The Cape Winelands are famous for their high-end fine-dining establishments where you can experience mind-blowing culinary creations alongside elegant wines. However, while I love the opportunity to spend an afternoon working through a five course meal, every now and then I am also simply in the mood for a beer and a slice of pizza. A little while ago we were invited for lunch at Tafel & Tap, a new wine bar / bistro that opened in the heart of Paarl this year. It was a Saturday and the night before had ended at Aces & Spades dancing to Mumford & Sons, so the following morning was a rather fragile affair. Needless to say I was looking forward to some comfort food and a tall draught. Hair of the dog and all that.
We pulled up to the old Cape Dutch building around noon on a sunny afternoon, with scattered clouds moving across the warm sun. We chose a spot in one of the rooms with plenty of natural light spilling in through the large windows, and took up a table in a spot of sunlight.
The menu at Tafel & Tap serves to hero the freshly baked goods that they make at their bakery towards the back of the house – which also fills the entire building with the comforting scent of bread baking in the oven. They also offer delicious tapas, salads, pasta and pizzas, as well as more hearty main meals, alongside craft beers that are served on tap and a lovely selection of wines. I think most people will find something they’ll enjoy.
The concept of the restaurant was inspired by the building in which they are housed, as well as the strong Dutch heritage of the town. In the Netherlands, the term “tafel en tap” refers to a no-frills restaurant where you can expect good food and cold beer on tap. That’s exactly what you get. Executive Chef Laura Truter has created a compact menu with classic bistro dishes that have been given a slight twist, but still hit all the comforting spots.
We kicked off our lunch with a selection of tapas. We tried the prawn tempura, which basically tastes like light and crispy prawn popcorn (yum!), as well as pan-fried halloumi skewers served with rocket pesto, and super tasty butternut arancini – deep fried risotto balls stuffed with smoked mozzarella and served with an aioli dip (yes, it was heaven!) I can honestly recommend you order a bit of everything on their tapas menu and share it across the table.
For a main I ordered their Parma Ham Deck Oven Pizza with fresh basil, grilled cherry tomatoes and mozzarella. Their pizzas are made on a home-made dough that is slightly sweeter and crispier than standard pizza dough but still delicious and definitely worth a try.
We also had the pulled pork sandwich, a hearty dish with a ginger sauce, grilled vegetables, sweet potato, apple mash and fried kale, and the chicken ceasar baquette with grilled chicken covered in garlic and mustard mayo, served on lettuce and topped with Parmesan shavings. The bread at this bistro is really delicious and fresh, so their sandwiches are definitely a good bet.
Along with the bistro and bakery, Tafel & Tap is the home of the Cape Wine Company where you can do tastings of their various offerings including the Erasmus Family Wines and Juno, as well as their low and no-alcohol brands Ega (try the Rooibos with some soda water), McGarry’s and Little Tipsy. The restaurant also houses a fully licenced wine shop which stocks all of the Cape Wine Company brands so you can take a few bottles home with you.
Tafel & Tap also offers various weekly events and themed evenings. Every Thursday night the bistro has live Jazz & Blues from 18:00, featuring local Paarl musicians Riaan Niewenhuis and Nico Erwee, and every Saturday night is Pizza Night, with a host of specials that change from week to week.
Tafel & Tap is open from 10:00 – 22:00 Tuesday to Thursday, and from 08:00 to 22:00 on Fridays and Saturdays. Visit tafelentap.co.za for more information