Chef Ryan and his wife Lana have been steering this ship for the past five years. In a beautiful heritage building where a tranquil ambience includes wide windows that allow the light and mountain views to spill in, the hands-on pair relocated from a small 10-table restaurant to Franschhoek’s Place Vendôme about a year ago.
From the open plan kitchen at the helm, the interactive setting means guests can appreciate the fluidity of movement in the kitchen and all its alchemic processes. Walls are adorned with contemporary prints and art, and from the ceiling hang Edison light bulbs.
Designed with long, languid feasts in mind is a comfortable banquette running along the perimeter, which guests can sink into, propping themselves up with lush pillows. And there are a number of tables outside in the courtyard and areas flanking the building. The bar at the rear tempts for cocktails, local wines and bubblies as well as a selection of delicious snacks.
Lana deflty matches wines with the Tasting Menu (the majority from estates in Franschhoek). Ryan has a delicate touch and an artist’s eye when it comes to presenting his dishes, and food is plated on exquisite crockery.
The experience begins with an unusual bread service; tomato ciabatta comes with silky roti, hummus and salt-and-pepper butter. Followed by Snacks for the Table: duck liver parfait, red cabbage and chicken sponge and mielie pap with Chakalaka dip.
The Tasting Menu officially begins with seared tuna, fennel kimchi, lemon and rooibos whipped jelly and a ginger granita. This neatly segways in the Blou Wildebeest tataki with compressed apple, pickled baby turnips and meringue. The spice exploration continues with sautéed linefish, enhanced by granadilla atchar and a red pepper confit. Next is the bobotie pancake with pineapple and chilli: a whimsical dish where puffed rice pops beneath the soft pancake in the savoury-sweet-spicy mince.
Main meals include seaweed crusted impala loin with glazed chicory, cherries and blackpepper gel and Ryan treats his guests to an elevated version of SA’s famous ‘Eskimo pie’. To complete the experience are petit fours of SA breeding: Dadel Fingers (date fingers), Orange Malva, and Amarula Chocolate Lolly.
The Chef’s selection 4-course menu, as well as an à la carte menu offering small plates (starters), main courses and desserts are also available. One of the signature dishes is the soufflé.
Open Monday to Saturday, lunch 12:30 – 14:30; dinner 18:30 – late; (soon for afternoon snacks & drinks); 1 Place Vendôme, Huguenot Road, Franschhoek; tel: 021 876 4598; email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit: www.ryanskitchen.co.za