Its name inspired by the gorgeous oaks that line the streets of Stellenbosch, the Oak Leaf Restaurant is in a historic hotel where you can dine on traditional South African fare.
I enjoyed a fabulous a breakfast buffet there in the dining room overlooking a shady patio of grape vines.
Lunch and dinner at the Oak Leaf is à la carte and guests can enjoy afternoon tea and coffee on patio. You can order bredies, baboties and chicken pies — South African comfort food. Bredies are South African stews of Dutch origin, often made with lamb cooked very slowly and seasoned with cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves and chili.
Bobotie is a dish of spiced ground beef — known as minced meat in South Africa -with an egg-based topping that first showed up in a Dutch cookbook in 1609 and was later adapted by the Cape Malay community, according to online sources. It’s spiced with curry powder and made with any or all beef, lamb and pork. Spices can include ginger, marjoram, lemon rind and curry powder. Traditionally, bobotie incorporates dried fruit and is often garnished with walnuts, chutney and bananas.
The Oak Leaf Restaurant is located inside the Protea Hotel Dorphuis & Spa, a historic building dating back to 1887. It first served as lodgings for farm workers. The lounge and guest rooms in this Victorian-era boutique hotel are furnished with antiques. In the evening, I found guests relaxing and enjoying drinks from the hotel’s tiny, intimate bar, Die Watergat (The Watering Hole).
The gorgeous wooden bar in Die Watergat came from a train.
Located in the heart of South Africa’s wine country, Stellenbosch restaurants are renowned for their amazing food and local wines. Local hotel restaurants have to compete with the dozens of excellent independently-run restaurants that line quaint Dorp Street and other Stellenbosch streets. People are there for the food and wine.
On any given evening in the Protea Hotel Dorphuis, you’ll find tourists relaxing after a day of exploring Cape wine land wines and spirits over more glasses of wine and spirits. It’s a happy place.
My favorite items in the Oak Leaf breakfast buffet were the fabulous beef sausage, guavas, Bulgarian yogurts, dried fruit, and seven kinds of jams and marmalades. There were plenty of breads and rolls to spread these on — too many — and not enough time. A full South African breakfast was also served.
The hot buffet included some items that are local breakfast favorites — chicken liver, chicken nuggets and sauteed mushrooms.
Service was awesome, with a constant flow of coffee served piping hot served with steamed milk.