The Bistro at Brookdale – A Must-visit Paarl Gem

Words: Julie Velosa

When you think of the Cape Winelands, it’s natural for your thoughts to immediately go to Stellenbosch or Franschhoek – these areas are well-known and heavily frequented. Paarl is possibly less acclaimed in comparison to its neighbours but perhaps therein lies its charm. Paarl is derived from the Dutch word for ‘pearl’, and much like its namesake treasure, it is both beautiful and captivating once you get up close to admire it. With stunning valleys framed by the Klein Drakenstein mountains and gems like Brookdale Estate and its recently opened bistro, Paarl looks set to give neighbouring wine routes a run for their money.

New to Brookdale Estate

We visited Brookdale Estate in April 2022 and were in awe of its stunning positioning and the careful and considered development of the space by its owners, the Rudd family. With hospitality expert, Yvonne Coetzee, as GM and her husband Gary heading up the kitchen, an onsite restaurant was next on the cards.In February 2023 this dream was realised with the opening of The Bistro at Brookdale, in its own purpose-built space that overlooks the vineyards.

The building sits seamlessly on a hillside, almost as if it grew right out of the ground.

The tasting room is to one side of the space and the restaurant spills out onto a deck that takes in the breathtaking surroundings.

Light wood tones with touches of green bring the outdoors in; a feature wall of foliage-inspired wallpaper continues the exchange of nature, along with potted plants that make the space feel alive and lush.The Bistro at Brookdale. interiorThe cellar is also a part of this new structure; here the last grapes from the recent harvest have been pressed and the wine lays in barrels and tanks, with great plans afoot from winemaker, Kiara Scott-Farmer.


The Bistro at Brookdale Menu

The seasonal menu, designed by Executive Chef Gary Coetzee and his team, showcases local produce and champions in-season ingredients.

Brookdale-Chef-Gary-CoetzeeI pored over the menu for quite some time, with many options holding lots of appeal. My go-to is always to select things that I don’t cook for myself; I also wanted something light and not-carb heavy, so the prawn starter and duck main were clear choices.

Confident Cooking

What I loved about the prawn starter was the cleanliness of both the plating and the cooking. This may sound like an odd term to describe a plate of food, however, it’s an apt description and it’s what made the dish so unique.

The dish of Steamed Prawns, Prawn Lollipop, Avocado, Lettuce & Harissa Aioli was presented as exactly that. It’s a brave choice to offer steamed prawns – there is literally nowhere to hide, they have to be perfect. Sure, a panko-crumbed, deep-fried version would be a much easier sell in terms of flavour, but it’s a confident chef that puts a steamed prawn on a plate. The harissa aioli and avocado added creaminess and luxury to the dish, and overall I loved both how it looked and how it ate.

Other diners at the table ordered dishes that I had my eye on and the char-grilled baby gem lettuce salad, beetroot pavé and duck liver paté all looked equally amazing.Brookdale-EstateMy duck main was fall-off-the-bone tender; confited to a succulent finish with a deliciously reduced ginger gastrique and pak choi. Again, simple to the eye but not simple to execute. I enjoyed every morsel.

Wine-ding Down Lunch

We sampled a number of Brookdale’s wines with lunch but a real stand out for me was the Mason Road Rosé – a deliciously juicy yet dry Rosé that is ideal for all year-round enjoyment.

Our server’s recommendation for dessert was the coconut panna cotta with mango gel and passionfruit sorbet. The panna cotta itself was silky smooth and the sorbet added a delicious fruity tang to the dish.

If you don’t have a sweet tooth, then the cheeseboard, which features the acclaimed Belnori Ash Log,  is an excellent way to end a meal – especially with a glass of Mason Road GSM.

Chef Gary sat down with us as our meal ended with a final treat of a plate of incredible burrata and jamón, procured from a special contact. You won’t find these on the menu just yet, however they are possibly going to be featured as the menu will change as the season does. Thoroughly full and sated is exactly how you want to feel when you finish a meal like this and we most certainly did.

Visit The Bistro at Brookdale

Paarl’s winemaking history runs long and deep, with many well-established and respected names to be found in the valley, however, it is exciting to see new names taking root. Brookdale Estate, with the addition of The Bistro, is a real gem; the property is no doubt going to go some way to affirming Paarl’s positioning as a wine, culinary and travel destination that should not be missed.

The Bistro at Brookdale is open for lunch from Tuesdays to Sundays, and dinner on Friday & Saturday evenings. The Tasting Room is open daily from 11:00 to 17:00 (closed on Mondays). To book please call +27 087 183 3919 or email.

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