Fresh at Paul Cluver, Elgin, Western Cape
Did you know?De Rust Estate forms part of the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, which is home to a vast diversity of plant species.
'Uncomplicated yet unforgettable' best describes the menu choices at Fresh, a restaurant on the De Rust Estate in the Elgin Valley, where the Cluver family have been making wine for many years. The estate is fortunate in its exquisite views of the Groenland mountains.
The force behind Fresh is Joan Lancefield, whose unfussy country food has proved to be just what guests want. The restaurant was in fact voted by Eat Out magazine to be the best country-style restaurant in South Africa in 2012.
The seating style in this stone-floored, rustic restaurant with large picture windows is sociable and informal at shared trestles (made from blue gum trees). The kitchen is open, so you can keep an eye on the preparation of your meal, watching the combination of organic ingredients, harvested from the vegetable garden or orchard on the estate, or from farms in the neighbourhood.
Multiple varieties of figs, lemons and tomatoes are grown on site.
You can expect three or four starters, three or four cooked dishes and a few salads to choose from. Some Fresh specialities are a fig and gorgonzola dish with Parma ham, gourmet burgers, pies and the freshest of salads.
Daily specials are chalked up on a blackboard. Menus are predicted by the seasons and by Lancefield's own creativity; she simply hates fussy food and is inspired by the famous Yotam Ottolenghi who 'preaches' that taste is everything. You'll soon find this out when you order one of her delicious dishes.
Those who love healthy fare will adore her legendary salads and while she prefers preparing delicious healthy meals, she is not averse to indulgence in terms of gorgeous deserts using the bounty of the Elgin Valley as inspiration.
Fresh will also prepare picnic baskets for enjoyment on the lawns – just think: gorgeous cheeses, plump olives, and a range of other local delicacies all married to the best Cape wines. This option is popular for concerts held at the estate’s ampitheatre.
This restaurant is open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 09h00 - 16h00, serving breakfasts, teas and lunches. Special functions can be organised by arrangement. Fresh closes in the winter months from June through to August and opens again in September with the arrival of spring.
The 2 000-hectare De Rust Estate is worth exploring. Besides the vineyards and cellar, there are apple and pear orchards, a Hereford stud operation and eco-tourism activities.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Fresh at Paul Cluver
De Rust Estate, N2, Grabouw, Western Cape
Tel: +27 ( 0)71 563 6020
Elgin Valley Tourism Bureau
Tel: +27 (0)21 848 9838
How to get here
The restaurant and estate can be reached from Cape Town on the N2. Take the Kromco turnoff about 70km from the Mother City.
Best time to visit
In the summer months (October to March) there’s a good chance you will be able to enjoy your Fresh meal outdoors. Irrespective of the time of year, the Elgin valley is beautiful and the restaurant's large windows ensure you get an eyeful.
Around the area
The Green Mountain Eco Route is touted as the world's first bio-diversity wine route and you can explore it either by foot or on a mountain bike. There are also lots of farm stalls in the area if you wish to stock up on fresh produce. You can visit the Apple Museum (the only one in the country is found in Elgin) or go apple picking during the season.
Having your own car is a good idea to explore the area further. Or you can also opt to see the world from the back of a mountain bike...
What will it cost
A main meal will cost approx. R80 to R120 per person, depending on what you order.
Length of stay
Spend three or four days exploring the wonderful Elgin Valley.
Where to stay
You will find farm cottages positioned in beautiful corners of this valley – between vineyards, orchards, forests and streams. There are plenty of guesthouses and B&Bs. The Elgin Valley Tourism Bureau is a good source of information.
What to eat
Joan Lancefield's signature gorgonzola and fig dish served with Parma ham (depending on whether figs are in season).
Paul Cluver wines are always a good bet.