As those of you who read my articles will know, I am an accidental foodie. I was thrust into this world of food and wine because my sister started this magical thing called I Love Foodies. So often when we visit restaurants, I honestly have no idea what to expect. And I like to think that is great thing, because I can be truly blown away by an experience – like my experience of the Franschhoek Kitchen at Holden Manz.

When we took the scenic drive via Franschhoek to the Holden Manz Wine Estate for lunch, I had no idea of the splendour that awaited us there. First of all, the Holden Manz Wine Estate is beautiful. It’s away from that busy wine estate road that takes you into Franschhoek, so it literally feels like you are away from the world in a magical little place. No wonder Holden Manz refers to themselves as Franschoek’s hidden gem …

holden manz signage

Welcome to Holden Manz …

holden manz red wine

Holden Manz wine

As I hadn’t tried Holden Manz wines before, Chef Ricardo suggested we do a wine tasting first. And so we did. But before I even get into that, I need to say that Holden Manz is a family-run estate and no matter who you meet there, you can feel that everybody is a part of this family. You literally feel the love! It’s wonderful! Anyway, back to the wines. We tried quite a few wines, my favourites of the tasting being the 2013 Cab Sav, 2013 Visionaire (which I promptly bought as a gift for a friend), and the limited release Cab Franc.

holden manz table setting interior

Loved this table setting.

holden manz cork wood wall

And this wall!!!! OMG.

holden manz chenin blanc white wine

Chenin Blanc deliciousness

After all that tasting, it was finally time for lunch. We were blessed with a beautiful sunny winter’s day and we chose to sit on the terrace overlooking the estate. As I’d already tasted most of the reds, I decided to have a glass of the Chenin Blanc (R55) while we decided on our orders. We also promptly got some homemade bread with the most amazing harissa butter to munch on.

And then it happened. The OMG moments. My sister’s starter arrived, aptly called Textures of Pumpkin: A soup plate with baked butternut cheesecake croquettes, cumin cream cheese, pine nut crumble, and ginger meringue, over which our waiter poured the butternut soup. And it was incredible!!!

And then my starter arrived: Cumin phyllo baked camembert, beetroot, berry & Shiraz compote, pear, rosemary biscotti and glühwein. Not only was this dish beautifully presented, it is probably one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten in my life. For these two dishes alone, we would return in a heartbeat. Hats off Chef Ricardo, and thank you!

holden manz starter dishes


holden manz franschhoek textures of pumpkin starter

Textures of pumpkin

holden manz baked camembert starter

Baked camembert

There was, of course, more food to be had. My sis wanted to try something she never had before and went with the 6-hour braised beef cheeks with white bean & samp cassoulet, chorizo crumbs, oxtail bitter ballen, pecorino water, greens, plum, orange and spice jus. It was incredibly tasty, very soft, and she absolutely loved the bitter ballen.

I went with the citrus, salt & mint salad with poached tomatoes, charred courgettes, crispy artichokes, rosemary, lemon and salt fried seeds. I was glad I chose a lighter salad after my Camembert, and really liked the mix of the citrus freshness and the warm veg. With it, I also had a glass of Chardonnay (R80).

holden manz main dishes at restaurant


holden manz restaurant citrus and mint salad

Citrus and mint salad

holden manz restaurant chocolate dessert

Chocolate goodness

Not wanting our beautiful day to end, my sis decided to have dessert after all. She picked the chocolate one – valrhona rosemary ganache, red fruit, black pepper meringue, buchu shortbread and citrus. An interesting but yummy and not too sweet take on chocolaty goodness. I went with my usual flat white (R25), and was not disappointed.

Holden Manz’s Franschhoek Kitchen’s menu is not very extensive. It fits on to a single page, and you may easily think that limiting. However, we found that every dish is perfectly created, nothing is out of place, and everything is amazing.

The dishes we chose didn’t have individual prices. Instead, the menu was divided into set-menu-style, with the two-course meal priced at R295 and the three-course meal priced at R395.

A huge thank you to everyone at Holden Manz. Your warmth and hospitality made for a perfect day!

For more information on Holden Manz, visit their official website here

Written by Sabine Palfi

Article Date: September 2017