10 Apr, 2015
To side-step all the finery in food that is Franschhoek in favour of dinner at the same spot every night is high praise indeed. Tourists have been seen coming in for a meal and then booking for two or three more nights, the length of their entire stay in the culinary capital of Winelands. As part-time residents of the ‘hoek, we can unconditionally forgive this behaviour. Locals are seen at Café des Arts weekly, bi-weekly and more. Treating it like their own dining room by pitching up with no bookings, phoning first to check that their favourites are on the menu, pre-reserving portions of the winners, arriving late and making small tweaks to the menu.
The décor supports an atmosphere that is friendly, buzzy and happy. Simple black and white flooring, pared down wooden tables and chairs, help-yourself cutlery arrangements and undressed tabletops. An eclectic collection of vibrant artworks grace the walls and make way for some interesting conversations and even virtual or real shopping.
Simply delicious food is Café Des Art’s reason for being and your reason for being there. An intense focus on freshness and quality dictates an ever-changing menu. If you do happen upon mussels on your visit, eat them whatever you do. Share a bowl as a starter and you will instantly understand the repeat visit culture. The owner chef is a connoisseur of the humble chop which only appears on the menu when he is satisfied with their origin, grade and cooking potential. Those in the know, do not give the chalkboard menu a second glance when a lamb chop or kassler are on offer. Lying atop a bed of mash or roasted vegetables, the chops are a conversation stopper. All chattering lulls to the happy sound of diners devouring their tjops. One spectacular line fish features daily. Sourced from a close contact within the inner circle of Kalk Bay fisher folk, the fish is always fresh, delicious, sustainable and will rock your boat. Very often served with crushed potato salad and beurre blanc, it is an excellent reason to suspend your banting diet for a moment. Then there is the duck. The roast duck has so many fans it should have its own Facebook page. It is discussed in detail, the crispiness, the dusting of chilliness and when will it be on the menu again? With a small and ever-changing menu there are no guarantees that the old favourites will appear every day. But the Facebook friends of the duck are a loyal flock and await the reappearance with anticipation.
The glaze on top of what makes for a very happy evening is the staff. Smiling, friendly and unpretentious, their relaxed and easy style make for an evening of convivial chatter over some serious chow down.
Café des Arts is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Bookings are essential for dinner.Call them 021 876 2952
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