Le Lude: 5-Star Cape Countryside DiningAugust 23, 2021
We recently caught up with our Experience Specialist, SJ, about her latest visit to the Le Lude Estate in Franschhoek. She gave a full 5-stars for the estate, the wine and of course, the food! In her words…
AL – What was you first impression of the Estate?
SJ – It is truly grand! You are immediately in awe of the immaculately kept estate. The long gravel driveway is lined with Italian Cypress trees separating you from the manicured vineyards on either side. The cellar, tasting room & restaurant are located just beyond the vineyards, in a modern white minimalist-style building. The restaurant and tasting room are joined by black panelled floor-to-ceiling glass walls. A beautiful rose garden surrounds the outside courtyard where guests are seated on warmer days.
I especially loved the views of the surrounding mountains and vineyards from the front entrance of the tasting room & restaurant.
AL – Tell us what Le Lude is specifically known for?
SJ – For being a family-owned boutique winery situated in the heart of Franschhoek, that specializes in the crafting of sparkling wines known as Cap Classique (MCC). They have been recognized as pioneers in South Africa by being the first winery to produce an Agrafe Cap Classique, which means to ferment wine under cork instead of crown cap to achieve greater richness in the end wine.
They are well known for their restaurant, Orangerie. Many visitors come from far and wide to taste Chef Nicolene’s French inspired cuisine.
The winery is a favourite stop of the Franschhoek Wine Tram, allowing visitors a proper opportunity to taste MCC without worrying about a designated driver.
At the Estate, guests can choose from a variety of experiences including MCC tastings, cellar tours, lunch at the on-site Orangerie restaurant or morning/afternoon tea.
Generally speaking, I would say that attention to detail is commonly associated with Le Lude. Anyone who has visited Le Lude, will most likely agree. From their immaculate gardens to the grand tasting room, modern cellar, white table cloths, branded crockery, fresh flower displays, and the presentation of classic French dishes, we are not surprised people keep coming back for more. We were especially impressed when receiving complimentary, fresh out the oven lemon madeleines when paying the bill. Truly going above and beyond!
AL – Tell us about your dining experience at the Orangerie Restaurant?
SJ – I was lucky enough to visit the restaurant for lunch one Saturday with my parents and a good friend.
The French cafe music really sets the mood on arrival and you are transported to France for this dining experience. The space is light with all white table clothes, white wicker chairs, high-rise arch glass panelled windows and an array of indoor plants. The striking black and white checkered marble floor really stood out for me and compliments the all white decor.
The waitresses and waiters look incredibly smart, wearing white aprons and green bow-ties. Service is seamless and staff move around the space swiftly and with purpose. Sam, our waitress, was attentive throughout the lunch, gave us great recommendations and made sure we were warm (a heater was placed next to us as it was a very cold winter’s day). Our wine and water glasses were refilled before we could ask and there was always a replenished ice supply – a big thumbs up from me!
The food was a stand out for me. I started with the Le Lude Brut steamed mussels and triple fried chips with garlic aioli (recommended by a friend). Portions are VERY generous and I could have easily shared this starter with someone. They encourage you to soak up the delicious sauce with the triple cooked neuf chips – nothing better right?
My main, however, stole the show. One of the tastiest pasta dishes I have ever had. Wild Mushroom Tortellini with parmesan and pea shoots. Apparently it is a staple on the menu and just gets better and better thanks to small recipe developments made by the kitchen team. The pasta was cooked perfectly in a warm vinaigrette topped with the perfect amount of Grano Padano. I will return just to have this dish again!
We ended off the experience with some shared desserts, hot lemon madeleines and a quick tour of the tasting room and downstairs cellar.
A magnificent day out in the Winelands and a 5-star experience all round from me. I will not hesitate to recommend this to anyone and truly can’t wait to return. Next time I will make sure to visit in summer so I can sit outside in the leafy courtyard.
Guest Tip – make sure to get there half an hour earlier so that you can do the MCC tasting before your lunch reservation.