I’ve been a fan of chef Nic van Wyk for a long time: I watched him plan making risotto for 200 people at the Eat Out awards about six years ago; I love watching him in action as a judge on kykNET’s Kokkedoor reality cooking competition; and I’ve enjoyed his food in many locations.
At last, though, Nic has a new spot to call all his own. Bistro 13, set on the Welmoed Estate a couple of minutes off the N2 on the R310, was named after a family tradition where the kids could go to any restaurant of their choosing for their 13th birthdays.
The pared-down setting, with concrete floors, wooden tables and Nguni hides scattered about, is contemporary yet warm. And the open kitchen hatch offers diners a glimpse into the culinary goings-on.
Outside has a deck and garden area, cool in summer under leafy plane trees. The dreamweaver jungle gym and vast expanse of lawn keeps little people busy – and parents if they feel like kicking a ball around between courses!
The food on offer is seasonal, simple and expertly prepared. Nic’s famous lamb salt ribs feature in a salad with garden greens to start, while the steak tartare with quail’s egg is perfectly seasoned. A highlight on the starter menu is the freshest salad with artichoke, aubergine and peas with minted yoghurt – fresh and delicious!
Mains are hearty: think rump steak with a heavenly, sticky jus; slow-cooked lamb shoulder, shredded and served with barley; creamy mushroom risotto (did I mention I was a fan?)… The flatbreads served with sesame butter are utterly delicious, and the kids will love them too. Speaking of little ones, again, the dishes catering for them are spot on. Freshly crumbed hake, chicken and broccoli bake followed by ice cream sandwiches went down a treat!
Dessert is all about comfort, and the chocolate cake with caramel praline was mousse-like and oozingly good, while the brandy pudding had a serious kick. The star anise ice cream served with rhubarb and quince gratin was spice heaven.
Bistro 13 aims to provide quality food in a relaxed environment, and this is enhanced by knowledgable service that’s unpretentious and friendly.
At night, Nic prepares a 10-course The Naked Menu, where dishes are stripped to the essence of ingredients – and I can’t wait to go back and try it.
Where Welmoed Estate, R310 Baden Powell, Stellenbosch
Trading hours Breakfast is served Tuesday to Sunday 8–10:30 am, lunch is served Tuesday to Sunday noon – 3 pm, dinner is served Wednesday to Saturday 6:30–10 pm
Contact +27 21 881 3044, www.bistro13.co.za