Entries tagged with “French Toast Wine & Tapas Bar”.


Anthonij Rupert entrance Whale Cottage PortfolioYesterday we visited the Anthonij Rupert Tasting Room, one of two tasting rooms at Anthonij Rupert Wines, which previously belonged to Graham Beck Wines, and was bought by Johan Rupert from L’Ormarins next door, to enhance his access to water.  Anthonij Rupert Wines has five wine brands, and 25 sub-brands, the largest range in Franschhoek, to our knowledge.   Our invitation via PR consultancy Smart Communications & Events was to see the new tasting room and to try their new High Tea.

It was a grey wintry day, and the lit fire in the lounge was welcome and made the room cosy.  Hospitality Manager Gidi Caetano, whom we know from her days as Manager of Salt Restaurant at the Ambassador Hotel, and then as GM of  the previous French Toast Wine & Tapas Bar, explained the tasting room and company structure to us while we enjoyed the treats from the three tier High Tea stand, Anthonij Rupert High Tea close up Whale Cottage Portfoliowhich consisted of scones, cream and jam, chocolate cupcakes, and candied orange and gooseberry tarts, prepared by Chef HW Pieterse  and his team, beautifully decorated with rose buds, lavender, and pansies. We were served The Wellness Group teas,  with its tea leaves in muslin bags.  A range of flavours is available.   One can book the High Tea with 24 hour notice, and organise a tea party to celebrate a special birthday, anniversary, stork tea, or just a special spoiling. Anthonij Rupert Cutlery Whale Cottage Portfolio The High Tea will usually include smoked salmon blinis, and cucumber, dill and horseradish sandwiches too.  The treats offered change regularly, and could also include orange infused koeksisters, mini chocolate and hazelnut mousse pots, chocolate salami, and red berry tarts.  Gidi told us about the herb garden growing alongside the manor house, with 32 medicinal (for educational use) and cooking herbs, the latter used in the food preparation on the estate.  It was started from scratch a year ago.

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The Odyssey interior Whale Cottage PortfolioWhen Anne Myers invited me to lunch, and asked me to choose a venue in town, I recommended The Odyssey, which I had eaten at about a month ago when Cape Legends hosted a function for its Monis brand, just after the restaurant had re-opened with a new name and new menu, having previously been French Toast Wine & Tapas Bar.  It felt familiar, as the restaurant has retained the furniture,  minimal interior changes having been made, yet it is lively and new, with a new chef and new menu, no longer just serving tapas in this first local Gastropub.

The staff are youngish and friendly, even indulging our request for the volume of the music to be toned down so that we could hear each other speak. Matt Cowan is the Manager, who was promoted from waiter at Blues, the ‘parent’ restaurant, and has a marketing background, which he applies to the restaurant too.  We discussed the surprise news that they are using Spill blog as their ‘PR company‘, and there appears to be some tension already, the relationship not appearing to have got off the ground yet.  The biggest surprise of all was the charm ofThe Odyssey Chef Lapo Magni Whale Cottage Portfolio Chef Lapo Magni, who has also moved across from Blues, and is a cousin of Lorenzo Magni, the GM of the new restaurant.  Lapo has been in the country for four years, having left his home city Florence to help out at Blues, and he has just stayed on. He is on a high, having just won the Italian RAI TV La Terra dei Cuochi award for best fledgling chef, with a substantial prize tag.  His mother runs a cookery school, and encouraged him to enter the TV cooking competition in Rome.  It was her chicken liver paté recipe that won him the competition. He is focused on sustainable sourcing, and their goal is to obtain produce within a 100 km radius, where feasible.  Warthog is excluded, for example, it coming from the Botswana border, but is something Italians love, and it offers him the opportunity to serve it as a stew with wild berries, or as sausages, he said, also sourcing desert-fed lamb.  (more…)

On Friday a number of writers was invited by De Kock Communications to attend a tasting of Monis sherries, muscadel, and port, on behalf of its client Cape Legends, the Fine Wine Division in Distell.  The fortified wine tasting was conducted at the newly opened The Odyssey, previously the French Toast Wine & Tapas Bar, and demonstrated the versatility of the fortified wines in their pairing with foods, and in the use of cocktails.

Marketing Director Ross Sleet (below right) said that sherry is making a come back. He also said that chefs have been cooking with sherry for years.  It is a wine to be enjoyed and should not sit in the kitchen cupboard!  Monis Fino, an extra-dry sherry, is to be re-introduced.  The versatility of the Monis products was demonstrated with the welcome drink, being a refreshing Monis Muscadel on crushed ice.  During the meal three cocktail options were offered, made with Monis products too: Mojito, Cosmo, and Sex on the Beach!

Monis had its early beginnings in Paarl in 1906, when Robert Monis founded Italian Warehouse, importing Italian products and making wines locally, changing the name of the company to Monis Wineries Enterprise Ltd in 1921, according to wine.co.za. The company was bought by Distell in 1966.

Chris de Klerk, a Cape Wine Master and a Wine Ambassador from Cape Legends’ Johannesburg office (left), was flown to Cape Town to lead the tasting, and did an interactive tasting of the Monis products, and then paired them with different food types, to demonstrate the versatility of the pairing options. Chris explained that fortified wines are oxidised, given them the darker colours and their richness. Sherry is the boldest of the fortified wines, he said, and is served as a double tot due to its alcohol content. The Monis range is not endorsed by Weighless, Chris quipped, talking about their sugar content.  While the origin of port is Oporto in Portugal, it is the French who drink the most port in the world, serving it as an aperitif before a meal, making one’s guests happy and hungry quickly due to the quick absorption of the alcohol through the mouth and stomach. Sherry should be served ice cold, not known to most of its drinkers.  Chris explained that it is not allowed to label new ‘sherry’ and ‘port‘ bottles any more, according to a 1936 ‘Crayfish Agreement’ between our country and the European Union, which prohibited South African sparkling wine from being called ‘champagne‘, and also prohibited the use of the words ‘Bordeaux’ and ‘Chateau‘.  Existing packs carrying the sherry and port names were labeled before 2012, and those that are sold into non-EU countries may carry them too.  So the Full Cream bottle just has the brand name and the ‘Full Cream’ descriptor, followed by an almost unreadable ‘Traditional Flor Method’, without the word ‘sherry’ on the label. ‘Flor’ refers to the unique yeast which is used to make sherry, and gives the sherries a unique flavour. Monis makes their sherries in the style of those from Jerez de la Frontera in Spain. The port bottle is described as ‘Cape Vintage’.

We tasted the four Monis products on their own, and then again, paired with four distinctive food types felt to pair well with them, the sherries all made from 100% Chenin Blanc:

*   Monis Pale Dry sherry: Notes of apricot, wood, vanilla and salt. When paired with a very spicy chorizo, our tasting table felt it tasted less good (sugar level 18g per litre). Can be served with seafood too.

*   Monis Medium Cream sherry:  this wine was described as being a bit more shy, with more caramel and Christmas cake flavours (sugar level 95g per litre).  The pairing with a creamy camembert was superb, the best pairing of the four, the cheese toning down the sweetness of the sherry.  It would also go well with a soup, sauces, stews, spicy food, and creamy cheeses, or with cakes and sandwiches at a High Tea.  We serve this as our welcome drink to our Whale Cottage guests in winter.

*   Monis Vintage Port:  this was described by Chris as ‘red wine on steroids’ (sugar level 90g per litre)! Berry flavours dominate. There is an upsurge in sales of vintage port, despite it causing gout in some. It has good balance, is not filtered, and ages well in the bottle, for up to 20 years.  This year’s Nederburg Auction will include a 1948 Monis port at a sugar level of 90, which is the Portuguese norm.  It has an illusion of greater sweetness, but is less sweet than the Medium Cream sherry.  Good pairing with Gorgonzola, green fig preserve, and chocolates. Monis’ Port is made from Touriga Naçional, Souzão, and Tinta Roriz grapes from Calitzdorp.

*   Monis Full Cream sherry:  Notes of sultana, caramel (sugar level 128g per litre). The pairing with malva pudding was well received at our table, matching the sugar content of the dessert.

After the tasting the restaurant brought out a tasty starter platter of ham wrapped bread sticks, chicken liver paté bites, olives, crumbed mushroom risotto balls, and sweet potato, beetroot and Parmigiano wrapped in beef, with a separate container of very salty prawns, being mezes from the restaurant’s ‘nibble menu’, Chef Lorenzo Magni said. Most of us ordered the slow roasted pork belly with spinach flan, and apple purée, with a few mutters from the table, about sand in the spinach and string on the pork not having been removed.  The dessert platter was a collection of vanilla custard profiteroles, chocolate brownies, and strawberry vodka (a surprise) sorbet.  All the food was paired with the sherry-based cocktails.

Chef Lorenzo, previously running the Blues kitchen (the owners of Blues are the owners of The Odyssey), came to our table afterwards to apologise, stressing that they had only be open for two weeks, and that the Monis function had been pre-booked with the previous owners. He told us that they added sunscreens to the windows, and repainted the interior green, not much else about the interior having been changed. No signage is outside the building yet.  We were very surprised to hear that Clare (Mack) McKeon McLoughlin of Spill blog is the restaurant’s PR consultant for the next three months!

POSTSCRIPT 10/6: We have received a Comment from Francois, pointing out that the information supplied by Chris de Klerk as to the naming of ‘sherry’ and ‘port’ is incorrect, in going back to an EU agreement of 2002, and not to the ‘Crayfish Agreement’. The words ‘Ruby’, ‘Vintage’, and ‘Tawny’ may be used to describe port wines.

Disclosure: We received a bottle of Monis Full Cream sherry with our media pack.

Monis, Cape Legends. Tel (021) 809-7000.  www.moniswines.co.za Retail prices: R60 for the sherries, R80 for the port.

The Odyssey,  199 Bree Street, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 422-4084.  No website yet.  Twitter: @TheOdysseyZA

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

A fantastic last half of April weather-wise has been a ‘second wind’ for Cape Town’s restaurants, delaying the closure of restaurants which will be inevitable in the long winter lying ahead.  Already April has seen six restaurant closures.  This list of restaurant openings and closings is  updated continuously, as we receive new information:

Restaurant Openings

*   Frères Bistro has opened next door to Col’Cacchio on Hans Strydom Avenue in the city centre.

*   Orphanage Cocktail Emporium is opening Orphanage Club upstairs, with 1920’s style music by live performers, later this year.

*   Cavalli restaurant is said to open on the stud farm on R44, between Stellenbosch (more…)

There have been a number of restaurant openings, four in Franschhoek in December alone, and restaurant closures are minimal at present, a good sign of recovery. This list of restaurant news is updated continuously, as we receive information:

Restaurant Openings

*   The Rotisserie at Leopard’s Leap has opened in Franschhoek, with Chef Pieter de Jager (left), moving across from Pierneef à La Motte

*   Antipasto Bar has opened at the new Anthonij Rupert Wines tasting room, where Graham Beck used to be, outside Franschhoek

*    Sacred Ground has opened as a Deli and Bakery in The Square in Franschhoek

*   Kloof Street House has opened where Opal Lounge used to be.

*   Col’Cacchio has opened a new outlet in Westlake, and new ones are coming in Claremont and Hermanus.

*   New Vida é Caffe new branches are to open on Maindean Place in Claremont, at the new Wembley Square 2 development, at The Paddocks, Groote Schuur, and Roeland Street.  Two more branches are planned for Mauritius.

*    Honest Chocolate is opening a second outlet, a ‘production kitchen’ in the Woodstock Industrial Centre

*   Moyo has opened, where the Paulaner Braühaus was, in the V & A Waterfront.

*   FEAST is to open where Franschhoek Food Emporium was, in Place Vendome

*   Cavalli restaurant is said to open on the stud farm on R44, between Stellenbosch and Somerset West, this year or next

*   Camphors at Vergelegen has opened, with Chef PJ Vadas.

*   David Higgs (ex Rust en Vrede) has opened Five Hundred,  a new 30 seater restaurant in The Saxon in Johannesburg.

*   Cousins has opened in the Parliament Hotel, where Il Cappero used to be.

*   Gourmetboerie has opened at the bottom end of Kloof Street

*   Kushi Indian Restaurant has opened a branch on Main Road in Sea Point

*   Thai Café is opening on Plein Street, Stellenbosch

*   Bellini’s is said to be opening on Greenmarket Square

*   Moksh Authentic Indian Cuisine restaurant has opened in Paarl

*   Alfama’s has opened on Waterkant Street

*   It’s a House is to open on Jarvis Street, as a bar, coffee shop, and design art space.

*   Lion’s Head Bar is to open on Bree Street, selling craft beer and food

*   Shake your Honey Mumbai is to open in the original Madame Zingara building on Loop Street, in August.

*   A new bar and Café is to open underneath the Cape Royale Luxury Hotel, where Bamboo used to be

*   Café Blanc de Noir has opened on Brenaissance wine estate in Stellenbosch

*   Chef Nic van Wyk, previously with Terroir, has opened The Eatery at Diemersdal in Durbanville.

*   Lizette’s Kitchen has opened in Vöelklip, Hermanus.

*   Paulina’s Restaurant has opened at Rickety Bridge in Franschhoek

*   Buitenverwachting has opened Coffee Bloc Coffee Shop and Roastery

*   Wakaberry has opened on Kloof Street

*   Rock Sushi Thai has opened in Meadowridge

*   Jimmy Jimanos sports bar is opening on Long Street

*   The Salzburger Grill has opened in Sea Point

*   The Stall has opened as a Bar and Family Café in the old Pippin Farm Stall, at the entrance to Franschhoek

*   Burger King will open its first South African branch in Cape Town later this year!

*  A coffee shop, chocolaterie, bar, and fashion boutique will open in a 3-storey building on Long Street in February, as yet unnamed.

*   The Beer Bar is to open on Long Street

* Eataria is to open on Long Street

*   Portuguese restaurant Alfama has opened on Bree Street

*   Shimmy Beach Club has opened in the V&A Waterfront in December, involving Chef Seelan Sundoo.

*   McDonald’s is opening new branches in Wynberg, Lansdowne, and Claremont in Cape Town

*   The Red Table Restaurant at Nederburg has opened for lunches Wednesday – Sunday

*   Wilderer Distillery and La Grapperie at Spice Route restaurant are opening in Spice Route wine estate, in addition to their existing location

*   Tridici has opened on the N2 near Swellendam.

*   TriBakery is to open near Moyo in the V&A Waterfront

*   Latitude33 has opened on Bree Street

*   Luke Dale Roberts appears to be continuing his expansion trail, and is said to be opening on Long Street.  He has been seen with plans together with Giorgio Nava of 95 Keerom Street and Carne, as well as with Bertus Basson of Overture.

*   Mischu: The Coffee Showroom has opened on Regent Road in in Sea Point.

*   Deluxe Urban Café has opened in the old Cape Quarter.

*   Gourmet Cakes has opened on Kloof Street

*   Peter’s House has opened on Kloofnek Road

*   A new restaurant and micro brewery is to open next door to The Bromwell in Woodstock (name not yet known).

*   Le Venue has opened at The House of JC le Roux

*   The Harbour House group is opening a new restaurant at 107 Loop Street.

Restaurant Closures

*   French Toast Wine and Tapas Bar has closed down, following the death of co-owner John Harrison.

*   The Kove in Camps Bay has closed down, its space has become part of sister restaurant Zenzero

*   Sinnfull has closed down in Camps Bay

* Planet Green Salad has closed down

*   Freedom Hill Restaurant has closed down (and subsequently burnt down).

*   Wale Rose Lifestyle has closed down in Bo-Kaap.

Restaurant staff/venue changes

*   The V&A Waterfront Food Court has re-opened, with Primi Express, Anat, Carnival, Nür Halaal, Royal Bavarian Bakery, KFC, Boost Juice, Simply Asia, Steers, Debonairs, Subway, Marcel’s, Haagan Dazs, and Nando’s.

*   Fyndraai Restaurant will move to another building on the wine estate, and will offer fine dining.  The current restaurant will serve light lunches and picnics.

*   Giulia’s Food Café Restaurant has opened where Miss K was on Main Road, Green Point. Serve Italian-style lunch and dinner, but have retained some Miss K breakfast and pastry items.

*   Orphanage Cocktail Emporium has expanded into a property at its back, opening on Orphan Street, creating The Dining Room downstairs.  It is opening Orphanage Club upstairs, with 1920’s style music by live performers, in about 6 months.

*   Marcellino’s Bakery has changed its name to EuroHaus, with a restaurant added to the bakery.

*   Maryna Frederiksen is the new Executive Chef at The Franschhoek Kitchen at Holden Manz.

*   The ex-Caveau owners have taken over the running of the Twankey Bar of the Taj hotel.

*   Sand at The Plettenberg hotel has changed its name to Seafood at The Plettenberg.

*   Lasse Presting is the new Manager of the Haute Cabriere restaurant

*   Chef Alistair Lawrence has taken over from Fernando Romano at 5 Rooms at The Alphen Hotel

*   De Oude Bank Bakkerij is expanding, and will open a retail section selling charcuterie, fresh meats, home-made ice cream, and wines, collectively called De Companje, from February

*   Taste Restaurant has moved to Bilton Wines

*   Bar1 has opened where Sunbird Bistro was in Camps Bay.

*   Oppie Dorp has opened where Cognito was on Dorp Street in Stellenbosch.

*   Chef Reuben Riffel and his colleague Maritz Jacobs have been contracted to design the menus and prepare the food for weddings and events at Allée Bleue.

*   Thai Café is to open where the coffee shop was at the entrance to Piazza St John in Sea Point

*   Sensei Deon de Jongh has left Okamai at Glenwood wine estate in Franschhoek.

*   Baked Bistro has open in Bakoven, where Marika’s and Saboroso used to be

*   The Urban Garden Restaurant is to open where Bistro on Rose was.

*   Sadly Isabella Immenkamp, the excellent service-orientated hostess at Burrata, is leaving for Jordan Restaurant at the end of February.

*    The Pot Luck Club has re-opened in its new venue at the top of the Old Biscuit Mill in February.

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

Bloggers must be honest and independent to have any credibility, the Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting was told by wine blogger Dion Martin at its meeting held at French Toast Wine & Tapas Bar last week.  This was echoed by food blogger and restaurant design curator Neil Stemmet.

Dion Martin writes The Travelling Vineyard Blog as a sideline, being a print-on-demand publisher in his day job.  A love for food in his family, a chef qualification he obtained via City and Guilds, a Cape Wine Academy Certificate, and a University of Stellenbosch Wine Evaluation diploma, led Dion to start his blog two years ago, so that he could document his wine experiences.  Dion mentioned that lawyer Robert Parker could be seen to have been the first blogger, in having published a weekly newspaper thirty years ago already, sharing his evaluation of the wines he had tasted.  Dion has observed an increasing ‘noise’ in food blogging, and therefore one should find a point of difference with one’s blog:  it could be humour, it could be its excellent photographs, or its ethics, in declaring when the blogger has received a complimentary product or meal.  Few bloggers disclose freebies, he said.   When he was asked how he deals with freebies, Dion said he would accept them, but would not write about a wine in isolation.  He might write a comparative review about a blind tasting he would do with the freebie wine against two others.   

Dion said that he is an avid Twitter fan (@TVDionysus), but he sees a lot of ‘soulless Tweeting”.  He warned that communication on a medium such as Twitter can be misinterpreted due to the loss in intonation, which one would have in spoken communication.  He warned Tweeters to be careful in what they say, and attendee Dusan Jelic added that one should not ‘Drink and Tweet’.   Dion has seen people on Twitter follow groupings, reflecting a herd mentality.  Twitter is a conduit to one’s blog.  Twitter has a lot of ‘noise’ too, and he filters this ‘noise’ out via TweetDeck, in reading only the Tweets of a select number of persons he follows.  Such a facility is available on HootSuite too.  He is strict in unfollowing those that do not follow him.  Dion said that he does not use Vlogging much yet, but is experimenting with it, as he recognises the value of YouTube videos in Google search optimisation.   He advised bloggers to not make the video longer than 30 seconds.   Dion does not use Facebook much, but recognises that it is powerful. 

Dion brought along a selection of Shiraz wines, for the bloggers to taste: Rusty’s Red from McGregor, made by garagiste John Hargraeves and costing about R40; Rusticus is a Shiraz and Viognier blend from Robertson, costing about R80; Le Marquis de Beau Rond Syrah received the least favourable response; Simonsvlei Toffee Chunck Syrah was also not that highly rated; the Sutherland Shiraz from Elgin, costing about R90, received the most most positive response. 

Neil Stemmet writes ‘soutenpeper’ Blog, the content all written in lower case, to represent his humility and the blog’s simplicity, and is in Afrikaans.  He focuses on the food tradition of South Africa, and his book by the same title will be published in November, and will be launched at the Food Indaba, to be held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, and organised by Design Indaba’s Ravi Naidoo.  Neil said that he has no formal training, but he sees himself as a teacher, in wanting to leave a legacy.  He is a ‘survivor’, he says, and says that the more one gets stamped upon in a judgemental society, the more fuel one obtains. He has been the interior curator of the Towerbosch restaurant at Knorhoek, and Cuvee at Simonsig.  He received acclaim for his award-winning stand he curated for the BOS Tea House, and he did so with minimum budget, collaborating with a  number of design suppliers, each of whom brought a display case representing their outlet.  The walls were painted purple, and the food was served in large platters at the symbolic ‘altar’ table, explaining his interpretation of a reaction to religion. 

The ‘soutenpeper’ name reflects Neil’s approach to food preparation, which is adding nothing more than salt and pepper to a leg of lamb.   It starts in obtaining one’s meat from a butcher one knows, and knowing from where he sources his meat.  Neil started his food career with his restaurant Le Must in Upington, which he opened in 1985, and still owns. Here he once served Nelson Mandela.  He keeps his food ‘hearty and simple’, serving it in large platters, and it is eaten with ‘great conversations’.  Neil started ‘soutenpeper’ on WordPress, and asked for help when he got stuck in his early days of blogging.  The publishers approached him about the book after only three months of blogging. He said of his growing reputation:”The more people write about me, the more scared I get”.  He says it takes energy to live up to the coverage he receives, and he is always honest and sincere.  He speaks his mind.  He advised bloggers to write what comes to mind, to be natural in what one writes, and “to trust one’s instinct and to not force it”.  Do not shout, he advised, ‘speak quietly’.  ‘Become more humble, the more success you have.  It is not about you, but about the energy flowing through you.  Do not write for who we think we should be, but for what you are. Always share knowledge, and you will get reward from it’, he concluded.

French Toast Wine & Tapas Bar is jointly owned by Karen Visser and John Harrison, and opened last year. They generously hosted the Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting next to their cosy downstairs fireplace, serving bruschetta, as well as a surprise Chocolate Fondant.

The next meetings of the Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club take place as follows:

   *   20 July : Hennie Coetzee and Maggie Mostert of Batonage Blog, at What’s On Eatery

   *   17 August:  Nikki Dumas of Swirl Blog, and Matt Allisson of I’m no Jamie Oliver Blog, at Den Anker, wines sponsored by Jordan wines

   *   21 September:  Chef Brad Ball of Bistro1682, and a wine speaker from Steenberg, at Steenberg

   *   19 October:   Roger and Dawn Jorgensen of Jorgensen’s Distillery, and Anthony Gird and Michael de Klerk from Honest Chocolate, with a chocolate and potstill brandy tasting and talk on blogging, at Haas Coffee on Rose Street. 

   *   12 November: Saturday lunch visit to new Leopard’s Leap tasting room and cookery school in Franschhoek

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  E-mail: whalecot@iafrica.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage  @FoodWineBlogClu Food & Wine Bloggers Club now on Facebook

It would appear as if the world-wide recession has only hit South Africa, and the Cape in particular, now and with a severe bang.  There is almost daily news of restaurant closures, three alone in the past three days, sad given how much the restaurants have invested in building a brand name and a regular following for their businesses.

The more than 100 restaurants in Cape Town and in the Winelands that are offering such generous Winter specials must be commended, and we will do our best to make their specials known to as many persons as possible.  We encourage our readers to do the same, to prevent any further closures.

We have created a new blogpost, with the restaurants opening and closing, and chefs moving, since spring 2011.

The following restaurants have closed down in the past few months, and these may not be the only ones as the winter takes its toll:

*   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

*   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 closed down in Stellenbosch on 25 June. Eat Out Top 20 Chef Christophe Dehosse will be back at Joostenberg from August.

*   Nando’s in Camps Bay has closed down

*   Haute Cabriere, under the chefmanship of Matthew Gordon, closed on 7 June at the wine tasting venue with the same name in Franschhoek.  See below for re-opening.

*   Karma closed down in Camps Bay

*   Hermanos in Hermanus has closed down

*   Fizz Affair Champagne and Wine Bar has closed down in Franschhoek

*   Doppio Zero in Green Point has closed down

*   Nzolo Brand Café has closed down in Church Street

*  L’Aperitivo has closed down.  See below for Valora.

*   On Broadway’s in-house restaurant has closed down.  Re-opened as Roberto’s on 7 July – see below.

*   Doppio Zero Claremont has closed down

*   Brio 1893 is closing down on 12 August

*   Chenin has closed in the old Cape Quarter

*   Cafe Max has closed down in De Waterkant

*   Bella Lucia has closed down in Wynberg

*   Iconic restaurant Linger Longer has closed down in Johannesburg after the death of chef Walter Ulz, 2010 Eat Out Lannice Snyman Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.

*   Postocini Express has closed on Greenmarket Square

*   De Huguenot Restaurant, only having open for six months, closes at the end of October.  The Harry Q bar will continue operating, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.  The De Huguenot Estate will concentrate on weddings and events.

*   Wildflour has closed down on Regent Road in Sea Point.

*  The Olive Shack in Franschhoek has closed its restaurant operation, and will only operate as a shop selling olive-related products.

*   221 Waterfront has closed down in the V&A Waterfront

*   What’s On Eatery in Watson Street has closed down

But all is not doom and gloom, and the restaurateurs that are opening restaurants in these difficult times must be congratulated and wished well.  These restaurants opened their doors this year :

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

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

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

*   Tables restaurant has opened at Nitida wine estate in Durbanville

*   Mozzarella 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

*   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 Venter’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

*   Crunch:The Pastry Shop coffee shop and bakery has opened in Paarl, owned by Gerard van Staden, previously chef at Le Franschhoek Hotel

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

*   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 has opened a branch in the V & A Waterfront, where Fisherman’s Choice was

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

*   Café Extrablatt has opened where shu used to be, in Green Point

*   Skinny Legs & All has opened on Loop Street

*   Leopard’s Leap will open its picnic facility, tasting room and cookery school outside Franschhoek in November/December

*   De Huguenot Estate has opened The Marianne, Harry Q Bar and Fraiche, with ex-Hunter’s Country Lodge chef Tanya Kruger in the kitchen. (The De Huguenot restaurant closes at the end of October – see in closures above, and Fraiche Deli will no longer open).

*   Cicciobella Pizzeria has opened in Hout Bay

*   Takumi has opened, with Chef Papa San the Sushi Master

*   Sunbird Bistro has opened in the ex-Sandbar space on Victoria Road in Camps Bay, with Lana Doyle as chef and Pamela Trevelyan as Manager. Smart blue/white interior. Serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, cocktails and tapas.

*   The Grand Camps Bay will be operated by the ex-Sandbar for Breakfast and lunch.  The Grand takes over from 4 pm.

*   Mezepoli from Johannesburg is opening in the Nando’s space in Camps Bay on 20 October

*   Saboroso has opened in Bakoven, where Marika’s used to operate

*   Café Le Chocolatier has opened a chocolate manufacturing and demo outlet Le Chocolatier Factory, next to its restaurant, in Franschhoek, utilising Lindt equipment and chocolate

*   Haute Cabriere Cellar Restaurant has re-opened, with new chef Ryan Shell.

*   Cavallo restaurant is said to open on the stud farm on R44, between Stellenbosch and Somerset West, in 2012 or 2013

*   Roberto’s has opened underneath On Broadway, owned by Chef Roberto de Carvalho, ex-chef at the Twelve Apostles Hotel and the One & Only Cape Town

*   Luigi’s is opening in Paarl where Ciao Bella used to be

*   Our Place is opening in Durbanville where Avocado used to be

*   Friends Café has opened at 44 Belvedere Street, Claremont. Tel (021) 674-5510

*   Valora has opened where L’Aperitivo was, on Loop Street

*   Rococoa has opened in The Palms Decor and Lifestyle Centre in Woodstock

*   Luke Dale-Roberts (The Test Kitchen) is opening another restaurant in Wynberg, said to be where Bella Lucia is – this report, initially announced on the Spill blog, has been denied by Luke Dale-Roberts

*   Reuben’s is opening another Franschhoek branch off the main road, and will run it concurrently until its main road branch lease expires next year.

*   Toro has opened in the old Cape Quarter, near the back entrance of Andiamo, as a Wine/Aperitivo Bar, with an ex-Overture chef

*   Goloso Italian Deli and Wine Bar has opened on Regent Road in Sea Point, next door to Wildflour.

*   Franschhoek Famous Pancake House, with owner Gideon, has opened as a take-away pancake outlet, in Mont View Centre, next to the gym, in Fabriek Street, Franschhoek.

*   Cafeteria has opened in De Waterkant, initially selling wraps, sandwiches, coffee, and beautiful pastries, cakes and macaroons by Martin Senekal as take-aways, and planning to expand into a sit-down coffee shop in October.

*   A late night dinner and dance restaurant will open in the ex-Brio space in October, with a chef from St Tropez, and a DJ from Cannes

*   LM Grills has opened in Onrus, outside Hermanus, previous owners of restaurants with same name in Johannesburg and Mocambique

*   Chez Chez has opened as an Espresso and Cheesecake Bar (serving 13 different cheesecakes), 3 De Lorentz Street, Tamboerskloof.

*   Bistro on Rose has opened at 35 Rose Street

*   The Slug & Lettuce has opened on Long Street

*   Rhapsody’s franchise restaurant, mainly in Pretoria, is to open next door to Café Extrablatt in Green Point, where Doppio Zero used to be

*   Wale Rose Lifestyle has opened in Bo-Kaap, on the corner of Wale and Rose Street, serving Cape Malay as well as ‘cosmopolitan food’.

*   Andy Fenner (JamieWho?) and friends are opening Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants on Kloof Street, opposite McDonald’s, in December

* The Kitchen at Maison opens on Maison wine estate in Franschhoek on 16 November, with Chef Arno Janse van Rensburg (ex-Ginja, ex-Myoga), and Manager Julian Smith (ex-Grande Provence, ex-Waterkloof, ex-Pierneef a La Motte)

*   McDonald’s is opening a ‘concept store’ in the V&A Waterfront, where 221 Waterfront used to be

*   Batho’s Place African Restaurant has opened in the township in Franschhoek.  082 090 8660

*   Liam Tomlim’s Cookery School opens at Leopard’s Leap at the end of November, next door to La Motte in Franschhoek, also serving picnics.

*   F.east Indian Restaurant has opened corner Long and Bloem Streets, in Cape Town

Restaurant changes:

*   Chef Jacques de Jager, has left Salt Restaurant, after about 18 months

*   Restaurant Manager Darren Morgan has left Dash Restaurant, and is now at the One&Only Cape Town

*   Food & Beverage Manager of Dock House, Queen Victoria Hotel and V&A Hotel, Alton van Biljon, has left

*   Chef Lucas Carstens has left Reuben’s at One&Only Cape Town, and joined Cuvée Restaurant, at Simonsig wine estate

*   Blues in Camps Bay is reducing the size of its restaurant, and re-opens as Blues Beach House on 14 October

*   Chef Leigh Trout has left Mange Tout at the Mont Rochelle Hotel, and has bought Bird Café and Gourmet Eatery on Bree Street, with Kevin Mink.  They re-opened on 1 September with an amended interior and a new menu.

*  Ex-Hermanos chef/owner Wayne Spencer is now at Burgundy in Hermanus

*   Carl Habel, Sommelier of The Mount Nelson Hotel, has been appointed Restaurant Manager of Planet Restaurant too

*   Peaches and Cream on the Main Road in Paarl has been taken over by Anica Bester

*   Mediterrea in Hermanus has changed its name to Grilleri

*   Patron Chef Stefan Louw has taken over the running of Heaven on Newton Johnson wine estate in the Hemel en Aarde wine valley.

*   The Black Pearl is the new name of the Tapas, Restaurant and Cocktail Bar, with new owners, of the ex-Seven Sins on Kloof Street.

*   Chef Oliver Cattermole has left Dash restaurant at the Queen Victoria Hotel, and joined What’s On Eatery on 1 October.

*   Cocoa Oola has opened on Kloof Street, where Oishii used to be

*   Chef Anri Diener has left Majeka House, and Chef Tanja Kruger from De Huguenot Restaurant takes over her position

*  Chef Daniel Botha has left Le Franschhoek Hotel, and starts at Salt Restaurant on 1 November

*  Chef Oliver Cattermole, previously with Dash and What’s On Eatery, has started as Executive Chef at Le Franschhoek Hotel on 7 November.

*   Chef Matthew Gordon in Franschhoek is opening a new restaurant in Paarl

*   Dieu Donné in Franschhoek has leased its restaurant to Martin and Marco from Durban, and they have renamed it La Rocca. Chef Jo van Staden has returned to Durban with her husband, Chef Gerard van Staden, who has returned to the Beverley Hills Hotel.

*   Chef Chris Smit of Café BonBon has resigned

*   Chef Christo Pretorius, previously of De Huguenot, has started at 1800 Restaurant at the Cape Royale Luxury Hotel

*   Sommelier Neil Grant of Rust en Vrede has resigned, leaves at the end of November, and is said to open a new restaurant in the Old Biscuit Mill

The following restaurants are taking a winter break:

*   La Colombe: 30 May – 20 June

*   River Café:   10 – 30 August

*   Constantia Uitsig:   4 – 26 July

*   The Grand Café Camps Bay:   June and July

*   Pure Restaurant: 1 – 31 July

*   Terroir: 1 – 11 July

*   Grande Provence:   18 – 31 July

*   Pierneef à La Motte:  15 June – 15 July

*   French Connection: 30 May – 20 June

*   Freedom Hill: July and August

*   Overture: July

*   Waterkloof: 27 June – 20 July

*   French Toast Wine & Tapas Bar 18 – 24 July

*   Tasting Room and Common Room at Le Quartier Francais closed until 31 July

*   The Olive Shack at Allora in Franschhoek is closed until the end of September

*   Tokara Restaurant: closed 8 – 22 August

*   Blues in Camps Bay is closing for a month from 22 August – 2 October, for renovations to reduce the size of the restaurant

*   Allée Bleue will not be serving lunch on Mondays and Tuesdays during September.

*   The Kove in Camps Bay is closed until mid-September for renovations

*   Laborie Restaurant in Paarl is closed for renovations until end October.

POSTSCRIPT 28/7: Pete Goffe-Wood, ex-owner of Wild Woods in Hout Bay, has written a frank article on Food24 about why he recently closed his restaurant. He blames Capetonians for not supporting restaurants in winter months, which means that they have to cover costs out of savings created in summer, to keep the business afloat in winter (this is a general Cape winter scenario for all businesses in the tourism industry – if one does not know about this, one should not be in the business in the first place!).  He writes that Johannesburg restaurants do not suffer this seasonality.  The recent 2-week summery spell proved what an important role the weather plays – business was booming for restaurants and accommodation as Capetonians left their homes, went out, and spent money, a welcome cash injection in these difficult times.  The Bastille Festival in Franschhoek had record attendance during this period.

Restaurant Specials cause cost undercutting, which attracts business and provides cashflow, but does not help the industry, he writes. If specials weren’t offered, one probably would have seen a far greater number of restaurants closing down. They are hugely popular, and on this blog the Restaurant Specials listings are the most popular of all blogposts.  He also blames restaurant owners, often chefs, for being too ‘emotional’ about their businesses, and for not seeing the signs of tough times early enough, which may call for closing one’s restaurant.  Clearly opening any business at the moment is high risk, and for a hospitality business the risk is even higher.   Goffe-Wood also lashes out at the recent Weekend Argus article about Restaurant Closures, using names from this blogpost.  As much as he blames journalist Helen Bamford for getting her facts wrong, he does too, in calling her Linda!  Describing a non-renewal of a restaurant lease as not being a restaurant closure or failure is very debatable – if things were going well, leases would have been renewed, especially for a restaurant like Haute Cabriere, where Chef Matthew Gordon had operated for 16 years!

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

The following restaurants are offering Valentine’s Day specials, and the list will be updated as we receive more information about Valentine’s Day offers:

*   Franschhoek Kitchen, Holden Manz Wine Estate, Franschhoek: Picnic at R295 per couple, including bottle of Rosé;  3-course dinner with glass of Rosé R200 per person.   Tel (021) 876-2729

*   La Mouette in Sea Point: 4-course dinner R290, or R420 with wine.  Tel (021)433-0856

*   Café Chic, Breda Street, Gardens: 3-course dinner R225.  Tel (021) 465-7218

*   Allée Bleue, Franschhoek.  3-course dinner (set menu) and performance by Nianell, Sunday 13 February 18h00,  R350 per person.   Tel (021) 874-1886

*   Cosecha, Noble Hill Wine Estate, Paarl:  Valentine’s Day picnic for two costs R218 on 14 February.   3-course set menu on 13 and 14 February with bottle of Noble Hill Chardonnay, R168 per person.  Tel (021) 874-3844.

*   Brunia Wines, Stanford: 3 course dinner, dance and welcome glass of sparkling wine, R180 per person. 12 February. Tel 028 341-0432.

*   Five Flies, Keerom Street: 3 courses and a glass of sparkling wine R250 per person.  Tel (021) 424-4442.

*   Warwick Wine Estate, Stellenbosch:  Picnic basket for 2 plus bottle of Professor Black Sauvignon Blanc R 375 per couple.  13 and 14 February  Tel (021) 884-3144 

*   Salmon Bar, Franschhoek: cocktail and 3-course meal plus Porcupine Ridge wine “gift pack”, 14 February. R 265 per person.  Tel (021) 876-4591

*   Pappa Grappa, Paarl: 4 course meal plus grappa and ‘mystery gift’, R 245 per person.  Tel (021) 8633 555

*   Laborie, Paarl: Picnic plus Casablanca movie screening 12/2 R400 per couple; “Phantom of the Opera” theme, rose, glass of Rosé, 4-course dinner 14/2 R 315.  Tel (021) 807-3390

*   Buitenverwachting, Constantia:  3-course dinner R295, 5 course R 375, includes glass of sparkling wine.  Tel (021) 794-3522

*   Catharina’s, Steenberg Hotel, Constantia:   Seafood grill for two R1400; 5-course dinner R695 per person 14/2 Tel (021) 713-2222  

*   Grand Daddy Hotel Rooftop, Long Street: Picnic basket with romantic movie R190 per person, add R50 for bottle of Beyerskloof sparkling wine.  Tel (021) 424-7247

*   French Toast Wine & Tapas Bar:  7 Tapas and glass of Graham Beck Brut Rosé R470 per couple.  14 February. Tel (021) 422-3839

*   Rick’s Café, Gardens:  1 course R125, 2 courses R150, 3 courses R175 + glass of Pongracz Rosé. Tel (021) 424-1100  

*   Cape Town Hotel School, Mouille Point: 3-course dinner R250 per person.  Tel (021) 440-5736

*   Trees Restaurant, Townhouse Hotel: Glass of Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel and 3-course meal R180 per person

*   Rickety Bridge, Franschhoek: 3-course gourmet lunch, R200 per person. 13 February. Tel 083 377 4103

*   The Square Restaurant, Vineyard Hotel:  Glass of sparkling wine, red rose, 3-course dinner, departure gift R295.   Dinner at Liesbeeck River R425 per person.  Tel (021) 657-4500

*   1800 Degrees, Cape Royale Luxury Hotel: Glass of sparkling wine, amuse bouche, 3 courses  R250 per person.  14 February.  Tel (021) 430-0506.

*   Cuvée Restaurant, Simonsig wine estate, Stellenbosch: Candlelit 3-course dinner outdoors, bottle of Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel, and box of chocolates.  14 February. R 350 per person.  Tel (021) 888-4932

*   Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine, Stellenbosch: 6-course Tasting Menu and ‘lots of bubbly’.  R1200 per couple.  14 February.  Tel (021) 881-3612

*   Ken Forrester Vineyards, Stellenbosch: Glass of sparkling wines plus 3-course dinner R 295 per person. 14 February. Tel (021) 855-2374

*   Morgenhof, Stellenbosch: “Under the Stars Dinner Concert” – glass of wine and port, 5-course dinner, live music R 295.  14 February.  Tel (021) 889-5510

*   Hartenberg, Stellenbosch:  3-course dinner, with wine paired per course.  R280 per person.  Tel (021) 865-2541

*   Adega, Willowbridge: Glass of sparkling wine, 3-course meal, Don Pedro, R 275 per person.  Tel (021 914-5091

*   Planet Bar, Mount Nelson Hotel:  12 oysters and bottle of Pongracz Brut Rosé R 220.  Tel (021) 483-1948

*   Planet Restaurant, Mount Nelson Hotel:  4-course dinner R 395 per person. Tel (021) 483-1948

*   Il Cappero, Barrack Street: Glass of bubbly plus 3-course dinner R 300 per couple. 12, 13, 14 February.  Tel (021) 461-3168

*   Cognito Restaurant, Stellenbosch: 3-course dinner R 160. Tel (021) 882-8696

*   Glenwood wine estate, Franschhoek: Bring your own picnic, taste wine R30, wine and sweets R50, cheese platter R60, play boules. Sunday 13 February. Tel (021 876-2044

*   Pure Restaurant, Hout Bay Manor: 4-course dinner R440. 14 February.  Tel (021) 790-0116

*   Cafe Max, De Waterkant: Glass of bubbly and 3-course dinner R 220 per person. 14 February.  Tel (021) 425-5102. 

*   Bovlei Valley Retreat, Wellington: 4-course dinner R 200 per person.  14 February

*   Diemersfontein, Wellington: Glass of bubbly, picnic basket and bottle of wine R R450 per couple, lunch and dinner, 14 February

*   Krugmann’s Grill, V&A Waterfront: Glass of bubbly, 4 prawns, 200g steak and strawberry daiquiri R 95 per person. 14 February.  Tel (021) 418-9393

*   Blakes, Gardens: Masquerade theme evening - glass of bubbly, DJ, platters of tapas.  R120 (webtickets.co.za) or R150 at door.   Tel (021) 426-2369

*   Pavilion at The Marine, Hermanus: 3-course dinner, glass of sparkling wine, 2 oysrters and ‘sweet treat’ R 320.  14 February. Tel (028) 313-1000.

*   Seafood at The Marine, Hermanus: 3-course dinner, glass of sparkling wine, 2 oysters, ‘sweet treat’,  R295.  14 February. Tel (028) 313-1000.

*   Café Benedict, Franschhoek:   Glass of Dieu Donné sparkling wine and 5 course dinner R 200 per person. 14 February.   Tel (021) 876-4404

*   Trinity, Bennett Street:  3-course dinner R300 per person. Tel (021) 418-0624

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

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