You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to eating out in Swellendam in the Overberg, about 200km east of Cape Town. The town has more than 20 restaurants where you can get anything from a pastry to a pizza, a toasted sarmie to bobotie, a plate of pasta to a fine dining experience. Here are some ideas about where to eat out in Swellendam.
I’m mentioning this first because it was by far my favourite foodie stop in Swellendam. All the other choices are in random order. [Update 2016: This restaurant has been sold since our visit and now trades under a different name.]
I gobbled up a delicious vegetable soup with a slice of homemade bread that was so yummy I could have scoffed the whole loaf. Hubby had a sesame chicken wrap that was declared delicious and enormous enough to satisfy his appetite. For dessert we shared a portion of apple strudel in phyllo pastry and a gluten-free pear tart, the appearance and taste of which belied the ‘healthy’ moniker. They were so artistically presented it was no surprise to discover that Geoff and Louie have a past that includes stints in both function co-ordination and interior design.
Geoff is vibrant, colourful and outspoken, a hoot when you get him going, and Louie lets him do most of the talking. But they both know food and their love of sharing it with customers is obvious. Drop in sometime and let them share it with you.
If you’re lucky enough to be staying at the hotel, you’ll find that the kitchen staff continue the gourmet theme at breakfast, with a spread that includes fresh fruit salad, creamy yoghurt, home-made granola, muffins, scones, cheeses – and that's just the first course. Second course might be flapjacks with berry coulis, followed by a delicious tower of mushroom, tomato, bacon and egg – a novel and attractive twist on the same-old, same-old hot breakfast.
Note that the Conservatory is only open for dinner in summer (closed from May to September).
Service got off to a slow start; turned out there was a computer crisis that threw things for a loop, especially orders and payments. When our food did arrive, though, it was good. I’d been disappointed that the signature bobotie wasn’t on the menu that day, but hubby’s chicken wrap and lemon meringue pie were tasty, as was my spicy butternut soup which came with freshly made roosterkoek. These traditional breads are baked daily in a wood-burning oven behind the restaurant and it may be the first time I’ve had such a perfect one, light and airy. Kudos to the roosterkoek baker.
Regulars on the menu include Cape curry, lamb shank, oxtail and traditional melktert. The Old Gaol is one of few restaurants in Swellendam open for lunch on Sundays and makes a perfect place to take the family because there’s a play area out back and a special kiddies menu.
For more about our visit, see Tredici in Swellendam: a taste of Europe.
The building that houses the restaurant used to be a Masonic Lodge and you can still see the Masonic symbol on the gable.
The menu is a mix of traditional dishes like bobotie and lasagne with lighter options like sandwiches, as well as hearty breakfasts. I enjoyed a toasted chicken sarmie, while hubby had a burger and a yummy lemon meringue pie. Service was prompt and friendly, but we didn’t feel rushed. We’d have liked to linger longer, but there was too much still to do in Swellendam (more about that later)!
We were also sorely tempted by the Café Oppi Stoep, a pretty pink-and-white coffee shop near the Drostdy museum where you can sit under the oak trees and umbrellas and watch the world go by. But you can only eat so much in three days!
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