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‘Your new favourite restaurant’ is a bold tagline for any eatery, but it’s one that suits Post & Pepper perfectly. Set in historical Stellenbosch’s old post office, a meal here is a true joy. Jess van Dyk (formerly head chef at the much-lauded La Colombe) has succeeded in her dream of creating a fine-dining restaurant without the starch and stuffiness – ‘fun dining’, if you will. That’s not to say that anything at Post & Pepper is sloppy or slapdash. From the brass-and-forest-green interior to the beautiful plating, everything is precise and clearly heartfelt. Jess has a flair for treating seasonal ingredients with the care they need to really shine on the plate, combining bold flavours and the comfortingly familiar with perfect execution. Stop by at lunchtime for a smorgasbord of small plates that run the gamut from South African favourites (for example, the braaibroodjie: a buckwheat sablé with smoked catalan, tomato chilli jam, pickled tomato and onion marmalade) to global flavours (a Hawaiian take on oysters with coriander tiger’s milk, pineapple salsa, yoghurt pearls and lime leaf oil, for instance). The Lekker Lamb is a consistent winner: a bowl filled with a white goat’s cheese espuma shows up at the table, to which your waiter adds a spoonful of popped barley. As you begin to dig in, you discover perfectly braised Karoo lamb neatly rolled into rounds resting on a creamy barley risotto. The four-course set dinner menu comprises elements from the lunchtime menu with other surprise delights and comes in at a very reasonable R720 per person. Vegetarians are well catered for at Post & Pepper, with a separate vegetarian menu for both lunch and dinner. Don’t miss the tofu lollipops – perfectly crispy and bursting with flavour thanks to a doenjang glaze and a creamy, charred-spring-onion dip – or the complex and delicious miso-dressed Cape Malay aubergine, perfectly cooked in a pineapple, coconut and curry-leaf sauce.
It seems chef Jess is as at home behind the bar as she is in the kitchen: you’ll find a list of her signature cocktails on the menu. Treat yourself to the pineapple old-fashioned, which is well balanced with wonderful smoky and caramel flavours. There is no wine pairing option, but you’re sure to find something to suit on Post & Pepper’s compact but satisfying wine list. With wines from the region as well as many available by the glass, there’s something here to suit all budgets. A recent addition to the list is the restaurant’s very own Post & Pepper Semillon, by award-winning winemaker Catherine Marshall. This refreshing, aromatic Semillon has notes of sherbet, lemon and crisp apple. With a backbone of minerality, lively acidity and a fresh juicy finish, it’s perfect for a warm day in Stellenbosch.
Service is friendly, efficient and attentive without ever being overbearing. Each dish is explained with great care, and it’s evident that the front-of-house team takes pride in ensuring diners have a good experience.
History buffs are sure to enjoy the historical setting of Stellenbosch’s original post office, while aesthetes will appreciate the attention to detail in the meticulously restored interior. Banquettes and chairs upholstered in forest green complement the warm wood of the floors and the tables (no white linen here). Meanwhile, statement leaf-motif wallpaper, arched mirrors and molecule pendant lights keep things moody and modern. Every detail invites you in and sets the tone for an intimate, cosy and ultimately enjoyable evening.