Approximately two hours southeast of Cape Town, chef Jürgen Schneider’s ambitious farmstead restaurant, a modern barn on Springfontein Estate, serves a four-, five- or six-course tasting menu centred on produce pulled from the earth mere hours before gracing your plate.
Anyone who comes here expecting casual fare will be sorely disappointed, because the food at Springfontein Eats is anything but casual. Springfontein Eats is what you get when Michelin-star skills are paired with a fervent love for organic, local produce. The success of this union is the reason this off-the-beaten-track spot near Stanford has appeared on the Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards nomination list.
To kick off the meal, a warm variety of fresh breads with a selection of spreads are served before delicious bite-size amuse-bouches (‘greetings from the kitchen’) arrive, subtly hinting at chef Jürgen’s cooking history. After a well-timed break, the starters are served, and the much-loved local trout remains on the menu, with an updated twist. Delicate trout is served with compressed watercress and shaved mairübchen, a type of turnip popular in Germany that chef Jürgen and his co-owner wife Susanne grow on the farm.
After tasting the squid dish with tomato and squid ink sauce, it becomes clear why many people repeat the trek to eat here. The main courses pick up where the starters left off with a deliberate intensity in the depth of flavour. The oxtail is a moreish warm hug on a winter’s night, while the springbok with cauliflower is an unctuous dish with a lingering gamey finish. Along with the foraged garnishes, the ever-changing list of side dishes such as Gruberg cheese or the butter salad made with ingredients that come from the farm’s vegetable garden.
Unconventionally, even the best dessert comes from the vegetable garden. The utterly delicious sorrel soup with floating vanilla sponge is as ingenious as it is intriguing.
Expect to find every palate catered for, from single malt whiskies, wines from the greater Hemel-en-Aarde valley and, fittingly, some German Rieslings. It would be a travesty to forget the estate wine – especially the Springfontein chenin blanc and the Jonathan's Ridge pinotage.
The service is relaxed yet attentive. Susanne keeps a watchful eye over the dining room, while watrons tend to guests with the warmest courtesy.
Like something of a modern-day barn, Springfontein Eat’s décor is beautifully pared down. Thatched roof, polished floors and exposed stone walls are accented by smatterings of vibrant art pieces.
Don’t scoff at The Springfontein Wine Bar(n). It offers wine tastings and light nibbles for guests who wander onto the farm outside of the main restaurant’s mealtimes.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our full editorial policy here.
There are no quick bites at Springfontein Eats, where chef Jürgen Schneider combines his Michelin-starred background with local produce to conjure up an impressive multi-course dining experience.
Despite the casual farm locale, the cooking here is accomplished, with multiple elements in each dish delivering layers of flavour. The meal begins with a plate of wonderful fresh breads, before a succession of amuse-bouche plates dubbed ‘greetings from the kitchen’. This could be a light and fragrant carrot soup, or slow-cooked beetroot with home-made ham. But leave space for starters: the local trout done three ways is superb, as is the flavour-packed ravioli of wild mushrooms picked that morning on the farm.
In addition to his foraging, Schneider has an extensive vegetable garden on the farm that provides plenty of organic produce to the kitchen. Mains hint at the hearty cuisine of Schneider’s homeland, with duck breast plated in a rich jus and topped with a sweet crumble of crispy duck skin. The intense oxtail is another good choice for chilly nights.
Desserts are equally inventive, and the wood-sorrel ice cream with orange couscous is as memorable as the generous plate of petit-fours that will finally send you rolling out the door.
An impressive wine list offers multiple vintages of estate wines both in the nearby Hemel-en-Aarde valley and further afield. Estate wines are available by the glass. If your pockets are deep, there’s an enviable selection of German Riesling and French Bordeaux to be had. The adjoining whisky lounge offers a wonderful selection of single malts.
While Jürgen is in the kitchen, Susanne Schneider keeps a close eye on the happiness of diners. Expect warm and charming country hospitality.
There’s a bright and modern farm feel, the exposed stone walls and thatched roof contrasting neatly with modern art and blond wood furniture. Bag a table near the wood-burning stove in winter, or out on the terrace in summer.
No time for degustation? The Springfontein Bar(n) offers wine tastings and lighter bites.
Eat Out critics dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.