Diners have high expectations from Rust en Vrede restaurant in Stellenbosch where there is a legacy left by some culinary trailblazers. Chef Fabio Daniel is digging deep into lessons learnt from them, and his heritage. He grew up in Brazil, “Where lots of people are talking and eating at the same time,” he says. His Italian grandparents hail from Verona, and his wife (an integral member of the Rust en Vrede wine team) from Citrusdal – you’ll see citrus, strawberries and tomatoes on the menu.
In spite of seamless white linen, dramatic red roses and romantic lighting, there is an air of playfulness. Watch Fabio and his small, smiling team deftly at work. A food and wine pairing may start with baby lamb burgers served in a gleaming copper pan before cured smoked sea bass with cauliflower, lime and fennel. Expect the unexpected – his tuna with sesame crust, wild rice and coriander boasts dynamic layers of taste and texture.
The beef fillet with Jerusalem artichoke, Madeira jelly, soy-glazed cashews and grilled asparagus is memorable, before a transition course of a cheddar mousse with nut butter, apple and sultanas. Fabio comes to the table to tell diners of a story or memory that has inspired his superlative dishes, which he starts planning with the vegetables, adds protein and then a dash of fun. Service is slick and seamless, informed and at times entertaining – like the tale behind the dessert called ‘movies and dinner’, complete with an edible movie ticket. Why, you may wonder? “Because chefs only have time for a quick movie,” claims Fabio. Popcorn, salted caramel and Coke float brought an unforgettable evening to a close. Here hospitality is genuine and generous and the wine pairings carefully considered, with wines from the award-winning estate and beyond.
“In a fine dining environment, diners must taste what they are eating, I must keep the integrity of the ingredient.” Chef Fabio Daniel
Address: Annandale Road, Stellenbosch, 7600
Phone: 021 881 3757