Stanford is a hidden gem. The streets are tree lined and shady. Pretty houses, surrounded by lawns and flower beds, run down to the Bot River.
On a side street you’ll find an unassuming little cottage named Owl’s Barn, and it’s in here that Mariana Esterhuizen and her pony tailed husband Peter run a kitchen and restaurant with such charm and efficiency that you’ll wonder why you haven’t visited before, or haven’t been back for a while.
Feeling jaded from the impersonal nature of some Capetonian restaurants it’s a pleasure to meet restaurateurs who take such a genuine interest in their guests.
Mariana describes her food as “Cape Overberg, with a Mediterranean twist”.
All the fruit and vegetables come from their own garden, and the meat, poultry and fish are sourced locally. If I had chosen artichoke yesterday it would have been cut 5 minutes beforehand in the garden.
I would describe the food as freshly home cooked, simple and delicious, using locally sourced ingredients, with little twists and hints of taste and flavour that surprise and delight.
Gruyere Tart, Sprinkbok Pie, Chicken Pie, Lamb Stew, Fish Curries are dishes that have locals and day trippers returning again and again.
I loved my Gruyere Tart, followed by Duck Confit and finished off with Doodskoot – a theatrical concoction devised by Paul which combines a shot of grappa, a shot of espresso , and vanilla ice cream, accompanied by almond biscotti.
The interior of Mariana’s is pared back minimalist design; bare floorboards, white walls, wooden tables and chairs, set off by the occasional bleached wooden artifact or artwork by Stephen Inggs.
You overlook the vegetable garden and it’s quite a tranquil experience to wander out between courses and explore all the fruit and vegetables growing there.
Well worth a memorable visit. Book well in advance.
Mariana’s at Owl’s Barn.
12 du Toit Street
028 341 0272