Entries tagged with “Cape Colony”.


After a closure of a few months for a complete make-over, the old Cape Colony at the Mount Nelson Hotel is no more, and what has arisen in its space is the new Planet Restaurant, based on an extension of the planetary theme of the Planet Bar, opening about three weeks ago.  It gives the restaurant, and the hotel with it, a modern feel worthy of the quality of Chef Rudi Liebenberg’s culinary skills.

For a new restaurant to have so much money thrown at it is unusual, with ads in the Sunday Times costing a fortune, even if they are in black and white, and obviously the decor changes were expensive too.  Therefore it was a surprise that when we tried to make the booking a few days prior to our dinner, it was such a struggle to make it with Emmanuel, one of the Maître d’hôtel.   Chef Rudi has been at the hotel for two years now, but the restaurant staff is refreshingly new.  Restaurant Manager Andreas van Breda moved to Cape Town after a long stint at Claridges in London.   For the first time the restaurant has a sommelier, and they could not have appointed a nicer person than Carl Habel, whom I first met at Myoga, and who remembered my love for Shiraz when he came to say hello, even though he was off duty, a reflection of how good he is at customer service.   He enthused about his new job, and his respect for Chef Rudi, whose focus is on quality produce, and on sourcing local ingredients, which makes it easy for him to pair the Planet Restaurant’s food and wine.   It is hard to believe that the Mount Nelson, one of Cape Town’s top hotels, has never had a sommelier before!   It was lovely to receive the warm welcome at the entrance to the hotel from Osnat Gropper, the concierge, and a Twitter friend.

The interior design was done by DHK Interiors, and they have used a less-is-more decor approach, removing the piano and the old-fashioned Capescape mural (excellent decisions).   As one walks down the passage from the Planet Bar, one notices the panels of strings of blue and clear glass balls, representing the planetary theme, interspersed with massive mirrors with illustrations representing the signs of the zodiac, which is carried into the restaurant itself.   Unfortunately not all twelve signs are represented, so I was disappointed to not see Sagittarius on one of the mirrors, having come for a birthday celebration.  The new restaurant is a clean crisp white space, with a central chandelier and new carpet that echo the planetary theme.  The furniture has been replaced, with brown tables, and velvet-covered cream chairs.  In the centre the seating is leather couches. The tables are covered with boring placemats (for the stature of the restaurant and the hotel it could do with a good quality tablecloth), beautiful cutlery from Hepp Exclusive, good light glassware, and a set of modern salt and pepper grinders from Peugeot, which I had also seen a few days earlier at the restaurant at Delaire Graff.  The planetary theme is extended into the sparkly covers of the winelist, the menu and the billfold, as well as on the inside first pages of the menu and winelist.  

The menu is extravagant, running to many pages, with a few items per page. It is printed on a good quality cream board.  It has an introductory statement by Chef Rudi, and is signed by him, stating: “Our kitchen is all about a journey, a journey with many new and sometimes unexpected variables and it is for this reason that we come back inspired and motivated every day. ….The foundation of our process starts with respect, respect for the ingredient, respect for the process, respect for the end product and respect for the guest.   The majority of our ingredients are sourced locally and prepared using a wide range of modern as well as classical cooking methods”.   An insert offers the “Chef’s Suggestions”.    Two tasting menu options are available, strangely a “Vegan Journey” one listed first, followed by the “Journey”, a non-vegan one, both charged at R380 per person for a minimum of two persons to order, and consisting of six courses each.   Each wine recommendation for the tasting menu is priced separately.  Thereafter the menu has a la carte menu options.   Commendably items on the menu are specially marked with a symbol, reflecting them being vegetarian, vegan and containing nuts, where relevant.

Before we could think of choosing anything,  complimentary glasses of Genevieve MCC were brought to the table, as was a small plate of canapés (duck rillette, salmon and feta, as well as ostrich tartare).  If an amuse bouche is a first presentation of the skills of the chef, then this plateful was a disappointment.   We had to ask for the bread.   Three bread options were offered – ciabatta, country bread (the waiter could not explain exactly what this bread contained) and garlic bread.  Starter options range in price from R65 for a “tomato variation, jelly, cloud, sorbet, greens, basil”, not easy to imagine what exactly is served; to R165 for crayfish ceviche and Namibian red crab remoulade.  Duck and quail terrine, smoked salmon trout, and oysters are also available.  One can also order soup and salads, including a crocodile salad (R90), a menu item from the old Cape Colony menu. 

I chose a cold asparagus soup (R85) as the starter, and it was a surprise to have the plate served with a tower of asparagus mousse topped with thin slices of cucumber.   I have seen ceremonious pouring of soup at a table, but the waiter pouring the soup out of the water glass brought from the kitchen by hand, without it being on a tray or in a prettier container, spoilt what I am sure the chef had intended for the presentation of the dish.  I found the dish very bland. It was served in an interesting soup bowl, with a hole in it for design effect.  The advertised egg yolk was left out of the dish, for no reason.   My partner had a slow-cooked free-range egg with local cured ham and mature gouda, served with a pinotage reduction, which he enjoyed, but commented on the runny egg white.   This dish was on the old Cape Colony menu too, and clearly is a hit, for it to have been retained.   For my main course I chose an extravagant abalone and crayfish dish (R295).   The abalone was tiny, making me feel guilty in having chosen something that was clearly undersized (or alternatively out of a can).   It was cut into two, cooked, coated with herbs and then sauteed in butter, but did not have a distinctive abalone taste at all, the herbs overpowering the usually distinctive taste.  A tiny crayfish tail (more guilt), as well as asparagus spears and sweet corn added colour and taste to the dish, but I missed the velouté advertised on the menu as being part of the dish.   No fish knife was served with this dish.   My partner’s flame-grilled beef fillet was butter soft, but the sautéed mushrooms, potato foam and mini fondants were so badly over-salted that he could not finish them (R170).  Other main course options are a pea risotto (R95); monkfish fillet, chicken, pork cheeks and belly, and mussels and calamari, all costing R150; Karoo lamb (R190); and springbok (R180).   For those able to eat more, there is a choice of six desserts, costing around R65, and two cheese options.   Friandises were served with the excellent foamy cappuccino (R20). 

The 24-page winelist specifies vintages and origin, and is introduced with a page of “Sommelier’s latest discoveries”, which were three Solms-Delta wines: Amalie (R60/R175), Langarm (R35/R155), and Hiervandaan (R70/R310), the serving by-the-glass specified at 175ml, making them expensive.   Five “Methode Cap Classique” 150ml wines-by-the-glass are listed, including Pierre Jourdan Brut (R45), Simonsig Brut Rosé (R50) and Genevieve Brut (R60), and surprisingly, the champagnes Billecart-Salmon Rosé (R320) and Veuve Cliquot (R210) were also listed under this heading!   Ten white and seven red wines-by-the glass, the former ranging from R35 – R65 per 175ml, and the latter ranging from R45 – R75 per glass, are offered.   I was disappointed at the small selection of red wines by the glass, and that none of them included a Shiraz.  The rest of the winelist separates white wines into “Crisp and refreshing”, Fragrant and Floral”, “Rich and Opulent” and “Signature and Cellar”.   Red wines are categorised into “Silky and Smooth”, “Elegant and Fresh”, “Rich and Concentrated”, and “The Great Reserve”.  Unique Vin de Constance and Hamilton Russell Pinot Noirvertical vintage selections are also available, but require big cheque books!   Shiraz options by the bottle include Groote Post Reserve (R270), Waterford Kevin Arnold (R430), Saronsberg (R475), Cirrus (R1020), Hartenberg Stork (R1020), Saxenberg Select (R4435), De Trafford (R760), and Fairview Beacon (R515).   Knowing my love for Shiraz, Carl recommended the Saronsberg 2007, a wine not usually available by the glass.  On tasting, it was acceptable, but it had a taste to it that I did not like, the more I drank of it.  We were not charged for the wine.

Having eaten at The Test Kitchen and Planet Restaurant on two consecutive nights, it is clear that the Planet Restaurant is more of a special occasion restaurant, with the staff smartly and professionally dressed befitting the five star status of the hotel, while the food at The Test Kitchen overall was better.  The service levels were on a par.   The Planet Restaurant still needs time to settle in, and for its quality to be consistent, whether Chef Rudi is on duty or not.  The advertising has not yet offered a return on its investment, as we were one of only five tables in what seemed to be a quiet hotel. Having been on the Eat Out top 20 restaurant shortlist whilst at The Saxon, it will be interesting to see if Chef Rudi can take the Planet Restaurant onto the star top 20 restaurant shortlist for 2011.

Planet Restaurant, Mount Nelson Hotel, 76 Orange Street, Gardens, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 483-1000 www.planetbarandrestaurant.co.za (No menu or winelist on the website, and disappointingly almost no food photographs in the Gallery).  Monday – Sunday dinner only.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage   Twitter: @WhaleCottage

The eagerly awaited Top 20 shortlist for the 2010 Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards has just been announced.   Five of the twenty top restaurants are in Cape Town, two are in Franschhoek, and new SA Gourmet Capital is Stellenbosch, with five finalists.   Fifteen of the Top 20 Restaurant list are from the Western Cape.

The Top 20 List follows:

Cape Town:   Aubergine, The Greenhouse, Jardine, La Colombe, The Roundhouse

Stellenbosch: Restaurant Christophe, Jordan’s Restaurant with George Jardine, Overture, Rust en Vrede, Terroir

Franschhoek:  Reuben’s, The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français

Paarl: Bosman’s at Grande Roche

Somerset WestRestaurant at Waterkloof

Knysna: Zachary’s at Pezula

Johannesburg: DW Eleven-13, Linger Longer, Roots

Pretoria: Mosaic

KwaZulu-Natal: Hartford House

Two weeks ago we posted a prediction of the Top 20 shortlist, and correctly predicted the inclusion of Bosman’s, Restaurant Christophe, Jordan’s Restaurant with George Jardine, The Greenhouse, Jardine, Mosaic, Overture, The Restaurant at Waterkloof, Roots, Rust & Vrede, The Roundhouse, The Tasting Room and Terroir.   We are surprised at the inclusion of Reuben’s Franschhoek, due to service issues, and of La Colombe, as its chef Luke Dale-Roberts works at the restaurant in a consulting capacity now and is opening his new restaurant The Test Kitchen in November.   A welcome surprise is to see Bosman’s on the shortlist again, after a long absence.  Surprise exclusions are Giorgio Nava’s Carne and 95 Keerom Street (he is a darling of Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly!), and of Bizerca Bistro, which controversially won in the stand-alone Best Bistro category last year.   As predicted, previous Top 10 winner Jacques de Jager of Salt (ex-Grande Provence), and previously shortlisted Top 20 Rudi Liebenberg of the Cape Colony restaurant at the Mount Nelson Hotel, did not make the 2010 Top 20 shortlist. 

The Eat Out Top 10 Restaurants will be announced at a gala dinner on 28 November.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com

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 à 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 info@whalecottage.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

We have been tracking recent restaurant opening, closure, and restaurant and chef change information in Cape Town and in the Winelands on our Winter Restaurant Specials blog post, but have decided to do an update for those not looking for specials necessarily.  

Restaurant openings

*   La Mouette has opened at 78 Regent Road in Sea Point.  

*    Brio is a new jazz restaurant, in half of the ex-Riboville in town (on the Adderley Street side)

*    Van Hunks has opened at 1 Union Street, off Kloof Street in Gardens

*   Cafe Nood has opened in Wilderness Road, Claremont

*    Ryan’s Kitchen has opened at Rusthof guest house in Franschhoek – the chef Ryan Smith is ex-Mont Rochelle. 

*   The House of Meat has opened in the Pepper Club Hotel, corner Long and Bloem Streets, offering a full braai for R 295  

*   Spiros has opened in Hout Bay

*   La Cantina has opened in the Alliance Francaise.

*   The De Leuwen Jagt restaurant on the Seidelberg wine estate outside Paarl has opened The Fabulous Bakery.  

*   Gesellig has opened on the corner of Church and Regent Roads in Sea Point, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.  

*   Indochine has opened at the Delaire Graff wine estate in Stellenbosch. 

*   The Long Table Restaurant and Cafe has opened at Haskell Vineyards in Stellenbosch. 

*   The Wild Peacock Food Emporium has opened in Stellenbosch.  

*   De Oude Bank Bakkerij has opened in Stellenbosch.  

*   Knife Restaurant has opened in the Crystal Towers Hotel & Spa, a sister restaurant to Fork.

*   Sommelier Restaurant has re-opened, after a two-year closure, at Sante Hotel & Wellness Centre

*   Illyria coffee shop has opened in the Eikestad Mall in Stellenbosch

*   Pierneef à  la Motte has opened at La Motte in Franschhoek.

*   The Artisan Cafe has opened inside Table Thirteen in Green Point, with a barista

*   The Fish Shack has opened in The Paddocks, Milnerton

*   Maison in Franschhoek is to open a restaurant

*   Etienne Bonthuys (ex-Tokara) has opened his long-awaited restaurant on Dorp Street, Stellenbosch, called Casparus, in partnership with artist Strijdom van der Merwe.

*   Luke Dale Roberts, award-winning chef whilst at La Colombe (reaching 12th place on Top 50 Restaurants in the World list), has opened The Test Kitchen at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock.

*   Sofia’s at Morgenster has opened.

*   Down South has opened on Long Street 

*   Victoria Eatery has opened in Hermanus.

*   French Toast has opened at 199 Bree Street, a wine and tapas bar

*   DISH has opened at Inn on the Square, Greenmarket Square

*   Babel has opened at Babylonstoren near Klapmuts/Simondium (next to Backsberg)

*   Hemelhuijs has opened at 71 Waterkant Street, for breakfast and lunch

*   Barracudas has opened  with ‘simply sumptious seafood’ served, in Fish Hoek.

*   The Olive Shack at Allora in Franschhoek has opened as a deli, doing olive oil tastings, and serving Breakfast, Greek lunches and picnics

*   Sotano by Caveau has opened in the La Splendida Hotel in Mouille Point

*   Tables restaurant has opened at Nitida wine estate in Durbanville

*   Mozarella Bar has opened on Kloof Street, Gardens

*   Café Benedict has opened on the main road in Franschhoek.

*   Trinity has opened as a ‘super club’ in Bennett Street in Green Point

*   Il Cappero Italian Restaurant has opened in Barrack Street

*   Sugar Hut Club has opened in the old Castle Hotel building on Canterbury Street, next door to Charly’s Bakery

*   Caffé Milano has opened on Kloof Street, Gardens

*   The Stone Kitchen has opened at Dunstone Winery in Wellington

*  The Franschhoek Food Emporium has open in Place Vendome, and is owned by legendary Topsi’s daughter Danielle

*   What’s On Eatery  has opened in Watson Street, between Loop and Bree Street

*   Haas Coffee Collective  has opened on Rose Street in Bo-Kaap

*   Crush coffee shop and bakery has opened in Paarl, owned by Gerard van Staden, previously chef at le Franschhoek Hotel, and later overseer of all restaurants owned by Robert Maingard in Franschhoek.

*   Dear Me Brasserie and Tjing Tjing Bar has opened on Longmarket Street.

*   Quilter & The Workmen is to open in Bree Street in May

*   Act Restaurant and Play Bar  have opened at the Baxter Theatre

*   Le Coq has opened in Franschhoek

*   Dash  has opened in the Queen Victoria Hotel in the Waterfront

*   Café Dijon has opened another branch at Zorgvliet wine estate

*   Harbour House is to open a branch in the V & A Waterfront in September, in the Fisherman’s Choice site, near Sevruga

*   KOS Coffee & Cuisine has opened in The Regency on Regent Road in Sea Point

*   Café Extrablatt opens where shu used to be, next door to Doppio Zero in Green Point, in August

*   Skinny Legs & All That has opened on Loop Street

*   Leopard’s Leap opens its new picnic facility, tasting room and cookery school in October

Restaurant closures

*  Josephine’s Patisserie on Loop Street

*   Ginja on New Church Street

 maze at the One&Only Cape Town 

*   Panarotti’s and Shimmi’s Bar in Hermanus

*   Bouillabaisse in Franschhoek.     

*   Yum in Vredehoek. 

*   Cape Town Fish Market in Camps Bay

*   Vista Mare in Camps Bay

*   La Table de France in Sea Point

*   La Brasserie in Franschhoek

*   shu on Main Road in Green Point

*   Camil’s on Main Road in Green Point

*   Madame Zingara has left Cape Town

*   Fiesta in the Old Cape Quarter

*   Jardine’s Restaurant has closed on Bree Str

*   Liquorice and Lime has closed down on St George’s Mall

*   Cheyne has closed on Bree Street

*   The Kitchen Bar in the Quarters’ Hotel in Hermanus has closed

*   The Bistro in Franschhoek has closed down

*   The Sandbar in Camps Bay has closed down

*   The Blonde building is up for sale, and does not appear to be re-opening in August, as was announced by The Caviar Group, owners of Blonde, two months ago.

*   The Green Dolphin Jazz Club in the V & A Waterfront has closed down

*   Mezzaluna in Loop Street has closed down

*   Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant judge Pete Goffe-Wood’s Wild Woods Restaurant has closed down.

*   Restaurant Christophe closes down in Stellenbosch on 25 June. Chef Christophe Dehosse will be back at Joostenberg from August.

*   Nando’s in Camps Bay has closed down

*   Haute Cabriere under the chef-manship of Matthew Gordon closes on 7 June at the wine tasting venue with the same name in Franschhoek.

Restaurant name-changes/take-overs/chef changes/address changes

*   Leaf Restaurant and Bar has opened where The Showroom/Portofino used to be.  

*   Mason’s Cafe and Grill has opened where Cafe Gainsbourg used to be

*   On Broadway has moved to the New Space Theatre building, and is using the ex-Anytime restaurant space as one of the restaurants its patrons can eat at before the show.

*   Camil Haas, the co-owner of Camil’s in the Cape Royale Luxury Hotel, has left the restaurant (which has since closed down).  He is working for Reuben Riffel at Reuben’s in Franschhoek and at the One&Only Cape Town.  

*   Tank in the old Cape Quarter has changed its name to Aqua.

*   Luke Dale-Roberts is no longer the Executive Chef at La Colombe, but will consult to the restaurant.  

*   Cafe Rouge in Franschhoek has been renamed Chez d’Or.

  Richard Carstens has left Chez d’Or in Franschhoek, and is the Executive Chef and Wilhelm Kuehn the owner of Tokara Restaurant in Stellenbosch

*   Buena Vista Social Club has moved to the top end of Portswood Road in the Waterfront. 

*  Reuben’s at One&Only Cape Town has opened, where maze used to be.

*   Cafe Le Chocolatier has taken over from Cafe Vendome in Place Vendome in Franschhoek.

*   Dutch East has taken over from Burgundy in Franschhoek

*   Cafe des Arts has taken over Topsi’s in Franschhoek.

*    Amazink, ex-Roots, in Khayamandi in Stellenbosch, has opened, with Bertus Basson from Overture an advisor.

*   Chef School owner Kevin Warwick has taken over Kate’s Village in Hermanus, now called The Class Room

*   Da Luigi has opened where Vista Mare was in The Promenade in Camps Bay

*   Satay Bar has opened where Zucca was in Kloof Street

*   Le Quartier Francais has closed its bistro iCi, and opened The Common Room

*   Franko’s Kitchen in Plettenberg Bay has reopened as a sushi restaurant called Kitchen Café

*  Fu.shi in Plettenberg Bay has closed down, and has a new owner and a new name The Terrace

*  The Old Post House in Plettenberg Bay has closed down, but is set to re-open for three months with a new owner

*   Blakes has opened on Buitengracht/New Church Street, where Relish/Ninja used to be, belonging to Rochelle Bushelle, owner of the Opal Lounge, and offering a lounge, bar and dining services

*   Franschhoek Kitchen is the new name of Genot restaurant on the renamed Holden Manz Wine Estate in Franschhoek (previously Klein Genot)

*   Chef Eric Bulpitt has moved to The Roundhouse, due to the closure of Jardine’s

*   Woodlands Eatery is the new name of ex-Yum in Vredehoek, with chef Larry, previously with Emily Moon in Plettenberg Bay

*   ZAR nightclub has opened in the Cape Royale Luxury Hotel, where Camil’s used to be 

*   Marika’s Greek Restaurant from Bakoven has moved to a new venue, at 176 Buitenkant Street, above 7Eleven.

*   The Rhubarb Room moves to 227 Bree Street

*   David Higgs is leaving Rust en Vrede  on 18 June and is moving to Johannesburg.  John Shuttleworth will step into his chef’s shoes.

*   Vanessa Quellec is to leave Caffe Milano  in July

*   Restaurant winter break closures

*   The Mount Nelson’s Cape Colony has re-opened, with a new name, Planet Restaurant, and menu. 

*   Vaudeville has reopened. 

*   Massimo’s Pizza Club in Hout Bay will re-open on 20 April, in their original venue in Hout Bay. 

*   The Salmon Bar in Franschhoek has moved into a new main road outlet in The Yard (part ex-Bouillabaisse and Pam Golding) and has re-opened.

*   Miguel’s in Plettenberg Bay has re-opened in the same location.

*   Rust en Vrede will close from 18 June – 18 July

*   Tokara will clsoe between 2 – 9 May

*   The Test Kitchen will clsoe between 7 – 23 May

NOTE: This information will be updated regularly, as we receive new information.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com

Hidden in the suburb of Paradyskloof (meaning “valley of paradise”) outside Stellenbosch, opposite the Stellenbosch Golf Course and on the road to the Vriesenhof wine estate, is Majeka House, a 5-star Boutique Hotel, with a top class French-style restaurant, a cuisine paradise, blessed with a creative young chef Anri Diener.

Co-owner Karine Dequeker is French, having studied at the Lausanne Hotel School, and worked at the Grand Roche Hotel, Lanzerac Hotel and Table Bay Hotel as Banqueting Manager, and it is her heritage that comes to the fore in the French-style menu of the Restaurant at Majeka House.  Her husband Lloyd van der Merwe comes from the corporate hotel route, having worked at Protea Hotels and Holiday Inn, and at SETA, the hotel industry training body, before he became a training consultant.  Majeka House previously was the private home of Karine’s father, and she and her husband set about a redesign of the property, spread over three erfs, to make it an 18-bedroom Hotel, opening 18 months ago.   The property is spacious, and the bedrooms, swimming pool, parking area and restaurant all are generously sized. One would not know about the restaurant if one drove past the Hotel, as it is not separately branded nor visible.   The Majeka name comes from the first two letters of the names of three of the owners of the property.

The invitation to review the Restaurant at Majeka House came from the Van der Merwes, who read this blog regularly, and from my son, who is one of the managers of the Hotel.  I accepted the invitation, with their understanding that the review would be written objectively and critically, as always.

An interesting introduction to the Majeka House restaurant is the arrival of an amuse bouche in one’s bedroom at 18h00, whether one eats at the restaurant that night or not.  I received a salmon roll and a butter pan-fried prawn on greens, a lovely way to make one look forward to dinner.

The Majeka House restaurant can seat about 30 diners, and leads to the bar and library.  It has a large fireplace, with two interesting paintings by Vicky Sander on each side of it.   The dominant wall has trendy wallpaper in gold and black, the curtains are silk-style in a golden/cream colour, the chairs are suede-style, with Persian carpets scattered on the wooden floor.  Chandeliers add the French touch.  The staff uniforms are Africa-inspired, in blue and cream, perhaps a contradiction to the French feel.  The dark wood tables have a cloth over the centre, set with fine glasses and cutlery.  What was unusual was the homely touch of a massive serviette in a serviette ring, lying at an angle across the diner’s eating area, as opposed to the left, or on the side plate, as is the norm.  The fresh rose from the garden and a flower-inspired candle holder rounded off the table decor.  Most of the crockery used is from Wonkiware, which adds a design touch to the dishes presented, the chef being minimalist as far as garnishing goes. 

Music-wise a piano can be seen, but luckily there is no pianist tickling the keys (the Mount Nelson Cape Colony’s pianist does not stop playing, and it became irritating eventually).  I found the French-style rock music too loud and too heavy, and was delighted when Hotel Costes was eventually played.

The Tasting Menu’s four courses are listed from 1 – 4 in French, reinforcing the French style of the restaurant.  One has a choice of two dishes per course, and it costs R250, or R400 with a wine paired with each course.   The lovely waitress Phelisa brought an unusual glass plate with what looked like a tablet – a small round white ‘something’ with the word WOW on it.  She poured warm water over it, and it rose and expanded immediately, to become a cloth with which one can wipe one’s hands before starting to eat.  I had never seen this before, and it was a nice unusual touch.  Warm bread was served with butter.

The menu is not branded, and the items are printed on a patterned sheet of cream paper presented on a brown leather menu holder (as are the winelist and the a la carte menu), in quite small type, making it difficult to read, especially the wine that is paired with each dish, as it is in an even smaller type size.

I started with Chicken liver parfait, very creamy and soft, served with melba toast on a port jelly, its sweetness an interesting contrast to the parfait.   The alternative was a Potato veloute, with fennel and smoked salmon fritters.   I chose to drink a glass of Tamboerskloof Syrah 2006 with the first three courses, although I could have had a different wine with each course.  The second course was a beautifully presented Mushroom risotto served on butternut puree, with a crisp parmesan wheel.   The mushrooms were minute and delicate, the risotto perfect, and the food colours on the plate necessitated minimal garnishing.   The alternative option was Pan-fried quail with a crayfish and saffron sauce with fresh gooseberries, a most interesting sounding combination.

The Beef fillet was a touch too close to the rare side, rather than the medium rare that I had ordered for the third course, served on celeriac puree, with oven roasted shallots and port jus.  This made it difficult to cut the steak slices with the non-serrated knife provided.  The alternative choice was a Buttered Kabeljou, served with a mussel and oyster mushroom ragout and Parisienne gnocchi.  The highlight of the menu was the Millefeuille of chocolate mousse, served with a rectangular-shaped flat coffee meringue and citrus fruit, absolutely yummy and a chocoholic’s dream.   The alternative Pear crumble with vanilla creme never stood a chance as a dessert choice.   As if the four courses and the amuse bouche were not enough of a delight already, a plate with a homemade marshmallow, coffee meringue and truffle was presented with the perfectly made cappuccino.

The a la carte menu offers five options per course.  Starters start at R50 (Tomato tarte tatin), and include Pan-fried scallops (R65), Tempura prawn salad (R65) and De-boned quail (R90).  Main course prices peak at R180 for Seared Springbok loin, but Beef fillet (R140), Lamb cutlets (R150), Spinach ravioli (R95), and Poached linefish served with a lobster broth (R100) are also offered.  For dessert Creme Brulee, Hibiscus granite and a trio of sorbets cost around R50, and a soft-centered mini chocolate cake and a cheese selection cost R80.

Chef Anri is a protege of Etienne Bonthuys of ex-Tokara, having worked for him for more than five years.  She helped open the Delaire restaurant in chef Christian Campbell’s kitchen, and felt that Majeka House offered her an exciting challenge, in making the switch.  She has the most exciting prospect of working at the Michelin 3-star restaurant L’Esperance in Saint-Pere-sous-Vezelay in Burgundy for two months.  The Van der Merwes have developed an exchange programme with the restaurant, having welcomed its Senior Sous Chef at Majeka House earlier this year.

The winelist presents a good selection of wines predominantly from the Stellenbosch region, and one imported champagne (Pol Roger Brut at R760).   Each wine is described briefly and commendably vintages are provided.  Wines-by-the-glass are between 2 – 5 years old, and very reasonably priced (R26 for Dalla Cia Chardonnay, R20 for Villiera Chenin Blanc, R24 for Dalla Cia Sauvignon Blanc, R18 for Land’s End Rose, R30 for Villiera Tradition sparkling wine, R28 for Marklew Merlot, R39 for Dalla Cia Cabernet Sauvignon, R43 for Rainbow’s End Cabernet Franc, R31 for Bilton Pinotage, R34 for Tamboerskloof Shiraz, and R38 for Warwick 3 Cape Ladies blend).

The Restaurant at Majeka House is a treat, especially if one decides to spend a night of paradise in Paradyskloof at Majeka House too, and not drive back to Cape Town.   The chocolate mousse is an absolute must!  Not being very well-known yet, Majeka House could do well to embrace Social Media Marketing, in starting a Blog, tweeting more regularly, building the profile of Chef Anri, and perhaps consider an independent name for its restaurant.

The Restaurant at Majeka House, 26 – 32 Houtkapper Street, Paradyskloof, Stellenbosch. Tel (021) 880- 1512.  www.majekahouse.co.za  (Both the a la carte and the Tasting menu are listed. The Image Gallery does not have a page dedicated to the restaurant, and has few food photographs) Twitter @Majeka_House.  Monday – Sunday.   On the Stellenbosch Restaurant Route.

POSTSCRIPT 22/11:  Following the advice in our review, Majeka House has announced that its restaurant will be called Makaron Restaurant from now onward.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com

In summer I had a wonderful crayfish special lunch at Salt on a hot summer’s day, and wrote a glowing review about it.  A visit to try the winter special lunch of 2 courses for R 140 and 3 courses for R 170 was disappointing, in that it lacked the evidence that Top 10 Chef Jacques de Jager, who was previously at Grande Provence, was in the kitchen or had compiled the winter special menu. 

The hostess Taahira, with a very low cut dress, wanted to seat us in the furthest corner and not necessarily at the window, but our lunch was purely business, and therefore we did not need to be “hidden”.  Being the only patrons initially, about a week prior to the start of the World Cup, we were then allowed to choose any table we liked.  My guest Darren said that the table we chose was the one Daniel Craig sat at in the movie “Flashback of a Fool”, large parts of which were shot in Cape Town.

Darren and I both had the three-course special, and chose a different course each – one has a restrictive choice of two options per course.   A quick page-through the new a la carte menu designed by Jacques was also disappointing, as I expected the creativity that he has become known for, and was recognised by Eat Out as a Top 10 chef in November, would be reflected in the menu.   It was my first visit to the restaurant since De Jager introduced his new menu after taking over the Salt kitchen.  I had expected a heavy French emphasis in the menu, especially as the waiter Michael had told me on my previous visit that the staff were learning all the French terms in the menu – I could only find the French terms ”moules mariniere”, “souffle”, “mussel veloute”, “ballottine”, “ratatouille”, “bouillabaisse” and “parfait” on the menu.

We did not order wine, but one can pay an extra R 25 in total to have the courses paired with a wine per course (Paradyskloof Chenin Blanc 2009, Paradyskloof Pinot Noir 2008, and Vriesenhof ‘enthopio’ 2005), making the meal far better value. 

We were served a choice of two breads: ciabatta and a light wholewheat bread.   An amuse bouche was brought to the table, consisting of pork rillette, truffled pea puree (nice touch of colour on the plate, but too salty) and the cutest looking poached quail egg.

My cream of butternut soup was served exactly how I like it – thick and creamy, and the Gruyere-crusted toast was a lovely match – this was my best dish of the three, yet I missed Jacques’ creative touch.  Darren was happy with his lentil salad with bacon, feta and croutons, which looked very healthy to me, but he felt that it could have done with a dressing to liven it up.

I was disappointed with my braised lamb, probably due to the rich sauce it was served with, which dominated the dish.   The sauce is not mentioned in the menu.   The sweet potato mash it was served with had a pronounced green colour – a bit worrying, as I have never seen it served this green before.  It lacked the taste of sweet potato.  Darren’s cob served on cannellini beans and sauce mittone was another healthy choice (after his lentils), but was too salty, and the carrots and celery were undercooked, he felt. 

My chocolate parfait looked pretty, decorated with two strawberries, the plate decorated with four orange segments.  The menu says that they were marinated, but what it was marinated in was not mentioned.  Darren’s pear frangipani tart was served with cinnamon ice cream, but the pears were not ripe enough and the pastry hard.

Michael was efficient in looking after all our needs, and impressed us when he rolled down an outside blind when he saw that Darren was affected by the glare of the sun.  He only got it wrong when he brought the bill in response to a request for more water, and he asked my how I wanted to pay as soon as he put down the bill, without allowing me to look at the bill first.  Taahira sent a copy of the menu to the table, which I had requested to prevent me from having to write down the menu, in a roll held together with a brown ribbon – a professional touch.

I would find it hard to recommend this Winter Special, due to it lacking excitement, it not reflecting any of the dishes on the standard menu, and it offering far less value for money as a winter special, compared to the 6-course Myoga or the 5-course (plus amuse bouche) Cape Colony specials, for example.   The Salt view and decor is far superior to those of Myoga and the Mount Nelson though.   

The August winter special will offer the following choices: vol au vent or cured beef carpaccio; baby chicken or linefish; pavlova or citrus pudding.

Salt restaurant, Ambassador Hotel, 34 Victoria Road, Bantry Bay.  Tel 021 439-7258. www.saltrestaurant.co.za  Open Mondays – Sundays, lunch and dinner.  The winter special is not available on Friday and Saturday evenings.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com

Cape Town’s restaurants are feeling the hospitality winter blues, with a large number of restaurants announcing their restaurant specials.  The winter has claimed its casualties too, and there could be more in what has been a poor winter for many businesses.

La Mouette has opened at 78 Regent Road in Sea Point.   Brio is a new jazz restaurant, in half of the ex-Riboville in town (on the Adderley Street side), while Liquorice and Lime has taken over the other half of Riboville (on the St George’s Mall side).  Van Hunks has opened at 1 Union Street, off Kloof Street in Gardens.  Cafe Nood has opened in Wilderness Road, Claremont. Ryan’s Kitchen has opened at Rusthof guest house in Franschhoek – the chef Ryan Smith is ex-Mont Rochelle.  On Broadway has moved to the New Space Theatre building at 44 Long Street, with a new restaurant where Anytime was.  Buena Vista Social Club has moved to the top end of Portswood Road in the Waterfront.    The House of Meat has opened in the Pepper Club Hotel, corner Long and Bloem Streets, offering a full braai for R 295, from 3 pm every day.   Amazink, ex-Roots, in Khayamandi in Stellenbosch, has opened, with Bertus Basson from Overture an advisor. Spiros has opened in Hout Bay.  Mason’s Cafe & Grill has opened in the ex-Cafe Gainsbourg.  La Cantina has opened in the Alliance Francaise. The De Leuwen Jagt restaurant on the Seidelberg wine estate outside Paarl has opened The Fabulous Bakery.   Gesellig has opened on the corner of Church and Regent Roads in Sea Point, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.   Chez d’Or has opened in Franschhoek, with Richard Carstens as consultant Chef, scheduled to stay until September, but he left on 28/7.  It has been confirmed that Carstens will take over the running of Tokara in October, given that Etienne Bonthuys is set to open a new restaurant on Dorp Street in Stellenbosch.  Gesellig is a cosy and friendly new eatery in Sea Point.   Indochine  has opened at the Delaire Graff wine estate in Stellenbosch.  The Long Table Restaurant and Cafe has opened at Haskell Vineyards in Stellenbosch.  The Wild Peacock Food Emporium has opened in Stellenbosch.  Knife Restaurant has opened in the Crystal Towers Hotel & Spa, a sister restaurant to Fork.  De Oude Bank Bakkerij has opened in Stellenbosch.  Cafe Le Chocolatier has taken over from Cafe Vendome in Place Vendome in Franschhoek. Leaf Restaurant and Bar has opened where Portofino/The Showroom were located.  Epicerie Fine is the new name of the L’Ermitage Deli in Franschhoek, and has a new owner.   Sommelier Restaurant at the Sante Hotel and Wellness Centre has re-opened.  Illyria coffee shop has opened in the Eikestad Mall in Stellenbosch. Babylonstoren is to open a restaurant in October, next door to Backsberg.  The Fish Shack has opened at The Paddocks in Milnerton.  Reubens at One&Only Cape Town has opened.   Luigi’s from Hout Bay is said to be opening where Vista Mare was in The Promenade in Camps Bay.   Satay Bar has taken over from Zucca in Kloof StreetPierneef à La Motte has opened at La Motte. Luke Dale-Roberts, ex-chef at La Colombe and making 12th place on the Top 50 Restaurants in the World list earlier this year, will be opening The Test Kitchen at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock in November.  Sofia’s at Morgenster will open in Somerset West in November.  Down South will open on Long Street in October.  French Toast has opened at 199 Bree Street, a tapas and wine bar.  Babel opens at Babylonstoren next to Backsberg on 14 November.   Hemelshuijs has opened at 71 Waterkant Str, serving breakfast and lunch, and dinner on request.

Portofino, which opened where The Showroom was, has closed its doors. The first review of Portofino appeared on this blog.   Cafe Gainsbourg on Kloof Street, Anytime on Long Street, Josephine’s Patisserie, Ginja, maze at the One&Only Cape Town, La Table de France in Sea Point, Panarotti’s and Shimmi’s Bar in Hermanus, Miguel’s in Plettenberg Bay, and Bouillabaisse and La Brasserie in Franschhoek have also closed down.   Camil Haas, the co-owner of Camil’s in the Cape Royale Luxury Hotel, has left the restaurant, but is doing food and wine pairing evenings in Franschhoek, and has joined Reuben’s, substituting for Reuben Riffel in Franschhoek and at the One&Only.  Yum in Vredehoek has closed down.   In Camps Bay the Cape Town Fish Market and Terra Mare have closed down.  Luke Dale-Roberts is no longer the Executive Chef at La Colombe, but will consult to the restaurant.   Tank in the old Cape Quarter is to get a new name.   Cafe des Arts has taken over from Topsi’s in Franschhoek.  Satay Bar has taken over from Zucca in Kloof Street.  shu has closed down on Main Road, Green Point, and it appears that Camil’s has too.   Madame Zingara has left Cape Town, to pitch her tent in Johannesburg.  Le Quartier Français has clsoed iCi, and has opened The Common Room.

Some restaurants are closing to have a winter break. The Mount Nelson’s Cape Colony re-opens with a new interior and new menu on 1 November.  Vaudeville has closed between August and October.  Marianna’s in Stanford is re-opening on 14 October. The Salmon Bar in Franschhoek re-opens on 1 November, undergoing renovations in a new location (parts of ex-Bouillabaisse and Pam Golding venue). Massimo’s Pizza Club in Hout Bay has gone into winter hibernation, and is likely to reopen in November, in a new venue across the road from its previous venue in Hout Bay, with the new name Massimo’sMario’s, which had to close during the World Cup due to a fire in the kitchen, has re-opened. 

The following restaurant specials have been announced (NOTE: This Specials list is updated continuously).  WE HAVE STARTED A NEW SPRING/SUMMER SPECIALS LIST

We have seen our list used without acknowledgement on other bloggers’ blogs – please acknowledge Whale Cottage Portfolio Blog as your source:

CAPE TOWN

*   The Cru Cafe in the Cape Quarter:  buy 1 wine flight, get 1 free, served with snacks, all days of week, lunch and dinner

*   Wang Thai: 2 courses including rice R 69, at V&A Waterfront, Constantia, Somerset West, and Lagoon Beach branches, until 30 November 

*   Andiamo in the old Cape Quarter: R 49 breakfast special (juice, cooked breakfast, cappuccino), until 11h30 daily; 2 pizzas or 2 pastas with 2 glasses of wine R 125; Basil, chilli chicken/salmon salad with bottle of water or colddrink R 59, until 31 October. Tel (021) 421-3687

*   Pure at Hout Bay Manor: 3 course dinner for R 200, and R 280 with a glass of wine added

*   Vanilla in the Cape Quarter:  1/2 price sushi 12 – 6 pm, 25 % off cocktails

*   Pepenero in Mouille Point : sirloin and chips R 79, seafood platter R 129, prawn platter R 99, oysters R 9 each, half-price sushi, spaghetti bolognaise R59

*  Sinn’s Restaurant at Wembley Square:  lunch (6 options) at R 50.  3-course dinner at R 135.

*   Hussar Grill, in Camps Bay and Green Point: 400g beef ribs, 200g rump/sirloin steak, 200g boerewors R99, until stocks last

*   Pepper Club on the Beach in Camps Bay: “Nip and Tuck promotion” – Prawn platter R98; Potjies R79,95; Sirloin and Prawn combo R89,50; Seafood platter R139,95; half-price sushi – until end October

*   Kuzina in the new Cape Quarter:  Meze platter for two plus bottle of wine R 189, Mondays – Fridays 12h00 – 18h00 and Sunday evenings from 18h00. Continuous. Tel (021) 418-8000

*   Saul’s Sushi@Vegas, 118 Main Road, Sea Point: “Eat as much as you like” sushi R 120 Mondays and Tuesdays, “two for the price of one” sushi Fridays and Saturdays

*   Theo’s on Beach Road, Mouille Point: oysters R 6 each, 1 kg prawns R 99, line fish R79, for lunch and dinner.  300 gram sirloin steak, spatchcock chicken peri peri and 500 gram spare ribs all R 79 for lunch only.  Full sushi platter R99, half platter R50. Tel (021) 439-3494.

*   1800 in the Cape Royale Luxury Hotel, Main Road, Green Point: 300g sirloin steak R99. Until end October.

*   Myoga at Vineyard Hotel, Newlands: 6 course dinner, with 5 choices per course, for R 150, Mondays – Saturdays, continues throughout summer 

*   Tank in old Cape Quarter: 2 courses R R140, 3 courses for R 165, both with a glass of wine, until end October.  Tel (021) 419-0007  

*   Beluga, The Foundry, Green Point: 1 kg prawns R99; 50 % off sushi Sundays – Mondays from 12h00 – 19h00.  Tel (021) 418-2948.

*   The Kove, Victoria Road, Camps Bay: 2-course meal with glass of wine R120; Fish and chips R 79, 400g ribs R75, Oysters R 9,  Seafood Platter R129, Rump 250gm R 79, Rump 500gm R 109, 1kg of prawns R 99, Lamb chops R99.  Tel (021) 438-0004

*  Cafe Sofia in Camps Bay, Green Point, etc:  Breakfats specials, Burger R59, Chicken skewers R59. 

*   221 Waterfront: two drinks for price of one, Mondays – Fridays, 16h30 – 18h30, two dishes on “Lite” and Sushi sections of menu for the price of one, 3-course dinner for R 135

*   Jakes in the Village/on Summerley, in Steenberg and Kenilworth, respectively:   25 % off all dishes, 5 – 7 pm only, Mondays – Saturdays, until end September

*   Buitenverwachting in Constantia:  2 courses R 149, 3 courses R 169, 4 courses R 199

*   Duchess of Wisbeach, corner Main and Wisbeach Roads, Sea Point – free bottle of wine for a table of four

Le Restau Paradiso, Kloof Street: Marie’s Menu 3 courses R 110; Capetonian Menu 3 courses R 130; French Classics Menu 3 courses R 150, until December.

*   A Tavola in Claremont: 50 % off all pasta dishes on Mondays. 

*   The Lookout Deck, Hout Bay:  6 prawns free with specific main courses; 6 oysters R 36 (5 – 7 pm only), until end September

*   La Mouette, Regent Road, Sea Point: 6 courses for R 175.  Express Lunch – 2 courses (with 2 choices each) at R 99.   Monday – Saturday dinner, Tuesday – Sunday lunch,  until launch of Summer menu at Garden Party on 10 October. Tel (021) 433-0856

*   Blonde restaurant, Hatfield Street: “two …blondes are better than one” promotion of 25 % off the bill, until September

*   Lagoon Beach, Milnerton – 2 course meal from R 75, “all-you-can-eat” Sunday buffet R 99

*   Jardine, Bree Street: 3-course dinner at R 180, Tuesdays – Saturdays

*   Berthas in Simonstown: 1 kg mussels, 1 kg Queen prawns or 1 kg mini seafood platter cost R 99 each

*   Ricks Cafe Americain, lunch special for R 39, Mondays – Saturdays, until 31 October

*   The Square Restaurant, Vineyard Hotel, Newlands: 5-course dinner costs R 165.  Tel (021) 657-4500

*   Pepperclub Luxury Hotel & Spa: 6 oysters and a glass of bubbly R60, Fridays from 16h00, with jazz

*   Aubergine:  2-course lunch R184,  3-course lunch R235, Wednesdays – Fridays

*   Balducci’s: All pizzas (except Flaming Prawns) R49, 26-piece Platinum Sushi Plate for R99, Burgers from R55.  Monday – Sunday, 12h00 – 18h00.

*   Ferrymans, V&A Waterfront: 3-course pairing meal, with wines matching starter and main course, at R200, until September.

*   Saul’s Taverna: for every meal ordered from main menu, the second person get’s a free main course from chef’s special menu

*   Societi Bistro: “Tour of France” – 3-course French menu R 150, until October

*   Chapman’s Peak Hotel, Hout Bay: Moelas Estufadas R35, Escargots R35, Oxtail R99, Hake and squid, chorico R29, Hake Fillet R69, Butternut and feta lasagne R69.  Tel (021) 790-1036

*   Quay 4: Snoek and chips R59, until October

*   Black Marlin: Snoek on braai R55, half crayfish on braai  R75, Saturdays and Sundays;  3 course meal plus glass of sherry R125, until October

*   Hildebrand: 2 courses R 89, 3 courses R 120, until September

*   Chenin Restaurant and Bar: Sirloin steak R60. Tel 021 425-2200

*   Leaf Restaurant and Bar : 51 % off sushi from 11h00 – 16h00 and all day Sunday, 18 prawns for R69, 50 % off dimsum. Current

*   Gesellig, Regent Road, Sea Point: 2 courses plus soup or dessert = R 90 for dinner; lunch costs R40 for dishes usually costing R65 – R77 12h00 – 14h00

*  The Fish Shack Restaurant and Wine Bar, Paddocks, Milnerton: Shack Platter and glass of wine R 90

*   Blowfish in Blouberg: Seafood platter R 89, 20-piece sushi platter + glass of wine R99, 500g rump steak R 95, Chicken schnitzel R75, Prawn platter R69, Thai seafood curry R79, Mixed Grill Espetada R95, until October. Tel 021 556-5464

*   Ocean Basket: Starter, seafood platter, and bottle of Two Oceans wine for 2 for R 235 (only at Hout Bay, Plumstead, Tygervalley and V&A branches), until 31 October.

*   Live Bait, Kalk Bay Harbour: pan-fried paprika calamari R50, until end October, Monday – Thrursday lunch, Sunday – Thursday dinner, tel 021 788-4133

*   Bamboo, below Cape Royale Hotel: unlimited prawns at R 95 on Sunday evenings, 10 oysters for price of 8

*   Cape Town Fish Market: 2 courses R 59, 3 courses R 69, (snoek paté, 200 g hake and chips, koeksisters) until 17 October

*   Cafe Chic:  3 courses R130, half price cocktails Wednesdays, until October. Tel (021) 465-7218 

*   OYO at V&A Hotel : 500g crayfish special R185. Current

*   Krugmann’s Grill, V&A Waterfront: 200g sirloin steak and 4 prawns R 65; chicken or beef burger with chips for lunch only 12h00 – 17h00 R29, both offers until end October

*   Spur: rump and sirloin, and beef or chicken schnitzel all R 59,95, until end October

*   Dale’s Black Angus Grill, Tableview: Beef Burger, Minute Fillet Steak and Egg, Mussel and Lobster Pot, Zuricher Geschnetzeltes, all R40; Liver R35; Fish & Chips R30; Castle Draft R12, until end October Tel (021) 551-7776 

THE WINELANDS

*   Allee Bleue, outside Franschhoek: choice of three 250 gram steaks at R 99, including a glass of estate wine, May – September. Tel (021) 874-1021

*   Olivello, Klapmuts, outside Stellenbosch: 2-course meal R 99, 3-course meal R 119.

*   Le Bon Vivant in Franschhoek: 2-course meal for R 150, 3 courses for R 175, until end October. Tel (021) 876-2717

*   Cuvee, Simonsig wine estate, outside Stellenbosch:   2 course lunch or dinner + glass of wine R 170, 3 courses R 200, August – October

*   Bosman’s, Grand Roche Hotel, Paarl: 3-course lunch and 2 glassses of wine for R 260, Sundays

*   Lanzerac Hotel in Stellenbosch : 3 course lunch R 235

*   Le Petite Ferme, Franschhoek: 2 courses R 100, 3 courses R 150, plus carafe of wine, live music, every Friday evening, until end October

*   Ryan’s Kitchen at Rusthof, Franschhoek : 5 course meal Taste of Africa R395, with wine added R595.  Summer Tel (021) 876-4598.  

*   Noble Hill, Klapmuts: Farmer’s Lunch costs R 62, Mondays – Fridays

*   Restaurant Christophe, Stellenbosch: business lunch – 2 courses R130, 3 courses R 150, Tuesday – Friday, served within one hour, all year

*   Allora in Franschhoek: 3 course menu at R89, until end November. Tel (021) 876-4375.

*   Café Nadine, L’Ermitage, Franschhoek - pasta, sald and glass of wine  R69.  Tel (021) 876-9200

*   Waterkloof Restaurant at Waterkloof in Somerset West: Summer special – 2 courses R140, 3 courses R170, and includes a tasting of 5 Waterkloof wines. Tel (021) 858-1491

*   L’ermitage, Franschhoek: 2 course meal and glass of wine R85. Until end October. Tel (021) 876-9200

OTHER AREAS

*   Season in Hermanus: 2 course meal R 75, bredie of the day R 48, Sunday roast R 65, 3-course Sunday lunch R 110. Tel (028) 316-2854

*   Mediterrea in Hermanus: 3 course meal R 195, Monday – Thursday dinners and Sunday lunches

*   The Class Room, Hermanus: 5 course gourmet dinner, R 165, Wednesdays – Saturdays, until end October.  Tel (028) 316-3582

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com

Copyright: Whale Cottage Portfolio

Eighteen leading restaurants from Cape Town, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch will be on show at the “Taste of Cape Town” next week, which takes place from Wednesday 24 – Sunday 28 March at the Rhodes High School in Mowbray.

Leading restaurants which will be offering up to 3 interesting mini-dishes will be Bistro 1682, Cape Colony at the Mount Nelson Hotel, Ginja, Myoga, Grande Provence, Jardine, Le Quartier Francais, Bread & Wine, Overture, The Greenhouse and Reubens.   Interestingly the One&Only Cape Town restaurants Nobu and Maze will also be presenting a taste of their dishes.   Odd is that restaurants that cannot be compared to the gourmet level of those mentioned already are also part of the ‘Taste of Cape Town’: Wang Thai, Societi Bistro, Gold, Signal at Cape Grace, and Il Leone Mastrantonio.

“Taste of Cape Town” is a franchised event, that will also be held in Johannesburg, London, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Auckland, Sydney, Milan, Amsterdam, Melbourne, Dublin, and Dubai in 2010.

Dishes to be tasted are paid for in crowns, and each restaurant can name its price ranging between 4 – 8 crowns (or R 20 – R 40).   Tickets can be bought at Computicket, either for R 80 for just the entrance, or at R 170 for entrance and crowns to the value of R 100.

Taste of Cape Town, 24 – 27 March from 18h30 – 22h30, as well as 13h00 – 17h00 on 27 March, and 12h00 – 17h00 on 28 March. www.tasteofcapetown.com

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com

The 2010 Eat Out magazine lists five pages of “10 of the best….” restaurants, many of these not being on the top 10 restaurant list.

The best restaurant sommelier list includes The Atlantic Grill, Azure, Catharina’s, Delaire Graff (interesting that the restaurant is included, only being 6 months old), Hartford House, Jardine, Ritrovo, Roots, Rust en Vrede and Signal.

The 10 best cheese platters are to be found, amongst others, at Caveau, Cotage Fromage, Hartford House, Mosaic, The Saxony and Zacharay’s.

The 10 best bathroom list includes Catharina’s, Grand Provence, maze, and Roots.  Missing from this list, it is believed, is the bathrooms of Delaire Graff, the cleanest and best smelling cloakrooms ever experienced.

Best value for money restaurants include Bellini’s, Sinn’s, Societi Bistro, and Pronto.

Some of the best bread boards are to be found at Cape Atlantic at the Table Bay Hotel, The Food Barn, Ile de Pain, Jardine, Manna, maze, Reuben’s, and The Saxon.

The top desserts are the Grand Marnier souffle at The Green House, the ginger and pistachio cake at La Petite Ferme, the chocolate mousse at Overture, and the strawberry vacherin at Terroir.

The best service comes from Rust en Vrede, Auberge Michel, Aubergine, Grande Provence, Cape Colony, Fyndraai, Mosaic, and Roots, amongst others.

The best tea and cake are served at the Mount Nelson, Cape Grace, Myatt, The Cellars Hohenhort, The Saxon, The Westcliff, The Twelve Apostles and the Vista Bar.

The restaurants with the best view include Buitenverwachting, Delaire Graff, Dieu Donne, Harbour House, La Vierge, Overture, Salt, and Tokara.

The best coffees are served at Doppio Zero, Miss K, and Ritrovo.   The best winelists and cellars include the following restaurants: Buitenverwachting, The Greenhouse, Linger Longer, maze, Mosaic, Ritrovo, Roots, Sands at The Plettenberg, and Zachary’s.

The “restaurants that buzz” include Caveau, Olympia Cafe’ and Pronto.  

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com

FEDHASA Cape, the hospitality association, appears to focus on the restaurants closing down on Cape Town, as opposed to saluting the new restaurants opening in these most difficult times.   One of the new restaurants to open is The Quarter, the gourmet bunny-chow restaurant of Bruce Robertson, the previous owner of The Showroom, which closed in April.
 
FEDHASA has publicly listed restaurants that have not closed down when they went into liquidation, over-dramatising the severity of the effect of the recession on restaurants - Summerville in Camps Bay is one such example, which is alive and well and living!  
 
Despite the recession, the hospitality industry has a lot to be grateful for - bookings are still rolling in for the summer months ahead, for World Cup 2010, and for the two British and Irish Lions’ rugby matches to be played in Cape Town on 13 and 23 June, ensuring that Cape Town will be full around these dates.
 
The restaurant industry has had it good for many years, and the number of new restaurants opening up is testimony to the fact that they have received good support from Capetonians.   Those restaurants that are arrogant, that do not deliver good service, and that do not understand that value for money is key for customers, will feel the economic pinch.   Cape Town has a seasonality problem, and guest houses led the way many years ago in reducing their rates by up to 50 % in the winter months.   For the first time ever, restaurants are offering excellent winter specials.   An e-mail doing the rounds lists 30 restaurants with winter specials.   These include specials at Aubergine, Beluga, Bungalow, Cafe Caprice, Catharina’s, Five Flies, Myoga, Sinns, Pepenero, Tank, The Food Barn, The Kove, Tuscany Beach, Buitenverwachting, Constantia Uitsig, Cuvee, La Colombe, Terroir, Cape Colony and Salt.
 
Statements made by Rey Franco of FEDHASA are publicity opportunities for the four restaurants that he is the commercial manager of, rather than in providing a balanced view of the whole hospitality industry.  They also do not offer advice as to how businesses in the hospitality industry can stay alive in this recession.