Snuggled into the fynbos carpeted slopes of the Olifants Pass, La Petite Ferme delivers the ultimate trifecta to visitors to the sublimely beautiful Franschhoek valley: luxury guest suites, a restaurant currently offering a fabulous winter menu, and an intimate, small-scale wine farm that has produced several award-winning wines.
From its northern sentry in the Middagkrans Mountains, this historic estate also offers breath-taking views of the entire length and breadth of the Franschhoek Valley, flanked on either side by imposing mountain ranges. It was this awe-inspiring vista of craggy mountain juxtaposed with gentle rolling hills painted with farmlands and vineyards that comprised the backdrop to our three-course lunch at La Petite Ferme’s charming and oh-so-cosy restaurant.
The winter menu
With winter pouring her heart out over the province – a deluge we are most grateful for – restaurants in and around the Cape have craftily devised irresistible winter menus to seduce us from the comfort of our homes. These winter menus are packed with rustic treats, roasted meats, simmering stews, baked vegetables, and all those wonderful hearty dishes we adore when the weather outside is frightful.
La Petite Ferme is just such a place where guests can escape the icy weather and surrender themselves to the sweet embrace of fire-warmed air, a carbalicious country-style meal, and beautiful wines made from grapes grown in vineyards a stone’s throw from the restaurant. La Petite Ferme’s executive chef Kyle Norris, executive sous chef Maveer Thulsie, and pastry chef Oscar Baard are the evil geniuses behind the incredible winter menu the restaurant is currently offering, which has been described as “country cuisine with a fresh, contemporary touch.”
I prefer to describe it as an uncanny representation of the images your brain conjures up when your body is cold. Think smoked duck with candied carrots, baked Camembert cheese with fig confit, goats cheese vetkoek with walnut and cinnamon brittle, and soup with freshly-baked bread rolls. And that’s just for starters! For mains, the menu features, amongst other mouth-watering creations, slow-roasted lamb, chicken roulade with wild mushroom, springbok patisserie with bone marrow jus, and carrots cooked seven ways.
Our three-course food journey
With heavy clouds taking up residence over the Franschhoek valley, we were left with no choice but to choose the heartiest, most indulgent options available lest we walk outside and freeze to death. For starters, I chose the baked Camembert with asparagus pesto, black garlic, candied walnuts, crispy baby kale leaves, and sweet fig confit. My partner opted for the goats cheese vetkoek – wonderful deep-fried balls of pastry filled with fluffy and pungent goats cheese.
For mains, the decision was unanimous. Not even the prospect of variety could convince either of us to choose anything but the slow roasted lamb wrapped in soft aubergine slices and served on fondant potatoes with spuma mint yoghurt, plum, red wine jus, candied rosemary, and tomato soil.
To accompany the lamb, I chose a glass of La Petite Ferme Merlot, a subtle, complex, and elegant wine that delivers notes of cherry fruit, peppermint chocolate, and mocha. My partner, a die-hard white wine fan even on this winter’s day, chose a glass of the estate’s well-structured and refined Viognier featuring apricot, papaya, floral notes, and subtle citrus.
La Petite Ferme’s wines are the masterful creation of winemaker Wikus Pretorius, who was raised and trained in Stellenbosch but who gained international experience working in some of the world’s key winemaking regions, including California, Australia, and France.
A sweet ending
For dessert, my partner chose warm malva pudding served, quite interestingly, with guava sorbet (delicious!), vanilla shortbread, and coffee-cardamom crème anglaise. On the verge of having a food coma, I opted for what I thought might be lighter: the olive oil cake with pear sorbet, Kalamansi lime marshmallow, La Petite Ferme wine poached pear, and Szechuan pepper.
A highly recommended experience
The Franschhoek valley is peppered mountain-to-mountain with wineries, restaurants, and guesthouses (and often a combination of all three), giving visitors the daunting task of choosing a place to wine, dine, and sleep both off. Let me make that choice just a little easier for you: pay La Petite Ferme a visit. The winter menu offers a fabulous assortment of indulgent meals that are well priced, the wines are delicious and pair beautifully with the food, and the views are – safe to say – unparalleled. And, should you plan on overnighting in Franschhoek, La Petite Ferme has highly rated luxury suites nestled amongst their vineyards. There could hardly be a better way to spend a winter’s weekend in the Cape winelands.
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 email@example.com.