A sunny winter’s day was a perfect inspiration for a first lunch at Fyndraai, the South African-style restaurant at Solms-Delta wine estate. Whilst it opened eight months ago already, this newest addition to the Franschhoek restaurant scene has been very low key about its presence, preferring to let word of mouth spread the word, says the charming Manager Annalize. It clearly has worked, Stephen Flesch, Chairman of Slow Food Cape Town, being spotted at the restaurant, entertaining American clients at one of the tables.
Housed in the building which also contains the winetasting room and the informal slave museum, it was renovated for the restaurant opening. First built in 1740 as a wine cellar, then a fruit packing store, then staff accommodation, and now an interesting restaurant building, its history is reflected through the inside glass floor, revealing the excavated foundations of the original building. For those fearing heights, even at 30 cm above the foundation, it is scary to walk on. Annalize jokingly said it gets easier to walk on the glass panels after a glass of wine!
One must park around the side of the building, and the first impression of the broom and mop drying in the sun is quickly forgotten when one receives the friendly welcome from Annalize, previously with French Connection.
One can sit at tables on the terrace overlooking the lawn and the vineyard, or on the large lawn, or inside. They have a lovely bouquet of fresh flowers, and blue place mats, to match the corporate blue of the branding of the restaurant.
The chef is Shaun Schoeman, previously of Mont Rochelle, and the menu looks surprisingly good and the three roll varieties served are warm and delicious. At the Oesfees earlier this year food was prepared in bulk, and the writer was fearing that one would be served more of this at Fyndraai. But one need not have feared â€“ the quality at the restaurant is miles above that which was served at the Oesfees.
Given the money and planning that has gone in setting up the restaurant, the low quality of the menu presentation on a clipboard was disappointing, and showed some handling by other guests. The menu contains an interesting selection of South African starters, mains and desserts, reflecting the country’s Malay and other origins.. The starter list included musselpotjie, vegetable samoesas, “gebakte pampoen flan”, spicy beef frikkadelle, and “smoor snoek and prawn sambals”. The chef allowed a tasting portion of the frikkadelle, served with his own tomato and onion chutney â€“ it was wonderful.
The main course choice is catch of the day, “grilled Toontjiesrivier quail”, Fyndraai vegetable risotto, traditional bobotie, lamb neck, and roasted leg of lamb, in the price range of R 79 â€“ R 90. As a special one can also order a lamb fillet or a venison ragout. The latter dish had the best-ever mash but the ragout was disappointing in that the springbok pieces were too large to eat with a fork only, and were rather tough. A complimentary glass of white wine is served with the meal, which follows a glass of Solms-Delta Karri, a “honey fermented beverage” made in the historical way, which is served as a welcome drink.
For dessert the choice is a chocolate banana tart, “boeber pudding”, malva pudding and vanilla soufflÃ© pancake. The latter was delicious.
Each item on the menu has a Solms-Delta wine recommendation to suit the dish. No other Franschhoek wines are served in the restaurant.
Should one wish to enjoy a picnic instead, one can do so by sitting at the tables on the lawn or at the Dwars River bank, enjoying the basket of vegetables, biltong and nuts, “patatslaai”, cheeses, chicken tandoori, smoked Franschhoek trout, Cape breads, apple tart, fruit salad and a bottle of water, at R 120 per head.
Little could beat the country feeling with a tractor working in the nearby vineyards, birds twittering and local music such as the African Jazz Pioneers creating a peaceful ambience. In summer the wine estate is planning to do live music on Saturday afternoons.
The total cost for a main and a dessert, as well as a cappuccino, with the complimentary glass of Karri and glass of wine was R 151 for one person.
Overall, Fyndraai is worth a return visit. The service of Annelize was outstanding, while her colleagues need a little help in being smarter when it comes to receiving the payment.
Fyndraai is open from Wednesdays to Sundays, from 12h00 – 16h00. Call tel 021 874 3937.
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