My weekend in began in the ideal setting: A candlelit dinner at the revered Le coin Français.
Opened by Chef Darren Badenhorst of Grande Provence fame, Le coin Français – an ode to the name given to the area by the French Huguenots – is in an unassuming white building on Franschhoek’s main street, and features an open kitchen so diners seated at the limited number of tables can witness the culinary creations taking shape.
Viewing the live kitchen from my table in the simply decorated restaurant, with neutral colours and flowers and candles as table pieces, I saw that Chef Darren is certainly hands-on, making sure each and every dish that leaves his kitchen has his stamp of culinary perfection.
Between the six course and eight course menus, I was exceedingly happy with my choice of the latter when the Chef’s Taster, only available to those who opt for the eight plates created by Chef Darren, was placed in front of me. A cloche filled with smoke hid the true culinary mastery upon the plate. As Chef Darren released the smoke, a woody fragrance mixed with subtle notes of spice found my nose, and I looked down to find a beetroot dome over springbok, accessorised with dots of raisin emulsion and horseradish aioli, with a dusting of carrot powder for sweetness.
At Le Coin Francais, trust the chef and experience the full culinary journey.
Focusing on mixing traditional French style and contemporary methods, Chef Darren’s creations feed diners’ appetites, taste buds, as well as eyes.
A perfect parcel of tuna ceviche was packaged in a crisp chickpea cracker and dressed with touches of aioli and avo; the tender lamb neck confit broke apart at the slightest touch of my fork, and the Wagu bone, red wine, and marrow jus added another depth of richness to the dish; and the white chocolate mousse was enhanced with popping candy and sour berries, which added a wonderful turn of tastes compared to the richness and smoothness of the mousse.
Every dish that was placed in front of me included inventiveness and passion.
When in Cape Town’s French Corner, make sure you have a reservation at Le coin Français.