“De Volkskombuis? I can’t even pronounce that!” was my reaction when I heard where we were going for dinner. Forgive me, I grew up abroad and my Afrikaans is limited to “Dankie”. So on Tuesday night I found myself at De Volkskombuis Restaurant in Stellenbosch. Four foodies and a couple of racing enthusiasts meant that our conversation whiplashed between track times and what we had been cooking. We were all looking forward to our dinner immensely. I discovered that De Volkskombuis is a fine dining establishment which specializes in Cape Dutch cuisine, and was looking forward to some of my traditional favorites.
We sat down at our corner table and enjoyed a good bottle of Neethlingshof cabernet sauvignon-merlot, a rich deep plumy red. De Volkskombuis has an extensive fine wine list that is a good reflection of the region. It is divided into the different cultivars and also offers other fantastic South African wines ranging in price from R70 to R410, or French champagne at R900 a bottle.
We then set about deciding what to order for starters, which proved to be a difficult choice. I opened the menu and it was in Afrikaans. Houston we have a problem! Then I discovered that if you open the menu to the middle its in English. Phew. We were faced with a choice of the Africa salad – a delicious biltong salad, snoek samoosas, ostrich carpaccio, and vegetarian puff pastry tarts, potato gnocchi or a quail terrine, which ranged in price from R45 -R65.
Some of the group decided that they would share starters and also have dessert. The starters came and out popped the cameras as the foodies all rushed to photograph the food – flash, flash. Then, as we were all dying of anticipation we dived in. The potato gnocchi was delicious and came coated in a delicate blue cheese sauce, topped with shavings of biltong. One of the most interesting starters was the deconstructed vegetarian tart which had a mound of salad and a delicious balsamic dressing. The only criticism my friend Bev had was that she thought that the pastry was a bit tough for her liking. The prawns were declared delicious and the soup of the day, which was butternut, was great, just the right amount for a starter.
For mains I was torn, should I have Meraai’s chicken pie, which has been a favorite for over 37 years, or have the oxtail. I am a sucker for oxtail and can seldom resist it, so that is what I ended up ordering. Two of us decided to have the chicken pie, two of us had oxtail, Eric had the rack of lamb, and Bev had the fish of the day. The mains ranged in price from R50 – R130.
The oxtail came in a little potjie that was delivered to the table. The oxtail was meltingly tender from a long slow braise in the oven, and had a rich sauce that was slightly sweet and fruity. It was served with mashed potatoes which were topped with delicious caramelized onions. Bev’s fish of the day, which was sole, was impeccably cooked and rested on a simple risotto. The rack of lamb was perfectly pink in the middle and Merrai’s chicken pie was packed with flavorsome chicken which Dave declared deserved its nearly forty year old reputation.
After a short pause, where another bottle of wine was briefly considered, we decided to have dessert. I was tempted, out of pure greediness, to try the Cape Country dessert platter which was a sampler plate that included tastes of traditional Cape Dutch treats. I gave in totemptation and when it arrived I was not disappointed. On the platter was a divine Amarula mousse, warm rich mouthful of Cape Brandy pudding, a sliver of milk tart and the smallest koeksister I have ever seen. Lara had a delicious Triffle that was made with sherry custard, fresh raspberries and sponge. Dave and Tandy shred the crème brulee, which they said was delicious but a tad on the heavy side. There was also the option of a cheese board for those who would prefer. Desserts ranged in price from R40 – R60.
Of course great company makes for a great meal, but all in all we found the service smooth and unobtrusive. We agreed that it had been a delightful evening and the restaurant has all the warm hospitality that foreigners can expect in the Western Cape. This is a great restaurant for people visiting the Cape to sample traditional fare in a fine dining establishment.
Address & Contact Details:
De Volkskombuis is situated on Aan de Wagen Road, Stellenbosch.
They can be contacted on +27 (0) 21 887-2121 or +27 (0)21 887-5239