Protégé is billed as a showcase of young talented chefs, with Cameron Smith at the head of the kitchen, under the guidance of Scot Kirton and James Gaag. This restaurant is the embodiment of the casual fine-dining concept, with everything working in a balance that is so easy to love. The food is breathtakingly plated, but with wide appeal. You know what everything is on the plate, but it tastes better than you’ve ever had it before. The setting feels upmarket, chic and sophisticated, but still warm and relaxing.
You’ll want your lunch to last forever; second prize is coming back as soon as you can. To start, buckle up for the sourdough toast with golden chicken butter, and more butter topped with wild-garlic oil, confit garlic (squeeze it over the toast if you know what’s good for you), glossy olives and tender biltong. How could it get better? It does: with edamame beans with a kick of sriracha and sesame seeds and the unreal Korean fried chicken with coriander-infused whipped buttermilk.
It’s brave starting with flavours this big, but the next course delivers. Seared tuna with spiced squid, crisp jalapeño and avocado shows off the skills of this La Colombe stable (does anyone do tuna better?). The unassuming-sounding beetroot tart with smoked olive, semi-dried tomato, capers, sage and goat’s cheese is inventively plated and delivers layers of flavour. Never mind the vegetarians – this will tick the boxes for any meat-eater, too.
If you don’t go for cauliflower risotto or the malay crayfish, there’s sweet, smoky, fruity springbok loin with baby spinach, stone fruit and smoked pomme purée, or lamp rump with addictive caponata, Jerusalem artichoke and mild peri peri.
Dark chocolate with peanut, pistachio and raspberry will please most; otherwise opt for the fun and fresh mango cannoli pineapple sorbet, coconut cake and meringue shards.
Wines are mostly from Franschhoek, with a few cocktails and craft beers. Bubbly by the glass is always tempting.
Charming people from the area look after guests with unaffected warmth and pride. The list of the ‘cast’ members on the menu is a lovely touch.
Beautifully appointed, with touches of wood, cream, green and gold. Tall windows let in views of the garden and mountain. The open kitchen provides some gentle bustling in the background, but it’s calm and serene; special without being stuffy.
A special Winelands lunch that packs a punch.
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Lovely dining experience! Tuna was amazing, as well as the oysters!! We loved the concept. The staff and hostess were very professional and friendly. The portions were a little small but nevertheless we had a lovely evening!
Mmmmmmhhh delicious that’s all my friends were saying
We seem to have new restaurants popping up left, right and centre but there are no complaints from us.
Protégé opened this weekend in Franschhoek in the old space of the Garden Room and Bar at Le Quartier Français - I am silently contemplating on moving to Franschhoek purely for the sheer abundance of good restaurants.
Protégé is a Scott Kirton establishment - The guy who headed up La Colombe. Protégé. Scott Kirton. La Colombe. Just those tree words were enough to tell me that we were going to be wowed and wowed we were.
Protégé focuses more about sharing plates like you tapas. The only issue I have is that basically everything looks great so I had to restrain myself. My better have broke down our courses. We started of some Sourdough with Goats Butter, Olives and Biltong. Bread was warm and soft. The Goats Butter was excellent and that was some good biltong. I just had to try out their Asian Oysters because I love that everyone puts their own spin on it and Protégé didn't disappoint - plump and fat oysters hidden under a sharpish dressing. Usually we start with some MCC but decided to let our hair down and sample their signature cocktails. Basil and Raspberry Mojito for me and a Passion Fruit Margarita for him - both were delicious.
SPICED SQUID with Chorizo, guacamole, cucumber and lime. The squid was cooked perfectly. A perfectly balanced dish.
KERALA STYLE FRIED LINE FISH with Labneh, cucumber and pickles. I have an unhealthy obsession with Kerala Fish Curry or Fried Fish. The first thing that hits you is the smell and no it isn't fishy. It was more of a roasted spice coupled with fresh curry leaves smell. Anyway, this dish was excellent with a mixture of textures. A truly authentic Keralen dish.
This lovely seafood course was washed down with their Elder Flower French cocktail - a soft and sweet smelling cocktail.
ROTI with Braised lamb, herbs and pickles. Perfect little roties that were soft and fluffy with the most tender lamb. Delicious but be sure to order two portions as you won't want to share these.
CONFIT PORK BELLY with Mozambican prawns and miso corn. The Pork Belly was cooked really well to the point where it actually melted in my mouth. Prawns were cooked perfectly. A lovely dish.
KFC with Coriander and buttermilk. So he came up with this funny acronym for his instagram post. KFC done right is Korean Fried Chicken and this was done so right. The Coriander and buttermilk foam/dipping sauce was the perfect accompaniment.
EAST COAST CRAYFISH done Cape Malay style. Now I was a bit apprehensive about this dish as I like my crayfish plain and simple with some butter and garlic. Having said that I truly enjoyed every mouthful of this version.
This course was washed down with their Geranium Gin and Tonic. It was ordered because we saw a couple floating past and it looked so beautiful with the pink colour and frozen block of ice with a Geranium flower in it. Beautiful with a lovely flavour and aroma.
For dessert I opted for the VANILLA PANNA COTTA with Macadamia and strawberry.
A lovely dessert that was a cool and light ending to an amazing lunch.
He couldn't say no to the Protégé selection of CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES and it was a good choice too.
The service was excellent even though this was only their second day. The food is outstanding and I will have to dine there again as I still want to try all the other dishes. If you sit inside you will have an excellent view of the kitchen and see the amount of concentration as well as work that goes into these sublime dishes. Definitely a restaurant to visit if you are going to Franschhoek.