Le Petit Manoir is Franschhoek's latest gourmet dining destination
The fine-dining menu at this new guesthouse's restaurant is well worth travelling for, writes Kit Heathcock
The great thing about the “restaurant with rooms” tradition in Europe is that the food leads the way. Diners flock from afar to the lure of a fabulous meal based on the chef’s reputation, the rooms being the icing on the cake, a comfortable refuge to save you from driving home afterwards.
Le Petit Manoir channels this spirit in a prime location on Franschhoek’s main street with a beautifully curated contemporary guesthouse and a menu worth travelling for.
Serendipitously, chef Kevin Grobler, then head chef at Michelin-starred restaurant Jan in Nice, was already thinking of moving back home, when the owners of Le Petit Manoir were searching for the right chef.
Everything quickly fell into place, and soon he’d swapped the French Riviera for the mountains of Franschhoek, meeting local suppliers and building his menu around the best of what they offer.
“I’m trying to keep it simple, let the produce do the talking,” says Kevin. “We’ve got amazing produce in South Africa.”
His à la carte menu changes roughly every two months and balances the techniques and complexity of fine dining with a refreshingly uncluttered approach.
We opted to try the fish of the day, which was Mackerel. Accompanied by calamari and smoked mussels, it was a revelation, served on a mound of glorious fennel chutney and pickled fennel, surrounded by burnt onion broth with dashi. The rich fish and lively fennel was a memorable combination, one to go back for.
Our only regret that we were visiting for lunch, so had no excuse to book into the luxurious upstairs rooms and wake up to sample the tempting breakfast menu (breads, croissants and pain au chocolat are baked in-house), and indulge in room service on the balcony, overlooking the lawns of the historic Dutch Reformed Church and glorious mountain backdrop.
This article is adapted from one originally published in the Sunday Times Neighbourhood: Property and Lifestyle guide. Visit Yourneighbourhood.co.za