I have mixed feelings about some Franschhoek restaurants, but I have no hesitation in recommending the newly opened Café Benedict, which opened a few days ago in the new Franschhoek Centre on the main road.  The highlight was the friendly and refreshing chef and manager Llewellyn Lambert, and the excellent value for money offered.

Lambert has only been in Franschhoek for two weeks, having been handpicked by Robert Maingard, the developer of the Franschhoek Centre and owner of Café Benedict.  Lambert previously worked at Quarters in Durban, and brings a refreshing approach to pricing and services offered – the slices of cake cost R15, for example, an unbelievable price.  He stated that he will be charging reasonable Durban prices!   Lambert intends offering his clients a bottomless cup of coffee, and wireless internet will be set up soon, a free service for his clients.   I loved his view on customers, and his role being that of a “tour guide taking you on a food tour”.   Long-term customer relationship building is Lambert’s policy.   As I sat down, he came to say hello, and brought a selection of magazines to the table. 

The restaurant is spacious, with high-gloss black-and-white floor tiles, and attractive white tables and chairs set up inside and outside.   Cutlery is elegant, with paper serviettes offered. 

I ordered a foamy cappuccino (R18), and got more than I expected, it being made with LavAzza coffee, served with a finger biscuit, and perfectly made.   I had a Duck Pancake for lunch, a crispy Peking duck styled pancake containing Asian greens, Asian style pickled carrots, mange-tout, and served with a cranberry jus (R55). 

Breakfast is served all day, and includes Chef’s Eggs Benedict (R30); omelette – R15 for the basic omelette, and R20 extra for added smoked salmon, parma ham or bacon, and R15 extra for vegetarian fillings; “Get up & go breakfast” (a single fried egg, bacon and toast), at R25; full English breakfast (R55); and a health breakfast (R30).   “Teatime treats” include savoury muffins and cakes of the day (when I was there they offered a choice of chocolate and almond torte, a blueberry cheese cake, and lemon meringue).  Desserts cost around R40, and include pecan pie, crème brûlèe and chocolate brownies.  Salads cost between R45 (marinated chickpea salad) and R60 for a seafood salad with prawns, calamari and fennel; a beef burger costs R60; pesto penne with chicken costs R70; ciabatta with chicken R55; and bruschetta with roasted vegetables R45.  All cakes, muffins and other treats as well as the bread used in the restaurant are made by Llewellyn and his staff, as is the ice cream.

A wineshop carrying 75 wine varieties will open next door to Café Benedict, and patrons of the restaurant will be able to buy a bottle of wine next door, and then drink it at the restaurant, until it receives its liquor licence next year. The winelist that Lambert has selected is proudly-Franschhoek, and most wines will cost under R150 per bottle.  The housewine will be by Dieu Donné, the Franschhoek wine estate owned by Mr Maingard. 

I felt warmly received by a manager I had not previously met, was impressed by his attitude to customer care, and look forward to my next visit to Café Benedict when next I am in Franschhoek.

Café Benedict, Franschhoek Centre, 23 Huguenot Street, Franschhoek.  Website under construction.   Monday – Sunday, 8h00 – 18h00.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Twitter: @WhaleCottage