Franks contemporary American cuisine in Franschhoek


IN a valley famous for its haute cuisine, starched tablecloths and multi-course tasting menus, the buzz around Franks Corner Bar and Grill has swept through the Franschhoek like a breath of fresh air. Located slap-bang in the heart of the village, Franks is the passion project of American entrepreneur – and proud Franschhoek resident – Frank Rodriguez, who tapped into the culinary skills of his close friend, acclaimed local chef Reuben Riffel, and the hospitality acumen of his business partner and co-owner of the restaurant Alex McCormack, to create a contemporary dining destination serving up a fresh and simple take on modern American cuisine.

While Rodriguez is a familiar face in the valley thanks to his partnership in The Franschhoek Beer Company, which he co-owns with McCormack and Riffel, he had long dreamed of opening a restaurant in the village…when the right location came along.

“I’m a foodie at heart,” says Rodriguez. “I love to cook, I love to eat. I’ve been friends with Reuben since we first came to the valley, and when this opportunity on Huguenot Street came up, with what we feel is the best location in town, we jumped on it.”

“This is not just a tourist town,” adds Reuben, the Franschhoek-born chef and restaurateur. “Frank and I know that, and we really wanted to create a dining destination that was as much for the locals and as the tourists.”

First came a year of renovation and reinventing with McCormack closely guiding the 42 Huguenot Street project. With the goal to create a contemporary American restaurant and taproom, imbued with just a touch of New Orleans style, architect Suzanne Schekman and interior designer Francois du Plessis have infused the double-volume dining room with a sense of genuine warmth, hospitality and comfort. It’s an inviting space of wooden floors, oversized leather banquettes and custom-made hand-crafted furniture lit by bespoke pendant lights. Throughout the room, a colour scheme of rich green tiling and colourful wallpaper takes its cue from the beer bottles used by The Franschhoek Beer Company, forming a central part of the experience and aesthetic.

But it’s the menu of contemporary American-inspired cuisine that has drawn hungry locals and curious travellers into Franks since opening in December 2023. And Franks – like its namesake – doesn’t take itself too seriously. You won’t find tasting menus or wine flights here. Don’t come expecting foams, palate-cleansers or dinner-table theatrics. Franks is all about elevated cooking at an accessible price.

Reuben and his business partner Ryno Snyman – with executive chef Aviv Liebenberg – have outdone themselves in creating a collection of dishes he dubs “New-Style American”, with the diversity of communities across the USA allowing the freedom to create dishes that celebrate both traditional and contemporary culinary cultures.

On the menu the starters also serve as a collection of small plates, ideal for a light lunch shared on the terrace overlooking the bustling main street of Franschhoek. Here the flavours roam widely, from baba ganoush and tuna tataki, to the classic cream-and-wine sauce of the steamed West Coast mussels – a perfect pairing with Franschhoek Beer Company’s award-winning Weissbier No. 5.

Another firm favourite is the corn dog, a classic American snack given a lift here by homemade ketchup and pickled cucumbers, and a fine dance partner to the Liberty American Pale Ale. Main courses are focused on steak – generous portions of premium grain-fed beef  broiled in the kitchen’s imported Pira charcoal oven and finished on a flame grill. Here they’re served unadorned, putting the prime cuts centre stage, with a choice of sides.

Another standout is the pork chop – an uncommon cut in the Cape – with braised red cabbage, blue cheese and mustard cream, while the Nashville hot chicken takes the flavours of this American southern classic – garlic, paprika and cayenne pepper – and reinvents the serving in a succulent deboned chicken quarter carefully brined, marinated and char-grilled.

At Franks, chips are all hand-cut and triple-cooked. In the Franks house salad, cucumbers are marinated and the tomatoes pre-seasoned, while the addition of traditional amasi adds another layer of flavour to the hand-made honey-mustard dressing. Mayonnaise is made in-house, as are the pickles served with the corn dogs. The sausages for those are custom-made for Franks by a traditional family-run butchery, just one of the many ingredients handpicked from select producers and suppliers.

Naturally, the menu has been carefully created to pair with craft beer. Although there is a compact wine list focused on Franschhoek estates, the heart of the drinks offering is the selection of Franschhoek Beer Company brews on tap at the bar. And you won’t have to choose just one: with the entire range on tap – including the small batch special releases – guests can also opt for a tasting tray of all six. The complete range of Franschhoek Beer Company’s flavoured seltzers are also available.

Franks Corner Bar and Grill is at 42 Huguenot Street, Franschhoek and offers an all-day menu from noon until 10pm daily. Book here | IG: @franks_corner_za

You might also like
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments