How goes the saying? Dynamite comes in small packages. The menu – and the space – at Restaurant Jardine in Stellenbosch may be on the small side, but the pay-off, as delivered by the award-winning chef George Jardine, is big.
The menu at Jardine is, as mentioned, quite short, but when you’re cooking highly seasonal food, that is no bad thing. You’ll find only three to four options for every course, and yet it is still very hard to pick one. I am sorely tempted by a tart of caramelised onion and pear with gorgonzola mousse, but then opt for the springbok tartare with aioli, walnuts, sourdough crisps and tiny feathers of pickled onion. It’s a wonderful dish – a perfect marriage of flavours (salty, creamy and tangy) and textures.
A main course of herbed barley risotto with crumbed poached egg abounds with fresh, herbaceous flavours. But it is the fish that wins the day: pan-fried Mauritian sea bass with artichoke velouté (hello, spring!), grilled artichoke and a tangy shaved cauliflower salad with crispy parmesan sprinkles. Beyond delicious, and the most memorable fish course I’ve had in ages. Dessert brings a vibrant dish of a small genoise (Italian sponge cake) with macerated strawberries, crème patisserie, almonds and a scoop of strawberry ice cream. What a happy little plate this is.
All in all, a truly excellent meal. Plating is elegant but not fussy; portions are generous but never overwhelming; flavours are vibrant, yet collaborative. Every bite is reflective of the bright minds and deft hands at work in the kitchen. We depart with relunctance, and the fervent desire to visit again soon to see what new seasonal delights Jardine may hold.
A good wine offering, with options sorted by varietal and something to suit most tastes and budgets. If you’re after an apertitif, look to the food menu of the day, where you’ll find a couple of interesting cocktails, such as the likes of the Jardine Chicago (KWV brandy, triple sec, bitters and bubbly) or the evocative Pink Lady – pink gin, bitters, strawberries, tonic and soda.
Very good. Informed, friendly and efficient.
In contrast with the restaurant at Jordan, this is not a super sleek, fancy restaurant. In fact, it’s a smallish space, with an intimate, comfortable feel. Against a neutral background of light wooden furniture and voluminous grey tablecloths, botanical prints on the walls and plenty of foliage add some fresh pops of colour. The place to be on a nice day is the outside tables for sure – if you manage to score one.
Celebrating a special occasion – or special visit – with someone who will appreciate top-notch seasonal fare.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our full editorial policy here.
Over the last two decades, George Jardine, frequent winner of a coveted place in the Eat Out Top Ten, has earned his spurs as one of the top chefs in the country. Commuting between his new venture in Stellenbosch and his destination restaurant at Jordan wine estate, his creative energy is boundless. A focus on seasonal flavours showcases local, organic produce on a changing menu, which tempts with sublime combinations.
The menu identifies the exact provenance of ingredients from east coast monkfish and hake to Walker Bay white mussels and Oak Valley pork. The main ingredient is enhanced with delectable sauces, reductions, garnishes and foraged sides, from samphire (sea asparagus) and dune spinach to wild mushrooms and micro-greens. Earthy, smoky tastes and textures are showcased in signature dishes like smoked, acorn-fed pork with pease pudding, prawn boudin blanc, Williston lamb kidneys and roasted root vegetables. There are gastronomic choices for vegetarians, from caramelised leek tart with truffled watercress to gorgonzola gnocchi with charred Brussels sprouts.
A fine attention to detail and a subtle balance shows on every bespoke ceramic bowl and plate. If available, signature dishes tempt, with aged pasture-reared Greenfields sirloin on a bed of creamed puy lentils and the freshest, flakiest hake poached in red wine with glazed bone marrow.
Expect bold, contemporary fare from a master with supreme respect for the meticulously sourced ingredients on his cutting board and in his kitchen.
A good selection of affordable wines by variety, glass and bottle, as well as craft spirits.
Attentive and on the ball, with warmth and charm.
Intimate and cosy in the covered courtyard and small, interior dining room with botanical vegetable illustrations.
Share a selection of South African farm cheeses if you’re too full for dessert.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay their own way. Read our full editorial policy here.