Sgt. Pepper - gourmet pizza and the girls next door

Sgt. Pepper is the latest local in a sleepy town that very rarely sleeps

It’s not every day that sixty people shout at you in unison when you walk into a new restaurant. But then, it’s not every day that you discover spot like Sgt. Pepper in Stellenbosch, a place that immediately yells ‘cool’.

Pass the Pepper

To be honest, I didn’t ‘discover’ Sgt. Pepper at all; along with most adventures in this university town, it came with the territory, which comes with the locals.  A funny, wise friend suggested dinner one Friday, a friend who had shared his pimped-out campsite with me at a desert festival recently. By pimped out, I mean fridge, stove, sound system, and overarching Bedouin tent - the works. So when he said ‘dinner’, I was expecting a civilised sit-down. Instead, I got a roaring crowd and double whiskeys; I got musicians and art students and rugby. And the best pizza I’ve ever tasted.

Taste is in the details

I don’t like pizza. I’ve always thought it was overrated and glaringly unhealthy - a lazy lump of dough decorated with bits of food, and way too much melted cheese. Then came Vos’s rare Kudu strips and fresh rocket on a 2mm base that tasted like it was made from five star pastry dough instead of bread meal. My desert friend ordered one with fresh, fine Parma ham and feta cheese (my detail) and berries to bring out the flavours!  The owners/chefs combine toppings with the sensitivity of mothers, and apply them (at the right time) with the sensuality of lovers. And not a lady chef in sight. 

Big pizza, big boys

Marinus Vos and Fritz Weilbach are big, strong men who find they very rarely get complaints; very probably because of the ingredients in their batter, not the size of their biceps. Besides, they’re the best kind of host – their place feels like your place, and they become buddies with just about everyone who walks through their door. Even if you don’t support the same teams.

Looks as good as its tastes

The aesthetically inclined will want to know it looks like. Like most cool things in this town, it’s not at all showy; it’s practical, simple and clean; sophisticated not only in finish, but in feel. The uncomplicated interiors leave room for an overflowing ambience.

The place is so popular, the crowd spills UPstairs. At the corner of Plein and Andringa streets, it’s decorated stairwell opens out past a foosball machine into one big space with a bar strip on the side and a strip balcony mirroring it on the other side. The room is filled with tables and couches, a flat screen, and the hum and hubbub of a hundred happy conversations.

The constant flow of people meeting, greeting, arriving and departing or going outside to smoke makes you feel like there’s a party happening even if there isn’t. But in Stellenbosch, there generally is. And if you have to cut your cool off and trot along to a gig, opening, event or birthday party, you can always come back later. There’ll always be a crowd.  It’s open late, too, (closes 02:00). There’s enough time to have the time of your life in the village.

Jess Henson

This is a great place to watch the Rugby World Cup 2011, try these bars, pubs and restaurants too.

Like the sound of this? Try other bars and clubs in Stellenbosch. Not that far out? Have a look at watering holes in the city bowl where you can watch sport and eat pizza. Hungry for more about sport? Score with our sports section

 

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