The 20 minute drive to Philadelphia from Cape Town is not the prettiest this time of the year, maybe because it reminded me so much of my native Free State, marked by kilometres of brown fields with the occasional row of tall trees to block the wind. Not that it doesn’t have a certain charm.
The winding road is a favourite with long boarders. It also features one of the few single lane bridges in the Western Cape where a popular beer advert was shot. Remember the one with the mini bus of soccer fans and the bakkie filled with rugby supporters trying to persuade the other to cross the bridge first? That’s the one.
The streets of South Africa’s Philadelphia are lined with houses with wrap around porches while mansions act as first defence on its outskirts overlooking Swartland vineyards. At the entrance of town large signs pointed us towards 3 of the restaurants: Pepper Tree Art Stable and Coffee Shop, Odd’s Garden Bistro & Pub and De Malle Meul. The tannie at Helena se Hoekwinkel recommended them in this order, cautioning that we should have made a reservation. I had flashbacks of Barrydale that fooled us with its one horse town status and bamboozled with booked tables.
The leafy Pepper Tree was not only fully booked, it had a 2 hour waiting list. It is very possible for even the most unfit to walk a few laps around the town to kill those 120 minutes.
We rather took a leisurely 2 minute stroll around the corner to Odd’s Garden Bistro & Pub. Here we had our pick of tables, inside and garden, which of course made us very suspicious but the hunger pangs drowned this out. It might be the service. Despite having only 3 other tables and 2 waitresses it took about 15 minutes to place an order. The waitress sent us down to the “Pub” outside to buy a bottle of wine were the bartender – and suspected owner – was busy braai’ng steaks and drinking a Castle. He was very unimpressed that that waitress sent us there, clearly we got the trainee. He sent us on our way with a fruity bottle of Havana Hills sauvignon blanc, a local wine for R80.
The other waitress who took our order was much better, advising on which dishes would take longer and made great recommendations. The Plus One was the big winner with the day’s special, a mini feast of lamb shank that slid off the bone served with mash, butternut and green salad (R110). I bartered as much of my bacon and feta quiche (R65) to get a few bites of his dish. The kids ate every crumb of their venison pies (R70) after picking out the peach slices from their salads.The decor is beautiful if somewhat clichéd with its exposed beams and shabby chic furniture. However there are well thought out details such as laced trimmed white napkins that distinguish Odd’s to some extent.
Just going on the pastry of the pies, I would love to try the high tea at R75(ish) with freshly baked goods. It shouldn’t be the case, but I can handle mediocre service (most likely only on a Sunday) for beautiful plated comfort food and a restful atmosphere.
Odd’s Garden Bistro & Pub
Meul Street, Philadelphia, South Africa
Tel: 021 972 1023