In the gorgeous Boland town of Franschhoek, renowned for having some of the top restaurants in the country, it can be quite daunting to decide where to dine. Driving through from Stellenbosch, the road is lined with wine farms and restaurants catering to nearly every taste. We popped in for dinner at Monneaux, a restaurant that recently took a turn focussing on hyper-local, self-sustainable initiatives.
Monneaux’s brand new executive chef, Calvin Metior, was appointed in September 2019, with his brand new menu serving guests since November of last year. Metior kick-started his career in Durban, after which he moved to London where he worked under the Michelin-starred Tony Fleming at Angler. Most recently, he worked alongside chef Eric Bulpitt at La Motte.
The restaurant, adjacent to the Franschhoek Country House and Villas, is housed in the same Italian-inspired villas. The interior is all about subtle elegance and bright, airy spaces, with a pop of colour here and there. The setting is romantic and intimate, further intensifying the experience.
The very first thing I liked about the menu was that both the first two sections, ‘snacks’ and ‘small plates’, had various options. This made it possible for me to mix and match, and in effect customise my experience to the fullest. We had a bite here and there in order to experience the menu in full, and these were definitely our favourite dishes:
Homemade charcuterie platter and pickles
This Free State girl will go to the ends of the earth for a good charcuterie platter! Monneaux’s selection of meats and pickles did not disappoint. This option is great for two people sharing, with two different types of bread, and four types of carefully selected meats. You can mix and match to your heart’s desire! We paired it with a delicious glass of the L’Ormarins Brut Classique.
Aged beef tartar, coal emulsion, fermented garlic stems, burnt onion paste and ciabatta
Without a doubt, our favourite dish of the evening. This perfectly balanced mix of earthy tastes explodes in your mouth. We ordered this on the recommendation of the waiting staff and couldn’t be more surprised by the beautiful presentation of complementing flavours balanced by little sprigs of fresh herbs to round off the dish.
We paired the rest of our meal with The Underworld Blend No.3 by Boutinot Wines, which is a blend of Grenache Noir, Durif and Carignan. The wine has a berry nose, with distinct raspberry and cherry tones, and a peppery finish. It is also well-balanced with softer tannins, making for an easy-drinking experience.
Hay smoked Oak Valley beef short rib, carrot, dukkah, dill
Another great recommendation! This melt-in-your-mouth beef short rib is perfectly complemented by puréed carrot accompaniment. As you bite into the soft rib, the dukkah flavours explode in your mouth and together with the wine, cuts through the richness.
Karoo lamb rump, courgette, aubergine, black garlic
The fiancée marked this as his favourite dish! And yes, we only realised about a quarter way through that we really went all-in for the meat dishes, but they definitely did not disappoint. The rump and courgette is already a winning combination, but Chef Metior pairs it with fresh cucumber shavings and herbs, and together it creates perfectly balanced magic.
Spiced apple tartin, ginger ice cream (for 2)
I’m not really a fan of sweet treats, but the fiancée is. The moment he read spiced apple his entire face lit up and I just couldn’t say no. They serve the tartin in the middle of the table with a dollop of ginger ice cream each. The glossy tartin looks and tastes delicious, but my absolute favourite was the ginger ice cream – not too sweet, but spicy and cold!
Expert tip: Stay over
Monneaux restaurant is adjacent to the five star Franschhoek Country House and Villas. We spent the evening in one of their suites and enjoyed several hours lounging around the pool having cocktails. The accommodation is cleverly designed so that you are truly immersed in the experience the moment you enter the villa. The garden is secluded and the entire layout is reminiscent of an Italian villa, complete with a courtyard and interleading paths. Every now and then you see the Franschhoek tram pass by, but except for that, the space is quiet and undisturbed – perfect for some rest and relaxation.