Traditional Cape Malay Dishes at Jonkershuis Eatery, Cape Town

Guests at the Jonkershuis Eatery enjoy casual dining, the unique flavors of Cape Malay dishes, the deep verdant green of the vineyards, glimpses of Constantiaberg Mountain, and legions of history dating back several centuries.

Address: Jonkershuis Eatery, Groot Constantia Wine Estate, Groot Constantia Rd, Constantia, Cape Town, South Africa.

Menu: The menu features unique Cape Malay dishes and other traditional African dishes. A variety of starters includes warm smoked snook pate, local mussels, and beef samosas. The starters called “On A Board” offer both a charcuterie and a fromage board.

There is also a selection of salads and fresh pastas. Entrees range from roasted chicken breast, battered hake fillet, pork belly, steak, and kudu fillet. Also served is a dish titled “Estate Tasting Plate” which consists of Cape Malay curry, baked bobotie, and samosas.

A wide selection of desserts includes traditional Malva Pudding and cinnamon milk tart.

All wines are local to the Estate. Jonkershuis also “supports organic, free-range & sustainable practices”.

Thoughts: Jonkershuis Eatery is located in the beautiful setting of the Groot Constantia Wine Estate. There are several distinct dining areas which you may choose to your liking: private areas such the “fireplace dining” if you are looking for a quiet intimate setting, to the covered courtyard which is often filled to capacity and with a “spark of joy” permeating the air, to the “family-style” on the front lawn where children are invited to play among the ancient stately oak trees.

As soon as we sat down in the vine covered courtyard, our hosts welcomed us with an chilled bottle of Groot Constantia Brut Rose. On this pleasant 85 F November day, it was a welcome respite. Enjoying the refreshing bubbly, we made our selections.

Lunch began with two “On A Board” offerings. The Charcuterie includes three salamis: ostrich, beef bresaola, and dry aged coppa. Side accompaniments were pickles and house preserves. Since ostrich is a milder meat, it was especially complimented by the tangy house preserves.

My favorite was the beef bresaola: dry, salted beef aged for a minimum of two months. It turns to a dark reddish-purplish color, has a medium bite to it, and is served sliced paper thin at room temperature.

The mild flavors of the fromage board complimented the spiciness of the charcuterie. Two of the cheeses included rich, smooth camembert, and mild boering Kass. The latter is a local farmers cheese with a mild flavor – similar to a creamy Dutch cheese. The board was accompanied by “lavash” – a brown dried flatbread, petit baguette, and house preserves.

Our main entree was a sampling of the Cape Malay curry dishes renowned for their fruity, mild flavors. Cape Malay Curry combines the sweet flavors of dried fruit, cinnamon, fresh coriander, and ginger with savory flavors of onions, garlic. This term “Cape Malay” refers to the cooking styles of the slaves from Indonesia and India who, in the 1700s, were brought to Cape Town to work the farms and vineyards.

Three curries are featured: lamb, chicken, and vegetable/chickpea. All are accompanied by basmati rice, fresh coriander, and quick-fried poppadom. Poppadom is a flatbread of Indian origination. Cape Malay Curry and Baked Bobotie are the most popular dishes served. “These are the dishes the locals eat at home”, stated the assistant manager. “About 60% of our guests are locals,” she further described.

Jonkershuis is particularly proud of its staff. All start at the bottom as servers. Training is on the job. Currently, there are two female head chefs: Althea who specializes in Cape Malay dishes and Michelle whose forte is original desserts.

Price Range: South African currency is the Rand. I have converted to US dollars. Starters range from $5-8. “On the Board” is $10 for the fromage and $13 for charcuterie. Entrees begin at $10 for the hake fillet to $18 for ribeye. The seared kudu fillet is $16 as is the Estate Tasting Plate. Curry dishes range from $10-15. Desserts run $4-7.

Disclosure: My companion and I were provided lunch at Jonkershuis Eatery.

Jo-Anne Bowen

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