H|H Food & Wine

La Petite Colombe: Love & Light at Le Quartier Francais

Admittedly, the maître d’ confirmed that I hadn’t been to dine at Le Quartier Francais in what may be as long as 3 years.

Walking off the famed Franschhoek Huguenot high street, that arguably was pioneered by The Tasting Room and their team into a rejuvenated space one is greeted by numerous bold bronze bunnies by Guy du Toit, automated glass doors, a formal reception to the left and a snug drinks bar just over there.

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From what I can remember a lot has changed of what

three year’s ago used to be my “local”.

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Now, first impressions; décor is muted, sophisticated, contemporary but subdued.
There’s a clear consistent palette amongst the Leeu Collection properties, Beverly Boswell has an eye for simplistic elegance, and Analjit Singh an obsessive allure to South African art.

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At every twist and turn in a recognizable contemporary and by no means hidden homage to the polarized future of our countries rising talents.

In terms of materials, fabrics, window treatments and tonal textures; these may be shy but seemly deliberate.

Honorably done to allow each piece of curated canvas and crafted crockery to speak to those meandering between the newly renovated hotel suites just past the citrus lined hambone pathway, The Garden Room or Le Quatier Francais’ honoree hatchling, La Petite Colombe (translates The little Dove)

The reason for this post, La Petite Colombe.

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Wallpaper outside entrance door “Grasscloth” by Kravet

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Large Grey Splash ceramic plates by Johan Coetzee.

 

There are three options, styles of dining, menus-if you will- to choose from at La Petite Colombe and each has a respective price point and wine pairings.

We opted for the “Winter Menu” priced at R395.00 without wines.

With a bottle of Arendsig Chard’ being uncorked by what once was Durban’s famed Oyster Box sommelier, subtly swirled to taste, the light that laps the restaurant is undeniably deceiving and the ambience, mountainous views distracting.

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“Its about the food  – the design complements the La Colombe brand

to achieve a comfortable, relaxing space to dine.”

-Beverly Boswell on the design brief for La Petite Colombe

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Sour Dough, home churned butter, sesame and roasted yeast

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Cape Malay pickled fish, smoked snoek, picalilli, salsa verde

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“Can you believe this is WINTER in Franschhoek”

Little did I know that this would be the foundation of a transported travel of tastes, texture and skill that a team as fresh as its produce served, plate by plate, would talentedly taunt us with.

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Asian style salmon, aubergine, miso, kalamansi, avocado, cucumber

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Plates were painted with colours of the imminent season change, Spring, from patriotic pickled fish to my favorite Barbeque Quail and prawn, each course to the detriment of it’s predecessor which seemed to supersede the next.

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Barbeque quail, prawn, smoked mussels, bok choi, corn

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Beef fillet, sweetbread,soubise, burnt thyme,sherry

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Citrus glazed line fish, smoked parsnip, pancetta,buckwheat, asparagus

At this point, you may be thinking, it can’t have all been faultless and in fact so did I but dessert was still to come and that’s my least anticipated part of any menu, sickly sweet, cooked fruit, always something chocolate and the obligatory cheese course, none of these ever appeal to me.

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Pineapple Sorbet, lime & coconut | Palate Cleanser

“Should I ruin my memorable meal with dreaded dessert?” I thought.

I gave the team a the benefit of doubt, “you’ve loved everything so far” I repeat in my mind despite the menu reading like a corporate hotel’s health breakfast “Stone fruit, almond, yoghurt…”

Oh dear, too late, “DESSERT” the waitress with a gleaming smile announces.

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Stone fruit, alomond, yoghurt, geranium, Valrhona Dulcey,nougat

 

I don’t have very many family Christmas memories, definetly not many memories where my mother did the cooking but little did I know until I spooned the elements together as like the ONE triffle my mother once made when I was younger the memories would layer in my mind and on my palette, each spoon savored because I didn’t want the memory to fade.

As I scraped the last of the milky ice cream, the flavor faded and the plate cleared.

This made me think about guests, like myself, who hadn’t been to The Tasting Room in a while, since their last trip to South Africa from abroad, from their last trip to Franschhoek from a mere hours drive from the city.

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All these memories of what once was. What would they think of La Petite Colombe? What do I say when they tell me the tale of their last time spent at The Tasting Room?

As we walked out the automated doors to the famed Franschhoek Huguenot high street, I couldn’t help but think, to Scot, James, Morne and John, here’s to creating new memories…

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  • Darielle
    August 4, 2017 at 6:45 am

    Was questioning whether to go or not…. now it’s a “no-brainer”. Great review!

    • Llewellyn Lambert
      August 4, 2017 at 3:48 pm

      Interested to see what you think. We’ll definitely be heading back soon!!