The highlight of our Garden Route trip last week was having lunch at Bramon, a pioneering boutique wine estate outside Plettenberg Bay. This was one of the first wine estates in the area, and has established itself not only as a good wine destination, but as having a good friendly restaurant too. My French friend was blown away by us eating …. and drinking ……in the vineyard! Continue reading →
Last night I tried the dinner at The Kitchen at boutique winery Maison outside Franschhoek, which now is open for dinner on Friday and Saturday evenings. I was privileged to try the new Maison Methodé Cap Classique Blanc de Blanc 2009, which was released last week, and which has been added to its portfolio of Chardonnay 2011, Viognier 2011, Blanc de Noir 2012, Chenin Blanc 2011, Shiraz 2010, Cape Ruby, and Straw Wine 2011.
Winemaker Antwan Bondesio patiently waited for the first sparkling wine to be made by Maison to be on the lees for 36 months, to bring out the best in the MCC, while owner Chris Weylandt would have loved to have released it sooner than that. Only 1100 bottles have been released, each hand numbered (I had a glass of bottle number 123!), and each is hand labelled and branded. The design of the label is minimalistic, being typographical only. The back label informed that there has been zero dosage, and therefore the sparkling wine is ‘clean, pure, and naked‘! It contains 12% alcohol, and sulphites, the label informs. The winelist prices the MCC at R265, and is only available by the bottle. Antwan has worked in California and Marlborough (New Zealand), as well as at Kaapzicht and at Spier.
It was a picture perfect evening for an outside dinner, both on the terrace, and on the long tables on the lawns, and a large group of Whale Cottage Franschhoek guests had been booked to have dinner there. The families had brought their children, and they enjoyed the safety of the property, the lit fires, the lanterns all over the property, the cocoon hanging chair, and the roosters, giving the children more than enough to do while their parents enjoyed their dinner. I have been to The Kitchen on numerous occasion for lunch, but last night the lit candles and lanterns gave the restaurant a magical and romantic atmosphere, from the time one enters the building.
On Friday and Saturday evenings the normal à la carte menu is available, which is used for lunches as well. On the first Friday of every month Chef Arno Janse van Rensburg improvises, and offers his unique three-course menu for R250. I jokingly said to Manager Julian Smith that they should do a braai, having big containers with fire, and he said that Chef Arno is considering doing a speciality braai on some of the first Friday of the month dinners. I enjoyed the kingklip, beautifully prepared, firm, and not spoilt by any sauces or toppings as had been my last piece of kingklip at Nederburg’s The Red Table! It was served with carrot mustard purée, chive croquettes, marrow, beans, and sake jus. The kingklip was on a specials board, which has a number of starter and main course items for every meal, and changes regularly, while the menu stays the same for about a quarter. Currently the menu includes baby squid, tempura prawn, and smoked bone marrow starters in the range of R 65 – R85, while the main course options include forest mushroom tagliatelle, confit duck leg, Karoo rack of lamb, linefish of the day, and Shanghai pork belly, costing between R120 – R135.
For dessert the Valrhona Nyangbo (from Ghana) chocolate, peanut butter, and meringue rum cheesecake, served with anglaise ice cream and espresso gelée, was a treat, being quite a formal and serious dessert for a restaurant which is more inclined to informal cuisine. Other dessert options are a green tea parfait, and a tonka bean créme with gooseberry sorbet, costing between R55 – R65, and a local cheese platter at R95. I finished off the evening with an iced coffee made with a special Terbodore blend, the best I have ever had.
I had a fantastic evening, enjoying the ambiance, knowing half the guests, and meeting interesting table neighbours, one couple attending a wedding in Franschhoek, and the other couple being Canadian/Germans, who have fallen in love with Franschhoek during their holiday. The food was superb, as was the new MCC. Julian refused to accept payment, laughingly saying it was my ‘commission’ for bringing so much business to the restaurant.
The Kitchen, Maison, R45, Franschhoek. Tel (021) 876-2116. www.maisonestate.co.za Twitter: @MaisonEstate Tuesday – Sunday lunch, Friday and Saturday dinner.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage