Those who follow me on Instagram will know I have a soft spot for Spice Route in Paarl. I will happily spend the day there trying the large variety of foodie treats, from beer to gin and wine, spices and preserves, charcuterie and condiments, chocolate and ice-cream.
Recently I was invited to visit the farm and taste my way from one destination to the next. I will cover my full Spice Route experience in a second post, but I wanted to dedicate this one to our lunch experience at Bertus Basson.
Bertus Basson at Spice Route is one of several ventures by Chef Bertus Basson, who is also responsible for Overture, Spek en Bone, and The Deck, which recently opened at Hidden Valley. The restaurant at Spice Route remains one of my favourites for a lazy day in the winelands. To one end you are spoiled with sweeping views of the Stellenbosch and Paarl wine valleys, and on the other side you have large windows that open onto the lawns, where people are spread on picnic blankets, enjoying a wine tasting in the shade.
Inside you have a casual yet sophisticated atmosphere, with a spacious dining area on one side and a little shop tucked in the corner where you can stock up on recipe books and Bertus Basson pantry staples.
We took our seat by the window and nibbled at some fresh bread served with an olive oil mousse and balsamic baked pear, a delicious combination of salty, sweet, acidic and bitter flavours to get your palette going.
Once we had settled in with a glass of Spice Route Sauvignon Blanc each, we ordered a couple of starters. I tried the Chicken Liver Parfait, served with onion marmalade and toasted ciabatta. I loved the rich, decadent flavour of the mousse-style spread, complimented by the sweet, sticky onions on lightly toasted bread.
The husband went for the Crispy Malay Calamari, a beautiful, fresh dish packed with fragrant flavours and crunchy textures. The seafood was soft and succulent, coated in a light, crispy batter and served with an Asian-style slaw, creamy aioli and a yuzu dressing. It was probably my top choice that day.
For mains I went for the Steak au Poivre (which, as they say, is simply a fancy name for pepper steak). They served up perfectly cooked Angus Sirloin with roasted onions, and garlic cloves that you could squish to release the smooth, creamy paste. On the side they presented creamed spinach, a yummy pepper sauce, and a generous portion of utterly tempting hand-cut chips.
Their Fish and Chips was another perfectly executed classic, with delicate and soft meat in a super light, crispy batter, served with home-made tarter sauce and chips. Try it with the CBC Amber Weiss. Yum!
Of course we couldn’t leave without a something sweet. We opted to share Tant Hetta’s Apple Pie (though I was utterly tempted to order the Jar of Milk Tart Milkshake as well) . Once again I found the presentation rustic and charming, and the flavours utterly decadent and delicious. The baked apple pudding was moreish and sticky, served with smooth vanilla ice cream and a light custard on the side.
Price wise Bertus Basson at Spice Route is on the more expensive side, with starters priced from R70 and mains from R140. I was, however, really impressed by the generous portion sizes so that a starter could easily be enough for a light lunch – especially if you are still planning to try some of the other tasting options at Spice Route after your meal.
Have you been to Bertus Basson at Spice Route? What did you think? Pop your comments down below, I would love to hear from you.