We loved the look of Franschhoek on arrival, so decided to head into town from our hotel on our first evening. I wasn’t sure where to eat, we were still waiting to try South African cuisine, then I came across recommendations for Ryan’s Kitchen.
Ryan’s Kitchen is easy to find, situated in the Place Vendôme Lifestyle Centre facing on to the main road through town. We decided to drive in as we had booked a wine tour for the following day, so I didn’t mind driving that evening, it also gave me a chance to test drive our Mercedes C Class hire car. Although we didn’t have a reservation, we were warmly welcomed by the Maître D who assured us that he would find a table for us. In fact shortly after we were seated we were offered another table, with a prime view of the open kitchen and by the fireplace, I felt bad declining this kind offer, but we were warm and comfortable where we were, by the window.
This restaurant offers a 7 course tasting menu priced at R900 with wine and R650 without wine per person, a Chef’s selection 4 course menu R680 with wine / R480 without wine, or you can simply choose your dishes from the standard menu. We deliberated about what to do, and decided to order from the menu.
Mike picked Cape Malay pickled fish “Potjie”as a starter and boneless beef short rib for his main. I ordered the Cauliflower and parmesan croquets as a starter and roast duck breast as my main course.
We received two gifts from the respected Chef Ryan Smith, the first was a fabulous selection of bread with mushroom butter and a light foamy dip. The second was a wooden bowl with a tasty soup of tapioca pearls, wild mushroom and smokey fish.
Mike’s bowl of Potjie was a very spicy broth, with huge flavour, including smoked fish, root vegetables and fresh herbs. This is a popular dish and we were informed, very typical of South Africa cuisine. My croquets were crispy breadcrumb on the exterior with a deliciously smooth and soft interior. Served with thin slices of pickled & spiced cauliflower, wafer thin seeded crackers, piped cumin aioli and drizzled in a red wine vinegar dressing.
The restaurant manages to be modern in design with the glass frontage and trendy with the coordinated furnishings but there’s a cosy intimacy about it, it’s like you have been invited for dinner at the chef’s home. We loved the whole ambience and South African influences.
Our bill was R914 (€47) which included the above food, sparkling water and rock shandy for me, whilst Mike enjoyed a recommended wine with each course, a local brandy with his coffee and a rooibos tea for me to finish. We looked at the dessert menu with envy, but quite honestly the portions were so generous, we were too full to be tempted.