The Restaurant at Neethlingshof, newly updated and now under the captainship of Head Chef Brendan Stein, is a warm cluster of old farm house rooms, with high ceilings and large wooden windows letting in the winter sunshine.
The menu offers you two paths: either a quick, casual lunch (and slightly more substantial plates) such as the Wagyu Beef Burger (R160) or a more leisurely 3 course lunch, offering dishes with more varied and subtle flavours. The steamed fresh mussels (R65) were some of juiciest and tenderest we had ever tasted, a perfectly sized starter portion of about 15 large mussels.
The offer of slow cooked Springbok Shank (R180) was just too good to pass up, and suited the wintry afternoon beautifully. Tender, and served with a bright black cherry jus and creamy polenta. I was soon defeated, but not from lack of trying.
Wines are offered by the glass from the estate, and they are certainly very generous. The Neethlingshof range has something for all wine drinkers – from an off dry Gewurztraminer (which I loved), a more approachable Six Flowers white wine blend (a great food wine) or a more full bodied Pinotage.
The dessert menu showed considerable care and attention. The dishes are spread over a range of flavours and sweetness levels: the South African Cheese Plate (R75) showcased local produce, combined with Chef Brendan’s attention to detail – a crisp lavash cracker, wine poached pear and some candied nuts. The desserts demonstrated the same level of flavour, balance and execution as the main dishes, which is a refreshing change.
The food, wine and service were all tied together with a common thread – a warm approachability. The dishes may seem familiar to you – a bobotie or an ostrich steak – and yet there is an added layer of flavour that only hours in the kitchen can add. The Restaurant at Neethlingshof is sure to become a favourite with both Stellenbosch locals and visitors alike, for its flavourful meals and great value.