It was a scorching hot summer’s day and Elené, Tasha, Angy and I were on our way back to Stellenbosch after a busy morning in Grabouw. It didn’t take long to realise what was on everyone’s mind: ice cold refreshments and a well-deserved lunch! Of course Tasha jumped at the occasion and consulted Google for some inspiration. It was soon decided to try out the Big Dog Café in Franschhoek (we heard a rumor that there’s a resident Great Dane named Jack, and I’m not ashamed to admit that he might have been the deciding factor).
Their menu boasted a wide range of never-seen-before combinations of textures and flavours, and let me tell you, the decision on what to order was not easy. For drinks I opted for an iced coffee while Elené, Tasha and Angy were keen on trying the Terbodore Sparkling Cold Brew. This refreshing non-alcoholic drink is made from their famous Great Dane coffee blend and comes in three natural flavours: Honeybush & Orange, Marula, and Lemonade.
We thought it would be best to all order something different to eat and then share it with the table. This was a great way to try as much as possible from their menu, and in the end each of us decided on our favourite dishes.
Honestly, they had me at slow roasted lamb and flatbread, but the flavour explosions from this hearty meal exceeded all expectations. They paired the shawarma-spiced pulled lamb with burnt baba ganoush and topped it with yoghurt dressing, sumac, pomegranates, cabbage pickle, and flaked almonds. On the side, they served a generous portion of their house flatbread. And I can’t think of a better way to savour every last drop of the delicious sauce!
It somehow reminded me of winter, like comfort food away from home, but you can enjoy it just as much on a hot summer’s day.
A Taste of Neil Jewell
If you want to treat me, take me out for a platter. That might sound a bit weird but I love having several elements on a plate and being able to mix and match. Therefore, I immediately jumped to order the ‘A taste of Neil Jewell’ platter at the Big Dog Café. The platter is sufficient for one person, or if you are two people only looking to snack on something light.
So the platter gets its name from Neil Jewell, the charcutier from Jewell’s at the Spice Route. If you haven’t been, that is the new restaurant that opened mid-2019 when Bertus Basson moved out. Neil supplies Big Dog Café with a special coffee cured bacon using Terbadore coffee. I know what you are thinking…. yum!
The platter consists of a generous portion of melba toast and seed crackers, deliciously salty bresaola, a tasty fennel and pinotage salami, and boerenkaas, topped off with a plum chutney and beetroot kraut. But the star of the show is a huge dollop of whipped bacon fat. This impossibly light, airy and almost cream-like substance is silky to the palate with the coffee cured bacon flavours pairing perfectly with a combination of the plum chutney, seed cracker and boerenkaas.
Big Dog Whole Bowl
As someone who doesn’t eat meat, I still found this bowl to be delicious and filling. I have a love for all things veggie and the Big Dog Whole Bowl certainly hit the spot with a mix of long stem broccoli, fermented golden beetroot, radish and lentil caviar. Add to this a dill yogurt dressing, goat’s cheese, seed crackers and top it all off with fennel shavings for a well-rounded, satiating meal.
This colourful and artfully plated dish was refreshing and satisfying with textures ranging from crunchy to silky, and perfectly balanced flavours. I especially loved the slightly tangy dill yoghurt dressing and the richness of the goat’s cheese.
I would highly suggest trying out the Whole Bowl on a hot summer’s day, when you need something cooler or more refreshing. And if you still feel as though this bowl is missing something, you can opt to add Franschhoek cold smoked trout.
Cauliflower and Cheddar Waffle (gluten-free)
Big Dog Café’s gluten-free cauliflower and cheddar waffle is a delicious and flavourful meal that is perfect for breakfast or brunch. The waffle is made with cauliflower and white cheddar and topped with avocado, freshly roasted Terbodore coffee cured bacon, coffee maple syrup, and a poached egg.
If you’re looking for something with subtle, mouth-watering flavours that are perfectly balanced between sweet and savoury, this is a winner. The portion is also just the right amount, so you’ll feel satisfied and not too full, which is exactly what one wants for your first meal of the day.
Unfortunately Jack the Great Dane was nowhere to be seen, but all the more reason to go back and try everything else on the menu!