If you’re anything like me, the closest you’ve come to regular fine dining is watching Chef’s Table. However, I have been fortunate enough to experience a local version of farm style fine dining in Pretoria at Fermier Restaurant on Lynnwood Road.
Once on my birthday two years ago and recently, a few weeks ago, after my sister and her husband got home from their honeymoon, and wanted to take my mom out for her birthday (which happened while they were away).
Dropping a grand plus on a meal is not something I’m able to do often, at all, but there are some occasions that make it absolutely worth it. So for your next special occasion, here are some reasons why can recommend going out for a meal there.
Reasons to Experience Fine Dining in Pretoria at Fermier Restaurant
Fine Dining is Enjoyable When It’s Unpretentious
Okay, so admittedly I really don’t have a lot to compare my experience at Fermier Restaurant with, as I haven’t been to The Pot Luck Club, or the Shortmarket Club. But from what I’ve heard and read about these places, the ambience is quite a lot more swanky.
And that’s awesome. But there’s just something about driving up a dirt road in an Uber off brightly-lit Lynnwood Road and rolling up into a dark parking lot, where the security guards are so eager to escort you to the door with their torch that you don’t even have time to take in the surroundings.
Which were pretty cool. I mean, I know he was just trying to get us to the door safely, but I could have spent some more time trying to figure out where all the frog croaks were coming from, and admiring the sizeable greenhouse that you can see into from the side as you arrive.
(The last time we came here, I remember also being intrigued by all the fish farming troughs/ponds, or whatever you call them, too).
On the way in, I tried to capture the light of the signage leading up to the restaurant, but all I got was a blur.
I guess I should have rather just appreciated the not-often-felt sensation of being out in the bosveld, because there was no shortage of lightning when we arrived, and conveniently found our table right near the door.
It Feels Good to Be Taken Care Of
My dad often makes a habit of being chivalrous and pulling out my chair, or my mom or sister’s chair, when we go to a restaurant. But I have to say, I think the effort might be lost on me, even after all these years. As much as I appreciate the gesture, it’s just that it catches me off guard, because I’m really just not used to that shit.
I love the gentlemanly gestures, and they do mean a lot, but I think having spent so much time travelling and living alone, I’ve just got used to doing things like that for myself and not even thinking about it.
So it’s kind of overwhelming, and quite frankly, a bit awkward to be given such attentive service while experiencing fine dining in Pretoria at Fermier Restaurant. It’s so awkward that I highly recommend it, and recommend expecting it so you don’t end up accidentally elbowing one of the servers in the head (which happened when he tried to pull out the chair for my brother-in-law).
Since we went for the wine pairing too, we were given even more attention, with a different wine, and explanation of the wine, for each course. Which was incredible, even if my very apparent low-alcohol tolerance means my palette might not be fine-tuned enough to fully appreciate any grape or terroir subtleties.
(Which I think might happen when you get hooked on drinking inexpensive Organic red wine from Woolworths and not much else.)
In the City You Can Still Hear the Chorus
In between almost elbowing people in the face, drinking a variety of delicious wine that I’d need to look at the menu to remember, and eating finely crafted tiny dishes with incredible combinations of foam, sauce and cuts of meat, we could hear the braaaah-braaaah chorus of bullfrogs right next to us.
It isn’t the kind of noise I was expecting to hear, but it was surprisingly enjoyable to listen to. I think the feeling of being a bit out in nature made us all feel a bit more relaxed, in addition to the many glasses of wine.
In fact, there are so many frogs that the staff have apparently even given one of them a name, King James, who apparently likes to bounce out and make himself known on the screed concrete floor of the restaurant, probably to mixed reviews.
I would have enjoyed that, but if you’ve ever seen a bullfrog, I think you’ll agree that they might be a bit too much for some people. Either way, I have to say, listening to them croak for three hours was fucking impressive because they didn’t let up for a minute the whole time we were there.
It almost felt like some kind of music performance, or maybe just a lot of frogs gearing up for the kind of thing you’ll only see filmed along with David Attenborough’s voice on Our Planet.
Taking Time to Appreciate is Good
While we definitely weren’t used to all the attentive service, or the several of the dish-related jargon that some of the servers threw out when they were explaining our food, it was such a great experience to be able to just sit back, in a beautifully wood-panelled, unpretentious tin-roofed room, and not have to worry about anything else but catching up with my family.
(Except for maybe asking for a top up on one of the wines, even though the amount they poured definitely made sense a bit later, about 5 glasses in).
It’s not often that I read a menu and don’t have to make any decisions. And, to see all of the dishes that you didn’t have to think about arrive in front of you without having to do anything is a very underrated experience, in my opinion.
(Also, no food envy!)
Actually taking the time to try and taste all the ingredients that were meant to be in the dish was also fun. And trying to figure out how they managed to cut it all up into such small pieces, and still make it all feel so filling and satisfying at the end of the meal.
Local is Lekker and Very Efficient
I could tell that their was some kind of artistry going on in the open-plan kitchen behind us, but I was even more impressed when I looked back at 10pm, after dessert, and the kitchen was clean, clear and empty.
No fuss, no screaming and swearing, just a handful of people at work, sending out seemingly infinite crockery types full of delicious food cut up and diced to optimum tasting size in a few hours. Then done.
I was actually sad it was over, but it’s definitely an experience I’ll go back for, when they have a different menu, and I’ve put a bit more money into my credit card.
So, if you thought there wasn’t anywhere you could have this type of experience in the eastern suburbs, off Lynnwood Road, I can definitely going to try fine dining in Pretoria at Fermier Restaurant.
And going all out with the wine pairing option too.
Have you ever tried fine dining in Pretoria at Fermier Restaurant? If you have, let me know your thoughts in the comments below.