At last I can finally tell you that I have eaten at Foliage! A firm favourite along Franschhoek main’s “strip”, Foliage has grown to become a firm favourite among locals and visitors. For AGES I’ve been trying to visit (for more than 6 months, but our schedules kept clashing!), and at last long I managed to pop in for lunch when Mr John and I spent the weekend at the Waterfall Lodge.
The cosy, contemporary restaurant bases its food creation on local produce, which isn’t anything new. But what makes them unique is that they (literally) forage for natural “gems” every day. So what you’re eating in the evening was found in the surrounding farms that afternoon or morning. I know this because I literally saw the guys leave the restaurant, with baskets, to go out foraging!
Why Visit Foliage?
- Easy location in the heart of town
- Interesting food ethos with a focus on foraging
- Warm and inviting asmosphere and staff
- Country gourmet food at reasonable price (in terms of Franschhoek options)
- Best wine list
Lunch at Foliage
Passing the smoker on the street corner, Mr John and I were warmly welcomed by the hostess, Lee-ann, and shown to our table. We sat next to a large fireplace, which was a perfect break from the cold Franschhoek air. While I was offered a wine list, I was happy to go with the server’s recommendation – he knows the restaurant and food best, why mess with it?
How a breadbasket is presented really says a lot about a restaurant. Whether they know it or not, it sets a tone. Think about an old school, plastic basket that looks woven with an unfolded serviette in it…fun to remember the nineties! But not so fun to start a meal with (unless you’re in Springbok or some other small town and are all about outdated charm!).
Foliage’s bread was presented in a little wooden crib. Accompanied by a rich olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a pickled aubergine hummus. Sweet and sour, with a hint of spice, the texture looked deceptively lumpy, while the eating was totally smooth.
This, of course, accompanied with lovely glass of bubbly, which I really liked because I was finally warming up and starting to feel festive.
It was a REAL task deciding what to eat at Foliage. Their whole menu looks amazing because it’s natural, unusual and included all the flavours I like (not too much fish, not too much curry, not too much liquorice). So it was back to the advice of our server once again.
I was keen to try the smoked cheesecake while he recommended the chicken consomme which was like a ramen type bowl except HUGE! And filled fresh veg including cabbage, broccoli and spring onions. The surprising element was the toasted corn, which added a touch of sweetness and toastiness. From this bowl onwards, I knew there would be NO CHANCE that visitors could complain about portion size!
I was also a bit sick so this broth went down well. The smoked cheese cake was also unlike anything I’d had before. I wasn’t too convinced about the flavour of the smoke, but I think it’s because I was sick and probably wasn’t tasting it in its entirety. It did taste a little “gassy” opposed to “woody”, if I can put it that way (yes, smoke can actually taste different!). The herb salad and freshly made tomato sauce was amazing though and I loved the crumb on top. It really complimented the dish well.
Mains at Foliage
For mains Mr John had the beef and I had the roast pork. The beef was “as pretty as a picture” with onion boats filled with gravy and sauteed mushrooms below and super tender, but I wasn’t crazy about the tree picture. I know! #HaterAlert I’m sorry! But I just don’t feel food should be used so literally 🙁 The flavours were good though and I LOVED the texture of the beef.
I had the roasted pork belly, margo pomme puree, charred turnips, carrots, icicle radish, roasting juices for R235. The crackling was spot on; light and snappy, heavenly! I loved the flavour of both the puree and pomme puree and what a portion! HUGE! I think they gave me TWO giant quenelles of mash! I wasn’t complaining, it was delicious! The rainbow carrots gave the dish a real earthiness as well as the soft crunch of the turnips (my granny used to cook with them, I love them). All the while, I was complimenting every dish with a beautiful glass of wine, which had been perfectly paired.
And for desserts. I mean, at this stage it was mental that I was even going to have anything else because I was DEAD full BUT, when in Franschhoek. So I opted in for the Geranium and Honey iced nougatine, salted chocolate custard, hazelnut ice cream (R80). I love salted chocolate or caramel as well as hazelnut anything. The hazelnuts were toasted which just gave it the most wintery, warming taste. I could have raided the fridge for the ice cream alone, paired with the slated chocolate custard, it was delicious. Ironically, Mr John preferred the nougatine which is a no brainer since he’s obsessed with nougat!
Mr John had the Caramel Delice, peanut butter and marshmallow chocolate rock (R80), which is right up the street as he loves peanut butter. I, on the other hand, love honeycomb and this honeycomb was DIVINE! FULL of flavour but melted easily in the mouth. Accompanied by gooseberries and a raspberry couli, the acid offset the rich chocolate perfectly. This was the winning dessert in my opinion (although not as pretty as the nougatine). Hmmmm tasty!
All in all, it was a wonderful lunch at Foliage. I also loved the artwork that featured in the restaurant from the little bronze rabbit statuettes to the paintings on parcade flooring, a lot of effort had been put into the establishment and it was a joy to take it all in.
Thank you so much to Lee-Ann and the Foliage team, I’m looking forward to returning to enjoy the next menu (which obviously changes all the time) flu free!
Find Foliage on Franschhoek main road here or call 21 876 2328 to book. (Closed on Sundays.)