Foliage Restaurant, Franschhoek
‘An abundence of earthy ingredients find their way from the forest floor to your plate.’
Foliage Restaurant in Franschhoek is the realisation of a foodie dream for Executive Chef and owner Chris Erasmus, (formally of Pierneef á La Motte). Chris and his wife Alisha opened Foliage mid-2014 and the space is interlinked to an art gallery next door curated by Alisha.
Foliage, as it name suggests, focuses on Chef Chris’s passion for using locally foraged ingredients – the forest is effectively the market for Chris and he spends a significant amount of time researching and testing new ingredients. An abundence of earthy ingredients find their way from the forest floor to your plate.
We popped into Foliage over lunch time just to take a look and found the restaurant to have a refreshingly unique style. The interior is marked by open facebrick walls, contrasted by other walls in bright red. The one side of the restaurant is dominiated by a beautiful fireplace and selected pieces of art from the gallery are displayed on the tables and walls. The setting, much like the menu, falls somewhere between upmarket bistro and contemporary farmhouse. The restaurant was fully booked for dinner that night, but we were offered a seat outside, with warnings of the notorious late-afternoon Franschhoek wind. The weather played ball however, and we returned later in the evening to our table in the corner of the wrap-around verandah.
The menu at Foliage creatively uses ingredients that you’re not likely to have seen before, but if there is a time and place to try something new, this is it. The food is beautifully presented and seems deceptively simple; Chris manages to find a way to meld fine dining plating with country-rustic flavours, all with a generous amount of innovation thrown in.
To start we shared a pork terrine. The terrine was as it should be – fresh and layered with textures and flavours. A layer of responsibly sourced fois gras within the terrine was utterly melt-in-the-mouth. For mains, I enjoyed the slow roasted, pasture fed pork belly served on a bed of dandelion and pumpkin seed crushed potatoes,with beetroot and baby carrots and my partner tried the pan fried yellowtail, angelfish brandade, courgette purée, vine tomatoes and basil veloute. Both dishes were in a word, outstanding.
Other menu items include unusual additions such as brambleberry and mallow glazed sweetbreads and boerboek and tongue en crepinette.
Diners will find it refreshing to experience bold new flavours and to be pushed beyond their culinary comfort zones.
With many of the ingredients coming right off the forest floor, the menu at Foliage will change at a moment’s notice, keeping interest high and expectations even higher. The passion Chis has for this kind of cooking comes though in the food he creates and the risks he is williing to take. I have no doubt that anyone who visits will leave with a new appreciation and curiousity for nature and all that it has to offer.
Locally foraged ingredients & unusual combinations