{eat} Lunch at La Petite Ferme – plated art from start to dessert

Teetering on the threshold of the silly season, we recently lingered a bit longer at La Petite Ferme for a lunch date, taking in the views and relishing in the timelessness of Chef Odette’s new summer menu.

Introduction

Tucked into the foot of the Franschhoek Pass, lies a little farm. This little farm has a big heart, a big embrace and an even bigger presence. I was delighted as we turned away from the main road and winded our way down to the core of La Petite Ferme, which seemed warm and welcoming, even on an unexpected Cape winter’s day.

Tim and I retreated from the crazy world for a short Saturday afternoon, deciding to drive out into the winelands and, upon invitation, introduce ourselves to La Petite Ferme. With the promise of a delectable new menu from Chef Odette Olivier’s hands, Insta-worthy landscapes and a few moments of quiet reprieve, we were ready to indulge in whatever the afternoon held.

Background

La Petite Ferme, the renowned manor house and vineyard suites on the Franschhoek Pass and member of The Nest Collection, has appointed a talented new head chef. Odette Olivier comes with a wealth of local and international experience and is set to re-invigorate the dining experience at one of the Cape’s most scenic locations.

From its mountainside perch at the very top of the Franschhoek Valley, the restaurant enjoys unrestricted views that are shared with the property’s intimate luxury suites.

Odette will oversee and implement the menu design and provide oversight of the restaurant. A cornerstone of the offering is a seasonal menu showcasing quality produce from the Franschhoek region.

“I enjoy creating from South African heritage dishes, employing a mix of cooking methods like smoking, pickling and fermenting.”

The motivation behind each dish stems from the origins of La Petite Ferme itself, delivering country cuisine with a fresh contemporary touch.

The underlying philosophy behind La Petite Ferme’s boutique experience made it a perfect fit for The Nest Collection, says The Nest Collection co-founder Riaan Kruger.

The venue

With a wetness in the air that left the scenery glistening in overly saturated colours, we decided to keep cosy inside and watch the world from behind wide expanses of glass windows. I simply loved the restaurant’s set-up; each table maximising the wrap-around vineyard and mountain views to the fullest. The setting reminded of Parisian street-cafe’s with tables spilling out onto the sidewalk, but here, everything is neatly and sophisticatedly contained in the glass harbour of the restaurant, without feeling cramped or crowded. Simply and understatedly dressed in whites and neutrals, the inside space feels like a sanctuary made for indulgent spoils.

As promised, the views are simply breathtaking, and we completely forgot to look at the menu as we let our eyes languidly trail over the layers of vineyards, mountains and sky. My shoulders dropped a few centimeters already, and I could feel the world’s heaviness fade into the background chatter.

Starters

After a delightful morsel of fresh mosbolletjies served with the most beautiful spread of butter, we ordered starters. Tim chose the BBQ pulled beef short ribs and I opted for the assiette de le semaine of chicken liver paté on toasted brioche with cherry gel.

At this point, an obvious disclaimer – a pretty plate of food is my kryptonite. La Petite Freme’s plated artworks are not only pleasing on the eye, but can back up the aesthetic with taste, texture and delicious complexity. 

Mains

With our first plates cleared after taking closed-eye moments of pure enjoyment and gratitude, we sat back to take in even more of our surroundings. A companionable chatter filled the space in the same way the filtered sun filled every inch, reflecting shards of grey winter sun off our wine glasses.

We were sipping on an exquisite bottle; one that I highly recommend enjoying alongside the views.  Simply called Wikus, it was the Winemaker’s Edition White 2019 – a Semillon-heavy blend that tasted like summer sunsets, and everything that is good in life.

Our mains arrived shortly thereafter. Tim opted for the slow cooked Karoo lamb shoulder. I simply couldn’t resist the pork belly, served with some of my favourite ingredients: baby beets, hummus, broccolini, sour cream.

Again, the plates were absolute labours of love and I think we stared at them a bit too long. I tried to absorb every little detail, every petal placement and every drip of sauce that was so meticulously and thoughtfully added to this plated experience. I reluctantly broke up the picture with my fork, but rejoiced at my decision at the first bite.

A super fan of polenta chips, Tim and I had to share a side order of these. After a lot of finger-slaps around the bowl, we decided on a truce and shared the last one. Delicious.

Dessert

Our final course was an absolute feast for the senses – Chef Odette really has an incredible ability to invoke joy through the unexpected. Flavours you’d never think could harmonise, textures that seem strange at first, but makes all the sense in the world when combined with other elements – this is her playground. Rooted in the traditional, she breathes new life in classic dishes by showcasing local ingredients in new and exciting ways.

Both the most peculiar and hands down the most delicious dessert I’ve ever tasted, I couldn’t get enough of the Milktart & Rooibos, served with duck-fat crisps. Pity it was Tim’s choice, otherwise I would’ve had more than my half share of the portion. It was fruity and savoury, creamy and crunchy, refreshing yet warming, filled with spices but not overwhelmingly strong. I was all my favourite desserts on a plate, served with a lovely helping of nostalgia. I would happily drive there again just for this one plate of dessert.

We also shared, of course, Odette’s Bounty Bar – a carnival of candy. Chocolate brownie covered in whipped ganache, toasted coconut marshmallow, coconut oil snow and then the most incredible basil sorbet to bring everything together. Our companionable silence was interspersed with little squeals of joy, eye-rolling moments of pure bliss and a lot of plate scraping. I’m not even ashamed to say we finished every last bite.

In conclusion

After a short espresso, a break in the clouds allowed us to have a little meander around the gardens for fresh air before we headed back home, very reluctantly. Our afternoon at La Petite Ferme wrapped up way too quickly, even though we spent almost three hours over our lunch. A special word of thanks to Talent for looking after us and guiding us through the menu with easy confidence.

There is nothing small about La Petite Ferme or about Chef Odette and her team’s appetite and imagination. Thank you so much to the La Petite Ferme team, for allowing us to spend the afternoon with you, whilst refueling our souls with nature and refreshing our palates with incredible food and wine.

Fine print

The restaurant at La Petite Ferme is currently open for lunch Saturdays and Sundays from 12:00 to 15:00; and, dinner seven days a week from 18:00 to 21:00.

For restaurant reservations and information about La Petite Ferme, visit www.lapetiteferme.co.za, call 021 876 3016 or email reception@lapetiteferme.co.za.

For more information about The Nest Collection, visit www.thenestcollection.com, call 021 773 0222 or email info@thenestcollection.com.

Masks were only safely removed for photographs and whilst eating / drinking.

Second photographer: The Tall Hedonist, aka Timothy P. Gibson

The Little Hedonist has made every effort to ensure that the information in this post was correct at the time of publication. However, I do not assume any liability caused by errors, such as price, menu changes, opening times, and contact details.

Disclaimer: I was invited to this event in my personal capacity. There was no expectation for platform coverage in the form of a blog, or social media posts. This is my honest and truthful opinion and review thereof. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are solely those of The Little Hedonist, given in good faith and in no way influenced by the company or its affiliates. All images, unless otherwise stated/credited, are also my own.

The Little Hedonist endorses responsible drinking.
Don’t drink and drive. Not for persons under 18.

 

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