With Executive Chef Allistaire Lawrence behind the pass, The Werf Restaurant at Boschendal is greeting the ‘new normal’ of 2021 with an all-new approach to its acclaimed soil-to-fork cuisine, embracing the global trend of sharing plates to showcase the remarkable organic produce of this storied Cape farm.
Recognising the need for a more accessible, less formal, dining experience, Allistaire has evolved The Werf’s multi-course fine-dining offering into a relaxed ‘small plate’ experience, tapping into a wellspring of desire for family, food and reconnection.
“Over the last year we’ve lost that communal sense of sharing, of coming together over food, and I hope the new menu at The Werf can help people rediscover the joy in sharing a meal together,” says Allistaire, who trained at the respected Institute of Culinary Arts in Stellenbosch, before a career spanning some of South Africa’s most respected hotels and restaurants. Allistaire joined Boschendal in 2016, and was promoted to Executive Chef just three years later, building on the foundation laid by respected chef and sustainability advocate Christiaan Campbell.
Since then, Allistaire has worked tirelessly to develop the soil-to-fork philosophy that defines the culinary experiences across the Boschendal estate. Alongside The Werf, Allistaire oversees The Deli and Boschendal’s popular picnic offering. He also looks after the on-site butchery and bakery, as well as the estate’s ‘Food Lab’ that produces the fresh and frozen ‘to-go’ items in the Farm Shop, as well as the fresh sauces and condiments used across the estate.
It’s a complex operation, but one that the laid-back Allistaire takes in his stride: “In everything we do we’re focused on keeping with the Boschendal way of thinking, of that soil-to-fork philosophy built on sustainability and freshness.
”When it comes to the sharing plates at The Werf Restaurant, “the focus is on produce, always the produce,” adds Allistaire. “There are no gimmicks, no smoke and mirrors. My style of cooking is all about simplicity, and allowing the product to shine. I don’t like taking an ingredient and making it taste like something else. If the product is inferior, no amount of cooking or saucing will change that.”
Happily, Allistaire has an enviable choice of farm-fresh produce to work with, from dry-aged cuts of pasture-raised Angus beef to Duroc pork from the pigs that forage in the estate forests. Pasture-reared chickens supply a steady stream of fresh eggs, while the expansive Food Garden – an impressive backdrop to the restaurant terrace – provides the kitchens with a cornucopia of fresh fruit, herbs and vegetables throughout the year.
On Allistaire’s concise sharing menu each ingredient is given the chance to shine. Slivers of aged Angus sirloin arrive perfectly cooked, plated with tender baby onions and silky beef jus. Light potato gnocchi is the perfect partner to garden-fresh cauliflower, while the rich meatiness of a free range pork terrine is neatly balanced by piquant apple and kohlrabi salad. Alongside the sharing plates, a selection of value-driven side dishes includes a memorable Caesar salad with Allistaire’s delicious soutvis dressing, and a flavour-packed salad of seasonal tomatoes and herbs.
Allistaire is also a passionate supporter of the South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI), and is committed to only serving sustainable ‘green-listed’ seafood on the menu. Farmed mussels from Saldanha Bay pair perfectly with Boschendal’s award-winning Chardonnay, and in summer look forward to fresh yellowtail ceviche plated with Werf Garden kimchi and crispy sago.
The menu changes every two weeks, reflecting what is at its peak in the gardens and fresh across the farm, whether it’s juicy stone fruit from the extensive Boschendal orchards or sun-ripened tomatoes from the garden.
Guests can also admire the Food Garden from the restaurant, an eye-catching space of organic textures and Scandi-chic wooden furniture, of living walls and stacking glass doors that bathe the restaurant in natural light and fresh air. On fine summer days, terrace tables offer unforgettable al fresco dining with views to the distant Drakenstein Mountains.
In concert with Allistaire’s relaxed approach on the menu, the dining experience offers welcome flexibility on the restaurant floor. The Werf restaurant is set alongside the Boschendal cellar door tasting room, and guests can mix and match the two experiences. Book a table in the restaurant and request a wine tasting over five or six sharing plates, or settle in beneath the oaks for a casual wine tasting accompanied by a plate or two off the menu. Alongside the wine tasting, an extensive range of Boschendal wines is available by the glass, and bottle, with wait-staff on hand to recommend wine pairings for each dish.
That flexibility, and the new approach to The Werf Restaurant menu, is aimed squarely at encouraging locals and winelands visitors to reconnect with friends and family over fine food. Sharing plates are priced between R95 – R125, ensuring that The Werf Restaurant offers exceptional value for locals.
During the current pandemic era, The Werf Restaurant is open Monday through to Sunday from Noon until 17h00 with last orders at 15h30. For booking enquiries call (27) (21) 870 4274 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.