The Table (okay, lawn) at De Meye

The Table (okay, lawn) at De Meye
Ryan Boon’s grass-fed brisket, slow smoked for 12 hours.

When travelling the Winelands in search of something delicious to nibble on, there is a plethora of choice at virtually every stop, so when we planned our trip to the area around Stellenbosch we were excited at the prospect of sampling some of the finest wines and foods this splendid countryside has to offer. Problem is, after three days, it seemed that Stellenbosch had only two real offerings available.

The first?

Overpriced and pretentious, smoke-and-mirrors gastro cuisine.

The second?

Overpriced and crappy tourist trap fare.

If all you wanted was a quality, well priced, relaxed and unpretentious dining experience, there seemed to very little going.

Now, in terms of well priced and unpretentious in the Cape, I am talking under a grand for three courses for two pax including a bottle of wine. That should be achievable for the average middle-class Joe, surely…?

Well, it would prove to be a bit of an ask; we seemed to be out of luck. Until we happened upon The Table at De Meye wine farm one splendid Saturday afternoon.

While having a chat and a sip of a few of the superb wines of young Philip Myburgh and his new collaborative winemaker Francois Haasbroek under the shade of a graceful oak outside their very chilled tasting room, Philip’s mom happened past and casually mentioned that the aromas emanating from restaurant kitchen were smelling superb.

So enthralled were we by the wines and the chat that we had failed to notice the subtly secluded kitchen and restaurant in the corner to our right. And by restaurant, I mean it in the loosest possible terms. Kitchen, yes, good smells, yes, scurrying staff, yes…

Tables, chairs, garish décor, mood music, down lighting – nada. We were quickly apprised of what was on offer.

Oh, it’s The Table, Jessica and Luke run it, you really should try it sometime, but you must book, they are almost always full,” replied Mom.

We decided to try our luck and see if we could get a spot for lunch, knowing there was faint chance, but fortune favours the bold.

Emboldened by a slug of Philip’s spicy and bacony 2015 Shiraz, I made my way over to the kitchen to see if I could bend the ear of young Jessica or Luke in the kitchen to see if we could wangle a side table for two.

Alas, as Mother Myburgh had warned, they were full. “But,” said Jessica, wiping her brow with a cotton cloth, “we could possibly squeeze you in next Sunday.”

Eish! My hopes and dreams faded like a light bulb during load shedding. We were not around that long and with a nose full of the heavenly country kitchen aromatics filling my nostrils and girding my loins, I am not ashamed to admit, I pleaded to within an inch of my life for even a tiny space under a tree. I may even have thrown Philip and his poor mother under the bus by suggesting we were old family friends and they would be well pleased, should she be able to accommodate us. (For the record, we are not – yet…)

Eventually, Jessica shooed me out of the kitchen with the promise that if there was a cancellation they would try to squeeze us in, maybe… I think more in desperation to be rid of me than anything else.

Flushed with a modicum of success, I returned to our tasting to announce that we may have a table, possibly

Now, the first lesson you learn when dining out in the Cape is to check the prices on the menu. Failing to do so has led to many, many a poor soul facing the shock of their life and ageing visibly when presented with the bill by a smug waitron.

The second is to check the menu, so as to fully understand and appreciate what you have let yourself in for whence ordering the “Dragon’s breath foam” or the “Spicy Asian beef floss”.

In my angst to secure a table, I failed to do even one of those things, let alone check for prior references or what the weather was planning to endow us with while sitting under the trees. Suffice to say, the missus was not pleased.

As I sipped on a delightfully crisp Chenin, I soothed my ego by telling myself that we would probably not get a table anyway, so I had actually dodged a bullet like a pro.

Then, 20 minutes later, I heard Luke’s whisper in my ear.

We have made a small table available at the far end of the lawn due to a party of 16 only arriving with 14.”

Once again, failing even my most basic instinct for self preservation and possibly having a little too much faith in the sanctity of my marriage vow of “for richer, or poorer”, I grabbed the missus by the hand and whisked her off across the lawn to our little table under an oak tree; quicker than a rat up a drainpipe. (As an old wine-making mate would say.)

So, there we were, with no idea what we were about to dine on and no idea how much it would cost, in potentially the most expensive and crappy restaurant on the planet. What could possibly go wrong.

The mere fact that I am still here on this planet and able to type, thus, speaks volumes for the experience.

The food was sublime in its honesty, presentation and simplicity, the service discreet yet always there when you needed it. The setting, on a sprawling lawn under an oak on a sunny Saturday in the fairest Cape – stupendous. The wine, of course, matched every dish to a tee and the good-natured honesty which Jessica Shepherd and Luke Grant bring to their Table is as refreshing as a Cape breeze.

On presentation to the table, every dish was carefully explained by Luke and, if not grown or made by themselves, credit was given to the producers who supplied it. Ryan Boon’s grass-fed brisket, slow smoked for 12 hours, homemade ricotta from Gay Van Hasselt’s Guernsey cows, freshly picked garden beetroot with dill and mint vinaigrette, strawberry buttermilk ice cream.

As the menu changes weekly, dependant on the chefs’ mood, foraging success and /or garden pickings, it is pointless trying to describe every dish. Be assured, though, it will be brilliant.

All washed down with an excellent glass or two of De Meye’s finest and a little afternoon snooze on a blanket (supplied by the kind staff) on the lawn, this makes for one of the best dining experiences on the planet. Seriously.

If you like good, honest country style food and have no hang-ups or dietary funnies, enjoy the sound of little kids frolicking on the lawn as well as the odd hound, this place is for you.

If, however, you are a Trip Advisor zealot and love to explain to the chef or waitron exactly what your “condition or intolerance” is – give this one a skip. (For everyone else’s benefit.)

The price – R375pp as well as teas and coffees and a bottle of excellent red, we were in for a round R1,000 (10% tip included).

With my very basic scoring mechanism of: Would we go back – YES or NO? Joe Rice’s verdict – The Table @ De Meye – YES, in a heartbeat.

But get there soon. You’ll see why below. DM

Note: Jessica and Luke are taking a break from the restaurant scene at the end of April 2019 but are looking for a suitable replacement to take over, so Joe Rice suggests you book now and get there before they leave.

These two are real talents and need to be followed wherever they go, but the Table is your first stop.

Lunch served Thursday to Sunday (October – April) and Friday to Sunday (May – September)

The Table Restaurant De Meye Wine Farm, Muldersvlei, Stellenbosch Tel: +27 (72) 696 0530 Email: [email protected]


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