This gem is certainly no secret to Overberg locals. The food is comforting and the simple blackboard menu is seasonal and concise. Expect starters like trout vol au vent with golden pastry, cooling cucumber and crème fraîche, a spicy carrot-and-coriander soup, or the famed devilled kidneys that are always on the menu.
Mains are hearty country-style classics with special twists from chef Brydon Havercroft. Dishes might include a take on chicken ballotine with walnuts, dates and pomegranates, slow-roasted pork belly, or a fresh trout, lemon and cream tagliatelle. However, the star of the show is the fish curry. The tamarind-laced dish has a magnificent sauce that makes the mouth pucker, while the fresh, white hake that’s coated in chickpea batter adds a delicious texture and flavour. Jewels of pomegranates and a tiny bowl of lemon preserve finish off this winning dish.
If there’s room for dessert, chef Brydon’s famous lemon tart is perfection, and the homemade churros with chilli-chocolate ice cream give some Mexican eateries a run for their money.
The wine list is small, but with some wonderful local options. The Gabriëlskloof Viognier that works beautifully with the aromatics of the fish curry.
Front-of-house manager and wife to the chef Innes is as effervescent as ever and attends to every table with the warmth of an old friend.
A tiny cosy cottage with a crackling fire welcomes you in winter while the outdoor patio that overlooks Stanford’s rolling hills is sought after on sunnier days.
Keep an eye out for Brydon and his fresh bakes and preserves at the weekly Stanford Saturday morning market.
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One of the gems of the Overberg, this unpretentious country restaurant punches above its weight in the food department. The small menu offers a handful of choices for each course. Starters could include smoked trout blini or perhaps succulent quail, but the devilled lamb’s kidneys are justifiably popular, the rich gravy all but begging to be mopped up with bread. For mains, the pork belly with beetroot chutney is simply sublime. To finish, don’t miss out on the chef’s famous lemon tart, which is served with fresh cream from Klein River farm nearby. Although the menu changes according to the seasons and the whims of the chef, you can be assured of generous country cooking.
On offer is a compact range of wines from mostly local estates.
Adding a welcome touch of theatrics, front of house Innes Havercroft keeps diners entertained, amused and well-fed, while husband Brydon works his magic in the kitchen.
This popular eatery is located in a cosy country cottage, where the terrace boasts delightful views over the pastoral fields and hills around Stanford.
Take note that booking is essential, especially in the busy summer months.
Stanford has been increasingly building its reputation as a foodie destination over the last few years and it's difficult to beat for sheer variety. For years there’s been Mariana’s, offering country kitchen food, places like Madre’s Kitchen and more recently the arrival of German Michelin-starred chef Jurgen Schneider to open up the excellent Springfontein Eats. But for some reason, I had never heard of Havercroft’s. I’m not sure how that happened – they’ve only been around for 13 years. It won’t take me another 13 to go back.
The menu is short and simple, as befitting a small operation, but it covers enough bases so everyone should be catered for. Four starters, four mains, five desserts. Three of the starters were vegetarian, with a goat’s cheese and garlic tart, red pepper and tomato soup and a gruyère soufflé (the cheese sourced from Klein Rivier down the road). The soup was perfectly balanced and gently spiced – simple and delicious. The only non-veg starter was the devilled lamb kidneys, a signature dish which has been on the menu pretty consistently since Havercroft’s opened. Arriving on top of a rösti and drowned in a creamy and rich gravy, the kidneys were pink but not chewy and utterly moreish – the kind that asks for more bread to mop up the gravy.
Mains include a chicken ballotine with leek custard, a sundried tomato and sage risotto, a Sunday roast beef, roast potatoes and Yorkshire pudding, and a pork belly with beetroot chutney and lentils. The roast tasted exactly like it would if your grandmother from Yorkshire had cooked it for the family. In fact, this is a theme of much of the food at Havercroft’s: home-cooked goodness, but slightly elevated. Not fussy, just good. The pork belly with beetroot chutney came on a bed of lentils and was similarly well executed, the crackling taken off and given some special attention to attain maximum crunch.
The English grandmotherly theme continues with dessert, the options being lemon tart, fudge ice cream, flourless chocolate cake, a chocolate Eton mess and apple pie. The apple pie was excellent as was the Eton mess, which was made of meringue, hazelnuts, berries – and avocado of all things. The avo apparently moistens the dryness of the chocolate. For the record, you don’t taste it and the mess is not green.
Like the food menu, there’s a concise yet varied range of wines, mainly local, with six whites, six reds and one rosé.
Entertaining and attentive. While chef Brydon does the cooking, his wife Innes controls the rest. Having her waltz around your table feels like you’ve signed up for dinner and a show. Expect to hear Dame Edna-esque pronouncements like, “You haven’t eaten your lentils. No dessert for you, you naughty woman.”
A cosy cottage with a verandah sporting picturesque views over the Stanford countryside, visits from grazing sheep and a comedy routine from the hostess… what’s not to like?
Chef Brydon is a regular at the Stanford Saturday market where he serves up a bunch of takeaway goodies. His chardonnay and chicken pies have a strong following. The Larder, a small room off the verandah at Havercroft’s is stocked with deli items to take away with you.
Opening times: Fridays and Saturdays 7pm till late; Sundays 12.30pm to 4.30pm (bookings required)
Housed in a delightful pantry-like room off the sun-filled courtyard, you will find chef Brydon Havercroft’s innovative creations such as granadilla curd, raisin pickle, apple and plum butter, sweet chilli onion relish, carrot ginger jam and sweet apple relish. Decadent meringues, dried figs and a variety of seeds and nuts complete the country pantry picture.
Smart shopper’s tip: When Brydon sticks his head out of the kitchen, ask him to give you a guided tour and tell you about his products before making your choice to purchase.