Looking for a new spot to enjoy some delicious treats? You’re in luck. A brand new restaurant opened in Franschhoek, and it looks like a stunner.
Smitten Restaurant at The Yard, 38 Huguenot Road, officially opened its doors on Monday, January 18. The restaurant features Origin coffee and food by chef Chris Smit, the former executive chef at La Residence in the Franschhoek Valley.
Smit has served notable names such as actress Elizabeth Hurley, Sir Elton John and David Furnish, as well as former and current heads of state like President Thabo Mbeki, former President Bill Clinton and the late Nelson Mandela. Fair to say, diners at Smitten are in good hands.
“Smitten was born out of our shared passion for food and cooking. The name is actually a wordplay of Chris’ surname, “Smit”, and after we met and fell in love 14 years ago it seemed apt and romantic to name our restaurant “Smitten”,” said Imraan Vagar, Marketing Manager and owner of Smitten.
“Our tagline is ‘A Food Affair’, but it’s so much more than that. It speaks of our appetite for life and a desire to savour every joyful, humbling moment of being alive – especially in these dark times.”
The restaurant has been over 10 years in the making and started as a pop-up restaurant and MCC bar concept at the local Franschhoek Village Market in 2013.
The pop-up was a roaring success and the pair were determined to find Smitten a permanent home but deferred the dream when Smit had the opportunity to star in two television food series, “Geure Uit Die Vallei” on SABC2 and “Cooking With Chris Smit” on SABC3, produced by Red Carpet Productions where Vagar worked.
Patrons at Smitten can expect seasonal ingredients, local produce and fresh, clean flavours at Smitten. Their business model is focused on repeat patronage, so their quality hot and cold breakfasts and light lunches all come at incredibly competitive, affordable prices.
“As Franschhoek locals ourselves, we have (for far too many years) felt taken for granted and, frankly, exploited by a lot of restaurants in town who would dramatically hike up their prices for the international tourists who flock to our picturesque, quaint valley in peak season, only to half-heartedly try to woo us back in the winter months with “specials” when the hospitality industry all but grinds to a halt,” said Vagar.
Vagar describes Smitten as their “love letter” to Franschhoek.
“It’s plush, premium setting and sexy ambience invites you to imbibe in its beauty and luxury and feel comfortably ensconced, in a proverbial home away from home. But at the same time, the menu prices say, “We see you and appreciate you. After all, we are you,”.”
While no alcoholic drinks will be served quite yet under the current booze ban, the focal point of the Smitten gallery area will eventually be a statement bar, with a gorgeous, gravity-defying overhead canopy of floating bottles, that will serve colourfully decadent cocktails and mocktails, with a special emphasis on designer gins, quality local wines at great prices and the entire range of Graham Beck bubblies.
Opening a new restaurant during a global pandemic, however, is not easy.
“The pragmatist and businessman in me often thinks, “On what frozen, godless planet does it make sense to open a restaurant and bar in this climate?” But on the other hand, the poet, romantic and entrepreneur in me says that this is precisely the time to be spreading joy and sharing beauty through the gift of food, nourishment and good old-fashioned warmth and hospitality. People are starved for those things, especially now,” said Vagar.
He adds that Franschhoek locals have shown a great outpouring of support since they opened their doors on Monday.
“We are truly grateful and humbled by the outpouring of love we’ve received but I think it comes back to my earlier statement about being seen and appreciated. Community, camaraderie and coming-together unity is often heightened in the most troubling of times, like a pandemic, and in some small way, Smitten has become a symbol of that. I think it represents the embodiment of Franschhoek’s will to overcome this dark chapter and aspire to happier times.”