Ryan's Kitchen, Franschhoek
Luckily I don’t have to choose a place for lunch, as I am meeting up with blog friends Jeanne and Johanna and their families. Jeanne has done the research and booked a table at Ryan’s Kitchen, so after a quick dip into two of the tempting chocolate shops, I head back to the leafy end of the street, where oak trees bombard us with autumn leaves and acorns, and an unseasonably hot and sunny day has us sitting outside on the terrace under the shade of big red umbrellas.
Much as I’d love to be a lady who lunches, it’s an extremely rare occasion that sees me anywhere but at the kitchen table, so I feel like a kid skipping off school as we finally tear our attention to the lunch menu. It’s succinct, with three choices per course, dinner being the main event here, but they are all tempting.
But before our starters arrived, the chef’s appetiser from the lab was brought (in the picture above) – a complementary selection of light as air wisps of flavour dramatically presented in test tubes. The green one bubbled frantically with ‘dry ice’ smoke pouring forth. We left that one till last... when it turned out to be a basil essence with a salty tang. The butternut and ginger soup was one slurp of intense flavour and the tomato foam had plenty of chilli heat. That just left a slightly more substantial cheese puff with a dab of tomato sauce for emphasis.
Palates tickled into action now, the starters arrived to start dealing with the serious issue of hunger. Mine was a generously portioned tuna carpaccio served with a mixture of variously textured salads and vegetables. There was plenty of crunch and bit of horseradish heat contrasting nicely with the tenderness of the thinly sliced tuna and the delicate roulade of leek and apple on the side.
After all this I declined dessert, slightly regretfully as the beautifully plated compositions arrived. But then my restraint was rewarded by a complimentary platter of little mini desserts that came with coffee. A loaf of malva pudding with a beetroot caramel topping, a rooibos jelly with lavender custard ( I ate two) and a square of carrot Turkish delight (take it or leave it).
I loved the touches of theatre that had a certain tongue in cheek grandeur about them, but which were carried off beautifully. I may be too easily impressed these days, (poor little farm-girl that I am!!) but Jeanne and Johanna, as non-jaded veterans of a gourmet whirl around the best of the Western Cape were equally wowed, so I can safely wax lyrical!
Edited to add: Jeanne has posted her review of our lunch at Ryan's Kitchen with wonderful pictures and descriptions of the whole meal, so go there for more drooling!