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Jul 25, 2007 04:35 PM

Restaurants or cafes in the South African Winelands

We will make our four night base to visit the Winelands in October in Franschhoek. We would like suggestions for both lunch at wineries and dinner nearby. We like all cuisines and generally like to dine at more casual places rather than *** type places. We do definitely enjoy good local well prepared food!

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  1. Hi, Zinfanatic

    Here are some jumbled thoughts.

    Le Quartier Francais in the heart of Franschhoek is best known internationally for its pricey tasting menu, but its more casual cafe has a legendary lamb burger which is well worth a casual lunch visit.

    I am a really big fan of Hillcrest Berry Farm's little restaurant. It's between Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, on Hellshoogte Pass. Not to self-publicize, but I've written in detail about Hillcrest on my blog ( if you want to know more about the gorgeous place.

    Moreson (also known by its french name, soleil du matin) is a wine farm just outside F'hoek. While its lunch hours are iffy (open only half the week, less in winter - email or phone ahead to find out what's what) its food is delicious, with a lot of local ingredients prominently featured. Neil Jewell, its chef, is also a passionate charcutier on the side; I consider his Spanish pork loin and demi-sec saucisson to be the best South African charcuterie I've tasted, bar none. Seriously, seriously good. And if you're lucky enough to find him in the deli shop, helping out in person, get him to tell you all about the pigs - he tells you how they are fed wild garlic to flavour the meat just before slaughter. So even if you're not up for eating at the restaurant (or it's not open while you are there) go to the deli shop, buy some charcuterie (they have vacuum packs or will cut you slices to order), freshly made bread, cheese and olives and have a picnic at one of the wine farms you are visiting. Oh, and the olive oil is my favourite.

    Reuben's, in the heart of Franschhoek, is considered a 'nice' restaurant but has a relatively casual ambience (no need to dress up) and lovely, lovely food. The chef-patron is a local who worked his way up from an untrained waiter to one of the most respected chefs in the region.

    People often reccommend Fairview Estate for lunch (between Paarl and FRanschhoek), and since it's a wine estate, you might very well be going there (it is also famous for its goat-inhabited tower). However, I do NOT reccommend eating lunch there. I was there recently, and the service was apathetic bordering on rude, and the food was absolutely mediocre, which is unacceptable in an area where there are so many other good alternatives. So by all means go there for wines and cheeses, but don't waste a lunch there.

    If you are staying in the middle of town and find yourself out-restauranted (it often happens to me when I'm on holiday and eating out every night) I'd reccommend Col'cacchio Pizzeria. It is an upmarket chain (yes, I know, that word strikes fear into the heart of every experience-seeking chowhound) but the ambience is casual, and their famed gourmet pizzas (the new potato, caramelized onion and smoked mozzarella is lovely) might be a welcome respite from restaurant fare.

    Haven't been there in a while, but La Petite Ferme is very popular for lunch. Has a lovely view of the valley, too.

    Enjoy your trip, and please report back.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Gooseberry

      Gooseberry- Thanks so much. Your reply is informative and just what I wanted. I was in the business in SF and love to travel and eat and drink wine! My list of "nominees" is Reubens, Boullabasie, Le Petite Ferme (is the food as good as the view?) Ici, La Fromagerie, French Connection. I have compiled this list from various sources. Can you add your opinion ? I know you have already commented on some of these. We will also be in Capetwon for four nights and drive along the Garden Route. Anything to add? Thank you again and maybe I can return the favor if you come to SF!!!. Enjoying your blog too.

      1. re: zinfanatic

        Oh the restaurant you mentioned with Morenson winery is Bread and Wine- that was on my list too- It is olny open for lunch ,right?

        1. re: zinfanatic

          Hi, Zinfanatic

          I guessed you were Cali-based, given your nickname! I've already sampled many of the joys in SF; I worked in the East Bay for five months last year. And happy as I am to be home (here, in the San Francisco of the Southern Hemisphere!) God, I miss the food culture. Oh, for the Ferry Plaza...

          To answer your SA questions:

          I haven't been to Le Petit Ferme in years, so cannot comment personally. Other sources - on this board, people I know - say it's still a good place to eat.

          Ici is the name of Le Quartier Francais' smaller restaurant of lamb burger fame. It has a nice outdoor courtyard for al fresco dining on sunnier days. October - our Spring - swings between sun and rain, by the way.

          Reubens and the French Connection (both more casual in ambiance by Franschhoek standards, but the food is delightful) are my top reccs for F'hoek dinners. French Connection is solid bistro fare, applied to local ingredients. Good service, good food. Reubens, as I said, is also wonderful. They usually have two menus for dinner - one more classical, one a bit more fusion/unusual. You can order dishes from both.

          I haven't eaten at La Fromagerie (not to be confused with Cottage Fromage) in ages, but I've stopped by to buy cheeses there. It's connected to a large upmarket furniture store and gallery. It's in town, but in a quieter part, overlooking a vineyard. My hunch is that Bread and Wine would be better - it's a more serious restaurant, in terms of the food. The only way to tell if it will be open while you are there, though, is to email the restaurant from their website. The chef and his wife (the baker) have a young family, which is why I assume the hours can be a bit limited. And like everything in the area, hours are dictated to by the presence or absence of tourists.

          Bouillabaise is relatively new; I don't think I've eaten there, so I can't comment.

          I don't know if you plan to stick to Franschhoek for your four days in the Wineland; there are some very good food opportunities in nearby Stellenbosch. Terroir, where I sadly have not eaten yet, is often mentioned as one of the top restaurants in the country. 96 Winery Road also does lovely food.

          So, if I were you, and of course depending on your wine tasting schedule, I would go to:

          Reuben's for dinner
          French Connection for dinner
          Hillcrest Berry Farm for lunch or tea (you'll be mainly among locals here, from the neighbouring towns)
          Bread and Wine for lunch (or at least a picnic pit stop)

          And then Le Petit Ferme and La Fromagerie if you still have time!

          Where are you staying in Franschhoek?

          1. re: zinfanatic

            In terms of the Garden Route, definitely go to Ile de Pain in Knysna. It is run by Chef Markus Farbinger, previously of the CIA (Culinary, not Intelligence!), considered the best (woodfire hearth) bread baker in the country. And his chocolates are not far behind...

            What sort of thing are you looking for in Cape Town, and what suburb are you staying in?

            1. re: Gooseberry

              Thanks again from Berkely! We will be in Capetown for four nights and staying at the Afican Villa in Tamboerskloof area of CT. I have been reading the Eat Out website and have come up with a few places- Jardine, Ginja, Societi Bistro. We would also like to eat Malay food- not touristy. We love tapas and wine bars if there are any places like that.

              1. re: zinfanatic

                Don't know the African Villa, but Tamboerskloof is a lovely area, and close to most activities and restaurants. Jardine's, Ginja, Societi are all considered some of the best restos in town.

                Wine bars and tapas are growing trends here. I haven't sampled extensively myself, so I'm hesitant to make reccommendations; the Cape Quarter (in the historic De Waterkant district) has both a tapas bar (name?) and a wine bar (called Nose). Haven't tried either. If it's light food you're after, Cape Town has a wonderful culture of cafe eating. Some are outdoors, but I'm specifically talking of small restaurants run out of converted residential (often historic) homes. I don't want to use the word bistro, because they aren't French in style, but that's the sort of cafe I mean. Traditionally the menus are small, and include sandwiches - fresh or toasted (i.e. grilled), seasonal soups, fish of the day (usually something local), at least one traditional Cape dish (bobotie, curry, stew), maybe a pasta dish, hamburger, grilled chicken something or other. And lots of home made, often quite rustic, desserts! It's a very homey, specific style of cuisine, very recognizable. I know of more in the Southern suburbs (the other side of Table Mountain from the City Bowl, where you are staying), but the City Bowl certainly has its fair share - albeit much cooler, chic and less homey. Manna Epicure (all white interior, in-crowd), Royale's (everyone's favourite eclectic burger joint) come to mind. Southern suburbs: Gardener's Cottage (my favourite), Orchid Cafe, Alison's, Marigold's.

                In terms of Cape Malay food, don't go to the Cape Malay Restaurant at the Cellars-Hohenort; it has lovely service and ambiance, but the food was flat and unsophisticated. De Waterblommetjie at the castle specializes in Cape Malay - haven't tried it, have been meaning to get round to it for a while. Otherwise, do as I have reccommended before on this board (tell me if you can't find the posts - I'll repost them) and try take away food in town, where officeworkers buy lunch.

                Otherwise, go into the Bo-Kaap (top of Wale Street, I think) to the takeout shop next to the Halaal Butcher and get some takeouts. It serves the local community, so not at all a tourist trap! My boyfriend, who's partly of Cape Malay heritage, says it's the best you'll be able to locate without getting too lost or going into a dangerous area (!). He also thinks the shop's called Biesmillah, but we aren't certain. He likes to get a salomie (saLOmi) to go. It's a roti flatbread (locally pronounced ROOti) wrapped around a curry of your choosing (his is mutton; I prefer chicken).

                Give my regards to North Berkeley, my old stomping ground - MLK Way, Monterey Market, Chez P, Cheeseboard Co. specifically... Does Kermit Lynch import SA wines, or can't it compete with all the French stuff?

      2. Les Chambres in Franschhoek!

        1. Gooseberry You are directing me to all the right kind of places. We like to go "local" if possible. I have heard about the Roti. Yes, cafes are fine. Thanks for all your hints. We will be leaving on our African sojurn in September and SA in early October- weather??? generally. Thank you, Zin

          1 Reply
          1. re: zinfanatic

            October is our Spring. The weather changes, depending on where you are, as South African climate depends on region - tropical, semi-desert - pretty much everything except Amazonian jungle! Cape Town has a mediterranean climate, which means wet, cool winters and warm, dry, windy summers. So in Cape Town in the spring, there might be occasional rain, but nothing too heavy. Should be sunny, temperate - but not what I'd call hot. In centigrade, I'm imagining late teens to mid twenties. Actually a bit like Berkeley in the summer months! So global warming effects aside (we're getting a real stormy hammering this winter!), think light pants/jeans, tees and light sweaters, maybe a light coat/rain jacket.

            Inland (which includes the winelands) it tends to be hotter during the day, and cooler at night.