Entries tagged with “Bree Street”.
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Thu 2 May 2013
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
Wed 20 Feb 2013
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
Mon 27 Aug 2012
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
Thu 5 Apr 2012
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
Mon 11 Apr 2011
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
Sun 7 Nov 2010
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
Fri 8 Oct 2010
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.
Thu 9 Sep 2010
On 23 September Eat Out will announce its Top 10 Restaurant Awards list of twenty finalists. Ten of these will be chosen by three judges (Abigail Donnelly, Peter Goffe-Wood and Arnold Tanzer), and announced at the Eat Out 2010 Restaurant Awards gala dinner at the Westin Grand Hotel on 28 November.
To live up to my reputation in having been nominated for the SA Blog Awards in the “Most Controversial Blog” category, I have done a prediction of some of the Top 20 Restaurants we might expect on the list, as well as those that will fall off the list, in my opinion. I have also predicted which restaurants will make it onto the list for the Eat Out Restaurant Awards 2011. It is important to note that Eat Out specifies that a chef must have been with a restaurant for a year, to be selected for consideration for this prestigious award, the “Oscar” of the Restaurant industry.
Top 20 list
1. Rust & Vrede (chef David Higgs) in Stellenbosch: I predict that Rust & Vrede will make the number one slot of the Top 10 list, given that Luke Dale-Roberts is no longer at La Colombe full-time. David’s food is consistently good, creative, and the restaurant made it in the top 100 on the Top 50 Restaurants in the World list earlier this year. David Higgs is one of four chefs preparing the meal for the Restaurant Awards’ dinner, and this is a sure-fire predictor of being on the Top 10 list
2. Overture (chef Bertus Basson) in Stellenbosch: Consistently good, and always re-inventing his restaurant, Bertus deserves better than joint 10th, which happened in 2009. Definitely a Top 10 contender
3. Mosaic Restaurant in Pretoria (chef Chantel Dartnall): Chantel is also a chef at the Restaurant Awards dinner, so an automatic Top 10 contender
4. The Roundhouse in Camps Bay (Chef PJ Vadal) : not everyone’s favourite due to the arrogance of the management, but the fact that the chef is cooking at the Awards dinner is a sure predictor of Top 10
5. Restaurant Christophe, Stellenbosch (chef Christophe Dehosse): no glitz or glamour in terms of its interior, yet the Spookhuis is steeped in history. Christophe is charmingly French, and is a hands-on chef both in the kitchen and inside the restaurant. His food is excellent.
6. The Greenhouse at the Cellars, Cellars Hohenhort Hotel, Constantia (chef Peter Tempelhoff) : Peter is a favourite on the Top Restaurant list, and has been on the Top 10 list twice, at the current restaurant, and at Grande Provence before that
7. Jardine’s on Bree Street, Cape Town (chef Eric Bulpitt): Eric is cooking at the Awards’ dinner, so an automatic Top 10 candidate. He is also about to return from Copenhagen, where he spent 6 weeks in the kitchen at Noma, to gain inspiration. Noma is the top restaurant of the Top 50 restaurants in the world.
8. Jordan’s Restaurant with George Jardine, Stellenbosch (chef George Jardine) - last year’s move to his new restaurant at Jordan Winery no doubt cost George Jardine a place on the Top 10 list, a shock, as he had been number 2 on the list the year before. He had announced the move to Stellenbosch for personal reasons, and the judges had clearly taken this into account. George Jardine has been on the Top 10 list for a number of years, whilst at Jardine’s. George Jardine’s food preparation is excellent, but as at Jardine’s, the restaurant interior leaves a lot to be desired.
9. Bizerca Bistro, Cape Town (chef Laurent Deslandes): Bizerca seems to be every chef’s favourite restaurant, when they are not cooking in their own kitchen. Last year the industry laughed when the restaurant received a ’consolation prize’ Best Bistro Award, a category not announced previously, and having no competition in it (9th Avenue Bistro in Durban was also on the Top 20 list, and made Top 10)
10. Terroir, Stellenbosch (Michael Broughton): Terroir has won numerous Top 10 awards, and seems to be a favourite of the judges.
11. The Tasting Room, Franschhoek (chef Margot Janse): the restaurant seems to have a love/hate relationship with Eat Out, in that it was left off the Top 10 list for three years, from 2004 - 2007, and that it had to endure the humiliation in sharing 10th place with Overture on the Top 10 restaurant list last year (a first for Eat Out in having a joint winner), indicating that the judges did not want to offend any of the two restaurants, but it became an insult to both restaurants instead. This created a Top 12 Restaurant list in reality, and the judges will be sure to not lose face to make compromise selections again this year! The interesting contrast is that the restaurant has featured in the Top 50 Restaurants in the World list, but for the first time another South African restaurant overtook it, La Colombe making it to an unbelievable 8th place on the international list.
12. Grande Provence, Franschhoek (chef Darren Roberts): Chef Darren is a highly talented chef, and has been around the block for 20 years in South Africa alone, but has been sadly neglected by Grande Provence’s Marketing department. He has just returned from a week cooking at the Grill Room at the Hong Kong Country Club, one of the most exclusive eateries in the city, sharing his menu and the wines of Grande Provence. (POSTSCRIPT 21/9: Chef Darren says that his restaurant is not eligible for the 2010 Awards, as he only started in January, therefore not giving him a full 12 months at the restaurant, a requirement for the Awards).
13. A Durban restaurant - to not be seen to show Cape Town and the Cape as the center of the cuisine universe, a restaurant from this city is normally selected by Eat Out. The choice of 9th Avenue Bistro has raised eyebrows for its inclusion in the Top 10 list in the past, especially for its location in a parking lot. The owner/chef appears to have left in the past year.
14. To be politically correct, a Johannesburg restaurant also needs to be on the Top 10 list. Roots at the Cradle of Humankind has been a winner for a number of years.
Other potential Top 20 short-listed restaurants could include The Restaurant at Waterkloof in Somerset West, Bistro 1682 at Steenberg, Delaire restaurant at Delaire Graff, 95 Keerom Street (see why for Carne below) and Bosman’s at Grande Roche (once the top restaurant in the country, but it has been left off the shortlist for so many years now).
Restaurants not making Top 10
1. Reuben’s in Franschhoek - winning Top Chef and Top Restaurant in 2004, Reuben’s has not made it back on the Top 10 list since 2006. Too many service-related complaints have dogged the restaurant, and Reuben will have to make sure he does not stretch himself too thin when he takes on his biggest challenge yet at the One&Only Cape Town from October.
2. Carne was on the Top 20 list last year, and fortunately for Eat Out they did not select it to the Top 10 list, given our disclosure of the restaurant’s dishonest claim that all its meat is from its Karoo farm and is organic. Carne has since removed this claim from its website. However, owner Giorgio Nava is a most charming and determined man, and has a close relationship with Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly, who refused to respond to our allegations about Carne’s claim, even when it was proven to be correct! I therefore predict that 95 Keerom Street will receive a ‘consolation’ Top 20 nomination in its place.
3. Cape Colony at the Mount Nelson Hotel - Chef Rudi Liebenberg made the Top 20 list two years running, whilst at The Saxon in 2008, and the Mount Nelson in 2009. It is unlikely that the restaurant can make the Top 10 list, given that it is undergoing a major renovation as well as a re-invention of its menu currently, and will only open again in November.
4. Salt restaurant - coming to the restaurant at the Ambassador Hotel in Bantry Bay, from Grande Provence, for which he received a Top 10 listing, chef Jacques de Jager’s presence is so low key at Salt that I regularly phone to check if he is still there. His wonderful cuisine hand one knows from Grande Provence does not seem to have made the journey to Cape Town yet, in that his menu and the food quality is disappointing!
5. La Colombe - given that ex-chef Luke-Dale Roberts has moved to a consulting role at La Colombe, it is unlikely that the restaurant should make the Top 10 list. This is re-inforced by Luke’s announcemnet (on 20/9) that he is to open his own restaurant The Test Kitchen at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock in November.
Bubbling under for Eat Out Top 20 in 2011
Given the new restaurant openings in the past few months, a number of exciting contenders are on the potential Top 20 list for 2011, as they will have operated for a year by then:
1. Pierneef Ã La Motte at La Motte in Franschhoek - wow, wow, wow, and that was only after having been open for 2 days! Top 10 for 2011 for sure.
2. Indochine at Delaire Graff- I thought that the original Delaire restaurant would make Top 20 this year when I first visited it a year ago. But it has lost many staff members, including a talented sommelier and Maitre’d, and service and food reports are not as positive as when it opened. The new sister restaurant Indochine has great potential, and could make the Top 20 list in a year.
3. Richard Carstens opens at Tokara Restaurant next month, and has been an Eat Out Top 10 chef six times. Hopefully he has staying power to last a year at the restaurant.
4. The Bombay Brasserie at The Taj hotel.
5. Reuben’s at the One&Only Cape Town - this is a ‘grown-up’ and sophisticated Reuben’s, yet has some of Reuben’s favourite dishes, such as calf’s liver.
6. The Test Kitchen at the Old Biscuit Mill, Woodstock - given that Luke Dale-Roberts has been named the world’s 12th best chef in the world in 2010, this is a no-brainer for his new restaurant, set to open in November!
7. Grande Provence does not qualify for the 2010 Awards, as Chef Darren Roberts has not been at the wine estate for a full 12 months. He would be a natural candidate for the 2011 Top 20 shortlist.
We would love to have your nominations and predictions before 23 September, as well as comments about ours - please e-mail me at email@example.com
POSTSCRIPT 15/4: It has been announced that David Higgs has resigned and will leave Rust en Vrede in mid-June.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com
Sat 17 Jul 2010
A little hidden gem in the center of Cape Town, that offers a warm and welcome escape from the cold winter, is the recently opened Piroschka’s Kitchen. It offers a very small selection of only four dishes, inspired by the Hungarian grandmother Piroschka of sisters Jutta Frensch and Inge Niklaus.
I had heard about Piroschka’s Kitchen a few months ago, but could not find it when described as being opposite the Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital, but I was looking on Loop Street. It is one of a collection of outlets underneath the Saint Stephen’s Church on Bree Street, near Cheyne restaurant and &Union. Jutta was on duty, and our German roots and guest house experiences connected immediately. When the other guests had left, she sat down, and told me about herself. She came to South Africa to follow her sister Inge, who came to live in Cape Town fifteen years ago. Jutta is an architect by training, and worked on a house she saw in De Waterkant, which became the guest house Cedric’s Lodge that they created, followed by another in Greyton.
As if the two guest houses are not enough to challenge them, the two sisters took on the responsibility of looking after the two children of their late housekeeper, and put them into private schools. To pay for their education, the sisters had to earn extra income, and they decided to start at the Neighbourgoods Market at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock, selling Flammkuchen there. The downside for them was that their home smelt of onions, and so they sought a venue in which to prepare it. They found the Bree Street premises, and loved the space, its natural stone walls, and the fact that it offered them a small and cosy space in which to set up a tiny restaurant with a few tables inside. A bar counter takes four chairs, and one can sit outside when the weather is good.
The first thing you feel on entering is how warm it is inside, a modern gas fireplace creating the heat. A welcome sight is the sign that says that Gluehwein is served - a good start to the weekend on a Friday afternoon. The menu is on a flyer on the table and also written on a blackboard, the latter containing the prices. The tables are covered with a sheet of white paper, and a small container with crayons encourages the inner child to come to the fore, and to decorate one’s own table cloth. Jutta tells me that they will photograph the best designs, and make tablecloths from them. Mine served as a handy sheet on which I made all my notes while we chatted.
I ordered the “Hungarian Original Puszta Goulash soup”, which one could say is expensive at R 50, but it was a broth with lots of shredded beef, slow cooked with seven paprika spices in Gypsy style, says the menu. I found the broth a bit thin, and would have preferred it thicker and creamier. It was well matched to the Gluehwein (R25). The Goulash soup is served with a slice of delicious rye bread from Jardine Bakery, but no butter is served with it. The split pea soup costs R 40, while the Flammkuchen costs R 50. Flammkuchen is a thin crispy base covered with creme fraiche, smoked ham, baby leek and red onions, for the savoury option. I had the sweet one, containing vanilla cream, apple slices with cinnamon and sugar, and topped with almond shavings. It was huge, served on a wooden board, and I could only manage a few small pieces, taking the rest home with me, Jutta generously giving me the board as a memento of my visit.
Excelsior and Arabella wines are sold, both being from Robertson, in fact from two neighbouring farms owned by two brothers who do not get on, Jutta tells me, and both love horses and have these as the logo on their wine labels. Pierre Jourdan bubbly is sold at R 160. I missed a cappuccino to have with my Flammkuchen, and Julia quickly organised a good one for me from another restaurant close by. We discussed Social Media Marketing, and I encouraged Jutta to embrace Blogging and Twitter - they are already on Facebook.
Jutta and Inge do private catering, and also offer private functions for up to 30 persons in their restaurant. I will be back, to try the savoury Flammkuchen and the split pea soup, especially on a cold winter’s day, Piroschka’s Kitchen being the warmest place in Cape Town, in its temperature and its welcome! On Saturdays the Piroschka sisters can still be found at the Old Biscuit Mill.
Piroschka’s Kitchen, 106 Bree Street, Cape Town. Tel 083 327 3203. www.piroschka.co.za. (The website is more focused on the activities at the Old Biscuit Mill, and does not have the menu or the wine prices. A large part of it is in German). Open Mondays - Fridays, 11h00 - 19h00.
POSTSCRIPT 27/7 : I returned 10 days after my first visit, and Jutta proudly told me that they have addressed some of the issues raised in this review. Bread is now served with butter, and they have added the menu to the website.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottge.com