Entries tagged with “Linger Longer”.


The number of 2012 American Express Platinum Fine Dining Programme restaurants has dropped for the first time in its 14 year history, down from 88 restaurants in 2011 to 78 this year, with twelve of last year’s winners having closed their doors, reports Chef!.  This demonstrates the severity of the hospitality crisis.

The dominance of the Western Cape, with 33 of the 78 awards, highlights that the province is the cuisine capital of South Africa.  New award entrants are also largely from the Cape, being Nobu, Bistro Sixteen82, Planet Restaurant, Reuben’s at the One&Only, and Pierneef à La Motte, out of eight new entrants.  Three re-admissions are The Restaurant at Grande Provence (photograph), Bosman’s at the Grande Roche Hotel, and Saagries in Johannesburg.

Chefs said that the recognition is welcome, in being a member of the fine dining programme, given the difficult time of the year, after a very long and bleak winter.  The major criterion for consideration by the Programme organiser Tamsin Snyman, in partnership with restaurant critic Victor Strugo, is accepting payment by American Express, which may have disqualified many other top restaurants (such as Dash, The Test Kitchen, Casparus, Johan’s @ Longridge, Terroir, Waterkloof, Indochine, Tokara, and Delaire Graff) from being eligible for evaluation. The judges evaluated the quality and creativity of the cuisine, the service, the wine list, decor and ambiance, the overall excellence, and acceptance of a booking for a table of four on the same day.

Eight of last year’s Programme restaurants did not make the 2012 list, including Rust en Vrede (probably due to the departure of Chef David Higgs), Haute Cabriére Cellar Restaurant (probably due to the recent change in chef), Emily’s, Myoga, Bizerca and Belthazar. Snyman said that ‘there is an increasing mediocrity on the South African fine dining restaurant scene’, reports Chef! The restaurants that have closed their doors in the past year include Auberge Michel, Linger Longer, Jardine, and Hunter’s Country Restaurant.

The 2102 American Express Platinum Fine Dining Programme restaurants are as follows, according to Business Day:

CAPE PENINSULAAubergine, Buitenverwachting, Bukhara (city bowl), Catharina’s, Constantia Uitsig, The Food Barn, Gold, The Greenhouse, Haiku; Il Leone, La Colombe, Roundhouse, Savoy Cabbage
CAPE WINELANDS:  96 Winery Road, Boschendal, Bread & Wine, Fraai Uitzicht 1798, French Connection Bistro, Jardine at Jordan, Mimosa Lodge, Overture @ Hidden Valley, The Pavilion, Reuben’s (Franschhoek), Seafood @ The Marine, Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français
EASTERN CAPE: Hacklewood Hill (Port Elizabeth)
FREE STATE:  De Oude Kraal
KLEIN KAROO:  Kalinka Karoo Cuisine
GARDEN ROUTE: La Locanda (George), Sand @ The Plettenberg, Zinzi @ Tsala (Plettenberg Bay), Serendipity (Wilderness), Trans Karoo (Great Brak), Pembreys, Zachary’s at Pezula (Knysna)
JOHANNESBURG: Bellagio, Bellgables, Bukhara (Sandton), Butcher Shop & Grill, Byzance, La Cucina di Ciro, Gramadoelas, La Campagnola, Le Canard, Mastrantonia, Metzuyan, Osteria Tre Nonni, Piccolo Mondo, Pigalle (Sandton), Roots @ Forum Homini, Saxon, Sel et Poivre, Wombles, Yamato
PRETORIA:  Geet, La Madeleine, La Pentola, Mosaic, Ritrovo Ristorante,
KWAZULU-NATAL: Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse, Daruma, Hartford House, Harvey’s, Ile Maurice, Roma Revolving Restaurant, Spice, Sugar Club

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

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

Nic Dawes, writing in the Mail & Guardian Online last week about the poor presence of good restaurants in Johannesburg relative to Cape Town, with the alliterated headline ‘Dining in the Dumps’, has stirred a North-South culinary debate.  It was restaurant reviewer JP Rossouw’s  response to this article that motivated me to write, to add to the debate about Cape Town’s culinary prominence.

Dawes slates the Johannesburg restaurant scene, blaming restaurants and their chefs for not following international trends, for being expensive, for offering poor service, for offering food which is ‘rote’, for there being too many steakhouses, and for chefs being ‘restaurant entrepreneurs competing to extract money from your wallet”.  He writes about Johannesburg: “…for all its creativity and cosmopolitanism, for all its monuments to material consumption, this town is a culinary desert or, perhaps more accurately, parking lot — which is what you will find yourself looking on to from most of the very few places I do feel able to recommend. The fine-dining scene is most impoverished. Not a single serious restaurant in Johannesburg sets the national food agenda in any way. They don’t even try very hard to follow the big global trends a few months in arrears, as so many Cape restaurants do, or to give them local relevance as the best South African chefs are able to”.

Rossouw responded to the controversy created by Dawes by stating that good restaurants open where there are tourists, stating that :“…the Cape gets the lion’s share of tourism.  Eating out as a tourist means you are ready to spend.  You’re likely to be relaxed.  Restaurant industries naturally do well in these environments”.    It would appear that Rossouw knows more about restaurants than tourism, and almost every part of his quote can be challenged and refuted:

*   Cape Town does not get the most tourists – KwaZulu-Natal receives more tourists than the Western Cape

*   South Africa’s major tourist source countries are Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mocambique, ahead of the UK, USA and Europe, and these tourists mainly visit Johannesburg

*   Tourists have become cash-strapped too, due to the recession, and are therefore far more demanding in respect of value for money and good service.  Bertus Basson, Chef at Overture, says they have seen far more demanding foreign diners this past season than ever before.

To respond to Rossouw fairly, we called three 2010 Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant chefs, one each from Johannesburg (Marthinus Ferreira from DW Eleven-13), the Cape (Bertus Basson from Overture), and KwaZulu-Natal (Jackie Cameron of Hartford House), to hear their views on the North/South culinary debate.  The following emerged:

1.  The Cape is ‘sexy’ as a culinary destination, and therefore young chefs are seeking work in the Cape, where they can work alongside the country’s top chefs. Linked to this is that the cost of living is lower in the Cape, compared to Johannesburg, motivating young chefs to start off in the Cape, to retain more of their income.  It is this young blood that helps feed the top restaurants.  Cameron said it was a shame to see talented young chefs leave KwaZulu-Natal, and head for Cape Town.

2.  The Cape chefs are less motivated by money, and more by lifestyle.  They love being able to go for a walk on the beach before or after service, or forage on the mountain.   They love the beauty of Cape Town and the Winelands.  Basson said he blew all his money on a walk-in fridge this month, and he is excited about the new chairs that are due to arrive in August.  One can imagine chefs being inspired by beautiful Cape days on a wine farm (an increasing number of wine estates are opening restaurants, Leopard’s Leap being the next to do so in Franschhoek), or in the bustling city close to the sea. 

3.   The Cape chefs have excellent quality suppliers, which helps them make excellent food.  This is not unique to the Cape, as Cameron says she too is blessed with superb supply sources close to Hartford House.  This supplier quality is not seen to be available to Johannesburg restaurants.

4.  A very real consideration for the location of chefs is where their families and partners are.  Chef Marthinus studied at the Stellenbosch Institute of Culinary Arts, and worked at La Colombe, Le Quartier Français, and Schulphoek in the Cape before working overseas.  When he returned to South Africa, there was only one city for him – Johannesburg – as his family lives here.  So too Cameron grew up in KwaZulu-Natal, and loves living in this province, where she needs five minutes to get to work, and the only reason why she would be late would be because the cows have blocked the road! 

5.   The client profile seems to have a huge influence.  Overture has seen an upswing in local guests, on average of about 65 %, he said.  For Hartford House, it is exactly the opposite, about two-thirds of its clients being international patrons.  In winter, however, their clients are predominantly Johannesburgers, easily reaching the Hotel restaurant in a 3 – 4 hour drive, as well as receiving guests from Durban, Pietermaritzburg and Umhlanga, thinking nothing of driving up to 90 minutes to get to Hartford House.  Similarly, Capetonians will drive up to an hour to travel to Franschhoek or Stellenbosch for lunch.  Cameron was complimentary about her Johannesburg clients, saying that they understand about good food, and are appreciative about what she and her team prepares for them.

It was depressing to hear Ferreira talk about his experience.  First, his Johannesburg clients appear to have a short time window for a three course meal, few staying longer to relax and really enjoy the meal.  At lunch, they arrive at about 12h00, and are out by 13h30, the average lunch period being only 45 minutes.  At night patrons arrive at 18h30, and his restaurant is almost empty by 21h00, the dinner being a ‘starter’ to an evening of entertainment, which could include clubbing, the movies, and/or the theatre.  The businesspersons eating at his restaurant by day are under time pressure and less demanding in terms of their food, almost becoming ‘functional eaters’, rather than ‘dining appreciators’, but they eat at the restaurants as often as five times a week, making the restaurant an extension of their office, he said.   The short time that the guest spends at his restaurant has restricted Ferreira from offering a Tasting Menu.  It was something Ferreira tried when he first opened, but he dropped it, due to his patrons’ time constraint.  He is introducing it again on Monday evenings. 

Ferreira also spoke about the Johannesburg restaurant clients being hyper-critical, posting disparaging comments on websites such as Trip Advisor, but not passing on feedback directly to him and his staff while they are at the restaurant, probably to not offend him.  Yet these clients come back to his restaurants regularly.

Cameron said that Cape Town’s regular international visitors raise the bar for the restaurants in the city, as these patrons want to experience better meals on their subsequent visits, helping to improve the quality that the Cape restaurants offer.  She said that her Johannesburg clients are of a high standard, know their food and wine, and do not order a ‘well-done’ fillet! 

It emerged that the Cape restaurant client tends to be more appreciative of the food and wine that is served, and makes an occasion of a meal at a restaurant, making it the evening’s entertainment, rather than using it as a quick stepping stone to the rest of the evening’s entertainment programme. 

6.  Competition attracts more competition, Ferreira said.  This means that good restaurants in an area attract more restaurants.  He is starting to see this in Johannesburg, and talked about Cube, Roots, Mosaic, The Saxon, and Linger Longer being good Gauteng restaurants.  By contrast too, he said, the lack of good restaurants in Johannesburg had been a good opportunity for him to do something good and different, and it clearly has paid off for him.  He is confident that Johannesburg will improve its culinary performance as new restaurants open.  The move to Johannesburg in July, by Rust en Vrede Eat Out Top 10 chef David Higgs,  to join an hotel group it is speculated, is a huge vote of confidence for the Johannesburg restaurant industry, Ferreira said.

7.  There is no doubt that the money is in Johannesburg, and Cameron noted that more recipe books are sold in this city than in any other in South Africa, there is a larger potential market due to its larger population size, and it has better weather throughout the year, allowing more outdoor eating.   She does not understand why the top-end Johannesburg restaurants are not better supported, and that chefs are not attracted to these restaurants, given the better Johannesburg salaries.

8.  The type of restaurants that patrons support differ vastly in the two cities.  Rossouw wrote that Johannesburg has better steakhouses, and Asian and African restaurants.   Ferreira said that Johannesburg has wonderful restaurants, but these are not necessarily fine dining ones, being ‘curry houses and tratorrias’, more relaxed than fine dining restaurants.  In his two years of running his own restaurant in Johannesburg, Ferreira says he has seen an increase in the number of better restaurants.

 Dawes’ article about Johannesburg’s poor culinary performance is a challenge to the Johannesburg restaurant industry, to prove Dawes and the Cape wrong, Ferreira said.   I loved Basson’s analogy of the difference in the restaurants in Cape Town and Johannesburg, likening them to wines from different terroirs, “both tasting delicious for what they are”!

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

In a hotly contested 2010 Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards last night, Rust en Vrede and chef David Higgs won all three top categories of the Awards, in being named the number 1 restaurant in the country, Top Chef, as well as the restaurant offering Top Service.   Even before the Top 20 finalists were announced, we had predicted that Rust en Vrede would be named as the best restaurant in South Africa, for the excellent work of Higgs and his team.  

With four Eat Out Top 10 restaurants now in Stellenbosch (Rust en Vrede, Overture, Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine and Terroir), there can no longer be a debate about Stellenbosch being the new Gourmet Capital of South Africa.   Cape Town, Paarl, and Franschhoek each have one restaurant in the Top 10 list.

But it was the other Top 10 winners on the list that caused some upsets, in that it appeared that being invited to cook for the Awards evening is no longer an indicator of instant inclusion on the Top 10 list (of the four chefs preparing the meal, only Higgs was in the Top 10 list).   Also having been on the Top 10 list last year was no guarantee of being on the list this year.   So, for example:

*   Number one restaurant for two years running, and 12th ranked restaurant in the world, La Colombe did not make the Top 10 list.  Luke Dale-Roberts, now consultant chef to La Colombe and owner of his new restaurant The Test Kitchen, suffered the same fate as George Jardine did last year, in falling off the list due to the new restaurant.   No doubt Dale-Roberts will be back on the Top 10 list next year.

 *   Number 2 restaurant in 2009, and Top Chef last year, and cooking at the dinner, Chantel Dartnall of Mosaic Restaurant in Pretoria, did not feature on the Top 10 list

*   Aubergine and Bosman’s are back on the Top 10 list, after an absence of many years for both restaurants

*   The Roundhouse made it to the Top 10 list last year, but fell off this year, and chef PJ Vadas also cooked.  Eric Bulpitt from Jardine also cooked for the gala dinner, but did not make the Top 10 list, despite the judges’ emphasis on foraging as an important source of ingredients, something Bulpitt does with his team on the slopes of Table Mountain.

The judges looked for passion (this was emphasised) in restaurants they evaluated, as well as ambiance, seafood sustainability in following the SASSI list for seafood, the pairing of wine and food, service levels, consistency of delivery, the plates used, the relationship with suppliers, serving real food, sincerity, and a new trend - foraging.  Ultimately, the test was whether the restaurant offered their patrons a memorable experience.

The Top 10 Restaurant List, as ranked by the Eat Out judges Abigail Donnelly, Pete Goffe-Wood, Arnold Tanzer and Anna Trapido, is as follows:

1.   Rust en Vrede, Chef David Higgs, Stellenbosch

2.  The Tasting Room, Le Quartier Francais, Chef Margot Janse, Franschhoek

3.   Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine, Chef George Jardine, Stellenbosch

4.   Bosman’s ,Grand Roche, Chef Roland Gorgosilich, Paarl

5.   DW Eleven-13, Chef Marthinus Ferreira, Johannesburg

6.   Terroir, Chef Michael Broughton, Stellenbosch

7.   Aubergine, Chef Harald Bresselschmidt, Cape Town

8.   Roots, Chef Allistaire Lawrence, Johannesburg

9.   Overture, Chef Bertus Basson, Stellenbosch

10.  Hartford House, Chef Jackie Cameron, Mooi River

The remaining finalists on the Top 20 shortlist were the following:   The Greenhouse (Peter Tempelhoff), Jardine(Eric Bulpitt), La Colombe (Luke Dale-Roberts), Linger Longer (Walter Ulz), Mosaic Restaurant (Chantel Dartnall), The Restaurant at Waterkloof (Gregory Czarnecki), Restaurant Christophe(Christophe Dehosse), Reuben’s (Reuben Riffel), The Roundhouse (PJ Vadas), and Zachary’s (Geoffrey Murray).

A newly named Lannice Snyman Lifetime Achievement Award went to chef Walter Ulz of Linger Longer, a Top 20 finalist, and celebrating his 30 years of involvement with the restaurant, as well as the restaurant’s 50th anniversary on 1 April next year.   Margot Janse read a most moving tribute to Lannice Snyman, the first editor of Eat Out.

The Top 10 restaurant award list countdown only commenced after a four course dinner was served at the Westin Grand.  The hotel’s chef Grant served the canapes, enjoyed on arrival, and I loved the clever mini- “Magnums”, frozen cheese coated in chocolate and on a stick, looking like the ice cream brand in miniature form.   The starter was prepared by Chef PJ Vadas from The Roundhouse, and was a beautifully floral minimalist Buffalo Ridge ricotta served wrapped in pickled Magic Man beetroot and drizzled with Morgenster Olive Oil and balsamic vinegar.  It was paired with La Motte 2009 Chardonnay.

The first main course was prepared by Chantel Dartnall of Mosaic Restaurant, and was called “Land and Sea”, linking langoustine tails to pea purée and asparagus, served with a  langoustine foam, and paired with La Motte’s 2010 Pierneef Chardonnay.   David Higgs of Rust en Vrede prepared the second main course, pan roasted fillet of beef, a sweetbread and caper sausage, warm salad of tongue and cabbage, with a smoked raisin purée, paired with 2007 Rust en Vrede Bordeaux Blend.

Eric Bulpitt of Jardine served his “Pear in ember’ dessert on their trademark wooden boards, with pear jelly, smoked and dried pear ice cream, chocolate streussel, black sesame and walnuts, paired with Nuy White Muscadel.

Given that there are 8000 restaurants in South Africa, all restaurants having made Top 20 on the Eat Out shortlist are worthy of congratulation, said Abigail Donnelly, Eat Out editor.  More than 3000 restaurants are listed in the 2010 Eat Out Guide, which is available in outlets from today.

The 2010 Eat Out Top 10 Awards evening was most enjoyable – the lovely company of the Veritas team, led by Duimpie Bayly and his wife Sue, as well as of Bennie Howard, and Eat Out staff, including writer Annette Klinger, the granddaughter of our neighbours in Wellington from many moons ago, next to whom I was lucky enough to sit.   We were the last to leave, with the lovely Anel and Jan from Spit or Swallow blog.

I cannot wait for the 2011 Eat Out Awards, with the outstanding new restaurants that have opened recently, which will challenge the Top 10 winners of this year, particularly Pierneef à La Motte with Chris Erasmus, Babel at Babylonstoren with Simone Rossouw, the new Tokara with Richard Carstens, and The Test Kitchen with Luke Dale-Roberts.

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  Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Predicting the Top 20 shortlist for the 2010 Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards was relatively easy.  Predicting the Top 10 winners out of this list, which Eat Out will announce at its gala dinner tomorrow evening, is much harder.  Here is our predicted list of Top 10, in no particular order, and admittedly uncertain about the non-Cape Town restaurants.  We have analysed JP Rossouw’s list of 23 three-star Rossouw’s Restaurants (the highest rating he awards), to help us make the prediction.  See more about Rossouw’s list below. 

*   Rust en Vrede - as written before, I boldly predict this will be the number one restaurant on the Top 10 list.  David Higgs is doing excellent work, without any fanfare, and he made top 100 of S. Pellegrino Top 50 Restaurants in the World list earlier this year.  He was also recognised as joint winner as the best vineyard restaurant by the Great Wine Capitals of the World.  An absolute professional. (On Rossouw’s Restaurants’ 3-star list, and Rossouw has awarded the restaurant his one and only Platinum Award, motivated as follows: “consistently deliver an exceptional dining experience in all respects”).

*   Jardine - cooking at the gala dinner, and this is a sure predictor.  Chef Eric Bulpitt has returned from 6 weeks of working in the Noma kitchen, the number 1 of the Top 50 Restaurants in the World, at no compensation, demonstrating Eric’s dedication to and passion for his craft.  (Surprisingly, not on Rossouw’s Restaurants’ 3-star list!).

*   Jordan’s Restaurant with George Jardine - the interior decor (or lack of) may leave a lot to be desired, but George Jardine is a dedicated chef, and has won many a Top 10 Eat Out award whilst at Jardine (On Rossouw’s Restaurants’ 3-star list).

*   Overture - Chef Bertus Basson has been on the Top 10 list for two years running, and re-invents his restaurant continuously.  Stunning location on Hidden Valley estate. (On Rossouw’s Restaurants’ 3-star list).

*   The Green House - Chef Peter Tempelhoff has been a past winner, both for this Cellars Hohenhort hotel restaurant as well as for Grande Provence in Franschhoek. (On Rossouw’s Restaurants’ 3-star list).

*   The Tasting Room - Chef Margot Janse.  Not liked by all, and very expensive, but probably the most-crowned restaurant in the history of the Top 10 Restaurant Awards (Back on Rossouws’ Restaurants’ 3-star list, after falling off it in the 2010 edition).

*   Restaurant Christophe - Chef Christophe Dehosse is the most charming French restaurateur, serving excellent foie gras and other French-style food.  (Not on Rossouw’s Restaurants’ 3-star list, despite Rossouw first highlighting Dehosse’s talents whilst he was at Joostenberg). 

*   Mosaic- chef Chantel Dartnall from Pretoria is cooking at the Awards dinner, and made the number 2 slot last year.  (Not on Rossouw’s Restaurants’ 3-star list)

*   The Roundhouse - on the Top 10 list last year, and chef PJ Vadas cooking for the Awards Gala dinner (On Rossouw’s Restaurants’ 3-star list).

*   La Colombe - this is a difficult one.  Luke Dale-Roberts has led this restaurant to the top of the Eat Out list two years running, and was recognised internationally in reaching 12th position on the Top 50 Restaurants in the World list.   Dale-Roberts is a consultant chef to La Colombe now, and has opened his own new restaurant The Test Kitchen.  I predict that he will be acknowledged for his excellent performance this year, but will not be awarded the number one position due to his reduced La Colombe involvement.  His recent whirlwind visit to The Fat Duck and El Bulli, both on the S. Pellegrino Top 50 Restaurants in the World list, just after he opened The Test Kitchen, is a reflection of his dedication to improving himself even further.

The other restaurants on the Eat Out Top 10 shortlist are:  Reuben’s Franschhoek, Aubergine, Terroir, and Zachary’s, all of which have also made Rossouw’s Restaurants’ 3-star list.    Bosman’s, DW Eleven-13, Linger Longer, Roots, Waterkloof Restaurant and Hartford House are also top 20 finalists, but do not appear on Rossouw’s Restaurants’ 3-star list. 

Rossouws’ Restaurants 2011 3-star restaurant list is as follows: Assaggi, Butcher Shop and Grill, Mastrantonio, The Grillhouse, Thomas Maxwell Bistro, all in Johannesburg; Ritrovo in Pretoria; 95 Keerom, Aubergine, Bizerca Bistro, La Colombe, Magica Roma, The Greenhouse, The Roundhouse, and Nobu in Cape Town; Jordan with George Jardine, Rust en Vrede, Overture, Terroir, Reuben’s Franschhoek, Tasting Room in Stellenbosch/Franschhoek; Zachary’s and Ile de Pain in Knysna; and Marianna’s in Stanford.  Rossouw defines a 3-star restaurant as one that “shines in its price point and offers a truly special food experience…. it’s the all-round feeling of pleasure that’s created by a lovely space, warm hospitality, good service, and crackerjack food.  Track record is also important : three star restaurants should consistently deliver on their promise”.  No doubt his inclusion of Magica Roma will have critics sniggering again, the response to the same inclusion in 2008.

The Eat Out 2010 Awards Gala evening at the Westin Grand hotel will be a wonderfully festive one, no matter what the outcome of the Top 10 list will be.  No doubt it will be controversial, but not anything as controversial as the results were in 2009!

POSTSCRIPT 28/12: I was surprised to see an Erratum slip fall out of Rossouw’s Restaurants when I paged through it at Exclusive Books yesterday.   It concerns the 3-star Restaurant list, Rossouw’s highest accolade.  In the book Glen Carlou was incorrectly added to the 3-star list, and Magica Roma was left out, the note states.   This is a very poor reflection on Rossouw’s editing and production skills.

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  Twitter: @WhaleCottage

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

The Top 20 List follows:

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

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

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

Paarl: Bosman’s at Grande Roche

Somerset WestRestaurant at Waterkloof

Knysna: Zachary’s at Pezula

Johannesburg: DW Eleven-13, Linger Longer, Roots

Pretoria: Mosaic

KwaZulu-Natal: Hartford House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sixteen of the 20 finalists on the Prudential Eat Out Restaurant Awards list, from which the Top 10 list will be selected at the Awards function on 22 November, are from Cape Town and the Western Cape, proving that the Cape is the Gourmet Centre of the country. 

Eight finalists are from Cape Town alone, four are from Franschhoek and three are from Stellenbosch.

The three Stellenbosch finalists all made the Top 10 list last year – Terroir, Overture and Rust & Vrede.  Franschhoek’s finalists are Reubens (Top Chef and Top Restaurant winner five years ago), The Restaurant at Grande Provence, Bread & Wine, and The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Francais (the only current Top 10 restaurant in Franschhoek).   All the Franschhoek finalists have been previous Top 10 winners.

New entrants to the Top 20 list, having been open for more than a year, are Carne, The Greenhouse at The Cellars Hohenhort, and The Roundhouse, all based in Cape Town.   All other finalists were finalists last year as well.

Finalists of last year that did not make the Top 20 list this year are The Showroom (closed down earlier this year and now houses Portofino), Myoga, The Saxon (chef Rudi Liebenberg has moved to The Mount Nelson Hotel) and Linger Longer.

The full list of Top 20 finalists is as follows:

1. 9th Avenue Bistro, Durban
2. Aubergine, Cape Town
3. Bizerca Bistro, Cape Town
4. Bread and Wine, Franschhoek
5. Carne SA, Cape Town
6. The Foodbarn, Cape Town
7. The Greenhouse at The Cellars-Hohenort, Cape Town
8. Hartford House, Mooi River, KZN
9. Jardine, Cape Town
10. La Colombe, Cape Town
11. Mosaic Restaurant, Pretoria
12. Overture, Stellenbosch
13. The Restaurant at Grande Provence, Franschhoek
14. Reuben’s Restaurant & Bar, Franschhoek
15. Roots, Johannesburg
16. The Roundhouse, Cape Town
17. Rust en Vrede, Stellenbosch
18. Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français, Franschhoek
19. Terroir, Stellenbosch
20. Zachary’s, Knysna

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