Where to eat in Stanford, South Africa: From cosy farmhouses to smart fine dining

Stanford is one of South Africa’s lesser known food and drink scenes – but it’s one not to be missed, says Jennie Chancey

Jennie Chancey
Tuesday 29 May 2018 15:38 BST
A market at the historic hotel every Saturday celebrates local produce
A market at the historic hotel every Saturday celebrates local produce (Melanie Farrell)

I’m passionate about supporting local farmers, shopping and eating locally as much as possible. We are spoilt beyond belief in Stanford when it comes to food, as we have many award-winning chefs and eateries right here in a 8km radius.

I was inspired to have a big family by the book Cheaper by the Dozen, written by the second eldest of 12 children who grew up in the 1920s and 1930s in the States.

Their parents were the most fabulous, well-read, forward-thinking people and decided that it was more economical to bring up 12 bright, enquiring human beings than “a mere piddling three or four”.

I’ve found it a wonderful adventure that keeps me on my toes and fills me with joy.

My favourite village restaurant is a few minutes away on foot – Graze Slow Food Cafe, which is the most literal farm-to-fork operation I know.

Chef Tabby and maitre d’ Alex live on their idyllic farm 3km outside the village and serve up delicious breakfasts Wednesdays and Saturdays and sumptuous dinners on Friday evenings.

There’s also a produce market every Wednesday morning. I can’t tell you how much I adore this place!

When it comes to fine dining there are a couple of farms near the village that serve incredible food, such as Havercroft’s Restaurant. Havercroft’s is just across the R43 from the village and it is an absolute foodie paradise.

Chef Brydon runs the kitchen like a Lamborghini of cuisine, turning out dishes so succulently delicious it’s hard to keep back tears of joy (I am not kidding!).

Graze Slow Food Cafe is a food-to-fork operation on an idyllic farm on the outskirts (Jennie Chancey)

My personal favourite is his chicken ballotine, but the Keralan fish curry is also masterful and just the right amount of heat. Don’t miss his fabulous lemon tart with fresh cream whenever it’s available.

Front of house is Brydon’s riotously entertaining wife, Innes, who makes the menu sound so good you’ll want to eat it all!

Stanford Manor House is a must-do for a cosy, atmospheric evening out. (They also serve breakfast and lunch, but my vote is for dinner every time with the incredible view across the valley as the sun goes down.)

My husband and I both love the candlelit tables, the eclectic art displays, and the delicious, seasonal menu. It’s an 8km drive north of Stanford and absolutely worth it.

The Garden Grill at Whitewater Farm is ideal for a lazy lunch in the heart of the most exquisite guest farm 7km north of Stanford.

The restaurant grows its own vegetables on the farm, which is also home to a large herd of Nguni cattle and beautiful retired racehorses.

Plan for a long lunch of the freshest and best produce and local meat. It’s a fabulous treat!

If you want to try local craft gin, Stanford has a couple of excellent distilleries, including Fynbos Distillery at the Sir Robert Stanford Estate.

All gins are made from the products of the estate, including rooibos and grappa.

Located in a farmhouse just outside Stanford, Havercroft’s is a rustic fine dining option (Jennie Chancey)

Misty Mountains also features craft gins, including the very pink Butterfly, which is a popular choice for locals.

Stop in for tastings at both places and enjoy their spectacular views of our charming village!

Stanford Manor is a must-visit for a cosy, atmospheric evening out (Stanford Valley Manor House)

Every Saturday morning, we shop at the market on the steps of the Stanford Hotel, a vintage gem in the heart of our village.

Local farmers, bakers, artisans and cooks all gather with the best of their produce, and we try not to miss out on our must-haves.

The Garden Grill at Whitewater Farm is ideal for a long, lazy lunch with homegrown ingredients (Jennie Chancey)

For me, it’s a slice of Chef Brydon Havercroft’s leftover lemon cake (for my hubby, it’s his pork crackling!).

I also try to grab locally grown mushrooms, Erwin’s made-in-Stanford Viennas, Elsa’s halloumi, and the best wholegrain bread I’ve ever tasted. Local is truly lekker!

When I want fresh air and exercise, I often put the baby in his pushchair, grab a few littlies, and head out to walk.

Stanford has a 4.5km wandelpad (trail) that will take you through quiet groves, up hills and alongside the meandering Klein river.

It’s well marked and easy enough for all ages, and it truly is a refreshing taste of nature with wonderful views.

I try to walk every day, and I often bump into neighbours and friends (and their dogs – Stanford is famously dog-friendly).

Jennie Chancey writes for queenofpalletgardens.wordpress.com

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