A new breeze is in the air; the herald of spring. But there’s something else too and it’s called Eleven. Eleven – the twin of perfect balance and a new sensory experience; Eleven – a culinary exploration and incomparable original soon to be at the heart of South Africa’s gastronomic capital.
For some, eleven is the mystical character of spiritual awakening. Indeed, this is the underscoring of a dream now made reality by globe-trotting chef-proprietor Ryan Shell and the team at Ōku and Yama restaurants in Franschhoek.
Taking its name from the address on the historic town’s main road of Huguenot Street, Eleven will offer global contemporary cuisine inspired by big themes. Here, in a chic, relaxed setting, industrial design employing wood, raw brick and burnt copper melds with elements of artistic finesse. Furniture made by Cape artisans talks of heritage infusing the contemporary.
“Eleven is the culmination of a dream,” says Ryan. “It embodies something completely new for Franschhoek – a town I’ve really come to love. When the prominent location at the address became available, I knew we had to jump and make the dream a reality.”
The restaurant is a concept inspired by the sum of Ryan’s experience gathered at premier eateries in the UK and several of Southern Africa’s five-star properties including top restaurants of the Cape.
It will be the third in Franschhoek undertaken by the team behind pioneering Asian restaurants – Ōku and Yama Asian Eatery, which opened in 2020 to widespread acclaim. On TripAdvisor, both Ōku and Yama hold a rating of 5/5.
Eleven is situated a very short distance from both, at a high street junction renowned for having been home over the years to a string of Franschhoek’s defining restaurants.
All have contributed to the town’s reputation as a destination of gastronomic excellence for food and wine. Franschhoek is situated less than one hour’s drive east of Cape Town, arguably through the most scenic part of the Cape Winelands.
Beyond his latest enterprises, Ryan is no stranger in these parts. He counts his work under celebrated colleague Margot Janse at Le Quartier Français as among his most formative years, and he headed the restaurant at Haute Cabrière for a time.
And it is at Eleven that his personal experience now blends – as twin – with that of the team to present a concise selection of small plates with a hyper-seasonal approach to ingredients.
“I believe our chosen format creates a most interesting and diverse dining experience that will really showcase locally foraged ingredients in an environmentally sustainable way,” says Ryan.
A delectable menu is in the offing and will be one in constant lockstep with the seasons. The first line-up will include such delights as truffled goats’ cheese served with pickled beets, citrus gel and walnut soil; and, smoked springbok tartare with egg yolk raisin and caper puree.
A dish of parmesan gnocchi is elevated in partnership with aubergine, pine nuts, rocket and tomato aioli while a prawn tortellini just radiates flavour in a bacon velouté with peas and basil.
Capitalising on winter’s delights, there’s oxtail risotto served with mascarpone, apple crackling and a perfect dash of lime oil. Furthermore, there are expressions of slow roasted pumpkin (with couscous, orange, burnt onion and gorgonzola); poached Cape bream, with fennel, saffron and vanilla; and, braised Angus brisket with truffled pomme puree, pickled cabbage and buchu jus.
Dessert presents more delight – and impossible choices – of a salted chocolate Cremeux; a lemon thyme panna cotta; or whipped brie, served with pecan nuts, tonka bean and caramelised pineapple.
Eleven’s wine list receives the same curated treatment, further threading the needle of diversity that runs throughout the experience. Its cornerstones are Franschhoek wineries and lesser-known and interesting South African expressions, alongside other Cape favourites.
In all, Eleven promises to be that very awakening of senses, and its own herald of new enlightenment to come.
To join the early-bird reservations list, send an email to email@example.com. Members of this wait list will be notified as soon as bookings open.