The fabulous Food Barn, officially one of my favourites

People are always asking me what my favourite restaurants are. Okay, I do visit a fair few but strangely enough when I’m asked the question my mind usually goes completely blank. I do think that’s partly because it depends on so many variables…the weather, your mood, the type of food you feel like and your own personal taste of course, something that even the best restaurant can’t deal with if you simply don’t like that type of food.

But a recent visit to a Cape Town restaurant helped me to think more clearly on the matter. The Food Barn in the sleepy town of Noordhoek is definitely on that list. And actually I don’t think any of the above criteria particularly matter in this case.

Chef Franck Dangereux has created the perfect formula. The restaurant is situated in an old barn which gives it a charming, relaxed feel and you’re guaranteed a good helping of fine dining, too – without all that formality that often comes along with it.

On our visit today the menu had changed significantly. Now that was a bit of a shock…there are old favourites (that word again) that people order religiously on every visit. To the extent that our friend, Candy, on seeing the new menu, asked the waitress if she could check if maybe there was the chance of her having his legendary prawn starter even though it was no longer on the menu. The chef was asked the question. His answer? No, it’s time to try something different. So we did!

I’d already seen the new rock lobster starter being advertised and had firmly made my mind up that this was for me. It came warm on a bed of glass noodles and mushrooms with a light and beautifully tasty Asian-style sauce. Plump, juicy lobster and wonderful clean flavours. Okay, that one’s a winner.

rocklobster

A beautiful and exotic lobster starter

Another starter choice, the strikingly green ravioli dish. A large parcel (now there’s an usual take on ravioli) packed with a beautiful combination of peas and tarragon served with emmental and truffle cream and tender leaf shoots. The tastes of summer on a plate with a wonderful truffle undertone.

ravioli

The luscious, plump ravioli parcel with its amazingly light and creamy sauce

Summery comfort food at its best, the home-smoked salmon came with steamed courgette ribbons, gratinated with artichoke and white truffle cream. A picture in pink and green with the soft smokiness of the salmon perfectly complimenting the slightly crunchy courgettes and the lovely gratin flavours.

salmon

A superior kind of salmon bake to savour

All Franck’s dishes take inspiration from flavours all over the world. Another reason why everyone’s taste is catered for at this establishment. The lamb rack had a decidedly Moroccan touch – roasted with crumbs and spiced honeyed apple and served with a nut and turmeric tatin, cumin and mild chilli jus and coriander yogurt.

The lamb was oh-so flavoursome and tender and all the other components with their exotic flavours and different textures made for a wonderful dish. I could have done with less jus – clearly I need to start asking for the sauce on the side. Fussy or what?

lamb

Lamb that’s soft and tender with great Moroccan flavours

The fish of the day was cooked more in a European style (with a definite Frenchness about it) with a saffron and garlic potato mousseline, petite fennel salad and a creamed fond de roche sauce. The earthy aromas of saffron welcomed the dish to the table in all its vibrant colours.

fish

A pretty and tasty fish dish

The steak dish also had some European touches served with a raclette and potato croquette (cheesy!), a shallot and syrah sauce, tarragon cream drops and wilted baby spinach. The steak was perfectly done and bursting with flavour – I’d highly recommend you go for the sirloin rather than the fillet.

steak

Sirloin steak with a wine sauce and the cheesiest of croquettes

Portions are generous at The Food Barn but you still really do have to order a portion of vegetables which they say serves two, but it’s big enough for four with your meals. The yummiest combo of carrots, courgettes and cabbage with a light, creamy sauce and plenty of herbs. You won’t regret ordering it.

veges

One of the nicest vegetable side dishes you can imagine

So now we were perfectly replete. But I’ve learnt a lesson about top-quality restaurants. Don’t ignore the desserts! We shared two between three of us and they were top-class. And light, too – we had no problem polishing them off.

This one is called Squashed Hibiscus Marshmallow. Now how can you not order that? It’s served with stone fruits, spring berries, condensed milk sorbet and lime pannacotta. Who’d have though condensed milk sorbet could be such a revelation, very clever.

marshmallow

A pudding that tastes as delicious as it looks pretty

The lime posset was served with raspberry consome, soft meringue and a raspberry tuille. Again, light, fresh tasting and beautifully constructed.

limeposset

Another dessert to wonder at

Okay, I’ve gone pretty big on my praise here, all I’m saying is it’s well justified. This lovely food is combined with great, friendly service – we asked our waitress Nicola for a bit of a break between starters and main and she organised it with a smile. There’s also a comprehensive wine list with some unusual choices that we hadn’t heard of before and it’s not going to break the bank. Hate it when restaurants overload the prices on their wine – which they often do.

Oh and if you’re lucky enough to be coming from the centre of Cape Town make sure to take a leisurely drive over Chapman’s Peak to get there. This amazing pass is built on top of a layer of granite, cut into the softer rocks above. It’s hard to find imagine a drive that’s more stunning.

ChapmansPeakDrive_View

One of many stunning views from Chapmans Peak Drive

The Food Barn is at Noordhoek Farm Village, Corner Village Lane and Noordhoek Main Road, Noordhoek.

Fabulous lunch at the Foodbarn

Another Sunday, another restaurant to savour. This week we went to the Foodbarn in beautiful Noordhoek. The stunning, sunny day started off well with a drive over Chapman’s Peak which connects Hout Bay and Noordhoek, with its amazing views of sea and mountain. And just when you think the day can’t get any better, you stroll in to the Foodbarn…and it does.

Chef Franck Dangereux was born in Cannes and appears to have been born to cook. His dishes are pure genius, just to warn you, my repertoire of adjectives is going to take a bashing before I get to the end of this post! The food is fab, tastes amazing and looks absolutely beautiful. And to make the whole experience even better, the restaurant, housed in a thatched roof building, is totally laid-back, unpretentious and welcoming with great, friendly service. The kind of place that makes you want to kick your shoes off and settle in for a long, long while, which we did at a lovely table on the verandah. The sun streamed through the slatted roof onto our table, as you will see in my pictures – giving a real feel of the beautiful day.

There’s a bistro menu on a blackboard as well as the a la carte – and you can mix and match between them. Our lovely waitress Ruby waxed lyrical about her favourite dishes on the menu – such passion and enthusiasm made the experience even more enjoyable and our choices even more difficult.

My starter of fresh yellowtail tartare was wonderful, a light combination of summer on a plate with plenty of creamy avocado, lovely fresh fish and truly sublime prawns around the edge of the plate. Made me wish I’d ordered the prawn main course!

Delicate yellowtail tartare with the tastiest of prawns

Delicate yellowtail tartare with the tastiest of prawns

The Tunisian fish soup is spicy with fish, mussels and prawns and finished with cuminaise chickpeas and fresh coriander. This dish takes soup to another level, it’s the stuff to dream about.

Silken fish soup with tender prawns and mussel

Silken fish soup with tender prawns and mussel

The crunchy and soft goats cheese fritters came with the sweetest of heirloom tomato terrines, fresh basil and aubergine caviar.

Stunning goat's cheese fritters

Stunning goat’s cheese fritters

The springbok tartare was served with homemade tacos, spicy avo and saffron mayo.

Springbok tartare with spicy avo

Springbok tartare with spicy avo

And now for the mains. My choice elicited oohs of delight as it arrived at the table. It’s Franck’s famous Pan Bagna. Bread topped with an amazing tomatoey, garlicky sauce, two large seared trout fillets, an egg and a tomato bonbon all on a bed of salad with an anchoiade sauce. A heavenly tower of flavours and textures to thrill. Seriously, I may never be able to order anything else at the Foodbarn, it’s a plate of perfection for me.

A beautiful towering plate of food

A beautiful towering plate of food

The tender lamb chops were served pink with a delicately delicious mustard and courgette quiche, wild rocket and a rich lemon verbena scented jus. Who knew a mustard and courgette quiche could taste so good?

Tender lamb chops with a delicate sauce

Tender lamb chops with a delicate sauce

Fillet steak Bordelaise came with a pecorino and truffle potato fritter but as Kevin, who ordered it, is having a carb-free period, he declined the fritter. Ruby, suggested she serve him a portion of vegetables on the plate instead, they couldn’t be more accommodating.

steak

Yum, yum, yum!

Why I haven’t visited more often is a mystery and certainly an oversight (one I simply have to remedy). I discovered they do tapas and wine matching events, too…put me down for some of that and soon!

The FoodBarn is at Noordehoek Farm Village in Noordhoek