La Petite Colombe

La Petite Colombe
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Gourmand Tasting menu 5 courses R795 excluding wine (R1345 including wine), 9 courses R1195 excluding wine (R1999 including wine)
Business meetings, Special occasions, Views
Contemporary fare, Fine-dining food, Modern
Amex, Diners Club, Mastercard, Visa
R80 (Local); R120 (International)

Critic's review

Seth Shezi

While everybody loves an underdog, La Petite Colombe defied all expectations of being overshadowed by its older, more famous sibling, La Colombe; opting to burst onto the scene and nabbing the coveted Eat Out Retail Capital New Restaurant of the Year award months after its opening. Now, after a full year, La Petite Colombe has not only settled into the ring but, if the reviews and hoopla are anything to go by, it has obliterated most of its competition with artful, classic French cooking, making chef John Norris-Rogers one of the new chefs to watch.

Head chef Norris-Rogers, under the guidance of celebrated chef-restaurateur Scot Kirton and La Colombe’s head chef James Gaag, has devised a menu born of La Colombe, yet decidedly its own blend of whimsical. Caraway sourdough bread with home-churned butter, sesame and roasted yeast kicks off the menu but only upon the serving of the popular Yellowfin tuna, aubergine, miso, naartjie and avocado starter does the epicurean splendour really take off. The gochujang-glazed pork, scallop and celeriac with wild garlic and horseradish is rich without being overly unctuous; while the ravioli of langoustine, curried hake veloute, cauliflower and coriander will have you seeing the culinary pearly gates. It bears mentioning that part of why La Petite Colombe’s dishes are so revolutionary is the understated manner in which they are served. Limited use of theatrics ensures guests are kept curious until that first bite, and oh my do these bites deliver!

Like a well-orchestrated dining performance between the starters and the palate cleansers ahead of the main course, diners are ushered to the kitchen’s ‘chef’s table’, complete with a live foliage display. Here diners enjoy an interactive course that is completed before them as well as a quick rundown of the kitchen, chefs and various stations. It’s a neat way to get guests to stretch their legs ahead of the main courses and also offer an up-close look into the behind-the-scenes of the kitchen. Having to choose between the fish course and red meat, usually Cape Wagyu sirloin, can prove a task too unfair for any food lover. Strong-arm a fellow diner into picking an alternative dish so you both get to taste the dishes.

For dessert one has the choice between a cheese-inspired dessert and a traditional sweet dessert. Opting for the cheesy option gives a wonderful glimpse into the pastry chef’s nuanced skill at crafting a keenly balanced dish. One such example was the Foxenberg goat’s cheese, goat’s milk caramel, kouign-amann and guava and tamarind served with Miles Mossop’s ‘Kika’ 2017 – a pairing triumph.

Craftily curated by head sommelier Andrew Cook, the wine pairing not only complements, but also enhances every dish’s flavour while revealing latent characteristics of the wine itself. I can’t be recommend it enough.

Hospitality veteran Morné Wessels might have left, but his legacy lives on – La Petite Colombe still offers some of the most polished service in the Cape.

The refurbished space is airy and muted, with a sensibly sagacious use of the ample light it enjoys.

Best for…
Date nights or for getting inspiration and falling in love all over again with the purity of elevated French cooking.

(August 2018)

Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our full editorial policy here.

  • Ambience
  • Service
  • Food
  • Nikita Buxton

    At new La Petite Colombe in Franschhoek, which takes over the space formerly occupied by The Tasting Room, chef-proprietors Scot Kirton and James Gaag are working closely with John Norris-Rogers, who has taken on the role as head chef of the new restaurant. The young chef, who worked closely alongside James at La Colombe in Constantia, impresses in this new role with beautifully executed food.

    In a beautifully humbling beginning, it’s hard to not fill up on the sourdough bread that arrives, steaming in a clay bowl with a side of home-churned butter that’s covered in sesame and roasted yeast dust.

    Following this is the amuse-bouche of Cape Malay pickled fish with creamy smoked snoek, piccalilli and salsa verde, in which these beautiful familiar flavours are presented theatrically on a bowl of seashells and dry ice. The second amuse-bouche is simply gorgeous in both looks and flavour. Soft ribbons of Asian-style salmon are dotted with aubergine, miso mayo, kalamansi, droplets of deep-fried avo, and wobbling umami jelly cubes.

    Next is the barbecue quail in the form of a little lollipop leg and breast with plump langoustine, smoked mussel velouté, bok choy and corn. The dish is playfully finished off with a satisfying crunch of popcorn. On the meatier end of the spectrum, the springbok tataki has a satisfying saltiness to it, along with burnt macadamia dust, Jerusalem artichoke espuma, red-wine-pickled onions, and a luminous pop of green lent by a dehydrated pistachio cake.

    Seared Wagyu rump with fall-apart braised brisket is taken to decadent heights with a rich, deep-fried sweetbread for mains. The robust flavours are wonderfully paired with the addition of soubise, burnt thyme and sherry velouté, and the garden of bright carrots and broccoli offers a fresh respite. The second main of citrus-glazed kingklip with a crunch of pancetta and buckwheat is cooked to perfection.

    For palate cleansers, a cold, misted glass tumbler arrives, with a zingy pineapple sorbet, fresh lime zest and coconut shavings. You’re then presented with a small vial of coconut water to pour over the refreshing, icy mouthful. It’s quite ingenious, really.

    The Meet the Chefs course sounds mysterious, but when the time arrives, your table is led to the open chef’s table in front of the kitchen, where you are greeted by one of the chefs, waiting to plate your next course. A small dome is presented with a pretty and intricate arrangement of pork belly scrolls, delicate ramen noodles, a perfectly poached quail’s egg and edible flower garnishes. The light, umami-rich celeriac broth is then poured into the mini ramen bowl and you are given chef’s tweezers to use as playful chopsticks. While some may find that savouring a meal in front of chef quite daunting, it appeals to those looking for more interaction and who are curious about the behind-the-scenes action in a fine-dining kitchen.

    For desserts, one of the options is melt-in-the-mouth nectarines with almond, yoghurt and geranium accompaniments. The shards of Valrhona Dulcey add a creamy and toasty finish – which is fantastic with straw wine. For those who prefer things less sweet, the asiago cheese dessert will tick all the boxes. It’s packed with punchy cheese flavours and textures, with a hint of sweet pear and fynbos honey, candied pecans and a clever crunch from dehydrated Japanese cheesecake.

    A small treasure chest of petit fours that resemble the richest jewels and gold precedes your bill. The chocolate and raspberry morsels are tart, while the rich sweetness of the golden nugget-like truffles dance on the tongue with popping candy.

    The menu reads like a comprehensive directory with useful tabs for wine types, including old-world wines and fine and rare bottles. Local names shine bright and show off what the Franschhoek valley has to offer. Sommelier Billet Magara Jnr is knowledgeable and presides over the extensive selection, which also includes some generous wines by the carafe.

    With a few of the team having moved from sister restaurant La Colombe, it’s no surprise that the service here is confident and professional. The Tasting Room’s welcoming manager Morné Wessels has also stayed on to ensure things run smoothly without a glitch.

    Muted and subdued tones with plentiful natural light have transformed the space from The Tasting Room days. The fresh new space has been designed by architects Rohan Young and Beverley Boswell to create a beautiful, welcoming atmosphere that’s elegant and sophisticated without being stuffy. In summer months, the foldout doors reveal a sunny patio for lingering lunches, while a toasty central fireplace warms the room in winter.

    A vegetarian gourmand menu is also available.

    (October 2017)

    Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our full editorial policy here.

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    • Service
    • Food

User reviews

  • La Petite Colombe was a delight for an evening meal on Sunday. We had been last year and noticed quite a lot of changes but the overall ambiance is still very nice. We started with a Saldanha bay oyster with tomato water and jalepeno which was very nice followed by the signature dish of yellowfin tuna which i must say was better than last time it has been refined a lot and was really delicious with it dots of various flavours incuding kimmchi, avocado and miso. The next dish was absolutely delicious it comprised of pork belly and scallop in wild garlic with a Vietnamese glaze. Raviolli of langoustine followed then a trip to the chefs table where we had the opportunity to speak to one of the sous chefs and have an egg and soldier but not as you would think it the soldier acctually had foie gras in it, yummy. A palate cleanser was followed by Mauritian sea bass with a tempura mussle and squid with a beautiful sauce, then the main course of herb crusted lamb with lamb neck rolled in puffed rice. The cheese course was goats cheese and tamarind gell and finally a nectarine dessert. Overall this was another exceptional meal and certainly in our top 3 South African experiences of food.
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  • Accepts credit cards
  • Booking required
  • Dinner
  • Food
  • Licensed
  • Lunch
  • Parking
  • Reservations recommended
  • Serves food
  • WiFi

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