Searching for somewhere to settle in for a meal in the city of roses? Look no further than this handy guide to Bloemfontein’s best eateries. These are the restaurants in the area that were chosen by our critics for the 2016 Eat Out 500, the 500 best restaurants in South Africa, that were featured in the latest Eat Out magazine.
Tradition is key at this family-run establishment. Popular amongst guests, the starter of spring rolls filled with mozzarella, sage and parma ham (R57) is an absolute must-try. Mains such as fillet sautéed in a marsala and wild mushroom sauce (R180) are unpretentious and simply delicious. Staff are welcoming and well-informed.
Keep an eye out for new dishes on the ever-changing blackboard menu, or try The Black Beast, a fillet steak sautéed in lemon butter, black pepper and flambéed in brandy. Other stars include oxtail on a creamy bed of mash and pork chops with crispy crackling. Each item is paired with wine – most of which is sold by the glass – and in summer you can sip on a sangria, Aperol spritzer or beer from Kaya, a local craft brewery. Bella Casa is often fully booked, so guests are encouraged to reserve their tables well in advance. Outdoor seating is lovely during summer; in winter, you can book your spot at the fireplace.
The culinary height of your visit to the Free State could well be De Oude Kraal, where Chef Marie Lombard impresses with her five-course gourmet set menu. She is well known for her creative flare with game, combining their savoury and sweet aspects beautifully in the likes of warthog in little pies with apple-and-saffron sauce. Recommended starters include avocado mousse, gemsbok carpaccio and blue cheese brûlée. An extensive wine list is available, as is a pairing option for dinner, with knowledgeable and friendly staff to guide you through. Because Marie uses fresh ingredients for all of her dishes, items on the menu change regularly.
An extensive and colourful menu boasts simple quiches, salads and open sarmies. The delectable gourmet beef and chicken burgers (R85 to R75) are available for those who want to indulge a little more. Enquire about wine options with the friendly and efficient staff.
Although pizza and pasta are the speciality here, the mouth watering chicken-liver starter, sautéed with green pepper and onions and cooked in an arrabbiata sauce with cream and sherry (R36) comes highly recommended. Fun and colourful pizzas topped with chorizo sausage, caramelised onion, blue cheese and garlic (R89) or chicken, feta and butternut (R89) are also a treat. Save some space for the dark chocolate mousse served with cream or ice cream (R42). The winelist, although sparse, is interesting.
At New York, bigger is always better. The menu is simple, with popular options like peri-peri chicken livers with bread (R46.95) and halloumi with cranberry jam (R49.95). Enquire about the chef’s specials, too. It’s worth spending the time browsing through the seven-page wine list.
From chicken sandwiches with bacon, cheese, fresh tomato and a ranch dressing (R85) to steak sandwiches on ciabatta with rocket, brie and caramelised onion (R138), Picnic focuses on serving everyday dishes with abundant flavour. Finish your meal with interesting and tempting dessert options like white chocolate cake, tiramisu, cheesecake or lemon meringue.
A favourite amongst locals, Seven on Kellner has earned its culinary credentials with delicious dishes like pork belly with a glaze of honey, ginger, soya and chilli, served with stir-fried noodles (R125) and the 200g beef fillet with cannellini-bean mash (R135). A fully stocked bar will keep your thirst quenched.
These are the Bloemfontein restaurants that were chosen by our critics for the 2016 Eat Out 500, the 500 best restaurants in South Africa, that were featured in the latest Eat Out magazine.