By Bianca Coleman
It had been a week of lavish lunches at some of Cape Town’s top establishments, and The Restaurant at Grande Provence Heritage Wine Estate, fitted right in. What a spectacular experience, from beginning to end.
Executive chef Darren Badenhorst draws his inspiration from the practices and precision of French cuisine, and combines them with bold Asian flavours and local ingredients on his doorstep. Your most difficult task will be deciding what to eat, because everything sounds as fabulous on the menu as it appears on the plate.
Each dish is paired with a carefully selected wine courtesy of winemaker Karl Lambour and sommelier Khuselo Maputa to provide a perfect dining experience, should you choose to go that route.
Grande Provence has entire walls of wine awards, and for good reason. These guys definitely know what they’re doing and I’d suggest you go with their recommendations. The environment is elegant and sophisticated, the service is impeccable, and the food presentation is done with flair and style. Like the sous-vide quail with foie gras and duck liver parfait, fig pearls, crisp pancetta, and porcini popped corn, which arrives at the table under a glass dome. This is lifted to release a cloud of smoke, proving a sense of drama should never be underestimated.
The other starter sampled was the ocean risotto with soft-shell crab, turmeric confit Patagonian calamari, barrel smoked langoustine, white mussels, and seaweed brittle. It’s one of those meals when you think after each course it couldn’t possibly get better. And then it does.
The vegetarian main course option is truffled gem squash and courgette cannelloni with red pepper pearl barley, salt cured and roasted cauliflower, black trumpet mushrooms, almonds, and a vanilla parsnip puree. Who says a meat-free meal has to be boring? Three saddle of lamb variations with minted pea puree, dukkha-crusted confit butternut, pearl onions and a porcini jus is a perfect winter meal.
Desserts are generally sweet, like the warm vanilla, coconut and tonka bean sago with a bubbly touch of champagne and lime, saffron white chocolate crème, almonds, toasted coconut and edible wild flowers, which is a riot of colour that looks like a party favour exploded over the plate. However, if you prefer to end on a savoury note, try this: smoked comté cheese and creamed leek arancini served with a rosemary and parmesan crumble, baked Parma ham and reblochon cheese parcel, kumquat, marigold and Cape gooseberry preserve. “I like to try something different and not just the normal cheese platter,” said Badenhorst. He definitely got that right, and it’s brilliant.
Lunch is R375 a person, and dinner – which includes a few little extras like amuse bouche, palate cleanser, and pre-dessert, is R525. If you’re there during the day, take some time to walk around the sculpture garden and art gallery with their ever-changing exhibitions.
The Restaurant at Grande Provence
Where: Main Road, Franschhoek, telephone 021 876 8600
When: Lunch Mondays to Sundays, dinner Mondays to Saturdays (Sundays from October 1 tp April 30)