Big Easy Restaurant

Take it easy

Mon - Fri | 7:30 - 22:00
Sat & Sun | 08:30 - 22:00
 
+27 (0)21 887 3462
95 Dorp Street | Stellenbosch
www.ernieels.com
info@thebigeasy.co.za
ErnieElsWinery
Ernie Els Wines

Take it easy

Tailor-make your experience at The Big Easy; from formal to informal

Time stops in Stellenbosch; not that it’s a sleepy town; no it’s more the tangible history of the town that creates the feeling. Deep storm gutters run along the sides of the roads, Cape Dutch architecture is dominant, and ancient oaks provide dappled shade for people dining on white-washed stoeps.

One such building with the ubiquitous stoep is La Gratitude; built in 1798 by the first reverend of Stellenbosch. Interestingly, the wine cellar has been preserved; and it was where the communion wine for the town was once made. The rambling property on Dorp Street is a mix of Cape Dutch, Georgian and Victorian architecture and is fondly known as ‘The Grand Old Lady.  And it’s inside this national monument where we’re having lunch today.

Not merely a converted farmhouse, but rather a Cape Dutch manor, the building splits off into various rooms.

“Each area has a different theme,” says Jean Engelbrecht, one of the five owners of the restaurant. At the moment we’re in the ‘Karoo Bar’, so named for another one of the owners, Johann Rupert, and his love for the Karoo. He owns extensive farmland there and a beautiful landscape of a pastoral scene stretches across one wall.

Some of the partners also own wine estates including; Rupert wines with L’Ormarins and Anthonij Rupert wines; Rust en Vrede; Guardian Peak; Audacia Wines, and of course, Ernie Els Wines, the name of the restaurant is after all, the famous golfer’s nickname.

Wine a little, or a lot

With the owners’ vinous credentials, it comes as no surprise that the experience here is seriously wine-driven. With over 170 wines on the wine list, an ever evolving wines-by-glass offering plus a wine shop; here you can you do tutored tastings and purchase all of the aforementioned estate’s wines at cellar door prices. The waiters are also all wine-trained, so expect knowledgeable and astute service.

And, you’re more than welcome to pull up a table in the courtyard and do a wine-tasting there. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. First Jean is keen to show us around.

There’s a ‘Wine Estate’ room, where photos hang on the walls of the various partners’ estates. This room is subdued and elegant; decorated with detailed midnight-blue wallpaper, white wing-backed chairs, and large gold-framed mirrors. There’s also a ‘Golf Estate’ room as well as the ‘La Gratitude’, which is just the place for private dining, whether it be a wedding celebration or business power dinner.  Throughout the restaurant the walls are covered in an eclectic collection of art and rich fabrics. And, the feeling truly changes as we move from room to room. The back courtyard has a glass ceiling, from which box-shaped iron chandeliers hang. Outside of this there’s alfresco dining by a fountain.

Guests are spoilt for choice here. You can literally choose the feeling you want, whether it’s a formal food and wine pairing in a grand room. Or a light lunch in the sunshine.

We’re not quite finished our tour yet. Jean leads us to an outside door and up to a thatch-roof attic. This is the Founder’s Club. The aim is to have 150 members, who are all in business, and to use the space as a networking platform.  It’s also, used as a function area and I can see why. The low thatch ceilings create an intimate atmosphere, and the furnishings are exquisite; from polished brass antiques to roomy leather couches. It also has its own bar area, and canapés from the restaurant can be served up here.

Don't ask what you can do for your country; rather ask what's for lunch

Over glasses of Ernie Els’s new white releases, a sauvignon blanc and a chenin blanc, we pore over the lunch menu. The chef, Craig Backhouse has created a bistro-style menu for lunch and for dinner it’s fine dining. There’s a also a list of blackboard specials, which changes regularly.

Pierre Verneau, the French maitre’d, orders for us with practiced ease. We start with wild mushroom risotto made even richer with truffle cream. Soon we’re tucking into kingklip with soft polenta that’s been infused with olives and sun-dried tomatoes. Our other dining companion has perfectly seared venison. Pierre says that a way to describe the restaurant would be an ‘upmarket steakhouse’.  This makes sense considering the serious reds on the wine list.

“We carry the experience,” says Pierre. “We want it to be easy and accessible, upmarket but not, to be as honest as possible with the food.”

Dessert is a tasting plate of chocolate mousse, crème brûlée, bon bons and ice cream. The sunny afternoon stretches on. And if it was the intention of the restaurant to make it feel as if time stands still. Well then I can happily say, I think they’ve done their job perfectly.

By Malu Lambert, photographs by Antonia Heil

The restaurant also serves a cracking breakfast. Get there at 7:30am for a farmhouse-style brekkie or even a health breakfast.

We visited Ernie Els Wine Estate and discovered a chipping competition and that they excel in red wine making.

For your monthly update on what’s happening in and around Cape Town, be sure to subscribe to our popular newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Cape Town Events Calendar
October 2019
SUN MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT
1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31

statements_5Fugard Classic “Statements” ...

Catch this stellar performance about forbidden love

VaseWhat Could Be Prettier Than A Room Full ...

An exhibition full of flowers in vases created by Cape Town’s top ceramicists

a4_arts_foundationZanele Muholi Wants You To See The ...

And it’s free at the A4 Arts Foundation

Land_RewovenSee This Fascinating Interpretation of ...

Artist MJ Lourens pairs his modern landscapes with Pierneef’s, plus there’s cheese ...

gindulge1Get To Know Your Gins At This Mid-week ...

Make your October Wednesdays about food trucks, kids activities, desserts and gin at ...

gallivanting_gooseTeambuilding Activities You’ll ...

15 teambuilding activities and why they work

rodan_kane_hartRodan Kane Hart: Making the Most of ...

An expansive gallery and pristine outdoor landscape showcase a free exhibition by a young ...

William_Kentridge_2A Monumental Exhibition To Open At The ...

The iconic South African artist’s largest exhibition in Africa in over a decade

tjing_momjii_3Next-Level Dining At Tjing Tjing Momiji

Take your taste buds on a tour of Japan

blowfish_new_7R99 Calamari and Prawns Combo Every ...

And drink in the view of Table Mountain across the bay

cape_quarter_01Catch These Weekly Deals at Cape Quarter

From R18 coffee to half-price burgers

rotterdam_restaurantFarm Stay Special: Romantic Weekend Away

Idyllic Swellendam farm accommodation with a special game drive and picnic amongst the ...

durbanville_childrens_homeIt’s A Treasure Hunt At A R2 Book Sale

Find old gems, childhood classics, best sellers and out-of-print books.

Kinky BootsSmash-Hit Kinky Boots Extended To 2020 ...

With music by Cyndi Lauper, several Tonys and a Laurence Olivier Award

fpl_5Get Moving in Functional Training Class

Improve your fitness, strength and overall functionality with the Functional Performance ...

ac_marriott_musicHappy Hour and Live Music Every ...

Get a discount on drinks and tapas before local musicians step up to entertain you

aroundaboutnew1Get a Free Stay in Scarborough With ...

Just use the promo code when booking a 4X4 and camping equipment

sundoo2019_4South-Indian Tapas and Thalis For a ...

Vegan options, halaal-friendly, casual but beautifully decorated: Sundoo South Indian ...

the41_music3Romantic Beach Vibe and Live Music At ...

Live Thursdays: Come in your slops to this chic Camps Bay spot for great food and live ...

OX Seals 04Smile: You Get 10% Off Seal Snorkelling ...

Up close with wild Cape fur seals in small, intimate excursions that are super special, ...

sgtpepper152-for-1 Burger or Pizza Deal At Sgt ...

A reason to eat out: Get a free pizza on Tuesdays and a free burger on Thursdays at this ...

cartelcafe6Lunch Sorted: A Midweek Buffet At The ...

Fill up your plate and tuck into a tasty lunch spread every Wednesday and Thursday: From ...

Barrs7Common Summer Ailments And Their ...

What most people ask about sunscreen, hay fever, runny tummy, malaria meds and ...

asamisLove Sushi? Asami's Has The Best ...

Get two sushi plates, pay for one, plus women also get 50% off on all cocktails on ...

galileo_kirstGet Comfy at Kirstenbosch Movie Nights ...

Great films, fabulous scenery, delicious food and cosy seats – look forward to a night ...

house of h2 For 1 New Corona Cocktails on the ...

All-new whiskey-Corona mixes, Corona mojitos for after-work drinks during two-hour ...

Coco Safar Dinner NEW 2Indulge In Dinner and Dessert At Coco ...

And now they have added couture alcoholic cocktails to the menu at this all-day cafe

Waterworld Strand Waterpark Cape TownFree Putt-Putt Special at Waterworld ...

False Bay’s finest family fun zone is offering a complimentary game of mini golf with ...

Vergenoegd_duckrun1Cheer On The Ducks At Vergenoegd Löw

Bring the kids along to experience the Duck Parade

pepperclubPepper Club Hotel Movie and Dinner

Movies and Dinner – the perfect couple…

WeatherGiveawaysTravel Tips