As the name suggests, this restaurant specialises in hearty, well-prepared old fashioned food such as trinchado, bobotie spring rolls, marrow bones on toast and peri-peri chicken livers for starters. They also serve a Ma-John-Jean – 200g sirloin grilled medium rare served with home-made bread and garlic mayo – which is delicious as a shared starter, but there are various other cold starters and salads.
All the meat they sell is aged in-house, which explains why they regularly feature in the top 10 of a local steakhouse competition. Rump Mozambique comes with fried egg, anchovy and chicken livers and Sirloin Princess with asparagus and Béarnaise sauce. Other main course options include burgers, combos, seafood, poultry, lamb, pork and venison, as well as two vegetarian main course options. The dessert section lists a Hazyview Pavlova, which is decadently exotic with coconut, banana, passion fruit and clotted cream.
The wine list features a host of familiar wines.
The friendly young wait staff are all eager to be of assistance, whether it is to deliver a cappuccino piled high with froth or to help one select one’s cut of meat. All the staff are well trained and happy to oblige.
From the Nguni cow print on the menus to the lovely rich smell of grilled meat that welcomes one, this is a restaurant that celebrates South African’s love of the braai and enjoyment of meat. The restaurant has a lovely stoep in front if one should not wish to sit in the built-in cubicles, and even though the space inside is decorated in dark wood with splashes of orange, it avoids the traditional steakhouse-look.
Chef Denee Fick-Esterhuizen and her husband Riaan Esterhuizen is opening a second shop in a new mall in Hazyview town – it is called the MC Company (Meat & Coffee Company) and will extend their present butchery that forms part of the restaurant to include bread, other baked goods and good coffee.
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The meat is hand cut and dry aged for 28 days – it’s safe to believe locals when they say this is the home of the best steaks in the Lowveld. Starters include many meat options such as trinchado (served with tomato, garlic and chilli salsa), bobotie spring rolls, or the Ma-John-Jean to share, a family favourite of 200g spiced sirloin, medium grilled and served with homemade bread and garlic mayonnaise.
There are two types of carpaccio – beef and ostrich – but also lighter starters such as rainbow trout fillets with lemon, thyme and black pepper cream cheese.
Steak weights are clearly indicated, with different portions to cater for all appetites. These can be ordered grilled in the traditional mode with only rock salt and pepper, or Pioneer’s style with added basting. Side orders include onion rings, sautéed mushrooms, homemade chakalaka, and even boerewors.
You could try the Rump Mozambique, served with peri-peri chicken livers, fried egg and anchovy, or one of the range of burgers and combos featuring poultry, seafood, lamb, pork and venison such as ostrich, kudu and crocodile.
Wines by the glass (served in a 250ml carafe) include three whites, a rosé and five reds, including an Arabella Shiraz and Kanu Rockwood. There is a substantial section of semi-sweet whites, including some legends one might not have seen in a long time such as Grunberger Freudenlese, Kupferberger Auslese and Nederburg Special Late Harvest. Interesting white options include the Backsberg Sauvignon Blanc; Durbanville Hills Biesjes Craal Sauvignon Blanc and Kleine Zalze Chenin Blanc. Reds come from the likes of Knorhoek, Uitkyk, La Motte, Raka and Simonsig. The wine list also features some nice bubblies, MCCs and special bottles.
Like many restaurants with regulars, people grow so fond of the service staff at Pioneer’s that they ask to be served by particular waiters. (Remember the name Moses). All the staff members are smartly attired, attentive and friendly, and are able to explain the intricacies of meat ageing and any specials of the day. They employ the European-style policy that allows all tips to be shared among all the staff, meaning that kitchen staff also receive 40% of this pool.
During the day, the large stoep offers a welcome reprieve from the harsh Lowveld sun. Tables in elegant white are always set out here, and large windows allow you to feel part of the buzz inside the restaurant. At night, the golden glow spilling out from inside the restaurant is even more inviting, and you can opt for booths or table seating. The colour scheme of deep orange and brown offsets table settings in elegant white, with small cacti and succulents as table decorations.
Chef-patron Denee Fick Esterhuizen knows the area very well and is happy to make suggestions of activities, other exciting dining possibilities or just general feel-good stories about her area.
Hennie FisherOwner-chef Denee Fick-Esterhuizen runs a tight ship, that includes a formal grill restaurant, an attached gourmet butchery and in the past couple of years a neighbouring fish and chips shopcalled Tides Seafood Diner. On offer is grills, steaks, in-house aged roasts and an array of other meat options. Yes, they do offer of course chicken, fish,salads and other vegetarian options, but it is their grill-house one wants to experience.