On the 10th April I posted an entry titled World’s Best Restaurants in which I mentioned that Le Quartier Francais had been voted 38th best restaurant in the world. Soon after that I went to test it out. Le Quartier Francais actually consists of 2 restaurants, iCi for casual dining and The Tasting Room for serious dining. We ate at The Tasting Room.
The menu works differently to normal restaurants. The food is a set cost of R280 for 4 courses or R350 for 6 (there is also an 8 course with paired wines for about 1 zillion rand). The menu is broken into sections like meat, fish, starter, dessert, etc. You choose your 4 or 6 courses from any of the sections. So you could choose a starter, a fish, a meat and a dessert or you could choose 4 meat dishes or 4 dessert dishes, whatever tickles your fancy.
There is a large difference in the portion size of the options. So you could choose 4 options which leave you feeling hungry, or you could choose 4 options which you wouldn’t be able to finish, but there is no way of knowing. There were 3 of us dining and we tried a number of different dishes. However the menu changes all the time so I’m not going to go into detail about what we ate. I will just say that it’s not just a plate of food, it’s meant to be a work of art. The presentation and combination of flavours and textures are the aspects that demand your full attention.
The wine list is quite expensive but the wines are top quality, as one would expect. We started with a bottle of Cap Classique for R150 and then had a bottle of red wine with the meal for about R220. The dining experience demands your attention, leaving less time for wine quaffing and raucous conversation.
The service was good, but not perfect. Obviously our expectations were high, so we were surprised when they made fundamental errors like opening extra bottles of water that we did not ask for. The service is more formal than friendly, which is fine in this environment.
The decor in The Tasting Room is fairly plain. It’s neither interesting nor disappointing enough to distract you from the food and the chairs are comfortable enough for the fairly lengthy dining experience.
Overall I would say it was a worthwhile dining experience if you feel that you can justify the cost. At R450 per head, it was the most expensive meal I have had in South Africa. If you approach it as an experience rather than just a meal, it’s worth a visit. I don’t need to do it again though. Driving to Franschoek and back also adds an extra effort factor to the whole experience.