Good to Gather (Stellenbosch)

This is an undiscovered gem on the Rozendal farm that makes you feel like you cracked an invite to an exclusive function tucked away in the farmlands.

Run by husband and wife team Luke and Jessica, Good to Gather opened in November 2020, just as Covid restrictions were starting to ease. Jessica creates the menu from fresh seasonal produce, largely from the farm, and some items sourced from local farms and suppliers. They only operate three days a week – Friday dinner and Saturday and Sunday lunch, and they’ve added more days during the holiday season this year.

We were greeted by friendly staff who looked after us flawlessly during the day. You can expect the food to start flowing shortly after your drinks are served. We told the waitress we were ready to order and she smiled politely at us and said the food was already on its way.

Starters was a a selection of breads and dips, accompanied by a salad of heirloom tomatoes, ricotta and Burrata in a red wine vinegar dressing from the farm. It’s a simple sounding starter but everything was so delicious and every ingredient and component was chosen by someone who has an exceptionally high standard when it comes to quality of food. I loved the fresh breads from one of the bakeries in the area, and the smoked baba ganoush was the star of the show.

This was followed by the main course – whole roast beef tenderloin in a sauce that was to die for – the beef was tender, cooked perfectly medium with a beautifully rich dark colour on the outside, and for those who preferred well-done, the end cuts worked out perfectly. Veggies were hassleback butternut done with a coriander dressing, green beans in a red wine vinegar dressing, and cucumber in a creme fraiche dressing. Everything is served family style, so you dish up from the serving platters in the middle of the table. It was one of the finest beef dishes I’ve had for a long while.

The one choice you do get is for dessert. Annie and I chose the panna cotta which was absolutely beautiful. Cliff and Michelle chose the Black Forest inspired dessert which was also sublime.

The wine list is small but consists of a decent selection of wines you don’t get on every menu, so we chose some wines we’ve never had before. We had a bottle of the Waterford Shiraz Rosé, and when that evaporated in the heat of the day, we chose the La Brune The Valley Chardonnay 2021, both of which were fantastic wines.

There’s only one menu for the day, no variations. You do get one choice when it comes to dessert. If you have dietary restrictions, mention that when you book, otherwise you’re going to have to take your chances with the day’s menu.

We left there feeling just the right amount of full without that feeling of food verdriet you get when the chef doesn’t understand that you don’t have a stop button and you shouldn’t order for yourself because everything looks so irresistible and you just can’t say no. The portion sizes are just right.

Seating is on the terrace under the shade of sprawling trees, so even in 28 degree sweltering heat with not a hint of a breeze and the inevitable LoadShedding, it wasn’t uncomfortable being outside. There’s was no fussing with concrete umbrella bases, or one person’s shoulder burning because they ended up in the sun. The shade of the trees made the terrace very pleasantly cool. If the weather turns, they serve inside the vinegar tasting room.

A little note of interest – Rozendal used to be a wine farm, but somewhere along the way, the winemaker made what they call a fortunate mistake when the wine oxidized and they made it into vinegar. Now you can see the barrels from the tasting room, and if you ask Jessica, she’ll give you the whole history of how the farm started making vinegar, and how the vinegar making process works. I tried to buy a red wine vinegar mother for my own fermenting cupboard, but the mother lives in the barrels so that was a no.

There’s a small shop inside where you can buy fresh produce grown on the farm, preserves and of course, red wine vinegar.

Jessica runs the kitchen while Luke runs the front of house. He’ll give you a very eloquent description of each dish that will make your mouth water just listening. Jessica spent 8 years as head chef at The Table at De Meye before opening Good to Gather.

I thought today was such a refreshing change to the usual restaurant offering. It’s Mediterranean inspired, and for a few hours, you’re transported to the hills of Tuscany, sitting on the terrace, being served like you’re part of the family from dishes that look like they come from mama’s kitchen, except this kitchen is a few notches above your average mama’s.

The 3 course menu costs R450pp, and there’s very limited seating so booking ahead is essential. When you do book, tell Luke that you saw my review. You won’t get anything out of it, he’ll just know that you saw my review.

I think this is a brilliant little undiscovered gem. Put it on your destination dining list.

Links: (@goodtogather on Instagram)

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