The new Chefs Warehouse at Maison is well worth the drive to the Franschhoek Valley
A visit to the Chefs Warehouse is always a treat, and just driving up the Franschhoek Valley automatically puts you into holiday mode. So, visiting the newest Chefs Warehouse at Maison wine estate is a double treat.
Owner Liam Tomlin has entrusted this new venture to chef David Schneider, who has creative control within the signature Tapas for Two formula established at Chefs Warehouse Bree Street. Having worked with Liam in Bree Street, Beau Constantia and Singita, David is loving the Franschhoek venue, which is inspired by the established organic vegetable garden next to the restaurant. “I don’t buy garnishes; I’d rather pick from the garden,” says David, identifying the delicate sprinkling of edible flowers on our first dish of cured Franschhoek trout as fennel, purple carrot, leek and shallot flowers.
It’s a beautiful setting and the first Chefs Warehouse to be truly child-friendly, with a green lawn (the farm borehole allows for careful irrigation) and long rustic tables, shady mature oaks and roaming pet chickens.
Kids can tuck into grilled fish and veggies or pizza from the wood-fired oven, while their parents relax over the set three-course tapas menu.
With no kids along, we sat on the comfortable veranda enjoying the green outlook of trees and vines as the first course arrived. Along with the trout and a linefish sashimi with spicy chimichurri, we loved the beef pastrami – grass-fed beef brined and cold-smoked then roasted over coals. “We’re using the pizza oven almost like a braai,” says David. “We make the occasional pizza, but we mostly use it for meat dishes.”
Next up was a golden sweetcorn risotto, light and creamy with Cajun-spiced oil, basil and deep-fried onions. We also had a festive blue cheese and port mousse in pastry cannoli, with roast pear, apple, pickled fennel and candied walnuts.
Flavours were beautifully balanced with plenty of fresh and home-pickled vegetable flourishes reflecting the changing seasons. Chicken with shitake mushrooms, salted lemon, tarragon and roasted Parmesan foam had all the taste buds going, and incredibly tender lamb shoulder with honey-roasted baby figs, Hawaii yoghurt and cashew nut dukkah was another winner. For dessert, the pizza oven is once more pressed into service to achieve the nostalgic campfire smokiness of David’s irresistible S’More chocolate dessert, plenty for two to share, although Liam’s signature lemon posset – light, tart and silken – is also a must.
Chefs Warehouse at Maison
021 876 2116
Words & images: Kit Heathcock