The winner: Green plate 0

Babel restaurant review 09/20/11

Marianna samples Babel restaurant's innovative and green and yellow plates plus a broccoli carpaccio.

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I love the fact that using local produce and growing your own veggies has become so popular in Cape Town.

I can think of at least three restaurants, other than Babel, who are making great strides towards using and buying only local, seasonal produce:  Fresh, Johan’s at Longridge and Eight (based at Spier wine estate). And there are many others too.

Today’s review takes my husband, Cameron, and I to Babel, where 85% of the vegetables and herbs they use are grown on the farm – they even form part of the décor. Babel uses broccoli in carpaccios – and flower vases.

Broccoli in a vase, why not?

Babel is located on the beautiful fruit and wine farm of Babylonstoren in Stellenbosch and is quite close to a number of other spots I have been meaning to visit (like Anura for a cheese-tasting). There is a stunning old manor house on the farm, but interestingly that’s not where you’ll find the restaurant. Instead, it’s housed in an old shed-like building decked out floor to ceiling in white and chrome.

Babel is situated on the beautiful Babylonstoren farm.

The design is quirky to say the least and there are some lovely details including a huge bull watching over the menu, which is written on tiles. Walking into the space evokes a lovely feeling of freshness, and you know that you’re in for something special.

Babel’s menu is varied and not exclusively vegetarian, but the dishes that really stand out are the vegetarian plates: yellow, red and green and the broccoli carpaccio.

The winner: Green plate.

Cameron’s green plate was the winner with its beautiful mix of fresh leaves and apples.

The yellow plate.

I enjoyed my yellow salad of pineapple and nasturtiums, but my coconutty soup could have had more of an edge.

We also enjoyed some lovely fresh fruit and veg cocktails with our meals. From now on, beetroot and guava will be a regular combo in our kitchen!

An interesting idea: broccoli carpaccio.

Taking a wander through the gardens is a great way to end your meal at Babel. The vegetable gardens grow 100 different varieties of vegetables and are home to some of the largest, happiest chickens I’ve ever seen. While they don’t use pesticides in the garden, they can’t call themselves organic as the fruit on the surrounding orchards do get sprayed.

But one of the most striking things during our visit was the genuine excitement and enthusiasm from the whole staff. We even managed to get a friendly tour of the guest cottages on our way out.  Beautifully done up, guests are welcomed in revamped workers’ cottages with a vegetable basket from the gardens.

All in all, a trip out to Babel’s is well worth it.

Contact information:
Tel: + 27 (0) 21 863 3852
Download directions (pdf) here.
Take a look at the latest menu here.

You can read more from Marianna at  Cape Town by Mouth.

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