Everyone who has been to the village of Stanford near Hermanus in the Cape Overberg agrees that you need to be very, very hungry before you visit. There are so many good places to eat and enjoy wine tasting that the town is becoming a serious contender for foodie capital of the Cape. Franschhoek had better watch out. Here are 12 restaurants and wineries in Stanford worth visiting.
If you like good food that’s well cooked and served in a rustic farmhouse with views of the mountains, you have to visit Havercrofts. It doesn’t hurt either that it’s listed No. 1 of 15 restaurants in Stanford by TripAdvisor. Highly recommended by locals for Sunday lunch, it’s owned and run ‘with heart and humour’ by husband and wife team, Bryden and Innes Havercroft – also known at the Saturday morning market as the ‘good-looking husband and rude wife’.
Open for lunch Thurs to Sun 12.30-3pm
Are you a locavore? If you visit Springfontein Eats on the Springfontein wine estate just west of the village, you’ll discover that this means eating fresh herbs, veggies and fruits that are grown locally. Executive chef Jürgen Schneider had a Michelin-starred restaurant in Germany for many years and now he brings the same skill to Stanford, aiming to create a ‘gastronomic destination with Michelin star quality’. Expect a taste adventure with ingredients like prawns, calamari, duck, veal, goats cheese, truffles, Pinotage, pears or gooseberries.
Three- to six-course lunch Thurs to Sun 12:00, four- to six-course dinner Tues to Sat 18:30; prices from R290 to R590pp
When this homestyle country restaurant opened, it had Stanford virtually to itself. Its fame spread so that Capetonians would make the two-hour trek to Stanford just to visit Marianas. Even now, when so many other eateries are flourishing in the little town, it’s still popular – testament to the local ingredients (many of these from Mariana Esterhuizen’s own herb and vegetable garden and fruit orchard) that dominate in the kitchen and on the plate. The menu changes according to what’s available, but might include slow-roasted lamb, chicken pie or gruyere soufflé.
Open Thurs to Sun from 12pm
4. Madre’s Kitchen
This country-style restaurant on the Robert Stanford Estate is surrounded by vineyards and dams. Chef and entrepreneur Madré Malan grows organic veg and herbs to use in what she calls onthoukos (memorable food). Everything is freshly prepared. Sit inside or outside while your kids play on the jungle gym. You can also phone ahead 028-3410647 to order a picnic basket of farm bread, meat, cheese, paté, salads and fruit to eat under a shady tree in the gardens.
Open Thurs to Sun 8am-4pm
Graze Café in the heart of Stanford village is a popular spot for breakfast, but their lunch menu and cakes are also worth mention. Chef Tabby does wonders in the kitchen with local fresh produce – some of which she grows herself – while husband Alex is the friendly face out front. Treats of the day might include granadilla cheesecake, steak sandwich on ciabatta and rabbit wraps.
Open Wed 9am-12pm, Fri 6pm-11pm, Sat 9am-4pm
This restaurant on the Blue Gum Country Estate, about 7km from Stanford along the R326, is open for breakfast, light lunch and dinner. Their breakfast spread is epic, with to-die-for croissants, creamy yoghurt and French toast among its yummiest offerings. There’s fresh fruit and a full English breakfast too. The lunch menu includes the ever-popular steak sandwich and chicken wrap as well as daily specials. The doors open to the view of vineyards, gardens and mountains, and the restaurant doubles as a wedding venue. There’s also a more formal sister restaurant, the Blue Gum.
Open Thurs to Sun 8.30am-10pm
This café at the Mosaic Private Sanctuary & Spa on the edge of the Hermanus lagoon is about 8km from Stanford village. Built of stacked limestone blocks in 1892 – and rumoured to have a resident ghost – it offers salads, sandwiches, cheese and meze platters, and pastries. You can also order a picnic basket to enjoy under the milkwood trees on the lagoon. (It’s also a gorgeous wedding and event venue, so phone first to check if it’s booked out, tel 028-3132814.)
Open daily 11am–5pm (except if there’s a private function)
8. Stanford Hills
This is more than just a winery, it also produces indigenous flowers, roses and olives. Don’t miss at least a taste of the Jacksons Pinotage. Also on the farm are self-catering cottages and The Tasting Room restaurant overlooking a dam, where you can enjoy farm-fresh food and the view over the valley.
Tasting, sales and restaurant Thur to Mon and public holidays 11-5pm, Tues/Wed by appointment
Zimbabwean winemaker Tariro Masayiti is a biochemist who later studied winemaking at Stellenbosch and worked at Nederburg before coming to this boutique winery. Seven of its wines earned four stars in Platter’s South African Wines 2014. Visit the winery to taste their estate wines or buy a glass or two of their Sopiensklip range at the sunset market that takes place in the village square on the last Friday of the month. There’s also a restaurant (see 2 above) and accommodation on the estate.
Tasting, sales and cellar tours at the winery Mon to Fri 8-5pm, Sat/Sun 9-4pm
You’ll find Raka wine farm on the R326, about 17 kilometres from Stanford. Owner Piet Dreyer is so obsessed with the sea that he named the farm after his fishing boat. But that doesn’t mean his wines are fishy; Raka boasts six four-star wines, while the award-winning Biography Shiraz and the Cabernet Franc each has four-and-a-half stars in the 2014 Platter’s wine guide.
Tasting and sales Mon to Fri 9-5, Sat 10-2.30pm
Take your pick from Walker Bay next to the Birkenhead Brewery, Robert Stanford Estate (try the Cabernet Sauvignon blend called Hansom), Boschrivier and Brunia (both known for their Shiraz), and Vaalvlei (also known for fly-fishing and owner/winemaker Naas Terblanche’s passion for the conservation of frogs and toads).
12. Take a side-trip to Creation Wines
Chances are that when you’re driving to Stanford you may go through Hermanus and it’s certainly worth taking a detour to visit Creation Wines in the beautiful Hemel-en-Aarde valley. Their delicious, aromatic and flavoursome wines have won multiple awards. They offer stunning food and wine pairings, such as the wine and canapés (R125pp), or wine and chocolate (R90pp). You can have a main dish and dessert – highly recommended to taste more of chef Warwick Taylor’s magic. But that's a subject for a post of its own.
Tasting, sales and cellar tours daily 10-5pm (except Christmas and New Year’s Day)
To uncover more must-visit places in Stanford and the Overberg region, visit Stanford Tourism’s website.
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