Café Blanc de Noir at BrenaissancePosted: December 18, 2012
The feeling never gets old; shutting down my laptop, hopping in the car and swopping the busy streets of Cape Town for a more relaxed, tranquil environment like the Stellenbosch winelands.
I arrive at Devon Valley’s latest restaurant addition, Café Blanc de Noir – situated on Brenaissance Wine Estate. The restaurant has only been open a few days and already the pace appears to be picking up. I’m scheduled to meet the owner, Hayley Breytenbach, for a chat about her and her husband’s new venture.
It’s a humid, hot day with temperatures soaring above the 30’s and a nasty bout of traffic on the N2 ensures that I’m dishonourably late. My angst soon subsides as I step into the black and white themed café. Greeting me are happy smiles, heady smells and the pleasant feeling of realising I’ve just uncovered a restaurant gem. Before I know it, I have a chilled glass of white wine in my hand. The Lady H Sauvignon Blanc. It’s fruity, fresh and lively and brings me right into the moment. I let out a heavy internal sigh. This is how Summer should be spent.
Hayley comes over to introduce herself and it doesn’t take long for me to see that her passion for the Brenaissance brand runs deep. After she and her husband, Tom, acquired the farm, the pair were married on the estate (which houses a wedding venue, five-star accommodation, and is home to a Boran cattle stud).
As I take in the surroundings – a combination of rustic chic and urban cool, Hayley explains that the café came about organically. “It was supposed to be a tasting room”, she says smiling, but after experiencing her fair share of those, the couple decided to be different and offer something that’s an expression of who they are and what they enjoy as individuals; a place that serves the kind of food and drink that they both relish, in a setting that’s relaxed yet aesthetically inspired.
“We aren’t trying to be anything that we’re not”, emphasizes Tom. I don’t need convincing, as it’s clear that the establishment already holds his and Hayley’s bold stamp. Personal touches come in the form of framed photographs on the walls – some of the couple during happy times, and others of the prized cattle stud. Another element that completes the mix is a developing art collection which is already taking shape at the cafe’s entrance where a large sculpture of a fist (inspired by the Brenaissance coat of arms), welcomes visitors.
After I’ve finished my glass of wine, Hayley brings me some homemade cordial to try. Rose geranium berry bliss and a lemon, lime and mint crush are the two options and I’m immediately struck by how refreshing and delicious they both are. “It’s the best thirst-quencher”, Hayley says. I cannot disagree. Especially when presented in old-school, sturdy glass bottles with cute straws.
My experience reaches a new level when I am asked what I’d like to eat, and even though the menu is focused and small (lunch includes 5 pizza options, 1 sandwich, 4 salads and a meze platter), choices are still difficult. Pizzas are their speciality and so I go for the Cajun Chicken – chorizo, red onion, mushrooms, mixed greens and chilli-infused olive oil (R75). There’s the option to have it “hole-some” – where the centre is removed and replaced with a fresh green salad. “Our pizzas have the thinnest bases you’ll see,” Hayley quips, “and we make them in a rectangular shape”. The slogan? We don’t cut corners. I just love the wit.
I later learn that there’s another thing that sets these crispy, cheesy flatbreads apart. They are served with no utensils. It takes a second or two for my mind to process this information and then I realise that this forms part of the Café Blanc de Noir experience. “We recommend that you pick up and eat the pizza with your left hand, and fold it like a calzone, leaving the right hand free to hold your wine glass”.
Why has no-one ever told me this???!!! Genius.
After giving the technique a go, I definitely get the feeling that I’ve been accepted into the Café Blanc de Noir ‘circle of trust’. Just as my buttons are about to pop, Hayley asks, “Now, how about some dessert?” I’m sure she has no idea that dessert is my absolute weakness, but she’s about to find out.
Today’s menu features homemade carrot cake, and being a fan…I don’t decline the offer. The cake, which comes from an old family recipe, is topped with a sweet and tangy cream cheese icing that clings to the cake fork, making it impossible not to lick off.
As if things at this point couldn’t get any better, a cup of freshly made Tribe coffee garnished with a small chocolate-filled wafer biscuit, makes its way to the table. I’m once again reminded of Hayley and Tom’s fervent attention to detail.
“It’s part of our personalities”, Hayley says. “There are no grey areas” (hense the name, Café Blanc de Noir).
For more information on Café Blanc de Noir, including the menu, prices, and trading hours head to the website. Otherwise Like the Brenaissance Facebook page for regular updates and follow them on Twitter @BrenaissanceSA
Disclaimer: My lunch at Cafe Blanc de Noir was complimentary but all views are my own.