Restaurant Review: Sacred Ground Artisan Bakers and Deli welcome addition to Franschhoek gourmet offering!

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The opening of Sacred Ground Artisan Bakers just over two weeks ago created big excitement in Franschhoek, it being the first artisanal bakery in the village that has been called the Gourmet Capital of South Africa. Sacred Ground is not just a bakery, but also is a deli, a coffee shop, a wine shop, and gourmet sandwichery.

What makes Sacred Ground special is the spacious selection of Deli treats and the very friendly hands-on owners and staff.  Michelle Hewitt from next-door Surrey Homes and Sannette Koopman are partners in the venture and have both been in the shop when I have visited on two occasions, as has Sannette’s husband Heinrich.  Michelle is used to doing home interiors, so it was a natural that she guided the design of Sacred Ground, wooden counters, wood top tables, and wooden chairs with green seating having been used to give the shop an earthy and warm feel. One places one’s order with the super-nice Michelle van Sittert, who is also Sacred Ground’s Tweeter.  Thomas is the head baker, and joined the Sacred Ground team from Zimbali.  He was the Pastry Chef of the Year in 2008.  The staff wear black, with a branded hessian apron.

There is so much to take in when one arrives at Sacred Ground, but the bread selection probably catches one’s attention first, displayed on shelves, and the names and prices are marked.  So, for example, there is olive ciabatta (R22,50), Panini (R7), Sacred Baguette (R10), Ciabatta (R17), French Baguette (R15), Stumpy (R10), Crusty Sourdough (R25), 10% Rye (R25), and Cheesy Baguette (R18).  Cakes and cupcakes are still bought in, but will be baked on the premises in future.  A slice of cake costs R35, and one can choose from Chocolate orange, Cheesecake, Carrot cake, and Red velvet cake.  The cupcake selection comes in different colours, at R15 each. Macaroons cost R8.  There is fudge, biscotti, nougat, panforte made in Betty’s Bay, and slabs of Honest Chocolate.

The shop has a couch seating section for coffees, wines or a beer and a chat, a counter at which one pays and which displays the cake selection, and a large charcuterie fridge.  Fresh food fridges are placed along the walls, alongside the bread selection, and the rest of the space is filled with tables and chairs.  The colourful red and yellow BOS umbrellas attract attention from the main road, and the owners have planted red and yellow plants outside their door to match these colours.

Bread is the foundation of Sacred Ground and the Deli selection, and the food offered on the menu all relate to it.  Surrounding the bread selection is a fine selection of Truckles, Anura, and Dalewood cheeses,  as well as Bocconcini and Fior de Latte. There is a big range of Allée Bleue’s herbs; unbranded unsalted and salted butter; chicken liver paté; duck eggs; Froggit thyme-infused balsamic vinegar; Kloovenberg and Olyfberg olives; Prince Albert and Olyfberg olive oil; Oryx salt and pepper; Bean There coffee;  Dilmah teas; honeys; a selection of craft beers from &Union, including Steph Weiss and Berne; Whalehaven Idiom, as well as Mon Rêve boutique wines, of which the Merlot 2010 has already won a ‘Michael Angelo’ (sic) Double Gold in its first year of launch; and wooden boards, which are also used to bring the food to the tables.  The Charcuterie counter allows one to choose specific cuts of cold meats supplied by a variety of suppliers, including Raith and Gastro Foods, and includes various salamis, black forest ham, coppa ham, parma ham, as well as speciality cheeses, to take home.

The menu is short and sweet, and a blackboard advertises the Daily Specials.  All food is served on paper placed on wooden boards.  Commendable is that Breakfast is served all day.  I ordered The Artisan Egg Mayo (R35) on my first visit, sounding better on the menu than its execution, promising ‘free range egg, mayo and chives on bread of your choice’. The scrambled egg was cold and was drizzled with Froggit balsamic vinegar, which I was not warned about nor wanted.  An alternative ‘Breaking the Fast’ option is ‘Oeufs Bicyclette’, or Eggs on Wheels (R59), ciabatta layered with parma ham, two eggs and mozzarella, topped with hollandaise sauce.  One may choose the bread on which the eggs are served.  One can also order sandwiches throughout the day, with salami or mozzarella (R49), salmon or chicken (R59), or a ‘Sacred Dog’ with a Frankfurter or a Bratwurst (R40).  The Platters look super, a choice of two cold meats and two cheeses costing R 85, and three of each costing R120.

The cappuccino (R14) is made in the flat white style with Bean There beans, but a second order and careful explanation of a dry cappuccino resulted in a perfect cup. The Fair Trade description of the coffee, in its own outlets too, is misleading, as it is not Fairtrade endorsed.  Sacred Ground is licensed, and it is a surprise to see that no Franschhoek wines are stocked.  Hermanus-sourced La Vierge Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Sangiovese style are offered by the glass (R25 – R45) or bottle (R85 – R150) with Whalehaven Idiom (Bordeaux blend) at R280, as well as Paarl-based Mon Rêve wines, at R25 – R45 per glass, and R75 – R250 per bottle for the Merlot.   Pongracz is available by the glass (R45 – R55) or bottle R150 – R180. Pierre Jourdan Cuvee Belle Rose costs R190,  and Krone Borealis Cuvee Brut 2009 is available at R150.

Sacred Ground is a friendly village meeting place, with good service, reasonable prices, a good selection of deli items and excellent breads, as well as cakes and cupcakes, which have been in short supply in the village.  It has added life to The Square, which has not had much traffic since it opened about 18 months ago.

Sacred Ground Artisan Bakers, The Square, Huguenot Street, Franschhoek.  Tel (021) 876-3948.  www.sacredground.co.za Twitter: @SG_Bakery Monday – Sunday 7h00 – 19h00.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

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12 replies on “Restaurant Review: Sacred Ground Artisan Bakers and Deli welcome addition to Franschhoek gourmet offering!”

  1. Thanks Craig.

    I took delivery of 20 of her fabulous cupcakes today, for a big celebration tomorrow.

    Chris

  2. Thank you for the excellent review. I am curious as to why you say: “The Fair Trade description of the coffee, in its own outlets too, is misleading, as it is not Fairtrade endorsed.”
    The coffee served at Sacred Ground is the Ethiopian Sidamo at it is Fairtrade Certified. Sacred Ground also retails the Rwandan Kivu which is also Fairtrade Certified.
    Please could you explain?

  3. Hi Chris

    Here’s hoping you enjoyed the cupcakes, they were made with much love as always, even on these hottest of hot days! 🙂

    Kind Regards,

    Chantelle

  4. Our guests loved your cupcakes Chantelle – thanks for making them with so much love.

    Chris

  5. My apology for overlooking your Comment, and thank you for the reminder.

    When I went to Bean There on Wale Street, the staff emphasised that the ‘Fair Trade’ (spelt like this in the coffee shop) words are written separately, and are not endorsed by Fairtrade the organisation.

    Chris

  6. Hi Chris
    Thanks for the response.
    When “fair trade” is two words it is a description of a way of doing business which is how we at Bean There do attempt to conduct all aspects of our business. “Fairtrade” as one word refers to the certification and can only be used for products and not a business or organization. Therefore, some of our coffees (Rwandan and Ethiopian) are “Certified Fairtrade” but Bean There as a business is “fair trade”. It can be a bit confusing but if you see the Fairtrade logo on a product then it is “Fairtrade Certified”.
    Sarah

  7. I don’t think your business is ‘fair trade’ at all – it is downright misleading Sarah!

    Chris

  8. Why do you say that? What are your reasons? I am curious to know why you feel we are misleading people regarding our fair trade practices and goals.

  9. I did explain to you that the use of ‘fair trade’ at Bean There’ on Wale Street is misleading Sarah!

  10. Well, in that case, I have nothing more to add except that you need to do some research on Fairtrade and on Bean There. Your opinion is misinformed and uneducated and I hope you use the resources available to gain a more accurate understanding of what Fairtrade and fair trade is. For the purposes of your review of Sacred Ground, you have made an incorrect statement regarding the coffee. The coffee you were served and enjoyed is Fairtrade Certified or “endorsed” as you say. It’s a fact and there is absolutely nothing misleading about it. I do hope you take the time to research and gain a better understanding of fair trade.

  11. Thank you for your contribution.

    I have made it very clear that I was referring to the branding in your coffee shop in Wale Street Cape Town! Your staff there alerted me to the misleading issue.

    Chris

Comments are closed.