01 June 2014 by Lynnette Johns

Restaurants and pubs to banish the winter chills

Chilly days, freezing nights, rain and snow – winter in some parts of South Africa can mean hibernation for some; for others, there’s nothing better than heading off and finding a convivial space warmed by a roaring fire.

There's not much that beats sitting close to a roaring fire on a winter's evening. Image courtesy of youleah

Whether it be a pub, coffee shop or swanky restaurant, we found some great places for you to chill – or rather, to thaw.

Gauteng, a powerhouse of Africa, has some of the best night-time entertainment, as well great restaurants and pubs warmed by fireplaces.

Moyo, in Johannesburg's Melrose Arch, is clad in copper and pebble-pressed walls and is the height of modern Africa. It also has an outdoor square with braziers warming the night air while people enjoy fine food and wine.

Red wine and winter – a perfect pair. Image courtesy of Astrid Kopp

The Bull Run Restaurant is aptly named, opposite the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in Sandton. Apart from offering the warmth of a fire during colder months, it serves prime cuts of beef and offers the best wine from the Cape.

Capeesh? is one of Pretoria’s best Italian restaurants. The restaurant welcomes its guests warmly, and encourages happiness and loudness.

In Mpumalanga you'll find the popular fly-fishing town of Dullstroom, and the Dullstroom Inn, which is anything but dull – there's a log fire, and hearty meals and draught beer have been served in its English-style pub since 1912.

KwaZulu-Natal’s climate is legendary – the closer you get to the coast the warmer it becomes, so surf's up all year around. But further inland it gets chillier as winter sets in, and snow has been known to cover the mountains.

The Bierfassl in Nottingham Road in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands is a great spot to find a roaring fire when it's chilly. Settle down and order a beer-taster paddle of locally produced beers from the nearby Nottingham Road Brewery. The German/Austrian-inspired menu offers a variety of sausages, eisbein and accompaniments.

You can also take a trip in a 4x4 up the Sani Pass on the way to Lesotho. At the top is the Sani Mountain Lodge and, at 2 874m above sea level, you will find the highest pub in Africa. There's always a welcoming fire in the hearth and plenty of beer on tap to quench a traveller's thirst.

In Cape Town and the nearby Winelands, where the temperature can drop into single digit in winter, there is always a pub, restaurant or coffee shop offering soul-warming meals, fireplaces and or red wine (after all, what would a Cape winter be without red wine).

On Trendy Long Street in Cape Town you'll RCaffe, which opened its doors in 2004. Fresh food, steaming hot coffee, free Wi-Fi, and, of course, a fireplace are ready to welcome you. RCaffe’s pastries, muffins and burgers are the stuff of legends.

Rcaffe serves steaming hot coffee and delicious pastries next to its modern fireplace. Image courtesy of Rcaffe

Books, fireplaces, wine and stormy weather are a match made in heaven. The Annex Restaurant, a sister to Kalk Bay Books, is in a century-old building with a library that has a welcoming fire.

If it’s fancy you are after, then look no further than one of the Cape’s finest restaurants – Constantia Uitsig’s La Colombe never ceases to impress. The award-winning restaurant serves contemporary French meets Asian fine dining.

Franschhoek, with its beautiful mountains and distinct French influence, has a number of fantastic restaurants, including Haute Cabrière, which prides itself on expertly pairing food and wine.

We love the idea of relaxing in sumptuous surroundings and the Esquire Whiskey & Cigar Bar at the Lanzerac Wine Estate is the perfect place. Antique furniture adds to the sophisticated surroundings. The bar houses an extensive range of rare, old and exclusive whiskeys and malts, and luxury and flavoured vodkas. Of course, guests can get comfy and cosy on large leather couches near the fireplace.

At Polana you can watch wild crashing waves, whipped up by the wind, while you are safely ensconced behind ceiling-high plate glass windows. The restaurant is built on the rocks along the False Bay coast and offers a crackling fire in winter. Here you can enjoy red meat, wine, tapas and cocktails.

Winter in South Africa means fireplaces, good food and fabulous people. 

Polana is housed in the Harbour House at Kalk Bay harbour. Image courtesy of mallix

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