Johannesburg's L'expérience française

Private Property South Africa
Shaun Wewege

For a special evening out, Coachman’s Inn in Lyme Park should be at the top of your list of French restaurants. I use the term experience because it’s more than just a meal – the service was impeccable and I even received a phone call days later from a manager, asking about my experience. The wine list includes local and imported vintages and the quality of cuisine is probably some of the best you could encounter in the city.

The menu is extensive and caters for those who enjoy favourites such as grilled fillet but also has more adventurous dishes such as the casserole of guinea fowl, kudu and hare served in a game and wild mushroom sauce. The restaurant is cosy and has limited seating so bookings are advisable. (011) 706-7269.

Stylish minimalist décor and a medley of traditional and contemporary dishes make Ami Restaurant and Champagne Bar in Craighall Park an unforgettable French fusion dining experience. Delicious blue cheese and pear spring rolls for starters with champagne-blanched duck will leave your taste buds thanking you for exposing it to the decadent scents, textures and flavours.

You select your wine off an actual display, leaving one wondering if you couldn’t try just one more bottle. The Krone Brut Rose caught our attention and was a delightful accompaniment to the meal. The sweet tooth was satisfied with my dessert choice: choc-hazelnut phyllo pastry spring rolls. The champagne bar filled up faster than the restaurant on the night we visited, but booking is advisable. (011) 447 4648.

If cooking up a storm is your preferred method, the French Market in Morningside is a worthy visit. Delectable treats such as cheese, pates, sauces, meat, coffee, home-made preserves and bread will leave you spending your entire paycheque on eats! The market takes place at the Morningside Shopping Centre each Sunday between 09:00 and 14:00.

If you have a hankering for French wine or champagne, your best bet is Norman Goodfellows. There are branches in Illovo, Hyde Park, and Melrose Arch. They stock a number of varietals (their website lists over 50 red, white and champagne wines), many of which are not easily found in other local stores.

Lastly, learn French or immerse yourself in culture by attending an event hosted by Alliance Française. This non-profit organisation caters for the beginner and the advanced and even offers a diploma course. The cultural events they host include film screenings, music days, and art exhibitions. You can also enjoy a taste of France in Parkview –Le Café de l’Alliance serves French pastries, cakes and light lunches.

Visit www.alliancefrancaise.org.za for further information.

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