When you live in Cape Town, dining in Stellenbosch is a bit of a mission. At least for us, driving 60kms to a bistro is not something that just happens spontaneously during the week. If we are out in the wine country it is usually in the day. A kind reader suggested Casparus to me a while back, so I was thrilled when the opportunity to visit it came last week. We were doing a great wine tasting, chardonnays from around the world, organized by Andy Roediger on the university campus and for once having dinner downtown in Stellenbosch was convenient.
Casparus is a buzzing bistro. The space is modern with artwork and exposed wooden beams. Floor to ceiling art posters act as screens that separate the diners from the kitchen. Casparus was fully booked when we visited on Thursday. Happy chatter and laughter softened up the arty space nicely.
We were met with welcome drinks, which is great, except if you are the driver and have just been to a wine tasting (I was spitting out some rare burgundies : ( ). The menu is really long. I would say 15+ options for starters and mains. The food is definitely on the heavy side with a variety of meat-based options and interesting surf and turf-style dishes.
When the food finally arrived (one hour wait) it was superb. I had the squid and oxtail. An innovative dish which combines the richness of oxtail with delicate, perfectly cooked squid. Apparently this is the signature dish of the chef, Etienne Bonthuys (ex Tokara). Donald (standing in for the Chimp) had seafood pasta, which was light and flavourful. I had white and dark chocolate mousse for dessert, velvety and unctuous.
All in all the experience was great. The only thing that let it down was the service. We waited for an hour for our food and most of the time the waiters just avoided our gazes. You don’t want the waiter to watch your every bite but when you get the feeling that the waitress is a bit too cool for her job it is never a good thing. We asked the waitress to recommend a wine to match the light seafood pasta and she said Shiraz. Hmm. So maybe it was her first day. The value for money was superb. Two courses with wine set us back by R240. Despite the slight negative of the service we would definitely go back.
59 Dorp St