Bistro 13 is an excellent addition to the Stellenbosch dining scene, which should prove popular both with families and those who simply want to while away a pleasant afternoon in the sun, enjoying good food and wine, says Cathy Marston.
Chef Nic van Wyk comes hot off the set of Kokkedor and back into his favourite place – the kitchen, this time at newly revamped Welmoed Wines. The food is a good solid selection of bistro favourites, several of them with interesting and inventive twists. For starters, try the curried crispy calamari with lemony vinaigrette potatoes, avo and pickled cucumber, which offers superb and very well-balanced flavours, although a little less potato and avo would have made the calamari more of a hero of the dish. Chicken croquettes on an intensely truffled sauce of creamy corn velouté are delicious, and reports of the steak tartare are also most favourable.
For mains, there is standard bistro fare of steak, chicken and risotto, but you might be tempted instead by the crumbed pork fillet with smoked mash and caramelised onions, which is tender and flavoursome. Most outstanding, however, is the slow-braised lamb shoulder with pearl barley, aubergines and harissa, the latter providing an exquisitely piquant note that really pulls the whole dish together. Desserts are well priced and options feature some old favourites such as crème caramel and guava gratin, and a wickedly sticky chocolate cake with praline caramel. (Note: Since this review was written, Bistro 13 has updated the menu. Click here to view it.)
The offering includes Stellenbosch Vineyards (SV) brands such as Welmoed, Arniston Bay and the delicious Credo wines, a handful of imports and some great crowd-pleasers like Rickety Bridge and Porcupine Ridge. (The very favourable prices for SV wines are virtually the same as in the smartly revamped tasting room next door, with many of them are available by carafe or glass.) Guests can also dabble in a few craft beers and ciders.
The staff are sweet and willing. Partner and front-of-house manager Roxy Laker says she prefers a good attitude over everything, so hopefully any wrinkles will be ironed out before a busy season. For now, a nice smile and an accommodating, can-do manner work well.
Considering the winery is on one of the main roads into Stellenbosch, it’s amazing how easy it is to forget the traffic and noise. Trees, the island in the middle of the duck pond, the huge, grassy space and kids’ jungle gym do wonders in this regard. The deck tables will be hot property in summer and there is plenty of shade from the trees. Inside, the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly with modern furniture and an open kitchen providing entertainment for curious guests.
This is an excellent addition to the Stellenbosch dining scene, which should prove popular both with families and those who simply want a pleasant afternoon in the sun, eating good food and drinking good wine – all at good prices.