Set in the beautiful town of Franschhoek, Foliage offers a truly unique dining experience, giving centre stage to ingredients sourced from natural environments.
In a global world, where imported produce and exotic ingredients are readily available, it’s not everyday that you can trace each part of a meal to your local surroundings. At Foliage in Franschhoek, however, not only are ingredients locally produced, many of them are foraged from nearby forests, fields and rivers. Be it mushrooms, herbs, edible leaves or roots, chef and owner Chris Erasmus and his team are dedicated to finding food that is naturally available in the fields and farms nearby. The restaurant team spends time searching for food that can be transformed into beautiful, tasty meals, and are conscious always of their impact on the environment when selecting their ingredients. The result? Dishes that are unique, ethical, and, of course, an experience for the tastebuds.
According to chef Chris, the inspiration behind the restaurant is to “celebrate the great local Franschhoek forests, rivers, farms and local gardening enthusiasts. Our ethos is to keep our paws green, our boots muddy and our ingredients ethically sourced.” What isn’t grown or foraged by the restaurant staff is sourced from small local suppliers and backyard growers, ensuring that all ingredients are fresh, and that it never has to travel far to get onto the plate. This sustainable approach to sourcing ingredients is in line with global food trends, where businesses are increasingly paying more attention to their environmental impact and focusing more on ethical practices.
The atmosphere of the restaurant, says Chris, is “fun dining with a conscience.” He describes the space as relaxed, but vibey, and the open plan kitchen contributes a bit of theatre to the place. The art and interior is curated and designed by Ilse Schermers, the owner and curator of the Is Art Gallery next door, a beautiful space that leads right through the restaurant’s door. Guests are able to move between the spaces, and the gallery exhibits work from local artists. Exposed brick, wood and leather detail in the restaurant give the interior a trendy, but rustic, and comfortable feel. In winter, guests can expect a cosy vibe thanks to the big fireplace, while in summer seating spills out onto the street, giving the place a laid back charm, and guests the chance to soak up the energy of the town.
The offering at Foliage includes loads of foraged greens and unusual cuts of meat. While the menu changes depending on the ingredients that are available, Chris says that wild herb salads and beef hump feature often. Always on a mission to create dishes that use fresh, local flavours, the team barters with surrounding wine, animal and vegetable farmers for ingredients. “We search the rivers, meadows, forests and mountains for fynbos, edible greens, ferns, and mushrooms.
The whole team joins in and we learn and grow from each other,” says Chris. Because the ingredients change all the time, it’s possible to try something different on every visit to the restaurant, and the flavours are always interesting and original with dishes like the warm salad, made with charcoal roasted beetroot, broccoli, sorrel yoghurt, and 19-year-old vinegar dressing.
There is also a smoked beef crackling loaf with butter; and a smoked cheesecake, served with spiced tomato vinaigrette, sunflower, pea shoot and wild cress salad, while dried foraged mushrooms also feature in some of Chris’ creations. Other foraged greens include waterblommetjies, watercress flowers, ferns and milk thistles, and many of the ingredients are pickled and preserved. Sous chef Nick Oosthuizen creates all the cheeses in-house with ancient techniques using wild roots like thistle and fig leaves, instead of animal rennet. The milk is sourced raw from a local school student, named Salmo, who delivers to the restaurant every morning. This young entrepreneur only has one cow, but Foliage is proudly helping him to save enough money for another.
Located at 11 Huguenot Street in Franschhoek, Foliage is open for lunch and dinner from Monday to Saturday. The restaurant is closed on Sundays.Lunch: 12h00 – 15h00
Dinner: 19h00 – 21h00To make a reservation, call 021 876 2328 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Photography by Claire Gunn