The Foodbarn

Sorta-kinda review.

My in-laws invited us, or we invited them (I’m not too clear on this) to the Foodbarn in Noordhoek. I had a look at their online menu and was not that impressed. Too many ‘porcini’ and ‘verde’ and ‘civet’ type things in quotes (And BTW, I send in a request to El Bulli every year, I’m not squicked by words like veloute or jus on a menu, this specific menu just looked… wrong, with all those quotes).

Anywayz, so we got there (after putting up the small wall between the bath and our bedroom, but that’s another story) to find a completely different menu. Yay!

They actually have two menus. The first is the Bistro menu, a sort of a set menu with about five choices each for starter, main and dessert. With a glass (one glass. One? Are they serious?) of wine-of-your-choice. For R165 per head. All in all the Bistro menu looks good, and we decide to go for it. Oh — the catch is that these are all half portions (no problem, sez I, gives me the opportunity to work through the menu twice. Grootbek).

Well, fair enough, Tanya recently converted to red (and since drinkable red is cheaper than drinkable white (I’m a white wine snob and a red wine slut) this is not a Bad Thing (unlike when I taught her to prefer Cap Classique over Cold Duck. But that’s a different story)), so we order four glasses of white (chenin) and pass them all on to Mr H (Mr H being Tanya’s father). And we order a bottle of Groot Constantia Merlot (Mrs H (you should be able to figure this one out) likes Merlot. Yes I know. Let it go).

First item on the starter menu is bouillabaisse. I read no further (well, actually, I do, because I’m curious, but that’s not the point. Bouillabaisse it is). Tanya ordered something with herbed goats’ cheese, Mr H picked the duck livers. Now for the mains. Oh my. Choices are line fish, a gnocchi based vegetarian dish, steak tartare, lamb cutlets, and roasted pork belly.

Now I have to say that in general, at a restaurant, Tanya orders the steak. Medium to well done. In the case of steak tartare, this is Just Not On (although there is a tale in the family of Mr H ordering well done steak tartare once, but that, again, is a different story). En hier word Wouter se ogies groter as sy magie, and I go somewhat apeshit. I suggest that Tanya orders the steak tartare, I order the lamb, and Tanya also orders the ribeye steak from the a la carte menu. This confused the waitress a bit, but not as much as it would have had Tanya ordered the steak tartare well done, I’m sure.

Oh, BTW, the Foodbarn is run by Franck and Pete. Franck’s been the chef over at La Colombe for the past ten years or so, and incidentally, that’s where I last had steak tartare. And it was probably rather close to the start of Franck’s tenure there, I will have to go find my notes (no, I don’t throw things away, why do you ask?) of that experience (which, of course, is another story).

OK, bouillabaisse. Great. Bit of a strange texture, those crazy Michelin fellows would probably have had much to say, but I’m closer to the other Michelin fellow, so… Mr H raved about the duck livers, and Tanya quite liked the cheese and aubergine thing (of which I tasted a bit, nice). I’d peg Tanya’s starter at a half portion but both the duck livers and the bouillabaisse were most definitely full portions, IMO.

Steak tartare arrives first. Mince, with an egg yolk in the half shell balanced on top, with fried potato slices and a very interesting sauce and four lines of… call it salsa… onion, gherkin, olive and parsley (I think. But hey, I’m not Remy, so if one of you guys from the Foodbarn google across this blog, please leave a comment to tell me what you really put in there :-). So I start the taste exploration, with comments from Tanya on whether I’m doing this The Right Way. I of course feel that my way is the right way and if you don’t like it, order your own portion. Bit of this, bit of that, I find that the sauce goes well with the olives and a bit of egg, the egg goes well with the onion, hey, I’m having fun. Guy on the other side of the room is mixing everything on his plate into one big frikkadel and proceeding from there, but who cares (Tanya cares, that’s who. Like the time in France with the fondue which was actually raclette, but… different story).

Next up, the lamb. Two small cutlets, and some sausage-ey stuff (that’s a technical term used by people like me who don’t speak haute cuisine, OK?) in pastry, on a sauce. Very nice, but the sauce is extremely rich. I just could not finish it.

Now as an aside, Tanya and I tend to swap plates, so that we both taste what we both ordered. Although most of the time this is more a case of me finishing what she ordered. And in this case, she had a bit of steak left, and I would have loved to taste it, but I just could not face any more meat (it must have been around 150 grams steak tartare, and the cutlets were small — and as an aside I often kill an eisbein at the Nag’s Head right next door to the Foodbarn — but I think it’s the sauce, and the bouillabaisse, that sunk me).

Anyway, Tanya liked the steak a lot, but she did report that her potato slices were somewhat burnt. The in-laws had Good Things to say about the line fish (yellowtail) as well.

Of course my choice of dessert was never uncertain — I’m not much for sweet stuff, and there’s a cheese platter on the menu, and of course they have port, so, call me Larry. Four cheeses, three of them excellent, the camembert just… camembert. With some very nice preserves, and the port was Bredells, very good.

Tanya and Mrs H ordered the dark chocolate samoosas, which are interesting, but the difference in texture between the samoosa crust and the melted chocolate is a bit… strange. Mr H was somewhat indifferent to his millefeuille, which maybe looked better on the menu than on the plate.

So, a good time was had by all, and the grand total for the evening, tip included, was just that… a grand. Not something I’d do that often, but it’s nice to have a somewhat upmarket restaurant in our neck of the woods.