A gentle facelift at La Petite Ferme mixes old favourites with the curated new

Many Capetonians have fond childhood memories of relaxed Sunday drives up to the top of the Franschhoek Valley to lunch at La Petite Ferme, back when it was a small family-run farm restaurant, before its vines were planted. In addition to being a prestigious restaurant, La Pertite Ferme is now a boutique wine estate with luxury accommodation. However, its unpretentious warm welcome remains the same and favourite dishes from the old days keep their places on the menu.

A recent makeover added a subtle veneer of contemporary decor, and as always the incredible views down the valley draw the eye, making you want to linger long after the last trace of dessert has been scraped from your plate. Kids can play on the lawns while parents enjoy the estate’s citrus fresh Sauvignon Blanc, in no hurry head back down the valley to everyday life.

Most of the staff have been here for years, giving a sense of continuity with stories of the early days. Head waitress, Estie Williams, recalls the fire that burned down the restaurant buildings in 1996, leaving only the winery standing. “We all came in in our gumboots and started rebuilding it ourselves, everyone from front of house staff to cooks. Within four months we’d got it rebuilt and reopened!”

Rethinking the menu for the new season with plenty of fresh inspiration, chefs Neethling du Toit and Tanya Rousseau have kept the best of the old. The trout with the lightest of lemony hollandaise, left whole with not a bone remaining (how they do that is a closely guarded secret), has been drawing customers back for years. There’s a delicate new vegetarian cauliflower and truffle combo with wild mushrooms and a grating of pecorino cheese, a subtle amalgamation of flavours. Another old favourite, chicken rillettes with incredibly sweet caramelised onion is excellent comfort food for cold days, while the new addition of smoked ostrich carpaccio, rich with dabs of gorgonzola and tiny cubes of spanspek is designed for lazy summer days. To finish, a buttermilk panna cotta has a spritz of freshness from a basil granita and colourful strawberry sauce; and their much-loved avocado and coconut ice cream with caramelised banana purée is still a hit.

La Petite Ferme

021 876 3016

lapetiteferme.co.za

Words: Kit Heathcock | Images:  Kit Heathcock and Supplied

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