Thanks to my job I am fortunate enough to eat out at a lot of restaurants (seriously I should be the size of a house by now). And, while loads of them are fabulous, every now and then I stumble across something ultra special that gives me butterflies in my tummy. Twaalf is one of those places … from the moment I looked at the menu, there they were, those excited little butterflies flitting around inside my tummy saying; “come on, order something already!” The new restaurant in Stellenbosch is all about bringing back a sense of community by offering delicious home-style grub, just like ma used to make, with a conscience. Now, just before you think; “meh, I hardly ever go to Stellenbosch” listen up because this place is worth the drive! In fact, it’s your best reason to get off your butt and visit the sleepy varsity town this month.
The thing I love most about Twaalf is the fact that the two friends behind it were hell bent on making it different from anywhere else in Stellenbosch. Lizen and Lianti mentioned that they wanted their spot to be like Cheers – you know, where everybody knows your name and your drink of choice is always just a wave away – and boy did they succeed. This little spot is chock-full of charm, friendly faces and warm welcomes. But that’s not all; the pair have taken it one step further by devising clever ways for their generosity and community feel to reach much further than just their restaurant.
Read the menu and you’ll see Twaalf describes itself as a restaurant and community project – there come those butterflies again! Twaalf gives back to the community by offering local workers an internship program where they can learn about different areas of the restaurant industry as well as by giving customers the chance to purchase a ‘Cup of Life’ (a cup of coffee at a reduced price) with their meal that they, or Twaalf can hand deliver to the homeless each week. In addition to that Twaalf also gets their fresh produce from the vegetable garden project at Love to Give in Kyamandi. This place really is like the gift that keeps on giving!
But enough about all this warm and fuzzy stuff, let’s talk about the food. The food at this place is nothing short of amazing. If you happen to find yourself a long way from home and are missing mom’s cooking then you need to get yourself to Twaalf. I love that they have put a modern spin on some of our most favourite traditional South African dishes and served them up at affordable prices. The pair said they were very conscious of their pricing when opening the spot and wanted to show customers that it is possible to have something amazing to eat at an affordable price. Which is an amazing feat, seeing as though almost everything you see on the menu is homemade by Lizen and Lianti or their staff – even the condiments! On the tables you will find a selection of homemade chutneys, curry pastes and more and on the menu you can enjoy homemade jams, cakes, bread, and other baked goods.
Speaking of the menu; it might be simple, but there are options galore. Some of my favourites include the traditional Plaasontbyt (freshly baked plaasbrood served with homemade apricot jam and cheddar cheese accompanied by boerewors, bacon, two eggs, baked beans/ roasted tomatoes – R65), Bunny Chow (fresh plaasbrood filled with seasonal curry and Sambals and yoghurt sauce on the side – R65) and the Traditional Braaibroodtjie (tomato, onion, cheese and chutney on fresh bread – R25).
I went through to Twaalf for lunch and tried the ‘Jou Ma se Board Kos’ of the day (Beef pie served with pampoenkoekies and roast potatoes – R75). The ‘Bordkos’ option changes daily and offers diners a hearty home-style meal such as tomato bredie, cottage pie, and home baked pies. The portion size of my dish was super generous and the pie and pampoekoekies was the stuff dreams are made of. I also got to sample a little bit of their Zamalek Fish and Chips (fresh local hake fried in Black Label beer batter, served with salt and vinegar slap chips – R65) and loved that too! And, for something sweet make sure you taste the homemade cake of the day or the homemade tart of the day (R30 for a generous slice). I shared the homemade Amarula Carrot Cake with my lunch buddies and had to fight them off just so I could enjoy the last morsel.
Find Twaalf in the Black Horse Centre, on the corner of Mark Road and Dorp Street – the spot is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner Monday – Saturday from 08:00 – 22:00. For more information say Hi to Twaalf on Facebook or visit their website.