Noordhoek Farm Village, with its unhurried pace and outdoorsy atmosphere, is a fitting home for The Foodbarn, a gem that celebrates quality produce and the good life. Top local ingredients are presented with French flourishes, impressive both to diners familiar with Franck Dangereux’s culinary chops (he was formerly head chef at Top 10 restaurant La Colombe, where he cooked for Oprah and Leonardo DiCaprio), as well as those who’ve arrived at this unpretentious restaurant with no expectations.
Starter surprises like pork tripe spring rolls feature alongside fish soup, steak tartare and mussel fritters on a seasonal menu, so even regulars could never become bored with Franck’s food. The prawn tempura on a confit tomato, aubergine and avo tian with a sweet chilli and basil salsa is full of flavour: the crunch of the golden batter providing contrast to the delicate prawn flesh. Vegetarian mushroom ravioli pockets are superb in both taste and texture, served with a silky black truffle sauce.
Mains are generously and attractively plated, but without too much fuss. Deciding between the likes of roasted lamb rack with tomato and pecorino quiche, sustainable fish in a puff-pastry case, and intriguing ‘offal of the day’ (kidney and lamb pot pie) is difficult. In the end, the pumpkin and celeriac risotto (off the more than sufficient vegetarian menu) is deliciously tender and glossy, with the addition of toasted almonds and baby leaves for crunch, while the grass-fed Botswana sirloin is pleasingly pink, served with a polenta croquette – punchy with garlic – and a wickedly rich bourguignonne sauce. This is elegant, mouth-watering food with little extra touches to place it high in the estimation of fine dining lovers, despite its more accessible appeal.
Wine pairings are suggested for each of the dishes on the menu, which is a nice touch. If you are looking for just a glass of something else, the list has a handful of options for each varietal at surprisingly reasonable prices.
The white glass-pane doors of the restaurant open onto a welcoming interior. Striking an easy balance between rustic and smart, the exposed-beam thatch roof, stone-coloured floors and pale blue and chalky white décor create a farm-style atmosphere but with lightness and grace. Quirky elements like an old window framing vintage silver cutlery and curling decorative metalwork complement the fancier French pieces like a ball-and-claw reception table.
Staff are warm and charming. You receive the right amount of attention and feel as if your experience genuinely matters to the waiter. Cutlery is deftly replaced after each course, wine and water glasses are topped up discreetly, and an off-menu milkshake is even whipped up in a wink. The kitchen is on the ball, with courses arriving perfectly on time.
The Foodbarn restaurant is in a separate building to Foodbarn Deli and Tapas (on the opposite side of the large Noordhoek Farm Village parking lot), so you might find yourself wandering around under the stars if you arrive for the first time at night. Keep right as you enter the lot and you’ll see the old barn building.
By Linda Scarborough