The sleepy village of Stanford is fast becoming a foodie haven with the opening of a new restaurant by Michelin-star chef, Jürgen Schneider, and his wife Susanne.
Two excellent Stanford eateries that have been fêted for years are Marianas and Havercroft’s, while Madre’s Kitchen at Sir Robert Stanford Estate and the nearby Tasting Room at Stanford Hills Estate are recent additions. But there’s a newbie in the area that’s a serious contender for the Overberg-restaurant crown. Drive down Stanford’s Victoria Street, turn left into Moore Street and follow the dusty road for 5kms until you reach Springfontein Wine Estate and Springfontein Eats, which is where you’ll find a Michelin-star chef cooking up a storm.
What’s good food without good wine?
Get there early to taste the delicious wines by experienced Zimbabwean viticulturist and winemaker, Tariro Masayiti, who joined Springfontein in January 2013. Three ranges are produced from this unique terroir of vines planted in limestone soils and cooled by fresh Walker Bay breezes. The Sopiensklip range (around R50 a bottle ex-cellar) consists of a red, white and pink; the Terrior Selection boasts six (ranging from R69 for the sauvignon blanc to R169 for the new petit verdot); while the flagship Jil’s Dune Chenin Blanc (R159) and Jonathan’s Ridge Pinotage (R190) are delicious. Tariro, previously a senior winemaker at Nederberg, is enthusiastic about the wines he produces and eager to share his knowledge with visitors.
It’s only when you enter the restaurant, however, that it becomes apparent that this is a gastronomic destination like no other in the area. The restaurant was fully booked on the 37C Sunday before Easter, yet the heat was hardly noticeable in the light, airy, thatch-roof restaurant, with cool stone-and-plaster walls and a pale grey screeded cement floor. Chef Jürgen Schneider, who previously ran a Michelin-star restaurant in Germany, co-owns Springfontein Eats with Dr Johst Weber, founder of the Springfontein Wine Estate. Jurgen’s wife Susanne was waiting tables on the day. Waitrons are solicitous and knowledgeable about the menu, which changes according to the season and availability of ingredients. Herbs and greens are picked fresh from the restaurant’s garden or foraged-for locally.
The restaurant offers a three-course menu (R290), four courses (R390) and five courses (R490) – steep for a restaurant off the main track, but the choices of dishes are plentiful and varied. Two menus were offered on the day – quail or beef with a choice of six dishes under each menu option. Dishes such as trout terrine with a salad of wild herbs, calf’s tongue, madumbi and parsley appeared on the quail menu, and on the beef menu was duck and beetroot, sweetbread with mock truffle, among others.
Dishes can be switched between the menus. A picture-perfect bread basket (a glass vase filled with a variety of finger-sized rolls and bread sticks) arrived as we settled in, followed by a flavourful pastry and an amuse-bouche of a miniature beef burger with miniature chips and a tomato-sauce swirl. A second amuse-bouche of delicious avocado soup with a wonton arrived in a shot glass. The trout terrine and duck and beetroot starters, although beautifully presented, were a trifle bland for our taste – especially after the delicious amuse-bouches. But the beef and farce-filled oxtail, presented with fine slivers of green beans and finely diced carrots, baby onion and potato, was excellent.
But it was the desserts that ensured we will return – the semi-preserved naartjie with candied olives, panna cotta and sorbet was memorable, while the piña colada of finely sliced pineapple, sorbet and panna cotta was delicious. Another “chef’s spoiler” as described by our waitress – a sublime palate cleanser of chocolate mousse with granadilla sorbet followed the dessert. A beautifully presented curved wooden board with a selection of chocolate and nut petits fours accompanied the espressos. Wines offered on the wine list are mainly from Springfontein or local boutique wineries. If in the area, a visit to this unique restaurant is highly recommended.
Tasting and cellar tours Monday – Friday, 10am – 4pm
Saturdays, 10am – 2pm (by appointment)
Springfontein Eats Thursday – Sunday, 12pm (lunch)
Tuesday – Saturday, 6.30pm (dinner)