Whether you're in search of traditional cuisine or fine-dining with a bit of wow factor, this round-up of French restaurants in Joburg should help you make the perfect selection.
Elegant and sophisticated is how I’d sum up Bistro Michel. Think pork cheek and lentil salad, Foie Gras terrine, Beef Bourguignon, Fillet au Poivre, crème brûlée... Chef Michel Morand (former owner of Auberge Michel restaurant) has created a celebration of old-school French classics that will comfort your soul. They also offer the most gorgeous French Sides: Gratin Dauphinois, pomme frites and Poêlé de carrot with honey and cumin to name but a few. (Oh and the service is superb.)
Offering an array of exquisite French fare for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. Expect to be wowed by Chef Jean-Francois Schevenel’s Brouillé eggs: slow-cooked to ensure the creamiest and most sumptuous texture, or his Florentine and Benedict, all served on beautiful, homemade brioche. For those with a sweeter tooth, there are macarons, éclairs and the most intricate and decadent cakes and patisserie to choose from. For mains you’ll find Chateaubriand and seared salmon set amongst an array of specials that change biweekly. Jean-Francois also stocks the most remarkable tea selection I have ever come across.
A La Bouffe
A serious French menu created by a serious Frenchman showcasing all the little gems Normandy has to offer: pan-fried frogs legs, snails in garlic butter, braised Lamb belly, rabbit in red wine, plum tart and imported French cheese platters. There’s also the lovely addition of all things French on the drinks front: a French wine list, imported French ciders and beers as well as Calvados and Almagnac for those looking for a truly French experience.
A casual but chic, French bistro in bustling Parkhurst, serving up steak tartare, Moules Frites, Bouillabaisse and duck confit as well as a blackboard outlining the daily specials to tantalise your taste buds. The wine selection offers a wide array of both local and imported French wines. On the dessert menu I’d opt for the dark chocolate tart or the orange and Amarula crème brûlée with a cheeky brandy or dessert wine.
Chef Phillipe Wagenfurer has created a menagerie of French-inspired classics, each with a modern twist. His menu changes according to what’s fresh and in season and there’s often a tasting menu and wine-paired menus on offer. You’ll find the most delicious seafood bisque I have ever encountered and their signature Beetroot Gravalax is a must.
Sel et Poivre
It’s chic, refined and their wine list makes me want to weep! Sit in the stunning main dining room or outside in the leafy courtyard. Chef Coco Reinarhz has created an opulent, Afro-fusion inspired menu combining classic French cuisine with rich, African flavours: Kudu fillet and butternut mille-feuilles with a chocolate and clove jus, slow roasted lamb neck and black olive croquettes and roasted duck with an orange and ginger sauce…yum yum.
Le Delices deFrance
Chef and owner Robert Baxa has created an absolutely gorgeous menu celebrating French classics to which he’s given a refreshingly, modern touch (especially in terms of his superb presentation.) Ingredients are fresh and produce is always of the highest standard. Highlights include the Foie Gras terrine with fig compote, onion soup gratine, tripes with cider, steak tartare and beef Chateaubriand.
It’s an institution that’s stood the test of time in Joburg, having been around for 35 years! And whilst it might not sound very French, the elaborate menu is dedicated to all things Franco: Moules Provencal, grilled duck liver, guinea fowl casserole and rabbit in red wine. The cosy atmosphere, charming waiters and a hands-on owner seal the deal.
As the name suggests, Le Soufflé is a little French brasserie best known for their magnificent sweet and savoury soufflés: the three cheese with hazelnuts and salmon and spinach soufflés on the savoury front, are a win. One the sweet side, the orange liqueur or pancake soufflé with strawberries, are out of this world. The atmosphere is relaxed and so is the décor. If you’re not into soufflés, then the duck and cherry pie will be sure to fill the gap.
Arbour Café and Creperie
They specialise in Galettes: sumptuous French buckwheat pancakes that are amazingly gluten-free - the duck and cherry, and the wild mushroom and Gruyere galettes are simply to die for! Their menu changes seasonally, but you can always be sure to find a Cassoulet, duck confit and imported French ciders on the menu. They have a gorgeous courtyard dappled with plants and filled with sunshine for sunny days.
Patisserie de Paris
At Patisserie de Paris all baguettes, croissants and other French delicacies are created according to traditional techniques using only organic and natural ingredients, avoiding preservatives, flavourants, shelf life extenders or artificial additives and, of course, they use a hell of a lot of butter. I’ve yet to encounter a baguette like theirs outside of Europe.
(Patisserie de Paris also has an outlet at the Bryanston Organic Market.)
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- Kate Liquorish