Joostenberg Bistro is a busy family-friendly restaurant at a venue where you could easily spend the entire day. The restaurant is flanked by picnic lawns and the Joostenberg deli, meaning you could easily drive out and spend the entire day here.
Each part of the menu is short and sweet. It doesn’t make choosing easier, though, especially once you see other diners’ food leaving the kitchen. Everything looks spectacular, especially all the dishes featuring the thick-cut homemade farm bread. If you’re there for breakfast, you won’t be disappointed by the simple-sounding yet mouthwatering French toast with fynbos honey and bacon. If you’re in the mood for opulent, try the Frenchman’s breakfast, which comes with an assortment of cheese, charcuterie, a baguette, a croissant and a financier. Else opt simply for a single croissant with homemade jam and butter – a treat in and of itself.
If you’re at Joostenberg for lunch, start with the charcuterie plate. It features pork terrine, chicken liver paté, pork rillette, home-cured coppa and ham, pork pie and brawn. It comes with gherkins and pickled onions, plus the most enjoyable baguette and toast. (The bread at Joostenberg, in any form, is truly not to be missed. You haven’t visited unless you’ve eaten at least a slice of sourdough or munched on a chunk of addictive baguette.) The charcuterie comes plated, not served on a board, which makes it slightly more difficult to share, and is puzzlingly topped with a mountain of lettuce. However, the cold meats are as fresh as can be and make for a fantastic accompaniment to the bread. Beware: this is not a starter for one.
There are a few light meals – which those with smaller appetites should absolutely opt for, or prepare to take home their leftovers – but the mains are where you’ll really want to find yourself. The traditional croque monsieur (to which you can add triple-cooked chips) is huge and drench in cheese. It’s absurdly good, with the perfect amount of complementary mustard. There’s ham, two types of cheese and Joostenberg bread – it’s a clear winner. You could also opt for the omelette with mushroom sauce and Gruyére or the pan-fried line fish with julienne vegetables, steamed baby potatoes and a chenin blanc reduction. The Joosten-burger is another must-try, if only for the fantastic ground beef rump patty. It comes topped with balsamic onion relish that is perhaps a touch too sweet, pickled cucumber, red onions, triple-cooked chips and an aioli you will want to take home with you and drown your every meal in. The pork neck vindaloo, topped with turmeric and cumin potatoes and crispy courgettes, is more than worth ordering – especially on a chilly day – but could use a pinch more salt and slightly more tender pork neck. If you’re a steak lover, there’s also a dry-aged rump steak with triple-cooked chips and a café de Paris butter.
The desserts are classic country-style staples: a (guava) crème brûlée, a baked (granadilla) cheesecake with berry coulis, and a baked apple and vanilla custard tart. The dark chocolate mousse served with créme anglaise, however, is nothing short of fantastic. You’ll go back for spoonful after spoonful till you’re left with no more than a licked-clean bowl and a smile.
The wine list is extensive, though just a few are available by the glass. Of course Joostenberg wines feature front and centre, but there’s also a host of others to choose from. There’s also a decent selection of beers and ciders. Soft drinks are available, as is a nice selection of warm drinks and even homemade milkshakes. There’s also a homemade lemonade and a great homemade ginger beer.
Service is friendly and competent enough. You get the impression that some of the staff are a little overwhelmed, but that’s understandable considering the number of guests.
This is the spot for anything under the sun. All at once, business associates are having brunch, young adults are on dates, families with small children are enjoying a day out and tourists are comfortably taking it all in. It makes for a very loud result but it’s all convivial, and the big open space makes it seem as if you’re simply spending the day with a very large group of friends you just happen not to have met yet. There’s also a large fireplace, which must make the restaurant nice and toasty in winter.
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Joostenberg Deli offers simple but tasty bistro fare at affordable prices. The menu makes the fact of a butchery on site very evident; there’s lots of red meat and charcuterie, as well as items like pork tongue, crispy fried tail and confit pork cheeks, which fits in well with the current rage for nose-to-tail eating.
On the starters side of things, the smoked Franschhoek trout is recommended, served with steamed baby potatoes and a lemony cream sauce. While it may not look like much in terms of presentation, it is absolutely lovely, with well balanced flavours and textures that work together seamlessly to create a delicious and very comforting dish.
Mains are hearty, and the portions (as on the rest of the menu) are very generous. You might consider the slow-cooked pork neck steak with cauliflower pureé or the free-range beef steak with paprika potato wedges, but then settle on the Joostenburger, served with apple-and-bacon jam, pickled cucumber and pink onions, and triple-cooked hand-cut chips. What arrives is nothing short of mammoth – certainly very tasty, but large enough to share for sure, especially if you still had your eye on something sweet for dessert.
In that department, the plum-and-almond tart is a warm and buttery confection that goes down a treat with some home-made vanilla ice cream. There’s also a fine local cheese plate to enjoy, and a warm lemon drizzle cake with lemon curd and meringue.
The wine list holds all the Klein Joostenberg wines, some of them available by the glass, and then a nice selection of other local wines, sourced from the likes of Hartenberg, Kanonkop and Villiera. There’s also a few French bottles to be enjoyed. Apart from the latter, the offering is quite pocket-friendly, with a not-too-steep mark-up.
Cheerful and easy-going. Staff are attentive without being fussy, as befits a relaxed country-style bistro.
Not for nothing is this one of the most popular weekend destinations around; Klein Joostenberg is supremely family-friendly. It’s a spacious venue, with loads of seating inside (where a fire burns merrily in winter) or out (where the sunlight filters through the vine-covered pergola). Outside on the vast green grounds, a treehouse will delight the kids, or they might be tempted to go ogle some waterfowl at the waterside. The atmosphere is very relaxed, to the point where no-one bats an eye when the resident chicks and roosters wander inside, waddling contentedly under the tables and chairs.
Before you leave, pop into the deli for some treats – it is so well stocked with goods of such great value for money that you could finish your grocery shopping for the week right there. Finally, they offer a set menu on Sundays (three courses for R220), which is amazing value for money. The portions are substantial though, so come hungry.
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