Since chef Ryan Smith moved to Place Vendôme from his place in town, Ryan’s Kitchen has become one of the places to eat in Franschhoek.
The menu, which changes every fortnight, offers items like a totally delicious tapioca mushroom ‘pudding’ with sautéed exotic mushrooms, and grilled goat’s cheese with a fennel and apple salad – a brilliant idea; nice and fresh, yet rich at the same time.
Among the fish options you’ll find tandoori-cured Cape salmon with eggplant and raisin ratatouille and a beautifully spiced baked angelfish with lemongrass and coconut velouté. The knockout, however, is the twist on traditional Cape Malay pickled seafood, which is cooked in a bag. Carnivores will love the peri-peri duck parfait with lemon jelly and green-bean chutney, and the simply sensational venison carpaccio with orange-sesame dressing and caramelised chicory. The granadilla soufflé with mango ice cream is a refreshing way to end after all those rich flavours.
More recent summer dishes include wildebeest tataki with compressed apple, pickled baby turnips and meringue; a bobotie pancake with pineapple and chilli; seaweed-crusted impala loin with glazed chicory, cherries and blackpepper gel; and an elevated version of eskimo pie.
The wine list is well chosen, with many local treasures and some from further afield.
Service is impeccable, with Ryan’s charming wife, Svetlana, often there to keep things moving like a well-oiled machine.
The interior is crisply modern, with some designer touches to keep it from being too precious. The atmosphere is one of casual elegance; laid back and confident, this is a good place to spoil yourself. The open-plan kitchen allows you to see the food being prepared without you having to lift a finger. It’s all very appealing.
Bookings are absolutely essential at this popular spot.
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