The Restaurant at La Petite Ferme has instituted its new winter menu, the fine creation of recently appointed chef Kyle Norris. The tantalising offering is a blend of tradition and gastronomic panache that has come to embody the very spirit of the renowned eatery with an unrivalled view of the Franschhoek Valley.
“The winter menu takes its motivation from the origins of La Petite Ferme,” says Kyle. “It’s country cuisine with a fresh, contemporary touch.”
Picture an array of steaming roasts and bakes served with skilfully crafted, boutique wines in one of the region’s most envied locations. La Petite Ferme is situated on a lush, elevated estate off the Franschhoek Pass where its views of surrounding mountains and vineyards are saturated this time of year in the emeralds, golds and purples of winter.
It is a sight that has made it the go-to spot for a refined sundowner, immersive wine tasting, refreshing country breakaway or spoil-yourself meal. This was the heritage Kyle acknowledges in his menu and which he became part of in April this year.
A former parachute battalion soldier, Kyle turned his hand to the kitchen almost two decades ago. His talent quickly became apparent. He rapidly ascended through the ranks of numerous four and five-star properties in South Africa and abroad, including Tsogo Sun’s Beverly Hills hotel in Umhlanga Rocks and most recently, as Executive Chef, at Twin Waters – the first premium, multi-dining and entertainment centre of its kind in Nigeria.
His arrival at Le Petite Ferme was in fact the result of a dream held by his executive sous chef, Maveer Thulsie. Maveer was appointed at La Petite Ferme while a chef was still being sought to head the brigade. Kyle’s name came up – they’d worked together at a Drakensberg resort in 2012/3 and he’d left an indelible impression. Kyle was contacted, and he jumped at the opportunity.
“Relationships have always been the core of La Petite Ferme, even since its founding as a restaurant in the 1970s, followed by the winery in the 1980’s,” says general manager Riaan Kruger. “Many of the staff have been here for more than two decades and many of our guests have been loyal supporters for just as long, which is why we are excited about the prospects for the restaurant team.”
Maveer himself has a sterling record in top notch kitchens learning from some of the country’s finest chefs, including David Higgs at the Saxon Boutique Hotel. In recent years, he worked at Sir Richard Branson’s Mont Rochelle Hotel, Vineyard & Spa in Franschhoek.
Rounding off the kitchen team are pastry chef Oscar Baard, formerly of the Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa and premier Kuwaiti lifestyle brand Fauchon Paris; and, junior sous chef Esther Labuschagne who joined La Petite Ferme in 2015 shortly after moving to the Cape from Lion Sands Private Game Reserve.
The new winter menu that the team presents – as a first working together and the sum of their experience and skill – represents an expression of creative freedom and the result of experimentation with flavours, ingredients and textures.
The starters include delights like grapevine-smoked duck served with grilled green onion, micro greens, black cherry tuile, pomegranate, passion fruit dust and candied carrot roots. Baked camembert has been prepared with asparagus pesto, a classic vinaigrette, black garlic, candied walnuts, baby kale and fig confit. A soupe de la semaine (soup of the week) invites excitement thanks to goat cheese vetkoek alongside apple and goji berry, crispy baby spinach, biltong dust, walnut-and-cinnamon brittle and raisin purée.
Among the mains, not all is nouveau. The slow-roasted lamb is a classic of the restaurant and comes served with aubergine, fondant potatoes, spuma mint yoghurt, plum, red wine jus, candied rosemary and tomato soil.
A roasted chicken roulade is also served, partnered with mushroom duxel, cauliflower-and-turmeric purée, purple carrots and almond broccoli, pickled shallots, port jus and wild mushroom shards. Game-lovers will be excited to try the venison patisserie, served with butter bean, biltong, compressed grape, apple, apricot sous-vide loin, truffle mash, candied beetroot, spinach purée and bone marrow jus.
For something a tad lighter, try the Franschhoek trout prepared with deep-fried pommes anna, seasonal vegetables, dill crème fraîche, caper butter and beetroot dust; or, the Carrot 7 Ways – a delightfully crafted vegetarian option.
In terms of sweets, South African tradition has it all sown up. La Petite Ferme certainly won’t mess with a good thing, which is why there’s the “Quartet of South Africa” featuring melktert, pampoenkoekies, hertzoggies and koeksisters. Warm malva pudding is also on the list, served with guava sorbet, cinnamon, coffee-cardamom crème anglaise, vanilla shortbread and basil.
For a different tack, try amongst others, the olive oil cake presented with olive oil-and-pear sorbet, kalamansi marshmallow, La Petite Ferme wine-poached pear and szechuan pepper.
The restaurant at La Petite Ferme is open for lunch from 12h00 – 15h30 and for dinner on Fridays and Saturdays from 18h30 – 21h00 in winter (May – October). Advance reservations are recommended. For bookings call (+27) (0)21 876 3016 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.