An invitation to Freedom Hill Restaurant & Winery got Cathy Marston heading out to Paarl to check it out – family, friends and all. Does Freedom Hill cut it with the 4 year olds? Read on….
I seem to be going to stunning winery after stunning winery at the moment. The owners – Peter, Ryan and Adrian – claim they set up this restaurant because of the views and I certainly wouldn’t argue with them on that. It is situated on the road between Franschhoek and Paarl and to be honest, approaching the restaurant isn’t all that pretty – although it was quite cool to see baboons marauding amongst the vines. But it’s very nice once you get there – big stoep, rustic walls and ceiling, cosy bar and a big fire in the corner. The plan is to move the road to the back of the restaurant and put a lawn out front instead complete with jungle gym or jumping castle, but there is enough space that kid-loathers needn’t feel put off by these plans.
Chef/part owner Adrian Buchanan has been around several blocks over the past few years including stints in Dubai, Vietnam and – most recently – five years at Monneaux Country House in Franschhoek. Along with his trusty Tanzanian sous chef, they offer some tasty and unusual combinations which really work. Stars on our visit included oxtail-stuffed calamari tubes with Cape gooseberries (yes honestly! And it was gorgeous!), quail with almonds and an unusual honey malva. Other mains included a darned fine mushroom risotto (such a tricky restaurant dish, but voted probably the best ever tasted by my friends) and a good, tender fillet with blue cheese and mushroom. Oh – and how can I forget the decadent double chocolate mousse – incredibly rich, sticky and perfect.
I think the best way to describe this wine list is individual! Of course they have the Freedom Hill wines (good, solid wines and not bad value, although the winery could be a little more lenient in its prices to its in-house restaurant ) and best bets are the Sauvignon and the Cape Blend, although I really enjoyed the Pinotage as well. But the rest of the list is a fascinating trawl through the personalities of the owners and I LOVED it – lots of individual, handmade wines of interest chosen by passionate people. Great stuff!!
More than fair. Starters are R40 – R55 and portions are big. Mains are from R75 (yummy-sounding veggie pasta) to R120 for Beef Fillet with Creamy Truffle sauce. They’re pretty flexible with the kids offering pasta with various sauces and making home-made chicken nuggets (which were delicious, but a smaller portion at a lesser price than R54 would have been preferable!)
A good place to come with the family. Lots of space, relaxed and very on-hand owners who are willing to be flexible, a nice bar area with a low table for colouring-in and a TV for bad weather emergencies all make it very possible for parents to chill out and have a thoroughly good time. See you there soon!
Freedom Hill was reviewed by Cathy Marston, read her blog and follow her on Twitter.