Meaning 'root' or 'origin' in French, Reuben Riffel’s new restaurant, Racine, is located at the winery where he started out on his stellar career.
A refreshingly short menu highlights slow-cooked winelands fare, with the accent on offal dishes and organic pork. You can expect to find everything from ginger and tamarind braised beef cheek and slow-cooked pig’s cheek to grilled ox tongue.
The flavours are earthy, bold and robust, enhancing the slow-roasted main ingredient with Asian umami dressings and sauces. Share a tapas selection of Mediterranean-inspired starters, like Reuben’s signature chilli salted squid, or an unusual dish of crisp pigs’ tails in hanepoot and thyme syrup.
Artisanal ingredients sourced locally appear in all the dishes, from the charcuterie and cheese plate to the Franschhoek trout platter. The glazes, salsas, pickles, sauces and syrups are delicious, enhancing but never overwhelming the main attraction. Portions are generous and easily shared.
A chalkboard menu offers three starter, main and dessert specials daily. Vegetarians will find limited choice of roasted beetroot salad or pasta with tomato or baked pumpkin.
A short wine list focuses on craft beers, wines from Chamonix by the glass and bottle (with no mark-up on cellar-door prices) as well as other brands from the local Franschhoek area.
Staff members are attentive and efficient, with good background knowledge on the composition of signature dishes.
The vibe is relaxed family dining by day, intimate by night. In summer you can sit on a wooden deck in a zen fern-and-stream grove; inside the wooden and rietdak interior of the whitewashed stone tasting room makes for cosy dining.
A short kiddies’ menu caters for children with penne, burgers and ice cream, while an express menu offers charcuterie, pasta and sandwiches for those on the go.
Had the privilege to eat at Racine today for the first time. Setting fabulous! My wife raved about the sirloin steak prepared exactly as requested. I had the Miso braised beef cheek with roasted marrow bone as a side. What a wonderful combination. Probably the most tender meat I ever tasted. I have to warn Racine that next time I may be tempted to order the marrow bone 3 or 4 times! Something special. I have to compliment Racine that the price of the Chamonix wine is exactly the cellar price.