Tag Archives: Le Quartier Francais

Rambling Litchi’s best of 2016

Just when you thought I was done for the year, I decided a ‘best of’ compilation post was necessary.

See the list below for some of our favourite things from 2016, all in and around Cape Town obviously, and expect an annual update*. Some categories will remain, others will change. Note that most of these came to mind instantly, but some were dismissed as we experienced them last year, not this year, and others I had to manually search my blog(s) for mentions and reminders – links included if you want to walk down my memory lane again. If there are any categories you feel I’ve left out, let me know! 🙂

Milkshake: There’s no denying milkshake is my favourite treat. This year, I’ve learned that if an establishment goes so far as to title something a ‘Freek shake’ best you believe it. Gibson’s Peppermint Caramel Freek Shake was enormous and I probably should have shared it. Ditto with the Festive Underground Eatery or FUE‘s cocopine shake much earlier this year.

Gibson's peppermint caramel Freek shake.
Gibson’s peppermint caramel Freek shake.

Burger: What goes with milkshake? Burgers, of course. You just can’t go wrong at Jerry’s. The patty is tasty, cooked to perfection on a brioche bun and the side of fries doused in Sriracha is a treat in itself. The bacon, cheese and onion ring-topped buccaneer beef burger at Catch22 also gets a thumbs-up from me.

The cheese, rocket and caramelised onion topped 'Jerry' burger at Jerry's, with fries doused in Sriracha sauce.
The cheese, rocket and caramelised onion topped ‘Jerry’ burger at Jerry’s, with fries doused in Sriracha sauce.

Hike: We’ve done quite a few hikes this year to work off all those burgers and shakes – most recently the Skeleton Gorge version up Table Mountain – but our faves all involved caves. That’s because you want a good view, sense of accomplishment and a body that’s not on the point of collapse once you reach your destination. Wally’s Cave in Lion’s Head was this year’s hidden hideaway gem.

Wally's Cave in Lion's Head
Wally’s Cave, conquered! If you know where to go it’s quite an easy climb up Lion’s Head.

Conference venue: It’s not all about weekend activities though. Conferences are the lifeblood of my worklife. The Artscape Theatre and trusty CTICC are always a good bet for Wi-Fi, tasty snacks and temperature control, but my best was the Vineyard Hotel.

Vineyard Hotel
The distracting view from my seat in the Vineyard Hotel ballroom, where I attended a few conferences this year.

Night away: Living in Cape Town is a little like living in paradise, but everyone needs a break away from their daily routine once in a while. For us, the best version of this was at Majeka House in Stellenbosch. Just over an hour from our front door, the suites are enormous, the spa treatments are heavenly and the food is simply superb.

Majeka House pool
Chandelier-style lights lit up the spa and pool area at Majeka House. I spent a lot of time in the jacuzzi at the far end.

Romantic dinner: You also need to celebrate special occasions as they arise. Maybe just because we went there to celebrate our ninth wedding anniversary, maybe because they’re just up the road, but Homespun is at the tippy top of our ‘lovey-dovey locations’. The food, drinks, setting and service are all commendable.

The lamb shank at Homespun.
The lamb shank at Homespun.

Once-in-a-lifetime meal: This category is for those breathtaking meals that cost quite the pretty penny and offer course after course of plates you simply can’t help but take photos – and videos – of. The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français in Franschhoek was our winner here. Go soon if this is something on your foodie bucket list, as chef Margot Janse is leaving these kitchens early next year.

Posing with the wire win glass to prepare for the eight-course pairing dinner at Le Quartier Français' Tasting Room.
Posing with the wire win glass to prepare for the eight-course pairing dinner at Le Quartier Français’ Tasting Room.

Road trip: Whether you’re staying the night or just out for a few hours on the road, there’s nothing like a few empty hours to fulfill your wanderlust. We did so a few times this year, enjoying a few afternoons in the unspoilt beauty of Gordon’s Bay and Langebaan, both around two hours from home.

Beautiful views along the road that hugs the coast from Pringle Bay to Gordon’s Bay.
Beautiful views along the road that hugs the coast from Pringle Bay to Gordon’s Bay.

Winter special: One of Cape Town’s best-kept secrets is that many of its fine dining establishments offer warming meals at pocket-friendly prices in the cold winter months. Some of this year’s best include the half-price chicken curry specials at Inside in Eden on the Bay.

Chicken bunny chow and korma at Inside Lounge, Eden on the Bay
Two of our half-price winter chicken curries of 2016, at Inside Lounge in Eden on the Bay. That’s a bunny chow and a mild korma.

Alcohol tasting: You’re really spoilt for choice if wine is your thing, but those who prefer a more refined tipple are also in for a treat in the Cape. Val du Charron in Wellington does so with beautiful legends behind each wine blend, and many wine farms offer an MCC tasting of their bubbliest bubbly, but it’s the KWV brandy tasting that got Husband’s seal of approval this year.

KWV's ‘brandy and Huguenot chocolate' pairing.
KWV’s ‘brandy and Huguenot chocolate’ pairing.

Weekend lunch: This list proves it’s not all about the bustling CBD. In fact, on weekends there’s lots of appeal in driving a little off the beaten track to find a new venue where you can spend a few hours eating, drinking and laughing with loved ones. Glenelly Estate in Stellenbosch is a beautiful spot for this, with panoramic views of the estate’s 123-hectare vineyards, an adventurous menu and their own wine varietals on The Vine Bistro‘s menu.

View of the vineyards from Glenelly Estate
View of the vineyards from Glenelly Estate.

Seafood meal: Unless you’re allergic to it, a meal out in Cape Town should include seafood. I passed the baton the Husband on this one, and a few of his favourites were the fettuccinne marina and platter for two at Panama Jacks in the Cape Town harbour.

The seafood platter special at Panama Jacks.
The seafood platter special at Panama Jacks.

Wild meal: Eating out in South Africa often means eating unusual dishes. The tasting menu at Catharina‘s on Steenberg Estate is an excellent way to do so. Though seasonal, you’re likely to find delicacies like wild boar, crocodile and zebra on offer.

Grilled zebra with aubergine maize meal and spicy chakalaka, part of the eight-course wild tasting menu at Catharina's.
Grilled zebra with aubergine maize meal and spicy chakalaka, part of the eight-course wild tasting menu at Catharina’s.

Eggs benedict: Husband’s weekend breakfast staple, we’ve sampled quite a few this year. The ones we kept going back to were the salmon version from Company’s Garden and the pork-belly bacon benedict at Steenberg’s 1682. Tart Hollandaise, yolk that pours at just the right pace and not-your-average toasted base. Yum!

Eggs benedict with Steenberg's 1682 pork-belly bacon.
Eggs benedict with Steenberg’s 1682 pork-belly bacon. Yes.

Dessert: Sometimes you don’t want a full meal. Sometimes it’s just your sweet tooth looking for satisfaction. I seem to have a mouth full of sweet teeth as I’ve had a jaw-dropping amount of desserts this year. My best have been the caramel bar at Majeka House’s Makaron, and the winter chocolate fondant and the summer raspberry ice cream sandwich at Grande Provence’s The Restaurant. Beautifully plated, these are the type of sweet treat you swirl around in your mouth with your eyes closed, and follow with a sip of strong coffee to enhance those flavours.

The Restaurant at Grande Provence's 'berry ice cream sandwich'.
The Restaurant at Grande Provence’s ‘berry ice cream sandwich’.

Speaking of…

Coffee: My bloodstream is coffee. I’m not fully functional before at least a cuppa or two, so the weekend hasn’t officially started before I’ve had a caffeine-filled cappuccino or latte. My favourites this year include the cappuccino at Village Place Cafe, with a shot of toffee syrup, and the regular cap at The Hart Breadhouse and Eatery in Melkbos.

Cappuccino at The Hart Breadhouse and Eatery in Melkbos
I’d expect nothing less than a heart swirled into the foam of my strong cappuccino when breakfasting at The Hart Breadhouse and Eatery in Melkbos.

Over and out, folks! Here’s to sampling the very best of 2017, watch this space…

*All photos my own. Disclaimer: Some of these were experienced free-of-charge as I reviewed them for work, but most came from our own pockets. No payment was considered for this ‘best of’ list as it’s all based on personal preference.

What to do in Franschhoek

Yay, weekend! If you’re based in Cape Town, have a full talk of petrol and an empty few days ahead of you, why not follow in our footsteps and explore the wonderful town Franschhoek tucked in the wine-growing valleys of the Western Cape, as we did last weekend. Just 80km or so from the city, you’ll be there in just over an hour if you leave now… tell them I sent you! Start your engines, get set, go!

Of course these pics taken on our cameras didn’t even do the landscape and history-steeped buildings justice. Click here to click through the galleries I added in my official review, which includes eye-wateringly beautiful pics of Le Quartier Français, its Tasting Room and the surrounds, all owned by the Leeu Collection.

Stop to sightsee on the way in

Road to Franschhoek
Before you know it that city bustle falls away and you’re surrounded by tall greenery and satisfyingly flat roads. You can capture stunning shots like this even with your phone camera, through the car windscreen, while moving. Yes.
Rickety Bridge Winery tram
Take note of moving vehicles, as they’re likely not what you’d expect. This is the wine tram at Rickety Bridge Winery – we stopped and watched in awe as the passengers stood up and changed the direction of the seat backs before the tram set off in the other direction. Very clever as it’s a single track.
Rickety Bridge
So awed were we that we stopped in for a wine-tasting. Here’s proof that I was there. Sadly there’s no longer a ‘rickety bridge’ at the winery.
Rickety Bridge samples
Husband with some of the lovely bottles he got to sample. R20 gets you six assorted samples.
Pancakes at Good Food & Co in Franschhoek
A little later we simply had to stop the car again when we saw the relaxed setting at Good Food& Co as our tummies were rumbling. Isn’t this just the prettiest plate of pancakes you’ve ever seen? They were even more ‘lekker’ (manageress’ description, not mine) than they look, filled with sliced banana and caramel cream.
Amuse bouche at the Good Food & Co in Franschhoek
Even more delightful? Our drinks were served with a dinky little ‘amuse bouche’ cupcake. Husband is suitably impressed.
Tree in Franschhoek
Of course you’ll play hide-and-seek while wandering through the shopping district a little further up the road. Yes, that is Husband just peeking out from behind the tree, teehee.
Tuk tuk microbrewery in Franschhoek
After a little stroll down the street you’ll want to stop and stretch those legs. Leeu Collection’s Tuk Tuk microbrewery is perfectly placed (and priced) to attract those weary strollers, on your way toward the Huguenot Monument side of the street.
CBC taster at Tuk Tuk
Of course you’ll try out the R55 beer sampler of various CBC craft beers at the Tuk Tuk microbrewery. Husband’s favourite was the lager.
Inside Tuk Tuk microbrewery
Who were we to refuse the friendly waiter who insisted on snapping a shot of the two of us inside the microbrewery? He took great care angling the camera, the lighting and us to get this shot. We had to move three times, I think, for this perfection. 😉
Sunset at Huguenot Monument in Fraschhoek
Beers sampled, we soldiered on down the road to take in the beauty of the Huguenot Monument. Undaunted by the locked gate, I simply hopped up onto the boundary wall for this shot, just before sunset.

Sleep over at Le Quartier Français and don’t miss the Tasting Room’s eight course, African-inspired menu

Pool at LQF
And then it was time to explore our location for the night – LQF or ‘Le Quaf’. Just look at that solar-heated pool. Those mountains in the background. All that dappled sunshine. T’was pure weekend bliss.
Lavender at LQF
If you’re a regular reader of my blog you’ll know I’m partial to purple, so top marks for the plants fitting in with the colour scheme!
Monkey seesaw
The playful garden decorations at the LQF pool.
Umbrellas at LQF
Our blue door. Bright umbrellas too, just in case. We didn’t need to use them but it was a comforting thought knowing they were there.
Patio set at LQF
The sweet patio set outside our windows.
Bed at LQF
The bed was deceptively large and the lighting cosy, especially when warmed by the crackling log fire in the room.
Le Creuset coffee at LQF
In case you thought those pancakes earlier didn’t quite fill me up, Husband was kind enough to brew a cuppa Lavazza coffee (the purple pod, if you must know) in the yellow Le Creuset cups we found waiting for us in our room.
Pink MCC
Orange sightseeing cap replaced with red lippy, we were handed complimentary flutes of rose MCC on being seated at the Tasting Room. The bowl of white fluff is actually a black pepper-dish that melts onto the tongue. It was the first of many surprises.
Wine glass at the Tasting Room
Keen to get started on his eight-course pairing (yes, EIGHT courses, plus many tasty extras), Husband posed with the wire glass poised on our table. Much, much later – three hours later – we toddled back to our rooms for a peaceful, fire-crackly sleep.

Factor in a long, leisurely breakfast in the Living Room

Hot chocolate at the Living Room.
Having already savoured a coffee in our room, I was ready to try the Living Room’s hot chocolate the next morning. It was a wonderful thing, which stayed pipingly hot throughout my meal – and I ate plate after plate of delicious food!
Egg benedict at the Living Room
The ‘egg benedict’ on the breakfast menu is just that, a single egg poached, Hollandaised and served on porky heaven. That’s because you’re expected to also fill up on the breakfast buffet. Here’s why…
Breakfast buffet at the Living Room
See the delightful continental breakfast buffet? Each item is carefully curated to add to your overall breakfast feast.

Take the long road home

Haute Cabriere bench
We recommend taking a slow trip back home after your stay in Franschhoek. The ‘scenic route’ only takes a little longer and will have you stopping to sigh at the lovely photo-worthy bench at the very edge of the Haute Cabriere Wine Estate.
Haute Cabriere Wine Estate photo frame.
We took a picture from both sides of this frame as couldn’t decide which was the better shot. This ended up as the winner.
Franschhoek valley
The long, windy mountain road almost guarantees you’ll take a handful of shots like this – cheesy grin above postcard-perfect shots of the Franschhoek valley.
Franschhoek Pass
There’s a helpful sign at the base of Franschhoek Pass that shows you’re only 740m above sea level. Pilot-minded Husband commented that’s only half the height of Lanseria.

That’s all, folks. I can’t recommend it enough. Thanks for stopping by, check in again next week for my next update. If you missed my overview of what to do in Stellenbosch last month, click here. 🙂

*Disclaimer: Obviously our accommodation at Le Quartier Français and meals at the Tasting Room and the Dining Room were part of our review package. All else came from our own pockets. All enjoyed equally.