Escape the bustle of city life and retreat to one of the Western Cape’s quaint and quirky towns – and dine in its favourite restaurant too.
Honouring the richness and diversity of the unique Botrivier terroir, Gabriëlskloof produces an excellent selection of wines that show respect to the region’s biodiversity. Enjoy a tasting in the unpretentious and deliberately country-esque tasting room, or stay for lunch at the family-run restaurant. Owners Frans and Mariaan Groenewald are passionate about seasonal produce, sourced locally from neighbouring farms. As a result the menu changes regularly – expect good, no-fuss homemade food made from the freshest ingredients.
images: Restaurant’s own
Situated at the foot of the Slanghoek mountains in the incredibly beautiful but often unknown Breedekloof Valley, Opstal Estate is a seventh-generation family-run wine estate with a restaurant and tasting room that welcomes visitors with charm and small-town hospitality. Look out onto views of the Slanghoek mountains and valley, while enjoying farmer’s fare prepared by Executive Chef PJ Lombard (our recommendation is to pair it with the Carl Everson Chenin blanc of Cape Blend – both outstanding wines from winemaker Attie Louw). In cold winter months opt for a seat in front of the fire, or outside on the terrace in balmy spring and summer.
Located in the small, sleepy village of McGregor, just off the R62 Wine Valley, Karoux Restaurant’s owners and chefs Ryan Josten and Aimee Van Hecke welcome you with family-like hospitality where you “arrive a stranger and leave a friend”. The shared belief is that food should be simple in creation but complex in consumption. Choose from the daily changing chalkboard menu that highlights quality local ingredients – Ryan’s famous risotto, twice baked cheese soufflé and chicken liver parfait among the regulars.
image: Inspired Living Blog
To match the wine list, featuring tipple from the surrounding vineyards, Bar Bar Black Sheep offers a varied menu intent on highlighting the local cuisine. Enjoy Cape country-style cooking, like West Coast “viskoekies”, Cape Malay curries, a signature Bar Bar lamb burger and pan fried Patagonia squid, among others. The 18th-century farm building within which BBBS is housed brims with rustic character.
Although a wine bar, The Alchemist in the Swartland town of Riebeek Kasteel provides travelling imbibers with a choice of gourmet burgers, disco fries, olives and local cheese and charcuterie boards – perfect when paired with a wine list highlighting the best of the Swartland’s bounty. Tucked away at the bottom of Short Street, it’s a classy “kuierplek” – ideal to unwind with friends and family when settling into this cute Winelands town.
image: Restaurant’s own
Wolfgat lives in a restaurant building that dates back 130 years – but this isn’t even its biggest drawcard. Located in the Wolfgat cave, a site of immense archaeological and geological significance, the experience is otherworldly. Oep ve Koep (also in Paternoster) and Wolfgat are made possible by trailblazer Kobus van der Merwe. Prepare to have your senses delighted, as Wolfgat pairs West Coast veldkos with seafood excellence.
images: Restaurant’s own
The latest venture from chefs Craig Cormack and Beau du Toit, SALT at Paul Cluver Wine Estate opened recently in the Elgin Valley. Known for its excellent cool-climate wines, Paul Cluver Estate extends its Winelands offering with a restaurant now offering visitors an intimate, cosy dining experience with a menu spearheaded by talented Hog House founder Mechell Spann. Visit SALT for breakfast and lunch, with dishes that celebrate wholesome, hearty meals – with a twist.
If you find yourself in the small Cape Floral Region of Darling – home to hundreds of species of flowering plants – and are a lover of craft beer, you simply must visit one of South Africa’s first well-established and award-winning microbreweries. Enjoy an interactive tasting of the range of craft beers, loved by locals for their flavour, quality and slow brewing process, made better of course with seasonal “pairs-well-with-beer” fare. The menu is braai-inspired, so buckle up for some truly South African representation.
The Gallery Café
A peaceful, friendly village at the foot of the Swartberg Pass, Prince Albert wins all awards for quiet, expansive and untouched Karoo charm. Order a bottle of wine, relax in the elegant space and indulge in the best lamb shank that side of the province – The Gallery Café is a must-visit. Loved by locals and visitors equally, the restaurant above the gallery space boasts wonderful views of the slow small-town life from its balcony outside, or a crackling fire in winter months.
The Hungry Monk
Crowned the world’s first Anglo-Indian/Polish restaurant, The Hungry Monk in the arty Overberg town of Greyton is an experience. Offering assorted plates for sharing, or mains for one, expect a total mix-match of cuisines and styles that wonderfully work together: Spanish tapas, Asian street food, Anglo-Indian specialities and Polish high cuisine, while South African favourites (lamb shank, pork belly and fillet steak) are given an Eastern-inspired twist from chef and owner Robert Mielicwicz.