There has always been something inherently riveting about having a meal in the Swartland. After all, this is the place associated with the first written record of the word boerekos, translated directly from Afrikaans as “farmer’s food”.
We’ve come to understand that concept as meal being wholesome, generally large and traditional. But, it’s a word that is no longer merely associated with the Swartland. Rather, it is embraced by all communities as definingly South African.
The word appeared in a Cape preacher’s report of 14 May 1751 in which he describes eating “boerekost” during a sojourn in Malmesbury.
These days, the image of a booking by a visitor from out of town inevitably conjures up the stillness of a view, if the repast happens by day, but always with a bottle of local wine. Whether our preacher had the opportunity to taste the local fruit of the vine, is not known, although wine has become inseparable from the Swartland’s reputation as South Africa’s breadbasket.
For visitors to the contemporary Swartland there is plenty of opportunity to visit restaurants that have a selection of local wines on offer.
As with its culinary tradition, the region has a long history with wine growing. The producers have successfully defined the Swartland character of these wines through a determined pursuit of independence. The region is home to some 30 wineries located around Malmesbury, Piketberg, Riebeek Valley and Paardeberg. While all originating from the Swartland, the wines nonetheless express the diversity of aspects, climate and soils that occur here. Expect to find big and bold wines alongside more subtle, but no less interesting, examples, and evergreen favourites alongside rare gems.
Remember to include a teetotaller in your party if you’re exploring by car.
The following list comprises restaurants with more than one wine from the Swartland Wine and Olive Route on its winelist. It is not exhaustive and merely offers a guide to visitors seeking a food and wine experience with local offerings. They do, however, cover an array of styles. Among them are small, upmarket eateries and family-friendly bistros.
Kloovenburg wine estate’s Eight Feet Village is a micro-complex atop the Bothmanskloof Pass – the gateway to the Riebeek Valley. It currently includes two dining options, one that offers pizzas and another, Eight Feet MURA, which has a diverse selection of local wines. For information, visit 022 448 1635 or www.eight-feet-village.business.site.
Local wines are eagerly promoted by The Barn Café, a family-friendly Mediterranean-style venue in Riebeek Kasteel. Reservations may be made at 071 844 2726. More information about the barn is available on its Facebook page.
Tin Roof Taverna in Riebeek Kasteel is especially proud of its local wine offerings. Formerly the Red Tin Roof, the eatery changed its name after a revamp undertaken for the shooting of the In die sop TV series featuring Bertus Basson. Reservations may be made on 082 535 6050 or via the website at www.riebeekkasteel.co.za.
Cherry Lane Bistro and Gift Shop in Malmesbury is owned by Karin Smit. The venue has a niche selection of wines, with locals represented at the time of writing including Hofstraat Wynkelder, Swartland Winery and Riebeek Cellars. The enterprise may be found on Facebook while bookings may be made on 022 482 2877 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sushi is one of the characteristics that singles out Hill View Restaurant in Malmesbury from its competitors. It also has grills and pizza on its menu, as well as a small selection of local wines mixed in with bigger brands from other regions. Visit www.hillstreet.co.za or call 076 261 4881.
NuwePlaas calls itself a farmstall, but it has a sit-down restaurant with boerekos as its menu’s centrepiece. Its large play area brings in the families. It is located on the R46 between Malmesbury and Riebeek Kasteel, at the turnoff to Riebeeksrivier. There’s a good selection of local wines. For information, call 021 007 1330, email email@example.com or visit www.nuweplaas.co.za.
Pleasant Pheasant adjoins the famous Allesverloren in Riebeek Kasteel, so there’s no surprise the historic winery’s produce is on the wine list, but another local winery is represented too. The food menu offers steaks, burgers, pizzas and local favourites. For information, call 022 461 2170, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.pleasantpheasant.co.za.
Die Herehuis in Malmesbury also featured on the In die Sop television series and stocks local wine. Visit www.dieherehuis.co.za or call 022 487 1771.
As its name suggests, Au Bouchon Rouge in Riebeek Kasteel, has wine, although the brasserie’s selection from local regional vineyards is small. It is associated with the neighbouring Royal Hotel and both have great locations from which to observe the passing trade along Main Street. For information, call 022 448 1378.
If you’re visiting the restaurants for their local wines over the festive season and sharing your experiences on social media, be sure to tag @SwartlandWineandOlives on Facebook and Instagram; and, @Swartland on Twitter.