Chef Eric Bulpitt and Avondale Wines create a new synergy of sustainable fine dining at Faber Restaurant in the Paarl Valley
Avondale has more than a touch of the rural idyll about it: there are vines with flowering cover crops between the rows, a mobile chicken coop with roosters squabbling next to sleepy Angus cattle, a deep mixed border of roses, flowers and herbs before a classic Cape farmhouse. Owner Johnathan Grieve says, “The natural way of farming is integral to what we do. All our vineyards, vegetables, chickens, ducks and cows are certified organic. We use biodynamics – so all those energies come into it combined with a scientific approach – with a view to creating something that’s very vibrant, full of energy, and to produce unique handcrafted, slow wines.”
Opening a restaurant on the farm to complete the field-to-fork cycle has been part of the family’s plan for over 10 years. However, it was only on meeting chef Eric Bulpitt, who was looking to move from his previous restaurant at Newton Johnson, that the time felt right. “There are lot of synergies between what Eric does and what we’re about,” says Johnathan.
Together they’ve extended the vegetable and herb garden and plan to build up to producing the majority of ingredients for the restaurant on the farm. “Faber means craftsman in Latin. To us it’s more our connection with the land, our connection to our suppliers and to the people that we feed. Our food is very simple, very few ingredients on the plate, still very technical, but not over-complicated.”
The short menu is flexible according to the day’s harvest and frequently includes foraged flowers and herbs. Delicate kombu-cured yellowtail, with watermelon infused with lemon verbena, and crispy onion rings, was garnished with a pretty flower that on tasting turned out to be watercress. The tenderest Karoo lamb shoulder came with a nutty pumpkin seed pesto and wilted kale with mint leaves – uncomplicated and thoroughly satisfying. And dessert wowed with a tapestry of textures and flavours, smooth cream cheese sorbet, crunchy shards of honeycomb, blueberries macerated in Avondale muscat dessert wine and a gorgeous macaroon. It’s an elegant escape to the country, with flavours tasting even more vibrant due to the beautiful setting and harmonious energy of this family-run organic farm.
Faber at Avondale
021 202 1219
Words: Kit Heathcock | Images: Supplied