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First taste: FABER at Avondale

Fast facts

Best for: Fine dining food in a comfortable, beautiful setting
Parking: Ample parking at the wine farm
Price: lunch: two courses for R295, three courses for R385 or eight-course tasting menu for R775. Dinner: four courses for R 445 or eight-course tasting menu for R 775.
Star ratings: Food 5, Service 5, Ambiance 4

Chef Eric Bulpitt, formerly of The Restaurant at Newton Johnson, has brought his culinary expertise to Paarl at the Avondale wine farm. His new fine dining restaurant FABER, Latin for “Man the Maker”, focuses on artisanal processes and organic produce from the farm.

The bread board at Faber. Photo by Rupesh Kassen.

The bread board at Faber. Photo by Rupesh Kassen.

Food

Bulpitt’s love for seasonal ingredients is showcased in a concise menu with a choice of four items per course.

The artisanal experience begins with the marvel that is the bread course, a large-seeded chickpea tuile, warm honey-glazed dinner rolls, a pumpkin fritter and seeded raisin bread with truffle aioli will get your appetite flowing.

I recommend starting with the Avondale Black Angus beef, hand-reared on the farm. Thin, tender layers of Carpaccio-style beef with argan oil and delicate notes from the pickled elderflower are brought together with a bone marrow dressing. Vegetarian diners are not forgotten and will be delighted with interesting options like the butter-roasted parsnips with sea lettuce and a mustard cheese foam or toasted porcini with smoked cauliflower and potato angel hair.

The gurnard with warm cucumber. Photo by Rupesh Kassen.

The gurnard with warm cucumber. Photo by Rupesh Kassen.

Pan-seared False Bay Gurnard nestled in light creamy broth, with spears of warm cucumber and pops of sweetness from lupins is a dish that tastes like summer. The dish is elevated by the addition of mustard flowers and radish, which round off each bite with a mild peppery note. The warm salad of Graaff-Reinet spring lamb or beef sirloin and garlic swede sounds like a heartier option.

Of the four desserts it’s hard not to choose one simply called PB & J – peanut butter cake, strawberry jellies, and roasted peanut butter. Struggling to make a decision the waiter convinced me to go with the cream cheese and honey sorbet with coconut crumble and blueberry macaron instead. His assurance of it being the perfect ending to my meal on a hot spring day was fulfilled. Landscaped on their range of ceramic handcrafted plates, the tart and sweet flavours of the ice cream and Avondale Muscat-infused berries was a treat; the blueberry macaron, perfect.

The cream cheese and honey sorbet with a macaron. Photo by Rupesh Kassen.

The cream cheese and honey sorbet with a macaron. Photo by Rupesh Kassen.

Drinks

The menu offers an exclusive selection of Avondale wines; most of them available by the glass.

Service

Warm, friendly and knowledgeable staff are tuned in to diners’ needs without being intrusive.

Ambience

FABER is set in a gracious ‘Old Cape’-style building. The deep veranda is perfect for summer days and balmy nights and leads to the gardens, with sweeping views of the vineyards and valley. The food may be of superior fine-dining quality, but the atmosphere is one of comfort of an old friend. The space is brimming with natural elements like wood and a living wall of planters with seasonal foliage, ringing true to FABER’s ethos of the balance of nature and the modern lifestyle

And…

Being in a convenient location just off the highway, FABER is set to become a favored dining destination.

The beef with pickled elderflower. Photo by Rupesh Kassen.

The beef with pickled elderflower. Photo by Rupesh Kassen.

Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay their own way. Read our full editorial policy, here.

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