This country village also offers good food, excellent wine + lots of history
Tafel & Tap Bistro and Bakery in Paarl
A trendy new wine bar-eatery set in the heart of the Cape Winelands
You can’t miss Tafel & Tap. Semi-new to the Paarl region – I’ve been to the largest Cape Winelands town (which is situated roughly an hour from the Mother City) only a handful of times – I keep my eyes peeled as I drive down its Main Road, avidly looking for the new wine bar-bistro and bakery. Approximately 3-kms down the street to my right, I spot a beautifully restored Cape Dutch building. Complete with its iconic and ornately rounded gable, thatched roof and whitewashed walls – and before I’ve even seen the new Winelands eatery’s distinct circular insignia – I know I’ve found the right place.
Surrounded by a neatly trimmed hedge, the historic building’s outside front area – entered through a sweet green picket-fence gate – comprises an array of wooden patio furniture shaded by red umbrellas and charming oak trees. Its large and slightly raised veranda overlooks the alfresco courtyard inviting visitors to sit at one of its high wine barrel-tables. The outdoor space is warm and welcoming, with a casual laid-back atmosphere and friendly ambience, encouraging you to walk inside and explore the heritage site further.
Officially re-opening its door in September 2016 (the space was previously known as Juno Café), Tafel & Tap, its name derived from the loosely translated Dutch ‘tafel en tap’ referring to ‘food and beverage’, offers exactly that – yet so much more.
“We wanted to change the entire concept and introduce something new to the local community,” explains Executive Consulting Chef, Laura Truter comparing Juno Café’s previous offerings to Tafel & Tap’s current. “We’ve changed the name and the entire restaurant’s concept to a more formal bistro a-la-carte menu producing good food that matches the high quality of wine that we serve,” adds Operational Manager Henry de Koker.
Owned by Cape Wine Company’s winemaker, Erlank Erasmus, Tafel & Tap, in short, is a bistro-style restaurant and bakery serving speciality wines (the space is home to the local family vino business) as well as a small selection of craft beers on tap. Striving to create the ultimate Paarl destination to taste and enjoy world-class blends paired with excellent seasonal fare, the Winelands hotspot is as ideal for locals as it is for vino-loving day-trippers or visitors from abroad.
“The wine selection is amazing here,” enthuses Laura. “We want to introduce people to the wines as well as a meal or tapas to pair it with.” All of Tafel & Tap’s menu items are paired with a suggested wine or, in some rare cases, craft beer.
“Drinking wine is all about the atmosphere and environment that one drinks it in,” adds Henry. “We want to create a space where it feels like a home away from home and where you can enjoy good wine and good food.”
Seated in one of the three indoor dining rooms, which, like the others, is decorated wall to floor with the various wines on offer as well as some prestigious vino accolades, I spot a couple Cape Wine Company famous brands including the Erasmus Family, Home of Erasmus and Juno.
“Our beautiful newly-designed lunch and dinner menu is now ideal for sitting and enjoying with a glass of wine,” continues Henry. “If you have a glass of wine, you’ll want something to eat and if you have something to eat, you’ll want a glass of wine.”
And to this I can testify too.
Although the all-new concept still promises old-time favourites, Tafel & Tap seeks to take things up a notch offering guests a selection of culinary delights – with an Italian flair of-sort – that are comforting yet sophisticated, created with the local residents and open-minded food and wine enthusiasts in mind. In addition, the space also houses an artisan bakery that freshly bakes various loaves and treats every day further contributing to the setting’s welcoming allure and aroma.
“For the menu we wanted the bistro-style, easy going eating, but just a little more upmarket. We have introduced an array of different and healthy salads focusing on ingredients that you might not necessarily find in every other restaurant or coffee shop,” explains the chef, who has had over 11 years of experience in designing menus and catering for private and corporate clients.
Tucking into the kitchen’s Parma Ham salad, a well-portioned, delightful assortment of fresh seasonal fruit, chevin, baby leaves, toasted hemp seeds served with a subtle basil dressing, as well as two of the eatery’s various tapas options (ideal for pairing with a glass, or two, of vino), the Butternut Arancinis and Pork Croquette, Laura’s passion for easy, healthy eating and simply great tasting food is brilliantly evident.
“I love superfoods [a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being] and I firmly believe that what you put into your body makes a big difference,” she continues. “We want to offer our guests delicious, unexpected flavours without breaking too far away from classic bistro dishes. We want this to be an everyday place; simple and compact, with slightly unusual combinations, yet enough variety to appeal to everyone.”
Other foodie options include a variety of thin-based oven-baked pizzas, hearty yet light pastas (here I can recommend the slow-cooked beef brisket with orange rind and the cold-smoked trout with avocado and chilli) and fresh sandwiches along with speciality tapas including pan-fried halloumi skewers and main meals such as pulled pork with fried kale, tempura-fried fish and chips as well as a must-try Cape Malay chicken curry served with all the trimmings (with a twist).
When asked for the chef’s recommendations, Laura just laughs and says: “Not to be biased, but I think everything is so nice!”
Along with the bistro and bakery (and as previously mentioned), Tafel & Tap is also the home of the Cape Wine Company, where tasting room manager and wine connoisseur, Natalie Visser offers guests tastings and in-depth knowledge of all its brands. What’s more, the restaurant also houses a fully licenced wine shop which stocks all of the Cape Wine Company reds and whites as well as a range of other quality wines – think gold stickers and boutique blends – from the region for patrons to take away.
“We’re unique compared to other offerings in Paarl,” Henry concludes. “What you find here is specifically designed to cater for and to enjoy the wine that we serve. That in itself makes Tafel & Tap the ideal destination, you can really just come here and relax and enjoy a glass of good wine with good food.”
Finishing the last of my daily baked cheesecake – which Henry said I just had to try – I sadly realise it’s time to head back to Cape Town. Taking one last look around the all-encompassing space (I haven’t even mentioned the tasting table, bar area or back outside deck), I mentally check a return date to the Paarl hidden gem.
NOTE: Tafel & Tap also offers community members, and outside visitors, weekly events and theme evenings. Every Thursday night from 6pm guests can look forward to the smooth sounds of live Jazz and Blues music from local Paarl musicians Riaan Niewenhuis and Nico Erwee. Then every Saturday night is Pizza Night, where patrons can enjoy the bistro’s thin-base pizzas accompanied by a host of weekly specials.
Tip: Be sure to check out Tafel & Tap’s separate brunch menu (available from 10am to 12pm), which offers morning folk power breakfasts packed with healthy, seasonal fare and superfoods – such as chia seeds, smoked trout, sautéed kale and haricot beans – ensuring patrons receive that “little bit extra” to feed not only their body but also their soul.
The Bill: Brunch Menu (10am – 12pm Daily): R60 – R65 | Tapas: R45 – R50 | Main Meals (salads, sandwiches, pastas, pizzas and more): R60 – R155 | Hot Beverages: R16 – R28 | Cold Beverages: R16 – R65
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Thursday: 10am – 10pm | Friday and Saturday: 8am – 10pm | Sunday and Monday: Closed
by Krysia Gaweda | Video Credit: Josh Oates | Image Credit: Tafel & Tap
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