Review: Savour a menu of precision, detail and finesse at MERTIA in Stellenbosch

Restaurant name: MERTIA

Address: 20 Bird Street, Stellenbosch

Phone: 076 644 8448

Operating hours: Lunch Thursday to Saturday 12noon to 3pm, Sunday lunch – two seatings 12noon and 2pm; Dinner Wednesday to Saturday – two seatings 5.30pm and 8pm

Average price of a main course: 6 courses – R995, 10 courses – R1 495

Corkage fee: No BYO

Parking situation: Street parking

Food type: Culinary nostalgia


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Having just opened its doors in December of 2023, the talented duo of Marais Kirsten-Uys and Matt van den Berg are the culinary force behind MERTIA restaurant in Stellenbosch. Having gained his experience at top restaurants from the Western Cape to New York and San Francisco, Marais is the captain of the restaurant front; whilst taking the leadership in the kitchen, Matt has sharpened his skills through some of the country’s leading restaurants, boasting a very enviable experience of work, having done time at The Restaurant at Waterkloof, Greenhouse, The Test Kitchen and La Colombe.

The menu options for lunch are a choice between either a three-course ‘Executive Lunch Tasting menu’ or a six-course, and dinners are either a six- or 10-course option. The menu begins with a ‘Celebration of Summer’ and whilst doing that, it also celebrates one of the restaurant’s suppliers – ‘An Ode to Meuse Farm’.


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What arrives at the table is the most beautifully ripe tomato gazpacho with a salad of crunchy radish, baby gem lettuce and croutons, accompanied by a printed list of 25 different ingredients that have gone into the making of the dish. It’s a spectacular start to the meal. This is followed by the most luxurious and delicious dish of egg yolk, potato, truffle and Parmesan layered with complex and comforting flavours – presented in a custom-made concrete egg that reveals what’s inside through a thin cloud of smoke. It’s well-thought-out, provocative, clever cooking and a voyage of deliciousness. Other highlights on the menu are the kingklip with brandade and preserved lemon, and a very creative group of components in the dessert of pineapple, lapsang and coconut (proudly presented and explained at the table by the pastry chef). This is incredible cooking for this value – it’s a beautifully crafted menu that has been carefully orchestrated with precision, detail and finesse.


At the beginning of the meal, you are served a delightfully refreshing cordial of stone fruit – an explosion of refreshment and flavour that washes over you. The menu comes with a choice of wine pairings or the option to select from the very generously considered and well-constructed wine list. The mark-up on the wine prices is cautious and fair, and is especially so on the wines listed from the Stellenbosch region.


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After a warm greeting at the restaurant entrance by the hostess, you are escorted upstairs and guided to your table. The service is smooth and seamless, with wonderful nuances of personality and delivery of information. A loving and personal touch is that on the back of the menu there is a list of all the names of people in the team that made the dining experience possible.


The restaurant space is beautifully designed and styled, with soft lighting emanating from various spaces in the room. It’s very cleanly presented and minimalist in its preparation, using lines and curves to constantly keep you looking to discover something else within the room. Views look out onto the Stellenbosch sidewalk and central park from its elevated position and make the experience feel very private. Tables are minimalist in their set-up allowing for the food to take the stage on the empty canvas.

Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our full editorial policy here

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