ART, wine, craft beer, five-star accommodation, gourmet cuisine… the Leeu Collection encompasses all that is luxurious and desirable.
Among the properties is Marigold, the first classic Indian cuisine restaurant in Franschhoek village, which opened towards the end of last year. You’ll find it in Heritage Square where it shares space around a courtyard with artisan chocolatier DV Chocolate Café, and The Boutique Gallery, which displays gorgeous and striking contemporary artwork and design. Art is one of those things you either get, or you don’t; for me, this is a place which has pieces I “get” and I always have a peek inside when I’m in the area.
The area of Franschhoek is where Let’s Do Lunch partner Diva and I found ourselves last week. We were gallivanting about on the new City Sightseeing Winelands Explorer bus tour, which pulls in around lunch time and deposits passengers at the Huguenot Monument end of the village, where they are left to their own devices for a couple of hours.
Marigold is just two blocks away from that spot – close enough to not be at all bothered by the soft rain despite having left my umbrella behind at the previous stop. The story of my life is if it is not attached to my person in some way, I will lose it before the day is out. The restaurant had been alerted about our time constraints and attended to us with appropriate speed, although our waiter Sive looked heartbroken that we were not ordering more to eat.
The menu is vast, ranging from chaat (“street food”), biryanis and curries to tandoor dishes, and thali platters comprising a variety of items, which are a great way to get an overview of as much as possible in one sitting. Sometimes having too much choice can set my head spinning so I made my decisions swiftly.
To begin, I chose Aloo Tikki Chole which the chaat page informs me is popular in New Delhi: shallow-fried potato patties filled with spiced Bengal gram (a legume related to the chickpea), seasoned and served with Indian chickpea curry and garnished with onions, fresh coriander and mint chutney.
Diva ordered Palak Chaat, which was a large bowl of crispy spinach leaves in gram flour batter topped with sweetened curd, tamarind, chilli and onion. What a wonderful combination of sweet and delicate spicy flavours which delivered on all its promises; we loved this dish.
We shared another course: Paneer Tikka. This comprises velvety cubes of paneer which chef Vanie Padayachee marinates overnight with saffron, yoghurt, cream cheese and traditional mix of Indian spices. The cheese is basted and grilled in the tandoor for that lovely chargrilled smoky edge, with peppers, onions and tomatoes. The dish is garnished with onion rings and green coriander, and served with coriander mint chutney.
While I generally follow a low(ish) carb lifestyle most of the time, when it comes to Indian food, naan bread is not negotiable so we (and by we I mean I) had a basket of soft buttered naan and I regret nothing.
The wine list, which has plenty on offer by the glass as well as the bottle, is compiled of those which pair well with the Indian food. We had Paul Cluver Close Encounter Riesling 2016 (Elgin), with fruity and floral notes to complement our meal.
There is a small selection of desserts, but we popped across to DV Chocolate for a quick shot of its thick, rich hot chocolate served in an espresso cup, before heading back to the bus.
Marigold is at 9 Huguenot Road, Franschhoek, telephone 021 876 8970.
PHOTO CREDIT: BIANCA COLEMAN