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Visiting Franschhoek: 12 restaurants for every occasion

The most difficult thing about Franschhoek – aside from spelling it – is choosing where to eat. Considering the town’s quaint size, it boasts an unbelievable number of fine-dining restaurants. But which one to choose? And where to eat a slightly more casual meal? Here are 12 spots for everything from an affordable family lunch to a fine-dining extravaganza. (And if you’re pressed for time, watch our quick, one-minute video of six of ’em!)

For a relaxed brunch with the locals: Café des Artes

This local gem is situated off the main street, down a little pathway. The owners are quick to point out they don’t offer fine dining, but rather a relaxed café-style blackboard menu. Nab a spot outside under the trees and brunch on polenta with maple syrup and butter, or a French toasted croissant and Origin coffee. Lunch and dinner herald dishes like liver and onions, and duck confit. It’s honest, good food.

For bubbly and canapés: Le Lude

The newest bubbly creator in the area is getting rave reviews from wine experts for its dry, taut MCCs with perfectly fine bubbles. This is also the first farm doing cork fermentation (the agrafe method) in SA, which involves doing the second fermentation under a cork, rather than under a crown bottle cap, as it’s normally done. The Orangerie Restaurant, a beautiful white conservatory, serves substantial meals with mains around R140 to R180, but if you’re not after a whole meal, try a tasting of the current two releases, either with something from the canapé menu or high tea in the tasting room.

Inside Le Lude's Orangerie restaurant

Inside Le Lude’s Orangerie restaurant.

For beer and Mexican food: Tuk Tuk Microbrewery

This hip new brewery and restaurant offers something hitherto unheard of in this enclave of French fine dining: Mexican food. Tuck into superb nachos with guacamole, sour cream and oozing cheese while you taste your way through the CBC and Tuk Tuk beers. Grab a seat outside or at the wood-and-copper bar and watch the shiny silver fermentation kegs do their work behind glass.

The outside area at Tuk Tuk Microbrewery.

The outside area at Tuk Tuk Microbrewery.

To buy cheese: Dalewood Fromage

Top 10 chef Peter Tempelhoff liked Dalewood’s Huguenot so much he designed a whole dish around it. (That’s back in Cape Town, at Greenhouse, though.) Visit the home of this excellent cheese – and its counterparts – at the farm on the Simondium road.

For a cheese board (and to meet Porcini the pig): The Kitchen at Maison

The Kitchen at Maison boasts a beautifully serene and white interior that opens out onto vineyards, and some glorious food. If you’re not here for a full meal, order a cheese board to go with your wine tasting. It boasts three spectacular cheeses (including Dalewood’s Huguenot) and some inventive and delicious preserves. As for Porcini, he lives around the side of the restaurant in a small open-plan abode that opens onto an orchard. (Ask a waiter to show you.) It’s probably best to keep small children on the far side of the fence – he moves faster than you might expect for such a prodigious creature, and could probably squash a mini person.

The cheese board at The Kitchen at Maison.

The cheese board at The Kitchen at Maison.

For fabulous foraged food: Foliage

Wander past this restaurant and the first thing you’ll notice is a giant drum of a smoker manned by one of several bearded men in shorts and hiking boots. Congratulations, you have arrived at Foliage. Aside from smoking their own meat, the team guys and gals forage for mushrooms and other goodies, and hunt birds with their crossbows. Though the methods are rustic, the food itself is beautifully plated and thoroughly tasty. This is also an excellent place for vegetarians and vegans; let the kitchen know in advance and they’ll pull out all the stops for you. Mains are around R160 to R200.

A dish at Foliage. Photo supplied.

A dish at Foliage. Photo supplied.

For an inspired kitchen garden: Werf Restaurant

Situated on the Boschendal estate, Werf makes the most of an idyllic location with a magnificent garden, which fuels a fresh, seasonal menu. Make sure you stroll around the garden before your meal.

A dish at Werf Restaurant. Photo supplied.

A dish at Werf Restaurant. Photo supplied.

For charcuterie: Bread & Wine

The shaded courtyard with gently bubbling stream is heaven on sunny days – not to mention Neil Jewell’s charcuterie and desserts. Look out for a caramel-coloured weimaraner, who lent her name to Môreson’s Miss Molly bubbly. The Môreson Mercator premium chardonnay is the wine to try if you’re being choosy. It’s perennially winning awards for being so downright delicious.

The courtyard at Bread & Wine. Photo supplied.

The courtyard at Bread & Wine. Photo supplied.

For coffee: Terbodore

A single blackboard proclaiming ‘coffee roasting’ outside the Goederust Farm is all that announces this artisanal roastery business. The brand started in the Midlands, and this tiny second outpost serves up coffee that’s freshly roasted from the adjoining roasting room.

Beans fresh from the roaster at Terbodore.

Beans fresh from the roaster at Terbodore.

For approachable fine dining: Ryan’s Kitchen

This restaurant serves finedining food in a most approachable way. Order à la carte, or try the four-course menu for R480 (sans wine). Dishes include beef tartare refined to a creamy purée, beef shortrib and glorious guava soufflé with ice cream.

A dish at Ryan's Kitchen. Photo supplied.

A dish at Ryan’s Kitchen. Photo supplied.

For the meal of a lifetime: The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français

Currently number two in Eat Out’s Top 10, The Tasting Room needs little introduction. (The surprise menu means that an introduction would spoil the experience, anyway!) At time of writing, an eight-course surprise menu course meal costs R940 (or R1495 with wine), but it’s worth every penny.

The Tasting Room interior. Photo supplied.

The Tasting Room interior. Photo supplied.

For great bread: La Motte Farm Shop

Aside from yummy wine, a beautiful estate, and the fancy finedining restaurant, Pierneef à La Motte, there’s also some incredible bread to be enjoyed here. Pop into the farm shop to stock up on a loaf of ouma bread, pot bread, shiraz bread, or a fruited rye load. (It’ll be closed for a winter break from 18 July to 12 August).

Inside the La Motte Farm Shop. Photo supplied.

Inside the La Motte Farm Shop. Photo supplied.

Need more ideas? Here are some of our other favourites:

Backsberg
Great for the lovely shaded lawn and legendary lamb.

Bicccs
Stop by this family-friendly spot for bread, ice cream, cakes, croissant, coffee and sandwiches.

Café BonBon
This underrated bistro is located in a restored, 200-yearold wine cellar.

Fyndraai
Cape Dutch buildings set the scene for an exploration of traditional South African cooking.

Haute Cabrière
Dug into the slope, this cavernous restaurant serves fine food. The lawns offer the best view, though.

Kalfi’s
Notable for the excellent bobotie.

La Petite Ferme
This upmarket bistro has a great lawns for kids.

Le Bon Vivant
A popular lunch and dinner spot. Make sure you book.

Lust Bistro & Bakery
This modern bistro serves up wood-fired pizza and some great chalkboard specials.

Racine
Reuben Riffel’s Chamonix outpost has a lovely deck floating in the forest. The menu offers haute bistro food – think beef cheeks, burgers and rib-eye with béarnaise.

Sacred Ground
Conveniently located behind the office for the Franschhoek wine tram on the main street, this cosy coffee shop serves Bean There brews.

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