For winter comfort food in a cosy environment complete with a log fire, head out to Franschhoek and Haute Cabrière’s Cellar Restaurant.
Chefs Nic van Wyk and Westley Muller love this kind of wholesome cold-weather fare and have put together a few menu options to showcase their robust dishes.
To begin is the a la carte option of three courses for R370, R290 for a starter and a main course, or R270 for a main course and dessert. The six-course tasting menu is R450, and for both these options you need to work in harmony with your dining partners as the whole table needs to choose one or the other.
A la carte starters include pan fried gnocchi with gem squash puree, roasted pumpkin, sage and honey butter; steak tartare topped with a quail egg; fresh tagliatelle with prawns, chili, garlic, parsley and Parmesan (also available as a main); and pea and chorizo soup. For my starter I chose the tempura mussels served with slices of chorizo in a bath of smoked paprika cream.
Another option is the Vintner’s Meal: the Chalmar sirloin steak with triple fried hand cut chips, garlic and black pepper sauce, green beans and onion rings (R185), paired with the Haute Cabrière Pinot Noir Reserve, followed by a dessert of the day for an additional R45.
Not being a dessert person, I followed those delicious batter-wrapped mussels with the steak and wine combo, because one should never pass up the opportunity to have a glass of that particular Pinot. I was sad almost all the fat had been trimmed, but it was still a good piece of meat, and perfectly grilled. The sauce was lovely and not for a moment did I think the garlic would render me unapproachable for the next 24 hours; flavours were subtle and nothing overpowered anything else. Sometimes side dishes and accompaniments don’t get the attention they deserve, so I must single out the onion rings here as simply superb.
Besides the steak, other main course options if you’re ordering a la carte include creamy venison ragout with rosemary and bay leaf, soft parmesan polenta and bone marrow foam; slow roasted Karoo lamb scrag ends (from the neck), with green bean and potato ragout, fine beans, and white pepper sauce; butter roasted line fish with creamy mash, red wine and black lentil sauce, pancetta, and crispy kale; and wild mushroom risotto with Parmesan and truffle foam.
The heartiness favoured by Van Wyk and Muller is clearly apparent in this menu. Some specials are available at every lunch and dinner service, while others are allocated specific times.
Here’s a bit of trivia: did you know Chalmar Beef is a brand and owned by one person? What began as a tiny four-cattle operation in Kempton Park in 1965, lead to Wimpie Wethmar buying his late partner’s 50% stake in Chalmar Beef (Pty) Ltd to become the sole owner of Chalmar Beef in 1976.
* Haute Cabrière Cellar Restaurant is on Franschhoek Pass (Lambrechts Road), Franschhoek. For reservations and enquiries, send an email to email@example.com; or call 021 876 8500. Visit www.cabriere.co.za for more information.
The restaurant is currently (until end of August) open for lunch Thursdays to Sundays and for dinner on Fridays.
By Bianca Coleman