Hetta van Deventer Terblanche
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. This creative and hardworking duo is behind popular eateries such as Overture, Spek en Bone and Bertus Basson at Spice Route.
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 flavour. 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.
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.
Food is served takeaway style, with a friendly and welcoming reception. Owners Bertus and Mareli might pop in.
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.
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.
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