– Review by Klein Collection Co-Founder, Stephanus de Kock
It was rather hurriedly that my wife and I decided to spend the evening at Le Quartier Francais. We’ve intended to do this for a long, long time. All we knew was that we were tired, needed a break from the kids… and some time alone. The last time we visited this quaint boutique hotel in the heart of Franschhoek with its award-winning restaurants was during our honeymoon several years ago. While I may have changed since then, so did Le Quartier Francais – it just got better. Better facilities, better service – and if that were even possible – better food.
The recently renovated Four Quarters section of the hotel boasts 4 extremely spacious luxury suites with great attention to detail, ranging from the somewhat colourful modern French interior (with a subtle African influence) to the Nespresso machine and access to your own private butler. Four Quarters is definitely where you want to stay if you are a honeymoon couple. Too bad it wasn’t around when we went on our honeymoon.
Ironically, we stayed in one of the family suites. Yes, although we left our 2 boys at home (apart from our 6-month old baby who ‘insisted’ on going with), we were constantly reminded of their absence… it’s almost as if the soft toys on the twin beds upstairs and the mini flat screen TV seemed to say: “We miss the kids! The decor boasted a much stronger African influence (not my personal favourite, to be honest) and more muted, conservative colours. However, with the main bedroom downstairs leading onto its own private pool, a kiddies room in the attic upstairs (both rooms had their own bathrooms) and a lounge area leading onto its own veranda that overlooks the communal hotel swimming pool and garden, I could easily understand why families fall in love with this place. Spending summer evenings at the hotel and cooling off in one of its many swimming pool must be heavenly.
The real reason we visited Le Quartier Francais, however, was for its food. And what an experience that was! I’m spoilt with a wife who knows how to cook, but chef Margot Jansen takes food to another level. You have to experience it for yourself to really appreciate it. It’s no surprise that the restaurant was voted the 36th best restaurant in the world in Restaurant magazine’s Top 50 in 2011 and that it’s regarded as the best restaurant in Africa and the Middle East. It’s also no surprise that, due to the last-minute nature of our booking, The Tasting Room was fully booked. (Admittedly, this would never have happened in our dating years…) Its African-inspired Surprise Menu, created by Margot and her team, uses a range of indigenous and somewhat peculiar ingredients and is best enjoyed with a unique pairing of local wines. The restaurant is extremely popular, so book early. It’s also quite pricey if you’re a South African thinking in Rands (R770 per person, if I recall correctly). However, judging from the faces of the lucky people who dined there, it will be worth every cent, certainly if you want to impress your lady!
As luck would have it, our baby cried incessantly that evening, so even if the hotel had space for us at the Tasting Room, we probably wouldn’t have had the time to enjoy it like we should have. Fortunately they still had some space available at their other tapas style restaurant called The Common Room. We were hungry, so we came, we saw and we relished every dish! If this is the informal dining option at Le Quartier Francais, then I can only imagine what The Tasting Room must be like. Fresh, tasty and skillfully blended ingredients made for a culinary delight of note. Simple food, just the way I like it. We ordered a colourful array of small dishes – probably around 6 or 8 in total – ranging from Springbok ‘Bitterballen’ with apple mustard to vanilla & ginger cheesecake with cherry compote.
Needless to say, we were reluctant to leave the next morning. If Le Quartier Francais continues to surprise guests in a positive way, there’s no doubt that my wife and I will return. And who knows? Just maybe we’ll bring the kids with next time…
Watch the Klein Collection’s video of Le Quartier Francais below, as well as the great special offer further below!
SPECIAL PROMOTION: AUBERGE ROOM: 35% DISCOUNT!
- R2400 per suite (or R1200 per person sharing
- Normally R3700 per suite (or R1850 per person sharing)
- Full English or Continental Breakfast
Valid: 1 – 31 September 2011