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An accent on all the right food groups

Smoked salmon and cream cheese on ciabatta with a side salad and chips.

Smoked salmon and cream cheese on ciabatta with a side salad and chips.

Published Apr 30, 2022

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Pépère Café

Where: Harrington House, 16 Hilton College Road, Hilton

Call: 072 395 9924

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Open: Tuesday to Saturday 9am-3.30pm, Saturday to Sunday 9am- 2pm

Accents for us South Africans can be quite intimidating. Let’s face it, we often don’t know how to pronounce words that contain them and we rarely use them except, as we were taught way back in Afrikaans 101, not to leave the two dots off hoërskool because it became something else altogether.

Well, here we had two accents, going in two different directions, like a perfect pair of eyebrows. But there is no reason to be intimidated. In fact Pépère is a charming farmhouse eatery set in an old stone building out in the country. It was warmly welcoming. The café which has been open almost a year was recommended to me by one of the Hilton ladies who lunch there.

We soon discovered that the name is a French colloquial name for grandfather, so think more oupa or gramps than grandad, and conjures up all the good things about spending holidays out in the country with grandparents. And as for its pronunciation, it’s “pay pehr”.

Mom’s schoolgirl French made sure she got the sounds right although she battled with the meaning. She worked out that père is father, but didn’t find the grander version.

Smoked salmon and cream cheese on ciabatta with a side salad and chips.

It’s a lovely cosy space with Persian carpets on the floor and old pictures and maps on the wall. There’s a grand piano and fireplace and it all spills out on to a large terrace with a decidedly French provincial feel. Everything oupa would approve of.

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Chef Lucas Enslin has kept the menu fairly simple, but there’s plenty here that is of interest.

There are some all-day breakfasts that include a range of Benedicts ‒ mushroom, bacon or smoked salmon ‒ but also a potato brekkie with garlic and rosemary sautéed potatoes, roast rosa tomatoes, caramelised onions, poached eggs and harissa hollandaise. The bacon, banana and berry French toast with mascarpone tempted even for an early lunch, as did the Asian eggs with toasted sesame seeds, spring onion, chilli and hoisin sauce.

There is a page of open sandwiches which can also be prepared as wraps or salad. One takes in Brie, cranberries, apple and bacon; another is a deconstructed falafel with hummus and tzatziki. There’s the Queen Elizabeth, which is Coronation chicken. Mom opted for the Full Sail (R140) which was simply beautiful to look at. This was smoked salmon and cream cheese on good ciabatta toast, with an interesting salad that included baby cherry tomatoes and pumpkin and sesame seeds. It came with a basket of good crisp chips. She was more than happy.

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The lunch menu offers a selection of pastas, a burger to which you could add bacon, Brie, cheddar or sauce of the day, a chicken prego burger and chicken schnitzel. The burgers were certainly the attraction at a large table of children on the terrace outside, their parents relaxing at the neighbouring table.

Baked cheesecake with nastergal sauce.
Poached pear in honey and wine sauce.

There are also a few lunch specials chalked on the board at the entrance, which we unfortunately missed coming in the side entrance.

I certainly would have tried the biltong and blue cheese soup with, if memory serves me correctly, either onion or garlic oil. And might have contemplated the oxtail potjie on creamy Parmesan polenta, but my eye settled on asparagus ravioli (R120) in a rich creamy Parmesan sauce. With a sprinkling of black pepper it was a beautiful and simple dish. I enjoyed it immensely.

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But we would have dessert. Mom fancied the London baked cheesecake with nastergal (a type of sour berry) preserve (R70) which I enjoyed although she was critical of the base. I opted for another simple but beautiful dessert of poached pear in honey and red wine sauce (R65). The coffees were excellent. We left well satisfied for a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat at Hilton College.

Pépère are also open every second Friday evening for a multi-course dinner tasting menu. Consult their Facebook page for details.

Food: 4

Service: 3 ½

Ambience: 4

The Bill: R496 (including a glass of wine)

The Independent on Saturday

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