This morning I went on a Slow Food Mother City outing to visit the biodynamic chicken farm at Spier, which was extremely interesting. I’ll write about the visit in more detail in another post but I want to share one of the most revealing comments of the day. The chickens they sell are quite a bit larger than the chickens you would normally find on the supermarket shelf even though they are of similar age (6 weeks), so I asked why don’t they just kill them earlier as it would be cheaper. The response was that they would only have one week in which to enjoy sunshine and the outdoors, and that it just doesn’t seem right to give them so little time. I liked that answer, totally ignoring the economics for the sake of giving the chickens a better life. With that sort of attitude, you know everything they do is going to be ethical.
After the farm visit I thought it would be a good idea to try out Eight at Spier as they source the chickens and veggies from the farm we had just visited. Their whole philosophy is oriented toward fresh, local and organic ingredients. This extract from their website explains it in more detail:
Eight is a pioneering farm-to-table eating experience. Like its name, the restaurant is an expression of balance, cycles, harmony, infinity and abundance. The produce used at Eight is either grown on the farm or sourced from nearby farmers. Natural and organic ingredients are preferred and combined to create nourishing, healthy, and delicious food, which diners can enjoy in a beautiful setting next to the Eerste River.
That’s definitely my vibe, so I thought it was very fitting for me to have lunch there after the farm visit. It was fairly quiet which suited me fine because it meant we could have a table outside under the trees. It was a Saturday lunch time so I was surprised by how quiet it was, but I think most people head to Moyo or take advantage of the Deli at Spier. Eight is tucked away around the corner so if you’re not looking for it you could easily miss it.
The menu is just a blackboard, allowing them to change it each day as the menu changes to fit the available ingredients. There are very few options, two soup starters, two salads, three mains and three desserts was the tally if memory serves. I opted for the roasted chicken with salad (both sourced from the farm we had just visited next door) and chips (R85) and my partner had the trout benedict (R65) which was fresh pan friend trout on potato rosti, topped with poached eggs and hollondaise sauce. Both our meals were really good, as were the fresh rolls and bread we received prior to the meal.
The service was friendly, but sketchy. There were long spans of time when our waitress was nowhere to be seen. It took ages to get the bill and quite long to pay it. But admittedly the food did come quite quickly. We didn’t drink anything apart from the water they sell called Perfect Water. Which is a perfect rip off at R25 for a 500ml bottle of filtered tap water. I’m quite ok with filtered tap water, but not at that price. Most restaurants are charging less than that for a 750ml bottle of lovely Franschoek spring water.
I popped inside to take a look around and the decor is very light and natural. Apparently all the furniture was made by overhauling and recycling the furniture from the previous restaurant. The light fittings are made from recycled bottles by a local artist and the ceiling of the front section has been lined with over 10,000 individually-crafted flowers made from recycled white plastic milk bottles and lined with low voltage LED lights.
I like Eight’s philosophy and I enjoyed the meal. It is also a quieter option compared to the other dining options at Spier. They are only open for brunch, lunch and tea.
Eight restaurant at Spier
Baden Powell Drive, Stellenbosch
Tel: 021 809 1188
Read more about Spier’s environmental initiatives here:
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