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.
This is very much comfort food without being in portions that will sink you. The menu changes every day depending what’s fresh and in season. The herbs are from Mariclaire’s own garden. Expect a pasta dish, maybe a casserole, delicious fresh salads, an expertly done piece of meat, the freshest fish, and something sweet and satisfying to end off.
Very good list, mostly from this important wine area, that has been carefully chosen and well-priced.
Very good with that extra touch of making you feel right at home, while the owner often emerges from the kitchen to see how things are going.
This is a charming little cottage in the back streets of town, away from the hurly burly of the cliff front and all those tourists. The enclosed courtyard with its tinkling fountain and fresh flowers is just the place to be on a sweltering summer afternoon.
Pop in at the cute little book shop in front while your meal is being prepared (or afterwards) for some interesting reading. (GL, October 2012)