Looking for an affordable country lunch without big menu or wine markups? Freedom Hill Country Restaurant recently opened at its namesake winery in rural Paarl. It’s worth a try, a few kms from Drakenstein Prison with Madiba’s statue outside in one direction; Pearl Valley Golf Course (already supplying restaurant regulars) the other way.

I met the friendly trio behind the operation, all Franschhoek restaurant and guesthouse veterans. Chef Adrian Buchanan, Ryan Bredenkamp and Pieter van Straaten are running the new kitchen and front of house between them. They’re offering a small printed menu of modern classics, plus blackboard seasonal specials. Anoraks take note: the menu is shorter than the very affordable winelist. And the talented Francois Naudé is Freedom Hill’s consulting winemaker.

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Aiming at the local market, Buchanan says they are “guaranteeing an affordable dining experience”. With starters priced at R42 – R48, mains R65 to R110 and desserts around R45, they should stick to their word. I sampled a few dishes and while they may not all blow your socks off, there is a good balance of country appeal combined with a little cheffy fidliness.

Sample starters: oxtail-stuffed calamari tubes, beetroot and baby onion tart tatin with herb puree, goats cheese and red onion tart. Mains: saffron prawn risotto, pork belly with jus, signature quail breast and nougat salad with teriyaki vegetables. Desserts: double chocolate mousse with pistachio, pecan nut pie, mascarpone and raspberry tart. Service is a little shaky but should improve.

Noteable features: Patio tables offer views across the Berg River Valley towards the Simonsberg. Child-friendly. Affordable food and low wine mark ups. Freedom Hill wines by the glass, Cape wines by the bottle.

FREEDOM HILL COUNTRY RESTAURANT R301 Wemmershoek Road (between Paarl and Franschhoek), Paarl. Lunch and dinner. http://www.freedomhillrestaurant.co.za/ Tel 021 867 0963

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