Bistro Sixteen82 sets new standards for casual restaurants

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Bistro Sixteen82 at Steenberg Vineyards has set a new benchmark for sophisticated, informal dining in Cape Town. In one new building that houses the Steenberg winery, a wine tasting bar and tasting lounge, it offers a multi-sensory food and wine destination.

Named Bistro Sixteen82 after the year in which Steenberg was first established (1682), the 70-seater daytime cellar-door bistro has a view over the Steenberg Estate and the Constantia Valley. Modern and sophisticated, it exudes a somewhat industrial feel, with open-plan flow, high ceilings and earthy textures.

Amidst the vineyards on the lower slopes of the mountain which forms part of the backbone of the Cape Peninsula, Bistro Sixteen82 has quickly become a popular venue. When Hotel & Restaurant visited this week, the restaurant was full and there were plenty of guests in the wine tasting areas and enjoying the view.

John Loubser, cellar master and general manager of Steenberg Vineyards, says booking is essential for lunch. With Steenberg also being a golfing and residential estate, it was clear from a glance around the bistro that it's a hit with people who live in area and the rich and famous.

Bistro Sixteen82 complements Steenberg's fine-dining restaurant Catharina's, where executive chef Garth Almazan has established a reputation for excellence over the past few years.

In the same modern building that houses Steenberg's grape processing, wine-making and maturation facilities, Bistro Sixteen82 chef Brad Ball offers classic bistro fare. With simple tasty food on tables with white linen, Ball's interpretation of modern bistro food, incorporating elements of rustic Provencal food, has set new standards for casual restaurants.

The restaurant is open daily for breakfast (09:00 - 11:30) and lunch (12:00 - 16:00). Snack platters are available throughout the day from the Raw Food Bar, and a Tapas menu of small tasting portions of select dishes can be enjoyed in the late-afternoon and in the early evening till 19:30. Ample secure parking is offered to diners.

Designed by architects Richard Perfect and Jan Desseyn, the exterior of the building gives few clues as to what can be found inside and how it links to the wine estate and the landscape. As a focal point in the heart of the central space, is a massive grape sculpture suspended above the wine tasting bar.

The terraced dining area leads to reflection pools, water features, gardens and a labyrinth.

According to Loubser, one of the main motivations for establishing Bistro Sixteen82 was to create a specialist cellar door restaurant and wine tasting facility, where Steenberg's wines could be paired and showcased together with Ball's two-page menu.

"Too often wine producers offer perfunctory wine tastings, overlooking the synergy of wine and food in a gathering of people enjoying the simple act of eating, drinking and talking together. Under the visionary guidance of the owner, Graham Beck, Steenberg, as a producer of fine wine, has taken the exciting step of offering an emporium of wine tasting, sharing of wine knowledge, visual and tactile experiences and a feast of food - a one-stop haven for the ardent hedonist!"

Now regarded as a bistro dining specialist, Brad Ball (35) was raised in the Constantia Valley and previously worked at the trendy Olympia Caf and Deli in Kalk Bay, the River Caf in Constantia and London's Kensington Place.

Says Ball: "My vision is to establish Bistro Sixteen82 as the forerunner for sophisticated, informal dining in Cape Town. We at Steenberg Vineyards have created a space that lends itself to extraordinarily pleasing easy dining, in a setting that is hard to beat.

"As a team we are creating an ever-changing menu with exciting flavour combinations and only the freshest ingredients. We will also push the envelope every so often, with daring new dishes, artfully combining different tastes, to keep the palate challenged and refreshed", he adds.

His vision is echoed by his hand-selected team including head chef Brendon November and front of house manager Jrgen Welp. Having completed courses by food and wine pairing expert Katinka van Niekerk, and professional service and communication trainer Linda D'Holt Hackner, the team at Bistro Sixteen82 is intent on providing world-class service.

Ball has created seasonal breakfast and lunch menus that exemplify classic bistro dining. Complementing the experience is the Raw Bar where guests may savour raw cuisine such as sashimi, gravadlax, ceviche, carpaccios, oysters and tartars, with dishes freshly prepared on order by designated chefs. Counter-seating affords up-close and personal interaction with the chefs

Bistro Sixteen82 has a boutique winelist, with a predominance of Steenberg wines at close to cellar-door prices, as well as hand-selected wines from other producers in the Constantia Valley. All wines on the Bistro Sixteen82 winelist are available by the glass and a selection of beers and spirits are also on offer.

Established in 1682 by the legendary Widow Ras, Steenberg is the oldest farm in the Constantia Valley. About 25 minutes from the centre of Cape Town, Steenberg Vineyards shares the land with a boutique hotel (21 guest rooms and three Heritage Suites), a spa, Catharina's fine-dining restaurant and Bistro Sixteen82, as well as an 18-hole championship golf course. Steenberg is rated as one of the top white wine cellars in South Africa and sauvignon blanc is currently the flagship wine of. It produces 33 000 cases of wine annually, with about half exported.

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