Chef Chris Erasmus, famed Franschhoek forager, brings his burgeoning imagination and lust for the most local of ingredients to Foliage – a warm and inviting restaurant in the heart and hearth of the Cape winelands. For Erasmus, the cornucopia of flora and fauna indigenous to his surroundings remains the cornerstone of his culinary creations. Traditional plates are given a locally inspired re-imagining, dotted with treasures from the Franschhoek forest floor. This results in surprising combinations, like the yellowfin-tuna tartare with herb stems, wood sorrel, persimmon atchar and a horseradish ‘egg’.
Infused with aromatic smokehouse flavour, the nest of barbecue whey-braised Spier beef brisket, wild watercress pommes purée, porcini and wild herbs takes you directly to the campside fire. Continuing the theme, there’s a s’mores-inspired caramelia delice dessert with peanut butter and marshmallow chocolate rock. It’s a perfect harmony of sweet nostalgia. The menu changes with the passing of the seasons and, often, daily. Thus Foliage never fails to fascinate.
A solid wine list offers the best of the Franschhoek wine valley. Foliage offers a great way to explore, glass by glass, this world-renowned location through its viticulture.
A relaxed air of friendly professionalism seems to flow effortlessly between the staff, who are well-trained, attentive and detail-oriented while remaining discreet and relaxed. They show a comprehensive understanding of the menu as well as good knowledge of the produce and its provenance.
There are two main dining areas within the restaurant and the area with the open-plan kitchen is by far the more interesting and fun one. The hustle and bustle of the kitchen and the nuanced interaction of the cooks never fails to delight diners who, beyond simply eating the very fine food, are shown the theatre behind the perfect plates. The décor is simple and unassuming, playing second fiddle to the drama of the dining experience. Foliage brings together the precision of fine dining with the heart and lack of pretence one would expect of a bistro.
Try the in-house cocktail for a final hurrah! The menu also provides well thought-out options for non-meat eaters, not just the cursory substitution of a protein.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.
Chris Erasmus has taken firm root at his own place in town, attracting a wildly enthusiastic audience from all over. Foraging is the name of the game, with he and his staff to be found in the hills around Franschhoek, collecting the bounty of the earth.
Flavours of sorrel and basil, forest mushrooms and wild herbs, river greens, nettles and pine rings are all used to good effect in his cooking. The natural theme is continued through methods of slow smoking, charring and glazing, and the use of free-range and pasture-fed meats and seafood.
The menu changes with the seasons, and often daily, but you might find things like braised kudu shank boudin (sausage) and grilled springbok served with rich bonemarrow, river cress, mushrooms and wood sorrel, or slow-roasted pork belly with dandelion and pumpkin seeds, crushed potatoes, beetroot and baby carrots. The knockout dessert is the caramelia delice with salted peanut butter, macerated strawberries and a chunk of honeycomb to set it all off.
A very good wine list, featuring some of the best of Franschhoek and other regions in the Cape.
Smooth, knowledgeable, friendly and warm in the country manner.
Foliage is at its best in the evenings, when the cosy interior positively glows with warm wood finishes and low lighting. The open-plan kitchen, where you can see – and smell – the cooking, is most appealing.
Booking is absolutely essential, and do make any dietary preferences known beforehand.
Eat Out critics dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.