First taste: Stefan’s Restaurant in the heart of Helderberg
Tucked away on Lourensford Road is Stefan’s, Somerset West’s newest (and currently only) fine-dining restaurant. Erinvale Golf Estate’s flagship restaurant is named after its chef, Stefan Bekker, who has worked in the industry for 10 years, working in Qatar and England. Now he’s back in South Africa, with some definite insight into Stefan’s food and restaurant setting.
The space is all pink – pink walls, a pink ceiling and pink curtains. It may sound ostentatious, and perhaps under someone else’s direction it would have been. Instead, Stefan opened a modern yet welcoming restaurant. Touches of royal green and warm orange add glamor, so the overall effect is that of a contemporary and luxurious dining room overlooking the beautiful gardens of the Erinvale Hotel. In winter, a large fireplace provides additional warmth.
It’s the perfect space for the menu, which features modern and intriguing dishes. Guests have the choice of a seven- or 10-course dinner. Both options are affordable at R 545 per person for the smaller menu and R 685 per person for the full menu. Both menus start with small bites of duck tacos, stuffed zucchini flowers, and mussel takoyaki (based on popular Japanese street food). Your senses will revel in the variety and will be perfectly prepared for the bread dish, which is accompanied by trout pâté, whipped butter and the mysterious “rocher de foie gras”. Resist the temptation to overdo the bread because the “first course” is yet to come.
Guests who opt for the 10-course menu will appreciate both the sous-vide langoustine with shrimp ceviche and the smoked tomato jelly in a tomato consommé; otherwise, you will have to choose between the two, which is an almost impossible task. The langoustine is bursting with fennel and carrot flavors while the smoked tomato jelly is surprisingly light with subtle summery flavors. Next is the palate cleanser – icy and mysterious, surrounded by smoke. The “second course” is a choice between wagyu beef and celeriac risotto. Again, both are delicious and veggies are well groomed, this time with a creamy risotto filled with intriguing textures. Meat lovers will enjoy the beef, accompanied by classic sides of melting potatoes and mushrooms, as well as bone marrow, served in a bone-shaped dish.
All dishes are beautifully served on hand-crafted tableware by Chef Stefan himself. Where he finds time to make pottery, only he will know, as preparing dinner must surely take most of the day, with each dish being more complex and delicate than the last.
Dinner ends with a choice between the dense, sweet Russian honey cake perfectly balanced with a yogurt mousse and subtle honey jellies, and the Dalewood cheese dish beautifully presented with lavash and fresh grapes. Finally, save space for the petits fours, which provide the perfect sweet finish. The white chocolate candies, mint macaroons, and raspberry pie may seem overly sweet but, like anything Stefan cooks up, the flavors and textures are surprisingly light with bursts of subtle flavor.
Stefan’s Restaurant doesn’t offer a wine pairing option, but its sister restaurant, the Magnolia Social Dining Lounge, hosts monthly wine pairing events. The wines presented at these events are then served at Stefan’s Restaurant to showcase interesting and unusual wines from the surrounding vineyards of Stellenbosch and beyond.
Stefan’s restaurant is open for dinner from Wednesday to Saturday, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Diners on a plant-based diet can inquire about Chef Stefan’s special vegan menu while residents outside the Winelands are encouraged to make it a weekend away by staying at the Erinvale Estate Hotel and Spa. .
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