The Tasting Room in Cape Town – South Africa’s multi-award winning, world-renowned fine dining restaurant – has had a very contemporary revamp. The restaurant is part of Le Quartier Français, a luxurious Relais & Châteaux country inn situated in the French Huguenot valley of Franschhoek, in the Cape Winelands.
Executive chef Margot Janse flew her brother Herbert in from The Netherlands who spent an intensive couple of weeks redesigning the restaurant. “The décor reflects Margot’s food,” says Herbert, “which is the unexpected.”
The entrance to The Tasting Room has been wallpapered with turquoise candy foil wrapping from Paris with an Art Deco motif, and the light bounces off the blue in pink and gold, radiating a warmth. Inside the entrance hall the immediate feature is a large, square light. Suspended from the base are over 2000 balls with 20 randomly placed balls, which are lit brighter than the rest. “Like a starry sky,” Herbert explains.
Against the far wall different colored ropes placed in lines create an organic shape resembling the mountains in the Franschhoek valley. Joining a worldwide movement away from the stiffness and formality the term fine dining conjures, there are no tablecloths. The artisan handiwork of the tables is crafted by Franschhoek local, Stuart Douglas of Douglas & Co., who specializes in custom made cabinetry and designer furniture. Made of Blackwood and Franschhoek Oak from trees felled when the dam was built, Stuart’s handiwork caters to contemporary lines with visible joinery and dials, no curves or frills.
Among the combination of square and round tables is a 3m long feature table, divided in the middle with a sculpture creating dining space for two sets of guests. Olive cutlery from Studio William Welch neatly off-sets their clean finish, alongside specially made side plates by celebrated local artist Clementina van der Walt. Antique crystal bulbs dating back to 1910 have been placed irregularly on the ceiling, and a set of crockery is stuck upside down to the ceiling – a wink from the chef herself.
Margot joined the culinary team at Le Quartier Français in 1995. Her stimulating African-inspired surprise menu changes regularly based on the seasonal fresh produce which she sources from Le Quartier’s own indigenous garden and small local producers.
To celebrate the new look, The Tasting Room in Cape Town offers a Companion Fare every Wednesday night till the end of August. Pay for one dinner and the other dinner is on us. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org and quote Wednesday Companion Fare.
*Pictures courtesy of The Tasting Room