Schoon de Companje – Collaboration or Identity Crisis?

  • Good for: Not much
  • Cost: R100-150/pp (incl drinks)
  • Rating: 2/5
  • Contact: Church Street, +27 (0) 21 883 2187, Web

Schoon de Companje bills itself as ‘a collaboration of artisans in the true sense of the word, not merely a label, but rather the artisan that contributes to his community’. On Friday we stopped by for lunch, after walking past (and buying bread) repeatedly in the last few months. Every time we’ve been in De Companje the outside tables on Church Street are busy, but the inside areas very quiet; and Friday was no exception, even though Stellenbosch was extremely busy due to the Woordfees.
De Companje offers freshly baked breads and pastries, ice cream, wine, local brews, flowers, imported furniture, coffee roasting and has a ‘Boutique Butchery’. If you are of the slightly cynical persuasion like me, that screams ‘expensive’, and indeed, it is. We just wanted a quick bite to eat while catching up with a friend that I hadn’t seen in 12 years, so settled down outside and perused the short menu. Menu options mostly focus on things that are produced by the collaboration, i.e. sandwiches featuring the freshly baked bread, milkshakes presumably made with their ice cream, coffee from their roastery….you get the picture. I ordered a three cheese and tomato ‘hot press’, Fishop the burger (no sauce etc) and long lost friend the quinoa cakes with salad. I also ordered a glass of very good Sauvignon Blanc, Fishop some craft beer and LLF a milkshake. Service was friendly and efficient and we placed our orders quickly as we didn’t have a lot of time.
It is fortunate that we have a lot of catching up to do as we waited a very long time for our food. And then we waited some more. By this time I was on my second glass of wine so I started to care less, but LLF had to get back to Muizenberg and was getting antsy. When I asked the waiter what the holdup was he said that they had to redo the burger as they put sauce on and we requested it without any sauce. At least in this instance the waiter tried to get the order right, which is much more than I can say for any of the other places where we get served burgers and steaks doused in sauces and bastes despite requesting them ‘naked’. The food eventually came and my sandwich was a beast of a sandwich with a LOT of cheese. I love bread and cheese but I ended up leaving half the sandwich. Fishop’s burger was a ridiculously small affair, and you guessed it, served on yet another wooden platter. He said it tasted OK but didn’t have much flavour and at R105 I felt this was a complete rip-off. LLF’s quinoa cakes and salad looked quite pretty but was sent back half eaten and clearly didn’t inspire much enthusiasm.

Schoon de Companje is an interesting concept but whether it ‘contributes to the community’ is debatable as it is mostly tourists who eat and drink there. I just can’t see locals paying the sort of money we paid for a simple meal when you can get much better quality and prices literally around the corner or down the road. Similarly I can’t see that locals will pay that much for bread, coffee and meat when there is so much good quality produce on offer elsewhere at very competitive prices; but maybe that is why the place is never that busy? A nice place to walk past and look at; a not so nice place to sit down and get ripped-off.
Ambience: 3/5
Service: 4/5
Food: 1/5
Value: 1/5

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