Diane de Beer
From the welcoming hearty, home-baked bread with duck liver pâté and fresh butter with a handful of bite-sized snacks to the perfectly combined dessert of poached pear, quince purée and salted caramel sauce, the meal is perfection on every level. It is masterfully clear in intent, with taste, texture and balance all part of the equation. This even extends to the plating, which comes on carefully chosen crockery – each plate has an individual feel to it, just like the meal does.
The octopus with the mushroom, leek and Kalahari truffle is delightfully reminiscent of rich red meat and the lamb with tamarind and cauliflower transports you to the heart of a farm kitchen. Tuna with celeriac, apple and crab and the bouillabaisse with fennel, pearl onion and dill both had veers off in unexpected fashion with individual flair. There’s a simplicity yet depth of taste that’s intoxicating, and this one meal clearly stamps the chef’s signature with comfortable confidence.
Fermier’s stated goal is sustainability, and much of the fresh produce and fish consumed has been supplied by the aquaponics farm that forms part of the property. Nine courses can be intimidating to present or to consume, but in both, they have mastered the process with aplomb. Like everything else, it hit all the right marks. The menu changes seasonally, which is also a treat.
If the wine pairing offered with the set menu does not appeal, choose from several well-considered wines from the wine list, with the help of their sassy sommelier, Loraine Magombo.
Staff are engaging and informed, creating a warm atmosphere during the meal. They are clearly part of the room yet never intrusive and add to the enjoyment of the evening.
The interiors are as innovative and individual as the rest of the restaurant, with exposed rafters and raw wood exemplifying the simplicity and warmth of what has been established here. In winter the fires keep the airy venue warm, while in summer, large hinged doors are opened to welcome Pretoria’s spectacular weather.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our full editorial policy here.
Chef Adriaan Maree’s sustainability driven menu landed Fermier a nomination for the Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards in 2017.
To get the meal off to a hospitable start, the house-baked bread is served with both duck-liver parfait and whipped butter, as well as the tastiest little lamb fritter imaginable, topped with pickled onion rings. Although the menu changes regularly, expect to start with something as innovative (and superbly plated) as octopus with masala purée, orange purée, aioli, dehydrated tomatoes, crispy capers, tomato dressing and tomato flowers. A deliciously tender and juicy scallop is just seared, its sweetness offset by black radish, turnip and broccoli. Kabeljou is presented with artichoke purée, the most delicious braised fennel, grapefruit, and a little salad that includes seaweed oil. The cured duck breast is served sliced with bone marrow, a poached quail egg, duck shavings and duck consommé.
The menu includes two different beef courses. The first, a piece of short rib, is presented with cauliflower purée, black garlic, hazelnuts, dehydrated cauliflower and truffle shavings, while the second is perfectly tender slices of sirloin artfully presented under a covering of wilted red cabbage, rhubarb and a deep rich jus complementing the pink sirloin.
This is followed by a cheese course that once again speaks of elegance and refinement. Dessert on this occasion consists of fried apple slices with apple and smoked-raisin custard, almond custard, quince purée, ginger crumble, burnt butter ice cream and an almond-sesame brandy snap. Despite its intricate presentation, it still manages to be comforting and delicious.
Both the food menu and wine list are presented in the most beautiful hand-crafted leather folders. If the wine pairing offered with the set menu does not appeal, choose from several well-considered wines from the wine list, starting with some interesting bubblies.
The dining room is managed by a lively and lovely group of servers. All waitrons appear to be totally in tune with their guests, ensuring that the wines are served at the correct time before each new course. Waiters are friendly, engaging and able to answer any questions confidently. Where this is not possible, they’re happy to enquire from the chef.
The winner of the 2017 Eat Out Style Award, Fermier has a rustic, sustainable interior, with exposed rafters and raw wood, creating a unified and harmonious interior that is most certainly different from the bigger, brassier look favoured by most modern-day restaurants. The tables and chairs are beautiful yet simple, made in solid, heavy wood. In summer large, hinged doors open up to allow in nature, whilst in winter massive fireplaces are discreetly fed from behind. Flues run underneath the floor as a clever design feature to keep the space warm and cozy. The kitchen is completely open and visible to the entire restaurant, but it seems the kitchen staff has been trained to go about their work with the minimum of fuss and noise, so there’s no evidence of raised voices or tempers.
This restaurant is situated on a shared property where all sorts of other enterprises operate, such as the ceramic studio from which the restaurant sources most of its beautifully tactile crockery, and an aquaponics farm supplying the restaurant with much of its leafy produce and fish. Outside the restaurant, some staff tend to produce in their spare time from the restaurant, as a means of generating additional income.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay their own way. Read our full editorial policy here.