Bonthuys rises again
After leaving Tokara in the middle of 2010, outgoing chef Etienne Bonthuys was soon rumoured to be opening a new restaurant in Stellenbosch. Bonthuys was one of the Cape’s first “celebrity” chefs with Rosenfontein in the late 1970s, he then went on to cook at Buitenverwachting and Floris Smit Huis and later opened Tokara after another short spell at Cape Town’s eponymous Bonthuys. Casparus is the name of his new venture, a wonderfully creative space designed by partner-owner, the famed landscape artist Strijdom van der Merwe. Certainly Stellenbosch’s most fascinating post-modern space: it’s an old town house transformed into an “unfinished” restaurant/art gallery with elongated naked wood beams jutting from the ceiling, huge irregularly-shaped “warehouse” iron doors and sliding panels that hide the kitchen, these featuring pictures of Van der Merwe’s landscape art. The outside comes in as there are no formal walls onto the garden and one sits at mixed old-fashioned and modern tables. Service is good and the menu features bistro options like steak and chips alongside his designer (and signature) meat and seafood combinations, rich sauces and predilection for Asian flavours. Quality varies, and the plates are sometimes violently colourful, making this an option for the more adventurous diner. Good value with many mains under R100 and a similarly well-priced wine list.