In fashion, in demand: Babylonstoren and Spice Route vying for title of Paarl winelands hotspot number one
|The greenhouse at Babylonstoren, Paarl: great place for a snack and a glass of vino,
or for some tea and cake if you’d prefer
Guava avenue, olive and citrus orchards, stream and prickly pear maze, stone fruits and berries, vegetable patches, almonds, bees, ducks, chickens and other birdlife, mice and who knows what else… The lovely gardens with their pathways and walking trails, maze, labyrinth and other features beg to be explored. Actually, so inviting are the gardens that we think they missed a trick in not situating the restaurant so as to present better vistas of the surroundings – the tables at the greenhouse are in amongst the trees and geenery but the tearoom menu is rather limited if you’re in the mood for a good lunch.
The food at Babel is delicious and, as per the wine tasting facility in the farm shop, the list of reds and whites extends beyond the Babylonstoren range to include products from many other cellars in the vicinity. There’s flair in the kitchen alright, and the waitrons on duty when we visited were doing their best – inexperienced and somewhat inattentive but friendly.
|La Grapperia: pizza and tapas
on the lawn, under the oaks
|The view from Spice
Route is exceptional
The various Spice Route traders are located on the slopes of Paarl Mountain with a great view of the Simonsberg to the south and Table Mountain to the west. Probably the toughest choice for visitors wanting to linger is deciding where to lunch: pub grub in the beer garden, pizza and tapas under the trees or near the fireside at La Grapperia, or an array of culinary delights either in or outside the main restaurant.
When next we take in the Spice Route, we’ll be sure to spend more time exploring the wines in the underground tasting room or under the umbrellas on the lawn, enjoying the wonderful views and indulging in the delightful food offered on the deck of the Spice Route Restaurant.
The glass shop was a bit of a let-down, but maybe that’s just us. The parking facilities are pretty basic and can get muddy after a heavy downpour. The general standard of service is basic but enthusiastic; this is mostly casual territory, nothing too fancy. Although it was mildly irritating that on the day we stopped by, the brewery had run out of lager (something to do with a large export order) and the Spice Route Flagship Syrah was also ‘sold out’.
Not forgetting that while marketing and sales are now rooted in Paarl, the Spice Route wines come from a cellar in Malmesbury with both the red and white wine cred’ well established over the past 15 years – in fact the Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Flagship Syrah and the Malabar red blend are classified among the country’s best.