Entries tagged with “Jardines”.


WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Chapman’s Peak has re-opened, while  the Franschhoek Pass remains closed, reports Kfm News. (update: The Franschhoek Pass was re-opened today)

*   Signal Hill in Cape Town may have a controlled access system between 22h00 and 5h00, to control crime during the evening.

*   The 2013 Sustainable Tourism Marketing Guide is about to be published, co-sponsored by Cape Town Tourism.

*   Travelers in the UK, USA, and Australia use a mix of e-mails (for reminders), mobile apps, and online (to make bookings) before, during, and after their holiday. Surprising is that 70% switch off whilst on holiday, especially the UK tourists.  Most of those sharing their holiday information and photographs do so when they return from their holiday.

*   BA is introducing more flights between Cape Town and London for the (more…)

Given that the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards were presented two months ago, and that its controversial international judge Bruce Palling tasted his way around the country five months ago, it was a surprise to see the article he has written about South African cuisine for British Airways Highlife, published yesterday, now claiming to be an expert about our country’s cuisine, wines, and even its accommodation!

The magazine article, which was sent as a scan from London, differs somewhat from the internet version of it, and has some text, but the most interesting part is the restaurants which Palling praised, and those that he slated. The article bills him as an expert on South African cuisine, given that he ate 200 dishes and drank 60 wines at 30 restaurants in Cape Town, the Winelands, Johannesburg, and KwaZulu-Natal in a period of 15 days, to score Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly’s Top 20 restaurant shortlist.

What Palling neglected to write in the article was that some of the restaurants he went to were for his private dining, and were not evaluated for Eat Out (e.g. Biesmiellah and (more…)

Whilst I dislike going into the city centre during the day, due to the irritating parking guards, I am pulled to the city centre more and more due to the ever-growing collection of good restaurants and coffee shops.  This blogpost is a summary of some of Cape Town’s inner-city highlights:

*   Hemelhuijs- owned by interior and restaurant consultant Jacques Erasmus, previously from Manna.  Emphasis is on freshness. Creative unusual menu.  Breakfast and lunch served.  Monday – Friday 8h00 – 15h00.  Saturday 9h00 – 15h00. Open for dinner on Wednesday evenings.  71 Waterkant Street. Tel (021) 418-2042.

*   Dear Me Foodworld - a hot new addition, with a Francois du Plessis decor emphasis on green (both interior colour and herbs grown from the ceiling, see photograph above) and health, with most dishes offered as lactose-free and/or sugar-free alternatives.  Menu changes daily.  Great creative chef Vanessa Marx. Monday – Friday 7h00 – 15h00.   Open for dinner on Thursday evenings.  165 Longmarket Street.  Tel (021) 422-4920.

*   Tjing Tjing Bar- when Dear Me Foodworld closes late afternoon, its upstairs Ting Tjing Bar opens, serving tapas, changes regularly. 165 Longmarket Street. Tuesday – Saturday from 16h00 until late.  Tel (021) 422-4920.

*   Escape Caffe- one of the hottest coffee shops in the city centre, featured in the media for its lemon cheese cake.  Owner Lameen Abdul-Malik has a Nobel Peace Prize for his joint efforts to ensure the safest possible use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes. Serves organic blend artisanal coffee from Espresso Lab.   Monday – Friday 7h00 – 16h00.  Saturday 9h00 – 12h00.  130 Bree Street.  Tel (021) 422-1325.

*   What’s On Eatery- probably the restaurant with the friendliest owner (Trevor Jordaan) in town, serves Breakfast and Lunch on weekdays from 7h30 – 16h00, and Dinner from Tuesday – Saturday.  Coffee by Origin.  Excellent value.  Exciting news is the appointment of Chef Oliver Cattermole from 1 October.  6 Watson Street.  Tel (021) 422-5652 CLOSED DOWN 2011

*   Rhubarb Room- coffee shop inside decor shop, previously in Bo-Kaap.  Serve cakes, coffee (by Deluxe), soup, quiches, and salads.  High tea offered for baby showers, kitchen teas and birthdays.    Monday – Friday 9h00 – 17h00.  Saturday 9h00 – 13h00.  227 Bree Street. Tel (021) 424-2004. CLOSED DOWN 2011

*   Valora- stylish new restaurant, bar and café.  Try Chef Andrew’s Two Tone soup. Extensive menu choice, includes tapas.  LavAzza coffee.  Great for late snack and drink. Monday – Friday 7h00 – 22h00, Saturday 17h00 – 23h00.  Corner Loop and Hout Street.  Tel (021) 426-1001.  CLOSED DOWN 2012

*   Skinny Legs & All - interior decorated with paintings from co-owner João Ferreira art gallery.  Emphasis on freshly made food.  Advised by Brad Ball of Bistro 1682. Run by sweet pair of twins Jamie and Jessie.   Monday – Friday 7h00 – 16h00. Saturday 8h30 – 14h00. 70 Loop Street.  Tel (021) 423-5403.

*   Roberto’s Signature Restaurant – expect interesting things to come from Roberto de Carvalho, leader of the SA chefs team in Culinary Olympics, and ex-chef at Twelve Apostles Hotel.  Simple food, mainly in Portuguese style.  Excellent Tiramisu. Located below On Broadway, so very busy between 7 – 8 pm to cater for the theatre crowd.  Tuesday – Sunday 12h00 – 15h30, 18h00 – 23h30.  44 Long Street.   Tel (021) 424-1195. CLOSED DOWN 2013

*   6 Spin Street - unusual restaurant setting inside the IDASA book shop.  Well-known for its cheese soufflé and duck.  Monday – Friday Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner from 8h30.  Saturday dinner only.  6 Spin Street.  Tel (021) 461-0666.

*   French Toast – focus on its large range of wines by the glass offered, but interesting tapas offering.  Monday – Saturday 12h00 – 23h00. 199 Bree Street   Tel (021) 422-3839.  CLOSED DOWN 2012, BUT RE-OPENED AS THE ODYSSEY IN 2013

*   Jason’s Bakery- recently opened where Jardine’s used to be, owned by Jason of ex-Jardine’s Bakery.  Bakery and Café. Sandwiches, breakfast, soul food, and vegetarian.  Monday – Friday 7h00 – 15h30. Saturday 8h00 – 14h00.  185 Bree Street.  Tel (021) 424-5644.

*   Haas Coffee – increasingly popular city hot-spot without any parking guards, and usually a parking spot available close by.  Friendly and welcoming, and part of Haas Collective decor and art.  Cakes, tarts and food menu, including cooked breakfasts.   67 Rose Street. Monday – Sunday.  Tel (021) 422-2239.

*   Piroschka’s Kitchen – Hungarian Flammkuchen with Gluehwein on cold days. Monday – Friday 11h00 - 19h00.  106 Bree Street. Tel 083 327 3203 CLOSED DOWN, NOW ONLY AT MARKETS

*   Bread, Milk and Honey – busy breakfast and lunch spot, for take-aways or sit-down.  10 Spin Street.  Monday – Friday 6h30 – 16h00.  Tel (021) 461-8425.

Il Cappero - hard-working Sicilian chef and charming husband Aldo in front-of-house.  Not-so-usual Italian and Sicilian specialities.  Monday – Friday lunch.  Monday – Saturday dinner. 3 Barrack Street.  Tel (021) 461-3168.  MOVED TO CAMPS BAY

*   Charly’s Bakeryfamous for its cake creations and cheeky cupcakes, one can also sit down for coffee, cake, pies and cupcakes.  Ample parking, no parking guards.  38 Canterbury Street.  Monday -  Saturday. Tel (021) 461-5181.

Maria’s - Owners Kate and Cleon Romano are charming hosts, and the restaurant has a lovely buzz, and many tapas-like Greek dishes as well as mains.  Monday – Saturday lunch and dinner. Great lunch spot after City Bowl Market. To open for Sunday lunch soon.  Dunkley Square, 31 Barnett Street, Hatfield.  Tel (021)  461-3333.

*   Bird Café and Gourmet Eatery – Quirky milk-crate seating, decor change has opened up the kitchen, great quality food, friendly service.  New owners Keith Mink, and Leigh Trout (ex-chef at Mange Tout, Mont Rochelle Hotel in Franschhoek), opened on 1 September. 127 Bree Street.  Tel (021) 426-2534.

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

For the past six months we have run a Restaurant winter specials list,  many of which were extended until the end of September.

We are delighted that many restaurants in Cape Town and the Winelands have seen the benefit of offering specials, and have decided to continue to do so for summer.   The list follows below, and will be updated continuously:

CAPE TOWN

*   Pure at Hout Bay Manor: 3 course dinner for R200, and R280 with a glass of wine added, summer. Tel (021) 790-0116.

*   Pepenero in Mouille Point : sirloin and chips R 79, seafood platter R 129, 1 kg prawn platter R 99, oysters R 9 each, sushi platter R109.  Half price sushi all day.  Summer. Tel (021) 439-9027

*  Sinn’s Restaurant at Wembley Square:  lunch (6 options) at R 50.  3-course dinner at R 150, Autumn. Tel (021) 465-0967

*   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, 500 gram spare ribs all R 79 for lunch only.  Full sushi platter R99, half platter R50. Summer. Tel (021) 439-3494.

*   Sevruga in the V&A Waterfront: half price sushi Monday – Saturday 12 - 6 pm; 25 % off sushi Sunday 12 – 2pm, 50 % off 2 – 6 pm.  Summer.  Tel (021) 421-5134

*   1800 Degrees in the Cape Royale Luxury Hotel, Main Road, Green Point: 100g sirloin + 100g rump + 100g rib eye, and sauce = R99.  Until end March. Tel (021) 430-0506  

*   Myoga at Vineyard Hotel, Newlands: 6 course dinner, with 5 choices per course, for R 195, Mondays – Saturdays, continues throughout summer Tel (021) 657-4545

*   Beluga, The Foundry, Green Point: 1 kg Prawns R 99; 50 % off sushi and cocktails all day Sunday, and from 12h00 – 19h00 weekdays. Mondays – Saturdays. Summer Tel (021) 418-2948.

*   221 Waterfront:  3-course meal and live music R135 on Wednesdays.  Dine & Cruise package: 1,5 hour cruise, 2 glasses sparkling wine, 3-course meal R 370; Lunch & Cruise package: 1 hour cruise and meal R210.  Until 30 April. Tel (021) 418-3633

*   Jakes in the Village/on Summerley, in Tokai and Kenilworth, respectively: 25 % off all dishes but must have a main course as a minimum, 5 – 7 pm only, 25 % off flatbreads on Mondays; Free Peroni, glass of wine or coffee for lunch; every 6th lunch free on Loyalty Card.  Mondays – Saturdays, Summer. Tel (021) 701 3272

*  The Lookout Deck, Hout Bay:  1 kg for prawns R 99, pay for 12 oysters and get 18, until end March. Tel (021) 790-0900

*   La Mouette, Regent Road, Sea Point: Autumn Tasting Menu dinner 6 courses R 240 for 2 persons, Tuesday – Sunday lunch and dinner.  Tel (021) 433-0856

*   Bertha’s in Simonstown: 1 kg mussels, 1 kg Queen prawns or 1 kg mini seafood platter cost R 99 each, R11 for Peroni linked to seafood platter.  Calamari, mussel, chips, BBQ chicken and wing platter R99. Summer. Tel (021) 786-2138

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

*   Aubergine:  2-course lunch R184,  3-course lunch R235, Wednesdays – Fridays, Summer.  Tel (021) 465-4909

*   Balducci’s: All pizzas (except Flaming Prawns) R49, 26-piece Platinum Sushi Plate for R99, Burgers from R55.  Monday – Sunday, 12h00 – 18h00, indefinite.  Tel (021) 421-6002

*   Ferryman’s Tavern, V&A Waterfront: Combo-specials R100 (linefish + calamari), R85 (sirloin + calamari), R99 (pork rib + chicken wings), Mussel hotpot R75, chocolate mudpie R26.   Summer.  Tel (021) 419-7748

*   Hildebrand: 2 courses R 99, 3 courses R 130;  Summer. Tel (021) 425-3385

*   Chenin Restaurant and Bar: 200g Sirloin steak R65, Cape Malay prawn curry R70, Moussaka R60 + glass of wine. From 5 May, for Autumn. Tel 021 425-2200

*   Leaf Restaurant and Bar: 51 % off sushi from 11h00 – 19h00, and all day on Sunday; 12 prawn platter R89, Dimsum 30 % off. 50 % off cocktails all day Sunday.  Summer. Tel (021) 418-4500

*   Blowfish in Blouberg:  R49 lunch specials, e.g. chicken schnitzel, 12-piece sushi, 6 oysters,  hake and chips.  Current  Tel (021) 556-5464

*   Cafe Chic:  Six Moroccan tapas for R 70.  2 course meal R 100, 3 course meal R 120. Until 15 April.  Tel (021) 465-7218 

*   OYO at V&A Hotel : 500g crayfish special R185. Summer. Tel (021) 419-6677

*   Vanilla, Cape Quarter:  1/2 price sushi 12h00 – 18h00,  half-price cocktails. Summer. Tel (021) 421-1391

*    Adega, Sea Point: 1 kg King Prawns R119.  Summer. Tel (021) 434-3029

*   Knife restaurant, Century City:  Bagel R35; Salad R45; Rib, meatball, chicken wing and chip platter R60, all specials include a beer/glass of wine/colddrink and coffee.  Lunch special, 12h00 – 15h00, Mondays – Fridays. Summer. Tel (021) 551-5000

*   St Elmo’s, Kloof Str, Gardens: Cheese-filled crust slices R17,90, until 17h00 daily;  2 large regular pizzas R99,90 daily all hours; 2 pizzas R79,90 Tuesdays all hours. Dipping strips – two for R99,90.  Individual small pizza + Coke R29,90 Monday – Friday,  until 16h00 daily.  Summer. Tel (021) 422-2261

*   Saul’s Sushi @ Vegas, Sea Point: Eat as much sushi as you like = R120 - Mondays and Tuesdays; 30 piece sushi platter R99 – Wednesdays and Thursdays; Oriental Buffet = R79 – Fridays and Saturdays; two for the price of one – Sundays.  Current.  Tel 087 151 4595

*    Bhandaris Indian Restaurant: Buffet R99 Wednesday dinner and Sunday lunch and dinner. Two main meals for R99 on Mondays. 30 % off for pensioners on Tuesdays. Until 30 April.  Tel (021) 702-2975/Tel (021) 782-1525.

*    Zorba’s, Lagoon Beach Hotel, Milnerton: Starter and main course R100 on Monday nights.  Summer.  Tel (021) 528-2093

*    San Marco, V&A Waterfront:   3 course meal plus Peroni or glass of wine and tea/coffee R99.   Until 15 December, 15 January – 31 March.   Tel (021) 418-5434

*   Trees Restaurant, Townhouse Hotel, Cape Town:  2 course dinner R95, 3 courses R130.  Summer. Tel (021) 465-7050

*   Down South Food Bar, 267 Long Street: Rib & Prawn Platter including a side and sauces R75, until end February.  Tel (021) 422-1155. 

*   Mainland China Restaurant, 111 Main Road, Claremont: Seafood Buffet R89, Saturdays 18h30 – 21h00; Buffet R 49;  50 % sushi discount Tuesday – Sunday.    Tel (021) 674-2654

*   Il Cappero, Barrack Street: “Eat as much as you can” lunch buffet R75, Monday – Friday. Summer. Tel 461-3168

*   Cape Town Fish Market:  Sirloin and Calamari Surf and Turf R64,65; Surf and Turf Supreme, with 8 prawns, R99,95.  Until 2 May. Calamari duo and 300ml soda R68,95, only at V&A Waterfront, until 15 April.  Tel (021) 418-5977

*   Trinity, Bennett Street:  “All you can eat” Dim Sum R135. Two-for-one burgers Wednesdays. Pizza R50 until 7 pm daily.   “All you can eat” ribs Mondays R99.   Tel (021) 418-0624

*   French Toast, Bree Street: Bruschetta tapas free; Sauvignon.com R 20 per glass.  Monday – Saturdays 5 – 7 pm. Tel (021) 422-3839.

*   Cru Café Restaurant & Wine Bar, Cape Quarter: Scrambled egg and salmon breakfast for 2 plus bottomless cup of coffee R 78, Weekdays; 2 gourmet burgers with onion rings, French fries and Stella Artois beer R120 weekday lunch; Two pastas and two glasses of wine R99.  Sunday – Tuesday evenings.  Comfort food (Bobotie or Bredie) for two for R 119, including 2 glasses of wine, Wednesday and Thursday evenings. T-bone steak (350g) for two at R150, Friday and Saturday evenings. Until September. Tel (021) 418-6334

*   Krugmann’s Grill, V&A Waterfront: Beef ribs 500 gram BBQ-basted beef ribs and starch R75, Wednesdays only  Tel (021) 418-9393

*   The Square, Vineyard Hotel, Newlands:  ‘Tastes of 2011′ focuses on different theme every month, from April – September.  April theme is ‘Best of British’, with British menu change weekly,  2 courses R 140 or 3 courses R 170.  Dinner only, Monday – Sunday.  Tel ()21) 657-4500

*   Dunes, Hout Bay : Sunday brunch with smoked salmon, oysters and cooked breakfast R 100. Tel (021) 790-1876

*   Sinn’s Restaurant, Wembley Square: Lunch R 50 (choice of six options); 3-course dinner plus glass of wine R 150. Autumn  Tel (021) 465-0967

*   Café Nood, Claremont: Pizza and glass of wine or a Peroni at R45 via Dealio. Current. Tel (021) 671-4475

*   Arnold’s on Kloof, 60 Kloof Street, Gardens: Jack Black stew (type of stew changes throughout winter)for two plus bottle of Altydgedacht R99.  Tel (021) 424-4344. Throughout winter.

*   Five Flies, Keerom Street: 350g steak plus glass of wine R110. 15 April – 15 May.  Tel (021) 424-4442

*   Balducci’s, V&A Waterfront: Alfresco Lunch specials – soup and salad R89, fish R89, calamari R89, seafood platter for two R245, Steak Roll and chips R85, Steak and chips R99, Burgers from R55 – R75, Glass of wine R27, bottle R99.  daily 12h00 – 16h00. Tel (021) 421-6002

*   Harbour House, Kalk Bay: 2-courses R140, 3-courses R160.  May.  Tel (021)  788-4133

*   Live Bait, Kalk Bay: Prawns and stir fry Asian noodle salad R 60. Sunday – Thursday evenings in May.  Tel (021) 788-5755

*   Polana, Kalk Bay: Steak, chips and mushroom sauce, R50, Sunday – Wednesday dinner April;  Half free-range flame-grilled chicken R50, Sunday – Thursday dinner and Saturday lunch, May.  Tel (021) 788-7162

*   Massimo’s Pizza Club, Hout Bay: “Order any 2 adult take away (pizza, pasta salad)” to a minimum value of R100, and get an &Union beer, Darling Brew beer or a 500ml bottle of Bob’s Your Uncle wine for free, all day Wednesdays and Thursdays, Fridays until 17h00. Current  Tel 073 390 1373.  

WINELANDS

*   Allee Bleue, outside Franschhoek: choice of three 250g steaks at R 115, including a glass of estate wine, current.  Lunch until 7 pm, Sunday – Thursday. Sunday Spit Braai with live music R175. Summer  Tel (021) 874-1021

*   Olivello, Klapmuts, outside Stellenbosch: 2-course meal R 115, 3-course meal R 135 plus glass of wine.  Summer.  Tel (021) 875-5443

*   Ryan’s Kitchen at Rusthof, Franschhoek : 3-course dinner R 195; 6 course Taste of Africa dinner R295.  Autumn. Tel (021) 876-4598.  

*   Restaurant Christophe, Stellenbosch: business lunch – 2 courses R130, 3 courses R 150, Tuesday – Friday, served within one hour, all year.  Tel (021) 886-8763

*   Allora in Franschhoek: mini-seafood platter R100, gorgonzola rump steak R95, marinated venison R95; 3-course Sunday lunch R99.  Summer.  Tel (021) 876-4375. 

*   L’ermitage, Franschhoek: 3 course lunch and glass of wine R 140. Current. Tel (021) 876-9200

*   Laborie Restaurant in Paarl: 3 courses plus a glass of wine R145, until April

*   The Restaurant @ Clos Malverne: 4 course Food and Wine pairing menu R148, includes four courses and four wines.   Tuesday – Sundays.

*   96 Winery Road, Stellenbosch: Free main course for May birthday boys and girls, to celebrate the restaurant’s 15th birthday.  Tel (021 842-2020

*   Dornier Bodega, Stellenbosch: Meat-free Mondays, Comfort Tuesdays, Pasta Wednesdays, Soup Thursdays, Fish Fridays, R79, lunch, May – September, Tel (021) 880-0557

*   Towerbosch Restaurant, Knorhoek Wine Estate, Stellenbosch: Soup & Bredie Menu with soup and bredie R90, Wednesdays – Saturdays; Asado Argentian-style braai on Sundays R165.  May – August.  Tel (021) 865-2958

*   Season in Hermanus: Sunday roast R 65 – R75, 3-course Sunday lunch R 110.  Summer. Tel (028) 316-2854

*   Mediterrea in Hermanus: 3 course meal R 195, Monday – Thursday dinners and Sunday lunches, current   Tel (028) 313-1685

*   The Class Room Restaurant, Hermanus: 3 course meal plus amuse bouche, palate cleanser, coffee and friandises R 165.  6 – 30 April.  Tel (028) 316-3582

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

Copyright: Whale Cottage Portfolio

Let me admit at the outset that I was sceptical as we set off to our dinner on Saturday evening at the new Reuben’s at the One&Only Cape Town, which opened last Wednesday.  I need not have been.  I was overwhelmed by how outstanding the food and service was, with fair prices for the food, but with generally more expensive dishes than those at Reuben’s in Franschhoek, and with very high prices for mostly exceptional wines.  Reuben’s at the One&Only Cape Town is a ‘grown-up’ and sophisticated Reuben’s, the best Reuben’s by far!

I have never written a review about Reuben’s Restaurant, despite it having been my favourite ever since I stumbled upon it in June 2004, when it first opened in Franschhoek.  Immediately I felt it was a restaurant for me, and it became my favourite, and we recommended it passionately to our Whale Cottage Franschhoek guests.  The initial service levels, which made Reuben’s the top of the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurants as well as Reuben Riffel the Top Chef six months after opening, could not be maintained, and gradually the service levels dropped, starting with the telephonic bookings, down to rude service from the then-sommelier/manager.

A review of the new Reuben’s needs to trace back the history of its opening at the One&Only Cape Town.  It is well-known that Gordon Ramsay’s maze opened at the hotel in April 2009, and that the contract with the restaurant was abruptly cancelled by the hotel at the end of July.  Reuben Riffel was tipped to open in Ramsay’s place, but Reuben denied this to us and to the media.   Clare McKeon-McLoughlin of Spill Blog confidently predicted Reuben’s appointment, even though Reuben had not yet made a final decision nor signed the contract.  We were told that her disclosure caused mayhem in the hotel, as staff at the hotel did not know about the appointment, and that the then Hotel PRO Etienne de Villiers’ supposed “endorsement” of the apppointment in the Spill blog post was untruthful, and may have led to his recent departure from the hotel.   It would appear that an Irish maze staff member, who has since returned to London, was the mole, spilling the beans to Spill.   In less than a month after the announcement of Reuben’s appointment, the restaurant has opened its doors at the One&Only Cape Town, and is confidently trading.   In terms of this controversy, Reuben says he prefers to stay out of it and remain in the kitchen!

When I made the booking on the morning of our dinner, the restaurant answered as “Restaurant at One&Only”, the interim name that the restaurant had before Reuben’s opened.   We were allowed to park in the basement of the hotel, and there is no charge.  When we walked into the restaurant, we could not help but feel that we were in maze.  I was looking for the Brasserie that Reuben had been quoted to be opening at the One&Only Cape Town, but we could not see it.  The same horrid carpet and massive orange lampshades are still there.   The furniture has not changed, although the table tops have been varnished and the Reuben’s name engraved into them.  Other than branding on the chic black and burgundy staff aprons, on the lift list, and on the menu, there is no Reuben’s branding outside or inside the restaurant.  Surprisingly, the orange/brown colouring of the maze interior matches Reuben’s rust brown colour scheme almost perfectly.   We were critical of the maze interior when we went there soon after its opening last year.  Reuben says that the interior will be amended in three stages, with the tables completed, and bistro boards with specials going up shortly.   The interior decorator that Reuben’s has used in Franschhoek and Robertson will be coming this week to see how she can soften the harsh hotel interior.

The maze and Reuben’s marriage will take some time to gel to the benefit of the new restaurant.   From maze the restaurant has inherited the decor, all the waitrons (there was no shortage of staff on the floor), managers and also kitchen staff, the outstanding sommelier Andre Bekker and his Diamond award-wining Diner’s Club Restaurant Winelist, a wine library of over 700 wines, the choice of three breads baked by the kitchen, and the waitron service standards that have been set in the past, being much higher than those of Reuben’s in Franschhoek.   From Reuben’s comes the menu, the little coarse salt pots on the tables, a far more informal style of dress (the ties of the managers have come off), a more relaxed interaction with customers, something that was not encouraged at maze, as well as new serving dishes and some cutlery.  The One&Only staff were trained by Reuben’s wife Maryke about their service standard, the menu and the food.  The staff have tasted the dishes, and are still doing so as Reuben fine-tunes the menu for the official 1 October start.   The winelist and the menu are miles apart, and need to find each other, the former being very expensive and also out of character with the Brasserie feel which Reuben’s wants to create, and with the winelists in Franschhoek and in Robertson.

The exact relationship between Reuben Riffel and the One&Only Cape Town is unclear, but the hotel employs and pays the Reuben’s kitchen and waitron staff.   The brief was for Reuben to get the best kitchen staff possible.  This reduces the risk for Reuben, and means that he is compensated for his brand name and for his time through a share of the turnover.   Having a room at the hotel is a fringe benefit the Reuben’s Franschhoek staff are enjoying when they come through to town.  The arrangement with the hotel has allowed Reuben to appoint Camil Haas, previous owner of Bouillabaisse in Franschhoek and Green Point and of Camil’s in Green Point, to substitute for him at the One&Only Cape Town and in Franschhoek from October, giving each of these two Reuben’s a heavyweight chef every day.   In addition, Maritz Jacobs, previously of Le Quartier Français and 15 on Orange hotel, is the new Head Chef at the One&Only Cape Town, meeting Reuben’s requirement for a young and energetic chef.  The Pastry Chef is René Smit.  Reuben is called the Concept Chef on the menu, as he is on the Reuben’s menus in Franschhoek and in Robertson.  Samantha Housden from Tank will be joining as the Restaurant Manager on 1 October.  Reuben recently bought out his Boekenhoutskloof partners Tim Rands and Marc Kent, who helped him set up the business six years ago.  He says this gives him new flexibility to make decisions more quickly, and to steer his business where he wants it to go.

The menu is A3 in size, and has the same format as that in Franschhoek and Robertson.  It is neatly divided into a Starters, Main Courses and Desserts section, as well as a mini Vegetarian menu of Starters and Main Courses, a Fish and Seafood section, as well as Side Orders.   In future it will also carry the names of the special suppliers of fine organic produce that Reuben’s will be sourcing.   The menu content in terms of dishes offered is vastly different at the new Reuben’s, compared to the Franschhoek branch.  The menu is being fine-tuned in the next 10 days before the official opening, and has already seen changes in the first four days of its operation.

A small bowl of olives was brought to the table, as was three types of bread: a baguette, tomato bread and black olive bread.   Butter was on the table, as was a bottle of Willowcreek olive oil.  I ordered Asparagus with a hollandaise and orange reduction (R60) as a starter from the Vegetarian section, which was topped with the most wonderful micro-herbs, being miniature coriander, basil and rocket, and adding the most wonderful taste to this dish, beautifully presented on a glass dish.   Other starters are oysters at R25 each, pickled veal tongue (R60), chilli salted baby squid and shredded duck salad at R70 each, salmon tartar and cured venison at R75 each, mussels (R80), and a white asparagus and langoustine salad (R110).

My main course was the most wonderful kingklip (R140) - a good portion of firm fish, served with the unusual combination of avocado, on a bed of mash (I chose it to be plain, but the menu specified it to be tumeric mash), and with crunchy Chinese cabbage, a mint salsa and coconut cream.   The same micro-herbs served as garnish for the dish, and again added a unique taste to round off the dish, the best kingklip I have ever eaten.  My only criticism was that a serrated knife instead of a fish knife was served.  My colleague had Karoo lamb curry (R135), served in a bowl, with sambals (yoghurt and pineapple, and chopped tomato and cucumber) and basmati rice in a tiny iron pot, presented on a separate dish.    She loved the genuine Cape Malay taste of it, and picked up garlic and ginger notes, as well as jeera, cardamom and barishap spices in her lamb stew, with dhania leaves on top.  She called it “hemelse kos”, it tasted so good!   Other Main Course options are lamb rack (R175); ostrich fillet, 180 g beef fillet and a 450 g rib-eye steak at R 170 each; quail saltimbocca (R130); 240g sirloin and pork belly at R125 each; veal tripe (R120); and Reuben’s faithful wonderful calf’s liver at R115.  Other Fish options were yellowtail (R110) and Tandoori spiced prawns (R170).   Side orders cost R 35, but all main courses come with a starch and a vegetable.

For dessert my colleague had Muskadel crème with poached hanepoot grapes, ginger crumble and raspberry ice cream, in a glass bowl and served on a slate plate.  Slate is used extensively at Jordan’s Restaurant with George Jardine, and to a lesser extent at Jardine’s.  My dessert was a fascinating Lemon and olive oil custard, to which was added cocoa crumble, a half-round thin slice of chocolate as well as Swiss chocolate mousse, finished off with edible gold paper which I thought the kitchen had forgotten to take off!   Desserts cost R65, expensive I felt, but the portions were generous.  Other desserts are a seasonal fruit compote, Amarula scented malva pudding, Tequila sundae, and a bitter chocolate fondant, the latter costing R80.  I felt, on the basis of two desserts, that the desserts needed more work.  My cappuccino did not arrive at the same time as the dessert, as requested, and was not very foamy.  It was immediately replaced with one in a bigger cup size, and was very foamy.  Petit fours were brought to the table after the dessert plates were cleared, also on a slate plate.

The sommelier Andre has been at the hotel almost since it opened, and he says that the winelist has not changed much from its impressive start.   They have added wines bought at the Nederburg and CWG auctions, as well as garagiste and boutique winery brands.   Some international wine prices have been reduced over time, and some local wine prices have increased.   The 37-page winelist will be changed, the lengthy introduction to the South African wine industry to be removed.  I disliked the division of the wines by region, and then by varietal on the maze winelist, but this will not change.  It means that if one likes drinking a Shiraz, for example, one has to check through every region’s Shirazes to check which one to order.  It could take one  a whole evening to wade through the many wines on offer, including 50 wines-by-the-glass, 32 champagnes, and 18 MCC sparkling wines, as well as wines imported from France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, the USA, and Australia.   I did not like the file/folder look of the winelist, and do not remember it looking like this at maze.   Its practicality in updating vintages and prices is an obvious advantage.  The yellowish cover of the wine list does not match the Reuben’s colour scheme.   Wines-by-the-glass can be served in 50ml, 150ml and 250 ml quantities, making the expensive wines a little more affordable by reducing the quantity one drinks!  Wine flights in three’s are also available, by region or by varietal.   I chose a glass of 2006 Glen Carlou Shiraz, which cost R 72 for a 150ml glassful – 50ml cost R24, and 250ml R120.   The 2005 Luddite Shiraz prices were R37/R112/R187 per glass.  The 2007 Brampton cost R9/R28/R47.  Migliarina Shiraz 2006 cost R17/R52/R87.  A glass of 150ml of bubbly cost R260 for Ayala ‘Rose’ Majeur, R200 for Billecart Salmon Brut, R98 for Graham Beck Rosé, R49 for Graham Beck Brut, and R44 for Villiera.   It is clear that the wine prices are exceptionally high.  Andre spoilt me with a complimentary glass of dessert wine.

We felt privileged that Reuben came out of the kitchen to sit and chat with us.  He intends to come out of the kitchen a lot more in future, and having chefs working for him will allow him to do this.  Starters will be prepared behind the counters inside the restaurant in future, to allow diners to connect with the food preparation and the kitchen staff too.   Reuben is working on creating synergy in the menus for his three Reuben’s, yet having unique items on each menu that reflect what customers like in each area.  At the One&Only Cape Town the calf’s liver is extremely popular, he says, as is his Veal tripe (‘Pens en Pootjies’).   We were struck by Reuben’s humility and quiet confidence that he has made the right decision by opening his latest Reuben’s at the One&Only Cape Town.  He recognises that service levels can improve in Franschhoek, and he sees a benefit of exchanging his staff between the two locations, so that the One&Only Cape Town service standards can become those of the Franschhoek staff too.    There will be no launch function, Reuben preferring to quietly open and delivering on the expectations of a more demanding Cape Town as well as international clientele.   Reuben’s staff also prepare the hotel breakfasts.

We will recommend Reuben’s at the One&Only to our Whale Cottage Camps Bay guests with confidence, and we will return.

Reuben’s at the One&Only Cape Town, One&Only Cape Town, V&A Waterfront.  Tel (021) 431-5888. www.reubens.co.za (The new restaurant is not yet listed on the Reuben’s website, nor on the One&Only Cape Town website).  Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Monday – Sunday.

POSTSCRIPT 20/9: Samantha Housden’s restaurant experience includes launching London’s Level 7 Café at the Tate Modern Gallery and managing the Eyre Brother’s restaurant owned by the godfather of gastro-pub cuisine David Eyre.  She started Cilantro in Hout Bay, having been its chef too.  She has left Tank to join Reuben’s at the One&Only Cape Town.

POSTSCRIPT 25/9: We returned for dinner a week later, and met the new Restaurant Manager Samantha Housden for the first time.   She came to check on our table regularly, as did Marcus, an interim manager.  Due to a strong attempt to upsell us by a waiter, we asked for waiter Victor, who had served us the previous week, and his service was as good as ever.   The recognition by the staff from our visit a week ago was impressive – from the hostess as we arrived (I had used my son’s name for the booking this time), to the sommelier Andre and the waiter Victor remembering specific requests and likes from a week ago – in line with Reuben’s Franschhoek.   Disappointingly the food was not as good as it was a week ago – the kingklip was undercooked and did not have the lovely microherbs (but a generous portion was brought to the table when I asked about them) and the sirloin had lots of sinews.   Reuben was in the kitchen, and spontaneously came to say hello.  I was delighted to hear that sommelier Andre has heeded our feedback, and will revise the winelist, to arrange it by varietals, and to mention the regions, which will make wine selection much easier in future. 

POSTSCRIPT 14/1:   I arrived in good spirits, and was shocked at the disappointing food quality and service.   Although the telephonist tried to put through my call three times, so that I could check if I could still get a table at 22h00, no one in the restaurant answered the phone.  I decided to arrive anyway.   I was warmly received by the hostess, and discovered immediately that Manager Samantha Housden is no longer at Reuben’s.  The evening shifts were getting to her, I was told.  Kagiso Mmebe is the new Manager, and started three weeks ago, having been a lecturer in Restaurant Practice at the University of Johannesburg.  A sweet waitress Unite took my order efficiently, and that is where her service support ended.  She brought butter and olives, but never came with the bread.  I had to ask a manager for it.  It was explained to me that Unite is a runner, being trained up to be a waitress, but she wears the same colour shirt as do the waiters, so one cannot identify her lesser skills.  She is meant to work under the guidance of a waiter, but this did not happen.   I ordered the baby chicken main course (R135), which was not cooked properly, even after sending it back once.   My choice of carrots with vanilla and honey as the side-dish was an excellent one.   The wild mushroom sauce tasted strongly of an Oxo stock cube, with not a piece of mushroom to be seen.  The sauce was taken away, and mushrooms added.  I had to ask for a finger bowl.  The wine steward Tinashe Nyamudoka was wonderful, just taking my wine order and pouring the Glen Carlou Shiraz 2004 at the table, as requested.   The frozen espresso cake with a berry coulis and an odd-looking meringue was excellent (R65).   Assistant Manager Marcus Isaacs kindly took the chicken off the bill.  It was disconcerting to hear from the staff that Reuben Riffel has barely been seen at the restaurant in the past two weeks, although Marcus disagreed.   Camil Haas is not at Reuben’s One&Only at all anymore.  There is no sign of any further decor changes, after the curtains were opened.  The new summer menu, launched last week, has very understated Reuben’s branding, and does not look like a Reuben’s menu anymore, and there is no listing of the names of the chefs on it anymore – not even Reuben’s name is mentioned!  Chef Aviv Liebenberg from Reuben’s Franschhoek (and previously Robertson) has been moved to Cape Town, working with Chef Maritz.   I could not help but be concerned as to where Reuben’s in the One&Only Cape Town is heading – it certainly is no longer a-maze-ing!

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

It’s been confirmed!  Six-time Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Chef Richard Carstens is to be the Executive Chef of a new improved Tokara restaurant in October, after a week in which the rumour circulated, was denied by the Tokara Ferreira family, and was finally confirmed by a media release on Friday.   The move creates a culinary hub in the Helshoogte Pass, with the two Delaire restaurants across the road, and the Pass being a link between the competing gourmet towns of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, and adds further weight to Stellenbosch now wearing the Gourmet Capital crown and for it to establish a Restaurant Route. 

Tokara restaurant has been an institution for the past ten years, and was vacated by Chef Etienne Bonthuys last weekend, as he is opening a restaurant on Dorp Street in Stellenbosch.    Bonthuys has not always been the easiest of chefs and restaurant owner, so new owner Wilhelm Kuehn, co-owner of Jardine’s in Cape Town, will have to rebuild the brand to attract new patrons, whilst retaining the Bonthuys regulars.  Kuehn plans to build the Tokara restaurant to be on a par with the highly regarded Tokara wine and olive oil product brands, to create synergy between the three entities.  

Carstens is not known for his long-term staying power at restaurants (the exception being his five year tenure at Lynton Hall), but Kuehn says he is hoping for a long-term relationship with his new chef.   The media release states that Tokara Restaurant will be focused on contemporary cuisine.  “Each plate of food will offer the diner a sense of the natural environment and the location of the restaurant as well as the current season through the ingredients used”, says Carstens.     The menu contains “unfussy a la carte options as well as a more playful tasting menu, each course optionally paired with a glass of Tokara wine or a selection of other premium South African wines”.   There will be no molecular gastronomy at Tokara, a distinctive Carstens’ trademark, but not appreciated by all.  A bar will be built in the foyer, from which one can enjoy the wonderful views onto the Tokara vineyards and onto Stellenbosch.

Asked about the future of Jardine’s in Cape Town, Kuehn said that nothing will change.  Eric Bulpitt is their Executive Chef, who is off to a 6-week stint at Noma, the world’s top of the 50 Top Restaurants list, until mid-September.  Sous chef Julie will hold the kitchen fort at Jardine’s in Cape Town.    A manager will be appointed for the Tokara restaurant.   George Jardine has no involvement with Tokara at all, and still is a co-owner of Jardine’s in Cape Town, although his focus is Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine in Stellenbosch, said Kuehn.

Richard Carstens is contracted to Chez d’Or in Franschhoek until September, but the association is a disappointing one.   Read our review.

Tokara Restaurant with Richard Carstens will open in October, serving lunch from Tuesdays – Sundays, and dinner from Tuesdays – Saturdays. Tel (21) 808-5959. On the Stellenbosch Restaurant Route.

POSTSCRIPT 1/8: Richard Carstens left Chez d’Or on Wednesday, the day of our review, two months ahead of his contract ending with the Franschhoek restaurant.

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

Stellenbosch has always been top of the pops as far as its wine selection and quality goes (i.e. wines winning awards), but has played poor cousin to Franschhoek for many years when it comes to its restaurant status, that is until recently, when the Eat Out Top 10 restaurant list included more Top 10 restaurants in Stellenbosch (Rust en Vrede, Overture and Terroir) than in Franschhoek (The Tasting Room and The Restaurant at Grande Provence).  Stellenbosch has always been the best marketed collective wine region, and was the first to introduce the Wine Route concept, which has been adopted by most wine-growing regions now.

My visit to Stellenbosch last week, to experience recently opened restaurants, confirmed my view that Stellenbosch by rights now should be called the Gourmet Capital of South Africa, not only due to the Eat Out Top 10 listings, but also in terms of the newer restaurants bubbling under.  I believe that the tourism authority should be ahead of the game, and introduce a Restaurant Route for Stellenbosch, given the wealth of its creative and gourmet talent.   It is easy to see that opening good quality restaurants on wine estates is a growing trend in Stellenbosch, and is good for business, as Werner Els told me at Haskell Vineyards, its Long Table restaurant leading to wine sales from restaurant patrons.

My recommendation for the Stellenbosch Restaurant Route is the following, based on own experience and recommendations.  It is not comprehensive.  I have added links to the restaurant listings that I have reviewed, and reviews of the newer restaurants will be published shortly.

Rust en Vrede - probably the best restaurant in the town currently, a slick operation, run by modest but talented chef David Higgs, on the Rust en Vrede wine estate.  Featured on the Eat Out Top 10 list 2009 and 2010, number 74 on 50 Best Restaurants in the World 2010 list, and Top vineyard restaurant of 2010 Great Wine Capitals in the World - read the review here.  Tel (021) 881-3881  CHEF DAVID HIGGS LEFT THE RESTAURANT ON 25 JUNE, NOW WORKING AT RADISSON’S BLU GAUTRAIN HOTEL IN JOHANNESBURG. 

*   Overture – Chef Bertus Basson is a hard-working re-inventor of his menu and operation, always looking to improve his complete package.   On the Eat Out Top 10 restaurant list for 2009 and 2010.  Fantastic views from the location on the Hidden Valley wine estate – read the review here.  Tel (021) 880-2721

*   Terroir does nothing for me, I must admit, and therefore I do not understand that it is a perennial on the Eat Out Top 10 list (2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010 – the Terroir website does not list the awards after 2006, so some awards may have been left out!).  I have been there a number of times, and have not been excited about its menu, restaurant interior, and service.  The outside seating on the De Kleine Zalze wine and golf estate is great for a warm day.  Tel (021) 880-8167

*   Restaurant Christophe - Die Skuinshuis is the setting for this exceptional restaurant, Chef Christophe Dehosse being the hands-on owner and chef, who talks to his customers in his charming French accent, a rare treat in restaurants.  The foie gras, served with toasted brioche, is to die for – read the review here.  Tel. (021) 886-8763. THE RESTAURANT CLOSED DOWN ON 24 JUNE.

*   Delaire at Delaire Graff -  no money was spared in building and decorating this restaurant and winery building, and it houses a most impressive art collection.   Chef Christian Campbell is doing outstanding work, and his crayfish lasagne is exceptional.  Turnover of staff has reduced the quality of service  - read our latest review     Tel (021) 885-8160

*   Indochine at Delaire Graff – this is the newest Stellenbosch restaurant, and is relatively less opulent in its interior design compared to its sister restaurant.   Young chef Jonathan Heath is a star to watch, and his Asian fusion menu is sure to attract the attention of the Eat Out Top 10 judges.   He explains the menu, and the dishes when he serves them personally.  The two course special at R225 sounds expensive, but it does not reflect the amuse bouche, sorbet and sweet treats (with cappuccino) one receives at no extra charge.  The Tikka Duck Marsala starter is excellent -  read our review.  Tel (021) 885-8160

Restaurant at Majeka House -the restaurant is overshadowed by the Boutique Hotel in terms of its branding, and is not known to most foodlovers, a hidden gem in Paradyskloof, a suburb opposite the Stellenbosch Golf Course.   Its young Chef Anri Diener trained at Tokara and Delaire, and is a rising star, presenting exciting French cuisine.  The Millefeuille of chocolate mousse served with coffee meringue bars is to die for – Read the review.  Tel (021) 880-1512

*   Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine -  a mouthful of a brand name but also a mouthful in value and excellent quality, a far cry from Jardine, which he co-owns in Cape Town, but rarely still cooks at.  It is set at the end of a long road, on the Jordan wine estate, overlooks a big pond and the beautiful Stellenbosch mountains in the far distance, teeming with birdlife.  Interior functional, as in Cape Town.  Most beautiful and unique ”bread” plate ever seen.   Read the review.  Tel (021) 881-3612

*   The Long Table Restaurant and Cafe - set at the end of a long road up a hill, above Rust en Vrede, on the Haskell Vineyards (marketers of Haskell and Dombeya wines), the food of Chef Corli Els is a wonderful surprise.  The restaurant interior and waiter service do not match the excellence of her food or the quality of the Haskell wines. The Papaya and Avo salad stands out as one of the special treats I enjoyed last week.   Read the Review.  Tel (021) 881-3746

*   The Big Easy - set on Dorp Street with some parking, and owned by Ernie Els and Johan Rupert, the restaurant is large, but divided into different rooms, allowing private functions.  Average food, below average service generally.  Sweet Service Award.  tel (021) 887-3462

*   Warwick wine estate – owner Mike Ratcliffe is a good marketer, and his gourmet picnics, designed by Chef Bruce Robertson, and prepared by their chef Bruce, are a great hit in summer.  Winter warmer foods available too – read the picnic review here.  Tel (021) 884-3144

*   Nook Eatery - has been operating for a year, and has developed a reputation for good value, healthy (organic where possible) and wholesome food.  Restaurant location in ‘League of Glory’ TV series, and next door to Restaurant Christophe.  Good value buffet lunch, Wednesday pizza evenings, and sweet treats throughout the day.  Hands-on owners Luke and passionate Chef Jess do not open the Eatery if they are not there themselves.  Read the review here.  tel (021) 887-7703  

*   Tokara DeliCATessen – has a buffet lunch too, very large restaurant space combined with a deli, but service poor and food quality average – read the review here.   Tel (021) 808-5950

*   Eight at Spier – the menu was designed by Judy Badenhorst, ex-River Cafe, and now running the Casa Labia Cafe in Muizenberg.  Have not read much about it, and not experienced yet.   Tel (021) 809-1188

*   Melissa’s on Dorp Street – a perennial favourite, with a limited menu and standardised across all the branches.  Fresh and wholesome foods, service not always great.  Sour Service Award Tel (021) 887-0000

Wild Peacock Food Emporium on Piet Retief Street (ex Okasie) – this is the newest eatery to open, belongs to Sue Baker and is managed by ex-Rust en Vrede front of house manager and daughter Sarah, selling deli items, a range of cold meats, imported French and local cheese, fresh breads, and has a sit-down menu as well.    Review to follow.  Tel 082 697 0870

*   Mila, The Cake Shop- this must be the tiniest eatery interior in Stellenbosch, next door to The Big Easy, but it is crammed full of the most delectable cakes and pastries.  Service not great when sitting outside.  Review to follow.  Tel 074 354 2142.

*   Cupcake - serves a range of cupcakes, but not as wide a variety as one would expect.  Good sandwiches and cappuccino, pretty square with water feature in which to sit.  No review written.  Tel (021) 886-6376

*   Umami - set in the Black Horse Centre on Dorp Street, this restaurant had not wowed me, but serves satisfactory lunches and dinners.   No review written, and I rarely hear anyone talk about it.  Tel (021) 887-5204

*   Wijnhuis - located on Andringa Street, in the vicinity of tourism outlets.  Given its name, it should be very popular in this town, and given the connection to its namesake in Newlands, and its parental link to La Perla, it should offer a lot better food quality and service than it does.  Not reviewed, and would not recommend.  Tel (021) 887-5844

  Pane E Vino - this food and wine bar is hidden to those who do not come to Bosman’s Crossing.  Owned by Elena Dalla Cia, husband George and father-in-law Giorgio do wine and grappa tastings in the restaurant too.  Good Italian fare. Not reviewed yet.  Tel (021) 883-8312 

*   Cafe Dijon - French-style bistro on Plein Street.  One experience not satisfactory due to owner not being there.  Rated by JP Rossouw of Rossouw’s Restaurants.  Tel (021) 886-7023

*   Bodega @Dornier - I have not been to this restaurant on the Dornier wine estate, and have not read any reviews yet.  Tel (021) 880-0557

*   Cuvee Restaurant, Simonsig – Interesting Cape Dutch modernist interior curation by Neil Stemmet. Excellent quality food, Simonsig wines, napery, cutlery, tableware, stemware, and service.  Read the Review Tel (021) 888-4932

*   De Oude Bank Bakkerij, Church Street – newly opened, opposite Vida e Caffe, this artisan bakery and cafe allows one to order from a list of cold meats, cheese and preserves what one wants to eat with the breads they sell.  Read the review.  Tel (021) 883- 2188  

*   Tokara - Etienne Bonthuys has left Tokara, and Richard Carstens is said to be stepping in his shoes, when his contract with Chez d’Or in Franschhoek finishes in September (he left in July already). Tokara denied that Carstens is taking over the restaurant lease.   It has now (30/7) been confirmed that Jardine’s Wilhelm Kuehn is taking over Tokara, and that Richard Carstens will be the Executive Chef.  Opened on 19/10.  Read the review. Tel (021) 808-5959.

*   Towerbosch Earth Kitchen on the Knorhoek wine estate. Lovely fairy-like setting, fantastic Boerekos feast served in bowls rather than dishing up per plate.  Read the review.   Tel (021) 865-2114.

*   Stellenbosch Slow Food Market, Oude Libertas – previously the Bosman’s Crossing Market, it moved to Oude Libertas late last year.    Good quality and often organic foods, not quite as top level and exciting as in its previous location, only open on Saturdays

*   Casparus is the name of Etienne Bonthuys’ new restaurant on Dorp Street, an amazing marriage between the cuisine creativity of Bonthuys and the interior design creativity of partner Strijdom van der Merwe.  There is no restaurant like this in South Africa!   Read the review.   Tel (021) 882-8124.

*   Johan’s at Longridge is a refreshing new restaurant on Longridge Winery, with a focus on fresh vegetables from its large vegetable garden alongside the restaurant.  Co-owner Chef Johan comes from a Michelin two-star restaurant in Holland, as does Chef Marissa.  Attentive service led by Chris Olivier, excellent food, great wines.  Read the review.   Tel (021) 855-2004 

*  de Huguenot, on De Huguenot Estate in Johannesdal, Pniel, is a superb fine-dining restaurant which opens in July, headed up by Chef Tanja Kruger, a member of the South African Culinary Olympic team.  Beautiful view onto Groot Drakenstein mountains.  Read the review.

POSTSCRIPT 17/10:  The Top 20 finalists for the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards were announced at the end of last month, and the list contains five Stellenbosch restaurants (compared to only two from Franschhoek):  Rust en Vrede, Overture, Terroir, Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine, and Restaurant Christophe.   The Top 10 winners will be announced on 28 November.

POSTSCRIPT 29/11:  Stellenbosch now wears the Gourmet Capital crown, with four Eat Out Top 10 restaurants:  Overture, Rust & Vrede (now South Africa’s number one restaurant and top chef David Higgs), Terroir, and Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine.

POSTSCRIPT 15/4:  It has been announced that David Higgs has resigned, and will leave Rust en Vrede mid-June.

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

This week marks the official launch of two competing but neighbouring restaurants in the new Cape Quarter extension on Somerset Road in De Waterkant.   Cru Cafe’ (see review here) has been open since the beginning of the month, but celebrated its launch on Tuesday.  Vanilla has also opened, and its launch evening is on Friday.   In general, these are the two ‘serious’ restaurants in this new lifestyle centre, that is set to take off as Capetonians discover its unique combination of high quality shops.   Lazari is a restaurant that disappointed on a first visit, with a shrieking pink interior, and the restaurant staff and the patrons being unsure as to which of their two terraces are for smokers and non-smokers!   The visible food preparation area when one enters the restaurant is enough to put one off from entering and sitting down!

This week saw the opening of the long-awaited Crepe et Cidre in Franschhoek, near Huguenot Fine Chocolates.  It belongs to Robert Maingard, the largest hospitality owner in the village, also owning Le Franschhoek, and Dieu Donne, and he is also set to open a sports bar in the old station building soon.  He is opening two further restaurants in Franschhoek, on opposite sides of the main road, when he completes the malls next year, one being on the current Pick ‘n Pay site and the other on the site where the Huguenot Hotel was located.   Crepe et Cidre will be run by Gerhard van Staden, previously chef of the Le Franschhoek.  The creperie has “imported” Yann Guyonvarch from Brittany in France to train the staff in crepe-making.  His true French accent is a delight, but his stay will be a short 2 weeks.  Imported French cider is served.

At La Brasserie in Franschhoek, the Friday jazz evenings will start again tomorrow (30 October), and the opening session will be dedicated to the launch of a CD ‘Tribute to Alex van Heerden’, who played with the Cape Dutch Connection, and passed away tragically.

In Hermanus the new Hermanos restaurant has opened in the building in which Joubert restaurant operated before closing down earlier this year, with a new chef and owner Wayne Spencer.  He was originally the Executive Chef at Birkenhead House in Hermanus, and at Phinda Game Reserve, and worked at the Michelin-starred Port Palace in Monaco.   He says of his new restaurant that it is fine-dining but that it is not intimidating, and he will not place a lot of emphasis on plating the food.  He intends to come out of the kitchen, to chat to his guests, which is commendable – too few chefs do so.   The menu is small, with 5 starters (R36 – 48), 7 mains (R68 – R 110), and 4 desserts (ranging betwen R 30 – R 40), and sounds interesting. The winelist is more extensive, and is very proudly-Hermanus.  The restaurant is open Mondays to Saturdays for dinner only initially, and can be booked at tel 028 313-1916.  

The Seafood at The Marine restaurant in Hermanus was a pleasant surprise earlier this week, when the most delicious kingklip was served.  The restaurant offers a choice of two courses at R 180 and 3 courses cost R 215.   A number of irritations on arrival – struggling to find the booking on the reservation list and a wobbly table – were sorted out when addressed, and the Relais & Chateaux crested butter arrived rock hard, so much so that it was unspreadable.  The restaurant has no ambiance, it being too brightly lit and it not having any attempt at a decor focus.  But the food cooks, and the hand of Executive Chef Peter Tempelhoff, a previous Eat Out Top Ten chef whilst at Grande Provence, is evident.  The biggest surprise was the presentation of three scoops of ice cream on a block of ice, serving a functional as well as an aesthetic role.   The whale-shaped biscuit served with the coffee, whilst not new, remains a cute and clever touch.   The service is friendly and willing, and a miscommunication between the waiter and the kitchen was quickly rectified.   No senior management was visible all evening.   The cloakrooms are most disappointing for a five-star hotel, and the owner Liz McGrath would do well to invest some monies in upgrading these at The Marine.

The speculation in a previous WhaleTales blog post that Ginja is to move to New Church Street (between Buitengracht and Kloofnek Roads), into the previous Relish and Nova restaurant space, has been confirmed by the EatOut website.  “Executive Chef Chris Erasmus will continue the Ginja legacy with his playful take on gastronomy, abundant with colour, texture and taste – using the finest local produce”, the website says. 

Allee Bleue in Franschhoek is hosting its first Sushi and wine-pairing evening on Friday 6 November, at R 195, with a miso soup and tempura prawn starter, and five main sushi courses, each paired with a different Allee Bleue wine.   The dessert is a green tea brulee.  Chef Dane Newton, previously at Chamonix, is known in Franschhoek for his sushi.    In addition to Allee Bleue’s Bistro, the new Winetasting Courtyard 5-item menu, and the scrumptious picnic baskets, a small beer garden menu is also available to be enjoyed with the Paulaner draught beer served at the lower end of the estate.

Jordan wine estate is opening its The Restaurant at Jordan on 21 November.   The e-mail sent to announce the opening looks amateurish, and is an instant turn-off, as one is asked to commit to the food one would like to eat on that day, and the exact time slot in which one would like to eat it in.  Payment must also be done by bank transfer prior to arrival.  For a weekend treat, a visit to a wine estate is enjoyed in leisurely fashion, without being so prescriptive!  George Jardine of Jardine is the new chef of the country restaurant.

Cafe’ Sofia is boldly advertising its seven branches (Green Point, Camps Bay, Sea Point, Rondebosch, Gardens, Greenside and Blouberg) in a striking half-page advertisement: “Come and experience our new 2010 menu, the best breakfast in town or Happy Hour Cocktails.  You may be in for a surprise”.  The Happy Hour cocktails are priced at R 25 for cocktails and R 15 for beer on tap between 17h00 – 19h00, while breakfasts range from R 19 – R 29. 

It was a food book launch week last week, with“Franschhoek Food”, written by Myrna Robbins, featuring the main chefs of Franschhoek’s restaurants, and some of their favourite restaurant menu recipes, as well as wine pairing suggestions.   “South Africa On a Plate” was also launched, a book featuring restaurants that deduct R 5 off the patron’s bill to go toward the Streetsmart charity.   A three-course dinner suggestion, with the recipes, is featured for each restaurant.   Grande Provence, Cafe’ 1999, Jewel of India, Auberge Michel, Ginga, Haiku, Rust en Vrede, Jardine, La Colombe, Ninth Avenue Bistro, Myoga, Mosaic, Bosman’s, Hartford House, Roots, The Saxon, Ile Maurice, and Terroir are some of the restaurants included in the book.   The inspiration for the book comes from Jess Meredith-Watts and his fiance’ Louise, who were touched by beggars on the streets, and felt that they could make a difference, by giving all the profits of the book sales to the Streetsmart charity.   More details about the book are available here.

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