Today we headed into the Cape Winelands to one of the oldest Cape Dutch farms, Babylonstoren. It’s famous for its amazing gardens and Babel restaurant where they serve produce freshly picked from them. Cleverly, all the original outbuildings on the farm have been converted for use today – like Babel which has been fitted with floor to ceiling glass on two sides for a light-filled room overlooking immaculate vegetable beds on one side and a courtyard on the other.
The menu is pretty minimalist, with a choice of colour-coded salads for starters – green, yellow and red. Beautifully colourful, fresh plates of food. Portions are large, we shared one salad between two and covered the colour spectrum. You can add extras to your salads, including smoked trout, free range poached eggs and hand-made yogurt cheese.
The green plate consisted of crunchy summer heirloom peas, fennel, apple, pear, asparagus and avocado with pea and mint ice cream and a parma ham dressing.
Yellow meant carpaccio of pineapple topped with grilled and fresh sweetcorn, fresh butternut, granadilla, carrots, papino with a citrus, cinnamon and medjool date dressing.
Red offered slow roast tomatoes and strawberries, beetroot, radish, red onion and watermelon with a basil vinaigrette.
For mains there is a choice of four dishes: fish, steak, lamb and a vegetarian dish called a cauliflower sandwich.
The grilled double lamb cutlets came with a coriander, Chardonnay sauce and preserved kumquats. Served pink at my request they were tasty and tender.
Bowls of roast butternut and crispy potatoes were also delivered to the table. Our waiter informed us that their potatoes are the best in the world, and I must admit they are certainly up there. Hot, crunchy on the outside and perfectly soft on the inside. Yum!
The char-grilled fillet came (unusually) on the bone with bone marrow, fresh horseradish and a shiraz sauce. Love the plate!
An amble around the amazing gardens before (or after) lunch is a must. It’s inspired by the Company Gardens of Cape Town where, for centruries, ships would replenish with sweet water, vegetables and fruit. Spread over eight acres you’ll find more than 300 varieties of plants – and they’re all edible. There’s guava avenue, an olive and citrus orchard, prickly pear maze, berries, a lotus pond and plenty of ducks and chickens, too.
A visit to Babylonstoren is a unique experience. The food is fresh and the idea behind the menu is novel – no worries about trying to get your Five a Day in here. And the expansive gardens are certain to impress. The restaurant is quite small and it’s very popular, so booking way in advance is crucial.
Babylonstoren is just off the R45 on the way to Franschhoek. Find out more at http://www.babylonstoren.com/