For flavour-forward comfort food.
Shortly after the outbreak of Covid-19, husband-and-wife team Eloise and Alex Windebank’s beloved Illovo eatery, Farro, sadly had to close its doors. Almost two years later, the heart of the establishment beats on in a limited pop-up in Cape Town that has proved so successful, its run has been extended to the end of January 2022.
Give me the night
Farro’s new pop-up in Cape Town might be one of the finest illustrations of Pandemic-pivot in the local restaurant industry. When Debbie Wynne, owner of Bree Street’s legendary roast chicken and salad spot Café Frank shuts her doors for the day, in swoop Alex and Eloise to transform the space into an intimate, utterly delightful eatery that serves the same modern fare that got fans hooked at the Illovo original. While the decor obviously can’t receive a full overhaul for the dinner service, it’s quite amazing what the couple achieves with some ambient lighting and a soulful soundtrack to create the perfect backdrop to complement chef Alex’s menu, which – thank the heavens! – still features the velvety, rich duck liver parfait with dark cherry paste and buttery brioche toast.
Simple and to the point
Diners can choose between a concise two- or three-course menu, bookended by optional add-ons. The focus is on highlighting a crop of seasonal, locally sourced ingredients with a treatment that’s flavour-forward and comforting, pared-down and to the point.
To whet your appetite before you get stuck into the starters, you’ll really want to give the oozy-inside potato beignets sprinkled with sumac and smoked paprika a go. Then for starters, the aforementioned duck-liver parfait has some stiff competition in the soy-and-citrus-spiked tuna tartare with seaweed and cucumber.
A highlight of the mains section – which stars the likes of Wagyu bavette with onion and green sauce; and monkfish with fennel, Calabrese salami and orange – is Alex’s execution of the tried-and-true bistro staple, pork belly: meltingly tender and unctuous, brightened by fresh green apple and celeriac slaw, and finished off with a glistening shard of crackling.
For dessert, the humble-sounding custard tart is understated perfection, with its silky filling offset by a slightly savoury crust and mouth-puckering buckthorn berry sorbet, as is the perfectly wobbly panna cotta flecked with vanilla and served with an intense strawberry sorbet and meringue shards.
The carefully curated winelist is a feast in itself for word and wine nerds alike, with quirky categories like “Quaffable, crushable, smashable”, “So fresh and so clean” and “Dark and broody” guiding folks through mostly off-the-beaten-track offerings like the Tolbos Tannat, Momento Grenache Noir and Force Celeste Sémillon. The team also shake up some top-drawer Negronis and Aperol Spritzes, which also just happen to be available in equally delicious nonalcoholic incarnations. Win-win, in our books.
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