Thursday, October 17, 2013

Of Mountains and vines

I’M still convinced Steenberg Vineyards exists in its own pocket of reality outside the rest of the world’s. It’s so ridiculously easy to roar past without sparing a glance for the vineyards above you on the mountainside.

But, next time you’re in the mood to slow down and take a detour, do consider the Steenberg Winery, where you’ll find Bistro Sixteen82. It’s well worth the visit, especially if you want to feel like you’re in the winelands without having to drive all the way to Stellenbosch or Paarl.

While you mission up the road to the winery, you’ll see brightly painted modern sculptures. These are by Edoardo Villa, a local artist of Italian descent, who is known for his installations in steel and bronze. The artwork seems at first to jar the senses, but in a way the smooth, almost geometric shapes and the verdant landscaping seem to complement each other.

The Steenberg Winery itself is a venue that will wow you (and you might even consider planning a special event). Even though the architecture seems larger than life, it’s nevertheless warm and inviting. The chandelier in the tasting area is one of the first design elements to grab the attention – what seems like thousands of pieces of ruby-hued, shaped glass pieces cascading from the ceiling. Large windows make you feel as though the spectacular water feature is about to invite itself into the dining area, and of course I couldn’t resist my childlike urge to take a walk along the stepping stones.

This wasn’t my first visit to Bistro Sixteen82 and, after this, I’m quite happy to say it won’t be my last, because executive chef Brad Ball has struck gold with whatever magic he’s weaving here. The mere fact that Bistro Sixteen82 has been buzzing since November 2009 says a lot, especially in Cape Town’s fickle restaurant climate.

Though the bistro serves breakfasts and lunches, we were primarily here for the tapas. Last month chef Brendan November offered an array of Mexican-inspired dishes, and we opted for tacos de pescados, which was served with a spicy tomato salsa; Valerie’s Choice – a cheese platter served with fresh fruit and – get this – candied walnuts (to die for, you absolutely must try them); and the shrimp and monkfish ceviche that was certainly colourful.

Then I made a big mistake. I shared my portion of churros with my husband. Why I did that I don’t know, and I will forever regret this decision. All I’ve done since then is bemoan the fact that I need to try those churros again. For those not in the know (like me, before I had my first churro), this is a Spanish “doughnut” – basically a length of pastry that’s been deep-fried until it’s crispy then dusted in sugar. Oh, wait, I forgot to mention that you dip it in melted chocolate. (Yes, this is one of the few cases where sharing is incredibly stupid, and I will never do it again.)

During this month Bistro Sixteen82 is keeping things fresh by changing the menu (so no more churros for Nerine) and I’ve heard that they’ll be offering a variety of Asian tapas. Of course tapas is for the sharing. There’s no crouching over your individual plates; it’s all about beating your husband’s fingers off the choice bits.

Bistro Sixteen82 is the kind of venue that encourages you to forget about the world outside – rare indeed – and, even better, the staff strike a balance between being unobtrusive and attentive. My verdict: stop putting off a visit to Bistro Sixteen82 and go already. So many of my friends say yes, they’ve heard of it but haven’t been there yet. I can guarantee one thing: you’ll go back – again and again – winter or summer.

Bistro Sixteen82 offers a breakfast and lunch menu, as well as a tapas and children’s menu. Opening hours are 9am to 11am (breakfast); lunch is served from noon to 4pm. Tapas is served in the late afternoon and at sunset, from 4.30pm to 8pm. Call 021 713 2211, e-mail or visit

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