After three decades of offshore ownership, Paarl’s iconic Grande Roche Hotel is back in South African hands. The hotel has been acquired by entrepreneurs Hansie and Theresa Britz. Both born and raised in Paarl, the couple shares a life-long association with the Grande Roche as most locals do. This historic five-star property at the foot of Paarl Mountain has recently been fully transformed to return it’s status as one of the Cape’s premier destinations.
Apart from a complete overhaul for the hotel side of Grande Roche, the restaurant previously known as ‘Bosman’s’ has also been totally refreshed to become a more accessible destination: ‘Viande’ is the brainchild of Pete Goffe-Wood, a respected and loved television personality (ex-Masterchef judge), author and consultant chef. Pete wasn’t looking to start another restaurant, but when he heard the new owners’ passion for the hotel he realised it was something he could get behind. “I loved the fact that they wanted to make Grande Roche accessible to locals again, and the more their vision unfolded the more I realised I wanted to be a part of it. It’s been wonderful to see this property given the love and respect and investment it deserves.”
Chef Pete is now responsible for all food and beverage operations across Grande Roche. With Viande becoming a major draw card for the estate, Goffe-Wood worked with interior designer Francois du Plessis to completely re-imagine the interiors, adding a more contemporary and approachable feel to the new restaurant while acknowledging the heritage of the building. Gunmetal grey walls are offset by the landmark crystal chandeliers, bespoke monochrome wallpaper creates an eye-catching scene along one wall, while wooden floors brighten the space. Furniture is by design studio Houtlander, and there’s Goffe-Wood’s quirky humour in the culinary-themed 3D artworks by Mitch Mitchell of Scotch & Sofa by Mitch and the Machine: a hog’s head, kitchen scale and a burly pair of chef’s arms clutching cleavers.
That modern approach is mirrored on the brasserie-style menu, where meat is unashamedly the star. Viande means ‘meat’ in French – an apt title for this meat-focused restaurant offering contemporary nose-to-tail dining. On the menu you will find items like pan-fried calves liver, slow roasted pork belly, seared hangar steak, 28-day dry aged prime rib and roasted free range chicken. Chef Pete and his capable kitchen crew are even curing and smoking new delicacies, with selected cuts dry-aged on site in imported German meat-fridges.
I was invited to experience Viande for lunch, and want to share my photographs with you. I’ve been a fan of Chef Pete’s food for many years, having tasted a few of his nose-to-tail menus before, also including the best vanilla custard I’ve ever tasted (yes, he makes fabulous desserts too). Chef Pete has a knack of putting a menu together that will surely be a hit with many. Items like traditional bouillabaisse are hard to find on menus these days, and although it’s a surprise to find it on a meat driven menu like Viande’s, it was my choice for a main course. Served with a bright yellow rouille, it was the perfect cherry on top. For starters I went for a classic mushroom risotto (relatively easy to get right, difficult to get immaculate) and it delivered in every way possible. For dessert, I tried the profiteroles – something Pete added to the menu from childhood memories. I also have strong childhood memories of eating custard-filled eclairs topped with a runny chocolate icing, so having these beautiful profiteroles freshly topped with warm chocolate, filled with delicious French-style vanilla custard and grilled banana was a joyful ending to an extraordinary meal.
Viande at The Grande Roche, Paarl, is a bright new beacon on the highly competitive Winelands dining scene.
Viande is open 7 days a week for breakfast between 07h00-10h00, lunch between 12h00-15h00 and dinner from 19h00-22h00, with Sunday brunch on the cards as well. Book online (Dineplan app) or by calling Grande Roche on 021-863 5100, or emailing email@example.com. Starters vary from R90-R120, mains from R120-R250, and desserts from R80-R120 (click here for a menu).
The Grande Roche Hotel is located at 1 Plantasie Street, Paarl.
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