Eating in Franschhoek: Our review
Franschhoek, a small South Africa wine town just 75 km from Cape Town, boasts some of the finest wine estates and fine-dining establishments in South Africa. There are more renowned restaurants and wine farms than there are hours in the day to visit them. A true hub of culinary excellence!
Whilst we were in the area, we thought we’d share our experience of the places we managed to get along to during our 3-day stopover.
Babylonstoren is a Dutch working farm that dates all the way back to 1692; the grounds and the setting are idyllic. Walking around the grounds, you feel like you are in a scene from the ‘Secret Garden’. Absolutely picturesque. The farm itself is completely self-sufficient for guests, in that it offers accommodation, things to do (mountain biking etc), restaurant, shops, spa, deli, workshops, wine tastings (of course)… the list is endless.
But we are here to talk about Babel. The restaurant itself is located in the old cow shed, as you will see from the website and photos, the design is a great mix of traditional and contemporary. It is a really warm, light and inviting environment. They have done an excellent job of meshing traditional Dutch Cape architecture with a modern minimalistic feel. This is evident in the finishing touches, such as a chemistry lab feel, with the salt and pepper being served in petri dishes and the wine in conical flasks.
Their menu reflects their farm-to-fork philosophy, every dish you are presented with is bursting with flavour and full of an array of colours which only further accentuates the freshness of what they have on offer.
Since plums were in season when we visited, the menu featured the recent harvest with many of the dishes involving plums in some way shape or form.
David and I shared the ‘yellow salad’ for a starter and added in the calamari and the smoked trout. After which, I had a fillet steak and David had the lamb cutlets, all of which were divine. They have a family style set up for the side dishes with potatoes and vegetables being served in big sharing bowls. Unfortunately, we were both too full for dessert…a good enough excuse to come back again next year!
Breakfast: Open daily, 8h00–9h30
Lunch: Wednesday to Sunday, 12h00–15h30
Dinner: Open daily from 19h00
Booking is essential. Online bookings for Babel Restaurant open nine months in advance.
Where to find it Babylonstoren. Restaurant
Again, another restaurant we didn’t manage to get a booking in last year. Foliage was opened in 2014 by Chris Erasmus, after gaining a reputation a Pierneef à la Motte. The food did not disappoint.
We went for the full 6 course Chef Selection with wine pairing. It was excellent, truly fresh, original and each dish showing off the skills of the kitchen. Here is a taster of some of the dishes we encountered: beetroot salad with a passion fruit puree, potato gnocchi with a bramble berry foam, pan friend trout, and beef brisket with the Foliage painted on the plate in the accompanying puree.
If you are in the area, you 100% should look this place up!
Open May – September 2017: Monday – Friday, 7pm – 9pm (dinner only)
Saturday, 12pm – 2.30pm (lunch), 7pm – 9pm (dinner)
6 September 2017 – May 2018: Monday – Saturday, 12pm – 2.30pm; 7pm – 9pm
Contact +21 (0)21 876 2328, email@example.com
Where to find it Foliage Restaurant
Chefs Oliver Cattermole and Bline Coetzer joined forces to create Bovine, a recent addition to Franschhoek, and a truly great example of “keep it simple but do it excellently”. They pride themselves on using quality raw ingredients and creating everything themselves…. All the way down to the ketchup, and it shows! This was an excellent meal: think amazing quality ‘comfort food’. After indulging in a lot of ‘fine-dining’, it was actually really refreshing to go back to something that was simple but tasted brilliant.
In a nutshell their menu is made up of steaks, burgers and a variety of different chips - I went for the chicken burger with “Angry Chips”, which were really yummy and just the right level of spicy. David went for the fillet steak and regular fries, which also went down really well!
They also collaborate with the local wine farm Black Elephant Vintners & Co as well as Woodstock Brewery, so they have a fantastic array of beverages to match their wholesome food.
Open 7 Days a week 11am - 11pm
Contact 021 205 3053, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it Bovine Restaurant
Rose Picnic at Boschendal
Boschendal is one of the oldest farms in South Africa, dating back to 1685. As with Babylonstoren (mentioned above) this place offers a whole host of experiences meaning it caters to pretty much everyone! We were lucky enough to spend one night here in their Werf Cottages, but we’ll chat about that separately.
Boschendal offers two different types of picnics, The Rhone Rose Garden Picnic (seated at tables but you are also able to take a blanket and enjoy the lawn) or The Werf Farm Picnic. We opted for The Rose Garden Picnic because the setting is just so picturesque and we remember the picnic being amazing!
All the seats are under the trees in shade, or at least dappled shade, so you can enjoy your food without getting overwhelmingly hot.
They then bring over your picnic basket which has a selection of scrumptious items from cold meats, fresh bread, pates, chicken, cheese, chocolate pudding, salad…the list is long and even as people who eat a lot, we’ve never managed to finish all the food they offer! We paired it with a bottle of the Cap Classique Brut Rose.
For us, visiting this incredible destination, is an absolute must!
Open October 2018 - April 2019: Wednesday to Sunday. Live music performances on Saturdays between 13:00 and 15:00. May 2019: Only open Saturday and Sundays.
Contact 021 870 4273/4274, email@example.com
Where to find it Boschendal Wine Farm
In summary, there is an overwhelming choice of restaurants and wine farms in the area, and it is pretty hard to go wrong! Having said that, we loved these places for the quality of the food and service and the idyllic settings they are in.