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Arriving at the Botrivier Hotel we were struck by the earthy quiet of the little countryside town.
People come and go and there is some negligible hustle and bustle at the handful of little shops but nothing hectic or in a hurry. Except for the Barman / waiter / front and back of house person who manages to serve, carry, clean tables, take orders, run to the kitchen, serve drinks in the pub and still smile and look eager to please. Impressive.
The menu has been extended to include something to tickle almost any fancy. We both decided on the Pork Belly Ribs. I ordered a salad with mine and my friend chose chips and onion-rings to accompany hers.
With our food ordered, the obvious, most important, next step was to choose wine. The Botriver Wine district includes a string of award winning wine farms producing five star wines. Even knowing this, it felt like stumbling into a treasure-box to see that the Blaasbalk Restaurant at the Botrivier Hotel sports a really extensive and very impressive wine list. All surrounding vineyards are generously represented. It would have been impossible to choose from the long list of star-studded wines but we were close to gagging for wine and as you might know, 11:30 is very late in the Cape to sit without a glass in hand.
The Gabrielskloof’s The Blend 2012 all but jumped at us.
While we settled into the divine wine and waited for our food, a true-sixties, two-tone, round-nosed Volkswagen Combi parked right in front of the Hotel. A gaggle of pretty, young women with flower headbands filed into the pub before they ‘settled’ on the verandah with tequilas and giggly bonhomie chatter. It was someone’s “Big Three Oh!” birthday and they drove all the way from Stellenbosch to celebrate it at the famous Botrivier Hotel.
The hotel seems to be like a mother and a womb to the little town. It creates the perfect space and opportunity to see what the day will give birth to. It is known that dogs, dandies, princes and paupers are all welcome and equal here.
Our food arrived and it was absolutely delicious! The very busy factotum omitted to bring olive oil for my salad but the salad presentation was so pretty that I really did not mind. The über-soft and juicy ribs more than made up for it.
The chips could have been crispier but it would have been heartless to share such a deeply first-world problem with an off-his-feet waiter. The onion-rings were good and of fresh and crispy home-made standard. All went down very well.
Whether it was the spirit of the beautiful old tree under which we sat or the womb ambience; we remained right there in deep conversation, much laughter and a second bottle of the same lovely wine from 11:30 until 22:30.
It might have been the friendly ghosts, the historic reminders of days gone by, or maybe mostly the wine but I saw something like a time-lapse video. The gaggle of girls giggled back into their combi and departed in the wrong direction, made a wide full-circle U-turn and drove off. Some regulars popped in for an after work catch-up chat & Botrivier Draft. The sun went down and the lights went up. The pub got busy and quieted down. At some point a group of local winemakers had a meeting and shared more great wine with us. Life keeps happening on the verandah of this beautiful old building.
We really enjoyed a laid-back, lovely time and will go back to see what the womb gives birth to and unassumingly shares with all visitors as often as I need a break from plastic, glitz or glam.