Food review:Bistro Sixteen82, Steenberg Wine Estate, Cape Town, South Africa, December 2020

Restaurant: Bistro Sixteen82 Description: Bistro/tapas/Pacific Rim – with hints of South African cuisine Address: Steenberg Estate, Steenberg Road, Tokai, Cape Town Menus: December 2020 – breakfast, lunch, dinner, tapas Dietary options: Includes vegetarian and vegan menus- stand-alone menus Reservations: 021 713 2211 or Wheelchair friendly: Yes. Look out for the wheelchair alert sign in carpark  

Bistro Sixteen82 is one of my favourite eateries in Cape Town. The setting is sublime – perched on the vineyards at Steenberg Wine Estate in Constantia. I always find it difficult to grasp that Bistro Sixteen82 is a hop away from the traffic and noise in the surrounding areas. Pollsmoor Prison is across the road; shopping centres galore and there is Steenberg Wine Estate and Bistro Sixteen82. It has become my go-to-place to take out-of-towners to experience. They tend to gasp as one approaches the spot- which seems to appear like a mirage- through the vineyard views: “Oh, wow, this unbelievable. Spectacular”. Yeah, it is.

I am not a fan of bubbly but I love Steenberg’s Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc. It is not too sweet and leaves no after taste.  Urged by an out-of-towner for time-out from the anxiety of Covid and the 2020 Festive Season, we ducked into Bistro Sixteen82 for a quickie lunch. There is a sizable outdoor eating area, adjacent to an infinity pond, fringed by Steenberg’s exquisite gardens.

Covid-19 protocols are in place – full-on sanitising by the staff. We started off with cappuccino (Origin) with the idea of moving onto bubbly but then we decided to stay with the caffeine. We were not that hungry so we shared the Ethically Sourced Fish (R195)– corn fritter, coconut and pickled vegetable, salsa, coriander, spicy lemon grass Velouté (a sauce thickened with butter and flour). The fish of the day was bream. We are fussy and asked for the corn fritter to be substituted with extra vegetables. No problem. The fish was stacked – a culinary presentation which I haven’t seen for a while. The stacking masks the amount of food. We were amazed to find three sizable fillets of fish in the tower. It was a revelation – unstacking and discovering the fragrant fillets and veggies (including asparagus spears) and shavings of coconut and fab sauce. For those of you who don’t know: a board with rosemary infused bread, olives, balsamic vinegar and olive oil is brought to the table at Bistro Sixteen82, so even if you are only having a glass of bubbly, you get to feast on yummy olives (available to purchase).

This is a quickie review- sorry – I cannot write this time about the selection of tapas, desserts and other dishes. I can say that Bistro Sixteen82 is an ideal spot to lunch/dine/cocktail (with tapas), during the pandemic. I always leave with a sense of being calmed by sitting in the green expanse with water lapping in the infinity pond and eating fragrant food. In the middle of the pandemic, that calming vibe is very welcome. I will go back soon for that glass of Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc (R64 for a glass; R255 a bottle. Wine tastings available on the estate)). It is excellent stuff – but for another day. A date has been set up with overseas visitors who snuck into South Africa, prior to the Covid surge.

This was a quickie lunch and TheCapeRobyn was instructed that this was not work and to “just enjoy”. I get that  but Bistro Sixteen82 has wowed me consistently over the years and after this outstanding fish dish, I had to put up this rave review. I must add, that in the context of lockdown level 1 and the pandemic, I am finding that service can be patchy at eateries, with jittery servers and flustered staff. The service at Bistro Sixteen82 was top notch. Coupled with the impressive fish dish and the bistro’s signature bread/olives/balsamic and olive oil board, excellent cappuccino by Origin, this was a most welcome lunch.

Good to know: Look out for Steenberg’s public art collection of sculptures of by the Italian sculptor, Edoardo Villa, who made his home in South Africa.

❇ Image credits © TheCapeRobyn/Robyn Cohen, Bistro Sixteen82, December, 2020, Cape Town. Featured image is of Ethically Sourced Fish. This meal was announced and paid for in full. Fish R195, R29 x 2 cappuccinos. Plus tip.

Bistro Sixteen82, December, 2020, Cape Town. © TheCapeRobyn/Robyn Cohen
Bistro Sixteen82’s signature board with rosemary infused bread, olives, balsamic vinegar and olive oil, December, 2020, Cape Town. © TheCapeRobyn/Robyn Cohen