The newly renovated historic barn at Vergenoegd Löw Estate is the perfect venue for Bertus Basson’s latest venture: Clara’s Barn, a contemporary South African farm kitchen.
Restaurant name: Clara’s Barn
Address: Vergenoegd Löw The Wine Estate, 1 Vergenoegd Road, off Old Faure Road, Faure, Stellenbosch Wine Route
Phone number: 021 202 4372
Opening hours: Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, open for lunch from Wednesday to Sunday, open for dinner on Fridays and Saturdays
Average price of main course: R625 for three courses with wine pairing an additional R310, R725 for five courses with wine pairing an additional R410
Parking situation: Ample, secure parking on premises
Food type: Modern South African farm kitchen
Best for: Romantic dates, special occasions, tourists and locals who appreciate contemporary South African cuisine
Bertus is famous for celebrating his food roots and presenting modern interpretations of iconic South African products and heritage dishes. In Clara’s Barn, Bertus and head chef Drikus Brink have a sophisticated platform to showcase the meeting of South African culinary traditions with the best of local produce.
Guests choose between a three- or five-course set menu, with the option of wine pairings and an optional cheese course. Three tasty morsels, or “versnaperinge”, are served to whet the appetite. The homemade fish paste on toast, Bovril “tert” with Huguenot cheese and crisp maize & amasi are playful and delicious odes to iconic South African products.
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The twice-baked Dalewood cheese soufflé is a cloud of cheesy delight, off-set by celeriac crisps and a light, creamy espuma. The raw yellowfin tuna with radish, orange, dill cream, tomato, chilli and green onion is as pure and refreshing as the soufflé is deeply satisfying.
Bertus Basson’s penchant for rich, traditional desserts with a modern twist is reflected in the dessert selection. The dark chocolate lamington with vanilla ice cream is served with boeretroos sauce, a moreish whiskey-infused caramel sauce.
The wine list features Vergenoegd Löw wines, white wines from Schloss Frankenberg (the sister estate in Germany) and quality wines from select Cape estates. By-the-glass wines are mostly from Vergenoegd Löw and, though not inexpensive, at 250ml per serving, it is decent value for money.
The service is friendly, well-informed and competent, though never intrusive. Theatrical elements in the presentation underscore the generosity of the experience. Two traditional sides to the main course are served table-side: a small skillet of golden-brown potato bake and pampoenkoekies (pumpkin fritters) that arrive in a large hollowed-out pumpkin. This is a thoughtful touch that creates a sense of bountifulness. And Bertus loves a “bederfie” – to spoil patrons. Guests leave with a gift bag containing treats from the menu, as well as a Bertus Basson recipe to try at home.
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The interior retains a number of well-renovated barn elements in combination with sleek, contemporary finishes and elegant décor. Thoughtful touches ensure comfort at every turn, with bag stands at tables and a sewing kit in the bathroom to remedy a wardrobe malfunction.
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