Hermanus, South Africa, is known for its many whales between June and November. Its also know for the awesome Burgundy Restaurant with the best views! From the first smile when you enter and the warm greetings from Pieter, Rudolf or one of the other managers or waiters, you will know that this restaurant is all heart and soul and built on passion. Pieter is passionate about the business. His positivity rubs off onto everyone. Come in a enjoy great food and even greater hospitality!
By Janet-Lynn Vorster, Cape Town, South Africa
Marine drive. 1.39 km of cliffside road in the heart of Hermanus. Burgundy Restaurant is situated between Gearings Point and the Old Harbour. On the corner of Marine drive and Harbour road, you will find a sculpture, called “The Sea Change” by Anton Smit, and right behind it, you will see Burgundy.
You will smell the lovely aromas wafting from Burgundy. Go on in for a glass of local wine. Or a coffee. Chances are you will be visiting for longer than you intended, and ordering more than just drinks! As dishes pass you by, plated to entice both the eye and most discerning palate, you will get drawn into the mouth-watering and homely smells of really flavourful foods and you will know you have found the best cuisine in Hermanus.
From the first smile when you enter and the warm greetings from Pieter, Rudolf or one of the other managers or waiters, you will know that this restaurant is all heart and soul and built on passion.
But let me start at the beginning… way back… as Burgundy is situated in the oldest surviving building in Hermanus.
It all began with a love story… 1875… Martha Wessels’ husband disappeared without a trace… and without a death certificate, she could neither remarry nor live together with her new lover, Swedish boat builder John Louis, later known as Swede Wessels, taking on the last name of his sweetheart. They made a plan, as lovers do, and Swede built two adjoining cottages, seemingly separate from the outside to the eyes of onlookers. He lived in one cottage, and she and her daughters in the other. It was probably the delightfully scandalous gossip of the town, with the cottages being just above the Old Harbour in plain sight.
1928… Miss Ethel Rubery from England bought the property and opened “Cypress Tea Garden”, named after the Cypress Tree in front of the building.
1968… or thereabouts… Timothy Hamilton Russell, who pioneered Burgundy style Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines in Hermanus, bought the building to prevent it from being demolished. It was declared a national Monument, preserved as a tea garden and fishing museum. Around 1981, he obtained a “Wine House Licence” in order not to become “a purveyor of cheap alcohol”. In 1987 the “Cypress Tea Garden” was transformed into “The Burgundy Restaurant”. Since 2014 it has new owners and managers, all proud to be part of the high culinary standards that locals and patrons have come to expect.
Burgundy has the perfect setting and location. Good quality food, fresh ingredients, and a good passing trade keep the vibe buzzing. Pieter Nel, front of house manager and Rudolf van der Berg, co-owner, keep a watchful eye and place two additional managers, Minette Henn and Behansa Sauls, on the floor when necessary. They know the abilities of the kitchen, restaurant and staff. It requires careful and good management not to overshoot capabilities with too many customers in a sitting. Burgundy has got this balance down to a fine art. During busy times when people are queuing, Burgundy will provide wine tasting and talks about wines from local vineyards and wine makers.
Pieter is passionate about the business. His positivity rubs off onto everyone.
Pieter started his career as a food and beverage manager. His eyes light up as he says it is “magic when a machine operates to maximum capability and it runs smoothly”. Rudolf is responsible for the menu, and his ability to combine dishes and eye for detail is amazing. He is a trained chef. He likes to retain old, valued dishes, so will often rather recreate and change existing dishes slightly than recreate the entire menu.
Burgundy has some of the most learned and capable waiters, and turnover is minimal. They often remember customers’ orders and wine preferences! They are trained to be flexible, as Burgundy has an open menu. There is no children’s menu, and people are encouraged to combine food from the menu. The waiters are very accommodating with specific food requirements, and managers never far away.
From 17:00 daily there is a separate evening menu to lift the restaurant to a more sophisticated and formal feeling, yet the dress code remains relaxed. Bookings are made indoors at night, although in good weather people can sit outdoors. However, their table remains reserved indoors in case the weather changes. The vibe at night is warm and cosy. People like to be recognised, and Burgundy makes a point of knowing their regulars, creating a warmth that draws people in and enhances the feeling of “coming home”.
Burgundy Restaurant, Hermanus
Marine Drive, Hermanus, Western Cape, 7200, South Africa
Tel local: 028312 2800
Tel Intl: +27 28 312 2800