Meraki (Stellenbosch)

My wife and I spent last weekend in Stellies at an exclusive pre-opening of a new restaurant. When you go 5-star celebrity chef idol worshipping, you still have to have the other two meals a day, and if you know anything about me, you know I’m fussy as all hell when it comes to choosing the right place (not necessarily always the best place but the right place) to eat. Me and calories are sworn enemies, so I get one chance to have a good meal a day, and I regret wasted opportunity more than Springbok Rugby fans on a bad day, of which we’ve had our fair share recently. So looking for a place to have an early lunch in Stellies ahead of a stellar fine dining dinner had a very strict brief – great vibe, great food but not so filling that we couldn’t fit in dinner. Being closer to the ground than most means that a snack for most people is an overeating guilt ridden overindulgence for me. Restaurant portions should come in S, M and L, but that’s just me.

Anyway, we stumbled upon Meraki after circling the block and the blocks in the immediate vicinity several times on foot without wasting too much daylight. You have to time it perfectly, you know. At some point you have to forego hoping to choose the perfect place and just choose a place that will get you in and out on time.

Meraki has a vibe from early morning to late, it’s got attentive staff, and great food. I had the salmon trout & mash which was perfect and delicious. My wife had the tomato & basil soup with a cheese toastie. The only negative was that unlike the Mugg, Stellies cuisine default dictates that the lovely, crispy toastie is served as an island inside the soup. Note to self – remember to ask for it on the side. Other than a misaligned expectation of defaults, the meal was delicious. I had a glass of the house Chardonnay which, unforgivably, I can’t remember the name of, but it was a perfect pairing.

They have all these delicious tempting treats in the window – lemon merangue pie, apple pie, a chocolate something and pecan pie, plus HUGE cakes in glass closhes – all looked delicious but between me, the calorie monster and the gods of limited space, the dessert decision was overruled.

We went back again for brunch the next day, and I had the Banana Bread French Toast (pictured with the purple flowers) which, although being delightfully presented and yummy, should come with a couple of warnings – it’s only French toast on the edges, there’s a lot of banana bread inbetween the edges, and the portion size is designed for a human with a much bigger tank. I was stuffed after the first third and there were still two more sizes left pieces on the plate. It’s sweet, decadent and delicious, but if it’s the French toast flavour you’re after rather order the traditional one. I’d call this a dessert (not a breakfast) to be enjoyed with coffee and divided between 6 people of any vertical magnitude.

I hope this review isn’t misread – I really love Meraki, and I’ll definitely be back for more next time I’m in Stellies. There were just these two mismatches of expectation in some of the dishes we ordered. The food is definitely worth going back for, and the place is constantly buzzing and offers a great vibe.

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