Klapmuts Simondium Road, between Paarl and Franschhoek, Franschhoek 7690, South Africa
European, International, Vegetarian
Credit Cards, Dinner, Families with children, Free Wifi, Local Cuisine, Lunch, Outdoor Seating, Parking Available, Reservations, Scenic View, Special Occasions
Babel is a farm restaurant. Well, technically, at least. Situated in a converted cowshed on the working farm Babylonstoren, it...
Babel is a farm restaurant. Well, technically, at least. Situated in a converted cowshed on the working farm Babylonstoren, it carries all the trappings of a farm restaurant – much of the produce is grown on the extensive farm, illustrations of cauliflower and beetroot adorn the menu, and a giant image of a bull dominates the back wall where the daily menu is displayed. And yet, it conjures up the image of René Magritte’s painting The Treachery of Images, which contains that famous scrawl: This is not a pipe.
It is as if the restaurant embodies the idea of a farm. It’s a little too sophisticated, a little too perfect to be the genuine article. Don’t get me wrong; it’s gorgeous. Glass walls give the predominantly white color scheme an ethereal quality, which is anchored ever-so-slightly by the earthy wooden tables and splashes of red and blue. It is a modern and elegant space, where muddy wellington boots would be wholly out of place.
As promised, the food is largely from the farm – or, in some cases, neighboring farms – and the menu changes on a daily basis. In winter, daily additions to the menu include slower dishes such as aromatic stews or a leg of lamb served with a side of potato wedges and vegetables.
Staples on the menu include a selection of color-themed dishes and freshly squeezed juices: yellow, green and red. Take, for example, the green dish – a stack of green vegetables with slices of pear, apple and winter melon, and a rose-geranium, mustard and mint vinaigrette – which is served with a warm cauliflower and gorgonzola sour cream pastry. While these dishes are thematically and visually appealing, the creative impulse comes slightly at the expense of balanced and interesting flavors.
The service, whilst friendly, is the only real area where the restaurant falls short. You might be left unattended for long periods of time, and dishes arrive in a haphazard manner. Despite this shortcoming, the restaurant was fully booked on a random Wednesday in the middle of winter, so be sure to book in advance.
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