Approximately two hours southeast of Cape Town, chef Jürgen Schneider’s ambitious farmstead restaurant, a modern barn on Springfontein Estate, serves a four-, five- or six-course tasting menu centred on produce pulled from the earth mere hours before gracing your plate.
Anyone who comes here expecting casual fare will be sorely disappointed, because the food at Springfontein Eats is anything but casual. Springfontein Eats is what you get when Michelin-star skills are paired with a fervent love for organic, local produce. The success of this union is the reason this off-the-beaten-track spot near Stanford has appeared on the Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards nomination list.
To kick off the meal, a warm variety of fresh breads with a selection of spreads are served before delicious bite-size amuse-bouches (‘greetings from the kitchen’) arrive, subtly hinting at chef Jürgen’s cooking history. After a well-timed break, the starters are served, and the much-loved local trout remains on the menu, with an updated twist. Delicate trout is served with compressed watercress and shaved mairübchen, a type of turnip popular in Germany that chef Jürgen and his co-owner wife Susanne grow on the farm.
After tasting the squid dish with tomato and squid ink sauce, it becomes clear why many people repeat the trek to eat here. The main courses pick up where the starters left off with a deliberate intensity in the depth of flavour. The oxtail is a moreish warm hug on a winter’s night, while the springbok with cauliflower is an unctuous dish with a lingering gamey finish. Along with the foraged garnishes, the ever-changing list of side dishes such as Gruberg cheese or the butter salad made with ingredients that come from the farm’s vegetable garden.
Unconventionally, even the best dessert comes from the vegetable garden. The utterly delicious sorrel soup with floating vanilla sponge is as ingenious as it is intriguing.
Expect to find every palate catered for, from single malt whiskies, wines from the greater Hemel-en-Aarde valley and, fittingly, some German Rieslings. It would be a travesty to forget the estate wine – especially the Springfontein chenin blanc and the Jonathan's Ridge pinotage.
The service is relaxed yet attentive. Susanne keeps a watchful eye over the dining room, while watrons tend to guests with the warmest courtesy.
Like something of a modern-day barn, Springfontein Eat’s décor is beautifully pared down. Thatched roof, polished floors and exposed stone walls are accented by smatterings of vibrant art pieces.
Don’t scoff at The Springfontein Wine Bar(n). It offers wine tastings and light nibbles for guests who wander onto the farm outside of the main restaurant’s mealtimes.
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A little way out of Joburg (okay actually a 2-hour plane trip and then a 2-hour drive down the coast with time to stop and enjoy the views over Gordon’s Bay) you will find @Springfontein Eats - an incredible restaurant tucked away in the sleepy village of Stanford.
The kitchen presided over by talented “Flavour Bender” and Michelin Star Chef Jurgen Schneider delivers dish after dish of spectacular taste combinations which will delight every gourmand, hedonistic pleasure seeker or self proclaimed foodie - each course is delightfully intriguing with a whimsical playfulness - every mouthful packs a flavour punch which has you guessing the ingredient which takes the dish from excellent to “OMG” - true “art on a plate” in every sense.
The 4,5 or 6 course degustation menu is excellent value for money with additional amuse bouche and after dinner delights from the kitchen leaving you ... well ... delighted.
With a seasonal menu which changes regularly it is difficult to recommend a favorite but the potato, bacon amuse bouche, the trout, lemon, broccoli and the seafood, pea, mint were certainly stand out dishes - and all this accompanied by excellent service from Susan and her team - friendly, authentic and truly welcoming while still managing to be unobtrusively professional and on point.
Phenomenal food, superb wine list, excellent service and a touch of whimsy make this a “must do” - suggest start planning your trip now - we will definitely be back
I was so disappointed with the service, or lack thereof. We were seated in the Barn and therefore missed the beautiful ambiance.
This restaurant was recommended to me, as I was with a group of high end guests. Each dish, regardless of filler or our order was plomped down without any description of what was being served. I had to ask for a description on 3 dishes
I expected more interaction with regards to the wines, there was none. We were left to make our own choice without knowing anything about the wines.
It took over an hour for desert to be brought. After asking twice. The explanation being that the desert took a long time to cook. As an experienced chef, I would have thought he would have a better handle on his timing.
I understand a leisurely lunch, but this was unacceptably slow.
I have dined at other restaurants on the 30 best restaurant list, and feel Stilfontein Eats should train their staff better to be on a par with other nominations.
I have sent the restaurant an email expressing my disappointment, and as of today have not had the courtersy of a reply.
We chose this restaurant for our 10th anniversary thinking we'd be eating at an unassuming little country kitchen near our accommodation (Standford River Lodge). Boy, did we have another thing coming! This is one of the top 5 dining experiences I have ever had in my life. The liver, mushroom and quails egg was Earth-shatteringly delicious. The calf's tongue starter changed my life. The Terroir Selection Pinotage was like something from a different planet. I am a better person now than I was before I ate at this restaurant. Fine dining at its absolute best, and an absolute gem tucked away in a beautiful corner of Walker Bay. Bodes very well for another 10 years of marriage...
Springfontein Eats was a surprise. It's not often that I'm caught totally unawares by a truly exceptional restaurant in the Cape. However, in this instance we were recommended to a restaurant that exceeds all expectations. Quite why they are not in the top 10 is beyond me and having visited the Test Kitchen, Overture, Terroir and The Tasting Room etc within the past 6 months, Springfontein Eats more than deserves to be recognised. There is some serious pedigree at work here and the Michelin heritage shines through. At first look, the menu is small and simple, but given the various little amuse bouches and in between tastings, the minimum 4 courses was way more than enough, although I understand the kitchen tempers the portions depending on the quantity of courses ordered. Given that they use the wonderful Stanford local produce, taste and texture is key here. It's not overly fussy or complicated and that is the winning combination that sets it apart. A rare bonus is the quality of the staff. Superbly trained and knowledgable and even on a very full night, wonderfully attentive but not intrusive. By far and away the best service I have experienced in any South African Restaurant in the past 10 years. The interior is warm and welcoming, yet light and beautifully lit as befitting a contemporary country restaurant. Nothing stuffy or frilly. 5 star all the way.
… keep that secret!
Since the restaurant opened up in October 2013 we had been there several times.
Once you know that gem stone hidden in Stanford ...
you will find how many things to do in the near just to have an excuse to go there again ... for lunch or dinner.
Lovely farm environment, stylish renewed farmhouse, warm welcome and very friendly professional service, an open kitchen concept: - the chef likes to talk to his guests-, and ... of course the most important thing in a restaurant: magnificent food. Local product in creative arrangements and prepared to perfection with well thought recipes ... ideas on the plate, like the “Springfontain Burger” as an amuse that we had the last time.
For us the best food in the Western Cape that we have been to during the last 9 years.