle flair.

    We had an outstanding lunch at Fresh on a Sunday afternoon and it was well worth the drive out from Cape Town. As an avid fan of the Elgin region, I would say that Fresh is well worth the quiet hype it's creating.

    Try the pie! Any pie if they have it. It's well worth it.
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  • Good day,

    This restaurant is a very lovely place and the cuisine is very good. We enjoyed it once in 2012 and wanted to do it last Sunday.
    Well this story is about big disappointment that me and family have experienced. I started my route from Mossel Bay at 11 am and wanted to have a lunch en route to Cape Town at "Fresh". Knowing the restaurant might be booked I phone them and asked for the table. Lady told me that it was fully booked, then I told her that I was coming only at 3 pm (usually people finish their lunches and there are free tables before this time) and could I expect to have a table? She told me and I quote "Give me your telephone number and they will call you back". So did I.
    You know it is 350km between Mossel Bay and Elgin and I covered it for just 3.5 hours making NO stops. I didn't get any feedback from the management, but I finally got there.
    When we arrived we initially saw free tables, but when we asked waiter he was confused and tried to sing an old song "we are booked". Well...they were fully booked at 11 am, so how could it happen? Why no one called us when these tables became available? He was not ready to answer and called the manager. After brief chat she gave up telling us that they are not capable to cook for us, because their kitchen cannot manage many people in the restaurant. I case of the call back she told me something about "misunderstanding", but I am young enough to remember what I was told. After a short quarrel she indulgently offered us this table (remember it was booked when we came), but she remarked that we will might wait for a long time. We left, exhausted and tired (I have 2 year old daughter), to Cape Town (1 more hour, but they don't count).
    Well to conclude: we didn't get call back, we traveled 350 km to have a lunch but got only poor management and attempt to fool us (hello to waiter), we we left hungry and upset. Manager tried to persuade us about misunderstanding, but it was only a "nice try".

    Well, the food is brilliant but if you want to go there book in advance 1 week. You will probably not be able to get there by chance. Moreover they will most likely not be capable to serve everyone in the restaurant.
    At least in our case management did everything to get rid of us. Keep your eyes open and don't let any waiter of manager to fool you.

    Regargs,

    Andrey Borovik
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  • We have just had an amazing lunch today - attentive staff, wonderful menu, very relaxing atmosphere. A hugely enjoyable family afternoon for us. Loved the menu, assembled with what is available locally and in the garden with care and passion, every single dish a taste sensation! Thanks Joan for making us feel welcome! We will definitely go again.

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  • We had lunch at 'Fresh' (at Paul Cluver Estate) on the 2nd of January 2013....what a treat! Our meal was absolutely delicious, and we all had a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon, thank you.
    It’s great that Joan adds her personal touch….thank you to Joan and her friendly, efficient staff for a wonderful Fresh experience!

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  • We came to Fresh on Eat Out magazine's recommendation of it being one of the best country kitchens. The ambience is wonderful when sitting outside, but this was the only highlight amongst dismal service and rather average food.

    There were no menus besides a wine list. I am not accustomed to memorising 15 choices as Johan read them out. A blackboard that a waiter could move around the restaurant would be a good start, as it is a familiar sight at many restaurants which change their menus on a daily basis.

    Our starter plates were not removed until the mains were served; we just had to shove them aside to make space for a new fresh plate of food. The menu was rather geared to a winter's day with chichen and mushroom pie and a beef Thai curry. At 33'C in the middle of January, this is a poor choice for the kitchen.

    Unfortunately, I won't be back. This is a shame considering the venue.

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  • We had lunch here when on holiday in the Elgin Valley. And our fate was sealed when the rain came down and the heat of the fire place entranced me. It must have been fate. Joan was an amazing host - very personable and her offerings heavenly. I had a tomato basil soup starter that nearly made me cry from happiness as it warmed my body it warmed my heart as well. My cousin had the prawn avo starter that she woolfed down for fear I would help myself to her portion so I take it it was that good. The other patrons had beef pie that looked amazing and hearty. We opted for dessert. Chocolate brownie in a ramekin and apple crumble served with cream. It was heavenly. If I wasn't full at this stage I would have ordered one of each!

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  • Your must stop at your Elgin trip, awesome outdoor setting with lovely food and genuine service.

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  • Joan opened her lovely restaurant for our end of year function one evening last month. The food was better than I can remember eating in a long time. Every mouth full was amazing. Her food is full of taste. The wine was also fabulous and worth mentioning at a great price. I really cannot recommend this little hidden gem more. You get much much more than you pay for which is hard to find. I intend to visit whenever I can.

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  • Lovely simple food with amazing taste. Quality not quantity. A hidden gem with a relaxed feel. Well worth it. Had a great time.

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  • Fantastic, wow food was GREAT and I will be back soon...

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  • Hi Elsa
    Thanks for the review
    A few details need changing
    Fresh at Paul Cluver
    Opening hours
    Tuesday through Saturday 9am 4pm
    Please could you update your site with these details
    Many thanks
    Joan lancefield
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  • Fantastic food in a fantastic setting! A "must visit" for all. Fresh, honest food.

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  • Food is plucked and picked straight from the trees and earth. Expect natural, simple food like free-range Elgin chicken roasted with veggies from the garden. Figs fresh from the trees are wrapped in Parma ham and baked with gorgonzola and cream and served with fresh homemade bread. Finish off with granadilla pavlova and granadilla homemade ice cream.
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Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Alfresco
  • Booking required
  • Breakfast
  • Child friendly
  • Food
  • Licensed
  • Lunch
  • Parking
  • Serves food
  • Vegetarian
  • Wheelchair

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