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Springing up in Stellenbosch: 6 restaurants you need to try

Published in partnership with Gourmet Guide

6 October 2022

Stellenbosch is home to some of South Africa’s best restaurants and is often called the culinary capital of the country. While beautiful all year round, it’s during springtime that this historical university town in the heart of the Cape Winelands is most striking. Zethu Mageza from the Gourmet Guide went exploring and has sent us an update on what’s new and noteworthy this season.

From experimental and thought-provoking fine dining, to must-visit historical settings, seasonal menus, new openings and al-fresco lunch spots, we’ve put together a list of must-try Stellenbosch restaurants.

Garden month at Delaire Graff Restaurant

The Chardonnay vines are budding and as the gardens begin to bloom the perfume of the estate is profound. The fragrance of food plays a big role in Clinton Jacob’s fare. Lighter, but still filling dishes will appear in line with the season. Clinton loves cooking with fire, and states that his favourite ingredients are sun, wine and friends. There is no doubt that the Graff ethos of taking something raw and polishing it to its optimum, from plants to people and rare gems, is evident in this kitchen and on each plate.

“Seasons are so unpredictable – this year we had Jerusalem artichokes for three weeks, last year for three months. I work closely with the garden team to ensure that what is fresh and seasonal is seen on the plate.” – Clinton

During his third year of studying actuarial science, Clinton decided that he wanted to be a chef, so enrolled at Capsicum Culinary School. An internship at Indochine at Delaire Graff Estate followed, and his culinary career began to take shape. More than a decade later, he is back on the estate, “heading up a kitchen that I feel so close to,” says Clinton. He loves
playing with lesser-used ingredients, and makes a stellar persimmon dessert with citrus, basil oil and amasi sorbet. Don’t be surprised to see onion and tomato in his puds.

“I cook simply and want to present well executed, beautiful food.” – Clinton

Clinton favours the use of fynbos, which grows prolifically in the Banhoek Valley. He loves playing with edible flowers so expect blooms like begonias, rose pelargoniums and confetti bush to pop up as he changes two dishes a week on the menu.

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Experimental fine dining at Dusk

Dusk is the new, exciting venture of chefs Darren Badenhorst, of the award-winning Le Coin Francois restaurant, and Callan Austin, winner of the 2017 San Pellegrino Social Responsibility Award. This Stellenbosch restaurant offers experiential dining that promises to push the boundaries with its distinctive dishes and drink selection.

“Their ethos centres on sustainability, zero-waste, sourcing local produce and innovative in-house preparation like fermentation and ‘whole process’ cooking.” – Zethu

In-house ingredients range from miso and garums to cured meats and cheeses. Intriguing dishes on their 13-course tasting menu include a Kalahari truffle agnolotti, coal-fired abalone and 14-day aged duck.

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Post & Pepper

Post & Pepper, located in the historical Oude Postkantoor, promises the wonder of fine-dining without any of the stiffness. Chef and owner Jess van Dyk and restaurant manager Dimitri Hadzigrigoriou joined forces to open this Stellenbosch restaurant and offer a relaxed, casual dining experience and focus on family-style, shared dining.

“Chef Jess’ food is all about incorporating South African and Asian flavours into well-known and loved childhood classics.” – Zethu

Expect piquant Cape Malay pani puri, smoked springbok and crispy, sticky pork with potato roosterkoek plus inventive vegetarian menus.

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De Eetkamer

Another historic building has been revived and transformed. Once a stable on Drostdy Street, it’s now a space for exquisite dining of small plates and worldwide cuisine.

“Visionary chef Marco Cardoso previously worked with renowned chef Liam Tomlin of Thali, Chefs Warehouse on Bree and La Cantina.” – Zethu

The menu is innovative – look out for pan-fried gnocchi with artichokes, peas and lemon beurre noisette and the Moroccan lamb koftas with coriander, mint and sultanas. Order four to six plates to share as a duo or enjoy a set menu for two.

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The brand new Jordan Restaurant with Marthinus Ferreira

With classic cooking and contemporary flair, chef George Jardine brought success to the extraordinary wine farm.

“Chef Marthinus Ferreira, previously of DW Eleven–13 in Jo’burg will put his own stamp on this restaurant.” – Zethu

His cuisine is experimental, inspired by his childhood while drawing influence from across the globe. He will be embracing a farm-to-table approach, using ethically-sourced ingredients. Jordan wines will be on offer by the glass and bottle, plus wines from neighbouring estates.

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Weekend gatherings at Good to Gather

Located on the organic Rozendal farm in Stellenbosch, Good to Gather is a convivial, intimate restaurant owned by husband-and-wife duo Luke Grant and Jess Shepherd. In summer, sit outside in the gorgeous courtyard under the trees, in colder months the dining takes place in the Vinegar Tasting Room at the roaring fire. The weekly menu incorporates seasonal ingredients locally sourced from small-scale farmers.

“No more than 35 diners can enjoy a three-course meal, served family-style on large platters that boast simple and subtle flavours.” – Zethu

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Jenny Handley is an award-winning culinary writer and global restaurant reviewer. Founder and curator of the JHP Gourmet Guide™ and SA’s restaurant Plate rating, she is editor of the Gourmet Guide online magazine and the host Fine Music Radio’s weekly Fine Food show. With her voracious appetite for learning, Jenny regularly updates her qualifications in Food and Nutrition.

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