The second night of our Stellenbosch Bucketlist adventure continued with our first ever visit to the restaurant at Rust en Vrede. We’ve visited the Estate before and tasted the wines but have never found ourselves in the restaurant despite all its accolades (Restaurant of the Year, Chef of the Year, Best Service at a restaurant and countless “best Winelist” awards)
We expected (and received) excellent service. We were even presented with 5 options for our bread! The amuse bouche tasted even better than it looked leading the way for an incredible meal. Stellenbosch Wine Route treated us to a 4 course meal (R500pp) from their Winter Menu on the last night before the restaurant closed for a short Winter holiday.
Stunning Starter selections: Jerusalem artichoke soup with mushroom & sweetbreads; Ballotine of foie gras, cured impala loin, pickled beetroot, pain d’epice & green tea; West Coast cray fish, tomato & buffalo mozzarella – the tomato foam was incredible: little floaty clouds of intense tomato-ness.
The wine list at Rust & Vrede is as extensive as it is (surprisingly) well priced. Joakim Hansi (Kimi) Blackadder, the very able Sommelier, spoiled us with Billecart-Salmon upon arrival, a spot of Riesling, Donkiesbaai Steen and (my first ever taste of) the Rust & Vrede 1694 Classification.
The 2nd course was a personal favourite with New potato risotto, salmon, crispy hen’s egg, herb purée, sour cream & chives and the Pressé of baby chicken breast, confit leg lollipop, braised wild rice & quince; the Main of pan seared kabeljou, cauliflower 4 ways, chorizo, bitternut & curry foam did really taste even better than it looked!
The restaurant was warm and cosy on an ice cold winter’s night – the howling wind clearly did not deter the restaurant-full of diners. Chocolate fondant, passion fruit, popcorn & honeycomb; Classic lemon tart, raspberry, mascarpone & meringue was the prefect yin & yang, sweet & sour combination; lightness on a plate. Oh, and the chocolate fondant – perfectly runny and gooey in the center…
Words alone cannot explain the experience we had at Rust en Vrede; hence our detailed story board (above). The service was everything we expected and more. We’re talking old school stuff here: waiting staff miraculously appearing to pull out your chair when you return from the bathroom, an ever present white serviette shielding your plate from water drops when filling your water glass and effortless service. Plates appeared and disappeared, (Riedel) glasses are filled with the most delicious wines and every single staff member knew exactly what was on every person’s plate and in every glass. This is how service should be: it should seem effortless, not overbearing and almost “colonial”.
We will be visiting the restaurant at Rust en Vrede again; to order a bottle from that wine list of almost biblical proportions (The Navigator had to rest it on the table after a few minutes!) and enjoy it surrounded by 315 years of history.