food

Le Franschhoek Hotel

Synonymous with Bastille Day celebrations and being the 'French corner' of the world-famous Cape Winelands route, Franschhoek has that charming village appeal that alone warrants its popularity. Add to this the breath-taking scenery of the idyllic Franschhoek valley, gourmet food and some of the best wines that South Africa has to offer, and you’ve got an irresistible combination. The sophisticated Le Franschhoek Hotel and Spa blends these elements together effortlessly, inviting guests to lose themselves in the experience and to indulge in the multitude of fabulous offerings. The hotel recently won a category in the prestigious 2012 World Luxury Hotel Awards, their second consecutive accolade in the annual awards. It has also debuted on New York’s The Daily Meal’s newly-launched, highly-acclaimed ‘101 Best Hotel Restaurants’ list. And it isn’t difficult to see why. With its Cape Dutch façade, thatched roof and elegant, understated interiors, the hotel is instantly soothing, suggesting a perfect balance between country and contemporary aesthetics. The neutral, creamy palette continues into the bedrooms, which are spacious and comfortable. As a traveller you’ll find everything you need to freshen up and unwind, including a modern en-suite bathroom, television, refreshments, inviting armchairs and an incredibly comfy bed. The suites also have lovely balconies that maximise the surrounding mountain and vineyard views. On a warmer day it's the perfect place to step out for some fresh air or to enjoy a sundowner in a truly magnificent setting. When it comes to world-class food there is plenty of it at the hotel’s two on-site restaurants, Le Verger and Dish. With a mix of snug indoor and alfresco dining options, once thing’s for sure – you’ll never go hungry during your stay. We had the pleasure of sampling the offerings of the latter restaurant, Dish, where we experienced fine dining at its best. On what was a chilly Spring evening, we were met with a modern gas fireplace perfectly positioned near the table and melodic tunes coming from the grand piano in the corner of the dining room. Little did we know of the many imminent surprises on the menu waiting to marvel us… Dish Restaurant is the epitome of fine dining and you really feel looked after from the minute you walk in. The interactive nature of the cooking process means that diners can look on as their food is prepared through the kitchen hatch. The man responsible for the winning formula is chef Oliver Cattermole, who recently took the reins of the restaurant’s culinary direction.  As Le Franschhoek Hotel’s Executive Chef, he has created an exceptional menu pairing local ingredients with an award-winning South African wine list. Some of our favourites prepared by chef Oliver and the team were the woodland mushroom soup starter paired with the Haute Cabriere Pinot Noir 08, and the roasted kingklip with celeriac that was beautifully complemented by the Stony Brook Chardonnay 04. If you prefer red meat, the slow cooked beef fillet, warm tomato spelt and young carrots were cooked to perfection, and rounded off with the La Motte Cabernet Sauvignon 03. Each plateful prepared by chef Oliver and the team demonstrates an artful display of colour, texture and taste. Equal consideration is given to the presentation and the sensory experience, while every mouthful offers unique flavours that leave you yearning for the next course. This outstanding meal with its interesting taste combinations and wonderful wine pairings can only be attributed to truly distinguished culinary skill. The luxury accommodation and top-class cuisine we encountered at Le Franschhoek Hotel are in itself a match made in heaven, offering visitors a five-star Winelands retreat unlike any other. For more information contact 021-876-8900 or go to lefranschhoek.co.za. Please note that Dish Restaurant is open for dinner. Text: Kim Grové Images: Supplied