Myrna Robins

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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Restaurants
Posted by on in Restaurants



There are very few who do not enjoy riding the rails and many who claim that train  is by far the best way to travel. The experience of rattling along in carriages, especially when pulled by a proper steam engine, is an experience both unique and nostalgic, so that many visitors, local and international, mourned the passing of rail transport to Franschhoek.

The station, however, stayed intact and was maintained , not like other forlorn deserted stations across the South African platteland. Occasionally trips were organised to farms along the line – I remember one, in particular, a splendid journey to Bellingham to mark, I think, both a wine launch and the restoration of the old farmstead.

When doing research for my Franschhoek Food cookbook nearly a decade ago, there was talk of reviving the rail link shared by several farms along the R45 – while nothing has come of that  there was great excitement some five years ago when the Franschhoek Wine Tram service was launched, taking guests on a short journey on rails in a 32-seater open-sided tram which stopped at two wine estates in the village. Brainchild of the Blyth family, who no doubt spent many frustrating hours dealing with the logistics of their venture, from bureaucracy downwards, their vision and persistence are worthy of thunderous applause!

The tram proved to be an instant success, offering local and international visitors a fun way to travel that was adventurous, but less hazardous than tasting wine on horseback.

Earlier this month, the Blyth family and GM Brett Garner hosted officials,  media and  visitors to the new Franschhoek Wine Tram Double Deck trams, at Groot Drakenstein station. The service now embraces some 22 wine farms, spanning the valley’s wine route. Travellers can spend between 30 and 60 minutes on board as part of a full day R220 wine tour which extends as far as Vrede en Lust in Simondium.

From the wine tram website, we learn that a combo of tram and tram-bus transports passengers around a loop of stops. They can choose to hop on and hop off for wine tastings, cellar tours, lunch or just stroll through the vineyards.There are six hop-on hop-off routes to choose from, each visiting eight wine estates in different parts of the beauteous valley, while a narrative covers the history of the valley and its wine.



As Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities Alan Winde remarked   in his launch address, this new expanded service will allow more than 120 000 guests to enjoy the trip in the current tourist season.

Just another good reason to make sure that the stupendous Franschhoek valley is on every traveller’s must-do itinerary this summer and autumn.

See  For more information  call Brett Garner on 27(0)83  260 0453.

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Posted by on in Recipes

It’s not only brinjals that have three names, I discovered recently, witlof can boast of four – as this intriguing head of tight creamy leaves is also known as chicory, witloof and Belgian endive.

Appropriately, we were gathered at Den Anker, that classic Belgian restaurant at b2ap3_thumbnail_Fanie-van-der-Merwe-standing_20170207-153515_1.jpgthe Waterfront, for the launch of this healthy addition to our summer diets. The media turnout was impressive, and Brian Berkman looked pleased. Farmer and producer Fanie van der Merwe of Bronaar, one of the oldest farms in the Koue Bokkeveld, was more than happy to tell us the secrets of this versatile vegetable that has been popular with northern European consumers for some 170 years.

As one of the few South African producesr, and as one who guarantees a continuous supply 12 months of the year, Farmer Fanie imports the little seeds from Holland at great expense, plants them  outside in the spring, and harvests in the autumn when the plant has developed a large tap root, similar to a parsnip. This is cleaned and refrigerated. The next stage is carried out in the dark, to avoid the development of chlorophyll. The roots are planted in soil-free hydroponics and the head of creamy leaves develops over three weeks, after which the chicons ( leaves) are harvested.

The endives are packaged 2 – 3 to a see-through bag and are available at several supermarkets.

We enjoyed a starter of tiny shrimps paired with crisp apple, shredded witlof, tomato, moistened with mayonnaise. The mix was served in a witlof or endive leaf, which makes an ideal container for any number of  summery salad ingredients – corn kernels and diced red pepper dressed with lightly chillied olive oil comes to mind. Add diced bacon if you wish.

Chef Doekie Vlietman followed with a seasonal salad geared to vegetarian palates, but enjoyed by all: He combined little balls of chevin, crumbed and deep-fried until crisp, with small wedges of fresh pear, briefly sautéed in butter. Finely chopped endive, baby lettuce and micro greens added crunch to the mixture, and crushed walnuts made a good topping. The composition was drizzled with a little honey and paired with a fruity Belgian beer.  It’s a light luncheon dish to recommend, although I will substitute fresh local pecan nuts for walnuts, (which are imported and often tired and old by the time we use them). A Belgian classic, endives wrapped in Parma ham and baked in a rich cheese sauce made the main course.

Apart from agreeable crunch, endives are delicately flavoured, with just a trace of bitterness to add interest. (The current endives seem to be less bitter than those I remember eating years ago – perhaps catering to modern tastes?) Their attributes are many and music to health- nuts’ ears: Apart from being  low in carbs, the witlof is high in fibre, and contains folate or B9, some vitamin C, and is also a source of thiamin, potassium, calcium , magnesium, vitamins B6 and C. There’s more – its both an appetite stimulant and a digestive aid.

Little wonder the Belgians call it their “white gold.”

Also easy to understand why Fanie would like all South Africans, whether health-conscious, slimmers, vegans or vegetarians, - and all those who aim to make 2017 the year they change their diets for the better – to look out for these packs of crisp goodness to relish raw, sautéed and baked. Autumn means picnic season in South Africa – and it would be difficult to find a better edible container for your finger fare.

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New labels, new venue, and one of the best festivals as well !






Van Loveren is such a household name across the length and breadth of South Africa, one that is synonomous with  affordable, easy-drinking, unpretentious wines, that it’s easy to overlook their flagship range of reserve, limited edition,single vineyard wines. Perhaps to counter this, the Retief family have repackaged this top range, Christina, with new labels, starring a cameo of this illustrious ancestor and family matriarch whose bridal chest can be seen in the Van Loveren restaurant at the riverside winery.

Christina van Loveren arrived in South Africa as the 17th century was about to give way to the 18th, one in which Cape wine started to make waves in Europe and the UK, thanks to Groot Constantia. Intrepid travellers like her deserve to be honoured by descendants, and the Retief family do this in style with this heritage range of highly regarded wines.

The non-vintage winning brut makes a great start to any celebration, both traditional and modern, while the four –star sauvignon blanc and the chardonnay are both classy examples of the vinous art: The sauvignon grapes come from Darling, while the delicious chardonnay benefits from a long sojurn in new French oak. Both wonderful summer aperitifs, and there are impressive reds to complement - a fine shiraz, a cabernet and a noble late harvest (from unwooded chenin) to round off the choice.   Its well worth heading down the R317


to the magnificent tasting centre to try before you buy.

This weekend sees the annual Wine on the River take place, starting on Friday October 14 and running through to Sunday. The venue is the Goudmyn farm alongside the Breede river and off the R317, where guests will, as always, savour a relaxed celebration of the wonderful wines of the broad Robertson valley, along with loads of fine fare and other attractions.

I have just read that the Van Loveren’s latest venue, the Four Cousins tasting centre and eaterie, which has risen from the former site of Branewynsdraai at the entrance to Robertson, is open – just in time for the festival.

So there will be no less than three venues where winelovers can sample the wares of Van Loveren Family Vineyards this weekend – - but note that if you want to taste the stellar Christina wines, you will have to visit the Van Loveren winery – which is almost next door to the entrance to Wine on the River.

See you there or visit






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Posted by on in Restaurants


They say it does us the world of good to wallow in luxury occasionally. Certainly I woke fresh and raring to go after a great night’s sleep in my inviting, soothing, bedroom, its stylish pastel décor livened by bedside lights doubling as branches of a ‘tree’, upon which lifelike birds perched, and a china hound-dog that kept watch over me from an adjacent desk.

Experiencing DB&B at Leeu House, BAS Singh’s enchanting boutique hotel in Franschhoek’s main road, ticked all the boxes and then some. Getting there stressed and chilly, first pleasure is finding that staff miraculously keep a couple of parking places outside the front gate empty – seemingly always! My car was whisked away while I greeted both Nelson Mandela on the left lawn and Ghandi on the right before going inside to register.


Spaciousness is usually synonomous with luxury, and certainly my huge bedroom with its sitting area and large bathroom added to the pampered feel as I explored. The cabinet containing crockery, glasses, bar fridge and snacks invited ransacking – for the purposes of reporting, of course! Well, the snacks are mostly frightfully healthy (dried fruit and veggie crisps etc) but I did find a packet of little chocolate –coated biscuit balls to go with my tea. Guests also get a 375ml bottle of both the red and white house wines – BAS white and BAS rooi, both approachable, enjoyable aperitifs.


b2ap3_thumbnail_Leeu-House-2.JPGI fell in love with the hotel dining area – both inside and out – at first sight,  with its black and white tiled floor and soaring glass conservatory-feel. The other guests dining there were Americans – one couple from North Carolina and the other family party from further north up the coast. As they communicated and discussed the state of the Western Cape roads (good) and Chapmans Peak drive (stupendous) I dithered between a first course of local smoked salmon with brown bread, capers and lemon crème fraîche or  a Waldorf salad. The former won, and I went on to a delectable mushroom risotto seasoned with three-year-aged Parmesan. Other main courses included local fish, chips, peas and tartar sauce, rigatoni topped with Toulouse sausage and tomato ragout or beef and mushroom ragout with roasted carrot mash. As with the savoury courses, there is a choice of four desserts, one being a savoury option of local artisanal cheese and preserves. All in all, delicious cuisine that doesn’t try to be too grand or  gourmet, looks good and tastes even better.

This opinion was confirmed next morning when pondering on the two breakfast menus:  – One was available from the buffet – from croissants and pastries through berries and fruits to double thick yoghurt and honey-roasted nuts. Healthy items like oat granola bars and caramelised coconut were alongside muesli and tea-dried fruits while carnivores could protein-pack with the local charcuterie selection.

The a la carte choices include duck egg Benedict, folded omelettes with Swiss Gruyere and foraged mushrooms and smoked salmon with truffled scrambled eggs. Traditionalists and Scots can start the day with oats, malted sugar and single malt whisky or an old-fashioned pork sausage sandwich and brown sauce, which, I think, may hark back to the chef’s roots…

The previous evening I had walked next door to to visit Le Quartier Francais’s new renovated bar and lounge, which is now a vibrant, contemporary venue, as up to date as tomorrow’s weather. The walls are lined with a rough weave fabric, the roundback chairs sport blue suede upholstery and the long, long bar is fronted with a row of high stools dressed in blue and white. The lighting is dim, but its easy to enjoy the giant prints on some walls of everyday items like a pair of scissors and a bunch of screws. There’s also a cosy side room with nests of sofas for intimate fireside gatherings. Soft background jazz is teamed with black and white photos of the artistes, whether Jozi-style or New Orleans, I am not sure.

Everywhere at these exceptional venues now owned by Mr BAS Singh, the service is, as expected, swift and efficient. But it is also charming, friendly and concerned, with both the genial GM (who doubles up managing both Leeu House and LQF) and the receptionists and restaurant staff coming across as wanting to do their very best to make you happy. In this, they certainly succeeded.

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Why it’s taken me so long to visit this comparatively new Franschhoek estate, established in 2005, I cannot say, but I am glad that I now know more about this inviting former farmstead,  gutted inside to produce interleading spacious areas sheltering under a corrugated iron roof that has seen better days – and is proud of its heritage!

When I arrived midmorning and midweek on a perfect spring day I was  welcomed loudly by a rooster perched on the terrace. No other cars in the parking area, lined by a fragrant lemon orchard, but inside staff were bustling about setting up a food and wine shoot, while outside at the back, the chef seemed to be holding a class with a bunch of staff members.

I explored happily on my own, taking in the spacious indoor restaurant, casual seating area, furnished with plenty of blonde wood and a deli with shelves lined with produce, pates and pickles, jams and more.

I asked for a menu, was given one to take away, and offered a wine tasting, which I declined, as   a long chenin celebration llay ahead of me. The restaurant, named The Kitchen at Maison is headed by chef Arno Janse van Rensburg, who looks very fierce in his photographs, but presents an interesting menu that lists dishes by their ingredients – such as Beetroot, mushroom, turmeric, ginger, tuna and  another of Baby potatoes, nettle, chicken skin and egg yolk. He clearly is into fermenting and pickling, and includes trendy ingredients like kombucha with a dish of suckling pig, parsnip, cashew nut and celeriac. Adventurous palates are required for some of his creations, which range in price from R85 to R145 with a single steak – Angus prime rib – at an eye-watering R450.

Cheese and charcuterie plates make other options and a quartet of desserts, at R75 each, include unexpected combos like dark chocolate, quinoa, citrus, yoghurt and almond.


I had received the 2014 Maison chardonnay with its trendy label of minimal wording and lots of white space. Maison boasts less than one ha of 11- year -old chardonnay vines, and viticulturist-cum-winemaker Antwan Bondesio has made good use of them in this wine, producing a wooded chard that is elegant, and almost frisky, in spite of its untrendy 14,5% alcohol levels. These are not apparent, however, as the citrus flavours prevail along with whiffs of butterscotch. An enjoyable summer chard, medium-bodied, with subtle oak, that will make an easy-going companion to a variety of salad fare, seafood and poultry, selling at R180.

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The setting is simply superb. From both the terrace and through the wrap-around full-length glass walls of the restaurant, vineyards and pastures roll out below you, bisected by the R60. The Brandwag, Rabiesberg and long line of the Langeberg range frame this inviting hilltop venue, open for some eight months.

Well-situated between Worcester and Robertson , this is an ideal stopping-point; Nuy could not have thought of a better way of celebrating their 50th anniversary.

Paging through the nostalgic and beautifully illustrated Nuy gedenkboek, we read about the cellar’s maiden harvest in 1965, a total of 6 192 tons, made up of Muscadel, Othello, Pontac, Pinotage, Hanepoot, Witsag and Hermitage. While hermitage is today better-known as cinsaut, the latest old-timer to head to trend-topping status, I could not find info on Othello or Witsag.

It it did not take Nuy long to become renowned for the outstanding quality of its soetes – muscadels both red and white, which even today continued to attract awards annually, yet are stil sold at giveaway prices.

As the number of reds and whites continued to increase, Nuy has slotted wines into three ranges. The entry wines, Inspiration, consist of five whites – sauvignon blanc, chenin, chardonnay, colombar and their perennially popular Chant de Nuit a blend of chenin and colombar finished with a little Ferdinand de Lesseps, a table grape. From the reds, my table companion found the 2015 cabernet sauvignon very agreeable, and there is also a shiraz and pinotage which we did not sample. There’s an off-dry sparkling wine made from sauvignon blanc and a semi-sweet bubbly using muscat. The 2015 red and white muscadels complete the range. Prices range from R30 to 47 for the whites, the reds are all R55 and the muscadels R52. The sparkling wines cost R50.

The middle range, called Mastery offered a delightfull, carefully wooded chardonnay, which makes a perfect “winter white” (R85) and a trio of reds , all priced at R103– 2013 pinotage (exceptionally light in colour, characteristic nose, medium bodied, modern and enjoyable), and a cab and shiraz, both 2013.

Nuy’s top range Legacy, leads with their flagship red blend Argilla 2013,(R150) a blend of 62% shiraz, 31% pinotage, finished with cab. Elegance joined by a good backbone, smooth tannins, this will be worth keeping for a few years . We did not try the bubbly, (R150) nor the potstill brandy, but I can vouch for the hugely impressive 50 Vintages Red Muscadel (R165). Matured for three years in small oak, bottled to mark the 50th anniversary, this sophisticated fortified has already attracted double gold from Michelangelo, and 4 and half stars from Platter – worth five I think.

And so, to the food.

When I see a menu as large and varied as Nuy’s I usually find that the cuisine suffers, as few kitchens can cope with such a huge number of dishes . While two of us enjoyed a simple lunch there one Friday, I can report that not only was the restaurant buzzing with happy diners, but also I did not see anyone complain or send back anything but well-cleaned plates. I have not heard a single bad report on the fare at this restaurant from local diners in the Robertson valley – so perhaps this is an exception to the usual rule.

Breakfast offers predictable variations on the bacon and egg theme, plus a salmon rosti and a Nuy Benedict. There’s a a choice of seven burgers, including a Banting burger which replaces the bun with a giant mushroom. The tapas menu is extensive – my companion tried and enjoyed the beef carpaccio, which was a generous offering teamed with shaved parmesan and a balsamic glaze. From the speciality dishes, - pork, battered fish and chicken enchilada – I opted for mushroom soup, and it was a good choice – plentiful, creamy, and well-flavoured and served with toast. There is also an extensive pizza menu prices ranging from R85 to R105, while steaks – fillet and sirloin with a choice of toppings and sauces - start from R115.

By way of contrast the dessert menu is miniscule – cake, spring rolls, waffle with banana caramel, cream or icecream, and icecream with bar one sauce. We tried two of these, again a large serving, predictably rich and satisfying for every sweet tooth. Beverages include a range of milkshakes , and there’s a full liquor licence. Nuy on the hill cocktail (R45) melds peach schnapps, vodka, orange juice and blue curacao. There are four artisanal beers from the Mountain Brewing Co made on the Klipbokkop reserve which seemed a popular choice with diners. A kiddies menu concludes a really astonishing range .

Six years go the Nuy directors handed over 1ha of white and 1ha of red muscadel vines to the cellarworkers who formed the Keerom Landbou Bpk, to develop and cultivate themselves. From their maiden harvest in 2011 their grapes have been rated in outstanding condition. They are delivered to the Nuy cellar and form part of the distinctive 50 Vintages Red Muscadel.

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Farm to Table festival weekend



Celebrate natural produce and artisanal fare at Boschendal farm during the weekend April 23 -24. This huge farm, in a setting of outstanding beauty, is ready to inform and inspire guests with a programme of talks, tours, demos and workshops, that will please eco-conscious visitors and should convince many others that  sustainable farming that is gentle to the earth, cuts food miles, and ensures humane treatment of animals is the route we should be taking.

While all ages will be catered for with children’s activities on the Sunday, Saturday's programme includes compost creation, sausage-making, wine tasting, craft beer, organic food garden tours, and free-range poultry and beef tours..

 There's a farm feast on Saturday, starting at 4pm and including a spitroast Angus ox and a barbecue picnic on Sunday to contemplate The farm feast dinner costs R450, children ‘R200 at separate table. The Sunday picnic and live music costs R295 for adults, children 12 and under R100. Picnic prices includes entertainment and childrens activities.

 please visit to book. Tickets are limited for all events.






This annual success story is marking its 15th birthday this year with another great weekend of cheese and other goodies at Sandringham near Stellenbosch., exit 39 off the N1. As always, cheese tastings can be partnered with wines, and delicious snacks of all kinds, and celebrity chefs will be doing demos of their speciality dishes. See you there!

Tickets are available from Computicket , Shoprite or Checkers store at R150 per day. Senior citizens pay R100 and children 13 years and younger enter  free. No tickets will be sold at the gates. The festival opens from 10:00 - 18:00 daily. Facebook

For more information contact Agri-Expo on tel 021 975 4440 or or visit


The Riebeek Valley Olive Festival




The annual Riebeek Valley Olive Festival takes place over the weekend of 7 - 8 May (10am to 5pm daily), where you are guaranteed to find everything olive related

From olives to olive oils and olive -inspired produce, this promises to be a feast for the senses. Not forgetting the great  wines in the area too.! Artisanal beers, an abundance of hearty local food and live entertainment add up to the promise of a great weekend.

 An Olive Passport, valid for the  weekend, gives visitors access to participating wine farms. It costs R125 and includes a tasting glass. Book online via or on the day at any of the participating venues. Children under 18 enter for free. A complimentary shuttle service will be available for the duration of the weekend.

Those choosing to make a weekend of this excursion have a wide selection of accommodation from which to choose. For more information contact Riebeek Valley Tourism on 022 448 1545 or mail





The first of these elegant evenings take place on May 14, from 6,30pm with others to follow in

August and October.Tickets are available at R595 per person, for the five course dinner with wine included. Limited seats are available so call 021 874 1071 or email to be part of this exclusive event.





Shiraz and charcuterie events are becoming trendy affairs, with Anthonij Rupert holding theirs on Saturday, 28 May (12pm to 5pm). Their own range of syrah, which includes the Anthonij Rupert Syrah, the Cape of Good Hope Riebeek’s Rivier Shiraz and Protea Shiraz will be there for sampling, as will fine shiraz from Rust en Vrede, Waterford, Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines, Hartenberg Estate, Simonsig and Thelema. These can all be paired with a range of charcuterie and artisanal fare such as French onion soup, and braised lamb arancini with tomato chutney, Toulouse sausages with braised lentils are among the rustic Rhone specialities, perfect to pair with shiraz. Tickets cost R180 per person and are limited, so pre-booking is recommended. Your ticket includes entry and tastings of the wines.. Book directly via

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The ongoing story of Stellenbosch Vineyards is complex, one I have only partly unravelled:

Let’s start with the recent launch of a small range of Enaleni wines, part of an empowerment project, and the wines Fairtrade-certified. Stellenbosch farmer Schalk Visser gave a 23ha portion of his farm Nagenoeg to 23 farmworkers, now also shareholders in 2009. This BEE project is now coming to fruition, with four cultivars producing harvests, and at least two wines recently launched under the Enaleni label. These are a 2015 sauvignon blanc and 2014 cabernet sauvignon, both of which are selling at around R65. Both wines are undemanding, easy on the palate, and should find favour with  consumers looking for enjoyable wines to accompany summer fare, weekend braais, or just aperitifs on the the stoep. Enalenif funding has come from both the SA government and Schalk Visser. There is more information on the website

Stellenbosch Vineyards, which is marketing the Enaleni wines, is both a wine producer and exporter of several labels, with their head office at the historic Welmoed farm on the R310 outside Stellenbosch. Along with Welmoed wines, they market The Flagship, Credo, Stellenbosch Vineyards, Four Secrets, Infiniti, Arniston Bay, Versus and Infusions.

Their popular restaurant Bistro 13 on the Welmoed farm has established itself as a venue that is true to its title, offering real bistro-style fare – chef-patron Nic van Wyk presenting seasonal, simple, inviting creations  incorporating new trends without going overboard. Summer menu includes items like smoked mackerel salad with pickled fennel, an Asian-style tuna tartare, classic steak tartare, ox tongue gratin and desserts worth keeping space for. Prices are reasonable, if the website is accurate – from R120 to R160 for mains, most desserts around R50.

Wines from the SV ranges, by the glass and carafe, the restaurant is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner and for breakfasts as well over weekends. See their website for more info.

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Here are the top 20 finalists in the Wolftrap Steakhouse championship contest for 2015.

The public vote identfied these anad now a team of judges is visiting each of them to find the winner. The 2015 champion will be announced on June 30 at The Local Grill in Parktown North, which was the 2013 and 2014 winner.


See below the 2015 Top 20 Steakhouses, first  grouped into colour-coded regions, then listed alphabetically:

  • Eastern Cape: 2x in East London
  • Free State: 1x in Bloemfontein
  • Gauteng: 6x steakhouses with 2x in Pretoria
  • KwaZulu Natal: 3x steakhouses: Durban, Pietermaritzburg and Umhlanga Rocks
  • Mpumalanga: 1x steakhouse
  • Southern Cape: 3x steakhouses
  • Western Cape: 4x steakhouses
  • Cattle Baron, Mossel Bay - Southern Cape
  • Cattle Baron, Tableview - Western Cape
  • Fahrenheit, Edenvale, Johannesburg (East) - GautengFinalist in 2014
  • Havana Grill, Durban - KwaZulu Natal
  • Hillside Tavern Grill, Lynwood, Pretoria - Gauteng
  • HQ, Cape Town - Western Cape - Finalist in 2014
  • Jayz Grill, Pietermaritzburg - KwaZulu Natal
  • Little Havana, Umhlanga Rocks - KwaZulu NatalFinalist in 2013
  • Longhorn Steakhouse, Bloemfontein - Free State
  • Milhaus, Kyalami, Johannesburg (North)- Gauteng
  • Pioneers Butcher & Grill, Hazyview - Mpumalanga
  • Sanook, East London - Eastern Cape
  • Texas Grill, George - Southern Cape
  • The Bull Run, Sandton, Johannesburg (North) - Gauteng
  • The Cricketer, East London - Eastern Cape
  • The Godfather, Centurion, Pretoria - GautengRunner-up in 2014
  • The Grumpy Griller, George - Southern Cape
  • The Local Grill, Parktown North, Johannesburg (North)- GautengChampion in 2013 and 2014
  • The Local Grill, Woodstock - Western Cape
  • Theo's, Mouille Point - Western CapeFinalist in 2014


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IMIBALA Restaurant and Deli,

18 Bright Street Somerset West,. Tel: 021 851 2364

Caption to picture: Roasted baby beetroot and  goat cheese with toasted seeds and yellow pepper dressing salad 

Light, bright and inviting. The restaurant and adjoining art gallery face the Imibala Trust offices and retail store across the road, making for a compact Imibala complex.

The name means colour in Xhosa , reflected in a clever logo recording multi-coloured sound waves of a child’s laughter. This is pertinent, as the whole existence of this project and its distinctive facets, is to bring joy to children whose lives lack this essential element.

Nicole Dupper is the chef here, a name that will bring joy to legions of diners who have relished her delectable, consistently fine fare at places like Bushman’s kKoof and Bartholomeus Klip. She focuses on fresh and seasonal ingredients which she fashions into dishes both classic and trendy, all well balanced compositions where flavour and texture are paramount, and eye appeal follows – simply by stylishly presented on large white plates. There are no dribbles or foams, no ingredients fashioned to look like a lunar or Picasso landscape, but every mouthful offers convincing proof of dedicated talent at work.

The menu, simply divided into savoury dishes and desserts, is well constructed, ranging from upmarket sandwiches (chicken with fontina cheese and crème fraîche and sirloin with caramelised onion, roasted tomato, mozzarella and wild rocket) through appealing vegetarian items to a good selection of salads, seafood, chicken and red meat choices. Between four of us, we sampled two meatless dishes - caramelised onion,spinach and blue cheese tart and aubergine parmigiano – neither of which could be faulted. Those who chose layered smoked salmon and avo topped with trout caviar and grilled lamb loin salad with roasted eggplant, feta, mint and tzatsiki were equally happy . The weather was too hot for my choice of buttermilk panna cotta to set as it should have done, so I sampled the classic vanilla crème brulée instead, which was excellent. Roasted hazelnut and chocolate meringue galette proved rich and irresistible, and a dainty apple tart, topped with vanilla icecream, swam in a pool of satiny crème anglaise.

The winelist is substantial, and includes an impressive number of international labels, along with beer, cider and spirits. Cape wines are mostly limited to products from the Rupert cellars, with a couple of Elgin labels to round off choices. Wines by the glass are limited to a couple of bubblies and to the Protea range of still wines, which are affordable if forgettable. The brilliant Cape of Good Hope range of wines is also there, every one of which I would recommend with enthusiasm.

Part of the restaurant’s proceeds are channelled to the Imibala Trust, a philanthropic project which is a story in itself. Suffice it to say that an impressive number of needy children, from around 20 schools across the Helderberg basin, from Grade R upwards, are clothed in school uniforms, given their own personal belongings, and are monitored throughout their school lives. They also take part in a number of extramural activities.

Supporting charity has never been so delicious.

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