Entries tagged with “Bree Street”.
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Sunday 24th November 2013 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
The Western Cape province introduced tough new cycling legislation earlier this week, aimed at better behaviour by both cyclists and motorists on the roads of Cape Town and the province. Other than newspaper coverage this week, there has been no communication to Western Cape residents, nor to tourists arriving from other provinces and from overseas.
The Western Cape Provincial Road Traffic Administration Act 2012 (Act 6 of 2012): Safety of Cyclists Regulations, 2013, places the following duties on motorists:
* keep a distance of 1 meter from a cyclist (no longer 1,5 meters as initially recommended)
* must pass a cyclist carefully, and are allowed to drive over a solid line into an oncoming lane to keep the specified distance from the cyclists, but only if there is no oncoming traffic (this sounds like a dangerous relaxation of the law, which in essence means that the motorist must give way, and that (more…)
Sunday 15th September 2013 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
On Thursday the massive new La Parada Bar da Tapas opened on Bree Street, the second outlet with this brand name in the Harbour House group. It is a restaurant and bar that will attract custom due to the extraordinarily low prices of its food and beverages, in a block that now includes Africa Café, Bistrot Bizerca, HQ, Awestruck, Simply Asia, The House of Machines, &Union, and Birds Boutique Café. La Parada means stop or standstill, a clever name for one to break away from a busy day, even though one can imagine that it will become very noisy as it becomes popular due to its low prices.
La Parada is in a building that has been extensively renovated, and La Parada has taken the ground floor. A night club is set to open in the basement in two weeks, I was told by a waiter, and a glass floor in one section will attract attention to what will be happening below. One cannot help but notice the restaurant on Bree Street, diagonally opposite &Union, as it has windows opening along almost all of the street frontage, with counter seating inside and outside. It was very cold yesterday, and there was no place to hide from the cold wind inside the (more…)
Sunday 1st September 2013 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
The House of Machines opened on Monday in a pedestrian lane on Shortmarket Street, and promises to be a good coffee spot as a start, as its co-owner Brad Armitage was a co-owner of Vida e Caffè when it first opened. We found a motorcycle shop discreetly positioned at the back of the outlet, and experienced a vibrant coffee shop, bar, and light snack restaurant with very friendly and attentive service.
The building dates back to the 1890s and has housed a bar, a restaurant, a workshop for furniture designer Gregor Jenkin, and most recently a yacht design company. All three the co-owners designed the interior. It is dominated by a massive black bar/serving counter, with wooden table counters attached to the wall at which one sits on signal red (not Vida red, as I joked with Brad!) stools. Each table can seat up to four comfortably, and has a glass jar with Bakers & Chef cutlery, and Natural salt and pepper grinders. Beautiful ceiling beams and weathered cement floors have been left as is. The seating wall is covered with a collection of photographs of the three co-owners with their bikes, on their visit to the USA, which they undertook to obtain ideas and inspiration for their new venture. Paul van der Spuy is one of the owners, who loves coffee shops, is a men’s fashion designer who owns Blue Collar White Collar, is the unofficial ‘Mayor of Cape (more…)
Thursday 2nd May 2013 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
I never experienced Cheyne’s when it operated from a small space on Bree Street after the World Cup, but was very impressed when I sampled Chef Cheyne Morrisby’s cooking at the Franschhoek Kitchen at Holden Manz. Now Capetonians can enjoy Chef Cheyne’s Australasian-infused South African cuisine in Hout Bay.
Having only opened five days ago, Cheyne’s was already fully booked for lunch yesterday, all customers choosing to sit outside on a lovely sunny autumn day. All the inside furniture was taken outside, so it is difficult to judge what the restaurant will look like when it is set up inside. Comfortable cream chairs are set at white topped tables, without tablecloths, but with material serviettes, salt and pepper grinders, Fortis Hotelware cutlery, and good glassware. A smallish sign on the Pam Arlene Place building is the only indication of where the new restaurant is, but the tables filled with happy diners attract attention of the traffic passing by. About thirty diners can be accommodated at this stage, Chef Cheyne only launching the restaurant officially later this month.
It is heartening to see Chef Cheyne with his trademark cap in the kitchen, being absolutely hands-on, at the cost of regular customer contact, but it was impressive that Chef Cheyne did come to greet each table. I overheard a table debating Cheyne’s name and how to pronounce it. Chef Cheyne is Cape Town born, worked at Blues for two years, and a planned one year job in London became an eleven year one, working at the Conran Group restaurants. In this time he cooked for Kate Moss, Kylie Mynogue, and Robbie Williams. He traveled to the East, including Thailand and Indonesia, and he said that his cooking style is that of the Pacific Rim. He loves their cooking methods, their simple approach to ingredients, and keeping food simple, fresh, clean; and uncomplicated. They use base flavours to give food a good foundation. He decided to return to Cape Town with his family, wanting them to ‘feel’ Africa, and also wanting to give back to his home country. He has two waiters, Simon being an ex-advertising industry executive, having worked at a post-production company. He wanted to switch career direction to work in a more social environment. Confident Clayton worked with Cheyne’s at his restaurant on Bree Street, whereafter he went to The Roundhouse, and then followed Chef PJ Vadas to Camphors at Vergelegen. The traveling to Somerset West became too much for him, and when he received Chef Cheyne’s call, he decided to return to work with his old boss again.
The menu is printed on brown board and will be changed monthly. It is attached to a clipboard with a small winelist. It carries an introduction by Chef Cheyne, describing his approach to cuisine: ‘I am passionate about influences and unique flavours from the Pan Asian/Pacific Rim region that stretches across South East Asia, Japan, Singapore, to Australia and New Zealand. I hope that you enjoy the food journey‘. There are about six starter and main course options, and three dessert choices. Everything sounds special yet unusual, one not finding the combination of ingredients offered by Cheyne’s elsewhere on a local menu. From the starter list there was no hesitation in ordering the crispy Crayfish tempura, miso, garlic chive wonton, and sauce shumai (R55), the added chive flower making it a most attractive starter. Other starters (ranging from R40 – R55) are Roasted rice cakes, Red Dragon sauce, toasted sesame, and coconut flakes; Beef Tataki, miso, mirin and English mustard, and Tempura onion crown; Pork belly ssam, crisp baby gem leaves, Chinese mustard and XO sauce; Keralan spiced squid, green chilli puree, red kimchi and coconut jelly; and sticky duck, pear noodles, star anise and ginger glaze.
The main course choice was an easy one too, Chef Cheyne’s speciality being pork belly, and it was tender and filling, topped with the most delicious crackling, served with an unusual corn and cumin purée, Fuji apple tempura, coconut dumplings, and soy and maple sauce (R90). Other main courses, none costing more than R95, are 48 hour Beef Short Rib, confit fingerling potatoes, braised daikon with a dashi reduction; Malaysian Laksa, grilled linefish and tiger prawns, warm cucumber noodles, and nori dust; Ramen noodles with Korean BBQ pork, bamboo shoots, spring onion, and poached egg; and Ramen noodles with white sesame and ginger chicken, prawn dumpling, and poached egg. The dessert list is short and sweet, each item costing R45: Fried apple pie, kaya paste, sticky miso, sour cream ice cream; white chocolate and toasted sesame semi freddo, with banana tempura; and a delectable pear cinnamon and ginger tarte tatin with tamarind ice cream.
The winelist contains two brands per major wine varietals, and almost all are available per bottle and by the glass. Corkage is charged at R30 per bottle. Pongracz costs R195 and Graham Beck Brut Rosé R215. Brampton Shiraz costs R35/R130, Madonna Shiraz R40/R185, La Motte Sauvignon Blanc costs R35/R140, and Durbanville Hills R30/R130.
Cheyne’s exterior and modest interior decor is unpretentious, and does not reflect the excellent creative cuisine prepared by Chef Cheyne. Service could be a little smarter, especially from Clayton, given his background. Prices are extremely reasonable, for the quality of food served. Cheyne’s will become a challenge to Hout Bay restaurants, especially Kitima. A nice touch was bringing two coconut ice bonbons with the bill.
Cheyne’s, 1 Pam Arlene Place, Main Road, Hout Bay (near Caltex garage). Cell 079 067 4919. Website under construction. Twitter: @Cheyne_Reaction. Open Tuesday – Sunday Lunch, Tuesday – Saturday dinner.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Wednesday 20th February 2013 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
I travel along fashionable Bree Street regularly, and noticed the new Latitude33, a mixed venue selling clothing, artwork, some deli items, and is a restaurant. Its name reflects Cape Town’s geographical location, and its interior is dedicated to the oceans surrounding our city, and surfing in particular. Its striking ceiling in the coffee preparation area reflects that this new Cape Town eatery is set to make waves!
I found the venue open last week, and was told that they close the kitchen at 15h00, and the venue at 15h30, as they open early in the morning. I had never driven past Latitude33 before its closing time, and therefore never previously had found it open and operating. Arriving just at closing time then, I was still made to feel welcome, was served an iced coffee (R25), and co-owner Charles Post came to chat, to share background information. The venue was previously a nightclub which had burnt down, and the building was extensively renovated. Charles lived in New Zealand, where he was a rugby player, but not quite at All Black level, he admitted. While he is not a surfer himself, he loves the surfing lifestyle, and that is what they have brought into the venue decor, with big surfing posters from Australia, and surfboards on some of the walls, some painted by Glen Roe, with tributes to Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, and more. A sports corner with big leather couches and a flatscreen TV will serve rugby lovers. The interesting wave-like ceiling, seemingly flowing out of the shelving unit behind the coffee machine, was inspired by photographs which Charles saw on a website for Melbourne-based Baker D Chirico. Wooden chairs and tables fill the venue, and also are on the pavement, interspersed with wine vats. The chairs have blue and red stripes on them, almost giving them an Indian touch. Cutlery is by Fortis Hotelware, and blue paper serviettes are offered. Cape Herb & Spice Atlantic Sea Salt and Extra Bold Peppercorn grinders are on the table. The multi-use venue was inspired by a shop which Charles saw in Bali. His girlfriend Olivia Franklin runs the upstairs section, with clothing for sale, as is her artwork.
The Chef is Gerald Walford, a friend of Charles from Johannesburg, and he said he enjoys the ‘change of pace in Cape Town’, although he expected it to be slower than it is! He is aware of Cape Town’s reputation for less good service, and they want to ‘bring Johannesburg service flair’ to their restaurant, and have chosen staff to achieve this. Value for money is important, and they are striving to offer the best possible quality. The feedback they have received is that their portions are too big, and they have reduced them. The menu changes regularly, and is ‘client-friendly‘. Suppliers have been ‘hit and miss’, Gerald said, but he seems satisfied with them now. They stock an interesting selection of unusual jam ‘blends’, supplied by Die Ou Pastorie in Pretoria, including Rooibos Sweet Chilli, Balsamic Pinotage Jelly, and Vanilla Plum. Chef Gerald worked with MasterChef SA judge Andrew Atkinson at the Michelangelo Hotel in Johannesburg, and calls him his mentor. He also worked with MasterChef SA Culinary Producer Arnold Tanzer during Season 1 last year. His philosophy is to make his customers as happy as possible, and to offer consistency, and therefore he is hands-on in preparing the food. I was impressed that he came to check on my feedback about the excellent Salmon Eggs Benedict (R65), which I had ordered from their all-day breakfast menu, a good enough reason to go back again. The bread range which is offered is rye, bagels, sour dough, white, wholewheat and panini, baked in-house. Eggs Benedict is also available with bacon and spinach. A full cooked breakfast costs R65, and a mini breakfast R50. Omelettes start at R20, and one can select sixteen ingredients to add, the price of each specified. French Toast sounds delicious, at R45, with a choice of bacon and syrup, Nutella and caramelized banana, berry compote and whipped cream, or chorizo and roasted coconut! Lunch is served from 12h00, and consists simply of salads (cous cous, grilled chicken, and steak, ranging from R55 – R65), burgers (beef, chicken, or ostrich, at R65), sandwiches (with schnitzel, Asian Pork belly or Club, ranging from R50 – R65) and wraps (mushrooms, grilled chicken, and beef, at R35 – R40).
Andrea Maskew is the Pastry Chef, having owned a catering company previously, and has been a freelance food stylist for Woolworths’ Taste magazine, working with Food editor Abigail Donnelly and assistant Hannah Lewry. She bakes fresh pastries and confectionery every day, including cupcakes, muffins, triple Lindt chocolate cookies, white chocolate mousse cake, and fudge. She studied at the SA Chefs’ Academy.
Coffee is by Truth, and they have borrowed a barista from the coffee supplier. Their iced coffee is good and strong. Service is friendly, but seemed slow, given that I was the only customer eating at the time. I returned yesterday, to try one of the dishes, and to photograph the interior, the chairs already having been placed on the tables on my previous visit, not making the eating section of Latitude33 photographable then. The food is excellent, but the paper menu, the paper serviettes, the menu offering, and the service all have potential for improvement. A liquor licence will be applied for, and therefore clients are encouraged to bring their own wine. No corkage is charged.
Latitude33, 165 Bree Street, Cape Town. Tel (021) 4249520. www.lat33.co.za Twitter: @Latitude33_Cpt. Monday – Friday 7h00 – 15h30, Saturday 8h30 – 14h00. Free WiFi.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Monday 27th August 2012 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
Liam Tomlin Food, a joint venture company with Liam Tomlin, Hein Koegelenberg, Hanneli Rupert-Koegelenberg and Berdine Neethling, is to relocate to Cape Town in November, the company announced today.
Co-owner Hein Koegelenberg said in a meeting today that to be closer to their support base in Cape Town, it makes sense to move the cookery school to a Cape Town venue. Chef Liam Tomlin is still running courses at the current venue in Franschhoek until the end of October, and will be one of a program of chefs who will be doing cooking demonstrations at Leopard’s Leap, and will continue as a consultant chef to Leopard’s Leap. The program could include a three Michelin star chef from the Institut Paul Bocuse school of cooking. The new Leopard’s Leap tasting venue was officially opened six months ago.
The move to Cape Town will co-incide with a food offering at Leopard’s Leap, given the demand expressed by winetasters. Hein said that plans have not been finalised, but it is likely that cake and coffee, as well as chicken from their rotisserie will be sold with salads and bread. Some of the space in the shop is likely to sell fresh foods to take home.
In the media release Liam Tomlin is quoted as follows: ‘It makes sense to be nearer to our main support base and although we will miss the beauty of the Franschhoek Valley and its friendly people (not to mention having wonderful wines across the room from us!), we are also looking forward to being in the hustle and bustle of Cape Town’.
To tie in with its Liam Tomlin Food culinary connection, Leopard’s Leap is launching a Culinary wine range, inspired by the French regions of Champagne, Loire, Rhone, Burgundy, Bordeaux, and Sauternes, each of the wines being suitable for pairing with specific foods. The range will be available exclusively at the Leopard’s Leap tasting room in Franschhoek, and at the new Liam Tomlin Food venue in Cape Town.
Good news is that Harry Joubert, previously with the Brampton tasting room in Stellenbosch, is the new manager of the Leopard’s Leap tasting room.
POSTSCRIPT 2/10: Despite the media release published a month ago, and the interview I had with Hein Koegelenberg at that time, Liam Tomlin Food will close down at Leopard’s Leap at the end of October, and will not move to Cape Town, Hein Koegelenberg confirmed telephonically today, saying that it was not financially viable to open the cooking school company in Cape Town. Chef Liam Tomlin will be available to Leopard’s Leap on an ad hoc consultancy basis. Leopard’s Leap will start serving food from 1 November.
Liam Tomlin Food: www.liamtomlinfood.com Twitter: @LiamTomlinFood
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Thursday 5th April 2012 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
The most unusual name for a classy cocktail bar must be that of newly opened Orphanage on Bree Street, which is on the corner with Orphan Street, a street name I had not noticed previously. I was impressed with its elegant and classy interior, unusual cocktails and other drinks, and interesting value for money food.
As I was driving to the Labia cinema last Saturday, I drove past the former Rhubarb Room space, and saw the new brown painted exterior, with candle-holders outside attracting one’s attention. With the front door open, one could also see a massive chandelier, which runs along the length of the room. I stopped to take a quick interior photograph, and returned after the movie, when the venue had filled up a little more, its first day of opening to the public and also the birthday of Johnny Friedman, the owner of the building and a partner in the business. Manager and co-partner Raymond Endean seemed a bit hesitant about sharing information initially and about letting me have a menu to take along for this story, but mellowed as more guests arrived and all appeared to be running smoothly.
The massive chandelier dominates the interior, almost detracting from the massive wooden bar running along the length of one wall. On the opposite side are striped couches with coffee tables, creating sections, as well as a collection of high bar tables and stools. More seating is available in the little courtyard, which one had not noticed before. In the far end a DJ had set up his equipment, and played mood music, which became progressively louder, but did not overpower the conversation. He was later joined by saxophonist Jamie Faull, and they performed together. Jamie plays his sax on Wednesday and Sunday evenings. The staff wear amazing outfits, with waistcoats, black pants, Orphanage aprons with the key logo, and bowler hats, and are all very friendly and eager to serve. There is low lighting, despite the chandelier, with many candles. Cleverly the high table tops have been cut out to hold a bucket, into which a candle had been placed. If one orders sparkling wine or white wines, it becomes an ice bucket, a clever touch, as it is space-efficient too. A chest of drawers allows one to store one’s left over bottle for a next visit, and hence the key is the symbol printed on the brown serviettes, on the business cards, and is incorporated in the design of the menu too. The decor design was done by Inhouse architects. A large rectangular serviette contains the Inox fork and unbranded knife in a brown sleeve, with the key logo, brought to the table on a silver tray. Everything is printed on brown paper, with the key logo, and even the bill was presented in a brown sleeve. They purposely try to steer away from what everyone else does, wanting to be unique.
The first indication I had that things are different at Orphanage was when the cappuccino was served in a ‘blikbeker’, the sugar sticks being served in a smaller size. Raymond explained that he managed Asoka Bar for seven years, and Eclipse and Caprice in Camps Bay prior to that. The idea behind Orphanage is to go back to the time of the Prohibition, to create the feel of a ‘hidden bar’. In deciding on a name, they were aware of their location on Orphan Street, also the home of the St Paul’s Church across the road. A dreadful influenza epidemic swept through the region in the early 1900′s, leaving many children in the Cape orphaned. Children would come to the church for food, giving the street its name, and Reverend Sidney Warren Lavis helped set up the first ‘orphanage for boys’ in Cape Town in 1919, called the St Francis Childrens’ Home, in Athlone. The placemat proudly shares: “ORPHANAGE are very proud supporters of the St Francis Children’s home that we derive our quirky name & rich heritage from.. because this type of tomfoolery has a social conscience too”. R15 of the ‘More Tea Vicar?’ drink of Finlandia vanilla, rooibos syrup, cranberry, and lemon, which costs R55, is donated directly to the St Francis Children’s Home. In December and January R 10 will be added to every bill, to donate to the St Francis orphanage. The Rector of St Paul’s blessed Orphanage on its first day of opening. Raymond said that they understand that the name is controversial, as showed when we Tweeted about it.
The drinks list has a number of Orphanage branded wines, and Raymond told me that sommelier and consultant Kent Scheermeyer is helping them to source two red and two white wines, as well as a sparkling wine. He wasn’t sure where they were coming from, but the Pinot Noir will be from De Grendel, and Mullineux will supply a red blend. The cocktail list was compiled from a study of bar trends and 200 cocktails were evaluated. Most have a quirky name, and are served in quirky ‘vessels’ too, such as a fine Victorian tea cup. A cucumber Martini is served with a cucumber sandwich on the side. Interesting is that a drink is named after the police commissioner in the Western Cape, Hilton Hendricks, who arrived for the birthday party too, with his bodyguards, who (surprisingly) were very hesitant to share his first name. Moët & Chandon costs R800, Ruinart R1000, Dom Pérignon R1800, and Krug R3600. &Union beers, Grolsch, Peroni, and some commercial beers are available. More than twenty cocktails, with interesting names, many related to the name of the establishment (e.g. ‘Innocent Orphan Annie’) cost between R35 and R65.
The menu will be changed every three months or so, and is restricted to only ten items at the moment. It is the domain of Chef André Hendricks, with consultant chef Mac Mulholland, who has worked with HQ, Asoka and Tank. A kingklip carpaccio (‘Fishy on my Dishy’ – photograph right) sounded unusual, and was exceptional, drizzled with lemon and olive oil (R50). I was less impressed with ‘Rabbit Food’, with too much rocket, and little asparagus and aged pecorino (R45). Other tapas options are Cauli-fritters (R40), ‘Crayfish Signature’ (R95), ‘Milanese Chick Chick’ (R65), ‘Octopus Crunch’ (R55), and ‘Little Lamb Buns’ (R60). One senses that the team had great fun in coming up with the names. One can also order platters of mezze or charcuterie (R95 each), and cheeses (R75), olives, nuts and truffle chips, or a dessert (at R35 each) of ‘pineapple thins’ or ‘Molten Coco Loaf’, which turned out to be a lovely chocolate fondant served with vanilla ice cream. The dessert and the salad were served in bowls set inside wooden blocks, again an interesting and unusual presentation.
Raymond said that they are almost purposely ‘anti-marketing’, wanting to grow their business on the basis of word-of-mouth, on the strength of their service, which was friendly and kind. I was lucky that charming and passionate co-owner Katie Friedman was at Orphanage too, and that she spent time with me to give me more background to the establishment. She has worked in marketing film production companies in the USA, and her business card describes her as the ‘House Marketeer’. She emphasised how blessed they are to have St Paul’s as their neighbours, and that they can contribute to the work that they do for the St Francis orphanage.
Orphanage cocktail emporium is a definite must-see and try, and a convenient stop before and after a night out, with ample parking at night. It is a classy place to visit, fun and quirky, and having a drink there has a social benefit too.
POSTSCRIPT 5/4: A lovely 26°C evening, at the start of the Easter weekend, was a good opportunity to go back to Orphanage. I couldn’t believe that it was jam packed outside, and some customers said they had come because of this review. Co-owner Katie Friedman came to chat and thank me for the review, and told me that next summer they will do breakfast (with porridge options) and lunch too. She also said that they will be open every night of the week now. I tried their crayfish buns.
POSTSCRIPT 18/4: Talk about customer service. On a last visit I asked if Orphanage had Bailey’s or Cape Velvet, and they told they only had Amarula. When I went back to re-photograph the kingklip carpaccio in better light tonight, Raymond proudly showed me the Bailey’s they now stock!
Orphanage cocktail emporium, 227 Bree Street, corner Orphan Street, Cape Town. Tel (021) 424-2004. www.TheOrphanage.co.za Twitter:@OrphanageClub Monday – Sunday 17h00 – 2h00, Fridays from 15h00.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage
Monday 11th April 2011 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
Many would say that Cape Town already is regarded as a world class city. However, the Western Cape province and the City of Cape Town, in association with the Cape Town Partnership, believe that there is more work to be done to turn Cape Town into one of the top cities in the world, and to rezone the city into “mixed-use-zones that are lively, inviting, open and operate 24 hours a day” by 2014/2015, reports the Weekend Argus.
Driven by the MEC for Public Works and Transport, Robin Carlisle, Cape Town is to be divided into six ‘precincts’:
* the Artscape precinct will connect Artscape with the new to-be-extended Cape Town International Convention Centre, to be doubled in size, to operate 24 hours a day, and to be completed by 2014, via the Artscape Gardens, to be developed as part of the extension. The Gardens are to be raised to the height of the freeway, and parking developed beneath it. Two buildings, one an hotel and another an office block with 30000 square meters of retail space, will be designed to act as ‘wind buffers’ against the south-easter, which affects the area close to the harbour badly. The Artscape Gardens is planned to contain an amphitheatre seating 25000 visitors. The Convention Centre expansion will include the proposed move of the Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital to the precinct too.
* the Somerset precinct plans have not been finalised, but include the Somerset Hospital, a part of the building having historical value. A new casino is planned for this area, an attractive location for it, being adjacent to the V&A Waterfront. One of the options is that the Gold Reef’s Mykonos Langebaan casino may move to this precinct. This area is also planned for mixed-use zoning.
* the Prestwich precinct will see high-rise buildings and another pedestrian bridge and Fan Mile, to ‘allow the city and the Waterfront to better complement each other’, and connecting these two popular areas. Prestwich Street runs parallel to Somerset Road, and is the street in which The Foundry/Beluga can be found.
* the provincial government precinct around Dorp, Wale and Keerom Streets will see glass walls erected to block the wind from blowing through the arches of the provincial building. A new high-rise building is to be built on the corner of Loop and Leeuwen Streets, to accommodate the office requirements of government departments.
* the Government Garage precinct in the Roeland/Hope/Mill Streets area is to get a facelift, with retail, residential and urban spaces to be developed. Entry-level housing is to be developed, to allow residents to work and live in the city without having to use cars to get to work. “This precinct will focus on turning Roeland Street into a ‘boulevard’ leading down to the gates of Parliament, with shops and cafés at street level, and accommodation on the first floor, built around squares. The Government Garage and ambulance depot are to be moved to the ex-abattoir in Maitland.
* the Two Rivers Urban Park, including Oude Molen, Alexandra, Valkenberg and other government property, will focus on medical facilities, including the expansion of psychiatric hospital Valkenberg, an office park for ‘bio-medical engineering companies’, ‘compact hospitals at Alexandra’, and will expand the residential arm of Oude Molen. A ‘water taxi’ is to connect Oude Molen and Athlone via the Black River.
Linked to the province’s bold city regeneration plans is the planned development of a second international airport near Saldanha Bay. It is also planned to introduce ’130 new, quieter and graffiti-repellent trains, which could comfortably transport 550000 people a day…’.
The plans for the regeneration of the Cape Town city center sound exciting, and will lead other businesses to invest in the city centre. For example, the section of Bree Street near Buitensingel Street is seeing a revival, with interesting restaurants and decor shops opening. One hopes that the DA will win the municipal election in May, so that these grand plans can be realised.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Sunday 7th November 2010 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
French Toast Wine & Tapas Bar opened about ten days ago, and is a homely cosy wine lounge that has been created in what was previously a warehouse in Bree Street. It is the type of place that one would pop in to for a drink before or after a function, and have a bite to eat. It has one of the largest collections of wines-by-the-glass in Cape Town, with over 108 choices of local and international wines. It is not cheap to eat and drink there, and portions are small, but it does offer a good selection of price options.
French Toast has a heavyweight management. Owner John Harrison was a stockbroker on the Paris Bourse, and told me that the French bug bit him there, hence the French feel through the name and the café style music that is played. John was the CEO of the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company for many years, and built up its business and introduced the new cable cars during his management of the company. He was a client of my then-PR company many moons ago. He spoke passionately about his new project, and how they renovated the double story building in an unbelievable three months, being hands-on in the renovation. Raw brick walls give it a warm feeling, blackboards communicate the wine and food specials, and windows have been built to add light upstairs. There is a bar counter upstairs and downstairs, and the downstairs one will probably be the more popular one in winter, with its massive fireplace. The upstairs section is huge, with seating for at least 80-100 persons. A small boardroom downstairs can host meetings and functions of up to 10 persons, Shane told us. The decor is upmarket, but the food is not fine dining, with an emphasis on wines, explained Shane. The cutlery is shiny and new, the glassware is good, but only paper serviettes are supplied.
Karen Visser is a partner in French Toast with John, was a bio-kineticist, and is a passionate golfer and winelover, studying at the Cape Wine Academy. She compiled the winelist in the main, and has no previous restaurant experience. GM of the new wine lounge is Gidi Caetano, who was the GM of Salt Restaurant at the Ambassador Hotel, and also oversaw the opening of Salt Deli and Salt Vodka Bar until recently. She also worked at The Showroom and was a hospitality trainer. The Manager Shane has an interesting undefinable accent, having grown up in Hawaii, and lived in the UK before moving to South Africa. He previously worked at the Protea Hotel Victoria Junction, the Devon Valley Hotel, and the 0932 Belgian restaurant in Green Point, which has since closed down. Chef Jannie Mellis owned East London’s best restaurant, he says, the Two Dogs Bistro, and was at Bushmanskloof Lodge prior to that. He said he came back to Cape Town “to get into the hub of food again”, a nice compliment for Cape Town. The staff are smartly dressed in black shirts and pants, a French Toast branded apron, and a turquoise tie.
We found it terribly chilly upstairs, but Shane assured me that the airconditioning was not on. When we moved from table to table, to find the warmest spot, we discovered that a sliding door had been left wide open. When it had been closed, all was fine. The music was rather loud when we arrived, but seemed to have been turned down a little while we were there.
The wines are closed with a wine preservation system Le Verre du Vin, being special rubber wine and sparkling wine bottle stoppers, allowing opened wines to be kept for up to three months. I chose the same glass of wine I had a week ago, the Mullineux Shiraz 2008, at R83 for a 150ml glass. The wine has the characteristic of an old-fashioned smoky shiraz, my favourite, but the very chilled serving, at 13°C, was too cold to my liking. Four Cap Classiques are available, ranging from R44/R195 for Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel to R 81/R380 for Graham Beck Blanc de Blanc. Seven champagnes can be ordered, Le Mesnil Blanc de Blanc costing R135/R650, and the most pricey is Dom Perignon, sold by bottle only, at R3000. They also stock Veuve Cliquot, Billecart Salmon Rose and Guy Charbaut. Seven Sauvignon Blancs are stocked, that of La Motte costing R31/R130, and the Cape Point Vineyard Reserve is the most expensive, at R57/R260. Seven Shiraz/Syrah wines are served, starting with Rickety Bridge at R35/R165, and Haskell Vineyards is the most expensive at R111/R530. Imported wines from France, Italy and Germany are also available, and range from R33/R142 – R153/R740. The branded winelist provides information about the vintage and origin of each wine, but has no descriptions of the wines or the varieties.
The menu, on a laminated sheet without any branding, is broken down into Snacks, Tapas, Charcuterie, Cheese Platters and Desserts, and has a Mediterranean feel to it. Snacks include olives, almonds, chillies (R30 each) and oysters (R10 each). The Tapas selection of 16 dishes range in price from R30 – R50, with empanadas, prawns, smoked salmon trout, caprese skewers and more. The charcuterie platter allows one to select three of a choice of imported meats, including chorizo, parma ham, salami and jamon serano, for R50. Similarly, one can choose three cheeses for R55, from a selection of six. Breads come from Jardine Bakery, a few meters away, and sometimes from Knead. Chef Jannie makes his own preserves and pasta.
There is not much attention paid to the presentation of the dishes, I felt, being functionally presented on white plates. I had the calamari and lemon (R38), and asked Chef Jannie not to add the chilli. My (student) son had the delicious herb and pecorini croquettes (R35), as well as the parma ham and mozzarella aroncini fried stuffed rice balls (R45), but was still starving after the two tapas dishes, and therefore ordered patatas bravas with a homemade spicy tomato sauce (R45), which he proclaimed to be excellent. I had to have the French Toast, after which the restaurant is named, one of the three desserts on the menu (R40), two tiny baguette slices served with not-so-nice almond ice cream. The cappuccino (R16) made from Origin coffee was excellent. The specials board advertised white anchovies, Pisto bruschetta, and cheddar and rice balls. Chef Jannie said that from the feedback received to his dishes since opening, he will be amending his menu next week.
In general the tapas portions are small, and therefore French Toast is not the place to have a meal, but rather a glass of wine with a tapas snack. We paid R385 for five tapas dishes and two glasses of red wine.
POSTSCRIPT 15/1: I have returned to French Toast a few times since I wrote the review two months ago. Every time I have been warmly received by the management team. Today I returned for a late Saturday afternoon cappuccino, and was impressed with the new summer menu. My eye caught the asparagus tapas, at R35, crispy and crunchy, simply served with lemon, the best asparagus I have tasted. Then I saw a Seafood salad advertised on a Specials board, for R55, and had to have it, when the Manager Gidi explained that it contained steamed prawns and crayfish, with bisque aïoli, beautifully presented, which had been a criticism I had expressed previously. I felt that Chef Jannie has progressed by leaps and bounds, not only in terms of his menu selection, food preparation, but also in terms of the food presentation. On the wine side an innovate wine trio 50 ml flight is offered for Sauvignon Blanc (Delaire, Hillcrest and Reyneke Organic), at R40 for the three wines; the Sparkling wine flight is Steenberg 1682, Teddy Hall, and Sterhuis, at R65, or R100 if served with a trio of oysters; and the Shiraz flight is from Eagle’s Nest, Haskell Aeon, and La Motte Shiraz Viognier, costing R80.
French Toast Wine & Tapas Bar, 199 Bree Street, Cape Town. Tel (021) 422-3839. www.frenchtoastwine.com (website still under construction). Twitter @FrenchToastWine. Monday – Saturday 12h00 – 23h00. No BYO allowed, the winelist says.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Friday 8th October 2010 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
The Sweet Service Award goes to the Waterfront Boat Company, for hosting a group of guest house owners on a harbour cruise on a picture-perfect Cape Town evening, accompanied by Boschendal Grande Cuvee Brut and their Le Grande Pavillon Brut RosÃ©, and then hosted by Waterfront 221 restaurant, to introduce the Cruise and Dine package which the restaurant and the cruise company have developed.
The Sour Service Award goes to Bird Boutique Café in Bree Street. It was a first visit, and we sat in the entrance hall at a long table with benches. A waitress took our order. It took 20 minutes to bring tap water. The food order for the second person was not given to the kitchen. The orange juice had to be re-ordered. The food was slow in coming from the kitchen. I spoke to the co-owner Heike Stegmann, having asked for her, and spoke in German to her, out of courtesy to her, as I had read that she was German. She immediately told me that I could not say “Du” to her, but had to say “Sie”, as I did not know her! In South Africa most Germans would say ‘Du’, especially as I was older than she. No disrespect had been intended. There was no apology for the poor service, but we were told that we should have seen the note that customers must place their own order in the kitchen. As we were not sitting in that room, we did not see the notice! The waitress also did not tell us. The menu was worn and partly torn, and we had a chipped glass in which the water was served. The owners were in the kitchen, remaining hidden in the kitchen, behind a curtain. We could not see the “boutique” in the name of the ‘restaurant’, especially with the crates for seating! We bought 2 packets of home-made lebkuchen biscuits, and they were stone-hard when we ate them at home.
The WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented every Friday on the WhaleTales blog. Nominations for the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be sent to Chris von Ulmenstein at firstname.lastname@example.org. Past winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of this blog, and in the WhaleTales newsletters on the www.whalecottage.com website.