Once you’ve got your drink in front of you, apply yourself to the smart bar snacks to soak it all up. Options that hit the mark are flash-fried broccoli, sesame-beef short-rib and Korean chicken lollipops. We opt for chilli poppers, which arrive fat, golden, hot and suitably creamy inside.
Burgers are the perfect size to eat with your hands – satisfying but not gargantuan – and come on boards with regular fries, but you might want to upgrade to truffle-parmesan fries here. They’re crisped up with finely grated parmesan and a hint of truffly aroma – highly recommended and delicious with a pint of Devil’s Peak lager. After our meal has arrived we spy delicious-looking puffy onion rings on someone else’s burger board. Something to enquire about next time, as they are nowhere to be found on the menu.
The Green Chilli burger option is a tangy and not-too-hot affair with pickled jalapeños nestling in white cheddar atop a gorgeously smoky-flavoured patty. It’s super tasty, with soft and slightly sweet buns buttered and toasted on both sides to add extra yum factor and crunch.
Vegetarians might like the chickpea burger patty, else they could opt for a salad (butternut, beetroot, lentil and goat’s cheese sounds like a winner) or the porcini-and-gruyère risotto.
If you have space after all that deep-fried everything, try some churros with hot chocolate sauce or throw caution to the wind with a Banoffee Mess.
Some menu items aren't always available, so don't set your heart on things before chatting to the wait staff.
Devil's Peak beer is on tap, with tasting notes to guide you. You can also go to see the glistening taps up close and ask for some advice from the friendly bartenders. If you’re not a beer drinker, don’t despair – the menu has some promising wines, hard tack and a solid selection of local gins, some of which are made in the neighbourhood.
Staff are very sweet if a little inexperienced and vague. The tables and menus are rather grubby – but you’re in a Woodstock brewery taproom after all. You get the feeling a firm hand on the management side of things could really make a good space into a great one.
Devil’s Peak Taproom has cleverly transformed the front half of a brewery warehouse-type space into a bar and eatery. High ceilings can make it feel a bit cavernous and noisy, but the reward is huge windows looking over onto the urban scene, with some bar stools and counters along the road-facing section, and a balcony that must pump in summer. The industrial feeling is softened somewhat with beautiful blue wooden chairs and pops of proteas in old wine bottles.
A few TV screens dotted around make this a good place to watch sporting events with a rowdy crowd. (LS)
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Jeanne Calitz and Linda Scarborough
The offering is what one would expect – and demand – of a beerhouse: hearty dishes like robust sandwiches, burgers, fish and chips, with a few interesting quirks.
The adventurous of appetite should order the chicken and waffles, a very generous portion of Southern-fried bird served on a waffle with bacon-and-blue-cheese gravy. The little waffle square can get quite soggy under the crispy chicken, but the sauce is just the right measure of smoky cheesiness. It’s incredibly rich but delicious, especially when paired with the sweet and malty Devil’s Peak First Light Golden Ale.
The burgers are also really good – lots of flavour, not too fatty – and come in perfectly manageable portion sizes. (What is it with all these other enormous burgers about town? How are you supposed to get them into your face?) Remaining options include the popular pulled pork sandwich (almost big enough to share), prawn pasta and the fish and chips, with the hake battered in Devil’s Peak Silvertree Saison. Disappointingly, the food and beer pairing board – R100 for flights of First Light and grilled hake; Saison and prawns; Woodhead and pulled pork; Blockhouse and Reuben sandwich; and one of the explorer series paired with a speciality cheese) is not available at peak times such as Friday nights.
Vegetarians can order the mushroom pizza that’s liberally sprinkled with truffle oil, the salad of the day or the mushroom pasta. The bar menu also features a small selection of snacks like onion rings, flash-fried broccoli and bowls of fries.
If you have room for dessert after all the carbo-loading, there’s grilled banana and butterscotch waffle, the thought of which has us weak at the knees.
Most people would come here for the excellent Devil’s Peak craft beer, but if you’re tagging along and are not really a beer person, there’s also a small but interesting selection of local wines, including the Hermanuspietersfontein Bloos, the Secateurs Chenin Blanc and the Joubert Tradouw R62.
As far as the brews go, there’s no question that the guys at Devil’s Peak know their stuff. Leaders in the local industry, they consistently deliver in quality and bold flavour. Eat Out’s in-house cerevisaphile (yes, this is a real word, meaning beer lover) heartily recommends The King’s Blockhouse IPA (Indian Pale Ale) for its strong, hoppy character and good balance.
On a pumping weekend night the staff handle large groups with aplomb, carefully noting who sits where and what they’ve ordered. Trays of drinks and food arrive right on time and the patient waiters manoeuvre deftly between the tightly packed tables and chairs.
The high-roofed warehouse space with its concrete floors could easily have been unwelcoming and cold, but they’ve managed to warm it up with the odd wooden touch, some artwork and piles of old-fashioned bound books. Mismatched furniture and homey brick-a-brack lends it the comfy, almost grungy feel of an eccentric uncle’s study. The bar area, long benches and bottomless beer make the Taproom a good spot for lively parties of twenty-or-thirty-somethings, but smaller tables are dotted around to accommodate couples and smaller groups. The vibe is rather masculine but welcoming nevertheless, and there’s that striking view of Devil’s Peak from the big curved windows facing Table Mountain.
The venue is also open on weekends and holidays, which makes it a great option for a cheerful lunch with friends and family. However, it’s not the most savoury part of Salt River at night – it’s pretty dark on the streets – so share rides if you can and be nice to their official car guard.
With great food, fantastic beer and a buzzy vibe to recommend it, we will definitely be returning to sample the rest of the Taproom’s charms.