The drive to LUST Bistro is about an hour away from the busy Cape Town CBD. You’ll soon forget about the busy hustle and bustle of city life as you are transported to a state of tranquility.The route there is a scenic one, with breathtaking views of the mountain, vineyards and the Franschhoek Valley. Franschhoek has been referred to as one of the most bucolic winelands in the world, and now I know exactly why.
As you enter the Vrede en Lust Wine Estate, you’ll see LUST Bistro, nestled in the corner entrance, with the backdrop of the rounded mountain peaks. The restaurant is surrounded by the greenery of the vineyards, which had just turned a shade of brown for their winter slumber. Winter in Franschhoek is chilly, temperatures get as low as -1 degrees Celsius, but it’s still as lovely as ever.
LUST Bistro was previously called Crotage Fromage before it was refurbished and rebranded as LUST Bistro in 2013.
Jean-Pierre Smith is a quiet gentleman and the head chef at LUST Bistro, who prefers to let his food do the talking. When the amazing flavour infusions he creates form glorious fireworks in your mouth, his message is loud and clear. Jean-Pierre draws his food inspiration from international cuisines, having travelled to Europe and South Korea. He came back with an appreciation for the exotic cuisines.
Jean-Pierre’s passion for cooking has taken him to amazing destinations, including David Copperfield’s private island in 2012. He is best known for his homemade bread, which makes you miss your grandparents’ warme gebakte brood, topped with a massive dollop of jam on a Sunday afternoon. He helps you relive this experience and takes on the (younger) role of your grandparents by making freshly baked bread every day, which he supplies to restaurants in Franschhoek. He makes over 100 loaves of bread per day and even caters for your Banting bread needs.
We were treated to a five-course meal from the bistro’s winter menu. Each meal was prepared to perfection and presented by Jean-Pierre (usually the chef only makes an appearance after all the courses are over). But, he showed us his true passion and explained the inspiration and ingredients in each dish.
Deliciously home-baked wild-yeast bread was first on the menu, served with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The first course was a refreshing quinoa and broccoli salad with falooda seeds, broccoli, brazil nuts, dried blueberries and soft avocado. This dish had so many various textures: crunchy from the nuts and broccoli, a cold sensation on the palate because of the avocado, the falooda seeds added an interesting component to the dish, unlike I’ve ever had before.
While the chef was preparing the meals, Etienne Buys gave the guests a wine pairing lesson, in which he described which wine would be paired with each meal, as well as the origin of each specifically chosen wine. Etienne is currently the full-time viticulturist and managing director on the Vrede en Lust farm.
Next up was the seared yellowfin tuna with a sesame crust, roasted onion and wasabi purée, topped with tagarashi dressing. Jean-Pierre mentioned that this dish was of Asian inspiration. I rarely order fish at a restaurant, but this dish was easily one of my favourite of the day.
The third course was a beautifully cooked spiced duck breast served pink, with marinated wild mushrooms, pomegranate glaze and glutinous black rice. This was my first time eating duck, I would have preferred mine slightly more cooked, but nevertheless it was a well-plated dish, and the glutinous black rice was a fun way to eat starch.
By the time the fourth course came around, I couldn’t believe I was still eating. I really enjoyed this course and hoped for more stomach space so I could actually finish it. Lamb patty, char-grilled and served on portobello mushroom with provolone cheese, red-onion-marmalade and smoked-chipotle-chili mayo. The lamb burger was accompanied by salty hand-cut fries, not limp ones you get at some fisheries.
The final course satisfied our sweet tooth in the form of a platter so that guests could pick and choose their favourite dessert. The platter included Belgian chocolate brownies, matcha and pistachio sorbet, demerara-sugar-pavlova with diplomat cream, spiced date pudding and star-anise gelato. This course was a perfect dish to end off so many courses.
All the dishes served at LUST Bistro are easy to eat, delicious and so Instagram worthy!
Where Vrede and Lust Wine Estate, intersection of the Klapmuts Road and the R45, Franschhoek
Open Monday to Saturday 7:30 am – 5 pm, Sundays and public holidays 8 am – 4 pm
Cost See the Lust Bistro and Bakery menu here
Contact +27 21 874 1456, www.lustbistro.com