Restaurant review: The Bakery at Jordan
By Daisy Jones, 20 November 2018
People don’t visit wine farms just to taste wines.
One of the most popular wine farm offerings in the Cape – for tourists and locals alike – is a casual, al fresco lunch-with-a-view.
A non-gourmet wine farm lunch is affordable, family-friendly — and spectacular. But what’s the ideal food offering? The Bakery at Jordan Estate comes very close to getting it right.
Wine and bread: it’s a match made in heaven. The chewy-crusty comforting yeastiness of fresh bread sits so well with a lunchtime glass of wine – red or white. The Bakery bread is superb. The cheese and charcuterie platters – served all day – come with slices of Cape seed loaf, ciabatta and sour dough. All the loaves are baked daily on the premises, in a wood-fired oven. The texture of the sour dough is exceptional: the bread is dense but elastic and the crust is crisp, not hard.
The local cheeses on the Bakery platter are well-chosen. The boerenkaas and creamy blue are showstoppers, but the Stanford (a mature hard cheese) and the brie are excellent too.
The fruit pickles served alongside the breads and cheeses are a triumph. The beetroot and apple chutney is reminiscent of a ploughman’s pickle, with strong, fruity-sweet and vinegar-sour flavours. The cumin and coriander add a taste of the Cape. But it’s the care in the cooking of the pickle that is astounding. The sweetness is provided by caramelized onions, very slowly cooked. The beetroot cubes are tender and the perfect size.
The pear and onion chutney? Even better. That’s in spite of this being a less familiar taste and texture for a pickle. Cooked pear will always feel like pudding in the mouth – and there are raisins here too. But the silkiness of the caramelized onion and the sharpness of the pickling vinegar are confident. The sensation is of eating a prize-winning fete pickle by a no-nonsense farm cook.
This is glorious: sitting on a terrace under a huge tree looking across a dam to the Hottentots Holland mountains. Daily life may disappoint us, but here is consolation. The pleasure of drinking a glass of estate wine and munching one’s way through a cheese platter is profound.
What I don’t understand is this: why have ramen on the menu? Or a vegan bowl? Why not serve simple meals that go well with wine?
The Bakery at Jordan is famous for its biltong flammkuchen. It’s like a pizza, except the base is studded with spring onion and chives and the base is spread with crème fraiche instead of tomato sauce and mozzarella. It’s a good-looking and intelligent dish but I found it too light. The crust was floury and brittle. On a wine farm, why not have a focaccia glistening with local olive oil? The oil would go so much better with wine.
Similarly, the vegan bowl was at once too bland and too sharp. It added nothing to the wine-drinking experience. The ramen broth was so aggressively hot no wine could stand up to it.
The Prospector Burger is a handsome son-of-a-gun. I have rarely seen such a thick patty. In its brioche bun, the burger stands six foot tall and the triple-fried chips are wonderful: thick and crispy, served upright. This is another dish in which The Bakery hits its mark. The Prospector would be delicious with Jordan’s flagship syrah, after which the burger is named.
The Bakery’s breads and pastries are worthy of sharing a tasting-and-eating strip with Jordan Restaurant. Jordan’s chef, George Jardine, has a particular interest in baking – some will remember Jardine Bakery in the CBD, opened alongside Jardine’s fine dining restaurant in Bree Street. For a time, Jardine was head of the bakery at Jordan. It is now independently run, but one senses his touch in the lemon tart, for instance.
The Bakery’s lemon tart, like its cheese platter, is the right taste at the right time. To end a palate-stimulating meal, one requires a strong coffee and an electric dessert.
The lemon tart filling is extra oozy and the crust is extra crisp. Texturally, it’s masterful. The flavour of the filling is not too lemony, not too eggy and not too sugary. Instead, there is a marriage of flavours that simultaneously offers zinginess, comfort and luxury.
The coffee could be better. Again, if the menu’s premise was “what goes with wine?” one answer would be: “an excellent coffee”.
The service at Jordan Bakery could also be better. It is friendly and sincere, but lacking in focus.
The limited wine list is dominated by Jordan wines, as is fitting. The craft beer Den Anker Brew is available, as is a small selection of craft ciders and sparkling wines.
The Bakery at Jordan: Stellenbosch Kloof Road, Vlottenburg, Stellenbosch; (021) 881-3004; email@example.com;
- Daisy Jones has been writing reviews of Cape Town restaurants for ten years. She won The Sunday Times Cookbook of the Year for Starfish in 2014. She was shortlisted for the same prize in 2015 for Real Food, Healthy, Happy Children. Daisy has been a professional writer since 1995, when she started work at The Star newspaper as a court reporter. She is currently completing a novel.