We asked the co-founders of Art House Collection for their five favourite restaurants in the Cape Winelands, home to some of the best restaurants in the world.
These restaurants are the Brundyn family's favourite places to eat out when we are in the Cape Winelands. My selection ranges from carefully crafted fine dining experiences to casual family-style eateries. I am repeatedly drawn to these establishments because of their unique architecture and elegant interior design, which draws on historical inspiration combined with contemporary flair. They are classic examples that do not yield to passing trends or fleeting fashion. Most of all, I love these restaurants because they consistently provide delicious food and excellent service.
Protégé Restaurant, Franschhoek
Protégé is one of my family's favourite restaurants. The name means ‘protector’ in French, and I admire how – in keeping with this mission – the restaurant promotes the talents of emerging young chefs, by providing astute guidance and the chance to put themselves on the culinary map. Located in Franschhoek, the restaurant offers a casual approach to fine dining, by combining refined flavours with fresh and seasonal ingredients that are sourced– wherever possible – from local suppliers.
Protégé is guided under the excellent direction of previous Eat Out Chef of the Year, La Colombe's Scot Kirton and head chef Zane Soutar leads the talented team in the kitchen. They offer a set chef’s menu (and a vegetarian option) that features a selection of small plates and a main course with the option to add dessert or snacks as desired.
Orangerie Restaurant at Le Lude Estate, Franschhoek
Nic and Freda Barrow’s Orangerie Restaurant is a hidden gem nestled among the picturesque Franschhoek vineyards. The Barrows are passionate about providing a premium product and an unrivalled experience. I have known and loved the family for more than twenty years, since first meeting them at the Rosenhof CountryHouse in Oudtshoorn. Today their daughter, Chef Nicolene, runs the kitchen and specialises in classic French cuisine with a contemporary spin. Take for example their interpretation on a cheese soufflé, made with Gruyère, and served with a light crème sauce and an apple-celery salad.
Nic and Freda bought the Franschhoek farm in 2009 with the dream of producing the finest Cap Classique – a naturally bottle-fermented sparkling wine. Over the years, they have planted the farm with grape varieties synonymous with excellent sparkling wines such as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. This year they celebrate 10years since their maiden vintage in 2012. Having turned their dream into a reality, today Le Lude is internationally renowned for crafting an unique range of MCCs that are rounded, elegant, and refined.
De Volkskombuis, Stellenbosch
Nothing beats enjoying a leisurely drawn-out summer lunch under the oak trees or a moreish winter dinner in front of the fireplace at De Volkskombuis – an irreplaceable national asset and a comfortable family-friendly eatery. Set against the backdrop of an old Cape Dutch style building, this restaurant revives traditional South African fare with new twists. The menu boasts classic ‘Boerkos’ such ‘tamatie bredie’ and sago pudding alongside more modern options like mushroom risotto and Chalmar fillet.
The beautiful historic property – formerly labourer’s cottages – was designed bySir Herbert Baker in 1902, on the old farm previously known as Vredenburg. In1968 the property was acquired by Historical Homes of South Africa and restored and leased as a restaurant. While I was a student at the University of Stellenbosch, it was a popular place to meet friends and to host get-togethers. However, over time the building became neglected and even stood vacant for several years. Then in 2017 the Rupert family initiated a complete restoration of the property and today De Volkskombuis once again functions as a well-loved restaurant within the beautiful town of Stellenbosch.
Blanko at the Alphen Hotel, Constantia
As its name suggests, Blanko is an elegant, all-white, gallery-style space – one of the many reasons I love it! The restaurant's walls are adorned with works by some of South Africa's top artists, including William Kentridge, Brett Murray, and Mikhael Subotzky. The interior boasts beautiful Italian marble tables, a dramatically lit-up bar, and textured furnishings. This ambience is reflected by executive chef Amber-May Deetlefs' culinary philosophy: ‘The best food not only has to taste good, but it should also be something sincere and uncomplicated’. Accordingly, Blanko is where simplicity meets style, and it offers an all-round sensory feast.
La Cotte Farm Heritage Restaurant, Franschhoek
I was recently introduced to this gorgeous boutique hotel and restaurant by a stylish friend from Palm Beach. La Cotte Farm dates back to 1698 and is one of eleven Huguenot Farms granted to French immigrants fleeing their native country during the 17th century. Today you can experience this heritage – carefully restored over the last three and a half centuries – as well enjoy the natural beauty and luxurious accommodation on offer.
The La Cotte Farm Heritage Restaurant is housed in the original manor house. This building has been beautifully renovated over the years to showcase its high ceilings and spectacular light-filled interiors while still conserving remnants of the Cape Dutch Victorian and Georgian architecture.
Fora memorable dining experience, I recommend enjoying a delicious farm breakfast or savouring a lazy lunch while gazing leisurely across the valley towards Franschhoek village. The restaurant combines Malayan influences with traditional Cape Dutch cuisine, an amalgamation reflected in the bold, colourful interior design and the old Willow blue-and-white plates. The menu boasts a fusion of flavours which stood out particularly in the Nguni beef bobotie, made with organically sourced meat, that first caught my eye – and it did not disappoint!
Favourite spots to eat are always linked to where I’m exploring for the day (and the weather), but I’m also swayed by views, atmosphere or people watching. Every so often, I love nothing more than a full tasting menu to indulge my inner serious foodie. So, we suggest you check back here quite often – if you have any idea how hard it is to choose just five favourites in what’s often referred to as the ‘gourmet capital of the world’, you’ll understand why. We also trust our little black book of local restaurant reviewers who also consistently contribute to round-ups by area on the local Inside Guide for Franschhoek or Stellenbosch. It goes without saying that if you’re looking for something specific and close to our accommodation, you only need to let us know when you enquire with us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re visiting the Cape for the first time, let’s start in Stellenbosch where you’ll enjoy sauntering along the historic oak-lined streets and people watching. Here, the rise of the Wine Bar has been a surprise: there were five and now there are at least 13. The Wine Glass (13 Ryneveld St) is worth popping into. Light and airy, and with a menu that promises a delicious bite to eat, perfectly paired with a glass of the Cape’s best (there are over 130 wines to taste), it’s a great choice when gallery hopping or drifting between boutiques. If it’s too early for lunch or dinner, Meraki Café (diagonally across the road at 43 Church Street) is a great stop if you’re on the go. It’s one of the few places open from 7am to 7pm but enjoying a sweet treat in the late afternoon sun here on the sidewalk terrace offers a slice of Stellenbosch life. And where do the locals go for a lazy lunch or afternoon tea together with beautiful mountain views? Postcard Café at Stark-Condé Wine Estate, in the majestic Jonkershoek Valley, is a favourite... and lately there's been a buzz about De Eetkamer (3 Drostdy Road), off the top of pretty Dorp Street and with an oak-shaded courtyard.
One to watch: Dusk Restaurant, Stellenbosch
Just opened on 1 September, when talented duo chefs Darren Badenhorst and Callan Austin revealed their thought-provoking concept. Prepare yourself for a sustainable offering of 13 courses. Only open for dinner and with dark and moody interiors set against the backdrop of the open kitchen where chefs can be observed, the focus is on the experience and it’s set to take dining in the Winelands up a notch.
Expect everything from indigenous and even medicinal ingredients – even an array of preserves: lacto-fermented ingredients, garums, shoyu’s, pickles, vinegars, miso’s, cured meats, homemade cheeses plus their own wine and ‘alcoholic concoctions’. Our guess is that this will be nothing short of a theatrical experience.
Chef's Warehouse at Maison, Franschhoek
Always a treat, always welcoming and perfect in all weathers, whether you choose to sit outside under the trees overlooking the vineyards, or cosy inside on wintery days, Chef’s Warehouse at Maison is one of my all-time favourites.(Everyone else’s too, so be sure to book ahead!).
It goes without saying that Chef David Schneider’s food is consistently delicious with vegan, vegetarian and pescatarian menus available. The tempting Cooks’ Shop is always worth a browse as it’s beautifully curated. Interestingly, Maison also has a whisky tasting menu and a relaxed wine tasting is often done outdoors in the front garden – with appetisers before a meal or with a cheese board – often an outing in itself for regular devotees who love nothing more than sharing this experience with visitors to the Cape.
If you’re exploring Franschhoek village during the day or staying overnight, Oku (9 Huguenot Street), is within easy walking distance of most Franschhoek stays and was the first Asian eatery to open here by talented duo Ryan Shell and Darren Badenhorst. Our advice: look at both menus online before you arrive (the dual Kaiseki set menu or à la carte), otherwise you won’t be able to make a choice! Again, a great way to experience a mix of zensai or dumplings, poke bowls, broths or bao is to order a few and share.
Indochine, Delaire Graff Estate, Helshoogte Pass
I’ve always enjoyed the attention to detail and exquisite presentation of this Indo-Asian menu: the eight-course tasting menu takes you on a modern journey through the ‘new’ flavours India, China and Southeast Asia, but with a ‘South African filter’ as Chef Khan puts it.
We love that Indochine is a little more peaceful than the rest of Delaire, which often bustles in season, and the views are as striking as ‘Swallows in Flight’, the delicate art installation by Lionel Smit of no less than 1 000 birds flying above the tables. If you’d like to do a private wine tasting at the cellar first, you only need to ask … or better still, plan a meal here at the end of an itinerary to Cape Town and fly back by helicopter to the airport in time to catch your night flight. It’s a treat – and it goes without saying that the views are unforgettable.