This landmark of the Paarl restaurant scene continues to draw in loyal locals and curious tourists with its wide-ranging menu that blends local flavours and ingredients with a distinctly European approach. That could mean a trio of wild mushrooms in risotto, home-made gnocchi with parmesan and (more) mushrooms, or beef carpaccio in a heady truffle vinaigrette.
Look out for daily specials on the chalkboard: perhaps ostrich fillet with spätzle or fillet on the bone with a pesto mash. Even with these heartier dishes the plating is elegant; there are no unnecessary flourishes here, and the food is all the better for it. There’s an appealing flexibility on the menu too, with many dishes available as starter or main portions.
Desserts are reliably traditional, from the excellent tiramisu to a more local malva pudding and classic crêpe Suzette. Can’t decide? The cleverly-named ‘Non merci’ platter offers a selection of bite-sized sweets.
An excellent well-priced wine list that offers both tasting notes and guidance on wine pairing. Only a small selection offered by the carafe, but in two sizes (250ml and 500ml).
Well-intentioned and efficient, but somewhat rough around the edges given the elegant surrounds.
Classic and upmarket, like the menu itself. Tables are spread across two levels, but ignore the ground floor in favour of the first-floor main section where artworks line the walls and the ambience is more convivial.
The terrace tables in the back offer top-notch views of Paarl Mountain. Be sure to book ahead on balmy evenings.
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Hetta van Deventer-Terblanche
This is a Paarl landmark, celebrating 10 years of consistently excellent food. They’ve built a reputation as one of those eateries where you have the comforting assurance that you know what to expect. Having said that, a substantial specials menu with lots of exiting options to choose from is on offer daily. Choose from scrumptious seafood starters such as spicy calamari and chorizo salad, mussels in a white wine sauce or a trio of tuna, all beautifully presented. More starter options include delicious Mediterranean-inspired starters, antipasti, gnocchi with blue cheese and Parma ham or tomato risotto with ricotta and pickle onions for starters. The mains offer a variety of meat, vegetarian, fish, pasta and poultry dishes in generous portions. The duet of duck – confit leg and seared breast, served on a bed of egg noodles with an orange syrup – is as good as it gets. Desserts are sweet and comforting. Expect restaurant favourites like tiramisu and malva pudding or even the classic crêpes Suzette. Limoncello sorbet is boozy and refreshing, perfect for a balmy Paarl summer’s day. Terra Mare is a good choice for any occasion, celebration or family meal.
The wine list shows good local representation, with an excellent choice of different wine styles and varieties. The wine prices are reasonable, with the option to order good quality wine by the carafe.
Friendly and eager to please. Staff members are knowledgeable and well-informed about the daily specials and how they are prepared.
The back terrace offers shaded tables with a beautiful view towards Paarl Mountain. Inside, there's dark wood, leather and white linen, brightened during the day with plenty of light coming in through the large windows; at night, a cosy atmosphere awaits.
If you’re finding the choice of which dessert to order too tricky? Succumb to a platter of divine, bite-sized desserts called Non Merci.
Olivier Jeaggi-Wright, the owner of this Paarl gem, is of Swiss heritage, so expect some Swiss nuances, comfortable in their African Paarl setting. Starters include a delicious crispy rösti with Parma ham and brie with a splash of truffle oil, served with a baby mixed salad, and smoked salmon done the same way, but without the brie. There are three kinds of carpaccio, all excellent: tuna with a lime soya dressing, beef with confit tomato and truffle vinaigrette, and springbok with chakalaka cheese and delicious spicy Malay-style oil.
Various risottos and pasta dishes can be ordered in starter or main size portions, like gnocchi with blue cheese and Parma ham, and shrimp risotto infused with prawn bisque and pecorino shavings. Mains of flesh, fish or fowl include a superb pan-fried ostrich fillet with spaetzle, and fabulous beef fillet on the bone served with a pesto mash. The best dessert is the one they call Non Merci: bite-size tastes of chocolate mousse, crème brûlée, limoncello ice, chocolate hazelnut tart, and tiramisu. Such a good idea!
Being in the heart of a Winelands town, the restaurant's list is impressive, with some wines made especially for them by people like Charles Hopkins and Creation wines. Wine by the carafe like those from De Grendel and Boland make it possible to indulge.
On the ball, with staff that can answer questions on how the food is made.
Professionally relaxed with no fussy edges. Plenty of light comes in from the windows, revealing crisp, clean linen, some leather and the glint of sparkling glasses. A favourite place for local winemakers.
In summer, the back terrace is tented and becomes a favourite meeting place for the locals in the sultry Paarl evenings.
Have been to Terra Mare quite a few times and have never been disappointed. Excellent restaurant!
Best place for lunch or dinner in Paarl. Constant good quality, knowledgable and friendly service. Well trained and responsible staff.
The first thing I do after landing in Cape Town is the reservation of a table at Terra Mare for my friends and I!
Olivier's food is worth flying in from Zurich!
Super restaurant - good food and exellent service.