The name captures only two of the three pillars that this country-style eatery is built on – the third is the fantastic charcuterie of chef Neil Jewell, who specialises in pork in its many incarnations. His wife Tina is the very friendly hostess, and you can expect a warm welcome from any of the staff at this country casual eatery.
The tables outside under trees and umbrellas are great for sunny-day lunching, while the interior takes the form of a “farm grocer” – an earthy, cellar-like space with robust wooden furnishings on tile, with foodstuff on shelves and in the deli counter (including the estate wines, cured meats and bread). There’s a French sound track in the air and farm cats tend to occupy the sunny seats.
Lunch kicks off with a fantastic and very generous bread board, a tiny pile of salt alongside the butter to add to your taste. The menu changes seasonally and according to chef Neil’s whim: however you can always expect hearty grub and certainly his signature meats, either in cold cuts or filling mains. Starters include platters to pick on while sampling the estate’s wines, then there are a couple of salads and usually a soup.
The Caesar salad (R50) on my last visit was as good as any served in South Africa, with anchovy though (surprisingly, for a pork specialist) not lardons, and topped with a very well-judged and piquant dressing. All that was not to love was their fondness for those big ceramic bowls that swallow any cutlery left unattended.
Other starters included West coast mussels with carrot and Pernod (R50); ravioli carbonara (R60) and a cauliflower, prawn and Asian bacon pizza (R60) – colourful café food. Mains consist of a list of about five, the likes of: Beech-smoked hake, saffron purée, asparagus; free-range rib eye with an oxtail marmite, truffle and bone marrow; Magret duck breast with carrot, parsnip and green peppercorn jus. I tried the smoked “pasture” pork belly with a spicy avocado sauce and red pepper and corn relish, with a mustard coleslaw. The pork was tender, the flavours spicy and sweet and completely satisfying (the big bowl did make a repeat appearance though).
While there are a number of more elaborate options, most diners come for and are always impressed by the essentials of the house: best exemplified by the platter to share – of cured meats, olives, yoghurt cheese balls, crostini and rocket salad. Dessert ideas are very good, with smaller options like a trio of truffles, or fudge, plus house biscotti. The variety of truffles were tasty and the coffee has really improved.
For: A down-to-earth eatery with great cured meats and good vibe.
Against: Nothing really, it’s the kind of place to return to again and again.
Môreson Wine Estate, Happy Valley Road, Franschhoek. 0218763692
Lunch daily, check in winter.