5 Best Franschhoek Restaurants and Beyond in Cape Winelands
My husband and I discovered some of the best Franschhoek restaurants in South Africa Wine Country and also a few foodie gems in Stellenbosch and Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. Our itinerary for the Cape Winelands involved eating and drinking our way through some of the most beautiful countryside dotted with old Cape Dutch farms and vineyards, historic towns, and towering mountains. We certainly enjoyed all of our foodie experiences while in South Africa, but there is definitely one restaurant that stood out above the rest that I would come back to time and time again. Read on to find out which one topped them all.
La Petite Colombe
WHY LA PETITE COLOMBE IS WORTH IT
Main entrance at La Petite Colombe
CHEF JOHN NORRIS RODGERS
This young and talented chef is leading the kitchen at one of the top Franschhoek restaurants. Prior to launching La Petite Colombe in 2017, Chef Norris-Rogers worked at its big brother restaurant, La Colombe, under the mentorship of well-known chefs Scot Kirton and James Gaag.
La Colombe has been consistently listed as one of the world’s best restaurants over the years and has had several famous chefs work in its kitchen including Luke Dale-Roberts who went on to start The Test Kitchen in Cape Town. No pressure, right? Chef Norris-Rogers embraces the challenge of running La Petite Colombe and continues to push the boundaries in creating playful, flavorful dishes based on what is in season.
The food is best described as modern fine dining that concentrates on Western Cape flavors with global influences weaved throughout. For example, Chef Norris-Rogers had recently returned from Japan prior to our dining experience, so the dishes we were served incorporated some of the Japanese flavors and products. We enjoyed items such as chawanmushi (Japanese egg custard), fresh bread with home-churned miso butter, and tuna, which was the star of the fish dish.
La Petite Colombe was located at the Le Quartier Francais Hotel when we went but has now been relocated to a larger space on Leeu Estates.
The colors are neutral and subdued. The space is cozy with an open kitchen design. We were seated next to the doors of the outdoor patio. Since we came during the dinner hour, it was already dark and you could not see outside. I would have loved to come back during the lunch hour when it is bright and sunny revealing the beautiful outdoors.
The staff was friendly, but it felt a bit forced. New staff members were continuously coming to the table with each dish, which disrupted the continuity of the service. The atmosphere was elegant and well-choreographed but seemed a bit stiff.
LA PETITE COLOMBE RESERVATION PROCESS
Reservations are strongly advised considering this is one of the top Franschhoek restaurants. We booked about 3 months in advance (we are hardcore planners), but you probably could get away with booking 1 month in advance depending on the season.
Our reservation was for 7:30 pm. The dining experience took about 3 1/2 hours.
You can make your reservation at one of the best Franschhoek restaurants here.
LA PETITE COLOMBE MENU
THE CHEFS EXPERIENCE + FINE & RARE WINE PAIRING
A Trio of “Snacks”
- Porcini “lollipop” with sherry, hazelnut, and thyme (my husband’s favorite most memorable bite)
- Spicked chicken chawanmushi (Japanese egg custard)
- “Cone” of smoked snoek pate with curried labneh (also known as yogurt cheese)
Wine: Morena Brut Rose N/V
Oatmeal and honey bread with miso butter (that looks like corn on the cob, super creative and playful!). How long did it take one of the sous chefs to create all those “kernels?”
Beer: Hey Joe ‘Speciale Beige’ (from a local beer company in Franschhoek)
Malay tuna, fried avocado, & coriander cream (one of my favorites, love tuna!, never had fried avocado, of course anything fried is delicious)
Wine: Normandie ‘Karen’ Rose 2016
“Meet the Chefs” An optional addition to the meal was the ramen course. We were escorted over to the open kitchen to watch and interact with the chefs as they prepared a meal of noodles and pork belly with shavings of katsuobushi aka bonito flakes (dried fermented skipjack tuna).
Quail, langoustine, mussel, and ham
Wine: Domaine Des Dieux ‘Josephine’ Pinot Noir 2011
Keeping us on our toes … Granny smith sorbet (palate cleanser) presented in a fun, theatrical, mysterious way
Karoo lamb with pumpkin, salsa verde, and smoked olive
Wine: Mooiplaas ‘Rosalind’ 2011
Boerenkaas (translates to “farmer’s cheese,” Dutch Gouda made from raw milk), buckwheat, rhubarb
Wine: Avondale ‘Armilla’ Brut 2011
Coconut, passion fruit, pineapple dessert
Wine: Maison ‘Straw Wine’ 2016
A Trio of “Treats”
- Whiskey-flavored marshmallows
- Coffee macarons
- Dark chocolate dessert in the shape of a cigar propped up on tobacco leaves
FINAL THOUGHTS ON LA PETITE COLOMBE
It was a fun experience, but it is a place I would visit once. Don’t get me wrong, all the dishes were cooked and seasoned perfectly. It is clear that Chef Norris-Rogers has brilliant technical culinary skills. Also, anyone that knows me knows I love all things Japanese, so I truly enjoyed the Japanese-inspired dishes such as the chawanmushi and ramen. My husband’s favorite was the porcini, sherry, thyme, & hazelnut lollipop that was served in the beginning as one of the snacks.
It is certainly one of the Franschhoek restaurants worth going to, but it is not the food I crave and will remember for years to come.
Chefs Warehouse at Maison
WHY CHEFS WAREHOUSE AT MAISON IS WORTH IT
Main entrance at Chefs Warehouse at Maison in Franschhoek
CHEF LIAM TOMLIN
This famous Irish-born chef has become a famous foodie icon in South Africa. He oversees multiple restaurants in his ever-growing empire including Chefs Warehouse & Canteen, Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia, Thali (which we dined at in Cape Town), Jewells, and Chefs Warehouse at Maison. Chef Tomlin opened Chefs Warehouse at Maison with Chef David Schneider, which is now considered one of the best Franschhoek restaurants.
Indoor dining area at Chefs Warehouse at Maison in Franschhoek South Africa
The focus here is on serving high-quality global tapas without the white tablecloths and high prices. The restaurant sits on a working farm, so there is a lot of inspiration for the ever-changing menu. You will be served 8 dishes (shared between 2 people) that focus on fresh sustainable ingredients and great flavor combinations. This easily rates as one of the best Franschhoek restaurants.
Relaxed and unpretentious. The decor is South African chic with earthy tones. When the weather warms up, there is a lovely lawn to relax and dine on with mountain and vineyard views. Chef Schneider best explains the “feel” of this Franschhoek restaurant in this statement: “I want the diner to feel like they are at home. Maison means home, and I expect that level of comfort here, kick off your shoes and dine outside, sharing plates, drinking wine, and watching the world go by while being serenaded by chickens.”
CHEFS WAREHOUSE AT MAISON RESERVATION PROCESS
CHEFS WAREHOUSE AT MAISON MENU "TAPAS FOR 2"
Beef sirloin pastrami, horseradish catalan, spiced onion relish, charred spring onion salsa, sour cream & a homemade soft pretzel
Sashimi with nori, bonito, fresh pickles, Japanese-style Mayo, sago crackers & umami dust
Woodfired venison loin with Nanban dressing (Japanese vinegar-based sauce), roasted corn, shitake mushrooms, pickled shimeji mushrooms & fresh radish
Fennel & mustard risotto with West Coast Saldanha Bay mussel pakora & fried leeks
Tandoori cauliflower, spiced cashew nuts, fresh basil, mint & yogurt
Linefish with a sour curry relish, oven roasted tomato & fennel, seed & sultana crumb
Slow-cooked pork belly, roasted Jerusalem artichoke & apple tart, homemade ricotta, glen oaks smoked bacon, truffle & parmesan veloute
Certified Meat of Origin Karoo lamb rump with a green-miso marinade & braai broccoli
Miso corn malva pudding with popcorn ice cream & salted caramel sorghum
Malva pudding is definitely one of the top 10 foods to try in South Africa! It is a traditional South African dessert comprised of apricot jam with a very spongy texture.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON CHEFS WAREHOUSE AT MAISON
This was probably my favorite out of the Franschhoek restaurants we tried. I love the philosophy that drives the Chefs Warehouse Restaurants – sharing exceptional fine dining-quality food with your family & friends without the white tablecloth or high price. Without question, I would certainly come back and maybe even get to meet Porcini, the farm’s beloved pot-bellied pig.
Tuk Tuk Microbrewery
WHY TUK TUK MICROBRWERY IS WORTH IT
This casual dining establishment in Franschhoek serves Mexican-inspired dishes like chimichangas, fish tacos, burritos, and quesadillas. Tuk Tuk is a microbrewery, serving fine craft beer, but they also serve red and white wine and some spirits.
The atmosphere is very casual, fun, lively, and well-loved among locals and tourists alike. There are multiple Franschhoek restaurants lining the main downtown street. Usually, you can find a good restaurant by the number of people hanging around outside waiting to be seated. That is how we came across Tuk Tuk. Follow the crowds.
You can be seated indoors around the microbrewery and watch them brew the beer or outdoors right on the main street of downtown Franschhoek. The staff is very friendly and happy to guide you through your food and drink choices.
TUK TUK MICROBREWERY RESERVATION PROCESS
No reservations. First come, first serve. As soon as we landed at Cape Town International Airport, we rented a car and drove straight to the Cape Winelands and arrived in the evening. Needless to say, we were tired and wanted something quick and casual before our all-day Cape Town Wine Tour the next day. Tuk Tuk fit the bill.
They are open Sunday – Saturday from 11 am – 9 pm during the low season. Hours are extended later in the evening during the high season. Check the website for up-to-date hours.
TUK TUK MICROBREWERY MENU
The Mexican-inspired menu offered several tempting choices, but we settled on sharing some of the tacos:
- Baja Fish Taco with sliced jalapeño, dill mayo, pickled cucumber, Pico de Gallo & guacamole base
- Braised Beef Taco with shredded cabbage, smoked onion aioli, Pico de Gallo & guacamole base
- Pork Belly Taco with pineapple salsa, pickled cucumber, Pico de Gallo & guacamole base
The food was good but nothing to write home about. Our favorite was the Baja Fish Taco. I could have ordered just several of those and have been perfectly content.
We paired the tacos with some gin & tonics that included the local gin, Six Dogs Blue, which was a refreshing way to end the day.
I do not like beer (trust me, I’ve tried to like it), so I can’t speak of the quality of their craft beer but TripAdvisor users seem to like it.
* Unfortunately, I did not take photos of the food due to eating outdoors at night time.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON TUK TUK MICROBREWERY
Sometimes you just need a break from the fine dining that many Franschhoek restaurants offer. Although the food was good but not great, it fit the bill. Combined with the friendly service and relaxed atmosphere, I would happily eat here again for a quick bite and drink.
The Table at De Meye
WHY THE TABLE AT DE MEYE IS WORTH IT
The Table at De Meye indoor dining area
CHEF BRENDAN THORNCROFT
There are many great Franschhoek restaurants, but I also wanted to include a few other great choices in the Cape Winelands. This next restaurant is located in Stellenbosch … The Table at De Meye.
Talented chef Brendan Thorncroft along with his partner, Leigh Williamson, took over as new owners of The Table at De Meye in the fall of 2019.
Chef Thorncroft trained under the mentorship of the legendary chef George Jardine and worked at several of his restaurants including Jordan Restaurant, Restaurant Jardine, and Restaurant Seven before becoming the chef at The Table at De Meye.
Previous owners, Jess Shepherd and Luke Grant, had built quite a customer following with their fresh, in-season, farm-to-table food, so Leigh and Brendan had big shoes to fill. They nailed it! Wow.
Leigh is the sweetest, down-to-earth person and does an amazing job as the front of the house. I felt like I arrived as a customer but departed as a family friend.
A lot of restaurants claim to be farm-to-table, but The Table at De Meye takes it to a whole new level. Want to know where every tasty morsel that comes into your mouth comes from? Leigh can tell you which local farmer provided that lima bean you tasted in your salad to the name of the cow that produced the milk to make the home-churned butter on your table (ok, maybe not that far, but you get the point). All ingredients are fresh and sourced locally. The family-style menu changes weekly and is always a surprise. Three words to sum up the food: Simple. Understated. Delicious.
This idyllic setting oozes charm and authenticity. Long wooden rustic tables with mismatched chairs are strategically spread out on the lawn under the shade of the tall trees that surround the property.
You can also be seated indoors by the fireplace in the whitewashed historic farmhouse on chilly days. This culinary experience is the epitome of the perfect lazy alfresco lunch on a wine farm.
THE TABLE AT DE MEYE RESERVATION PROCESS
THE TABLE AT DE MEYE MENU
THREE COURSE “SURPRISE” MENU
Fresh sourdough bread, white bean hummus, and olives
Fresh salad straight from the garden full of yummy ingredients such as walnuts and lima beans all sitting on top of thick and creamy labneh (which is a cream cheese-y yogurt)
Apple coleslaw with fresh garden ingredients
Butternut squash casserole, soy roasted pumpkin seeds with parmesan cheese… similar to our sweet potato casserole we eat during Thanksgiving in the US. My favorite dish!
Fresh berry crumble
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE TABLE AT DE MEYE
I can see why The Table at De Meye is a well-loved gem in the Cape Winelands by even the local top chefs. It is the embodiment of farm-to-table eating. We ate at all of the top restaurants on the food critics’ list including The Test Kitchen, The Pot Luck Club, Chefs Warehouse, and La Petite Colombe, and THIS FOOD EXPERIENCE TRUMPS THEM ALL. I will crave this simple, delicious food for years to come.
In case it was not obvious, this is our #1 PICK for the best quintessential foodie experience in all of South Africa! And we are pretty discerning when it comes to foodie experiences after having planned many “foodie vacations.”
Creation Restaurant in Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, South Africa
WHY CREATION RESTAURANT IS WORTH IT
The flavors and items on the multi-course menu are typical of local Western Cape cuisine. Each dish is thoughtfully planned out to harmonize and showcase the award-winning wines Creation produces.
All the produce is locally sourced, mostly coming from the Overberg region. Given the proximity to the ocean, Creation is able to procure some of the finest seafood. The food is elegant and balanced with distinctive flavors such as biltong butter. What? Yep. Biltong butter. Strange combination, but it was delicious. More on that later.
The scenery is breathtaking. The restaurant, which is located at the Creation Winery, is situated high up on the Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge, overlooking the vineyards and the lake with the towering mountains as a backdrop.
You can be seated indoors in the bright, cheerful, and eclectic dining area with floor to ceiling glass panels or outside on the deck with lovely picturesque views of the vineyards.
As you dine and then wander around the property afterward, you will notice all these unique sculptures crafted by talented local artist Nanette Ranger.
CREATION RESERVATION PROCESS
Reservations are strongly advised. The lunch and wine pairing are very popular so definitely book in advance.
CREATION RESTAURANT MENU
HARVEST LOVE STORY MENU + WINE PAIRING
Harvest love story menu at Creation Restaurant in Hemel-en-Aarde Valley
Fresh bread with 3 different spreads. My favorite was the butter with biltong flakes (as seen from the 3rd bowl in the far back with the ball of butter and light brown shavings on top). Unique flavor combination! Unexpected and delicious.
Amuse bouche to warm up the palate
Sauteed abalone with capers, kelp, and samphire (salty, edible succulent)
Wine: Creation Estate Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon
Coconut poached linefish with apricot masala
Wine: Reserve Chardonnay
Lamb loin, star anise, poached pear, polenta, and goat cheese
Wine: Creation Estate Pinot Noir, Reserve Pinot Noir, and the Art of Pinot Noir
We are huge fans of Pinot Noir, which Hemel-en-Aarde Valley is famous for! Find out which were our favorite Pinot Noir producers during our wine tour with La Rochelle Tours.
Springbok shank with waterblommetjies (edible water flowers)
Springbok was a new type of meat I was introduced to in South Africa, which is antelope. It was good but not my favorite. Surprisingly, I loved the ostrich, which is a lean meat. I had it beautifully prepared while staying at the safari lodge Lion Sands River Lodge in Sabi Sands Game Reserve.
Wine: Creation Estate Syrah-Grenache
Malva, apricot, orange, popcorn crumb custard & English daisy
Wine: Creation Estate Viognier
The staff at Creation Restaurant knew we were celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary, so they presented us with a beautiful arrangement of chocolate and strawberry goodies.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON CREATION RESTAURANT
There are many great Franschhoek restaurants, but I would highly suggest exploring other fantastic options throughout South Africa wine country. Creation Restaurant is one of them.
Put this culinary sensory experience as a must-do on your list if you are visiting the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley and Hermanus. The talented chefs certainly knew how to artfully pair the local Western Cape dishes with Creation’s award-winning wines. Highly recommended!
NOTE: All the restaurants on this list that require reservations can be booked on Dine Plan.
The Cape Winelands is simply breathtaking and offers many amazing culinary experiences. If you need help planning your culinary getaway to South Africa wine country, check out my article below!
Questions about our experiences at these Franschhoek restaurants?
Let me know in the comments below!