Food24 eats at The Table at De Meye

A unique dining experience in the Stellenbosch winelands.

by: Tessa Purdon | 20 Feb 2012

The Table has created quite a murmur after it walked away with an Eatout Award last year for “Best Country-style restaurant”, and after my meal there last Sunday, it’s easy to see why.

The restaurant, which is only open on weekends, is situated on the De Meye wine estate in Stellenbosch and offers a rather unique experience.

Russel Wasserfall, famed South African food photographer, plays an excellent host, and together with his wife Camilla and brother-in-law, Jason- who both preside over the kitchen, the team brings together and exemplifies what it means to eat and to share food that is simple yet has incredible depth and integrity.

Spending a few hours at The Table is escapism at its best; the rest of the world disappears leaving time only to think about the people around you and the food in front of you, reminding me of a quote;

“Food is family. Family is life. Life is everything”

It may disappoint some to find that the restaurant runs under a Table d’hôte system so the menu is fixed for the day. This fits the theme of the restaurant perfectly and keeping on trend, the restaurant’s suppliers are predominantly local, (some artisanal) and all produce is kept seasonal.

The meal is set at R250 per person excluding wine/drinks.

Food appears on large platters where guests help themselves, encouraging one to really “dig in!” but before anything is devoured, the eloquent Russel casually talks the table through each course- how it’s prepared, where the produce comes from, as well as the historical origins of each dish.

Our meal started off with a “Trio of bruschetta” on sourdough bread. Toppings included fresh olive tapenade with tomato salsa, red-wine poached pear with Dalewood’s award-winning Huguenot cheese, and the last one, which came as a “topping” on its own- deliciously ripe baby figs from Steve Botha, paired with three different varieties of salami made by local charcutier, Marco Nico.

Russel mentioned that quite often the team creates the menu around one special ingredient and on the day that I visited it happened to be homemade crabapple jelly made by Camilla and Jason’s mother, Colette- a rather distinguished culinary wizard in her own right.

The jelly’s counterpart was pickled pork - cooked to perfection with its saltiness offsetting the jelly’s sweetness. Crispy Hassleback potatoes were served together with a platter of seasonal green vegetables, all bursting with flavour, freshness and colour. Simple combinations, expertly executed in a style so quintessentially “country”.

I took a walk through the restaurant and felt like I was trespassing in someone’s home. The decor has a shabby chic Cape French feel with a few focus pieces; shelves larded with items typically found in an Arcadian cottage- hats, books, rose-filled vases, jars of fudge and a big bowl of green apples.

Dessert consisted of a deviously dark chocolate tart served with a scoop of van der Hum ice cream that was flecked with thin citrus needle threads. Small details that often go un-noticed but showed that they take no short cuts.

Good to know

The menu changes every week  and it’s recommended that you book ahead and put aside 4-5 hours to fully take in the experience.

The Table is one of those places that appeases one’s soul and invites people to “remember”, to sit back and take in the simplicity of life.


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