If I have to choose between going out for lunch or dinner I’ll definitely opt for lunch. Looking for new places is a joyful challenge, wherever I am. Cape Town is known for it’s great food culture, but where to go in the Western Cape countryside? Tried ‘n tested the three restaurants listed below last week. I know, it’s a tough job but somebody has to do it.
Speaking of lunch over dinner, scientists say that one should ‘breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper’ to stay healthy. Dining late and opulently disturbs many metabolic processes. Trials have shown that inadequate timing of food intake could be contributing to the worldwide epidemic of obesity.
It’s evident that you burn more calories after lunch than after dinner. Unless you go for a long, long run after a 20.00 o’ clock sumptuous pasta dinner. Not me, exercise wise.
I’ll rather have a light evening food fix. Salad or soup or green juice. What I can’t resist though, is a (raw) dark chocolate fix later on.
Back to lunch: Bistro Sixteen82, Babel and Indochine in the Western Cape.
Bistro Sixteen82 at Steenberg Estate
We loved the Asian influences. Do try the fish tartare with sesame soy vinaigrette and avocado pulp (left bottom in picture above). Went back because of this dish. Twice.
“My greatest inspirations are derived my travels to Thailand, I developed a love and passion for Asian food. From shopping at the local food markets to creating my first authentic Thai dish, I was in heaven. You will notice a common thread in what I do and who I am. Love.
I cook with love and my food is love.”
__ Kerry Kilpin – executive chef
In the late afternoon and early evening they only serve tapas. So what I said: lunch has all the options!
Open for breakfast, lunch and late afternoon tapas. Kitchen closes at 20.15 hrs. Book in advance.
Indochine Restaurant at Delaire Graff estate
Let’s follow the Asian food trail. Where better than at Indochine Restaurant on the Delaire Graff estate, just outside Stellenbosch. Without a doubt the poshest wine estate in the Western Cape, not surprising giving the background of the owners. Graff. Diamonds. Yes.
Everything is immaculate here, the driveway, the flower gardens, the wineries, the interior, the reception lounge and last but certainly not least the food. Therefore it is a pity that despite all this effort the staff at Indochine is not as welcoming and dedicated as you might expect. Like staff with an attitude in a designer boutique because, hey, they work for Chanel.
Back to the food, because this is Asian African Fusion cooking on the next level. Head chef Virgil Kahn is an expert craftsman and that certainly reflects on your plate. What the staff lacks, he makes up big time.
The Asian / South Africa twist in every dish is an explosion of flavour ànd of colours. Beauty and balance on a plate. Even the couvert is special, no olive oil and homemade bread but a carousel of fresh Asian flavours to add on a spinach leaf. This tastes like more!
The ingredients come straight from the Estate’s biodynamic greenhouse and gardens, including fresh Asian herbs, micro greens and vegetables. Organic and sustainably grown are keywords here.
Weather permitted, lunch is served outside on the colonial deck with again great views. Inside is done in deep blue and red copper colors, contemporary chic interior. Do look up at the 1000 swallows art installation by Lionel Smit.
Open daily, lunch is served from 12.00 – 14.30 hrs. Book in advance (and drive up to the second parking)
Restaurant Babel at Babylonstoren farm
The Babylon Estate is all about farm-to-table in the literal and true sense of this expression. I’ve never ever seen such an extended vegetal and fruit garden. This is a place done with so much love!
Housed in an old cow shed, Babel is a wonderful mix of Cape Dutch architecture with contemporary glass walls. The simple yet edgy environment also goes for the unconventional combinations of food. All food served is seasonal and reflects the “pick, clean and serve” approach. As appetizer you pick fresh vegetables presented on sticks on a wooden tray. Fresh pesto, olive oil and home-baked sourdough bread is on the table.
The menu is guided by what is available in the garden, so the food always reflects the season. Right now in South African summer a yellow salad of pineapple, gooseberries, granadillas, yellow tomatoes and apricots is one of the favourites while in winter a slow-cooked leg of lamb in red wine is more likely.
Make sure to safe some space for dessert. Check ‘Culmination’ on the wall. We enjoyed an explosion of four flavours. Salty, bitter, sweet and sour within a fennel sorbet, rosewater meringue, coconut ice cream, summer fruit, lavender jelly and candyfloss (see picture). Oh my, oh my.
The meals are definitely creative, but no food tampering here. The dishes are clear in structure, what you see is what you get. The fruit and vegetables gathered daily from the garden are often served with its skin on.
Tip: come an hour earlier and roam the premises, indulge the gardens visit the shop. Sit on one of the benches and just stare.
Open for lunch from Wednesday till Sunday, from 12.00 – 15.30 hrs. Book in advance.
Another upside for lunching out in South Africa beside fresh, healthy ingredients and great tastes is the bill. Really incredible. An extensive lunch will cost only round 40 – 60 €. For two. Try that in Europe. Good luck.