The Salmon Bar at The Yard in Franschhoek recently re-opened in a new venue in the same centre, but now is visible to the main road. The new venue has an odd shape, but its interior decor is marine-orientated, and it is far better able to communicate that it is all about salmon and trout, but also serves wonderful breakfasts, sells outstanding breads, as well as muffins, croissants and cupcakes, and excellent cappuccinos. The restaurant seems to have got streets better since its re-opening at the beginning of December.
Judy Sendzul is the clever owner of The Salmon Bar at The Yard, which was previously located at a courtyard off the main road when it first opened three years ago, so it was especially popular amongst the Franschhoek locals, who liked the restaurant for its coffee, breakfasts, and salmon meals, to buy wonderful bread, and to sit at a restaurant table without the noise distrubance of trucks driving by on the main road. Initially I was not a salmon fan, and therefore did not consider it for lunches, or even dinners, when these were introduced. But that has changed. The website describes the owner Judy as “chef, restaurateur, retail food product developer and marketer”. She worked at Woolworths, developing new products for two years. The Three Streams Smokehouse, a partner in the venture, also supplies Woolworths with salmon.
When Bouillabaisse closed down, the developers of The Yard moved the Pam Golding offices to the Bouillabaisse space, and The Salmon Bar took the Pam Golding space, but also that of Schwartz jewellers behind it. The result is a long thin extended restaurant, which almost divides itself into two sections: one near the ‘retail section’ of the restaurant and its pay point, and another set further back, towards the courtyard. The space has been used cleverly, with a counter running down the length of most of the restaurant. There are comfortable couches against the other wall, and modern white chairs. I have always admired the modern wave-like glass shelves which The Salmon Bar uses to display its breads, and these were in use in the old location already. Being focused on marine decor ourselves at Whale Cottage, it is a pleasure to see another business’ fish focus, with an engraved outline of a fish in the ceiling, linked to a slogan: “We source our fish responsibly and cook it simply for breakfast, lunch and dinner”. A wooden fish collage has been hung up behind the couches, and fishes have been painted on the wall above the trout and salmon fridges. The table number has a fish on it. On another wall there is another saying: “Produced and passionately hand made in Franschhoek”. The menu says “We source responsibly and cook simply”.
The Salmon Bar describes itself as “Restaurant, Bar, Deli, Bakery” on its menus. There are two menus, one for Breakfast, which is served until midday, and one for the other meals of the day, available throughout the day. The Breakfast menu is a small laminated menu, printed on both sides, and offers a large variety of interesting and unusual choices: croissants cost R15; pain au chocolate R15; muffins R22; toast, grape jam and Huguenot cheese costs R30; a croissant with oak smoked Royale Highlands trout and cream cheese costs R45; scrambled eggs and toast are my favourite, served plain at R30, R35 with tomato relish added, and R40 with bacon; lemon scrambled eggs with trout and crème fraîche cost R55; poached eggs (R30); fried eggs and bacon cost R40; boiled eggs and soldiers (R35); frittata and chorizo R55; bagel and scrambled egg with bacon or trout costs R45; ricotta hotcakes, berries and crème fraîche cost R40; and mushrooms on toast with ham R60. Cappuccino is charged at R15.
Cleverly the winelist is printed on a wine bottle, and is a small selection of mainly Franschhoek wines, heavily weighted to those from Boekenhoutskloof. There are five white wines, starting at R25/R90 for Porcupine Ridge Sauvignon Blanc, and for the Wolftrap Viognier Chenin Blanc, to R55/R220 for the Boekenhoutskloof Semillon. “Pink wines” offered are Wolftrap (R25/R90) and Haut Espoir (R33/R130). Five red wines start at Wolftrap Syrah Mourvedre Viognier (R25/R90), and The Chocolate Block costs R60/R260. “Fine wines” cost R900 for Bollinger, Krone Borealis Cuvée MCC 2007 costs R35/R170, and Krone Rosé Cuvée R45/R220.
The main menu is A3-sized, and one side sketches the “Journey of the Royale Highlands Trout”: the eggs are hatched in Franschhoek. The fingerlings are transported to the Lesotho Highlands, where the clear and cold water of the Katse Dam is ideal for farming trout. Then the full-grown trout are returned to Franschhoek, where they are cured and smoked. On the other side, the extensive, unusual and unique salmon and trout focused menu is printed. Sashimi is offered, 6 pieces of salmon cost R65 and 6 pieces of tuna R75. “Japanese tapas” offered is salmon and prawn pot stickers – there was far more salmon than prawn in these, and the manager agreed that it is predominantly made from salmon, and explained that the prawn content is finely chopped. I would have expected a 50/50% prawn and salmon content. One could not taste the prawns at all (R35); grilled whitefish (R45); the prawn rice noodle spring roll was crunchy, containing mange tout, with a delicious crispy ‘wrapper’, but containing chilli and therefore had quite an afterbite! (R30); and Oshi Zushi (pressed salmon sushi – R35/R70). “Smoked and cured” offerings are Loch Duart Scottish salmon and toast (R85), and a smoked salmon platter (R125). Trout paté costs R55, prawns Marie Rose R85; Teriyaki salmon bites R85; New Zealand mussels R65; and Richard’s cured meats R75. Salads are unusual too: grilled Yakitori salmon salad, with seaweed and mushrooms (R98); yellow fin tuna (R75); hot smoked trout Niçoise (R85); spicy pear salad (R55); and a 4-cheese platter costs R85. “Grills” available are linefish (R85); fish cakes (R65); Franschhoek trout (R75); Loligo squid (R65); and prawn/salmon Tom Yum” (R55).
The Deli sells Tokara olive oils, as well as jams, honey, cheese, trout, salmon paté, and a wonderful collection of breads – the dough is supplied by Knead Bakery, and baked on the premises: buttermilk rye, light rye, ciabatta with olives, multi-seed health bread, fruited muesli, and barley, potato and rosemary bread, ranging in price from R22 – R28. Baguettes cost R12. One can also buy Black Tiger prawns, tuna, mussels, Norwegian salmon, Rainbow Trout, Richard Bosman’s Quality Cured Meats, and home-made mayonnaise.
I love going to The Salmon Bar, with really friendly staff, and a chef who is willing to bend the rules about which of their lovely breads may be used to make toast. Parking always seems to be available outside on the main road. The prices charged are reasonable, and the restaurant has a niche untouched by any other in Franschhoek or the Western Cape.
The Salmon Bar at The Yard, 38 Huguenot Road, Franschhoek. Tel (021) 876-4591. www.salmonbar.com (The website lists the menus and winelist, and each page has a beautiful salmon shot, but the general food items are not featured due to the lack of an Image Gallery. Some photographs of the interior are of the previous location). Open Monday – Sunday 8h00 – 21h00.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage