I feel as though there’s some invisible curtain on the R45. I don’t know where it is exactly, but somewhere along that road I pass through it, and suddenly everything I’m worried about back in the city seems to melt away and I can give myself over fully to Franschhoek’s charm – which puts me in the perfect frame of mind for a Saturday lunch in the sunshine at Lust Bistro & Bakery.
When an establishment has ‘bakery’ in the name, my interest is immediately piqued. Throw in the fact that Lust is situated at Vrede en Lust, one of my all-time favourite wine estates, and no wonder I’m a fan.
Here’s the thing: Vrede en Lust is grand – very grand – which means it should have the potential to be cold. But it isn’t, and nor is Lust Bistro. In fact, it’s the very opposite; as warm and welcoming as the wood-fired brick oven that they revere as the very heart of everything they do.
Your meal here begins and ends with that oven, because Lust’s freshly baked bread would convert even the most hardened Banter. From the lightest imaginable ciabatta to a hearty flavourful rye, it’s all perfection, and you would be remiss not to buy a few loaves to take home.
But back to lunch… The scene is a sunny, umbrellaed courtyard, filled with fresh country air and cheerful staff. It’s just past midday, so a glass of wine is in order and the six-cultivar White Mischief goes down a treat.
The a la carte menu covers all tastes and cravings without spoiling things by being too exhaustive, but it’s the blackboard of specials that take first prize today, specifically the panko prawn salad with bountiful fresh avocado, and a tempura Grenadier with charred corn salsa and rustic fries. The fish is delicious and so wonderfully flaky that for once I’m more interested in it than the accompanying rustic fries (though those are of course excellent too).
The menu at Lust is a pure reflection of chef-patron Jean Pierre Smith’s approach to food: fresh, delicious and sophisticated without being fussy. This is a man who could easily do the fancy, highfalutin cuisine dance, but prefers to offer his guests simple, excellent fare. And he’s passionate about bread. Case in point: the Lust artisan sourdough takes three days to prepare.
Let’s talk about desert for a second. I basically floated away on a sweet little cloud of happiness after finishing the Lusty Sundae – honey-comb ice cream, salted caramel, brown-sugar meringue and seasonal berries. Of course, that didn’t stop me having at least two bites of the Hummingbird cheesecake across the table, or lusting after the red velvet and chocolate cakes on display.
FANCY BEING A MASTER BAKER?
Chef JP Smith will be hosting a series of three-day bread-making courses at Lust Bistro & Bakery this winter. You’ll learn the secrets behind his delicious artisan creations, be treated to wine tasting, cellar tours and dinner at some of the area’s best restaurants, and enjoy two nights accommodation in Vrede en Lust’s beautiful vineyard suites. The cost of R6 500 also includes all meals for the duration of the course and an artisan baking kit, consisting of a custom Lust Bistro apron, a Brötform basket (German imported proofing chamber for bread) and all baking ingredients. Dates are 7-9 June, 12-14 July, and 2-4 August 2016. To book, email [email protected] or call 021 874 1456. (For couples or 2 people sharing a room, a special all-inclusive fee of R11 500 is offered.)
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 & Bakery menu here
Contact 021 874 1456, www.lustbistro.com
Photography Courtesy of Lust