Feast for the eyes and stomach at Pierneef à La Motte

It’s the eating venue in the Winelands that has people talking about – and filling tables at - on any day of the week. La Motte wine estate owns an extensive art collection by South African master artist Jacob Hendrik Pierneef, and it inspired their namesake restaurant. Many of Pierneef’s works are depicted on restaurant walls in a dramatic yet tasteful renovation and landscaping exercise.

The resulting fresh contemporary dining space has custom-designed chandeliers as a focal point - dangling porcelain bowl designs were inspired by the eighteenth-century porcelain brought to the Cape by Dutch East India Company ships. Harmonizing ceramic lampshades light the open kitchen area and show off an imported oven with gold knobs – chef Chris Erasmus jokes that it has a similar price tag to a Maserati sports car…

The food reflects similar attention to detail. Erasmus and culinary consultant Hetta van Deventer researched early Cape culinary history in the Cape archives and adapted recipes from European cookbooks popular in the 17th and 18th century. But this isn’t boerekos. Erasmus’ fine dining background produces complex, aesthetically appealing “Cape Winelands cuisine”. dsc_0007.jpg

Worth trying: the hearty king’s bread on a rich, meaty soup topped with a veal knuckle karmenaatjie ball. A meal in itself in chillier weather.
Tasty Cape bokkom salad with thyme-dried tomatoes, dried apricots, quail eggs and wild garlic dressing, a clever play on braaied Cape snoek served with apricot jam and bread.
The fragrant fish curry is summer-friendly with fish and seafood that is pleasantly light in a saffron-and-stock broth yet big on seafood flavour. It’s modelled on an early Cape recipe. dsc_0001.jpg More adventurous eaters would appreciate historical preserved meat influences in lacquered smoked and pickled lamb’s rib (soutribbetjie), with pickled tongue and dried pear dumplings, verjuice-poached pear and crispy lamb’s liver biltong.
Desserts mostly follow a more conventional format, and include the likes of apple tart with melktert ice-cream.

Pricing: At La Motte, Starters average at R50, mains between R90 and R110, desserts average at R65. La Motte wine recommendations accompany every dish.

FlavourTip: A chalkboard of the day also showcases “easier” food more suited to families or lighter daytime eating. Kids make a beeline for the water feature outside the glassed-in dining terrace. dsc_0014.jpg

PIERNEEF À LA MOTTE, R45, Main Road, Franschhoek. Tel 021 876 8800, Pierneef Open for breakfast Sat and Sun, lunch Tues to Sun, dinner Thurs, Fri and Sat.