Before the word gets out, I thought I’d share my addiction to the latest restaurant to open on the Spier Wine Estate in Lyndedoch Road, Stellenbosch. Eight at Spier serves good wholesome breakfasts, brunches and lunches on the grounds of the popular weekend destination.
The restaurant is child-friendly, affordable, and one of very few restaurants with a green ethos where environmental consciousness and commitment to the Earth is a high priority. Most of all, the restaurant lacks pretentiousness, and easily ranks as one of the best places to get a decent, healthy breakfast over a weekend …
The restaurant lies behind the wine tasting and shop buildings, off the main pathway, close to the sprawling gardens at Spier. Outside, under umbrellas and foliage, lie a few tables that invite alfresco dining, whilst inside the modern, minimalist looking restaurant has clean lines and décor with a strong accent on wood and recycled design – Heath Nash features predominantly and his ceiling design of over 10 000 individually-crafted flowers made from recycled white plastic milk bottles is quite lovely (we’ve got a Heath Nash light fitting in our kitchen, so I recognised his hand in the décor immediately).
The waitrons, who have obviously recently received training, welcome you at the entrance (or at least they did when I visited, but that was possibly their very first week on the job) to explain the ethos behind the restaurant and just what you can expect from your visit – it’s a farm-to-table eating experience of nourishing, healthy and delicious food.
The glass door through which you pass is etched with the number eight, lying on its side, in a similar vein to Spier’s water treatment plant where a series of flow forms through which water flows also lie in the form of an eight, and represents infinity (their waste water recycling plant, as an aside, is also a yin yang pool reflecting the balance of energy where newly recycled water is pumped back into a dam and used for irrigation). The number 8 is about balance, cycles, harmony, infinity and abundance.
One of Spier’s aims is to be a zero-waste producing estate by 2015, and this is pretty evident in their new Eight at Spier restaurant. There is no sign of laminated menus for a start, and the seasonally produced items on the menu, most of the ingredients of which come from their biodynamically farmed vegetable gardens, are written up in chalk on black boards that are brought to your table, and described in detail by your waitron.
Heidi Newton-King, Spier’s COO describes Eight as ‘the manifestation of Spier’s belief that a restaurant can be a catalyst for social and environmental change while still offering fabulous food.’
Roughly 300 hectares of the farm at Spier is farmed biodynamically and has been since December 2008. Pasture reared beef, chicken, eggs, wine grapes and vegetables, as well as olives, artichokes, nectarines and almond trees are all in production. It is a wonderful feeling to know that you’re eating food that was grown but a few metres away from your table. What the chefs at Eight cannot source from their garden, they source from local farms and suppliers chosen for their mindful and sensitive approach to the way food is grown, handled and packaged.
Spier’s waste-recycling programme collects roughly 11 times more than the average South African business in a year, and recycles around 80% of its waste – there are on-site recycling programmes that convert food waste to worms to produce fertiliser, and other recycling projects such as the Adobe Brick Works, a Biolytix waste-recycling project (already mentioned), and a bio-diesel project that will power the estate’s tractors and generators.
They’re leading the way when it comes to ethical responsibility in business. And Eight at Spier is just one more example of their commitment to creating awareness, and cutting back on waste.
As well as wonderful food, the restaurant already had a number of interesting items on sale made from recycled goods, interesting books and DVDs about food and farming, and other practical items like hemp bags and wine carriers. Their aim is to have farm produce here too from the farm – so delicious cheeses and other fresh, natural and organic produce from local suppliers should also be up for sale, although when I was there this wasn’t yet the case.
We began our breakfast at a table indoors, set against the window, the sunlight streaming through the glass, with freshly squeezed organic juices. I was surprised at how reasonably these were priced. Usually a freshly squeezed glass of juice costs more and I was equally surprised to see that it came in a reasonably sized glass. I ordered a delicious combination of carrot and pineapple, whilst my companion enjoyed a beetroot, carrot and apple juice.
Breakfasts include the mandatory eggs and toast combinations but I ordered a delicious sounding collection of rolled oats, fresh berries, yoghurt and honey. It arrived in a huge wine glass, quite a novel way of serving a delicious meal! Before it arrived at the table, we were also served with a couple of slices of gorgeous looking home-made fruit bread, served with various combinations of butter, jam, salt and pepper.
Breakfast at Eight is not only a delicious experience, it’s a feel-good experience too – knowing that most of your food is grown moments away on a biodynamic farm means not only does it not travel miles to reach your plate, but it’s also probably that much better for you because of the inherent freshness. I don’t know about you, but I’m all for this type of eating.
Useful Stellenbosch Links:
Address: Eight at Spier, R310 Lynedoch Road Stellenbosch
Telephone: +27 (0)21 809-1100