Lunch date at French Toast Café, Hartbeespoort
21 Nov 2018 LIFESTYLE
By: Natasha Archary
I can’t remember how many dates I’ve had in Hartbeespoort this year, which makes me believe that the picturesque setting is romance brought to life. There’s no doubt about it, our country has some pretty amazing scenic routes for you to take a road trip with your love.
The destination for this day date, the French Toast Café in Hartbeespoort, is the ideal place for a quick escape from the city. Approximately 45 minutes from Randburg, the drive is totally doable with minimal traffic en-route.
French Toast Café sets a new benchmark
It’s a pity I only found out about the quaint French style café so late in the year. Had I known about the place at the start of the year, this is where I would have begun my dating series.
Established in 2014, French Toast was the brainchild of Paul Kruger, a South African movie maker/producer. You may have heard about the popular Liefling and Pretville movies that were local favourites and some of the biggest Afrikaans movies to have come out of the country.
The café was developed as a set for the movie French Toast. The coffee café was the official bar in the film, which is in Montmarte, Paris. In the movie, it is known as Café Alexandre.
It is the first movie production set to be open to the public and now operates as a restaurant seven days a week, with a Parisian influenced patisserie added to the establishment.
Setting the scene for lovers
Walking the cobbled path that leads to the café, you will mistake yourself for being on the sidewalk of Montmarte, Paris, and you’ll forget that you’re only a few minutes outside of Johannesburg.
Romantic would be an understatement, with a number of couples affectionately kissing and holding hands, it was heartwarming to see love alive. There’s also a 12.5m Eiffel Tower replica and a “lock bridge” much like Paris used to have.
The bridge over the Seine River in Paris, was a tourist attraction for years, with couples attaching engraved padlocks onto the bridge and tossing the keys into the Seine. It was seen as a symbolic way to eternaliae their love. The city has since removed all locks in a bid to revamp degrading structures.
The good news if you weren’t able to attach a lock in Paris, you can do so in “Little Paris”, as French Toast Café is popularly known by patrons.
French toast anyone?
You will not find a single French fry on offer at the French Toast Café, quite possibly because they did not actually originate in France. Nope, everyone knows the crispy golden, deep fried spuds were actually first introduced to the world by Belgium.
Instead you will find some of the best French Toast in all of South Africa at Little Paris. All the meals have a French Toast element to them in some way. There are no burger buns or hot dog rolls, non monsieur (no sir), French Toast is what you go to Little Paris for and trust me it is all you need to try.
I had the Pain Dore’ au Fillet de Boeuf et confit d’oignions/ beeshaas met ure marmalade en bloukaassous. Golden fried French Toast topped with medium rare beef fillet, red onion marmalade, tomato salsa and a bluecheese sauce. I loved that all the mains are served with a salad.
My partner, being the more adventurous diner between us opted for the Eiffel burger. A towering stack of French Toast with crisp bacon, chicken fillet or beef patties, cheese and battered onion rings all served with veggie fries.
There is a kiddies menu with hotdogs, burgers and French toast stack so you are more than welcome to visit with your little ones for a family outing. The kids will love the place and have loads to explore.
Get there early
If you do take the road trip, please get there early. The kitchen does try to accommodate guests but Paul did let us in on the fact that they get so busy on the weekends, it’s insane. You don’t want to drive there only to have to wait a long time to get a table.
Guests enjoy meals and wines at their leisure because romance has no time limitation so keep that in mind when planning your day at the café.
Locks and engraving is done at the café and you honestly can spend the whole day chilling on the bench looking at the little pond that surrounds the Eiffel structure.
I learned that the patisserie opens on the weekends only and I need to get there early on a Sunday morning to enjoy fresh baked croissants and macrons.
There’s no way you visit the French Toast Café once and never make a return. I love the place, my partner thought it was cool and he enjoyed the relaxed outdoor dining experience as much as I did, so we’ll be back for sure.