Dining at Protégé Restaurant, Franschhoek
The La Colombe group are known for doing things seamlessly and elegantly and this is exactly the case at the group’s most recent addition – Protégé Restaurant, in Franschhoek. The restaurant is located in the courtyard and building just opposite La Petite Colombe and is attached to Le Quartier Francais, all form part of the Leeu Collection.
What to expect at Protégé Restaurant
The restaurant menu is currently drawing inspiration from Asian flavours, with classic French influences; the result is bright and fresh, almost mirroring the interior vibe. Clean lines and light woods, synonymous with the group’s other restaurants, are accented with calming stone grey table tops and pale green accents. Overall the look is minimalist and contemporary.
The lovely courtyards located at both the front and back of the restaurant afford diners either a street view over the bustling village centre (front) or an intimate back courtyard table with gorgeous trees and mountains as backdrops. All the spaces make for an inviting dining experience.
Sharing is Caring
The menu is designed around sharing plates, which has become a popular way to dine – most likely because it gives diners the opportunity to try lots of things. And, when a menu is full of impossibly good sounding choices, it certainly makes that easier.
If you’re indecisive, like I am, then an even easier option is The Chef’s Menu, where chef Cameron sends you his current favourite dishes on the table. What I love about this option, aside from the indecision being take care of, is that there are likely to be a few things sent that you perhaps might not have ordered and that is always good.
We tend to gravitate towards flavours that we know and love and this way you are guided to try new things.
We opted for this version of the menu and allowed ourselves to be at the mercy of the chef (quite an easy choice when the food all sounds amazing).
It’s all in the detail
With a selection of seven dishes, it’s difficult to detail everything (and within this group, the detail is everything) but my dining partner and I definitely had some common favourites. We’re big fans of fresh oysters, so our amuse bouche of oysters with yuzu foam, kalamansi and apple was an excellent way to start. These were paired with a glass of Morena Brut Rosé and a glass of Môreson Solitaire.
You had me at Sriracha Edamame
Next, we snacked on a bowl of warm sriracha and soy-dressed edamame. This was honestly the most delish bowl of edamame I have ever had.
I am going to fess up and say that I couldn’t stop myself from enjoying a few teaspoons of the dressing straight up out of the bowl once the beans were done. Think the Asian version of a pickleback (sans the alcohol). Warm, spicy, salty and positively yum – there’s nothing like that umami-soy hit to get the mouth watering for more.
Served up alongside the edamame was a perfectly succulent piece of lamb rib hugged by a soft mini roti dotted with Jerusalem artichoke purée, which was one heavenly bite after another.
When this is then followed by sweet sticky KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) drumsticks and Tuna Tataki with chipotle, ponzu and crackling, it starts getting really tough to pick favourites.
You think you can’t possibly enjoy one course more than the next but you just do. That continual levelling up is the difference between good and great.
In keeping with the groups signature style, dishes are stunning to look at with meticulous attention to detail and flavour balance. Every single plate that went back to the kitchen was practically clean enough to go back into the cupboard.
We finished our meal with a delightfully light but supremely creamy panna cotta with strawberries. We tested for jiggle and the panna cotta passed with flying colours.
But have you seen Swan Lake?
I liken the service at Protégé Restaurant to swans on lake – gliding effortlessly with grace and not a ruffled feather in sight. In truth, I have found this to be one of the defining signatures at La Colombe and La Petite Colombe too. And, while I have no doubt that running a successful fine dining restaurant is more akin to what’s happened underwater – i.e. furious paddling, the team always project the former.
In a sea of amazing Franschhoek valley restaurants, Protégé Restaurant is an absolute must-visit.
Winter Lunch Special at Protégé Restaurant
Make the most of it and enjoy the current Winter Lunch Special – 3 courses for R275 pp. Add on bottomless bubbles for R195 pp and an extra course for R75.
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