Keep calm and Curry on – Marigold Restaurant

In the heart of Franschhoek town centre is a new HOT spot that is the reason why culture and old world flare pumps through the very veins of the Franschhoek Valley and I am pretty sure it has to do with the heat that pumps through Head Chef Vanie Padayachee’s kitchen doors. The incredibly talented seasoned Chef hails from Durban and after years of working behind and building the famous Le Quartier Français culinary team, she has opened up her doors to an incredibly authentic close to her heart establishment..and you can taste it in EVERYTHING on the menu!

The striking exterior of Marigold is a pop of orange from the pedestrians walk along the main road. The incredibly detailed shutters funnel the most gorgeous ambient light into the restaurant as if you boarded a train and were transported to a restaurant along the ancient landmarks of India. If you close your eyes and take a deep breath you can almost feel as though your passport has a new stamp in it.  

The interior is filled with touches of the timeless Art that is seen in various establishment in Franschhoek, particularly the ceramics on the wall by Johannes Scott, adds gorgeous pops of colour and details to the restaurant. With gold, brown and orange as the base for many details authentically Indian (curry, naan, dahl etc) this same pattern has been seamlessly brought into the restaurant’s interior. As the light beams in and touches each glass as if the Marigold flower itself has been painted on the walls. 

The restaurant opened at 12pm and by 12:10pm there were six or seven tables filled up with locals that have become furniture in this beloved gem of Franschhoek. 

With a variety of delicious items on the menu, it was very helpful to have each person working at the restaurant extremely knowledgeable about the menu. Chef Vanie explains that each of the staff were taught the language to ensure that pronunciation was correct.   

Having travelled extensively in and around the East I am fairly accustomed to the flavours, tastes and spice that each dish holds. Most South African Indian restaurants focus on spiciness which often masks flavour. I can honestly say that this has got to be the FAVOURITE EASTERN CUISINE RESTAURANT that I have ever been too.

There are no menu fillers which waste space because they are never ordered. The menu is a true reflection of Chef Vanies passion for each and every ingredient used on the plate. Everything is made from scratch and if Chef Vanie could she would have lemon trees growing in the kitchen. Preserved lemon sambals, yoghurt dips, raitas and more are all the product of an absolute passion and EVERYONE IS NOTICING!

Sitting staring at the menu for several minutes must have shown the beaming look of pure confusion of what we wanted to order coupled with the fear of missing out on something if we didn’t get to try it. The restaurant Manger Clement recommended they put together a sharing platter. 

Introducing this master piece…

With bite sized pieces that offered flavour across each of the protein sources: fish, chicken and vegetarian…we were left speechless as to the flavour (not heat) that emulated from this dish. 

After a few minutes digestion the meal and directing each component that made it as incredible as it was, we sipped on our perfectly complimenting wine and watched as more locals flooded in. At 1:30pm on a Thursday afternoon, I was impressed but on the other hand knew that if I was a local I would have a table engraved with my name that I would visit at least twice a week. 

A Thali was brought out from the kitchen and brought to our table. With us managing to lift our jaws from the floor, we dived into what can only be described as pure heaven in a metal tin. 

Every single one of the flavours in the thali that was presented to us had a purpose and reason for being there without conflicting with any other dish it shared in that beautifully crafter metal circle. My favourite was the marsala prawn, palak paneer, mutton rogan josh…who am I even kidding trying to choose…

The cherry on the top…or the coriander on the top of a perfectly seasoned curry had to be the freshly made Indian breads. Steaming hot straight from the tandoori oven, broken open and ready to scoop up act of the curries. Butter, garlic or stuffed naans, tandoori roti’s or Laccha Paratha…all I can say is good luck choosing. 

A finger bowl was definitely in order after the absolute feast that had just taken place. And just as my eye lids started feeling heavy and I was about to unbutton the top button of my jeans, I was given the dessert menu and told I would really regret it if I didn’t order one of the classics. I’m so glad I listened. 

The very usual options are like no other restaurant menu and it was delightfully refreshing and light after a full curry course. Again I could decided but Clement came to the rescue again, offering his expert opinion of what would compliment everything we had just consumed. We indulged in the Phirni – A wonderful, creamy dessert of ground rice with mango and the Tandoor-Baked Pineapple and Saffron Crumble with Coconut and Fennel Seed Kulfi – A fragrant crumble made with saffron-flavoured sweet pineapple, roasted in the tandoor, and served with coconut and fennel seed ice cream. 

And before we rolled out of there…we received a parting gift of traditional fennel sweets. The perfect end to the meal as we heard ourselves up for a very VERY leisurely stroll back to our accommodation. A huge Thank you to Chef Vanie and her team for looking after us and I am excited to visit again soon…preferably fasting for 2 days before haha. 

Address: Heritage Square, 9 Huguenot Street, Franschhoek 7690, Western Cape, South Africa

Phone: +27 (0)21 876 8970

GPS coordinates: 33°54’47” S 19°07’19” E

Opening hours:

May to October: 12h00–14h30 & 18h00–21h00

November to April: 12h00–14h30 & 18h00–22h00

Although I was invited to review Marigold, the views and opinions are my own. Every photograph was taken for the exclusive use of my blog to showcase the meal that was thoroughly enjoyed at the restaurant. 

Megan Pedro
Megan Pedro

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