La Petite Ferme, Franschoek (South Africa).

November 2014.

This was our choice based on TripAdvisor for lunch in this charming little South African wine-production town about 120 km northeast of Cape Town. Unfortunately it was a low-pressure day with pelting rain. We tasted some wonderful wines at Chamonix and Bockenhoutskloof in the morning and were ready for lunch with more good wine, but tough luck they only serve the wine of the domaine which was no hell.

We were taken into a charming faux French wine cellar environment, a complicated room with semi-outdoor enclosed patio which seemed to be pretty frigid and so we elected to sit inside next to the inner window. The place was crowded at 1:30; lunch was available until 4 PM. We started with ostrich carpaccio and a prosciutto-wrapped camembert, both delicious. The camembert especially was mellow wrapped in the cooked fermented-meat-flavored prosciutto. Lots of accompanying onion and lettuce etc. with a nice vinaigrette dressing.

The service was enthusiastic and cheerful, provided by a fast-moving overweight middle-aged white lady with a good sense of humor. As I’ve said the wine was weird although we ordered the flagship “Verdict”. It had a strange cloying sweet banana vitiation both on the nose and in the mouth, and we left half of it behind, only partly because I was facing the death-defying drive home in the rain in a tiny tin can car on the wrong side of the road.

Lunch was a shredded lamb wrapped in roasted aubergine and babaganouche, and (for me) springbok tenderloin cooked medium rare with figs and a reduction sauce. Both were good, some of the inside of the lamb a bit dry, but the tenderloin delicious with its sauce backed against the sweetness of the fig. We couldn’t resist a crème brûlée which was traditional and perfectly prepared.

Again we encountered the now-familiar  astounding South African restaurant prices. This perfectly lovely three-course lunch for two cost $110 with $35 worth of wine, which was the most expensive wine on the menu. Nothing we had was extremely creative or way over-the-top delicious, but it was more than respectable and professionally served in a classy environment. Great value. Food 8.1, service 8.2, ambience 7.7, value 9.2.

About John Sloan

John Sloan is a senior academic physician in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia, and has spent most of his 40 years' practice caring for the frail elderly in Vancouver. He is the author of "A Bitter Pill: How the Medical System is Failing the Elderly", published in 2009 by Greystone Books. His innovative primary care practice for the frail elderly has been adopted by Vancouver Coastal Health and is expanding. Dr. Sloan lectures throughout North America on care of the elderly.
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