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Chef proprietor Bertus Basson has always had a soft spot for huiskos. Along with head chef Daniël Oosthuizen, he’s created a refined dining experience that taps into our collective nostalgia for the comfort food favourites of yesteryear. Chef Daniël’s food speaks to a deep understanding of flavours, ingredients and balance, and isn’t overly styled or garnished. The use of mismatched vintage plates and crockery sets the tone for the food, which demonstrates modern techniques but is firmly rooted in Afrikaans heritage cooking. The South African map on the reverse of the menu is a very nice touch that indicates where Eike’s ingredients are sourced from – predominantly, the immediate Stellenbosch surrounds. Kicking things off is a prolific selection of happies – Afrikaans for small bites. The traditional biltong and cheese souttert (savoury tart) is translated into a paper-thin crisp filled with biltong and a generous grating of Huguenot cheese; everyone’s favourite Jolly Jammer gets a savoury makeover, seeing two cheese-filled shortbread biscuits filled with a divine roasted-onion cream; and the Jamestown daltjie is deliciously crispy, with a soft, well-risen sponge and well-balanced Cape Malay spices. The bread service offers a stunning interplay between textures: a crusty, warm potbrood (pot bread) with a subtle hint of rosemary is served alongside a cloud of chicken schmalz espuma; fermented garlic honey; golden, crispy chicken skin; and seasonal root veggies in a vinaigrette. The smooth and creamy Jerusalem-artichoke soup is equally memorable and expertly balanced served with a soft caramelised onion filled with shredded oxtail, in its centre, and topped with crunchy, sweet and tangy celery pickle. Mains wise, the tender braised rolled lamb shoulder is shredded and reassembled in a roulade, allowing some crispy edges to form in the wood-fired oven. It’s accompanied by lamb kidneys, confit carrots and a delicious jus bringing it all together. The cheese course is modern, new and filled with flavour: it’s centred around the semi-soft washed rind Dalewood Huguenot, which is slivered on top of a cheese espuma and complemented by spicy poached pears and toasted whole almonds. Clinching the meal, a dessert of guava and orange is the pinnacle of simplicity, but executed to perfection: gently poached guavas in a fragrant syrup dotted with small, soft-set orange jellies, fresh orange segments, a perfectly baked sable biscuit topped with a generous scoop of feather-light guava sorbet, and a home-made vanilla crème anglaise. Throughout the meal, it’s clear that chef Daniël and his team want to celebrate Afrikaans food memories, but keep it sustainable, seasonal and above all, modern. It’s a feel-good, relaxed dining experience that’s great value for money and guaranteed to give you a case of the warm and fuzzies.
The sommelier displays a good knowledge of wines. The wine list is small but well-compiled, highlighting wines from the region and offering some interesting lesser-known wines and makers, which allows for interesting discovery. The wine is served in Riedel glasses, indicating how fine dining and casual relatability can comfortably co-exist. Guests can opt for a wine pairing with the tasting menu, go the a la carte route, or order by the glass. There’s also a small selection of beers and spirits available.
The service is laid-back but still professional, with some of the dishes presented by the chef himself. The team is well-informed and knows how to make guests feel welcome and relaxed. The front-of-house team added to the experience by being attentive but not overly so.
There’s a great balance between functional and moody light, making for an atmospheric dining journey. Nestled in a historic building on Stellenbosch’s famous Dorp Street, the space has modern accents, but is anchored by the old-world charm and nostalgic whimsy. Giant coloured tumbleweeds suspended from the ceiling add a wow factor.