For the 10 years that he ran the kitchen at La Colombe, the award-winning French restaurant on Cape Town's Constantia Uitsig wine estate, Franck Dangereux was hailed by many as the best chef in Africa. An émigré from Provence, Dangereux blended traditional French cuisine with South African ingredients to such perfection that he earned a spot on Restaurant Magazine's list of the world's 50 best restaurants in 2006. Then he quit.
Dangereux didn't explicitly say he was finding the whole high-class restaurant thing pretentious. But what he did was to take over a small replica barn in a rustic-style shopping center in one of Cape Town's more distant suburbs, floor it with linoleum and call it the Food Barn. The result may be the best value fine dining on the continent, if not anywhere. Imagine half a dozen sensational oysters for $5. The perfect Japanese-style tuna tartare for $8. A bouillabaisse terrine set on mussels and a creamy saffron sauce for $10. Dangereux even persuaded two of the finest local vineyards, Cape Point and Klein Constantia, to bottle his own blends, which he sells for $8 each.
The setting is modest, too. Pine chairs and tables at one end of the barn; at the other, a deli selling more Dangereux delights, such as home-made breads and harissa mayonnaise. Every so often, the chef himself will emerge in surfer shorts and flip-flops. No longer dangereux to your wallet, but lethal to the notion that haute cuisine has to be haughty. www.thefoodbarn.co.za