Joostenberg Bistro is a busy family-friendly restaurant at a venue where you could easily spend the entire day. The restaurant is flanked by picnic lawns and the Joostenberg deli, meaning you could easily drive out and spend the entire day here.
Each part of the menu is short and sweet. It doesn’t make choosing easier, though, especially once you see other diners’ food leaving the kitchen. Everything looks spectacular, especially all the dishes featuring the thick-cut homemade farm bread. If you’re there for breakfast, you won’t be disappointed by the simple-sounding yet mouthwatering French toast with fynbos honey and bacon. If you’re in the mood for opulent, try the Frenchman’s breakfast, which comes with an assortment of cheese, charcuterie, a baguette, a croissant and a financier. Else opt simply for a single croissant with homemade jam and butter – a treat in and of itself.
If you’re at Joostenberg for lunch, start with the charcuterie plate. It features pork terrine, chicken liver paté, pork rillette, home-cured coppa and ham, pork pie and brawn. It comes with gherkins and pickled onions, plus the most enjoyable baguette and toast. (The bread at Joostenberg, in any form, is truly not to be missed. You haven’t visited unless you’ve eaten at least a slice of sourdough or munched on a chunk of addictive baguette.) The charcuterie comes plated, not served on a board, which makes it slightly more difficult to share, and is puzzlingly topped with a mountain of lettuce. However, the cold meats are as fresh as can be and make for a fantastic accompaniment to the bread. Beware: this is not a starter for one.
There are a few light meals – which those with smaller appetites should absolutely opt for, or prepare to take home their leftovers – but the mains are where you’ll really want to find yourself. The traditional croque monsieur (to which you can add triple-cooked chips) is huge and drench in cheese. It’s absurdly good, with the perfect amount of complementary mustard. There’s ham, two types of cheese and Joostenberg bread – it’s a clear winner. You could also opt for the omelette with mushroom sauce and Gruyére or the pan-fried line fish with julienne vegetables, steamed baby potatoes and a chenin blanc reduction. The Joosten-burger is another must-try, if only for the fantastic ground beef rump patty. It comes topped with balsamic onion relish that is perhaps a touch too sweet, pickled cucumber, red onions, triple-cooked chips and an aioli you will want to take home with you and drown your every meal in. The pork neck vindaloo, topped with turmeric and cumin potatoes and crispy courgettes, is more than worth ordering – especially on a chilly day – but could use a pinch more salt and slightly more tender pork neck. If you’re a steak lover, there’s also a dry-aged rump steak with triple-cooked chips and a café de Paris butter.
The desserts are classic country-style staples: a (guava) crème brûlée, a baked (granadilla) cheesecake with berry coulis, and a baked apple and vanilla custard tart. The dark chocolate mousse served with créme anglaise, however, is nothing short of fantastic. You’ll go back for spoonful after spoonful till you’re left with no more than a licked-clean bowl and a smile.
The wine list is extensive, though just a few are available by the glass. Of course Joostenberg wines feature front and centre, but there’s also a host of others to choose from. There’s also a decent selection of beers and ciders. Soft drinks are available, as is a nice selection of warm drinks and even homemade milkshakes. There’s also a homemade lemonade and a great homemade ginger beer.
Service is friendly and competent enough. You get the impression that some of the staff are a little overwhelmed, but that’s understandable considering the number of guests.
This is the spot for anything under the sun. All at once, business associates are having brunch, young adults are on dates, families with small children are enjoying a day out and tourists are comfortably taking it all in. It makes for a very loud result but it’s all convivial, and the big open space makes it seem as if you’re simply spending the day with a very large group of friends you just happen not to have met yet. There’s also a large fireplace, which must make the restaurant nice and toasty in winter.
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