Green season in the Cape – 14 cosy spots to visit in winter

It seems that we’re now well into our green season in the Cape, thanks to our recent rains. We’re still praying, holding thumbs and toes and doing rain dances…whatever works! But our dams are filling by 0.5% a day at the moment, we’re told.  Have a look at our YouTube video below showing our little Spruit in our garden after the first rains. We can now officially start calling this our own Victoria Falls! Well, maybe not, but you can’t blame us for being so excited after four months of a completely dry river. And I mean – not a drop.

So, now that it’s chillier and greener and wetter…it’s time to focus on some cosy winter spots for meals. This is where our “roaring log fire” and “comfy couches” criteria kick in and below we have our shortlist (in no particular order) around the Western Cape.

Wellington

Beginning on our doorstep in Wellington, as we did with the wine estates, we have a few real favourites in our little country town. Let’s start here and work our way around the peninsula.

1. The Perfect Place in Church Street is just that, for a casual meal only during the day – either breakfast or lunch (they’re not open at night or on Sundays, sadly). They always have good food and good value and a lovely atmosphere, with a real feeling of history and timelessness. We enjoy their outdoor seating most of the year round but in winter they have lovely fires going inside. The service is not always the fastest but it’s always friendly and we go there with the mindset that we’re definitely not in a hurry.

Our recommendations here:

Breakfast (with bubbly, of course!) – omelette; eggs benedict; perfect special. Lunch – any of their lunch specials; beef lasagne with a side salad.

2. The Heritage Grill & Lounge in Main road opened last year and they have gone from strength to strength. We feel that this restaurant is at its finest in winter, with tables close to their blazing log fire – and they have recently ticked another of our boxes by adding big comfy leather couches next to the fire! Their menu is new and fresh and fantastic value. They are now also open on Sundays (for breakfast until 12h00!) which opens up our Sunday options in this area very nicely.

Our recommendations here:

Breakfast: Flatbread tower (only R58!); Wellingtonner (R50!); lunch & dinner: peri-peri chicken livers; chicken schnitzel; the Heritage burger; platters; pork fillet.

3. Oude Wellington on the Bainskloof pass road is the place to book if you want a really special winter’s evening spoil, with fine dining in a very intimate atmosphere. The hosts are hands-on, friendly and very attentive and the food is well-presented and very tasty. A blazing log fire rounds off the charm of this beautiful old place where you feel like you’ve taken a step back in time.

Our recommendations here:

Bitterballen; soup of the day; Cape Malay chicken curry; chalmar sirloin; definitely the pork belly (and if there are only a few other people in the restaurant, start up a conversation by asking if your fellow diners have also ordered this, or if they have earplugs – the crackling is done just the way we like it!)

Paarl

4. The Spice Route is known as a “destination”, with so many different offerings you’ll be spoilt for choice. Bertus Basson has one of his restaurants here and this is always a great option and good food in a lovely setting. One of our favourites here is La Grapperia Bistro and Pizzeria for a casual, relaxed meal in their wingbacks in front of the fire, with the most spectacular views.

Our recommendations here:

Bitterballen; deep fried camembert;  flammkuchen; Schwartzwälder vesperplatte ( Black Forest platter) – at La Grapperia; any steak at Bertus Basson.

5. The Hussar Grill has been our “go to” restaurant for the last couple of years, when almost everything else is closed – like just before Christmas, or over weekends…

Their food and service are both consistently good and the menu has a wide variety of options for everyone. We often pop in just for their Bitterballen and some wine! In winter, they have a very cosy back room with a blazing log fire and the decor makes you feel like you’re dining with your colonial grandparents!

Our recommendations here:

Hollandse bitterballen (I think you’re starting to see a pattern here…?); chicken liver starter; their weekly 2-course lunch special; any steak cut; parmesan chicken breasts; baked cheesecake; and best of all – their complimentary chocolate vodka martini to round off your meal.

6. Under Oaks is another great place for both summer and winter outings. As the name suggests, the outdoor dining is casual and relaxed under beautiful oaks, with stunning views over the farm dam and across to the Hawekwas mountains in Wellington. Despite the views, we don’t often sit outside due to the fact that they only have concrete benches. As you know by now, this kind of discomfort is a pet peeve of ours.

View from Under Oaks - across to Hawekwas mountains, Wellington (Photo: Otto Westerweel)

View from Under Oaks – across to Hawekwas mountains, Wellington (Photo: Otto Westerweel)

So, their restaurant inside is our preferred place to be and a perfect setting in winter, with comfy chairs with backs, right next to the fire!

Our recommendations here:

Any pizzas; alfredo pasta; Nonno pato pasta; Piatti Piccoli; harvest platter; their coffee!

Franschhoek

7. Haute Cabrière is a favourite of ours for their wonderful wines and bubbles (Pierre Jourdan Brut), as well as a restaurant venue for a delicious cheese platter and a bottle of Pierre Jourdan Tranquille. The restaurant is set in a stone cellar, with an enormous fireplace and gives the feeling of stepping away from the world for a while.

Our recommendations here:

Cheese platter (but almost anything on their a-la-carte menu).

8. Roca restaurant at Dieu Donné wine estate – a magnificent setting in winter, with a huge log fire and views out across the Franschhoek valley. See our post on the Winelands for our take on this one.

Our recommendations here:

Soup of the day; wood-oven roasted Mozambican chicken; prawn and chicken curry.

Stellenbosch

9. Devon Valley Hotel is an older, very English-style hotel that still serves the lazy Sunday lunch buffet with full carvery and huge dessert table. They have a lovely bar area with big comfy wingback chairs to sit in front of the fire after eating yourself to a standstill and enjoy a coffee or a glass of something to round off your meal.

Our recommendations here:

Sunday lunch buffet; tea and scones

Hout Bay

10. Tintswalo Atlantic

This is our top pick if you really, really want to treat someone and blow them away. It is still one of our all-time favourites for so many reasons: a setting that is hard to beat in many places around the world; staff and owners who will bend over backwards for you; food that is sublime – prepared in their open kitchen in front of your eyes (but you’re not really watching because you can’t take your eyes off the view!).

Lunch on the deck of Tintswalo Atlantic for my parents' 55th Anniversary in June 2014

Lunch on the deck of Tintswalo Atlantic for my parents’ 55th Anniversary in June 2014

Tintswalo Atlantic - view from Chapman's Peak (Photo: Otto Westerweel)

Tintswalo Atlantic – view from Chapman’s Peak (Photo: Otto Westerweel)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nestled at the foot of Chapman’s Peak, right on a pebbled beach overlooking Hout Bay harbour, Tintswalo Atlantic is the place to book if you’re looking for the ultimate spoil – whether you’re staying overnight in one of their magnificent island-themed suites, or just going for a meal. From the moment you arrive and park at the top on Chapman’s Peak drive and are transferred in one of their luxury vehicles down the mountainside to be welcomed like royalty at the bottom, with warm cloths and cocktails in an elegant lounge with roaring fires everywhere, this is an experience that you should not miss.

Cheese board at Tintswalo Atlantic (Photo: Otto Westerweel)

Cheese board at Tintswalo Atlantic (Photo: Otto Westerweel)

Seared tuna starter - Tintswalo Atlantic (Photo: Otto Westerweel)

Seared tuna starter – Tintswalo Atlantic (Photo: Otto Westerweel)

Amuse bouche - Tintswalo Atlantic (Photo: Otto Westerweel)

Amuse bouche – Tintswalo Atlantic (Photo: Otto Westerweel)

The transfer from the top to Tintswalo Atlantic on the water (Photo: Janine Westerweel)

The transfer from the top to Tintswalo Atlantic on the water (Photo: Janine Westerweel)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have been a number of times, for various special occasions and they never fail to impress. You must book upfront though, as they are a luxury boutique lodge, generally catering exclusively to their in-house guests. They are quite happy to take outside bookings as long as they’re made well in advance.

Our recommendations here:

Set 3-course menus – advised the day before your booking. Not one thing to be criticised or improved in our 3 different experiences here.  

Cape Town CBD

11. Bardellis, Kloof Street is a typical little Italian trattoria, very intimate and cosy for winter. A good spot for a casual after-work dinner.

Our recommendations here:

Any of their pizzas; Italia salad; lasagne – pasta al forno (baked in the pizza oven). 

Taj Cape Town

Taj Cape Town

12. Taj Cape Town in Wale Street. The old Reserve Bank was converted for this hotel and it is such an elegant venue that you feel like royalty (and are treated as such) when visiting. We have not yet tried their Indian restaurant, Bombay Brasserie – watch this space! – but just an afternoon high tea or an evening in their cocktail bar is a highlight.

Our recommendations here:

High tea. 

V & A Waterfront

13. Grand Africa Café & Beach – great venue in summer and in winter really cosy and warm, but without losing out on the spectacular view. Read our recent post on their winter menu launch to see more!

Our recommendations here:

Any of their pizzas, especially parma ham & rocket; tempura prawns; mezze platter; sugar bean, lentil and lamb soup; pear and berry crumble.

Melkbosstrand

14. Castella Amare – This is such a lovely spot in both summer and winter, as it’s one of the few restaurants on the West Coast that is right at the sea or on the beach. In winter it is just as appealing, surprisingly, as they tuck you in with warm blankies and roaring log fires, while you look out at that magnificent view.

Our recommendations here:

Peri peri chicken livers; Mussel bowl in creamy white wine sauce; beef trinchado; sweet BBQ chicken & pineapple pizza.

While these are by no means all of the possibilities around the Western Cape or even all of our favourites, they are some that stand out above the rest for various reasons, and are our tried and trusted top spots.

Don’t forget – we’d love to hear your comments and feedback, as well as your own experiences. Please send us any comments or questions you may have, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube; sign up to receive new posts, or click on the Booking.com search box to book your next adventure!

 

Until next time!

 

 

 

About the Author

Hello there! Welcome to our travel blog. We are the Westerweels – Janine and Otto.
Our passions in life (apart from each other) include: travel; wildlife; photography; wine; fine dining; our children; our animals... and experiencing as much as we can.
We'd love to share that with you, so here we go...!

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