New chef brings fresh approach to Allée Bleue Bistro

Allée Bleue Bistro from the outside.

An avenue of blue eucalyptus trees greets visitors to the historic Allée Bleue Wine Estate in Franschhoek. Old Cape Dutch buildings are scattered about the area, and peacocks roam freely. At the reinvigorated Allée Bleue Bistro, Chef Beau du Toit is putting the emphasis on fresh and local produce.

The Bistro, conveniently situated at the entrance to the estate, is set in a charming building that boasts two open verandahs overlooking the gardens and play area – ideal for enjoying a lazy lunch on a sunny winelands day. Inside, original art and photographic prints adorn the walls, and an antique stove provides a cozy atmosphere during the cooler winter months. One thing's for sure, a warm welcome is on the menu all year round.

Newly appointed chef, Beau du Toit, brings his effervescent energy to this classic space.

Simplicity and freshness are the other key ingredients he has added to the Allée Bleue Bistro since he started working there at the end of 2014. “Being situated on a working herb and wine farm, and surrounded by local producers … well, it doesn't get any better,” Beau says excitedly.

Herbs are picked in the morning and end up on your plate the same day. Making the most of this bounty of fresh produce from the farm has resulted in simple dishes packed with flavour. “We want our food to be accessible,” Beau enthuses. Allée Bleue’s perfect location at the turn-off from Stellenbosch to Franschhoek adds to this accessibility. In fact, the friendly and decidedly unpretentious atmosphere at the Allée Bleue Bistro is what sets it apart from the rest.

Beau has made a name for himself both locally and internationally. After studying at the Zevenwacht Chef School, he completed an apprenticeship under Bertus Basson and Craig Cormack at All Things Culinary, and went on to become head chef at Basson’s Overture Restaurant, a multiple award-winning establishment in the Stellenbosch Winelands. After a stint in London as chef de partie for the Michelin starred David Thompson Thai restaurant, Nahm, Beau returned inspired. Today his love for local fare as well as expert ability in flavour combinations stands him in excellent stead in his new position as Head Chef at the Allée Bleue Bistro.

The menu has had a complete makeover, it is now much more compact, and makes the most of fresh, seasonal ingredients. As a tempting starter, each table gets a fresh garden salad of leaves picked that morning, sprinkled with sea salt, a few shavings of parmesan and a dash of mustard vinaigrette adding a tangy aspect. Served alongside delicious farm bread, it's tempting to fill up on this alone!

The small but well-formed menu offers breakfast and lunch. Fresh farm eggs are poached to perfection, served with king oyster mushrooms and baked beans. Or opt for the homemade granola with seasonal fruits and yoghurt.

For lunch, there are light as well as hearty options. Every day sees a different vegetarian special, made from the produce that is delivered that day. The likes of cold carrot soup have featured, with a wonderful thick purée of carrot served with a rainbow of perfectly roasted carrots and micro-herbs for added freshness. The calamari starter offers plump calamari tubes stuffed with fresh herb pesto and served with zesty tartar sauce; while the hake stir-fry with its sour tamarind dressing, sweet coconut rice and crispy fried ginger is a nod to Beau’s international experience at Nahm restaurant.

Robust dishes are also on offer; think tender pulled pork pie served on creamy mash with roast veg of the day; or  beef sirloin, venison and 'skaapstertjie' burger served with handmade sweet potato chips.

All Allée Bleue estate wines are available at the Bistro, well-priced and by-the-glass too. A new introduction, adding to the relaxed bistro feel, is a monthly featured craft beer. A local brewery is invited to promote their craft beer at the estate, a launch event is held on the first Saturday of each month, and then this beer is available on tap for the remainder of that month. Beau even uses some of the beer in his dishes, and recently created a Black Dog Stout ice cream – providing a refreshingly bitter and creamy end to a meal. The crème caramel, however, is a showstopper dessert, with dark caramel, seasonal stone fruit and sable biscuit sit on the verandah while kids enjoy the jungle gyms. Even the local farmers from the area are regulars for breakfast: “Everyone orders the vanilla cinnamon French toast with syrup and bacon!” Beau (left) jokes. He opts for a hands-on approach, often serving diners himself to get involved as much as possible with the experience at the Bistro.

To inspire diners to take a touch of Allée Bleue home, Beau’s handmade products such as smoked olives, pickled chillies and Allée Bleue olive oil, as well as the small potted herb centerpieces on each table, are all for sale at the Bistro!

Allée Bleue is situated at the intersection of the R45 and R310. More information about the farm is available on its website Allée Bleue can also be found on Twitter @AlleeBleue, and Facebook. For more details, phone 021 874 1021.