Savouring elegance at Le Lude: chef Nicolene Barrow’s French-inspired Orangerie

eat out magazine

It will come as no surprise that Franschhoek, home to some of the country’s best wine farms, is also where you’re able to find some of the country’s best restaurants. From high-end fine dining to low-key comfort cooking, there is no shortage of remarkable food experiences in this corner of the Western Cape. And among the plethora of wine estates to visit, few stand out like Le Lude, which is known not only for its impeccable Cap Classiques but also for the farm’s Orangerie restaurant which won an Eat Out star at the 2023 Eat Out Woolworths Restaurant Awards.

Helmed by head chef Nicolene Barrow, the Orangerie perfectly complements Le Lude’s ethos of marrying tradition and excellence. Drawing on the farm’s surrounds, as well as chef Nicolene’s travels and time working abroad, the Orangerie pays tribute to classic, French-inspired fare. Having worked in the kitchens of culinary giants – including Michel Roux Jr at Le Gavroche – Nicolene has developed a respect for her craft. Elegant fare at its core, the Orangerie is a sumptuous display of refined food in a warm, welcoming environment.

“Our food is not overworked,” says Nicolene. “It is elegant and sophisticated, yet unpretentious.” Without conforming to any rules, the menu has a decidedly French theme running through it, complete with Gruyère soufflé, onion soup, and mussels (steamed in Le Lude Brut, of course).

“We balance French influences with seasonal local ingredients, ensuring that each dish tells a story of our surroundings and cultural diversity,” says Nicolene.  The surroundings, especially, are important to the restaurant’s story. While the estate’s wine would be inspiration enough, for Nicolene, it’s so much more. “The connection with Le Lude extends beyond mere location; it influences our menu through its farm-fresh produce, vineyards and gardens,” she says. She notes that despite the vinous environment, the restaurant’s wine offering doesn’t adhere to conventional pairings. “Instead, we offer a selection of local and regional wines that excite us, and showcase lesser-known wine farms,” she explains.


Entrusting a vision Between Nicolene’s skill, the restaurant’s idyllic setting and the prolific wine estate, it’s no surprise that the Orangerie consistently churns out some of the country’s finest food. But that’s not all Nicolene credits for the restaurant’s success. “I’d like to highlight the importance of every staff member – they’re an integral part of the success of Le Lude and the Orangerie,” she says. “Without them, the best ideas and visions cannot be realised.”


Nicolene has perfected her recipe for success, staying true to her love for food while being respectful of the landscape and the produce it provides. She’s also mastered balancing refined food.

Images: Shirley Emms

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