New destination restaurant Jewell’s is introducing Winelands diners to crafted farm produce and outstanding charcuterie in an understated setting.
WORDS: KIM MAXWELL :: PHOTOS: SUPPLIED :: CONTENT PROVIDED BY BUSINESS DAY HOMEFRONT
Jewell’s opened its doors mid-May at Spice Route in the SuiderPaarl Valley. This hillside country location houses a collection of tenants, including a glassblower, a ceramicist, a chocolatier, a giftshop, an artisanal gin producer, an ice cream shop and a craft brewery, on one property. Jewell’s is a 60-seater where expansive views of the rural farmland are framed by black-rimmed windows, with Table Mountain in the distance. Balau benches and tables are popular for seating additional diners under the oaks in warm weather. Chef Neil Jewell and his wife, Tina, are hands-on partners in this new venture with chef Liam Tomlin and his wife, Jan, the founders and owners of Chefs Warehouse & Canteen in Cape Town’s Bree Street.
The Tomlins have collaborated with talented chefs and business owners before at Thali Indian restaurant in the Cape Town CBD and with two winery owners at stylish Chefs Warehouse concept restaurants. Spice Route and Fairview winery owner Charles Back is their landlord partner at Jewell’s. A distinctive location is as important to a restaurant’s success as what is served at the tables. “I’ve managed to get some of the best restaurant sites in the country: Chefs Warehouse at Maison in Franschhoek and Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia,” says Liam Tomlin. “And now here … just look at the views.” Back’s cattle farm is directly opposite Spice Route, offering a fantastic source of certified freerange Red Angus beef.
“My food philosophy is about my farmers’ produce,” says Neil Jewell in the open-plan kitchen, where walls clad in black metro tiles feature white ceramic decorations depicting a salami, a meat cleaver and a chopping board above the pass. “I want the meat to do the talking because it’s ethically sourced. All our beef comes from Charles’s farm.”
I can personally vouch for the deliciously tender Angus rump, served on creamy Fairview cheese polenta, with leeks and foraged farm mushrooms.
Jewell says he was looking for a career change after 19 years as “cook and sausage maker” at Bread & Wine on the farm Môreson near Franschhoek. He is a renowned charcuterie specialist and his homemade salami and cold meats are a tasty addition to the compact country menu at Jewell’s.
Our shared charcuterie board included Angus beef in black pepper, cold-smoked and then cooked; slivers of nutty porkand-pistachio mortadella; herb-smoked pork belly with home-cured gherkins; eisbein rillettes; and fermented pork salami sticks flavoured with fennel, cayenne and paprika – all eaten with focaccia and farm butter. The pork is sourced from healthily reared pigs at Glen Oakes Farm in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley.
“We’re putting in a veggie garden at the bottom of the property; the seeds have been ordered. All our milk, cream and butter are from Fairview’s dairy next door. We want to make our own cheeses,” says Jewell.
À la carte options include a hearty Tunisian lentil soup with colourful garden radishes, or innovative lamb jelly tartar with Jewell’s lamb neck biltong and crispy lavash bread. This is deceptively simple food with complex flavours. Children are welcome, and healthier options for young palates include fish goujons and caramelised sweet potato fondant. Or beef kofta with butternut ketchup.
“If we can just have really great produce, cook it, season it and serve it, that’s it,” says Jewell. “We want to get to the point where 80% of our produce is from within 10km of our restaurant door. And we’ll let you know what you’re eating rather than having it delivered from a supplier in plastic bags.”
“My food philosophy is about my farmers’ produce” Neil Jewell, co-owner and hands-on chef
Simple interiors rely on tonal variations of grey and charcoal. As an international restaurant consultant to five-star safari lodges, Tomlin puts his knowledge of kitchen functionality to good use. His preferred suppliers, from furniture to custom cabinetry, are used in most of the restaurants he is involved in. So Cape Customs fashioned the balau outdoor tables and the interior woodwork, bar counters and waiter stations in pale grey or charcoal Duco finishes. The stylish cabinetry on the bar counter combines dark charcoal with unstained oak panelling on raw concrete.
“We knocked lots of walls down and opened up the kitchen. It was an extensive refurbishment,” says Tomlin. “Everything was curved and arched, so we lifted the space and made it more open,” adds Tina Jewell, who handles the front of house.
Peter Brophy of Chefs Warehouse Bree Street sourced the textured upholstery fabric in saltand-pepper tones for the banquette seating. Existing square Caesarstone tabletops were repurposed with new black bases. Not Just Tiles supplied the mottled grey ceramic flooring underfoot, and the round raw oak tables and black stained chairs are from Weylandts.
Artist John Pace’s farm-themed paintings and sketches add appropriate decorative detail and a giant black-and-white cockerel of his features on a striking wallpaper outside the kitchen.
Artisans are used wherever possible: black leather menu covers and some woodwork accessories were fashioned by Pieter de Jager of Leopard’s Leap Vineyards (a chef with a side business in leather and wood). Neighbouring Spice Route ceramicist Anthony Shapiro supplied some of the crockery and Red Hot Glass created a hand-blown string of glass chillies for the window shared by their two businesses.
At the entrance on the veranda, the blackand-white floor tiles are temporary – eventually glass panels will show off sunken earthenware kvevri vessels below.
This is Back’s innovation: handmade in the mountains of Georgia and brought to SA to revive a dying art, these large oval vase-shaped vessels will be used for the fermentation of pressed grapes and hold 1,500 litres of natural wine below ground.
For now, the wine list comprises only Spice Route and Fairview red and white wines made in the standard way.
“The whole thing is about food and wine,” says Tomlin. “But it will evolve. It took a few weeks for Neil to create charcuterie and we’re serving it now. Next year we’ll probably have our own kvevri house blend wine and we’ll bring in other artists for the walls.”
“We knocked lots of walls down and opened up the kitchen. It was an extensive refurbishment” Liam Tomlin, co-owner