When you see a name like La Petite Colombe, you can only imagine French dining at its best, and at this beautiful gem, you will certainly not be disappointed! We were recently invited to join them to experience their newly launched Winter Menu, and were left in absolute awe of the full culinary journey that we were taken on.
Chef John Norris- Rogers has headed up the restaurant since August 2017 and has prided himself on absolute attention to detail, as well as the freshness of the ingredients that make up his art.
The restaurant is tucked into the heart of the French capital of Southern Africa, Franschhoek, and proudly marks its place among the top restaurants to visit in the world. Found on the main road that takes you through Franschhoek, toward the Huguenot Museum, the full experience really begins on the journey there through the winelands and into the heart of town. Surrounded by the towering peaks of the Groot Drakenstein mountains, it is a warm, open, bright restaurant that plays on all of your senses. From the light French music tinkering in the background, to the perfectly placed art, as well as the tempting smells coming from the kitchen, you are instantly escorted into a world of sheer lavishness.
Each and every part of your experience with the restaurant has obviously been thought, rethought, perfected and executed. Your preconceptions of what you are about to experience are thrown off as soon as you enter the restaurant. I certainly don’t want to ruin the surprise, however, look out for a feature placed to challenge the image that you have created about your imminent experience.
A bevy of waitrons take you through your meal, each insightful, knowledgeable, passionate and absolutely down to earth. This was something that I really appreciated about the experience. Picturing French fine dining, you imagine snooty staff that turn their nose up to anyone not driving a Mercedes. But here, in the heart of sheer luxury, you are offered service with genuine smiles and interactions that leave you feeling like you are dining at home.
The pairing experience is an absolute must if you can. The wines are so well selected that a swirl of wine with a nibble of the dish heightens the taste of both the food (if that’s even possible) as well as the wine. Each wine is carefully explained by the staff who clearly have incredible insight into the wine, their backstories as well as why it was chosen for the dish. You can expect some of South Africa’s most exclusive estate names to be presented to you. From the Old Vine Chenin produced by Mullineux, to the Private Cellar Shiraz from Rijks, meticulous thought has been put into the selection of wines. The Rijk’s, for example is paired with the beef fillet and braised brisket main, in order for the grippy tannins of the Shiraz to perfectly offset the fat of the beef.
The menu embodies everything that you love about the luxuries that come with Winter. It captures the smoky fire that you cuddle up to while the rain pours outside. It is reminiscent of the hearty steak and Syrah that you tuck into when the sun dips behind the horizon just after 5pm. Winter vegetables and flowers are translated into detailed and delicious accents to the dishes. The flavours and smells of chestnut, winter pears and smoked elements are so meticulously placed that you each morseful is a sensation that warms the depths of your soul.
The attention to detail is delicate and captivating. Every single plate that is set in front of you demands appreciation with each tiny element being perfectly placed in perfection. I loved how each dish is immaculately explained, from hearing about how once tuna is caught, it is blast frozen on the boat and is only defrosted minutes before it gets to your plate. It is this kind of freshness that you will find throughout the rest of the meal, and that differentiates this experience from most.
The journey evolves into being escorted to the chef's table where you are taken through the exquisite process of the making of a ramen noodle and scallop masterwork. Meeting the chef is the flourish of detail in the meal as he delves into how he concocted such a detailed dish and stating how important it was for the ramen to not overpower the delicate scallop.
I hate the saying that a small morsel of food explodes in your mouth, but here, at La Petite Colombe, it really does just that! The menu takes you through the full spectrum of fine dining; from mousses to foams, tiny flower petals to roasted white chocolate that crackles in your mouth.
From the sourdough bread and the home churned butter, which naturally is not just bread and butter, to the palate cleanser with watermelon sorbet and its Inverroche gin and tonic foam, it is not just the main dishes that hold a strong presence.
The special is running this winter, weekdays only, and you can choose how much of the experience you want. The four course meal is R395, which, for what appears on your table is an absolute steal. The wine pairing experience is R795 and is highly recommended for the full taste experience. The Meet the Chef experience at the chef's table is an additional R100. It is an afternoon that you simply don’t want to miss out on this winter, so make sure that you book an afternoon during the week and experience this incredible fine dining journey!