REVIEW Recession-friendly Joostenberg Sunday lunch

We’re all affected by the times, and going out for restaurant meals often seems unnecessarily extravagant. But restaurateurs and talented chefs depend on locals to stay afloat, and many are struggling to keep ticking over during slower, cost-cutting times. I don’t know about other foodies out there, but I need a regular dose of something special on a plate to lift my mood. Preferably food prepared by somebody else. Something that makes me forget weekday routines and sticking to a grocery budget. A culinary stick-it note about how pleasurable simply prepared ingredients, uncomplicated company and country air can be.

A Sunday lunch at Joostenberg Bistro does all that without leaving a bad stamp on the bank balance. This warehouse-style family-run venue won’t score points for décor or flashiness because it’s attached to a deli with a produce section, bakery and pork butchery. But the bistro run by the unpretentious Myburgh family serves a mean plate of food and glasses or bottles of wine at great prices, with unobjectionable service that is family-friendly. The menu is a la carte during the week, but Sunday lunch is the time for lazing and chatting with friends or family over two or three courses at a set price. There isn’t a lot of selection – two or three options per course – but that isn’t the point.


At an outdoor table overlooking the garden, three out of four of us ordered the warm goats’ cheese and tomato quiche starter. A lovely taste of sunshine delivered in sundried tomatoes with tangy cheese, in a shortcrust pastry tartlet, served with dressed, assorted salad leaves. Alternatives were homemade brawn with caper and gherkin dressing or soup.

When pigs are reared lean and healthy as they are at Joostenberg, you can’t go wrong with roast pork as a main course. Slices of chef Christophe Dehosse’s herb-stuffed pork roll are classically flavoured with fennel seeds, thyme and garlic prominent, with crisped crackling of course. Creamy potato gratin Daphinois and German-style sauerkraut stopped any gravy from escaping over the side. The sizeable portion of homemade tagliatelle was cooked past al dente, but otherwise provided a delightful pasta flavour combination with roasted tomatoes, pork chourizo slices and grated gruyere gratinated on top.

Joostenberg’s wine list mark ups are incredibly moderate, with plenty from Joostenberg’s own label in white, red and by the glass, as well as other brands including interesting extras such as Villiera’s French label Domaine Grier L’Aqueduc 2006 (R140). The Joostenberg Chenin Blanc 2009 (a steal at R61) is tasting deliciously fresh, as Chenin should.

Two shared desserts between four provided a sweet note in a reassuring if unexciting way: warm malva pudding with creamy vanilla sauce, and a runny cream-style ice-cream called nougat glace with in cool berry coulis. A successful meal all round, aside from watery coffees that seemed to have left their crema in the kitchen.


Spend (Sunday lunch only): R100 for two courses, R130 for three courses.
Value: Very good. Flavour rating: high.
JOOSTENBERG BISTRO, R304 near N1 Stellenbosch exit, Muldersvlei, Stellenbosch. Tel 021 884 4208

Did you know? Christophe and Susan Dehosse are opening their own restaurant in November 2009 in the old skuinshuis in central Stellenbosch. It will be called Christophe’s.