A couple of blocks off the main drag in Hermanus, The Barefoot Cook is hidden away down a side street. Its geographic location is appropriate for this unassuming, unfussy yet reliably tasty venue. The menu for the day had a slight retro feel to it, featuring items like mushroom and sherry soup, kidneys on toasted ciabatta. Other options include a ciabatta with bacon, brie and avo; chicken curry; roast aubergine moussaka; spinach risotto; herbed fish cakes; and beef bourguignon. The mushroom and sherry soup seems like something your gran would whip up and was pleasant enough, though the lamb’s kidneys in a powerful dark, red-wine based sauce trumps it on flavour. The moussaka was excellent – the creaminess of the béchamel working perfectly with the rich mince and aubergine. An almost luminous bright green spinach risotto came with a poached egg and bits of sundried tomato and was surprisingly light for such a starchy staple. Dessert consisted of crème brûlèe (three taps of a tea spoon confirmed a well-executed sugar crust) and stilton and port. It’s the kind of spread you imagine a hobbit would enjoy: varied and flavourful, with a comforting weight to the food, yet enough lightness too if you wanted a smaller meal. Great comfort food, ideal for a when you don’t feel like cooking, but with such a warm ambience this eatery would also make a fine choice for a celebration.
A strong selection of wines from the surrounding area includes the Barefoot house red and white.
As you’d expect from such a homey environment, the service is friendly and warm (and quick).
You enter through a bookstore into what feels like someone’s home. In winter the fireplace keeps it cosy, and the outdoor patio area is perfect for the long hot summer months. Owner/chef Mariclaire comes out to chat with her guests after each service. She wore shoes – possibly because it was cold.
Mariclaire has gained a reputation for sourcing the freshest ingredients, from her homegrown herbs to the rest of the larder.