These days you can often hear someone say we have to go to that restaurant, it's totally instagramable! This is now normal. I mean who doesn't want a beautiful photo to add to your perfectly curated Instagram account. I find it an absolute bonus when you are somewhere to nourish your appetite and can conveniently nourish your creative needs too! This is definitely the case at Spek & Bone in Stellenbosch - South Africa, Chef Bertus Basson's most recent culinary venture.
Entering down the open face brick alley way, immediately made me feel nostalgic, to my times in Europe. I would often find hidden gems down a long passage way, that you would only discover if you were brave enough to venture the path less traveled. So as the alley opened up into a vine covered courtyard, it was as though we had stumbled upon a secret.
The lush abundance of greenery made my heart beat faster and my smile widen. I was joined by my closet, dearest friend Janne, who is also a Chef and has very particular palette, the perfect pairing to review any restaurant. I had made a booking for two, as not to be disappointed. We were greeted by a waiter and shown to our marble topped table with purposefully mismatched chairs. The perfect seating for Janne and I, as I seek the shade and her the sun, so the dappled sunlight was a match made in heaven.
To start we instinctively ordered Gin & Tonics, Musgrave of course - who doesn't love a turkish delight, pink, refreshing drink. Sipping at our drinks and catching up we started perusing the menu. I decided to stick to Gin & Tonic and Janne moved on to white wine the Alheit Flotsam & Jetsam Chenin 2016 by Chris Alheit from Darling, which arrived in the cutest carafe with a large crystal clear glass. The vibe in the courtyard was cheerful and untroubled, our green canopy provided the perfect mood for a relaxed Saturday lunch, all was well in the world.
The food menu is divided into two sections; Wine Bites and Small Plates to Share. We started with some items from Wine Bites, the Schoon Sourdough with roast kale, olive oil mousse, ash cream and dukkha. The Wine Bites are perfect paired with after work drinks, but work equally well as "starters". I opted for the Spice Dusted Crackling with sesame and ginger butter, maple syrup and bourbon basted bacon, this was delicious, but you need to have a affinity for "sweet" savoury dishes - although I didn't have it with a beer, I think it would work well with a nice crispy Lager. Janne went for the Crispy Pork Tails with parsley & caper mayo; wherever there are offal or sweetbreads on the menu, it is pretty much guaranteed that's what Janne will be drawn too. I tried one and really enjoyed it! Although we felt there was quite a lot of cartilage which was very hard, the flavour and crispiness paired with the salty mayo well.
Spek & Bone's dining concept is based on small plates to share, which is one of my favourite ways to eat. I believe food is meant to be shared and eaten together. You order all the dishes you want to try and the plates arrive as they are ready. Which works perfectly for a relaxed weekend lunch. As we had already shamefully filled up on bread and rather rich dishes to begin, we weren't super hungry, so we went with lighter salads and the gnocchi dish to share.
Hathaway's Leaves with heirloom beets, parmesan and a garlic emulsion was one choice, enjoyable but was disappointed I didn't find any chunks of juicy roasted beets, which would have made it a bit more substantial for the price. The other salad we chose was the Genesis Farm Heirloom tomato salad with pickled red onion, parmesan crumbs, gorgonzola and a rocket paste. This dish was great and had bold flavours, the vinegary pickled onions against the creamy blue cheese was delish, again I would of preferred some chopped up large Heirlooms, or some yellow or green tomatoes which would've been a nice addition too, but as always this is my opinion of what I enjoy or prefer. I love the concept the ingredients used, support local farmers and are sustainably sourced, there is a lot of integrity in their food - which I respect greatly.
I couldn't resist the Sautéed Gnocchi with mushroom, parmesan crumbs, chives and parmesan spoom. Clearly we were having a "cheese" day as I have realised we ordered all dishes with some form of cheese involved! I absolutely loved this dish and will have it again, when I return. The golden mushrooms were packed with flavour and the chives complimented the rich cream sauce so well and the gnocchi was lovely and light. I haven't had such an outstanding gnocchi dish in the longest time.
Having seen the dessert I would choose circulating social media, I was beyond eager to try it. The Peppermint Crisp King Cone was prepossessing, and the waiter was kind enough to bring only one, as Janne isn't one with a sweet tooth. The presentation was great and the peppermint crisp made me reminisce of about my youth and is a truly patriotic dessert. Although delicious, the texture of the ice cream could be perfected and smoother, the cone crispier as their is not much worse than a soggy waffle cone.
Once I had finished my meal I wondered indoors, where there is a beautiful bar counter, perfect for a coffee or a few drinks. Pickled cucumbers, Onion Marmalade, Smoked Chili Sauce and Hazz Coffee Beans are available for purchase inside, again the attention to detail of the decor blew me away. You can see the love and thought that has been put into the space.
With such a perfect backdrop, I convinced my darling friend to allow me to take a few shots of her stunning outfit choice for that day. She is wearing a Jack Floris skirt with body suit and Wanderlust leather shoes.
What resonated with me most is how Chef Bertus Basson pays homage to his dear friends, Spek the family pig and Bone the family dog, the love for these animals comes through completey in the space. There is a feeling that this "one" is special and something he has always wanted in his culinary career. It seems to be quickly becoming Stellenbosch locals go to spot. I will definitely be back soon and highly recommend Spek & Bone for any occasion. I already know next time I will have the Monkey Gland basted Chalmar sirloin!
SPEK & BONE
Tuesday – Saturday
84 Dorp Street, Stellenbosch
082 569 8958