A mere 45-minute drive from the city, Spice Route’s delightful village set-up in Paarl is the perfect day-trip destination for the whole family. Aside from fabulous restaurants, there’s a smorgasbord of tempting things to do, see and taste. Here’s our round-up of where to eat, shop and play.
1. Bertus Basson at Spice Route
Opened in February 2015 by celebrity chef Bertus Basson and his business partner Alistaire Lawrence, this new-look eatery serves traditional South African fare with a modern twist. With expansive views over the valley towards Table Mountain, the delightful modern bistro was designed and decorated by Bertus’s talented wife Mareli, who has incorporated local heritage into the interiors.
For breakfast, choose a hearty Boland breakfast (grilled steak, bacon, fried eggs, mushrooms, tomato and toast) or a Boere scramble (scrambled eggs toasted mosbolletjie, biltong and parmesan. The lunch menu features around 15 dishes – some taken from old family recipes, such as Ouma Jossie’s baked tongue with slaphakskeentjies and organic beetroot, or the springbok tamatie bredie pie with pickled onion and pumpkin fritters, while Tannie Hetta’s apple pie with custard and vanilla ice cream is a classic.
The delicious bread board with apricot, almonds and snoek pâté is a lovely touch. Under 12s can enjoy BBQ drumsticks, rice flour-dusted calamari, hand-cut fries, mac-and-cheese or the healthier cauliflower purée, crispy salad and colourful baby carrots. All kids’ meals include a build-you-own cookie, and colouring books and crayons will keep little hands occupied.
Sit outdoors on the stoep under the magnificent oaks, and soak it all in – you won’t ever want to leave.
Open Monday – Sunday 8.30am – 4pm
Contact 021 863 5222, email@example.com
2. La Grapperia
Image credit: Wilderer
Enjoy a selection of wood-fired, thin-based pizzas, flammkuchen (German-style pizzas) and tapas with a glass or two of Spice Route’s award-winning wines at this casual eatery. Our jovial party of 10 enjoyed a light lunch under the trees, sharing a variety of dishes from the tapas menu followed by several delicious pizzas with different toppings. Our pizzas took a while to arrive, but the friendly hostess explained that on busy days the restaurant serves over 400 covers.
All four platters on the menu sounded tempting – Antipasti Salumi (Italian cold meats), Antipasti Verdure (marinated vegetables), Black Forest and the Fairview Cheese Platter – but we chose the creamy chicken livers, venison fillet on a toasted garlic-butter crostini, carpaccio with lemon and olive oil, capers, rocket and Parmesan, Bitterballen (Dutch potato and meat croquette) and a salad to share, followed by crispy pizzas, all washed down with the delicious Spice Route sauvignon blanc. Everything was fresh and tasty, and enjoyed by all. On a perfect late summer’s day we should have lingered longer, but some had to get back to town.
Open Monday – Sunday, 11.30am – 8.30pm
Contact 021 863 4367, firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. Barley & Biltong
The beer garden on the top level of the farm village has arguably one the the best views in the Boland. The outdoor seating at long wooden tables and benches set on a peach-pip floor is ideal for large groups. Indoors there is a long wooden bar counter under a reed ceiling, with several TV screens strategically placed for big-match days.
The restaurant is reputed to serve some of the best burgers in the area – thick juicy patties with mature cheddar and homemade tomato sauce served on a sesame bun with chips. A light lunch is chalked up on the blackboard daily – on the day we visited, it was steak and chips (R110). The spacious area is a perfect place to while away a few hours while enjoying an ice-cold pint or two of Cape Brewing Company (CBC) beer made next door with a selection of beef, kudu, eland and springbok biltong served in artisanal-looking brown paper bags.
Open Sunday – Thursday, 10am – 5pm; Friday & Saturday, 10am – 6pm
Contact 021 863 4539
4. DV Cottage Café
For a delicious sweet treat and a cup of the good stuff, head to this coffee shop for freshly roasted Arabica coffee, a tempting array of cakes (made with De Villiers Chocolate) and home-made ice cream. We popped in for a quick coffee, and even though we asked for it to be “short and dry”, it arrived long and wet…
5. Spice Route Tasting Room
As its name implies, Spice Route recalls the ancient mariners of the 15th century who braved the Cape of Storms in search of exotic spices. Charles Back, who owns the highly successful Fairview Estate just 800 metres up the road, opened the winery in 1997, which was considered to be a bold move at the time. Today, however, his bold spirit seems to have paid off, with the new destination attracting flocks of locals and out-of-towners.
When it comes to wine-tasting, there are three options: the Spice Route Journey (R30), the Flagship Journey (R50) and the Charcuterie Journey (R75), during which you’ll get to try the Chakalaka, a signature Swartland blend, and the Malabar, the flagship blend (aged for two years in the barrel and a further two years in the bottle before being released). if it’s chilly outside, head to the cosy underground tasting room, but if it’s a beautiful day, enjoy your wine under the pergola, or on the expansive lawns, where newly planted plane trees and umbrellas provide shade.
Open Monday – Sunday, 9am – 5pm
Contact 021 863 5200, email@example.com
6. Wilderer Distillery
Master distiller Helmut Wilderer has been making award-winning grappa and eau de vie (schnapps) at his premises next door to La Grapperia since January 2013. Having won numerous gold and double-gold medals at international competitions, Helmut is regarded as a pioneer of craft distilling and one of the best in his trade.
If you are interested in witnessing the process, pop in at the on-site distillery, where tastings cost R30. Look out for Cape Healing Herb Bitter, a naturally produced local liqueur using over 30 fynbos herbs including buchu, betulina, rooibos, devil’s claw and African wormwood. It has won a gold medal and costs a princely R250!
Open Monday – Sunday, 10am – 6pm
Contact 021 863 4367, firstname.lastname@example.org
7. Richard Bosman Cured Meats
Richard Bosman has been producing exceptional quality Italian and Spanish-style charcuterie since 2009 but has not, until now, had the opportunity to showcase all his artisanal products under one roof.
The opening of his immaculate cured meat deli, next to the Spice Route Tasting Room, is where he and his team use traditional methods, time and quality products to make the magic happen, he says. Richard only uses pasture-reared meat sourced from selected farmers in the area, which he hand-salts, hangs and cures for two to 12 months. It’s a carnivore’s dream to see his entire range displayed in the fully stocked fridges or hanging from the deli ceiling. Do a charcuterie tasting (R30), so you know exactly which products you’d like to buy and take home with you.
Open Monday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm
Contact 083 277 3494
8. The Cape Brewing Company
Opened in December 2012, the Cape Brewery Company (CBC) produces a wide range of craft beers – under the watchful eye of skilled brewmaster Wolfgang Koedel – who insists on
using only the finest ingredients and state-of-the-art equipment. Aficionados can view the facilities, watch the entire production process and taste it immediately after – either on tap or at the tasting stations. There are four core brews: pilsner, lager, Krystal Weiss and Amber Weiss made using crystal-clear water from a nearby spring in the Paarl mountain, which gives the beer its unique flavour. Choose between a Standard tasting (R25) or Master tasting (R35) before you decide which (and how many) crates to take home with you! Check out all the CBC Beer Tasting details here.
Open Monday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm
Contact 021 863 2270, email@example.com
9. DV Artisan Chocolate, Roastery & Espresso Bar
Image credit: Michael Olivier
There’s more to chocolate than meets the eye at DV Artisan Chocolate – one of the few “Bean to Bar” micro-chocolatiers in the world. The factory and shop are situated in a charming historic building on the farm where chocolates are hand-crafted from cocoa beans sourced from all corners of the globe. The shop also sells medium-roast Arabica coffee beans and drinking chocolate.
Daily tastings are available and vary from the chocolate and confectionary tasting (R16) to the chocolate truffle workshop for connoisseurs (R125).
Open Monday – Sunday, 9am – 5pm
Contact 021 863 0854
10. The Trading Company
No visit to Spice Route should be made without popping into Abigail Bisogno’s gorgeous new store, The Trading Company. A former retail director at Focshini, Abby (who happens to be the sister of Spice Route owner Charles Back) has created a shop filled with exciting treasures – from handmade, limited-edition pieces by well-known local artists to bespoke homeware, exotic furniture, premium baby products, hand-painted cushions and table linen, jewellery, stationery, and much, much more. Most of the products are made from natural materials and all the décor in the store has been handmade locally or spruced up by local craftsmen. With its mix of old and new, it’s a quirky treasure trove where you’re sure to find the ideal gift for anyone and everyone you know. Tourists can pick up all the gifts they need to to take home to loved ones in this one-stop shop.
Open Monday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm.
Contact 021 863 5223
11. Brenda’s Deli
Foodie extraordinaire Brenda de Jager has turned her passion for all things edible into a business that makes preservative- and additive-free jams, preserves, pickles and glazes. Find her deli at the entrance to the Spice Route and stock up on one of her fragrant jams, the perfect accompaniment to a slice of buttery toast or a fluffy scone.
Open Monday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm
Contact 021 863 3392, firstname.lastname@example.org
12. The Barn Artists’ Studio & Gallery
This work and exhibition space is where resident artists Diane Back (owner Charles Back’s wife) and Jake Watson display their works alongside other invited artists. Visit the studio to see the artists at work, or pick up an artwork on sale at the studio.
Open Monday – Sunday, 11am – 5pm
Contact Diane 083 234 8108, email@example.com
Jake 084 793 5770, firstname.lastname@example.org
13. Red Hot Glass
Situated next door to Bertus Basson’s restaurant is one of the few Venetian-style glass-blowing studios in the country. The objects in the shop are exquisite – from hand-blown perfume bottles to capacious vases and wonderful abstract statues, ornaments and artworks. If you’d like to, watch the craftsmen going about the business of glass-blowing at the back of the premises.
Open Monday – Thursday, 9am – 5pm
Friday 9am – 4pm
Saturday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm
Contact 021 863 0330, email@example.com