When we heard the news that former Kramerville Bakery owners Alex and Eloise Windebank were planning to open a casual fine dining restaurant, we knew we were in for a treat. Since Farro opened in March, we’ve heard rumours of some pretty special dishes. Kholeka Kumalo goes to investigate.
Cost: R160 average main meal
Best for: Mid-week date night or a weekend catch-up with your inner circle
Parking: Ample undercover parking bays and a few always-occupied open-air bays
Star ratings: Food and drinks: 4; Service: 5; Ambience: 4
If there is such a thing as casual fine dining, this is it. Expert cooking techniques meet interesting flavour combinations and skillful presentation, and none of these factors make the restaurant feel any less like a home. It’s like a fancy night in.
The menu takes its inspiration from modern European fare. It’s concise – divided into snacks, starters, mains and desserts – and changes weekly.
The snacks are much smaller, more affordable starters, neither of which will rob you of room for your mains. To begin, the bite-size, lightly crumbed balls of fishcakes, served with a lemon mayonnaise (which would be good enough to eat without the fishcakes), come highly recommended. And from the starters, you’ll never taste a Jerusalem artichoke velouté as comfortingly smooth and creamy as the one served with the smoked ham hock roll.
For mains, the crispy lamb shoulder is an unexpected treat. It’s served off the bone and packed into a crumbed parcel, resting on a bed of pearl barley and a pesto-like sauce on the side. The pork belly is also full of textural surprises, served with long shards of pork crackling, the softest pockets of gnocchi and a slightly sweet and crunchy apple relish.
For dessert, there’s a warm chocolate brownie drenched in thick salted caramel sauce that combines well with banana ice cream – even if you don’t like banana ice cream. If you’ve run out of space, you can always end things off with some Holden Manz port aka ‘a glass of something sticky’.
Just when you thought you might be tired of G&T, here comes Farro’s signature G&T made with kumquat gin. Their negroni is also mixed to perfection. The wine list comprises small-batch wines, which the waitron is more than happy to talk you through. For an easy-drinking red wine, try the ‘fun and fruity’ Jikken Bareru Tinta Baroca or Gabrielskloof The Blend, with the apt description, ‘tastes like a second bottle’.
Friendly, passionate and attentive. It’s always a good sign when your waitron has a great sense of pacing between meals and drink top-ups and can share informed recommendations with sensitivity to taste, texture and mood.
Housed as it is inside a shopping centre, Farro’s cosy, chic and contemporary vibe is something of a surprise. It’s a small space with seating inside and out (although inside is cosier) and charming furniture that feels familiar – think school chairs reinvented as dining chairs. Exposed piping, unfussy candlelit tables, and art on loan from artist Michael Meyersfeld complete the picture.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.