Restaurant Barrique, Stellenbosch

Situated on the Vredenheim Wine Estate, this micro brewery and restaurant unfortunately did not quite hit the spot for me. The drive up to the estate is through a miniature game farm – gemsbok, zebra, reindeer and wildebeest dotting the fields. The sign for the restaurant is not clear enough, and when we walked through a door into a dining room, there was no one around. We were then greeted by a young waiter, who could not lead us to the table we had booked but had to call ‘someone’. This someone was Andrew, the owner’s brother. He led us to our table – laid for 6 people, even though we had only booked for 4. Dave asked him about the beer and the only explanation he could offer was “we do a pale ale and a dark beer”. We chose the dark beer, and it was actually quite good.

"Restaurant Barrique"
Restaurant Barrique

(my flash was not on, and so as the sun set and darkness arrived, my photographs did not come out!)

We ordered a bottle of Vredenheim Pinotage (R95) off the adequate wine list. The menu has an eclectic mix of foods, with not one food style sticking out. You can order Italian, Thai, Russian, Moroccan, South African or Mediterranean food.

Out of the 7 starters to choose from (R39 – R49) Dave and I shared the Snoek and Sweet Potato Spring Rolls (R45). These were not too bad, but I would have put something other than Soy sauce as the dipping sauce, as the flavour of the soy does not work with the spring roll. The sweet chilli sauce was good, but not perfect. Bev and Eric shared the Smoked Salmon and Avocado Salad (R48) which we were told was a speciality  of the house – but it was nothing more than what it said it was. There are 5 salads to choose from and they come served either small or medium and vary from R40 to R95.

For our main course we had a choice of pizzas (medium or large from R53 – R75), 6 light meals (R70 – R78), 2 vegetarian pastas (R75) or 12 main meals (R85 – R105). We were told that the oxtail was a house special and cooked in the pizza oven, and so I had a ladies portion (R90) and Eric had the man size portion (R105). Dave ordered the Prawn Thai Red Curry (R99) and Bev ordered the Sea Bass Al Forno (R95). When asked where the sea bass came from all Andrew could tell us was that it came frozen from their supplier. There is no ways this fish comes from our seas and with so much lovely fish literally on our door step, I find it unforgivable for any restaurant to be serving imported sea food. What made it worse, was that Andrew neither knew nor cared where the fish came from. The oxtail was tasty but the mash was lumpy and thin and did not carry my gravy very well. Bev’s fish was OK and Dave’s meal was by far the best looking and tasty dish of the evening.

The 9 desserts on offer include a cheese platter and range from R30 – R49. We ordered two crème brûlée’s to share and they were done the old fashioned way, with the sugar being caramelized under the grill. This led to the top half of the brûlée being quite warm and overly sweet for me, but the bottom was cold and smooth.

The service is what let the restaurant down the most. Andrew was unenthusiastic and I got the sense that he would rather have been anywhere else but there. The function venue had a wedding and we were sat right at the door that led to the venue. This meant the door was constantly opened and closed against the couch we were sitting on. Instead of moving the table before we arrived, the waitress moved the couch while we were sitting on it! And, despite my speaking to her in English, she insisted on speaking to us in Afrikaans. I am bilingual, but this bothers me as many people who visit our country cannot understand Afrikaans, and English is considered the language of business.

I can recommend this restaurant for the linen tablecloths and napkins only.


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