Jess van Dyk and Dimitri Hadzigrigoriou’s new restaurant in Stellenbosch has transformed the town’s Old Post Office into an elegant space serving flavour-packed small plates.
Restaurant name: Post & Pepper
Address: Old Post Office, c/o Plein and Bird streets, Stellenbosch
Phone number: 021 203 5165
Opening hours: Closed on Mondays, open for dinner from 6 to 9 pm on Tuesdays, lunch from 12 to 2:30pm on Sundays, and lunch (12–2:30pm) and dinner (6–9pm) from Wednesdays to Saturdays
Average price of main course: R130 for a small plate – recommendation of five to seven small plates per two people sharing
Parking situation: Street parking (which can be challenging) or underground parking in Eikestad Mall
Food type: Small plates with inspiration drawn from Asia and South Africa
Best for: Catching up with friends over good food and wine
Chef Jess van Dyk moved from Protégé in Franschhoek to open this gem and, at Post & Pepper, she continues to draw on packing as much flavour as possible into every bite. Something as simple as a mac ‘n cheese is layered with complexity thanks to smoked short rib and a parmesan velouté, the richness of which is undercut by a garnish of pickled radish and mustard seeds. The pork dumplings form part of another dish that relies heavily on flavour, with a pleasant afterburn coating your palate. A peanut chilli crisp garnish adds an extra textural dimension. Texture goes hand in hand with the flavour at Post & Pepper. A prime example of this is the lauded crispy lamb, served with a charred spring onion dip. This is lamb as you’ve never had it before – with a crisp outer layer that brings a smoky depth to the melt-in-your-mouth meat inside. Perhaps the only disappointment is the double chocolate dessert, which seems to be a reimagining of the Cocoa Pops cereal hailing from childhood, served with a cremeux and ice cream that both lack the imagination and depth of flavour of the previous dishes.
The star of the drinks menu is a healthy wine list that includes varietals by the bottle from regions all over the Western Cape. There are two cap classiques available by the glass, and a variety of whites, reds and rosés are available by carafe. A “geek of the week” option is also available – a specially selected, limited addition to the “by the carafe” menu. Gin lovers will be glad to see a good selection of gin cocktails, and those avoiding alcohol can opt for a mocktail.
As expected with restaurant manager Dimitri Hadzigrigoriou (also formerly from Protégé) at the helm, service is friendly and efficient. Dimitri is welcoming from the moment you step through the door and the other servers follow his lead. Perhaps the waiters are little more reserved and uncertain, but, overall, the experience is cohesive and professional.
Post & Pepper holds on to the charm provided by the origins of the Old Post Office, with large wooden arched windows and beautiful wallpaper providing atmosphere. There’s a small bar for pre-dinner drinks if you arrive a bit earlier than planned, and plush velvet and wood lend warmth to the space.
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