There’s an apocryphal story about a neighbour who wasn’t too happy with his new German neighbours on the Wortelgat Road outside Stanford. But the German neighbours invited him nonetheless when they opened their new restaurant… and he accepted.
During the long lunch at Springfontein Eats, he had a phone call from his daughter, concerned about the rising level of the Klein River which passed right in front of his home. He told her he couldn’t worry about it now, he was enjoying the meal too much.
His daughter called again half an hour later to say that the water was at the door. Again, he said the meal was too good to leave. Her next call was to let him know that the water was up to knee height in the house. He told her not to worry, the house was insured and the meal was truly exceptional.
Yes, Springfontein Eats is that good. And although it opened five years ago, it’s still producing some of the most memorable gastronomic experiences you’ll get anywhere.
But Stanford has many exceptional dining experiences, which makes it one of the more popular villages in the Western Cape. Many were saddened when the legendary Mariana retired and sold her restaurant. Her restaurant? My 2013 interview puts it in perspective — Peter is… my saving grace…
A hub of Overberg Hospitality
Newcomers have been raising the bar. The first place I ever stayed at in Stanford was Stanford Valley Guest Farm, when it was still owned by Peter and Maureen Wolters. I stayed there again in 2012 after it had been bought, and enlarged, by a consortium. I was surprised two years ago when Rob Lundie, former CEO of Boschendal Estate, came back from an Overberg trip and said he’d had one of the best meals ever at Stanford Valley’s The Manor House restaurant.
A drive-by visit demonstrated why Rob had been so impressed, and a subsequent meeting with Elsabe and Reinder Nauta, the new owners, cemented the experience.
Elsabe grew up on one of the neighbouring farms… and learnt to dance on the Manor House’s deep stoep. Traditional Overberg hospitality is deeply ingrained into her psyche and it is this that is at the core of Stanford Valley’s offerings. You feel as though you’re being welcomed into a private home as a special friend. She wants this to be “the hub of hospitality in the Overberg.”
Stanford Valley has received award after award — for the best getaway, for its restaurant and its conferencing.
Another local to come back to the village is Madre Malan of Madre’s Kitchen and The Eatery, who has just opened MADRE at Owl Barn where Marianas used to be.
Very popular among locals and in touch with what they want, Madre’s new venture is bound to be a great success.
Fresh, seasonal country cooking and the most wonderful garden setting is what you’ll find there.
One of the most spectacular places to stay is still MOSAIC Lagoon Lodge on Wortelgat Road. It is a place for a special treat. Also on MOSAIC is the historic Spookhuis — I never tire of visiting there; it’s the most surprising destination!
Stanford Hills Estate is also also just getting better and better, but you can about that at The social hub of Stanford.
Stanford does have surprising shops if you;re looking for retail therapy and although its trading hours are short and focused on weekends, don’t miss TAT in Queen Victoria Street for breathtaking interiors.
I was really impressed by an Urban landscape Design Plan prepared just after my last visit to Stanford.
Stanford’s main shop, the Spar, burnt down earlier this year and one can only hope that the new building will address the opportunities the plan identified, and be the catalyst for the plan to be implemented.
It will leapfrog Stanford into a new era and make it the envy of small towns everywhere. Now… if only Stanford’s best-kept secret could be drawn into the village’s marketing strategy — the Klein River which many visitors don’t even know exists!