The Western Cape boasts many beautiful destinations so it could be difficult to imagine a completely brand new and unexpected addition. Nevertheless, here we are with Bosjes Estate, that is putting Slanghoek Valley on the map.
As you turn off the R43 direction Ceres and turn into the gravel road approaching the farm, you will find yourself surrounded by the inspiring Slanghoek and Waaihoek mountain ranges. And then, like a mirage, you will see the strikingly modern white curves of the roof of the glass-walled Bosjes chapel.
Bosjes, meaning ‘small bushes’ in Dutch is the new name given to the old Bosjesman’s Valley Farm, which produces wine grapes, olives, peaches and proteas just over anhour’s drive from Cape Town.
Bosjes is officially open to guests who can enjoy the impressive landscape as well as the historical architecture and the modern additions that complement them so well. The avant-garde chapel which appears to rest lightly on the body of water before it.
The chapel was designed by Coetzee Steyn from Steyn Studio, and is a complementary contrast to the old manor house next to it. The restaurant boasts high ceilings, glass walls, a wooden terrace, mountain views and a delightfully whimsical historical and nature inspired blue and white tiled mural of the Bosjes Tree of Life created by Lucie de Moyencourt and Michael Chandler.
Consultant chef Pete Goffe-Wood has designed a contemporary rustic lunch menu and diners will love the robust flavours that have become the signature of Chef Pete. There is also a children’s playground designed by Leanie van den Vyver, within viewing distance of the restaurant and while itis perfect for play itis also a playful artwork, complete with electric blue Klipspringertjies dotted around.
This early autumn sees the opening of the 18th-century, Cape Dutch manor house which has become the historical, architectural counterpart to the modern lines of Bosjes Chapel. It’ s a quintessential country kitchen with a simple, modern menu of produce-driven fare to enjoy with a glass of locally produced wine or a freshly squeezed juice.
With exposed trusses, the warmth of timber and brass and skylights revealing deep-blue skies etched above mountain peaks, the new restaurant is understated, perfectly in keeping with its rural surroundings. Complementary, contemporary interiors were created by Liam Mooney, who also decorated the guesthouse. Custom-made timber furniture, Lee Broom-designed chandeliers and mature trees in enormous pots bring the outdoors in.
The overall effect enhances rather than competes with the magnificent views. Tables spill outdoors onto a terrace with gunshot mountain views, and a whimsical tree mural by artists Michael Chandler and Lucie de Moyencourt fashioned from 366 blue-and-white hand-painted tiles inspired by shards of porcelain dug up on the farm. There are over 100 species of fauna and flora depicted in the masterpiece, which is Bosjes' very own ‘Tree of Life’.
Well-known South African celebrity chef Pete Goffe-Wood has brought his fuss-free approach to menus and considerable hands-on experience and expertise to Bosjes Kombuis. As the consultant chef for this exciting new venue, Pete’s brief was to create the feel and ambience of a rustic, farmhouse kitchen, or ‘kombuis’. “It’s as close to home cooking as you can get, but considerably more refined,” he explains.
The opening menu features an easy, familiar line-up of old favourites with a local twist, such as fresh salmon trout fishcakes served with an avocado salad and homemade lemon mayo; a generous grass-fed beef burger, topped with camembert, caramelised onions, and bacon; or lamb cutlets with jewel-bright tabouleh salad and fresh cucumber raita. “You won’t find any fussy plating here - no smears, nipples or foams - just honest, artisanal food prepared with heart,” adds Pete.
Day to day, Bosjes Kombuis is in the capable hands of executive chef Kim Cox, who has accrued valuable experience setting up and working in kitchens on farms, most notably Eight Restaurant at Spier and the Deli at Boschendal. She also opened the former Bacon Bar at Le Quartier Francais.
“The relaxed, inviting setting lends itself to delicious, seasonal, modern, comfort food,” explains Kim, who is obsessed with locally sourced ingredients that ring true to her philosophy of supporting ethical farming, pasture-reared animals, naturally or organically grown vegetables, and SASSI green-listed seafood.
Kim’s silky smooth ice creams, in flavours like chocolate brownie, vanilla and coffee, are so irresistible that guests may find themselves driving back out to the farm just for a second taste. Other tempting desserts include almond pannacotta with poached pear and shortbread, and old-fashioned malva pudding with vanilla ice cream.
A kids menu features a simple, grab-and-go choice of fries with homemade cheese burgers, fish goujons or BBQ chicken drumsticks, followed by homemade ice cream cones, thanks to the distraction of a fantastic children’s playground, designed by Leanie van den Vyver, complete with electric-blue ‘klipspringer’ buck statues.
For weddings and special functions, Kim envisages generous, harvest table-inspired menus with plenty of homemade breads, salads, rustic terrines, roasted vegetables, whole beef fillet cooked over coals, and roasted, marinated shoulder of lamb.
“I admire what the owners want to achieve in this forgotten corner of the Breede River Valley,” concludes Pete. “There’s no ego involved. It’s simply a family who wants to provide a platform to showcase the best of the valley, from its people to its produce.’ Best of all, the spin-off is that funds generated from the restaurant, tea garden and guesthouse will flow into the BOSJES Trust to invest in worthwhile community upliftment projects.
Bosjes Kombuis opens mid-March 2017 for lunch only, from Wednesdays through to Sundays.
Reservations and functions: +27 23 004 0496 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .