An Exciting New Culinary Experience with Calvin Metior at Monneaux Restaurant
I always get excited when I am immediately bowled over by the food of an up-and-coming young chef. It’s a prelude to a career that I know I am going to follow and that is undoubtedly going to result in even more amazing food in the future, as chefs always grow and evolve. This was the experience recently when tasting the new menu by new head chef, Calvin Metior, at Monneaux restaurant in Franschhoek.
Calvin Metior is not new to the Franschoek valley but this is his first stint at the helm of the kitchen. Durban-born Metior has worked in London at Hix restaurants and fine-dining D&D London collection, as well as under Alan Pickett at Plateau and Tony Fleming at the Michelin-starred, Angler. Locally, he has most recently worked under chef Eric Bulpitt at La Motte.
Calvin has put using local produce and sourcing from artisans at the forefront of his menu concept. The already stunning gardens of Franschhoek Country House have recently seen several additions in the way of raised beds and planter boxes of herbs, edible flowers and vegetables.
Along with this, most of the pickles, preserves and condiments on Calvin’s dishes are created in-house by the team.
The Monneaux menu offers a variety of different styles of dishes but they work together cohesively. The food has an obvious French influence and delivers dishes in a modern way with a lot of thought going into how the dishes look, as well as how they eat as a whole.
Our plan was to go straight to the small plates (starters) but then we spotted buttermilk fried chicken wings with kimchi in the snacks section and could not skip past that – I mean, who could?
They were SO good (so good that we ordered them for room service dinner again later!). This was one of the best versions of kimchi I’ve had, I loved the balance and the hit of spice.
Small Plates Big Flavour
When we did make it to small plates (after those finger-licking wings) we went straight for the skipjack tuna with sesame, lime, avo and wasabi and the aged beef tartare. It turned out that the tartare is a house favourite, so this was a good choice.
We loved the tuna but the tartare was standout.
First off the plating was exquisite (on both dishes in fact); the tender beef with burnt onion paste (in tiny delicate dollops) with coal emulsion, fermented garlic stems, pickled mustard seeds and baby mushrooms was sensational.
There were plenty of delicious sounding mains on the menu (Iberico pork, truffled gnocchi and honeyed duck breast to name just a few) but the beef short rib, which was mentioned in the specials of the day had me signed, sealed and delivered.
The presence of a smoker in the gardens meant that I knew this would be special.
And it was. I could not get enough of the pull-apart tender short rib, with a rich, sticky glaze and pickled carrots. I ate slowly to prolong the enjoyment, something I am not prone to doing.
My dining partner enjoyed the superbly cooked hake main, which was beautifully presented with shades of green vegetables and a divinely rich oyster beurre blanc.
Dessert at Monneaux
Our two choices for dessert were totally different but equally as delicious, one darkly decadent and one light and fruity. We were split on which we liked more and landed squarely in the middle of loving them both.
The Raspberry Mille Feuille had layers of wafer with vanilla buttermilk filling, raspberry gel and lemon verbena and was delightful. The Manjari Dark Chocolate, with passion fruit, coconut and honeycomb was rich and indulgent. We especially loved the pistachio ice cream and delicate macaron on this dish.
We were so well looked after by an extremely competent team who clearly know how to take care of their guests. After an extremely enjoyable lunch (paired with valley wines) we retired to our room at the adjacent Franschhoek Country House.
Stay at Franschhoek Country House
Franschhoek Country House is a stalwart location in the valley. The stunning grounds are an absolute haven, with manicured gardens edged with white roses and wrought iron trellises.
You’ll notice urns of fresh lemons and beds of lavender and rosemary which give off a heady scent – an ode to the property’s previous history as a perfumery.
The rooms are beautifully decorated in a French country manor house style and face over vineyards, the pool and the interior courtyards, all equally beautiful views.
Rooms are luxurious and spacious with every amenity you could need. You can opt to take a vintage bicycle for a cycle in the area, head to one of the many wine farms for tastings, or simply relax by at the pools.
The design of Franschhoek Country House is so cosy and insular that you could easily forget where you are. The only real jolt back to reality is the charming Franschhoek Wine Tram that rattles by on the outskirts of the property every now and again, reminding you that you are, in fact, not in the French countryside but in a beautiful corner of the Cape instead.
Mornings at FCH
Breakfast the next day at Franschhoek Country House was an amazing spread. It is served upstairs in a dining area that makes the best of stunning views of the mountains and over the hotel courtyard. The wild mushrooms on brioche toast dish that I had was unbelievable, I swore I would never be able to finish it, but I did.
Any breakfast spread that also includes raspberry and custard tartlets as a standard is a good one in my books.
Stay & Dine
Franschhoek Country House is a total gem; you can travel just an hour out of Cape Town and feel like you have been whisked away to another country altogether. The team are so adept at what they do, from a swift check-in to a stunning rose-petal turn down at night. Every element is on point and makes for a very special and personalised stay.
Even better is that the lovely Monneaux is just a few steps away, so you can book in for lunch or dinner and simply walk over to enjoy and walk back. It makes venturing out of the hotel at all quite a challenge!
Hungry for more? Subscribe to our Newsletter