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Pierneef à La Motte

Pierneef à La Motte
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Cost
R200; Dinner - 5-course R595; 5-course R825 (with wine pairing)
Ambience
Classic elegance
Food
Fine-dining food, South African, Vegetarian
Payment
Amex, Mastercard, Visa

Critic's review

Katharine Jacobs

Food
No longer focusing purely on heritage food, chef Michelle Theron turns out Cape winelands dishes with robust flavour in this beautiful restaurant. The inventive menu delivers hearty portions. Dine à la carte by day, or return at night for the five-course tasting menu.

The meal begins beautifully with excellent breads presented in a wooden box. The ciabatta and soft, pillow-like mosbolletjies are memorable, particularly when slathered liberally with a delicious tomato pesto or the shiraz butter.

To start, the baked bonemarrow is dramatically plated for a comforting dish. If you’re after something lighter, the dish of dehydrated rosa tomatoes with ricotta is a refreshing option, and the hazelnuts are a nice accent.

Mains herald hearty dishes like Glen Oakes farm pork, a tasty rolled belly, with risotto and roasted apple; and a healthy portion of Laingsburg lamb, a punchy-flavoured shoulder served with slivers of homemade sausage, tasty tongue, and a barley risotto spiked with a little coconut – a clever detail.
Sustainable fish – in our case, angelfish – is another menu staple.

Desserts are plated with real attention to detail. The chocolate affair is a perfect rectangle of glossy glazed chocolate mousse paved around the edges with golden gravel. Science Fiction is a playful, lighter, fruity option, served in a glass beaker with a pipette. Eating it, and identifying all the elements, requires a scientist’s rigour.

Finish with a hot chocolate: a beautiful wooden palette-shaped tray comes with a decadent dollop of chocolate to stir into hot milk, and a little iced biscuit complete with a miniature painting for good measure.

Seated under the oaks on a summer’s day, dining here is a thoroughly pleasant experience.

Drinks
The estate’s wonderful wines join a wide range of names from the Franschhoek valley in a convincing wine list. There’s also Champagne – the real thing – in six varieties, and occasional garagiste inclusions, such as Stony Brook Lyle and My Wyn. The menu also recommends La Motte wines with each of the dishes.

Ambience
It’s a serene, beautiful space with plenty of wood and green accents. Long glass walls bring the gardens inside. The outdoor section was made for sunny summer days, with long tables under oaks and smaller tables on a deck overlooking a river. Book a spot next to the fireplace in winter.

Service
Attentive and good, for the most part.

And…
If you loved the bread, pick up a loaf – along with some lovely homeware, farm-fresh veggies and preserves – in the farm shop as you exit. And don’t miss the impressive collection of paintings by the restaurant’s namesake, Jan Hendrik Pierneef, in the gallery.

(September 2016)

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

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  • Greg Landman

    Food
    The “new” chef here, Michelle Theron, who took over the helm when Chris Erasmus departed, appears to have taken over effortlessly and has wisely not decided to re-invent the wheel. One will still find classics treated innovatively, with many paying close attention to the heritage of local cooking. A starter of Cape bokkom salad with tiny slivers of this smoked fish (an acquired taste typical of the Western Cape), interspersed with semi-dried tomatoes, dried apricots, quail eggs, toasted almonds and a wild garlic dressing, makes a suitable introduction to Cape Winelands cooking. A warm octopus terrine with pulled pork salad and saffron oil is a deliciously piquant way to open up the taste buds, while slow cooked lamb with eggplant molasses, served on a bed of warm curried lentil salad which is accented with mint infused sour milk puree, is inventive without getting precious. Cider-braised pork with salted caramel and whey-braised celeriac, supported by piquant apple sauce, is a winner.

    Wines
    The wine list is spectacular, with many local classics, including the excellent wines of La Motte, offered at very reasonable prices, considering the fine dining experience. There’s something for most tastes and pockets, as well as some foreign examples, but these of course are priced accordingly.

    Service
    Slick and smooth, as one would expect at a place of this calibre.

    Ambience
    The feeling is one of quiet luxury, with plenty of tasteful corners and easy chairs to help one take a load off and relax around the fire in winter, while a gazing out of large glass windows onto the stream outside. Summer brings al fresco dining at its best.

    And …
    Pop in at the Farm Shop where there are plenty of delightful things to take away.

  • Richard Holmes

    Food
    With the departure of chef de cuisine Chris Erasmus in May 2014, Michelle Theron had big shoes to fill. But Erasmus’s former sous chef has certainly stepped up to the pass, and the restaurant’s adventurous Cape Winelands cuisine is as good as ever. On the menu are dishes simultaneously adventurous and familiar, with homely ingredients given a new lease on life. The Cape Winelands chicken – baked with a pâté and a quail egg in the middle – is superb, and if you’re lucky, Theron’s hay-roasted quail will be on the menu.

    Local and sustainable ingredients are key, and much of the kitchen’s fresh produce comes straight from the estate’s gardens, making the ever-changing Cape salad a solid choice for a starter. Historic techniques and ingredients may form the structure of the menu here, but the end result is thoroughly modern. Well-priced for the quality of cooking, this is a must-visit in the Winelands.

    Drinks 
    There's an exemplary wine list with offerings at very fair prices. Alongside the full range of La Motte wines, almost all available by the glass, there's a special selection of older vintages from the estate’s vinotique. As if that wasn’t enough, the list offers a wide range of top estates both from in the valley and further afield, before ending with a good selection of international options.

    Service
    Excellent at every step, from the friendly receptionist at the art gallery to the maitre d’ and the well-trained waiting staff.

    Ambience
    It’s a restaurant with two halves. Indoors the atmosphere is quite formal, with a wide hearth, art on the walls and genteel décor. The terrace and outdoor tables are more relaxed and family-friendly – a delight come summertime.

    And...
    Do take a wander through the estate’s Pierneef gallery, home to dozens of works by the acclaimed landscape artist.

    (July 2014)

  • Greg Landman

    If dining in the company of some of the finest SA artworks – well, at least close to them – appeals, this restaurant is for you. The formidable combination of taste and money come together delightfully here. Perfect for lazy long lunch. The braised pork belly with mustard baby potatoes is a winner.
  • Greg Landman

    Food
    Named as it is after an iconic SA painter, the food pays homage to its local roots, with an occasional nod to classic French styles of cooking under the sure hand of chef Chris Erasmus. Starters include different and delicious Cape bokkom (dried fish) salad with dried apricots and quail eggs; and Franschhoek trout with horseradish ravioli, roasted cauliflower and sorrel milk, the piquancy of the ingredients a nice foil to the richness of the fish. The free-range chicken and hazelnut ballotine with green apples, lime atchar and chardonnay cream is delightfully fresh tasting, and the delicious the ingredients of the braised pork belly with mustard baby potatoes and house-pickled beetroot complement each other superbly. The banana and cranberry wentelteefje (French toast) with caramelised banana, guava ice cream and peanut butter mousse is irresistible.

    Wine
    At one of the most famous of South African estates, their wines are the main attraction.

    Service
    Impeccably smooth, always friendly and knowledgeable.

    Ambience
    What’s not to like about sitting in a beautifully spacious room surrounded by the things that the formidable combination of taste and money can achieve? Elegant without being fussy, the restaurant is situated among the historic buildings on the estate. A national treasure. In summer the doors are flung open for lunch, letting the trickling fountain sounds inside.

    And...
    Take time to visit the marvellous farm shop, the museum with its original Pierneef paintings and sketches, and maybe even take a hike before lunch to work up an appetite. (September 2013)

User reviews

  • Totally over priced and food was not good. My partner ordered the pork dish which was more fat than meat. Portions very small. Won't be going there again even though the service was excellent.
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  • We celebrated my wife's birthday last week with a special evening at the chef's table. The food was stunning, each course was absolutely delicious and paired beautifully with wines from the estate, as well as a few from other estates. We even got a fantastic French Pouilly Fume which I wish we'd drunk more of. Chef Michelle came to our table to explain each course and we chatted merrily about the different food and wines. The seafood Malay curry inspired by an age old recipe was magnificent and I loved the rich and hearty beef cheeks. The one course that let the meal down slightly was the dessert which coming from a pastry chef was a little odd. Just a plateful of different sweet things to share. We felt a little more effort could have finished the meal off with a bang instead of a fizzle. I must mention Pierre, our Maitre D, our host, our waiter, our sommelier. To call him any one of those would be wrong, for he was all of them and more. Quite frankly the best service we have had from anyone in any restaurant in the world EVER. Thank you.
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  • Completely over priced for the amount of food you get (and I'm not a big eater at all!). And when we complained it was pronounced a "lighter meal" on the menu. The manager's solution was a tray of desserts (which I don't eat). Not impressed and ruined a family lunch.
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  • We have been going to an annual conference in Franschhoek for the last nine years. We make the most of the opportunities to enjoy fine-dining. This year we decided to go to Pierneef at La Motte; the chef having agreed to put together a tasting menu for us paired with wine. A beautioful restaurant was beautiful, things went well until the main dish arrived. I was clear I was not eating my rump steak after the second mouthful. It was tough and stringy. Five of the ten diners made a similar decision, as did diners at another table. The Maitre’D came to explain to us that it is in the nature of rump – of course, in Jozi we don’t eat meat, nevertheless, we rejected the explanation that our difficulty was due to the difference between rump, sirloin and fillet! Upon which the Maitre D’ returned, having again spoken to the chef, to say that we should get up, walk to the kitchen and listen to the chef’s elucidation on why the dish was good! This is not an urban legend: and, the chef is Chris Erasmus!
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  • Wow! What a way to celebrate our wedding anniversary. The food was beyond description and must be enjoyed with your eyes closed, the taste overwhelms your senses and was out of this world. The Chef's table is definitely a must with each course, a beautifully selected wine for accompaniment. What a great way to end the year. Thanks to Chef Chris Erasmus for an outstanding dinner. You will definitely see me again soon!
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  • My absolute favorite wine farm restaurant! Whether a cold, rainy winter night or sunny summer day, the ambience is perfect. With consistently delicious, inventive food, slick service and great value, it's no surprise I keep coming back for more! Congrats on making it into the Top 10 - a well-deserved accomplishment!

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  • This is a fabulous restaurant. We went for lunch on the 1st of May and the food was outstanding (one of the most delicious meals I have had in ages). It is also incredibly good value for money and very child friendly. I can't wait to go back.

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  • Just beautiful, calm and interesting decor and food that was beyond exceptional. Portion sizes just right and the option of reasonably priced wine by the glass means that one can have your own food and wine pairing without needing to do the formal 6 course food and wine pairing.

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  • Beautiful setting, impeccable service, and the food takes you on a gastronomic journey. The kitchen staff clearly takes great pride in their work, and we particularly enjoyed watching the chefs in action which adds a sense of theatre to an otherwise perfect setting. We will most definitely return.

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  • Fabulous! The decor and ambience are wonderful and the food is even better!

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  • Lunch at Pierneef a la Motte is always special in my opinion. Have dined here a few times and have always had great meals. The menu is rather carnivorous but I always manage to find a vegetarian option! We ordered a garden salad (large) to share. It was a herb salad with nuts and roast vegetables. It was tasty but was 80% lettuce leaves and not much of anything else. This is where the disappointment ended! I ordered a caramelised baby onion, apple and sage tarte. It was absolutely delicious! Beautifully textured tart with a hint of sage. I ordered a side of roast vegetables which complimented the tart perfectly. My husband ordered the preserved lemon and rosemary braised Karoo lamb shank, he said it was very tasty and tender. Our meal was complimented with La Motte wine. Our waitress was attentive, friendly and very knowledgeable about the menu. Chris Erasmus is an incredible chef with such interesting menu choices. I always pop into the farm shop on leaving, to stock up on some delicious cakes.

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  • Have been wanting to get to La Motte for the past year and never got round to it, so when the opportunity to eat in Franschhoek arose today, that was the ultimate choice.
    The setting is quite surprising, did not expect such comfortable fun decor. Love the ambience and the service. The food was a big yes with a big but, for some reason, some elements of the plates were totally delicious and surprising, but some other had no place on the plate... almost in a weird way. My highlight was the "pig's sult" dish which was no other than a delicious fromage de tete. Big portions of food though.
    Will go back but maybe stick to starters only.

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  • I had the most amazing dinner and breakfast at this restaurant. The standard of food is comparable to anywhere in the world. It is an absolute must when visiting Cape Town

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  • Had dinner here last night. A fantastic experience with great service! Well done to the whole team!

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  • The service on two occasions has been appauling, abyssmal, horrible.

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  • It’s a stunning setting to go to while away on a Sunday afternoon! The service was very good - attentive but not overbearing. As a table of five, we all enjoyed our starters. As far as mains go, the lamb shank special of the day was fantastic. An interesting twist combining it with crayfish. Although the line fish tasted delicious, it was unfortunately very soft, erring on mushy. I would be tempted to say it was almost certainly frozen. It would be nice if they could source fresh fish. The porcini roast venison loin was cooked to perfection, but the watermelon and amber braai sauce reduction was very sweet - I'd say too sweet to pair it with meat. Don't interpret these comments as to take away from the experience - Pierneef is well worth the trip from Cape Town. I suppose at the end of the day, the chef’s interpretation of great food is bound to sometimes diverge from one’s own.

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  • Unbelievably consistent and amazing!

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  • Would like to get the email address of La Motte and the restaurant Pierneef email address please.

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  • What a beauty. It is the perfect package. You read and order from a very clean well explained menu, and when you see the dish in front of you it is exactly what you have prepared yourself for mentally, but extra love, passion and do much more. The service is excellent, the atmosphere always changes with the weather. When it is cold and rainy, the restaurant is warm and cozy. When it is hot, you feel the fresh mountain breeze, and the shadows of the outside trees are well appreciated. The wine served cold and crisp or at perfect room temperature is affordable and always delicious. This is a must to go to, and we will definitively be back for more.

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  • I had the pleasure of dining at Pierneef a La Motte last night. And what a pleasure it was! The venue is absolutely exquisite with no detail overlooked. I was pleasantly surprised by the approachable menu and reasonable prices. I loved that you could order any item off the menu as a starter or main portion. The food was excellent with the amouse-bouche (pickled tongue and green bean salad with kudu and apricot tartlet) possibly being the highlight of my meal. My yellow fin tuna Nicoise salad was exceptional as was my sirloin with wood sorrels. The meat was slightly tough but that is par for the course with sirloin. I was slightly disappointed by the “textures of chocolate” which I had for dessert. However, that could be due to the lack of description I managed to gain from the waitress or the menu. Overall, the food was fantastic, the ambience perfect but I thought the service did not match the rest of the experience and is not quite worthy of a “Top 10” rating. It was not terrible but the empty plates lingered on the table longer than they should have, wine glasses were not topped up regularly enough and our waitress lacked menu and wine list knowledge. Overall, a good dining experience though and I will definitely return.

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  • Popped into Pierneef a La Motte without a reservation on Sunday,the staff were very accommodating and gave us a table where patrons had cancelled. This was our first visit and I can truly say the food and service were excellent. The Jerusalem artichoke soup was so tasty . My husbands venison stew was delicious.The meat was extremely tender and came with an array of beans and veg which complimented the meat perfectly.Very generous portion.I struggled at first to find a vegeterian option as the menu is geared towards meat eaters! I eventually ordered a wild mushroom tortellini without the foie gras.It was sublime! An explosion of tastes and textures. Wine at R31 per glass was reasonable.The waitress was attentive and friendly.All in all a very nice afternoon at La Motte.
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  • Popped into Pierneef a La Motte without a reservation on Sunday,the staff were very accommodating and gave us a table where patrons had cancelled. This was our first visit and I can truly say the food and service were excellent. The Jerusalem artichoke soup was so tasty . My husbands venison stew was delicious.The meat was extremely tender and came with an array of beans and veg which complimented the meat perfectly.Very generous portion.I struggled at first to find a vegeterian option as the menu is geared towards meat eaters! I eventually ordered a wild mushroom tortellini without the foie gras.It was sublime! An explosion of tastes and textures. Wine at R31 per glass was reasonable.The waitress was attentive and friendly.All in all a very nice afternoon at La Motte.
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  • We had a fantastic experience at La Motte last Saturday afternoon. Everything was superb, from the driveway, with the statue in the water fountain of a woman whose cup is running over, to the amazing view and not to mention the restaurant itself. We have so much in the Cape, that one can become jaded, but La Motte has a very special feel and the menu has one impossible choice after the other. We were just so all round impressed and its not outrageously expensive on top of that.
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  • Pierneff at La Motte is a winner! Ambience excellent, food very interesting, child friendliness the best. How can you miss a great summers lunch by not visiting Pierneef? Thank you for a wonderful visit.
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  • Our dinner club went to Pierneef restaurant for our year-end get together ad we were blown away by the excellent service and food! I can recommend the Bokkom salad, Pork belly and Nougatine dessert!
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  • On this beautiful sunny Spring morning I drive from Strand to Franschhoek. Over Helshoogte Pass, which is now covered with flowering fynbos. I pass the wine estates of Zorgvliet, Thelema, Delaire and others.

    At the tourist office in Franschhoek, I gather information to send to my grandmother in The Netherlands. I (hand) write to her about all places we visit and now that the dark days in The Netherlands arrive again, I know she loves to receive my mail, so that she can explore all the places I have been.

    For my Mum’s visit in January I buy the map of the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve Day Hiking Trail (a permit costs R20, the map R10). I collect the Cap Classique Route, so that we can buy some of the Méthode Cap Classique sparkling wines and I buy the map of the village heritage walk which shows the historic buildings in the village of Franschhoek, like the old cemetery with stones of some old Franschhoek families (Roux, Haumann, Kriel, Hugo, Pepler) and the Berg Street Cottages where a number of black families lived in this area before apartheid.

    From the tourist information office I drive to La Motte as I will join the ladies lunch of the Dutch Club.

    I visit the Farm Shop @ La Motte, where I buy the lovely Shiraz loaf (thank you Abigail from EatOut for this tip!). I meet a very kind Dutch lady who gets also enthusiastic about my description of the Shiraz loaf and buys the 2nd loaf. When I see her later again, she tells me that her two other friends bought the last loafs. But we are getting a surprise as. when we have lunch, there are lots of slices of Shiraz loaf on the table.

    After the shop we visit the museum of South African artist Pierneef, a landscape artist who studied in The Netherlands. To my surprise, a small part of the museum is dedicated to Hanneli Rupert, a well-known mezzo soprano and married to the owner of La Motte.

    From the museum I walk to the wine cellar where I buy La Motte Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.

    Now that I have bought all goodies, I return to the Pierneef Restaurant where I opted for wood roasted endive with brie tart, a pickled tamarind aubergine and sorrel salad. With a glass of crisp La Motte Sauvignon Blanc. Both a great choice!!

    The service is friendly, the company is good, the food is great, the wine cold and crisp. What else can one wish for.
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  • I had long been accustomed to the high quality of La Mottes wines and when I heard about the restaurant opening I just had to venture over. I was definitely not disappointed! The food, ambience and service was excellent and affordable! I had the salmon and found it delectable - but my favourite was the dessert, named ontbyt - a wonderful fusion of small delectable bites. Pierneef a La Motte will definitely see me on a regular basis!
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  • As I have said in a preview comment, I would gladly return with my guests to this restaurant, which is exactly what I attempted to do by trying to make a phone reservation.

    My first call was on a Friday afternoon, requesting a table for the Saturday lunchtime. As requested, after listening to the long La Motte advertisement, I left a message with all my contact details to my perfectly serviceable phone.

    Saturday morning, before meeting my guests, I called again and left a second message referring back to the one of the previous day. Once again with all my relevant contact details.

    Needless to say, the restaurant deemed it unnecessary to even return my calls.

    My guests thoroughly enjoyed the other winelands restaurant where we dined, none the wiser about the unprofessional and possibly arrogant lack of response form this restaurant. It is a really bad move to alienate tour operators.

    Dare I say that the winelands is littered with the remains of restaurants who were so independent that they thought it was not necessary to respond to telephonic bookings.
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  • Maitre de, Simon welcomed us warmly and found a table for us even though we were walk-ins, the restaurant was full and it was Saturday afternoon lunchtime – Impressive start.

    Our waiter Jakobus was very friendly, well-informed and professional and it was a pleasure having him on our table.

    This child friendly restaurant is a lovely, wide open space with soothing water features and comfy benches for casual drinks under trees.

    Crisp fresh breads where served with mustard mayo and ‘olive oil’ which I though not to be olive oil as it tasted like vegetable oil. I was assured, by Simon, that it was indeed the real thing.

    Orders places and served within a remarkable 8 minutes. My bokkom salad was huge and could quiet easily have been a meal on it own. Packed with flavours from the West Coast, it was absolutely mouth-watering crunchy textures.

    The main dishes were equally large. I found the pork belly to be quite fatty but with removed skin it was more balanced and more pleasant to eat. My partner’s lamb rib was as smoky as advertised with rich jus that was slightly bitter or over-seasoned. Both dishes were substantial to the extreme and I guess in line with this being a family friendly restaurant. Big appetites are required at this generous restaurant if a 3 course menu is ordered.

    The location is a tastefully decorated al fresco restaurant with an adjacent elegant dining area as well. I am not that sure the barefoot children, splashing in the water features, will be that welcome in the elegant dining area. Having said that, if you are not attracted to children, stay away from corner table next to the water feature.

    We simply could not entertain the thought of dessert so ended with well made espressos.

    I thought it was very impressive that an attendant cleaned the toilets after every guest and sealed the toilet rolls with little stickers. I really hope they keep this up. I also hope they don’t put up a jungle gym as I will be gladly return to here with my guests.
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  • Had a great Sunday afternoon lunch on the stoep. Beautiful location, delicious food and great wines.
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Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Booking required
  • Child friendly
  • Dinner
  • Dress code
  • Eat Out reviewed
  • Fireplace
  • Food
  • Licensed
  • Lunch
  • Parking
  • Serves food
  • Smoking
  • Wheelchair
  • WiFi

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