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Sampling Pierneef à La Motte’s New Menu

La Motte is one of the prettiest wine estates around, with an impressive history and enviable setting within the famous Franschhoek Wine Valley to boot.

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Having first visited the estate in early 2018, I was delighted to be invited back. Since my last visit, the estate’s stunning restaurant, Pierneef à La Motte, has changed hands, with Chef Eric Bulpitt replacing long-standing executive chef, Michelle Theron… I knew Chef Eric’s impressive cooking style from Avondale’s FABER – so I was very excited to sample more of his dishes.

New Executive Chef, New (Exciting) Menus

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Under Chef Eric, Pierneef à La Motte Restaurant has recently introduced two exciting new menu offerings: the À La Carte Lunch Menu and Garden Menu respectively. While slightly different, both proudly lean towards heritage cuisine. (This is something that always goes down well in South Africa. Particularly since we have so many rich cultures and such a strong heritage.)

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The Garden Menu takes a more informal approach… From October 2018 till Easter 2019, it invites guests to enjoy dining out beneath the oak trees; I personally love the concept behind this. So I hope that the Garden Menu makes a reappearance again next summer! Note: The Garden Menu is currently served in the garden or on the stoep (porch) from Tuesdays to Sundays, 11:00 am – 17:00 pm.

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For our visit, however, we were to sample the  À La Carte Lunch Menu option.

Entering Pierneef à La Motte’s Soothing Depths

Passing through the tranquil, scuplture-littered gardens of La Motte (in themselves, an experience worth savouring with the vast oak trees, flowers and scampering squirrels), we entered into the cool, soothing interiors of Pierneef à La Motte Restaurant.

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This classy, sophisticated restaurant is unquestionably one of the most beautifully decorated and designed that I have visited to date. I love the earthy, garden interior tones, webbed chair-backs (akin to sprawling, green roots) and floor-to-ceiling windows, which surround the entire restaurant front, giving a magical glimpse at the garden seating, dam and lawn beyond…

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Pierneef à La Motte Restaurant is as tastefully decorated as can be. Another notable aspect of this winelands’ restaurant is the polite, ultra-professional staff, who are excellent to deal with.

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Our table was tucked away near the main doors. It was also a stone’s throw away from the open kitchen, where Chef Eric and his kitchen staff were speedily whipping up dishes with careful precision and relative quietness.
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Time to Feast at Pierneef à La Motte

The À La Carte Lunch Menu, served from Tuesday to Sunday, 11:30 am – 15:00 pm, has the following options:

  1. Two-course lunch (excluding wine) for R395
  2. Two-course lunch (including wine) for R425
  3. Three-course lunch (excluding wine) for R425
  4. Three-course lunch (including wine) for R595

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My companion opted for the three-course option without wine, while I chose the three-course option with a glass of wine. I enjoyed a beautiful 2017 La Motte Chardonnay. This was a lovely chardonnay and was perfect for the hot day of our visit.

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The three-course lunch option is suitably filling – and entirely satisfying and I think it’s great with or without wine. So, wine or not, I would definitely choose the three-course either way.

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The day we visited, the Blackboard Menu was also available in conjunction with the set menu. This isn’t always an added option for the À La Carte Lunch Menu – and it changes frequently based on whatever is sourced from the garden.

Note: Reservations are recommended for the À La Carte Lunch Menu.

Heritage Cuisine to Thrill

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Farm-style favourites and South African food with a creative twist is something that I believe Chef Eric does extremely well. He can take a seemingly simple dish… and turn it into something sublime. The result is that flavours, presentation and portions thrill and satisfy the diner.

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To start us off, we were presented with a delicious bread and meat plate for our table. One of the breads was a mouth-watering sourdough (another of Chef Eric’s specialities), accompanied by a sour basil pesto dip, a kind of fat spread and some beautiful cold meats. I loved everything on the plate, barring the fat spread, which I wasn’t brave enough to try.

My companion wasn’t a huge fan of the meat but he enjoyed the fat spread and breads a lot. For myself, I definitely preferred the sourdough because I’m a sourdough addict – but both breads were delectable.

Starting Off With a Winner

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For me, starters can often be a hit-and-miss affair… Either they are divine and you wish you had more – or they are paltry and disappointing. Well, at Pierneef à La Motte, it is unequivocally the first because their starters are perfection personified.

I chose the Pink Oxhart Tomatoes (off the main menu), while my companion went with the Beef Carpaccio – served with porcini and brulee onion -, from the Blackboard menu.

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Mine consisted of piquant tomato sorbet (wasn’t a huge fan of this), goat’s cheese, watermelon and basil. Perhaps the best part of this punchy, fresh starter was its being so cleverly plated and conceptualised… The creativity alone had me raving.

I loved the cheese balls and the inventive watermelon ‘ball’ – and overall, I found it to be a lovely, fresh and flavourful starter. My companion thoroughly enjoyed his starter too… So both starters were excellent overall.

Marvellous Mains at La Motte

From there, we were onto our mains – and I must admit, I was very excited about this next course. I opted for the Aged free-range Duck Breast (served with fig and duck offal vol au vent, pistachio and quinoa crust).

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My companion, meanwhile, stuck to his beef guns and chose the Beef Sirloin (again, off the Blackboard menu). This was served with heritage carrots, carrot puree and beef jus.

Our mains arrived with a lovely garden salad and delicious potato mash; these were an excellent accompaniment to our main choices and really complemented our meal perfectly.

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To say I was impressed with my duck would be a gross understatement… I loved every mouthful of that duck breast. It was cooked to absolute perfection and had me in foodie heaven from the moment I clapped eyes on it. It was absolutely amazing – and I would seriously recommend it!

The fig was also divine (especially as it was cooked) but I did struggle a bit with the duck offval… Once I accepted defeat, I passed the rest onto my companion who didn’t mind it one bit. I must say, in its defence (because I am not normally a fan of such things…), it really was so well-cooked and flavoured that you almost forgot what it was.

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My companion, meanwhile, also really enjoyed his meal and agreed that the salad and mash made for a good addition to our very tasty, scrumptious mains.

Seventh Berry Heaven

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Afterwards, we were both beginning to feel well-satisfied… but there was still dessert to be had! And I almost always have room for dessert… 🙂

Another stunner off the Blackboard menu on the day was the Spring Berries dessert. This sounded so good that we both opted for it – and since I have scarcely enjoyed a tastier, more melt-in-your-mouth dessert, it was definitely the right choice!

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This came with a divine buttermilk panna cotta (no, seriously, divine), meringue shortbread and a delicious mixed berry sorbet, with fresh strawberries, raspberries and blackberries too.

Everything was sublime and entirely faultless – and the dessert was truly lovely from a plating perspective too!

How It Rated Overall

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Overall, I was seriously impressed with the Pierneef à La Motte À La Carte Lunch Menu. Everything we tried was excellent and perfectly cooked or flavoured. The service was solid and good throughout too. As for the setting, it’s pretty hard to beat.

For the À La Carte Lunch Menu, I would rate it 9/10 overall – and must give a special mention to the berry dessert and my duck breast and fig, which I would both rate as 10/10 hands-down.

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In terms of service and restaurant atmosphere on the day, I would rate it 8/10 – but again, this restaurant and its staff are always a pleasure to encounter.

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Personally, I feel that Pierneef à La Motte is now perfectly catering to the masses, all while serving quality food. Because you don’t need to break your bank at La Motte to enjoy a stunning dining experience prepared by a top South African chef and his trusted team… and that in itself is a winning combination, ideally suited to this country.

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While you are visiting La Motte, be sure to also browse the delightful farm shop, stroll about the gardens, head for a winetasting or pop into the excellent, free La Motte Museum… Each is the perfect way start or end to lunch here, after all!

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A Word of Thanks

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Thank you very much to Cilnette Piernaar, Mareli Roux, La Motte, Chef Eric Bulpitt, Pierre Theron and the entire Pierneef à La Motte team for this truly delectable dining experience! It was such a pleasure to visit you once more.

For more information on Pierneef à La Motte and its offerings, please contact: +27 (021) 876 8800 or email them at: pierneef@la-motte.co.za. 

You can also visit the La Motte website or find Pierneef à La Motte for yourself at: La Motte Wine Estate, R45 Main Road, Franschhoek, South Africa.

La Motte Wine Estate is also on all leading social media platforms, so be sure to connect with and follow them on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

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Author: Tamlyn Ryan

Content writer by day and blogger by night, Tamlyn Ryan passionately runs her own travel blog, called Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust, from her home base of Cape Town, South Africa. And, despite a national diploma in Journalism, in her free time, Tamlyn’s preferred niche remains travel writing.

Tamlyn is a hopeless wanderer, equipped with an endless passion for road trips, carefully planned, holiday itineraries and, above all else, an innate love for the great outdoors.

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