The French sure know their way around a kitchen and French restaurants seem to be popular by default as a result. Who can resist a good confit, a delicate duck liver paté or even a well-prepared, fragrant ratatouille? Right at the end of 4th Avenue in Parkhurst, a little restaurant called Bistro Vine attracts regulars, first daters, families and food lovers night after night with the irresistible lure of French cuisine.
Chef and owner Daniel Vine says that he draws inspiration from all styles of cuisine. The backbone of the Bistro Vine menu is undoubtedly French, but also includes a South African flavour or two. While a little light on the vegetarian side, the menu offers a wide variety of dishes for most any palate. It’s worth taking a little time to enjoy a starter from the extensive starter menu. The grilled wild mushrooms are simply divine. Served with slivers of Parmesan cheese and a salty olive tapenade, it’s a dish worth lingering over. Also investigate the pear slices with blue cheese crostini.
The main course menu is where the French influence really comes through, with steak tartare, pork loin and duck confit tempting the hungry diner. Vegetarians can sadly only have the ratatouille, but thankfully it’s so delicious that you can happily eat it more than once.
Bistro Vine’s wine list consists of a collection of French classics intermingled with South African wines. While slightly on the pricey side, with the cheapest bottle coming in at R175, you’ll have more than enough options to choose from. Like Bistro Vine, the French house wine is a true French and South African fusion. Produced by the Grier family of Villiera wines at a winery outside the French village of St Paul de Fenouillet, the French-style wine is light and pairs well with the delicate flavours produced by Daniel and his team.
The waiters are well trained and very familiar with the menu. They are friendly and efficient without ever being overbearing. Daniel Vine himself can also often be found serving tables, chatting to diners or managing the bar.
Few things really compare to the inviting bustle of a full restaurant. Bistro Vine is all about white table linen, whimsical black-and-white photographs and the cheerful clink of cutlery. Sublime!
By Kristia van Heerden
Photographs courtesy of the restaurant.