Ilse van der Merwe
The Fat Butcher represents the epitome of humankind’s culinary fascination with flame-grilled meat.
Open since 2016, this steakhouse is situated in the picturesque centre of historical, leafy Stellenbosch in a beautifully restored building adjacent to one of the oldest museums in town. A display at the entrance foyer confirms the name – there’s a large array of meat cuts, mostly matured, with some sliced as thick as a brick of butter.
The Fat Butcher has cemented itself as a firm local favourite across the board over the past three years. In a town filled with great eateries and discerning diners with generous budgets, it’s only immaculate consistency and quality that will win this kind of loyalty.
It’s the ‘when in Rome’ philosophy here – you’re going to have to order a steak (but there are indeed other options on the large menu). For an economical option, try the ever-satisfying 300g sirloin from the Prime Cut menu section, or the Bella burger served with chips or your choice of vegetables or baked potato. All steaks are decadently served with roasted marrow on the bone and your choice of chips/veg/potato. Try more luxurious cuts from the Signature Steaks section like The Grosvenor – steak aux champignons (fillet with foraged mushrooms, Dijon mustard, sherry, white truffle oil, kataifi and black truffle), or the very popular côte de boeuf from the Dry Aged section. All steaks are always cooked to perfection, and while management advises you to order it rare or medium rare, they will indeed cook it to your liking if you prefer otherwise (option of basting sauce or not). Sauces are available at an additional cost (the truffle mushroom is a winner), as well as delightful extras like wilted baby spinach, sweet-potato mash or a braaibroodjie. Vegetarian options are limited (hey, you’re at The Fat Butcher) but include salads, cauliflower soup and porcini or barley risotto.
The chunky in-house BBQ sauce comes standard on the tables and is a must-try on chips and burgers. Slices of freshly baked sour dough bread and butter are also served on wooden planks before all meals. A selection of desserts is available, as is a great kids’ menu.
A carefully curated selection of ‘proudly Stellenbosch’ wines are available on the wine list, as well as teas and coffees, fortified wines, dessert cocktails, craft beers, brandy/whiskey, MCC (including imported champagnes) and even milkshakes.
A large, dedicated team of managers and waiters runs this restaurant seamlessly. Service is friendly and very efficient. Waiters are trained to present the various cuts of meat as a display at each table. Staff are dressed well and are very welcoming (note: all waiters are also fluent in presenting the menu in the most impeccable Afrikaans).
The décor and ambience oozes premium Stellenbosch style, with an eclectic mixture of restored wood, new leather, bold tiles and textured surfaces. It’s best to sit in the picturesque courtyard when the weather permits – they even provide lap blankets and heaters during colder months. The crowd is a mixture of old and younger Stellenbosch locals, a few students (mostly on a special date), international guests, families, groups of friends and business colleagues.
Everyday lunches or dinners with family and friends, but also great for business lunches and treating guests from overseas.
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