Restaurant Review: Bosman’s Lunch Special amazing value!


We wrote earlier this year that Bosman’s, and the Grande Roche hotel with it, had shaken off its stiff five star hotel image, and had become friendlier. A return visit to this Eat Out Top 10 restaurant earlier this week, to try the recently introduced Lunch Special, confirmed that this is still the case, and found Bosman’s to be unbelievable value, designed to attract locals back into the Grande Roche, and to change the perception that it is expensive.

New GM Anja Bosken came to greet me, on crutches, due to a recent knee operation, and we discussed the reception I received at the security boom, the lady on duty asking aggressively why I was there (between 1 – 2 pm one would assume it is for lunch) and then said she had to check if she could let me in!   Every time I come to the Grande Roche, there is an issue with the outsourced security.  Ms Bosken had just come out of a security meeting, and as the ‘new broom’, she is trying to make changes one step at a time.   A very friendly new Restaurant Manager is Nazlie Barnard, who ran the Cape Malay restaurant at the Cellars Hohenhort, and Zachary’s at Pezula, and she happened to be in the parking area, greeted me, and welcomed me by my surname.  This was spoilt by the waitress who asked me if I would be eating, after I sat at one of the tables prepared for lunch on the outside terrace, on a gloriously sunny winter’s day!  When I told her that I was just sitting there to look at the view, she accepted my answer, and walked away, without bringing a menu.   I received the nicely presented Grande Roche (no Bosman’s branding) A5 menu with gold ribbon from Nazlie, and the waitress took the marble-look underplate away from the place setting.  It is odd that they do that, as it looks really nice.  A fish knife and a spoon was added for the first course, and the waitress stretched across to put down a fork, despite having enough space to put it down from the left.  A rather ordinary bread plate of small slices of French baguette, ciabatta, rye bread, and a sesame seed roll (I missed a slice of seedloaf) was offered with butter (I miss their choice of three spreads), Tokara olive oil, and WMF salt and pepper grinders.  

In the last month, the new Bosman’s lunch special has been launched, costing an unbelievably low R120 for two courses, and R155 for three.  When paired with wine, the 2-course lunch costs R210, and R290 for the three courses.  What is commendable is that it will continue throughout summer, until April, with the exception of the Christmas – New Year period. For starters, one can choose Asian-flavoured butternut soup and tuna springrolls (paired with 2009 False Bay Chenin Blanc), or a Mediteranean vegetable salad with kabeljou and aceto balsamico (paired with a 2008 Crios Bride Sauvignon Blanc).  For the main course one of the options is Veal Osso Bucco with garlic potato mash and green bean cassoulet (paired with 2005 Rainbow’s End Shiraz). The Seafood tagliatelle was served with kingklip, cob, salmon trout, a prawn, and seafood foam, paired with a 2005 Rijk’s Semillon, the fish types not being specified on the menu, and some were different to what I was told verbally.  Chef Roland Gorgosilich has a good hand with seafood, not over-complicating his fish dishes, but I find his salt hand too heavy, it not being the first time that I have experienced this.  For dessert I chose the Espresso panna cotta, which was served with a berry confit (this is the description on the menu, but I liked the waiter’s wording of it being a ‘fruit ragout’) and shortbread sticks, beautifully presented.  The panna cotta was very firm and creamy, and had a rich strong coffee taste. The wine pairing for this dessert was a 2007 Stellenrust Chenin D’Muscat, of which Sommelier Josephine Gutentoft brought me a glassful, with the compliments of Ms Bosken, to make up for the ‘booming’ reception. The alternative dessert choice was a Banana Chocolate spring roll and chocolate ganache, paired with a 2008 Buitenverwachting 1769 Natural Sweet wine.  I was not asked about coffee after the meal. 

The view from the Grande Roche terrace onto the vineyards surrounding the hotel estate, and the Paarl mountains, is wonderful.  The food is good, except for the saltiness, and the lunch is one of the best value offerings on our Winter Restaurant Specials list.  I have no doubt that Ms Bosken will fix the security boom staff interaction issue, and Nazlie has to sharpen the waiter training.  I will be back to try the other options on the Specials menu, and I am sure that Chef Roland will make changes to it over the next seven months, to keep it fresh.

Bosman’s Restaurant at Grande Roche, Plantasie Street, Paarl.  Tel (021) 863-5100.  (The website does not list the Lunch special, has very few food photographs in its Image Gallery, and does not have photographs of lunching on the terrace).   Twitter: @Grande_Roche

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio:  Twitter:@WhaleCottage

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10 replies on “Restaurant Review: Bosman’s Lunch Special amazing value!”

  1. Brandon Nel says:

    I am curious as to why you could not simply reply “yes” when asked if you were there to eat. If she had simply brought you a menu, I can just imagine your horror about the presumption of the waitress. Do you think that these type of comments make you sound petty or do you think the readership identifies/agrees with you or do you just not care?

    We all want good service from restaurants but there is also a responsibility on diners to be polite and not be facetious.

  2. Chris von Ulmenstein says:

    Thank you for your comment Brandon.

    I was severly disturbed about the rudeness at the boom, and was sarcastic to the waitress when she asked me what I thought was a completely stupid question in general, but even more so for a five-star hotel and Top 10 restaurant. This waitress should not be serving any customers yet, as the stretching etc. showed that she probably is very new at Bosman’s.


  3. Brandon says:

    Mm – you seem to have more than your fair share of negative “boom” experiences.

    Glad to see the acknowledgement that you were sarcastic – a human reaction when we feel irritated but still one lacking in basic courtesy.

    I seem to recall a comment about a waiter or waitress bringing a credit card machine with a bill and therefore being presumptuous about the form of payment. If you look for a problem you will inevitably find one.

  4. Chris von Ulmenstein says:

    I disagree Brandon – a restaurant of that stature must employ staff that are of a quality reflecting their clientele. Bosman’s usually has a number of waiters from Germany, but none were to be seen – perhaps they will be back in summer.

    Thanks for highlighting the typo.


  5. Ryan says:

    ” a restaurant of that stature must employ staff that are of a quality reflecting their clientele.”

    -R155 for 3 courses, I’m pretty convinced the staff on duty were reflective of the calibre of guest expected.

  6. Chris von Ulmenstein says:

    You are funny Ryan – are you saying that if ‘cheapskates’ come to try out the Bosman’s special, then they will get the poor service they deserve??!!

    Surely Bosman’s is a brand, being a Top 10 restaurant in a 5-star hotel, that must preserve its brand reputation, no matter how attractive it makes its pricing!Offering poor service is contrary to this brand quality.


  7. Ryan says:

    Come now Chris, a waitress asking if you are joining them for lunch hardly classes as “poor” service.Even if she did lean across you. Your reviews always address the “technical details” of service, often ignoring the genuine hospitality and care that your server gave you.Likewise, I would imagine that if a South African arrived at a French run dining room in a Michelin/5star establishment in europe they would in all likelyhood comment on how dour and unfriendly the servers were, completely oblivious to the dedication,accuracy and attention to detail that goes into a “michelin calibre” service.

    From my experience, italians and of late, the brits are the best at getting the balance right.

    nonetheless, if you seriously expect your German Maitre’d and Sommolier service in the winter months at r155 for 3 courses. I think you’ve had too much syrah this weekend.

  8. Chris von Ulmenstein says:

    Hi Ryan

    Sadly, no Syrah this weekend, as we are fully booked in Camps Bay, and lots of blogging to be done!

    I’ll say it again – it was a dumb question to be asked if one is having lunch when you sit down at a table laid for lunch, no matter how much or little the lunch costs. There was no redeeming factor in the service of the waitress – she was not Bosman’s quality in any respect.

    The (Swedish but locally based)sommelier Josephine Gutentoft was on duty. Waitrons from Germany have been used in season.


  9. Brandon Nel says:

    In relation to the waiters from Germany, surely Bosman’s “should be proudly Cape Town, and even more so Proudly” Paarl and “if it is not capable of handling the” dining requirements “of Cape Town, and has to ‘import’” waitrons from Germany “with no particularly special credentials” then they need rethink their strategy.

    “I am proud of my city and country, and I am sure that a Capetonian, if not South African” waitron, “could have done the job, probably for far less payment.”

  10. Chris von Ulmenstein says:

    Dear Brandon

    I cannot speak for Bosman’s/Grande Roche, but the hotel is geared to the German market, and has a German owner, and now a German MD too. There are not many locals that speak German. One of the local staff made a point of speaking to me in German only, but he was not the waiter I was describing. The German staff may be young persons coming to do an apprenticeship as part of their hospitality training in Germany, both in the kitchen (with a German chef) and in the restaurant.

    Bosman’s has been ‘sharing’ staff with Reuben’s Franschhoek for the past few years (Josephine Gutentoft and another wine ambassador came from Reuben’s, while Reuben’s manager Raymond came from Bosman’s). Bosman’s always had excellent service, and the international staff added to this level. It is not there at the moment.


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