Entries tagged with “Table Bay Hotel”.


Camissa Interior Whale Cottage PortfolioWhen the Cape Town branch of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, an international association of gastronomy, organised its first function of the year at the Table Bay hotel, I booked, on the off-chance that it could be held at Camissa Brasserie, which opened two months ago. It was a convivial evening with good company, but disappointed on its promise of Cape heritage food.

The Chaîne members are serious food-lovers, and include restaurant owners, chefs, wine estate owners, and gourmands.  The Cape Town branch of the Chaîne has about 70 members, its Bailli of the Bailliage du Cap Samm Bain told me, and 35 members and guests attended the dinner, including Chaîne members from Saudi Arabia and Sweden.  On arrival we were served The Table Bay Captain Table Brut, which Gershwin told me is made for the hotel by Graham Beck.  Canapés Camissa Canapes Whale Cottage Portfolioserved were oysters, duck confit croquettes with an Asian style plum sauce, tempura crab claw, and asparagus wrapped in prosciutto with hollandaise sauce.

During the drinks I had a look at the 45-seater New York style Brasserie interior, which had been booked out for the Chaîne dinner, and Gershwin told me that the space previously was The Conservatory Restaurant and Terrace and Palm Court, which was an overflow venue for their breakfasts and when the Atlantic Grill restaurant was full, with a view onto the V & A Waterfront and Table Mountain.  It received a make-over by designer Carolyn Davies, with a new grey ceiling with a pressed steel effect, bookshelves along the walls, and an impressive chandelier made from crystal whisky decanters in the main and slightly separate Captain’s Room at the end of the rectangular restaurant space.  The length of the wall has black leather banquettes.  Above these are brass railings.  A wine room has been created too, for wine storage as well as tastings. A lounge area has been created outside (more…)

Umi Interior Pink blossoms Whale Cottage PortfolioMany restaurants are opening and have opened this summer, with only three months of the summer season left in which they can create awareness and make an impact before the dreaded winter arrives after the Easter weekend.  New restaurants are far more casual, with informal dining.

This list of restaurant openings and closings is updated continuously, as we receive new information:

Restaurant Openings

*    Umi Asian restaurant  opened in December with The Marly hotel in the Camps Bay Promenade, owned by The Cove (Kovensky) Group  (photograph above).

*   Equus restaurant on the Cavalli stud and wine farm on the R44 has opened. Carl Habel left the Mount Nelson Hotel as Restaurant Manager and Sommelier to join the restaurant, but left before it opened. Chef Henrico Grobbelaar from the Twelve Apostles heads up the kitchen.

*   Shake your Honey is to open in the original Madame Zingara building on Loop Street this year, according to an iolTravel report.  The ‘vibrant spirit of India’ is to be reflected in the 5-storey building, with a theatre, markets, restaurants, and shops.

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

*   TriBakery has opened on Bree Street.

*   Vida e Caffe is opening coffee shops at Shell petrol stations, 40 initially and 300in total.  It has also opened in Garden’s Centre, and in St John’s Piazza in Sea Point.

*   The Black Sheep Restaurant has opened on Kloof Street. (more…)

12 Apostles Shell plate Whale Cottage PortfolioYesterday was a picture perfect day to try out the new Summer menu of new Executive Chef Christo Pretorius at Azure restaurant at the 12 Apostles Hotel, at the invitation of its GM Horst Frehse.   The amazing view of the Atlantic Ocean is brought into the restaurant and reflects in the menu too.

Chef Christo was promoted when Chef Henrico Grobbelaar left the hotel to head up the kitchen at Equus restaurant at Cavalli Estate in Stellenbosch a few months ago.   He had previously worked at De Huguenot (no longer operating) with Chef Tanja Kruger, and at the Cape Royale before joining the 12 Apostles.  He travels overseas every year, to experience international cuisine. He acknowledged that he is nothing without his team, and that he delegates to his staff, mentors and trains them. 12 Apostles Chef Christo Whale Cottage PortfolioChef Christo focuses on ingredients that are seasonal, and sources them as locally as he can, the game coming from Uitenhage and Oudtshoorn.  Only green-listed SASSI fish is served.  He has a good relationship with his suppliers, and knows that they will assist him when he has urgent requests.  His focus at Azure is on ‘flavourful food‘.  Horst shared that they have had very good feedback about Chef Christo’s menu, and that the chef comes out of the kitchen as much as he can, to meet the guests and to obtain their feedback. (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   The Top 5 restaurants based on service in the UK are: Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in London, The Fat Duck in Bray,
Carters in Birmingham. HKK in London, and Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester in London.  Perhaps Eat Out could add such an evaluation to its Restaurant Awards?!

*  McGrath Collection Executive Chef Peter Tempelhoff is opening Mondiall as a Brasserie in the former Green Dolphin Restaurant in the V&A Waterfront on 29 November with Patrick Symington, and Chef Oliver Cattermole as Head Chef. (received via media release from FIVESTAR PR)

*   Uma Thurman is the star chosen for the cover picture (more…)

Diners Club Winelist Awards 2More restaurants in the Western Cape than in any other province entered and received a Diners Club International Winelist Award 2013. At the 30th Awards function held for the Western Cape at the Vineyard Hotel on Wednesday,  MasterChef SA Judge and Tsogo Sun Chef Benny Masekwameng announced the 38 winners in the Diamond, 30 in the Platinum, 26 in the Gold,  and 2 in the SilverDiners Club Chef Benny Whale Cotatge Portfolio Award categories, 96 awards in total.

Veteran wine critic Dave Hughes chaired the judging panel, which included fledgling judge Chef Benny, restaurant guide editor JP Rossouw,  wine judges Christine Rudman and Fiona McDonald,   Winestyle.biz owner Nikki Dumas, and the Cape Wine Academy head Marilyn Cooper.  He said that it was fitting that the Awards ceremony was held at The Vineyard hotel, the Newlands area having been the first in Cape Town in which grapes were grown, but soon (more…)

Bastille 2013 Hein KoegelenbergThe Bastille Festival was a festive weekend of tasting Franschhoek wines, connecting with friends, and trying some of the village food treats.  By all accounts it was a great success, and DnA Events must be congratulated in attracting such large numbers of visitors to Franschhoek, irrespective of the winter weather!  Almost every accommodation establishment was fully booked on Saturday evening, and the restaurants and shops did a roaring trade.  Franschhoek looked festive, almost every business being decorated in the French tricolore, and many of the locals and visitors wearing a beret and French colours.  For our French-speaking intern from Reunion, it was a surprise to experience all the Frenchness of Franschhoek this weekend.

It seemed more crowded on Saturday compared with previous years, yet there seemed to be less on offer outside of the Festival marquee than in the past.  We saw the queue outside the marquee just after the midday opening time, and it stretched a few blocks down Dirkie Uys Street.  We heard from our Whale Cottage Franschhoek guests that many tried to get tickets to get into the marquee on Saturday but were unable to do so, not even in the closing hour. Those that did have tickets could barely move inside the marquee as it was so full, despite a limit on the numbers, mainly caused by the afternoon rain, which meant that the ticket holders sitting outside moved into the marquee.  For many it was too crowded, and they left the marquee after visiting one stand, taking a bottle of wine outside to enjoy it in less crowded conditions.  Col’Cacchio had a band performing, and appeared to be one of the most popular meeting places after the marquee closed at 17h00, there being no cover charge.  Last minute rooms were sold to visitors who had heard about breathalyser tests on Helshoogte Pass.  The traffic on the main road was unbelievable, at times backed up to the Huguenot Monument.

(more…)

Mandela Exhibition Mandela and Tutu Whale Cottage PortfolioCape Town was a hive of activity yesterday, as President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle, as well as their daughters, visited Cape Town for the day on their three African nation tour.  It also was the opening of the Nelson Mandela Legacy Exhibition, an emotionally moving event.  The day was focused on the contribution which former President Mandela has made to Cape Town in particular, but also to South Africa and the rest of the world. (more…)

The first taste of the Cape winter this weekend is likely to be felt by the restaurant industry, which will see hard times in the next two months, if close to zero accommodation bookings in the Cape are anything to go by.  Other than Hermanus FynArts and the Wacky Wine Weekend kicking off next week, ‘Cook Franschhoek‘ running over the Youth Day long weekend, and the Bastille Festival weekend on 13 – 14 July, no significant events are planned to attract visitors to Cape Town and the Winelands.  A number of restaurants are closing for an annual break in the next two months.

This list of restaurant openings and closings isupdated continuously, as we receive new information:

Restaurant Openings

*   The Crypt Jazz Restaurant has opened below St George’s Cathedral.

*   Frères Bistro has opened next door to Col’Cacchio on Hans Strydom (more…)

Every year around this time, the TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards are announced, resulting in a flurry of media releases to praise achievements in various categories.  TripAdvisor sceptics know how easy it is to generate both positive and negative false reviews on the world’s largest travel customer feedback site, and therefore take the results with a pinch of salt.

This year the Cape Grace hotel made it to the number two rank on the TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards 2013 Top 25 Hotels in the World category, and is ranked top hotel in Africa.  The Africa list included the Twelve Apostles Hotel at 14th position, the Mount Nelson Hotel at 18th place, The Oyster Box at 19th place, the One&Only Cape Town at 21st place, Kapama River Lodge at number 22, and the Table Bay Hotel at 23rd position.

Ironic for the Cape Grace hotel is that in the same week as the TripAdvisor award ranking was announced, yet another scandal hit the hotel, this time a hotel guest from the UK allegedly having been drugged by having her drink spiked, filmed in a comprising position in her hotel bedroom with her tour guide, and subsequently robbed of all her money, computer equipment, and jewellery over the festive season, reported the Sunday Times.   The hotel shot to ‘fame’ for all the wrong reasons when it was the honeymoon home of Shrien Dewani, who allegedly organised the murder of his bride Anni from the hotel two years ago.  The hotel’s most famous guests to date have been ex-USA President Bill Clinton and his wife Hilary, and James Bond, in the latest ‘Carte Blanche’ 007 novel by Jeffery Deaver.

Out of her depth in the wording she used in a media statement, Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold is quoted as saying: ‘The Cape Grace has always been an exemplary hotel and a benchmark for the best in Cape Town hospitality. We are so pleased  that it has been recognised in such an authoritative way‘ (our underlining), immediately offending many other top Cape Town hotels!

The TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards do not reflect the results of the highly regarded Conde Nast Travelers’ Awards, in which the Steenberg Hotel was voted as the best hotel in Africa in 2011, and was ranked 9th on the continent last year.

It is fortunate that TripAdvisor does not do a similar Restaurants Awards list, as a week doesn’t go by that a restaurateur in Cape Town and Franschhoek does not refer to colleagues posting false positive TripAdvisor reviews about their own establishments, or posting false reviews about restaurants near the top of the list in their city or village, to topple them from the top position.  ’Reviews’ by aggrieved ex-employees are another source of negative reviews, as are customers who are angry when they do not receive refunds when they contravene agreed cancellation policies.

Anyone that reads and believes TripAdvisor reviews deserves to get what they receive when they make their accommodation and restaurant choices based on this website! TripAdvisor is a particularly important reference guide for tourists from the UK, and it is shame that they allow themselves to be deceived by so much false information.  TripAdvisor would enhance its credibility vastly if it had a review verification system, and demanded a response from the owner or manager of the establishment, before posting any review, to allow both sides of the story to be presented jointly and fairly.

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

Cape Town positions itself as a Festive Season playground, yet is not very tourist-friendly when it comes to being open for business on Christmas Day.  For a city that is the Gourmet Capital of our country, the best that many tourists could eat yesterday was a McDonalds burger!

A Tweet by Table Bay Hotel concierge Ryan Van Zyl yesterday morning highlighted how difficult it would be for him to find restaurants for his guests on the special day.  In Camps Bay, for example, out of about 25 restaurants in the suburb, about half were closed for the day.  Even more closed late afternoon, meaning that Paranga, Zenzero, and Café Caprice were making a killing on the Promenade.  However, this came at a price, with queues to be allocated a table, and slow service in some instances, we have been told by our guests. Today a similar number of Camps Bay restaurants are closed, expecting the annual arrival of rowdy Capetonians taking over the beach suburb, causing mayhem, with potential theft of tourist and restaurant possessions, making Camps Bay a no-go zone just from the traffic build-up alone. Kloof Street has close to 40 restaurants, and is known as the street that never sleeps, always having restaurants open.  At 19h00 yesterday we found only four of these operating: Nando’s, Mc Donalds, Myög, and Mixa’s Schwarma!  Caffé Milano was open during the day yesterday, but had to close when it ran out of supplies.

A restaurant owner’s wife responded on Twitter to Van Zyl’s retort, saying that it was their restaurant’s annual gift to their staff for their hard work, to be closed for two days, which doesn’t make sense, as one can give staff ample time off during winter, when restaurants cry about how quiet they are.   In addition, the Tweeter shared that the lost business does not weigh up against the problems they experience with reliable supply of produce.  This sounds like a more serious issue, but surely one can order ahead for the two days?  Good restaurants will have well-established supplier relationships, which surely cannot be influenced by public holidays, as the Christmas days are not the only ones on which suppliers could be closed. One wonders how the restaurants that were open yesterday coped, from a supply point of view.  Staff reliability is of course the unmentionable, and this may well be the real reason why so many restaurants were closed yesterday.  No Guest House or Hotel, also operating in the hospitality industry, would dream of closing for two days over Christmas, or would have the audacity to ask its guests to make up their own beds on these two days! Surprising is that most restaurants are open on New Years’ Eve, and making plenty of money out of the rates they are charging, supplier support appearing to not be an issue next week!

We have never understood the country closing down for about three weeks around 16 December, when the hospitality requires supplies of guest refreshment portions and amenities, being more fully occupied in the same period as in any other time of the year.   Retailers feel the brunt of supplier closures too, disappointing their clients with out of stocks.  Our experience with the V&A Waterfront and Woolworths showed that the management was not only away from their businesses over weekends, but appear to be so over this whole Christmas week, the Waterfront’s running appearing to be in the hands of its Information Centre’s Assistant Manager Zulfa Nordien.  Commendable is that the phone of Cape Town Tourism was answered yesterday, albeit at their airport branch, the City head office on Burg Street appearing to be closed, with its management on holiday too this week!  This is one of the busiest tourism weeks lying ahead!  Very few Tweets of Cape Town Tourism and the V&A Waterfront are proactive in providing tourist information to our City’s visitors over the festive season, largely restricted to reTweets, or if one is lucky, to having ones queries answered. Today the V&A Waterfront Tweeter got her information wrong in answering a question about whether the new V&A Market on the Wharf is open today!

Western Cape Minister of Tourism Alan Winde has encouraged the hospitality industry to take its breaks over winter. Perhaps it is time for him to be prescriptive in encouraging our Cape Town and Western Cape restaurants to be tourist friendly, and to be open over Christmas.  We salute the restaurants and their staff who put service above self yesterday, and welcomed customers and spoilt them with Christmas cheer and good food.

POSTSCRIPT 26/12: We are grateful that Minister Winde supported our plea, in a Tweet in response to this blogpost:alanwinde @FoodWineBlogClu YES we should be open for business over the festive season. It’s harvest time for the tourism industry. @WhaleCottage

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