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Putting the ‘barn’ back into the Foodbarn

Online since 28.06.2017 • Filed under Professions - Interior Design • From Issue 21 page(s) 54-56
Putting the ‘barn’ back into the Foodbarn

The Foodbarn, located in Cape Town ‘village’ suburb of Noordhoek, has become an icon in South Africa’s casual dining circles.

‘We’re not in the game of being a top-end restaurant, but we are serious about great food and good service – casual fine dining in the heart of the village’, says Franck Dangereux, chef and co-owner. Indeed, as founding chef of one of the country’s top restaurants La Colombe, Franck should know what he is talking about.

Ten years ago, after Franck left La Colombe, he and business partner Pete de Bruin, conceived a project that would give them the much-needed family time that their respective careers as leading chef and business consultant would allow. ‘The Foodbarn is somewhat edgy, but the village development defines who we are and what we can be. In the end we are inside a barn – but an elegant one’, he says.

Their restaurant is located within the precincts of the Noordhoek Farm Village, a tourist and family recreational hotspot of note. ‘The Village’, as it is affectionately known, was developed by Jeremy Wiley and the De Goede Hoop Trust, later sold to a consortium of local investors which include Franck and Pete themselves. It’s a child- and pet-friendly tourism destination during the holiday season; a tranquil lunch breakaway on a busy day when the Village is pumping with visitors at the more casual venues.

Under Franck’s hand, the barn has recently been given an interior makeover. Franck, as an undisputed creative, tells us: ‘I’ve got a strong sense of what I like’. Significantly, he and Pete chose not to use a design professional but to extend their creative vision and skills beyond the kitchen. Admittedly, not the first time that they, together with Franck’s wife Sam, have jointly undertaken interior design, but surely this one makes the best statement of all: simplicity. What impresses To Builds editor greatly is that the ‘R’ elements of refuse, reduce, reuse, repurpose and recycle are all present in this redesign. Not a scrap of material wasted.

This applies right down to the floor, where the copper and steel plate offcuts from the bar counter were repurposed as floor tiles to replace sections of tile from the original floor, which was reused. ‘The wood from the two mezzanine floors which were demolished was sold to be converted into blackboards and picture frames’, adds Franck.


Franck says that they believe that the ‘barn’ feeling has now been restored to the Foodbarn. In former years, the beautiful thatch roof was concealed from diners by two half mezzanine floors on either side of the elongated building. These have been removed, resulting in a radical improvement in acoustics. ‘Diners, especially intimate tables for two, have commented how noisy it was when the restaurant was busy. Pete, Sam and I took some professional advice here and on suggestion we removed these half floors,’ Franck explains.

Not only are the acoustics remarkably better, but a bonus is the unencumbered view of the underside of the beautiful thatch roof. Soft sunlight streams through the gable windows and provides the room with ambience.

The main entrance has been moved from the centre of the building to the northern face.

Lamps, heating and bar centrepiece

Aurora lighting supplied imported Italian lampshades that hang over the bar counter and make a strong statement. The bar counter surface, with its edging, were fashioned from raw slate and copper. A free-standing gas fireplace, reused from the previous makeover, can be moved throughout the restaurant and adds considerable ambience for diners.

Pièce de résistance – ‘Ambrosia’ debuts at the Foodbarn

Undoubtedly this honour goes to the Robin Sprong wallpaper which was custom-designed for the Foodbarn by Room 13, a boutique design studio based in Cape Town. The concept was strategised by sisters Nina and Michelle van Reenen, Franck, Sam and Pete over lunch at the Foodbarn and is simply stunning.

‘Room 13 Collection’s latest design, Ambrosia, means ‘food of the gods’. We could not ask for it to be installed in a more fitting place than the revamped Foodbarn in Noordhoek. We met with chef Franck Dangereux for a delicious lunch. Inspired by his love for food, we were driven to create this new design, composed of edible botanicals such as artichokes, pomegranates, star anise, string beans and a variety of herbs. The design is now commercially available as wallpapers and textiles,’ says Michelle. To highlight the wallpaper, the walls of the barn, formerly blue, have been painted plain white and the effect is brilliant – especially when sunlight filters through the north-facing gable window at lunchtime. Patrons also have the benefit of fully refurbished loakrooms. The renovated Foodbarn is an excellent example of how a passion for creating good food can lead to a simple, cost effective, yet well-conceived redesign of a great restaurant interior by its owner.

The Foodbarn


Room 13


Issue 21

Issue 21

July 2017

This article was featured on page 54-56 of
To Build Magazine Issue 21.

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