Our driver had suggested trying to avoid the Cape Town rush hour by delaying our transfer back to Franschhoek till 6pm. This welcome delay enabled us to enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the infinity pool before packing our overnight bag to head off on the next leg of our South African adventure.
We were really enjoying staying at The One and Only but we also wanted to experience a stay in a traditional colonial style property in the heart of the Winelands. A little internet based research prior to our visit had thrown up Franschhoek country House and Villas . The website looked amazing but when we arrived we were in for an even greater treat!
On route out of Cape Town our driver Tim Harris from Tourrific, took us via the buzzing varsity town of Stellenbosch and out to Franschhoek via the Stellenbosch pass where mother nature treated us to some stunning sunset views.
As the sun slipped behind the mountains we checked into the hotel and were greeted warmly by the reception team. They confirmed our reservation in the hotel’s Monneaux Restaurant and showed us to our room in the manorial main house which dates back to 1890!
After a quick freshen up we headed down to the restaurant in anticipation of both the gastronomic cuisine and the wines to match! I had committed a schoolboy error and failed to check that the legendary tasting menu was available on a Tuesday night!
I need not have worried, working with our wonderful waitress, Janille, we composed a decadent 5 course tasting menu with wines as follows:
The acidity of the goat’s cheese was perfectly balanced with the sweetness of the pears, tomatoes and pecans. Sublime! This was paired with a generously large glass of La Motte 2015 Sauvignon Blanc. This had a good balance of minerality and zest which reminded me more of a cooler climate style Sauvignon. A perfect partner to the goat’s cheese!
Next up was…
The lamb was perfectly cooked to an even pink colour throughout but with a brown caramelised crunch to its exterior. This was partnered by a truly stunning wine, a Meerlust 2010 Rubicon, Bordeaux style, Cabernet rich blend. The dark fruits embellished with a hint of peppery spice and every delicious mouthful of this wine was an absolute pleasure!
We wisely followed the hot spice of the main course with a cooling sorbet.
This palette cleanser diminished the burning lingering warmth of the chilli in the Harissa and set us up nicely for the next two courses.
A sweet local brie in couscous, deep fried and crisp with caramelised figs and served with a not too chilled glass of 2014 Monte Andre Chardonnay.
Critics often talk of the importance of ending a great meal with a stunning combo and this was no exception.
The posset absolutely zinged with lemon but its acidity balanced nicely against the sweetness of the fruits and was indulgently matched with a 2014 Noble Late Harvest Rickety Bridge natural sweet Chenin Blanc, which was both sweet and unctuous with honeyed tones.
With our heads in a bit of a spin we asked for the bill and were delighted to meet the young assistant chef, Catherine who had been running the pass that evening. We congratulated her on her culinary skills and had the best surprise of all when the bill came, just over £70 a head for 5 courses and wines to match.
If you’re planning to visit Franschhoek and are looking for a base or even just a restaurant for dinner this is definitely worth a stopover.
The following morning we took our now obligatory pre breakfast swim in the outdoor pools, with the waters warmed to around 24C and a stunning mountain backdrop behind.
After breakfast we bid farewell to the team at the hotel and met our driver Tim for the next exciting leg of our wine tour.