Any restaurant that sits at the end of the one of the world’s most scenic roads has a lot to live up to. The staggeringly beautiful drive from Cape Town, along Chapman’s Peak Drive towards the Southern Peninsula is one of the world’s finest, with breathtaking vistas unfurling around each treacherous corner. As the winding pass descends to sea level, the quaint Noordhoek Farm Village sits to the left. The unassuming complex just happens to be home to The Foodbarn – one of the Cape’s finest eateries.
Chef Franck Dangereux’s restaurant has seemingly been here forever, serving remarkable food that belies its rural-looking location. Without being a million miles from town itself, it’s still something of a ‘country destination’ – time moves at a different pace on this end of Table Mountain.
Inside the Cape Dutch-styled barn is a warm space, with a vaulted roof and a central fireplace for days when the famous Cape winds make things a little unpleasant outside. Some conceptual sculptures line the walls and the table settings are simple – nothing here detracts from the food itself.
The Foodbarn’s menu is seasonal, inscribed on hefty chalk boards that the wonderful front of house team tote from table to table. It’s fine dining – but with a casual twist. There’s certainly plenty of variety, from broccoli gratin and excellent steak tartare to start, through to an unusual tomato, basil & parmesan risotto and lamb rack for mains. The dessert menu – a separate board – offers innovative home-made sorbets, a chocolate pavé & banana brûlée and an astonishing ‘orange & berries’, gratinated in an almond sabayon. Each dish comes with a suggested ‘by the glass’ wine pairing, with the extensive list – which blends old favourites and the exciting work of the industry’s young guns – also open for exploration.
Plating isn’t overly flashy – smears, espumas and emulsions would never survive on this end of ‘Chappies’ – but that doesn’t mean there’s a shortage of technique. The impression that each dish gives as it emerges from the kitchen is that it’s been carefully put together from start to finish by one chef, rather than finished on a production line. Flavours are hearty and clean, there’s clear quality to each ingredient and every element is treated respectfully.