Whenever Franck Dangereux’s name comes up I can’t help thinking of the silly US comedian Rodney Dangerfield, which of course wasn’t his real name. While Dangereux’s name may evoke an image of a French comic hero, there is no tomfoolery about this chef’s food.
When hiring, most chef patron’s look for a cook with experience, one who can whip up a soufflé under pressure and implement the boss’s ideas. Not this man. He looks for someone who is “angry, hungry, intelligent and passionate,” according to a job ad he posted on Vuisboek. Anger at mediocre food is a good thing but the calf brains in front of me are prepared with nothing but love and respect.
The grey matter dissolves in my mouth like Moir’s Jelly. But what does it taste like? I dunno (possibly like bone marrow, only with a more delicate flavour). Anyway it’s damn good. The surprising thing is that while your tongue confirms that it’s animal flesh, it isn’t that meaty. My recommendation is that it be included on all kiddies’ menus. I can’t think of a better way to introduce two-year-olds to solids (oops I’ve been reliably informed they start a lot earlier than that, lucky them).
It’s complimented by a rich chardonnay cream sauce. For kids probably best to leave out the capers (they are strong salty ones but even for me there are too many for the subtlety of the brain).
For her mains the Kalk Bay Local opts for Namibian fillet, sitting in its own juices. The cut isn’t only tender (as it’s expected to be) but also has a lip-smacking beefiness, a rarity for fillet. Nam, a country that hardly makes the news, deserves a few headlines for its cattle.
Earlier I start with an excellent cep (porcini) mushroom risotto. The flavour of this forest shroom, which unlike the blander button species cannot be cultivated in trays of horse shit, pokes its head through the undergrowth of moist rice. An emmental sauce around the outside is cheesy enough without slaying the fungus. Shrimps for an extra R10 are superfluous, though one is sweet.
For dessert a dense dose of chocolate with toffee sauce and ice cream is enough to induce a cocoa-induced heaviness for the rest of the day (which means it’s good but after a rich meal possibly ill-advised for the long drive home).
My companion complains that there is nothing to wipe your hands on in the loo and the espresso machine is broken.
The bistro menu at R175* (three courses and a big glass of wine) is outstanding and even better than that value for money wise. Noordhoek is a bit of a trek for most on a weekday but we dine on one of the busiest Christmas office lunch days of the year (the last Friday of November). The restaurant isn’t much more than half-full. Even the cheaper Café Roux next door has only one obviously loud table (with party bus waiting).
While the Foodbarn isn’t in the market for the big and raucous company shindig, there are plenty of smaller firms (with more reserved professionals) it caters to. Earlier in the week a stroll past the top-notch Bizerca revealed it too to be a little quiet at around 2 pm.
Despite the seasonal up tick in consumer confidence, companies and individuals are still terrified of spending. Are middle-market restaurants getting most of the trade this year? Or are staff being spared the morning after embarrassment of a shooter-fueled office dalliance?
* From December the bistro menu went up to R205, with promised larger portions.
November 27, 2009
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