When people hear that I write about restaurants for a living the first question they usually ask me is; “What’s your favourite restaurant in Cape Town?” While I understand why people ask me this question I really loathe it because, truth be told, asking me to pick just one favourite restaurant in Cape Town is like asking me to choose between my hypothetical children. It’s also a little like asking me to compare apples to oranges – because no two restaurants are the same. Ask me about my favourite tapas restaurant, my favourite Mexican spot, or my favourite romantic restaurant – I’ll have answers for days. But, just one favourite restaurant? It’s just not fair. So why am I telling you this? Well, it’s because I’ve found a new spot to my add to my list of favourite restaurants and this one is filed under romantic restaurants of note! The next time you’re in Stellenbosch, looking for a romantic spot to dine with your special someone, head over to the Oude Werf Hotel restaurant for a romantic vibe with home-style comfort food that is sure to get your heart (and your taste buds) fluttering.
The iconic Stellenbosch hotel and restaurant is well-known for its homey feel and its great food and now, they’ve taken things to the next level by bringing new chef, Jeromy Joubert into the fold. Joubert joined the team in May this year and has been heating things up in the Oude Werf kitchen ever since. But Joubert isn’t exactly new to the family – he had previously worked at the Oude Werf’s sister hotel, the Vineyard Hotel in Newlands, for seven years and says he “jumped at the opportunity” when he saw the advertisement for the position. For Joubert, freshness and quality are non-negotiables in his kitchen and this ethos definitely shows up on the plate.
The boyfriend and I were lucky enough to enjoy a romantic dinner for two at Oude Werf just recently and I must say, it’s the perfect winter restaurant. We were seated at a table right next to the crackling fire and were left to soak up the quiet elegance of the beautifully decorated space. And, when I say beautifully decorated I mean, wowza! Firstly, there’s a massive, majestic old tree smack-bang in the centre of the restaurant floor. This alone brings the most beautiful inside-outside atmosphere to the space. The idea of nature intruding into the interior is echoed throughout the space with plenty of greenery dotted around the room on the tables and walls as well as in the antique tables and chairs complemented by crisp white table clothes.
As for the food – fresh ingredients and simple flavours are the order of the day at Oude Werf. The food is simply exceptional. I loved that the menu was oh-so-simple with no overly complicated dishes or flavours to confuse your decision or you palate. With just 13 dishes to choose from, including dessert, choosing something to satisfy my taste buds didn’t feel like a chore.
Sure, everything sounded beyond yummy but it was the Curried Potato, Coriander, and Yellow Lentil Pancakes (served with a macadamia and spicy mango chutney – R52) that caught my eye for starters and the Homemade Gnocchi with Spicy Chorizo and Prawns (served with wilted spinach and smoked tomato cream sauce – R120) that had my mouth watering when choosing a mains. The star of the show was most definitely the Gnocchi – the pasta was beautifully light and the sauce was packed with flavour. I loved the combination of the chorizo and the prawns and the dish was the perfect winter’s night treat.
For dessert, we indulged in the Eggless Chocolate Mousse (with salted caramel and Chantilly cream – R58). What a treat! The mousse was light, airy and oh-so-chocolatey. The boyfriend and I decided to share dessert, but when this dish arrived I was secretly wishing I’d ordered one all for myself! I also had my eye on the Sticky Date Pudding with Marscapone (served with candied orange zest – R65) but sadly I was a little too full from the rich pasta dish to fit another morsel in my mouth.
The Oude Werf restaurant also offers a great selection of local wines for diners to enjoy along with their meal. I was super impressed at the prices of the wines, especially since Oude Werf is quite a fancy-pants eatery. You won’t feel fleeced ordering a glass, or a bottle, of wine to enjoy with your meal at this spot. If wine isn’t your thing, then they also have a wide selection of spirits and non-alcoholic drinks for you to choose from on the menu.
And, if you’re planning on going in September then don’t forget to try out the Soul Food evenings which are taking place until the end of September! Every Thursday Oude Werf serves a menu focused on Stellenbosch Soul Food – including thick-bubbling soups, slow-simmered bredies and curries, sticky steamed puddings… all served with Chef Jeromy’s inimitable gourmet flair. The menu changes weekly and is R155 per person for a 3-course meal.
Find them at 30 Church street, Stellenbosch. For information on the Oude Werf Hotel and the Oude Werf restaurant visit their website here.