Faber at Avondale is a restaurant I’ve heard about frequently, but not so much the details. Private chef Matt Manning has often highly recommended it so I knew it had to be good, but didn’t know in what way. But a few things always bothered me:
1) The fact that the same old image was always sent out with the press releases (if it’s that amazing then why isn’t there fresh, new images?)
2) Where is even Avondale?
3) When I Google it, I saw it had tiled floors and the thought of sitting in a freezing cold restaurant in the middle of winter, wasn’t THAT appealing.
None the less, Mr John and I were in Paarl staying at D’Olyfboom, a 335-year-old estate, so we managed to get a reservation at the restaurant and made our way through:
Dinner at Avondale
We arrived in the dark of the Paarl night to the burbling sounds of the outside fountain. We weren’t entirely sure which was the correct door to enter so we embarrassingly walked up and down the porch, only to realise it was the door right at the front! DOH!
Upon entering, we were greeted by a beautiful baby grand piano, two glasses of bubbly and a kind server who shows us to our seats. There were a few other visitors in the dining room, enough to create a warm vibe. The tiled floors were totally irrelevant and made absolutely no difference whatsoever as it was cosy and comfortable inside.
Wooden framed chairs with a modern botanical design accompanied rectangle tables, under glowing lights and terrariums. I loved that it was a little bit empty because Faber has many incredible artworks on the walls, so I was able to get up really close and examine them without interference.
We were offered a bread course accompanied with butter, aubergine and a parsley gremolata. This was most unusual and I really enjoyed encountering as it was nothing like I’d seen in a bread course before!
I ordered the Smoked Pork Cheek (R55), which has made a lasting impression on me as it was so unexpected. I had anticipated a braised or “briskety” type dish and yet was met with this light and sophisticated plate.
Accompanied with roasted baby beetroot (touch of earthiness), butternut puree (one of the smoothest I’ve ever had) and gorgonzola (crumbly and salty); I was worried about the cheese being overwhelming (I’m not a blue cheese fan), but it was exceptionally balanced with the salt of the cheese offsetting the smooth and subtle flavours of the butternut.
Sprinkled with, what I know them as, “milk flowers” (wild Sorrell), this really was the most unexpected dish that I have continued to ponder about ever since. I’d absolutely have it again simply for its creativity (although it was delicious too). I also loved the Camissa wine (R55 per glass) which was light, but flavourful while being perfectly chilled.
We enjoyed being able to watch the chef at work from their pretty blue and copper “window” in the restaurant.
For mains we opted for the Aged Red Angus flat iron steak (R120). This was served with confit carrot, sunflower and pumpkin seed pesto. Cooked perfectly, the meat was soft and flavourful. The portion was also large, with me having to send some back (I hate doing this but I was sincerely full).
The restaurant was kind enough to make Mr John a plate of only the steak, since he’s a fussy eater, which was equally as good (for the fussy palate!). He had chips and I enjoyed the spinach.
For dessert I tucked into the poached pear, pecan nut and cinnamon crumble, brandy snap and whey sorbet (R120) and it was divine! Its a very light dessert, which suits me as I don’t have a massive sweet tooth.
I loved the snap, crunch and sweetness the brandy snap brought. It also helped scoop up the sorbet, which had a slightly sour tinge to it. It was soft, light and soothing, a good contrast to the nutty crumble. I love pecan nuts so it was really delicious. The pear was perfectly poached, firm but soft. I really do hate a crunchy pear in a dessert.
This was served with the Avondale Armilla Blanc de Blanc 2010 (R80 per glass), which was just the cherry on top.
The prices at Faber are reasonable and the portions are generous. The WHOLE of Paarl should be eating there! Keeping local talent and creativity going is super important and Faber does not disappoint. Our service was also exceptional. Attentive but not annoying, informative but the server didn’t talk too much.
We really enjoyed our meal at Faber and would love to return during the day so we can see the surrounding farmlands more easily. It was a beautiful autumn’s night when we visited so the sky was clear with lots of stars, but I think day time will also be really special.
Thank you to Faber for having us!