If ever there was an eatery that embodies today’s young and hip Capetonian, the Woodlands Eatery comes pretty close. Between the lure of the urban boho-chic décor and the creative, affordable menu, it’s the kind of place you don’t tell your friends about in the hopes of keeping it – selfishly but quite understandably – to yourself.
Owners Larry and Sarah Steenkamp are all about the details. They’ve chosen a great location: hidden away in a quiet, green patch of Vredehoek, the bistro lies just beyond the hum of activity in the City Bowl below. Hand-picked furnishings add to the woodsy vintage look of the place: succulents and potted plants hanging along the patio walls, the red brick flooring, and the rustic communal table with mismatched chairs in pastel tones. If the exterior offers a fairy-tale-cabin-in-the-woods vibe, the interior makes you feel like you’ve stepped into Alice in Wonderland. It might be the rabbit figurine on the wooden shelf that does it, sitting next to old books, clocks, frames, and other cute knickknacks. Quirky artworks dot the walls, and from the ceiling hangs an eclectic collection of lampshades, the centrepiece covered with birds that would do any hipster proud.
The food is every bit as creative as the ambience dictates. Olive oil and balsamic vinegar arrived at our table in glass vials, the little sauce bowls atop an antique porcelain plate that I was tempted to take home. Entering the scene with a whiff of freshness was the Lime and Chilli Prawn Salad (R 90). It came lightly tossed with a sweet ginger dressing that reined in the wild greens, and the salad’s overall texture was stabilized by sizable wedges of avocado and cherry tomatoes. Instead of the usual topping-on-bread arrangement, the Roasted Artichokes and Red Pepper Bruschetta (R 45) preserved the crispiness of the toasted baguette slices by keeping them apart from the topping.
Liberal portions are part of what keeps each menu item here affordable. This was true for the abovementioned antipasti as well as for our main course. Thin crust as it may be, the Lamb Pizza (R 95) was heaped generously with shredded Tuscan style slow roasted lamb, rosemary, and cheese over homemade sauce. The crust was baked to just the right smoky finish and actually managed to hold up the heft instead of collapsing into a soggy mess.
Being of the opinion that a true burger always comes on a toasted brioche bun, the ‘Far from Classic’ Cheese Burger (R 75) passed with flying colours. It arrived as a tall, skewered tower, topped with beer-battered onion rings and served with plain roasted potatoes on the side. In a strategically layered arrangement, the richness of the blue cheese over the plump patty was offset by the sweet-tart crunch of the pickled onions and thickly sliced gherkins.
As we downed our dessert – Chocolate Fondant (R 45) with vanilla ice cream and a berry-drizzled Yoghurt Pannacotta (R 35) – we took a final glance through the menu and decided it looks deceptively simple for what the Woodlands Eatery actually offers. But that, of course, is the best part: sitting there in that carefully thought-out space enjoying each bite, you’re not burdened by the effort that went into all the details. You simply enjoy them.
The Woodlands Eatery:
Location: 2 Deerpark Dr. W, Vredehoek, Cape Town
Hours: 5pm to close Tuesday to Thursday, 12noon to close Friday to Sunday
Street parking, indoor & outdoor seating available.
Contact: 021 801 5799 or email@example.com