A foodie in Stellenbosch is as happy as a pig in mud. With more options than even the cuisine cornucopia of Franschhoek, Stellenbosch’s fine dining scene makes for one delicious restaurant bucket list. We’ve narrowed down the best of the best to get you started.
This selection comprises all the Stellenbosch restaurants that made the cut for the 2020 Eat Out 500, the list of best restaurants in the country as rated and reviewed by our panel of critics for the 2020 edition of Eat Out magazine (on sale now). But we know there are many more great spots in the area. Please tell us about your favourites in the comments at the end!
This is an institution. After a welcome of warm rolls with truffle-infused olive oil, sample from the nibbles menu while you make decisions. For starters, the beef
tartare, with all the trimmings, is a must, as are steamed mussels and venison carpaccio. Superbly cooked fish of the day (perhaps kingklip with red curry sauce and crisp greens?) comes highly recommended. The delicious duck-and-cherry pie is famous, and you can’t go wrong with venison loin with garlic-and-parmesan potato bake or pulled pork rillettes with gnocchi and sage butter. Portions are generous and the menu changes seasonally. For dessert, choose from classics such as crème brûlée, chocolate mousse or malva pudding – or opt for the tasting
platter of everything.
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Begin with a panzanella or a few of the delicious vegetarian-friendly bruschetta. For mains, your choice is simple: pizza or pasta, and neither will disappoint. The pizzas are woodfired, and the classics well taken care of, in quattro stagioni or a simple margherita, or push the boat out with the signature ASTA, topped with bolognese, béchamel and basil. For your choice of pasta there’s a selection of home-made sauces but look for the specials list, where you’ll find the likes of delicate spaghetti vongole or the delicious ladrona of pork sausage and porcini tossed in herby olive oil. For dessert, the tiramisu is particularly good.
A taste of Russia using fantastic local produce. Begin with asparagus, fennel and pear salad or a bright octopus terrine with salsa verde that sings of summer. Traditional borscht (beetroot soup) served with a quail egg – utterly delicious. Seared trout with chilled okróshka (cold potato-and-veg soup) has a crisp skin, and pumpkin dumplings are a highlight. Savoury barley porridge with slow-braised lamb delivers an umami explosion. Desserts are utterly spectacular: try a Fabergé-inspired white chocolate with passion-fruit sorbet, or dreamy Anna Pavlova.
Life seems to slow down on the deck overlooking the dam. On the simple and seasonal menu, the Bakery Benedict is an institution (crispy streaky bacon, spinach, two poached eggs, and Hollandaise on sourdough) or have the croissant with scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, tomato confit and crème fraîche. The salted caramel rye tartlet is a must. From midday, feast on a traditional flammkuchen,
with crème fraîche, bacon and black-magic onion marmalade. Cheese and charcuterie platters are perfect for tasting the award-winning wines. Still hungry? Enjoy a pork-belly ramen bowl or a burger with shiraz onions, bacon, boerenkaas and triple-cooked chips. When weather permits, mouthwatering picnic baskets are on offer.
The way all fast food should taste. You can choose a De Jonge Burger (no trimmings) but then you’ll miss out on the joy of the build-your-own experience. Decide whether your generously portioned free-range beef patty should still be pink in the middle or more well done. Add-ons include smoked chilli sauce, bacon or Melrose and biltong (as in ‘Mom remembered…’). The menu is littered with these nostalgic references. The hand-cut potato tjips are off ered barbecue, cheesy or peri-peri, and there’s also uitpakslaai, a traditional salad with creamy dressing. This is messy eating! With every burger you get a voucher for draairoomys (soft serve) with 100s and 1000s sprinkles for dessert.
The luxurious, seasonal menu here is carefully curated, technically precise and beautifully presented, with a nose-to-tail and root-to-leaf philosophy. Starter favourites are smoked venison with port, beef terrine, and the pear, walnut and gorgonzola salad. For mains, the bourride risotto with plump prawns and rich bisque remains a top seller. Or try the expertly prepared fish of the day with vadouvan jus and fennel. Other mains include classics like beef fillet, lamb rack and confit duck leg. For dessert, expect the likes of salted-caramel crème brûlée, peanut-butter blondie or a macaron ice-cream sandwich.
Eike is known for serving local flavours with seriously unexpected twists. After bread and pillowy mosbolletjies, the 10-course menu kicks off with a series of canapés, each delving deeper into nostalgic SA flavours. The theme crescendos at the arrival of the moreish souttert, a jazzed-up kombuis version of quiche Lorraine. Between chef Bertus and chef Kyle du Plooy, each dish is presented with an anecdote that makes the inspiration behind them all the more heart-melting, and is a nice way to connect with diners who may not be familiar with terms like bokkoms, opsitkers, amasi and bobotie. An elevated take on Moir’s instant pudding is presented in the form of sorrel jelly and rose pudding.
Winner of the 2019 Eat Out Tramontina Best Steakhouse. You’re going to have to
order a steak – but there are other options. All cuts are served with decadent roasted marrow on the bone, with a basting sauce or not, and your choice of chips, veg or baked potato. Luxurious steaks include a fillet with foraged mushrooms, sherry, truffle and kataifi and the very popular dry-aged côte de boeuf. The truffle mushroom sauce is a winner, and delightful sides are sweet potato mash or a braaibroodjie. Skaapstertjies, mussels, limoncello calamari and slow-cooked oxtail wrapped in parma ham and netvet are worth look-ins,
too. A selection of poedings rounds things off in comforting fashion.
Interactive dishes bubble, smoke and melt, revealing hidden treasures. The stage is set with a macchiato, flanked by a glass dome filled with smoke with a potato-flour cigar. The journey around the world continues in Caprese salad with creamy basil oil and a buffalo mozzarella dome that houses baby tomatoes and bocconcini; fresh Saldanha oysters on a bed of seaweed; lamb croquette with beetroot sauerkraut; and an umami explosion of tiny shiitake mushrooms and gemsbok medallions. Endings might include piña colada sorbet with panna cotta and mint.
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Chef Virgil Kahn exquisitely marries the flavours of the Cape and Asia. Start with a chilli pickled tuna with watermelon, ginger, caramelised onions and roe
– a dish that intimidates and intrigues. The true pièce de résistance on this menu is the sublime dish of wood-fired massaman baby chicken with confit potatoes, burnt onion, coconut and Thai herbs. For a sweet ending, it’s best to sample a variety of desserts.
Jardine’s menu is short but offers enough variety to have something for everyone. Think seared tuna with spicy dressing and lime labneh or a clever spin on fish
and chips: pan-roasted east coast hake with olive crust, beer-battered mussel and crushed peas. End on the Valrhona chocolate ganache slice with caramel and vanilla served with sesame ice cream. Dishes are refined without being overly fussy.
It is always a privilege to sample Kyle Burn’s food. After the complimentary bread platter (charcoal buns, focaccia, seed loaf and gloriously garlicky aïoli) comes
the beautiful beetroot-cured Norwegian salmon complemented by a bite of horseradish cream, golden-beet purée and crudités. The seared duck salad is delectable, with honeyed sweet potato and coriander. Moist rolled Karoo lamb shoulder receives support from soft parmesan polenta, olive tapenade and broad beans – definitely worth dusting off the melt-in-your-mouth cliché. The cheese room is always a winner, as is the expertly prepared soufflé, but the highlight might be lemongrass ice cream with coconut tart.
A biodynamic wine estate a proud farm-to-fork motto. A small lunch menu tempts with the slow-cooked traditional bredie; cheese or charcuterie platters starring home-made Nguni biltong, droëwors and preserves; salads and greens from the garden; twice-baked Healey’s cheddar soufflé; and grilled asparagus with labneh topped with a golden, oozy 64-degree farm egg. Vegetarians will enjoy broth bursting with kale and cauliflower; vegans the cauliflower steak with pumpkin gnocchi. Mains are meaty and earthy, from smoked warthog shank with carrot risotto to seared springbok with pear purée and parsnips. Vanilla cheesecake with lemon-and-lime curd and the chocolate mousse with coffee ice cream are very good. They also offer plant-based degustation dinners.
Chef Lucas Carstens (formerly of Reuben’s, Terrior and Cuvée) has his own style here. Expect adventurous vegetable and herbaceous elements, foraged and placed
in unusual combinations. Fired beetroot appears alongside mushroom and kelp, the purple mirrored in potato gnocchi with miso, ice leaf and sea lettuce. Layers of flavour show in small plates of sunchoke with sunflower seeds and wood sorrel; sustainable fish with gooseberry, spinach, green curry; lamb rib-eye, daikon, nettle and boerenkaas. Finish on a unique salted strawberry dessert with sour cream and saltbush meringue.
Bertus Basson is known for showcasing beloved SA flavours through sophisticated, yet accessible, dishes. Start off with olives, garlic-and-rosemary focaccia with whipped beef fat, and springbok croquettes with aïoli, before moving onto gurnard with avo, lime and tomato, or beef terrine with sweet mustard and beetroot cooked in beef fat. Temptations continue in the form of egg-yolk ravioli with bright greens and parmesan croutons; umami-packed dry-aged sirloin with miso-caramelised onion purée, mushrooms and creamy mieliepap; and brown-butter roasted yellowtail with golden gnocchi. The decadent pecan-nut soufflé is doused in a brandy caramel and crowned with a scoop of brown butter ice cream.
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A fresh summer dish, inspired by hand-picked produce from two local gardens – fennel & fennel flowers, from Chef’s garden in Jamestown, and courgettes from Mason Farm. “Courgette, ricotta, homemade granola & Jamestown fennel”, paired with Naudé Malvasia Rei 2017 #tastingstellenbosch #winelandsdining #freshproduce #localproduce #gardentoplate #southafricanmoderncuisine
Chef Fabio Daniel (here since the Rust en Vrede glory days), draws on his world travels and his Brazilian and Italian heritage. These dishes will live in your culinary memory bank for eternity. Begin with Brazilian pao de queijo, the lightest of cheese puff s made with tapioca flour. Sea bass with avocado and sesame is sublime: simple ingredients at their absolute finest. Tête de moines tortellini, walnuts and pickled peach is an exercise in flavour balancing to perfection, as is the pan-fried langoustine with pickled turnip, cabbage and sauce choron. Doce de queijo, snow and butterscotch is bliss, followed by a white-chocolate marquise with coconut and frozen honey yoghurt – the perfect end to the perfect meal.
‘Stop pretending you live in Mexico, pannekoek is better than tacos,’ proclaims Spek Basson (the chef Bertus Basson’s pet pig). Croque madame option (with Dalewood Huguenot cheese) and the classic Spek (crispy bacon, sautéed mushrooms, tomato and eggs) are simply sublime. Top of the must-eat list for lunch or dinner is pork and beans (green beans, onion butter, pork belly biltong
and crispy onions) – a delight. Other stars include peri-peri baby chicken, and the gnocchi with mushroom, Huguenot cheese and chives. To end, there’s a choice of lemon posset, chocolate fondant and spiced pears
Dishes arrive at the table overflowing with the best seasonal produce. Menus change daily but might feature freshly baked sourdough from Schoon Bakery with a homemade chickpea hummus and asparagus rarebit, followed by 12-hour slow-cooked Karoo lamb shoulder with green beans, mushroom arancini and creamy onion mash. A perfectly wobbly panna cotta topped with blueberry compote and almond crumble completes a delectable, homely meal.
Chef Michael Broughton has been at the helm here for 15 years, garnering
all the awards worth having largely due to his obsession with the classics and fastidious attention to detail. There would be an uprising if he stopped serving his glorious prawn risotto with sauce Americaine. Chef is renowned for his treatment of meat and the art of sauces in dishes like the rack of lamb, but he has a deft touch with fish, too. The grilled sea bass with tarragon and lemon is deceptively simple but cooked to perfection. The desserts are more avant-garde: the raspberry vacherin with rosemary panna cotta and lemon ice cream is an explosion of colour, flavour and texture.
Chef Carolize Coetzee is forging a path of her own here in the wake of
Richard Carstens. Beef tartare hits all the right notes and looks quite beautiful, while the grilled line fish with charred cauliflower, sauce vierge and sorrel is expertly cooked. Another worthy starter is the octopus carpaccio with charred sweetcorn, black rice, avocado, papaya and chilli-ginger. If the line fish doesn’t grab you, then a must would be unctuous braised lamb shoulder with tomato mole, aubergine, peppers, garlic and red wine jus. The dessert of plums, white chocolate, wakame, ginger and sesame is an absolute dream on the palate.
PJ Vadas has become the baron of barbecue, and that’s what you’re here for. To
start, don’t miss the zingy smoked chicken wings and corn-battered jalapeño poppers. Meats run from Kansas City pulled pork to smoked brisket. The smoked pork belly with apple ketchup is particularly good. Order sourdough or roosterbrood to mop up the juices. Vegetarians are surprisingly well taken care of with inventive sides like fire-roasted broccoli in cider vinegar and smoked cheese, and tender beetroot sprinkled with feta, naartjies, and dukkah. The generous Chef’s Platter is an easy way out of indecision. The Smokehouse pasteis de nata are famous and the chocolate torte and bourbon-infused pecan pie equally delicious.
Exquisite bistro compositions show delicacy, simplicity and elegance. Start with pan-fried pork trotter with a parsley coulis, chargrilled octopus and mango
atchar salad, or West Coast oysters gently poached in Chardonnay sabayon. For mains, try lightly poached line fish and octopus bouillabaisse, or succulent confit of pork cheeks (from a nearby farm) with carrot mousseline and roasted root veg. Sublime sauces, herbs and dressings reflect the chef’s roots in vineyard, orchard and forest, from white wine sauces to duck in black cherry sauce, from wood sorrel sauce to wild mushroom sauce. End on divine lemon soufflé or classic crème caramel.
This selection comprises all the Stellenbosch restaurants that made the cut for the 2020 Eat Out 500, the list of best restaurants in the country as rated and reviewed by our panel of critics for the 2020 edition of Eat Out magazine (on sale now). But we know there are many more great spots in the area. Please tell us about your favourites in the comments below.
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