Address: Chamonix Wine Estate, Uitkyk Street, Franschhoek
Tellphone number: 021 876 8415
Lunch hours: Wednesday to Saturday 12pm to 2.30pm; Sunday 12pm to 2.30pm
Dinner hours: Wednesday to Saturday 6pm to 8.15pm
Average price of main course: R235
Parking: Secure parking
Best for: Couples, groups, locals and tourists who want to enjoy exquisite food in a relaxed, beautiful setting.
Arkeste by Richard Carstens is situated in a historic, quaint building in a wooded corner of Chamonix Wine Estate on the outskirts of Franschhoek. The restaurant name references the ancient Greek poet, Archestratus, Europe’s first gourmand to write about the secrets of ancient Greek cuisine.
The food at Arkeste is described as “relaxed fine dining” and, yes, the ambience is relaxed, and the food is certainly very fine. After three decades of producing culinary masterpieces for top establishments around the country, Arkeste affords chef Carstens a cosy, serene space in which to revisit his classics – such as the iconic baked Alaska with salmon and his famous Franco-Japanese fusions – alongside technically accomplished, superb dishes showcasing the best of the Cape’s produce.
The concise a la carte menu is cleverly conceptualised to suit omnivores, vegetarians and vegans. You should always indulge in Richard’s baked salmon Alaska whenever it appears on the menu. The crisp prawns with prawn “chorizo”, heerenbone, edamame, fennel and bouillabaisse sauce served with a round of toasted bread and rouille is a delicious melange of flavours and textures. The beauty of chef Carsten’s dishes lies in the harmony of all the elements, where no element overpowers and the overall impression is one of light, subtly crafted synergy.
Each plate is an artwork with no superfluous elements. The lemon-glazed linefish with purée de pommes, greens and Brussels sprouts is ensconced in a light, fragrant curry sauce with highlights of bright herb oil. The sauce bigarade served with confit duck, sunflower seeds, sweet potato and orange is rich and delicious without being cloying.
A dessert with orange buchu ice cream, almond parfait, orange cake, curd, almond streusel and meringue was delicate yet satisfying – a clear note to end a most satisfying meal.
Arkeste serves wines from Chamonix estate. On the server’s recommendation, the Chamonix Reserve Pinot Noir 2020 paired beautifully with the confit duck. The service is on point – friendly, knowledgeable and professional, yet never intrusive.
Arkeste’s setting is truly magical, with a woodlands feel that you would not expect on a farm so close to the centre of Franschhoek. Chef Carstens has always been passionate and innovative. At Arkeste, he has a beautiful, soothing environment in which to share his culinary expertise.
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