The promise is made, and the promise is kept: at the Foodbarn, you can wear shorts and sandals or even walk in with bare, sandy feet, and nobody is going to frown, ask you to sit outside and bring you the burgers and chips menu. There isn’t one of those. Rather, you’ll still enjoy some of the finest fare at the Cape and a soupcon of France, sandy feet and all.
Yet somehow this seems to preclude Franck Dangereux’s wonderful restaurant from the top awards in the land, if one is to judge by the Foodbarn not being nominated any longer for leading gongs while his competitors and peers in the region walk off with the prizes.
Franckly speaking, it shouldn’t matter what you’re wearing or what the dress code is: if the place is pleasant to be in and the food is out of the top drawer, the place ought to be eligible.
If the notion of this casual air suggests to you that the Foodbarn is likely to be all hessian and fishnetting hanging from the ceiling in the style of a 1970s Cape seafood shed, you’d be far from the truth. It’s a beautifully styled space, with a backdrop of a gentle teal offsetting white-clad tables and white canvas chairs, and the walls dotted with an eccentric medley of pictures and sundry wall ornaments. There are two mezzanine levels if you’d rather dine in the cool rafters, and when the weather’s clement you can sit outside too. For my money, it’s one of the best-looking interiors at the Cape.
You have five choices each of starters and desserts, six main course options, and an additional offal dish of the day. The choice on this day was tripe, which is one of the few things which (normally) I don’t eat, which is not to say that I wouldn’t ever try it.
Don’t expect the following dishes when next you go there, as the menu changes weekly. There is also a kids’ menu of things such as buttered noodles, mini steak or linefish, or crumbed mozzarella fingers with fresh tomato sauce. Nice touch.
Dangereux does three things exceptionally well: a super sauce, seafood, and marrying flavours, textures and colours on a plate. So it was easy to choose for a starter the feuillantine of home-smoked Norwegian salmon with poached green asparagus, artichokes and roasted cherry tomatoes, in a lake of delectable asparagus and chardonnay cream sauce. Topping it was a super-light feuillantine, a delicately crunchy ‘lid’ of puff pastry. Like everything else we enjoyed at this family Sunday lunch, it was as gorgeous to look at as it was to eat.
The other chosen starters also drew sighs of happiness – prawns flash-fried in garlic with chilli and tomato pulp, served in puff pastry with rocket and herb butter; and roasted goat’s cheese, fried haloumi and a Brie fritter served with candied rosa tomatoes and red pepper syrup.
They offered linefish two ways, either with Pernod butter or our chosen way of kingklip on a bed of artichokes and carrots with roasted rosa tomatoes and finished with a basil-scented chardonnay cream – a variation, then, on the sauce for my salmon starter.
I chose the rack of Karoo lamb, not because I felt this ideal for Sunday lunch, but because a rack of lamb is one of the best tests of a chef’s mettle. It was great, with its mustard and bread crust, exquisitely sauced with a marjoram jus and served with a delicious little grated potato croquette topped with a sliver of goat’s Brie.
You can end, simply, with a trio of sorbets, but you’d be an idiot not to rather opt for the likes of our two chocolatey choices: gianduja (chocolate containing hazelnut paste) and chocolate-filled samoosas, next to a dark chocolate tower and coconut ice-cream, and the even better dark Belgian chocolate and coffee millefeuille with vanilla sauce and cinnamon ice-cream. Glorious-looking, and just as delicious on the palate.
The Foodbarn Noordhoek Farm Village 021 789 1390 www.thefoodbarn.co.za
First published in The Sunday Independent November 2011