Entries tagged with “The Showroom”.


Truffle Exterior Whale CottageThe bottom end of Chiappini Street has housed two of my favourite restaurants in their time – Bruce Robertson’s The Showroom and Cormac Keane’s Portofino, both the talking point of Cape Town in their time.  After a surprisingly long tenancy by low class Leaf, a smart ’5 star 100% Halaal Fine Dining Bistro‘ has opened, called TRUFFLE.  The restaurant was opened to cater for top-end Halaal cuisine, which has not been available in Cape Town before.  The name was chosen for its association with indulgence, which is echoed throughout the restaurant.

I had seen the exterior branding whilst driving down Buitengracht Street a week ago, but could not find any website via Google.  Yesterday I stopped by, and was astounded how the restaurant interior has changed since Leaf occupied the space until about a year ago.  Mohammed Adam was kind enough to spend time with me, to share information about the restaurant. Truffle Mohammed Adam Whale Cottage He and Nisreen Ebrahim are joint owners, Nisreen and her husband Rafiq being previous owners of four fast food outlets they would not reveal the names of (LinkedIn revealed that they were Nando’s outlets), and took over the space in January. Mohammed did all the interior design, after some building work was done, half of the upstairs being closed off by means of a wall now, to give the kitchen double volume space.  Almost everything has been changed, other than the wooden floor in the outside section, with a new wooden floor upstairs; new wooden steps for the staircase to match the tops of the tables and the (more…)

Foliage Chef Chris Erasmus at table Whale CottageFor the first time in many years Cape Town has seen barely any restaurant closures this winter. There have never been so many chefs leaving their employers to start their own restaurants, or to join other employers! An unusually high number of new restaurants have opened or will do so in the next month or two.

This list of restaurant openings and closings, restaurant staff movements, and winter holiday closures, is updated continuously, as we receive new information:

Restaurant Openings

*     Chef Chris Erasmus has opened his own restaurant Foliage in Franschhoek, having previously been at Pierneef à La Motte.

*    Chef’s Warehouse & Canteen has opened Street Food below the neighbouring hotel, offering Deluxe coffee, pastries, and Asian-inspired lunch take-outs. Operates from 7h00 – 15h00 Monday – Friday.

*   Idiom Wines is said to be opening a restaurant.

*   The Butcher Shop & Grill is opening next to Sotano in Mouille Point.

*   Michael Townsend (La Parada, Lucky Fish, Harbour House emporium) is (more…)

Our list of latest restaurant openings and closures lists more openings than closures, and a number of restaurant location changes. This list is updated continuously, as we receive information:

Restaurant Openings

*   Café Dijon has closed its restaurants on Plein Street and at Zorgvliet in Stellenbosch, and has opened in the Rockwell Centre in Green Point, Cape Town, on Napier Street opposite Anatoli’s.

*   Luke Dale-Roberts, Eat Out Top Chef at The Test Kitchen, is to open a real test kitchen, called The Kitchen of Dreams, a private experimental place to develop new recipes, at the Old Biscuit Mill

*  Chef Luke Dale-Roberts is opening a pop-up Pot Luck Club in Swiss ski resort Verbier, at the Hotel Farinet, from 8 December – April, to be run by him, his chef Nicolas Wilkinson, and front of house Selena Afnan-Holmes.

*   Col’Cacchio has opened a new outlets in Westlake, and a new one is coming in Claremont too.

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

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

*   Moyo is to open in November, where the Paulaner Braühaus was in the V & A Waterfront.  It has taken over the tearoom at Kirstenbosch already.

*   TRUTH Coffee has opened on Buitenkant Street

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

*   Deluxe Coffeeworks has opened where Reuben’s Deli used to be in Franschhoek.

*   Okamai Japanese Restaurant has opened at Glenwood wine estate in Franschhoek

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

*   The Slug & Lettuce has opened where Beads was on Church Street in Stellenbosch

*   Stables at Vergelegen Bistro has opened as a lunch restaurant in Somerset West.  Its Lady Phillips Restaurant is being given a make-over by Christo Barnard, and will open on 1 November with a new name called Camphors at Vergelegen. The new chef will be PJ Vadas, previously of The Roundhouse in Camps Bay.

*   Coopmanshuijs in Stellenbosch is opening a restaurant.

*   Chef Johan van Schalkwyk has left the Stone Kitchen at Dunstone Winery, and has opened his own restaurant Twist Some More in Wellington.

*    Chef Bjorn Dingemans has opened The Millhouse Kitchen restaurant on Lourensford wine estate in Somerset West.

*   Chef Shane Sauvage (ex-La Vierge) has opened La Pentola restaurant in Hermanus.

*   Ali Baba Kebab (renamed from Laila) has opened as a small beef and lamb kebab take-away and sit-down outlet, next door to Codfather in Camps Bay

*   Gibson’s Gourmet Burger and Smoked Ribs has opened as a 70-seater restaurant in the V&A Waterfront, taking part of Belthazar. Owned by the Belthazar/Balducci group.

*   Down South Food Bar, previously on Long Street, is said to re-open in the Riverside Centre in Rondebosch

*   Ou Meul Bakkery from Riviersonderend has opened a bakery and coffee shop in Long Street

*   Deluxe Coffeeworks has opened a roastery and coffee bar at 6 Roodehek Street

*    The Deli @ The Square has opened at Frater Square in Paarl.

*   David Higgs (ex Rust en Vrede) is opening a new 30 seater restaurant in The Saxon in Johannesburg.

*   Big Route Top Gourmet Pizzeria has opened on Main Road, Green Point, next door to Woolworths, serving 52 different pizzas, salads and crêpes.

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

* Aces ‘n’ Spades Bar has opened in ex-Boo Radley on Hout Street

*   No. 6 Restaurant at Welbedacht has opened at Welbedacht/Schalk Burger & Sons wine estate in Wellington, run by the ex-owners of Oude Wellington

*   Café Dulce is to open a new branch in Tygervalley Centre

*   Gourmetboerie is to open at the bottom end of Kloof Street, where Depasco used to be, in October.

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

*   Time & Place Restaurant and Bar has opened on the corner of Wale and Buitengracht Street

*   Make Sushi Bar has opened in Sea Point

*   Thai Café is opening on Plein Street, Stellenbosch

*   Simply Asia has opened in Paarl

*   Restaurant @ Zomerlust has opened in Paarl

*    Christina’s has opened at Van Loveren in Robertson

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

*   Moksh Authentic Indian Cuisine restaurant has opened in Paarl

*   Vino’s has opened in Wellington

*   Alfama’s has opened on Waterkant Street

*   Taj Mahal has opened in Sea Point

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

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

*   An Indian restaurant is to open in the original Madame Zingara building on Loop Street, by the Madame Zingara Group

*   The Caviar Group is opening three new restaurants in the Gateway Centre in Umhlanga by the end of this year: Beluga, Sevruga, and Osetra

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

*   Cattle Baron has opened in Hermanus.

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

* The Reserve is said to be opening a beach restaurant in the V&A Waterfront.

*   Chef Nic van Wyk, previously with Terroir, is opening a restaurant at Diemersdal in Durbanville during the course of this month.

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

*   Cattle Baron is to open at Pontac Manor in Paarl

*   Col’Cacchio is opening in Hermanus at the end of November

*   Merchant Café is opening on Long Street, opposite Merchants on Long, later this month.

* Paulina’s Restaurant is opening at Rickety Bridge in Franschhoek

*   Ocean Jewel Deli opens at Woodstock Junction on 22 October.

*   Buitenverwachting has opened a Coffee Shop and Roastery

* Wakaberry is opening on Kloof Street at the end of October

*   Rock Sushi Thai has opened in Meadowridge

*   Jimmy Jimanos sports bar is opening on Long Street

*   Dolcé Bakery is opening in St John’s Arcade in Sea Point

*   The Coffee Bloc has opened at Buitenverwachting

*   The Salzburger Grill has opened in Sea Point

Restaurant Closures

*   Sabarosa in Bakoven has closed down.

* Sunbird Bistro in Camps Bay has closed down

*   Limoncello in Gardens has closed down, but is continuing with its pop-up restaurant truck

*   Paparazzi has closed down on St George’s Mall

*   Wicked Treats in Franschhoek has closed down.

*   Casa Nostra has closed down in Sea Point, until it finds a new venue.

*   Bistro on Rose in Bo-Kaap has closed down as a restaurant

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

*   Sinnfull has closed down in Sea Point and Camps Bay

*   Liam Tomlin Food is closing down in Franschhoek at the end of October

Restaurant staff/venue changes

*    Il Cappero has moved from Barrack Street, to Fairway Street in Camps Bay.

*  Table Thirteen has reduced in size in Green Point and will open in Paarden Eiland later this year.

*   The V&A Waterfront Food Court is closed for renovations until November.  A sign outside the construction area lists the following businesses moving into or returning to the area: Primi Express, Anat, Carnival, Nür Halaal, Royal Bavarian Bakery, KFC, Boost Juice, Simply Asia, Steers, Debonairs, Subway, Marcel’s, and Haagan Dazs.  Nando’s is also opening.

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

*   Josephine Gutentoft has moved to Makaron at Majeka House as Restaurant Manager and Sommelier.

*   The Reserve has changed its name to Reserve Brasserie. Seelan Sundoo, ex Grand Café Camps Bay and ex La Perla, is the new consultant chef and GM (Seelan Sundoo has since left, now running the Shimmy Beach Club).

*   Chef Andrew Mendes from ex-Valora is now at Nelson’s Eye restaurant, where they are setting up a lunch section and cocktail bar upstairs.

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

*   Having bought the farm about 18 months ago, Antonij Rupert Wines has taken over the Graham Beck Franschhoek property. They will re-open the tasting room in October, initially offering all its Antonij Rupert, Cape of Good Hope, Terra del Capo, and Protea wines to taste.  They are renovating the manor house, to which the Antonij Rupert and Cape of Good Hope wines will be moved for tasting at a later stage.

*   Orphanage is expanding into a property at its back, opening on Orphan Street, in December, creating a similar second bar downstairs, and opening Orphanage Club upstairs, with 1920’s style music by live performers

*   GOLD Restaurant has moved into the Trinity building

*   Opal Lounge has closed down on Kloof Street, and has moved into Blake’s Bar building, renaming it Dinner at Blake’s. A wine and tapas bar has also been opened, called Bar Rouge.

*   Mano A Mano has opened on Park Street, where Green’s used to be.

*   MondeVino Restaurant at Montecasino in Johannesburg, the MasterChef SA prize for the next two years, is to be renamed Aarya, and is to be run by Chef Deena Naidoo from November onwards.

*   Bizerca has moved into the ex-Gourmet Burger space in Heritage Square on Shortmarket Street.

*    Co-owner Abbi Wallis has taken over the running of The Stone Kitchen at Dunstone Winery in Wellington.

*   Marcelino has left Marcelino’s Bakery, leaving the control with Mr Zerban.  A Zerban’s style restaurant is being added onto the bakery and will open mid-October.  It will change its name to EuroHaus.

*   Chef Chris Erasmus from Pierneef à La Motte is doing a stage with Chef Rene Redzepi at Noma, the number one World’s 50 Best Restaurants, in Copenhagen this month

*   MasterChef SA runner-up Sue-Ann Allen is joining South Africa’s number one Eat Out Top 10 restaurant The Greenhouse as an intern for a month, from 21 August.

*   Vintage India has moved out of the Garden’s Centre to the corner of Hiddingh and Mill Street, around the corner.

*   Nook Eatery in Stellenbosch has been sold, with new owners.

*   Crêpe et Cidre has closed down in Franschhoek.  Gideon’s The Famous Pancake House has opened in its space.

*   Brampton winetasting bar on Church Street, Stellenbosch, is undergoing renovations to treble its current size, planning to reopen in the first week of September.

*   Noop restaurant in Paarl has new owners

*   Buena Vista Social Club has changed its name to Barbosa Social Club

*   Chris Marais is the new chef at Blaauwklippen, previously with The Oyster Box

*   Daniel de Villiers is the new chef at Grand Dedale in Wellington, previously with Delaire Graff

*   Phil Alcock is the new chef at Two Oceans Restaurant at Cape Point, having previously worked at The Cape Grace, The Showroom, maze, and more

*   Albert van der Loo, previously with Le Coq and Dieu Donne restaurants in Franschhoek, is the new Head Chef at Oude Werf Hotel in Stellenbosch.

*   Chef Emile Fortuin, who was at Reuben’s Robertson for a very short time, has left and moved to Tokara

*   Camil and Ingrid Haas (ex Bouillabaisse and Camil’s) have returned to Franschhoek, with the view to get involved in a restaurant

*   Chef Cheyne Morrisby has left The Franschhoek Kitchen at Holden Manz, and has joined the Mantella Group (owners of Blake’s and ex-Opal Lounge). Update: Chef Cheyne has left the Mantella Group, after a very short time.

*   Tiaan van Greunen is the new Executive Chef at Reuben’s at The Robertson Small Hotel, after the departure of Emile Fortuin

*   Alex von Ulmenstein is the new Restaurant Manager at Indochine, at Delaire Graff Estate

*   Manager Raymond Brown has left Reuben’s Franschhoek, and has been replaced by Martell Smith.

*   Zelda Oelofse is the new Manager of Harvest Restaurant at Laborie, having taken over from Yolanda Prinsloo.

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

*   The ex-Caveau owners are said to be taking over the running of the Twankey Bar of the Taj hotel.

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

Restaurant breaks

*   Grande Provence is closing on Sunday evenings until the end of September.

*   Tokara is closing for a Spring break from 24 September – 4 October

*   Planet Restaurant is closed on Sunday evenings until the end of September

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

After a three year absence from the restaurant scene in Cape Town, former The Showroom Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Chef Bruce Robertson has returned to Cape Town to create The Boat House home eatery in Scarborough. His cuisine and plating is as exciting as it was before he left, and he is not only a perfect chef but the perfect host too.

We got to know Chef Bruce when he opened The Showroom with its open kitchen, which meant that he was in the foreground, showing his great ability to chat to clients, and to get them to return.  A change in career plan led him to cook at sixteen private camps in Southern Africa, spanning Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, and the Okavango, cooking his special dishes in often challenging kitchen conditions, and hosting guests.  The love for this extraordinary lifestyle grew from a link he had to an American tour operator company, which brought adventurous gourmet tourists to the Cape, and Chef Bruce led them on exciting culinary journeys, usually preparing their meals out in the open, enjoying the challenge of the outdoors to create unforgettable holidays for the visitors.  He has moved from cooking with passion, to lifestyle cooking, and his beautiful young daughter was the most important reason to bring him back to Cape Town, he said.  The setting of The Boat House in Scarborough, close to the beach, is perfect, and the beach house has a guest room he rents out too.

From the prim and proper Chef Bruce that I remember, in his white chef’s uniform at The Showroom, the new Chef ‘Barefoot Bruce’ is dressed in jeans and a white shirt, barefoot, and looking very relaxed and unstressed. The welcome was a warm hug, and included a tour of the house, his assistant Tom offering us a glass of sparkling wine, an exceptional Cederberg Blanc de Blancs Brut not commercially available elsewhere. We initially sat on the upstairs terrace, another four guests having booked too. A surprise was to learn that Chef Bruce grew up in Pretoria.

One should not think that Chef Bruce’s food is as casual as his dress. Effortlessly he was preparing the food in his open plan kitchen/dining room.  As one chats to one’s table companions one is not so focused on what Chef Bruce is doing in the kitchen.  He comes to the tables regularly, checking all the time that all is in order and to one’s satisfaction, and he provides snippets of information about his food or about the Cederberg wines.  Chef Bruce not only has culinary skills, but he could recareer as an interior decorator too. In eight months he has made a home of the house, with all his special things, creating groupings of this and that,  with lots of family photographs, and his past restaurant awards grace the walls with many other special pictures.  He has two rustic wooden tables covered with glass tops and matching chairs, with the odd ghost chair (Chef Bruce probably was the first restaurateur to use them in a restaurant, at The Showroom), a reminder of his great career.  If there is one thing that will stand out about the lunch then it is the most beautiful composition of half a lime, olive oil, salt and pepper, butter, and the cutlery, on a sheet of miniature tiles, providing perfect ‘compartments’ for the items, and doubling up as a side plate.  A beautiful warm mini-seedloaf was added to this collection.

There is no menu or winelist, and Chef Bruce told us that he almost exclusively serves Cederberg wines, ‘wines with altitude’, the area having a unique terror with very hot summers and snow in winter.  He found the Cederberg wines after an extensive search to find the perfect wines to match his cooking.  Chef Bruce explained that he wanted us to have three wines for our savoury dishes, and that he did not want to prescribe which wine we should pair with which dish.  The 2011 Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc wines have pronounced aromas, and the Sustainable Rosé is made from Shiraz grapes from a single block, a lovely pairing with the main course.  For dessert we were offered a glassful of Cederberg Shiraz 2008 as well as a lovely Bukettraube 2011, the latter playing the role of a dessert wine, Chef Bruce said.

Chef Bruce also told us that there is no choice on his menu, serving a “Table d’Hôte, lunch served to guests as a warm home gathering, where the host has prepared what the guests will be served.  My home is yours”. His menu is mainly fish-based, given his location and theme, and he gave us a little green SASSI-friendly lecture, confirming that he will not touch red nor orange categorised fish types, and therefore salmon and kingklip will not be prepared in his home.  He also said that 99% of his produce comes from within 10 km of his home, keeping it local and carbon footprint friendly.  One has the choice of a three course or five course meal, and we chose the former, while the other table had the latter. Chef Bruce adjusts the serving time to the number of courses each table orders, and we ran behind the other table because of all of our talking and Tweeting!    Not having a menu, it is hard to capture exactly which ingredients make up each dish, as Chef Bruce talks as fast as before, so I asked him to e-mail it to me afterwards, to make sure that I did justice to each dish. To date, Chef Bruce has not repeated any of his dishes, always challenging himself, and keeping it fresh for his guests.  Chef Bruce introduced Tom as his Restaurant Manager, sommelier, waiter, and right hand man, and he was constantly checking on my water glass, and poured the six wines.

Our first course was a Seafood Chowder with home-made gnocchi dumplings, chorizo, courgettes, baby basil, a spicy prawn bisque, and seaweed confetti, the latter most probably not seen or picked up by most.  Chef Bruce is proud of his handiwork, and because things are so relaxed, he comes to the tables to show the special little touches, something one would not experience in a regular restaurant.  For the main course Chef Bruce had prepared pan-fried Cape Gurnard, a fish I had not eaten before.  It is also called the Cape Sea Robin or ‘korhaanvis’. While not the easiest fish to clean and prepare, Chef Bruce likes using it because it is so plentiful.  He served it with baby spinach, his own spicy home-made tomato and olive chutney, finger beans, thyme, Niçoise cream, and cream of olive oil potato, all making for a beautiful dish with interesting flavours.

The ‘Cape Malay dessert’ required quite a bit of explanation.  Chef Bruce made a panna cotta-like melkkos Boerber jelly from sago, wonderful samoosas filled with stewed fruit and Old Brown Sherry, chocolate meringue sprinkled with Nachtmusik liqueur, malva pudding with rooibos liqueur, yoghurt, honey caviar, and pomegranate molasses, a beautiful collection of different tastes all served on a pure white tile, a proudly Cape Town dish! The ‘honey caviar’ would not have meant anything to us at all, and we probably would not even have picked up the little balls, had Chef Bruce not come to our table before serving the dessert, and asking us to guess what they were. We could taste the sweetness, but could never have identified them to be pollen. Although our 3-course menu did not include a cheese course, Chef Bruce wanted me to try it. Presented on a wooden board with textural bumps created via caramelised sugar, it consisted of ‘rondebokkie’ cheese I had never heard of before, mature cheddar, black fig chutney (‘suurvy’), mint, and a chilli bite. Eating at The Boat House is not only for sustenance, but it is most educational too, because Chef Bruce is so excited about his discoveries that he spontaneously shares them with his guests.  The second course in the 5-course menu is a home smoked snoek pâte served with a fresh pea and mascarpone cream on ciabatta, with Chef Bruce’s kitchen greens.

While Scarborough is as quiet and isolated from the rest of Cape Town as it was on a last visit more than ten years, everything has changed, now having one of the hottest secret eateries in this suburb, worth the drive of about 60 km from the city centre.  One can also book a picnic basket from Chef Bruce, and one is sure to be equally spoilt, given that Chef Bruce originally designed Warwick’s gourmet picnic.

The Boat House, 36 Beach Road, Scarborough.  Tel 083 305 8533. www.chefbrucerobertson.com Twitter: @Chef Bruce  Monday – Saturday lunch.  Maximum of 12 guests.  3-courses R325, 5-courses R495. Must be pre-booked.

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

I only went to Birds Boutique Café (a misnomer, there being nothing Boutique about it all!) once, and awarded it a Sour Service Award after the visit, due to the couldn’t-care-attitude expressed by the then owners. Speaking to its new owners Kevin Mink and Leigh Trout (on the right behind the counter), it is now understandable, given that the previous owners had been looking to sell the Café for a year already, and it showed!  The new Birds Café and Gourmet Eatery opened on 1 September, and is a huge improvement, in its decor, service and food quality.  There are no bird tweets anymore!

Birds Café on Bree Street is diagonally opposite &Union.  Chef Leigh used to work for Chef Bruce Robertson at The Showroom, whereafter he worked on the exclusive private North Island in Seychelles.  He was at Mont Rochelle Hotel for a year, cooking for its restaurant Mange Tout, moving to Birds Café from there.  Chef Kevin has had a catering company ‘Art of Good Food’ for eight years, and has renamed it Birds Catering, working from upstairs in the same building.

The interior was decorated with a bird theme by the previous owners, and some of these touches, such as a collection of bird cages on a wall, cute swan ground pepper and coarse salt holders, and birds on the menu, have been retained. Bird egg sweets come with the bill.  What has gone is the curtained off kitchen, at which one was originally meant to place one’s order, except that they did not say so, adding spaciousness to the restaurant, and allowing one to see the buzz and busyness of the seven kitchen staff working with Chefs Keith and Leigh.  They told me that their emphasis at Birds Café is to work with smaller suppliers, sourcing only local seasonal organic products where possible.  While the emphasis is on the Café side originally while they find their new restaurant feet, they will open for dinners next year, offering sophisticated dining in the evenings, and retaining the Café style during the day, for breakfast and lunch.

The back kitchen wall is painted an olive green,  and I loved the upside down ‘bucket’ lampshades in the entrance room and over the kitchen section.  Seating is in two rooms (the one at the kitchen is more homely and definitely more popular) at large communal tables, with ‘seats’ made from milk crates (now covered with hessian cushions) too high relative to the table top, and not to everyone’s taste.  Unbranded olive oil and balsamic vinegar jars are on the table, with Consol glass jars containing cutlery.  Service is friendly, and water in a carafe is proactively brought to each new arriving guest.  Chef Kevin interacts with guests too, taking orders, and there is an amazing friendliness, quite unlike what I experienced on my previous visit. Clients kept arriving around lunch time, and filled up the restaurant.

There are paper menus for Breakfast and for Lunch.   A guest who shared the table told me that some items seemed familiar to her from the previous Birds.   Breakfast is served until 11h30, and offers a selection of four health breakfasts (cooked oats; raw beetroot with apple, papaya and seeds; fruit salad, granola and organic yoghurt; and citrus with yoghurt, almonds and pomegranate, costing R25 – R39); toast, jam, organic roasted peanut butter, creamed honey (R25); pancakes cost R20 – 25 for two, either with cinnamon or chocolate; and five egg choices (R38 – R45): poached eggs and bacon, sorrel and goat’s cheese omelette with wild forest mushrooms, fried eggs and bacon, scrambled eggs with kippers, and egg white omelette and roasted tomato and basil.  A number of health ‘shakes’ are available (R14/R28), and LavAzza cappuccino costs R16, served in a beautiful white cup with gold stripes, without saucer, the teaspoon in a separate bowl. The crockery in which the food is served is partly ex-Birds and what the chefs owned, all unusual and with a home-made feel to it.

For lunch, it’s a choice of open sandwiches (I saw the generous rib-eye beef and mustard hollandaise sandwich being served to a table next to me, and it looked delicious), salads, light meals, and ‘sweets’.   Sandwich choices are the rib-eye beef (R55); tomato, avocado and feta (R40); and roasted spiced chicken with hummus and egg plant (R45).  Salads include chicken caesar (R60), baby beetroot with goat’s cheese (45), and spring greens with asparagus, artichokes, broad beans, and peas.  I chose the poached free-range egg with steamed asparagus, greens, and parmesan shavings served with toasted ciabatta (R45), the herbs and dressing adding a special taste, although I found it a little too salty.   Chicken pie with a garden salad costs R60, and quiche and a garden salad R45.  For dessert one can have pancakes, cakes at R30 (carrot cake and cheesecake were the two options when I was there on Saturday), and chocolate brownies.  Only Graham Beck wine is served: Chenin Blanc, Rosé, and Cabernet Sauvignon (R35 – R45 a glass).

I liked the refreshing new feel to Birds Cafe, that both Chefs Leigh and Kevin came out of the kitchen to say hello, the friendliness from the staff to their customers, and amongst the customers themselves as they share tables, and the emphasis on healthy unfussy food that offers good value for money.

Birds Café & Gourmet Eatery, 127 Bree Street, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 426-2534. www.birdsboutiquecafe.com (The website, containing only the phone number and opening hours, is that of the previous owners.  It will be amended and updated). Monday – Friday 7h00 – 17h00, Saturday 7h00 – 15h00.

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

I know the name of Martin Senekal, from having been impressed with his beautifully designed quiches, cake slices, and other foods, at his stand at the Neighbourgoods Market at the Old Biscuit Mill.  I was told earlier this week that he has opened a ‘hole in the wall’, as a resident of De Waterkant called it, in Jarvis Street, called Cafeteria, and selling a small selection of home-made take-away sandwiches, wraps, soup, and confectionery. They also offer a delivery service in the area.

Martin studied at the Institute of Culinary Arts in Stellenbosch, and then worked as a classic chef in a hot kitchen, as well as pastry chef at a range of hotels and restaurants, including the Cape Grace Hotel, Manolo, The Showroom, The Blue Danube, and 96 Winery Road.   Five years ago he went on his own, and created the brand ‘Martin Senekal Confectionery Design’, using the Neighbourgoods Market as his retail outlet on Saturdays, and taking orders for his amazing works of cake art (like the sweet potato and peanut cake above).  Martin assured me that he is not into doing theme cakes.  He does classic cakes, in full size as well as miniatures. 

The Cafeteria opened three weeks ago, and is difficult to see in Jarvis Street.  It is a surprise to see a very small white space, with only three wood and glass counters, made by Senekal himself, to display his sandwiches, wraps, macaroons, tarts, cake slices, and biscuits.   A blackboard lists the styles of häzz coffees, and another the sandwich and wrap options and prices.  There is couch-like seating, with some magazines on a table, but I got the feeling that it was more for design than use.  The space is cordoned off with a white muslin curtain, and the wrap that I ordered was made in the space behind the curtain.  In about six weeks Senekal will open the next door space, for a sit-down service.  Given Senekal’s reputation for confectionery creativity, and the intrigue of this almost hidden space, one can predict that Cafeteria will become a trendy spot.

I ordered a wrap containing a Waldorf salad, with apples, walnuts, raisins in yoghurt dressing and Camembert, a unique combination, and fresher than fresh.   There are three other wrap options: roast vegetables and goat’s cheese; coriander pesto chicken with Brie and watercress; Cape Malay spiced yoghurt with green beans and cashews; and Chermoula chicken, slow roasted plum tomato, and wild rocket, all costing an unbelievably low R20.  I didn’t see the soup of the day, at R25.  Sandwiches cost R30, and options offered on rye or sourdough are Chermoula chicken, mature white cheddar, gammon, and rare roast beef.  Baked phyllo vegetable roulade costs R20.  Parmesan-crusted quiches costs R20, and come as two options:  butternut and goat’s cheese, and oven-dried rosa tomato and olive.  Special dietary requirements and flavour combinations can be catered for, the menu says.

It is the sweet treats that make an impact, being in the central display cabinet, with their colour and beautiful design, clearly reflecting Senekal’s passion.  Petit Tartes, being Belgian chocolate and lemon meringues, cost R10; milk tarts R15; cake slices R20, with a choice of carrot cake and gluten-free chocolate cake; Belgian chocolate brownies cost R15; Macaroons are offered in twelve flavours (the more unusual ones are peanut butter, gooseberry, passion fruit, and raspberry) and cost R5, and miniature cakes cost R40.  The emphasis is on freshness, and flavours and choices change regularly.   The häzz cappuccino did not taste good because it was served in a paper cup, but understandable, given the take-away concept.

Cafeteria, 20 Jarvis Street, De Waterkant, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 418-2830.  www.martinsenekal.com. (The website has mainly photographs of Senekal’s cakes, beautifully shot, reflecting the range of creative ingredient combinations and beautiful ‘packaging’.  There is no information about Cafeteria on the website). Monday – Friday 9h00 – 15h00.

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

French Toast Wine & Tapas Bar opened about ten days ago, and is a homely cosy wine lounge that has been created in what was previously a warehouse in Bree Street.   It is the type of place that one would pop in to for a drink before or after a function, and have a bite to eat.  It has one of the largest collections of wines-by-the-glass in Cape Town, with over 108 choices of local and international wines.   It is not cheap to eat and drink there, and portions are small, but it does offer a good selection of price options.

French Toast has a heavyweight management.   Owner John Harrison was a stockbroker on the Paris Bourse, and told me that the French bug bit him there, hence the French feel through the name and the café style music that is played.  John was the CEO of the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company for many years, and built up its business and introduced the new cable cars during his management of the company.  He was a client of my then-PR company many moons ago.   He spoke passionately about his new project, and how they renovated the double story building in an unbelievable three months, being hands-on in the renovation.   Raw brick walls give it a warm feeling, blackboards communicate the wine and food specials, and windows have been built to add light upstairs. There is a bar counter upstairs and downstairs, and the downstairs one will probably be the more popular one in winter, with its massive fireplace.  The upstairs section is huge, with seating for at least 80-100 persons.  A small boardroom downstairs can host meetings and functions of up to 10 persons, Shane told us.   The decor is upmarket, but the food is not fine dining, with an emphasis on wines, explained Shane.   The cutlery is shiny and new, the glassware is good, but only paper serviettes are supplied.

Karen Visser is a partner in French Toast with John, was a bio-kineticist, and is a passionate golfer and winelover, studying at the Cape Wine Academy.   She compiled the winelist in the main, and has no previous restaurant experience.  GM of the new wine lounge is Gidi Caetano, who was the GM of Salt Restaurant at the Ambassador Hotel, and also oversaw the opening of Salt Deli and Salt Vodka Bar until recently.   She also worked at The Showroom and was a hospitality trainer.   The Manager Shane has an interesting undefinable accent, having grown up in Hawaii, and lived in the UK before moving to South Africa.  He previously worked at the Protea Hotel Victoria Junction, the Devon Valley Hotel, and the 0932 Belgian restaurant in Green Point, which has since closed down.  Chef Jannie Mellis owned East London’s best restaurant, he says, the Two Dogs Bistro, and was at Bushmanskloof Lodge prior to that.  He said he came back to Cape Town “to get into the hub of food again”, a nice compliment for Cape Town. The staff are smartly dressed in black shirts and pants, a French Toast branded apron, and a turquoise tie.

We found it terribly chilly upstairs, but Shane assured me that the airconditioning was not on.  When we moved from table to table, to find the warmest spot, we discovered that a sliding door had been left wide open.  When it had been closed, all was fine.   The music was rather loud when we arrived, but seemed to have been turned down a little while we were there.  

The wines are closed with a wine preservation system Le Verre du Vin, being special rubber wine and sparkling wine bottle stoppers, allowing opened wines to be kept for up to three months.  I chose the same glass of wine I had a week ago, the Mullineux Shiraz 2008, at R83 for a 150ml glass.  The wine has the characteristic of an old-fashioned smoky shiraz, my favourite, but the very chilled serving, at 13°C, was too cold to my liking.  Four Cap Classiques are available, ranging from R44/R195 for Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel to R 81/R380 for Graham Beck Blanc de Blanc.   Seven champagnes can be ordered, Le Mesnil Blanc de Blanc costing R135/R650, and the most pricey is Dom Perignon, sold by bottle only, at R3000.   They also stock Veuve Cliquot, Billecart Salmon Rose and Guy Charbaut.  Seven Sauvignon Blancs are stocked, that of La Motte costing R31/R130, and the Cape Point Vineyard Reserve is the most expensive, at R57/R260.   Seven Shiraz/Syrah wines are served, starting with Rickety Bridge at R35/R165, and Haskell Vineyards is the most expensive at R111/R530.   Imported wines from France, Italy and Germany are also available, and range from R33/R142 – R153/R740.   The branded winelist provides information about the vintage and origin of each wine, but has no descriptions of the wines or the varieties.

The menu, on a laminated sheet without any branding, is broken down into Snacks, Tapas, Charcuterie, Cheese Platters and Desserts, and has a Mediterranean feel to it.   Snacks include olives, almonds, chillies (R30 each) and oysters (R10 each).    The Tapas selection of 16 dishes range in price from R30 – R50, with empanadas, prawns, smoked salmon trout, caprese skewers and more.   The charcuterie platter allows one to select three of a choice of imported meats, including chorizo, parma ham, salami and jamon serano, for R50.  Similarly, one can choose three cheeses for R55, from a selection of six.  Breads come from Jardine Bakery, a few meters away, and sometimes from Knead.   Chef Jannie makes his own preserves and pasta.

There is not much attention paid to the presentation of the dishes, I felt, being functionally presented on white plates.   I had the calamari and lemon (R38), and asked Chef Jannie not to add the chilli.   My (student) son had the delicious herb and pecorini croquettes (R35), as well as the parma ham and mozzarella aroncini fried stuffed rice balls (R45), but was still starving after the two tapas dishes, and therefore ordered patatas bravas with a homemade spicy tomato sauce (R45), which he proclaimed to be excellent.  I had to have the French Toast, after which the restaurant is named, one of the three desserts on the menu (R40), two tiny baguette slices served with not-so-nice almond ice cream. The cappuccino (R16) made from Origin coffee was excellent.   The specials board advertised white anchovies, Pisto bruschetta, and cheddar and rice balls.   Chef Jannie said that from the feedback received to his dishes since opening, he will be amending his menu next week. 

In general the tapas portions are small, and therefore French Toast is not the place to have a meal, but rather a glass of wine with a tapas snack.  We paid R385 for five tapas dishes and two glasses of red wine. 

POSTSCRIPT 15/1:  I have returned to French Toast a few times since I wrote the review two months ago.  Every time I have been warmly received by the management team.   Today I returned for a late Saturday afternoon cappuccino, and was impressed with the new summer menu.   My eye caught the asparagus tapas, at R35, crispy and crunchy, simply served with lemon, the best asparagus I have tasted.   Then I saw a Seafood salad advertised on a Specials board, for R55, and had to have it, when the Manager Gidi explained that it contained steamed prawns and crayfish, with bisque aïoli, beautifully presented, which had been a criticism I had expressed previously.  I felt that Chef Jannie has progressed by leaps and bounds, not only in terms of his menu selection, food preparation, but also in terms of the food presentation.  On the wine side an innovate wine trio 50 ml flight is offered for Sauvignon Blanc (Delaire, Hillcrest and Reyneke Organic), at R40 for the three wines;  the Sparkling wine flight is Steenberg 1682, Teddy Hall,  and Sterhuis, at R65, or R100 if served with a trio of oysters; and the Shiraz flight is from Eagle’s Nest, Haskell Aeon, and La Motte Shiraz Viognier, costing R80.

French Toast Wine & Tapas Bar, 199 Bree Street, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 422-3839. www.frenchtoastwine.com (website still under construction).  Twitter @FrenchToastWine. Monday – Saturday 12h00 – 23h00.  No BYO allowed, the winelist says.

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

It is a strange feeling to enter the newly opened Asian Leaf Restaurant and Bar in what was the location of two favourite restaurants – The Showroom and Portofino – in that the restaurant interior is exactly as it was when Cormac Keane closed Portofino in April, with a few changes – grass green serviettes on the side plates, brand new staff wearing green Leaf-branded T-shirts, and a massive ghetto-blaster out on the deck, with too-loud music.  The hardest thing about going to Leaf will be to choose what to eat, its choice of dishes being so vast.  In general, the prices are very reasonable, and the portions generous, offering excellent value for money.  Anyone looking for the two previous restaurants and their cuisine should stay away.

The opening of the restaurant was delayed due to a problem in getting the credit card machine installed. The restaurant had opened just more than a week before I visited it, and I went back on the following day, as I did not have much time on my first visit.    I sat outside on the deck for my Saturday lunch, and almost choked on my calamari when I saw the massive ghetto-blaster, which had been set up on the deck, on a table with a table cloth.  I asked if they were going to have a party, but it was meant to create atmosphere outside, to attract a younger crowd, said the Manager Ambrose.  Fortunately the music was switched off when I sat outside, it being unbearably loud.  The deck looks fuller in having more chairs and tables than in the past, and each outside chair has a red blanket, a clash with the green theme.    A hand-written blackboard welcomes one on arrival, advertising a most amazing sushi special offer – 51 % (no, not a typing error) off all a la carte sushi from 11h00 – 19h00 daily, and all-day on Sundays.

Owner James Ye (Chinese for ‘leaf’) bought the restaurant from Keane, and took over all fixtures and fittings.   Manager Ambrose, with ‘cheffing skills’, he said, when he prepared my calamari for the first lunch, worked at the Cape Town Fish Market for the past twelve years, leaving as Executive Head Chef responsible for menu development and costing.  Ye came from China to be a sushi chef at the V&A Waterfront branch of the Cape Town Fish Market, and left to open The Empire on Main Road in Sea Point, and also opened Saki in the Sable Centre in Montague Gardens.  He is also a frozen seafood supplier.  A number of staff at Leaf have worked at the Waterfront branch of the Cape Town Fish Market, and this made me nervous about my first meal there.   I was pleasantly surprised when my calamari was served – a massive plate with a very large portion of Patagonian calamari tubes, egg rice, tartar sauce made with Japanese mayonnaise, and the most wonderful steamed carrots and beans, an absolute steal at R79.  I was the only guest in the restaurant on this first visit.

I returned for Sunday lunch, now sitting inside, and having two more tables for company.  The ghetto-blaster had been moved under the outside table, but the table cloth which was meant to hide it was not long enough to do so.  The table cloths and serviettes look badly ironed, if at all, and we questioned the side-plates being on the right – Ambrose said he wants Leaf to be different!   Some knives had their serrated edges to the outside, rather than facing inside the setting, little signs of how new the staff are.   Staff stretch in front of one when clearing items away, or in bringing additional cutlery, a pet hate.  Any ex-regular would cringe if they saw the rose patterned cushions that are placed over the definitive ghost chairs of the restaurant.  We were served a very tasty onion focaccia bread with a crispy cheese crust, with a milk jug each of balsamic vinegar and olive oil.   It is clear that things are less pretty and more functional at Leaf, and I missed a woman’s hand in the management.

We were offered a complimentary cocktail, and I chose the ‘virgin’ ”Peach Tree Mosquito”, a refreshing mix of fresh mint, lime juice, cane sugar, peach juice, soda and crushed ice.   Two champagnes are on the winelist, Veuve Cliquot and Pommery Brut Royale, at R999 and R1100, respectively.  MCC sparkling wines offered are Simonsig (R29/R175), Beyerskloof Brut Rose (R24/R145) and Pierre Jourdan Belle Rose (R265).  An innovative touch is the choice one has of ordering wine by the glass in 175 ml and 250 ml quantities, as well as by the bottle, allowing one to have different wines with each course or dish one eats.  The Sauvignon Blancs, for example, start at R 19 (175ml), R27 (250ml) and R79 (bottle) for the Du Toits Kloof brand, Zevenwacht 360 being the most expensive (R40/R60/R170).   For Shiraz lovers the entry level is Robertson (R20/R29/R87), and Diemersdal (R14/R62/R185) the most expensive.   A good selection of wines is offered per varietal.

Leaf has three menus: Sushi, Hot Pot and Dim Sum, and a standard a la carte menu. None of the three menus are integrated design-wise, and some have photographs of some of the dishes, while others do not.  The a la carte menu is the most professional looking, and is dominated by leaves on the pages.  I started with a Hand roll of avo and prawn from the Sushi menu, which normally has salmon and caviar added, but which I declined – the normal price is R 39, but with the 51 %-off, it only costs R19.   I cannot eat a hand roll by hand, so I was brought a steak knife to cut it.  I love the prawn and avo hand roll at Fu.shi in Plettenberg Bay, and that is my benchmark.  That of Leaf came close, but the end bits were dry, with the mayonnaise too concentrated in the middle.   Sushi lovers will delight in the vast variety offered, including Sashimi platters (16 pieces for R138), Salmon platters and Tuna platters (21 pieces for R149), and eight combination choices of R99 Sushi platters.   The Sushi menu also offers Crab, Prawn, Vegetable, Seared Tuna and Japenese (sic) Seafood salads, ranging from R30 – R58.   Other options are smaller portions of Sashimi, Nigiri, Fashion Sandwich, Maki, Inside Out Roll and Edo Roll, as well as Tempura vegetables and prawns, and a selection of hand rolls.

The Dim Sum menu offers eighteen choices of steamed and pan-fried dumplings, deep fried wontons, and more, with prices ranging from R28 – R48, while the Hot Pot menu offers sixteen choices, ranging from R22 for Tofu to R150 for Crayfish.  I did not have anything off this menu, being overwhelmed by the menu options offered across the three menus.

The a la carte menu tries hard to get away from the “Chinese” label the restaurant has already earned prior to its opening, and Manager Ambrose asked me specifically to not refer to it as a Chinese restaurant.  The Starters include Oysters (R15 – R20), Harumaki (deep-fried spring rolls), Calamari, Mussels, Tuna Tartare, Tempura, and Dumplings, no item costing more than R59, and Crayfish Cocktail (R99).  The Tempura prawn starter had five Indian Tiger Prawns, served as the most wonderful deepfried crispy thick “Japanese style battered morsels of food”, with sweet chilli sauce, at R40.  The Chicken springrolls were delicious, with a different crispy batter, costing R25.  Soups are Eastern in style, including Tom Yum, at R48.  Salads range in price from R48 – R58.  Fish and chips cost R40. Three calamari dishes range from R59 – R79.  Crayfish is served grilled or steamed, at R249, or Thermidor, at R299 – no weight/size is specified.   Seafood platters, served with a choice of two sides, range from R99 for line fish to R499 for the Executive (crayfish, scallops, line fish, prawns, baby squid, calamari and mussels).   Steak options are Sirloin (200 g for R79, 300 g for R109), and fillet (250 g for R119), and one can also order lamb shank, lamb chops and oxtail.  Three chicken dishes range from R59 – R79, while two Duck options are available, Peking Duck at R149, and Marinated Duck at R119.  I chose the latter, and was disappointed with its taste and presentation – it was served on a bed of chopped lettuce, with a very rich dark sweet soy sauce, making the plate look very messy.  The duck was nowhere near my duck benchmark, being that of Haiku.  Sticky rice and steamed vegetables were well prepared.   I was surprised to not see any desserts on the menu, but I am sure that no one could manage to eat any, after the great selection of starters and main courses. Coffee is by LavAzza.

One leaves Leaf confused about whether one likes the restaurant or not, and one tends to think back of wonderful meals and chats one had with Bruce and Cormac, given the familiarity of the furnishings.   If one loves Eastern food, and seeks value for money, one can do no better than to eat at Leaf.  The staff need time and practice to get their service up to speed, but in general they are friendly and eager to please.  Food is served the whole day, and not in lunch and dinner time bands, as is so common, which means that one can pop in at any time if one is feeling peckish.  Given time, Leaf can blossom, and bring new life to this restaurant space.

Leaf Restaurant and Bar, Harbour Edge Building, Chiappini Street, Green Point, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 418-4500. www.leafrestaurant.co.za (The “webside” is still under construction).

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

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

Restaurant openings

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

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

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

*   Cafe Nood has opened in Wilderness Road, Claremont

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

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

*   Spiros has opened in Hout Bay

*   La Cantina has opened in the Alliance Francaise.

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

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

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

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

*   The Wild Peacock Food Emporium has opened in Stellenbosch.  

*   De Oude Bank Bakkerij has opened in Stellenbosch.  

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

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

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

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

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

*   The Fish Shack has opened in The Paddocks, Milnerton

*   Maison in Franschhoek is to open a restaurant

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

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

*   Sofia’s at Morgenster has opened.

*   Down South has opened on Long Street 

*   Victoria Eatery has opened in Hermanus.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*   Tables restaurant has opened at Nitida wine estate in Durbanville

*   Mozarella Bar has opened on Kloof Street, Gardens

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

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

*   Il Cappero Italian Restaurant has opened in Barrack Street

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

*   Caffé Milano has opened on Kloof Street, Gardens

*   The Stone Kitchen has opened at Dunstone Winery in Wellington

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*   Le Coq has opened in Franschhoek

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

*   Café Dijon has opened another branch at Zorgvliet wine estate

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

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

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

*   Skinny Legs & All That has opened on Loop Street

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

Restaurant closures

*  Josephine’s Patisserie on Loop Street

*   Ginja on New Church Street

 maze at the One&Only Cape Town 

*   Panarotti’s and Shimmi’s Bar in Hermanus

*   Bouillabaisse in Franschhoek.     

*   Yum in Vredehoek. 

*   Cape Town Fish Market in Camps Bay

*   Vista Mare in Camps Bay

*   La Table de France in Sea Point

*   La Brasserie in Franschhoek

*   shu on Main Road in Green Point

*   Camil’s on Main Road in Green Point

*   Madame Zingara has left Cape Town

*   Fiesta in the Old Cape Quarter

*   Jardine’s Restaurant has closed on Bree Str

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

*   Cheyne has closed on Bree Street

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

*   The Bistro in Franschhoek has closed down

*   The Sandbar in Camps Bay has closed down

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

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

*   Mezzaluna in Loop Street has closed down

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

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

*   Nando’s in Camps Bay has closed down

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*   Dutch East has taken over from Burgundy in Franschhoek

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

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

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

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

*   Satay Bar has opened where Zucca was in Kloof Street

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*   The Rhubarb Room moves to 227 Bree Street

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

*   Vanessa Quellec is to leave Caffe Milano  in July

*   Restaurant winter break closures

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

*   Vaudeville has reopened. 

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

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

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

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

*   Tokara will clsoe between 2 – 9 May

*   The Test Kitchen will clsoe between 7 – 23 May

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CAPE TOWN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*   Quay 4: Snoek and chips R59, until October

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE WINELANDS

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

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

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

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

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

*   Lanzerac Hotel in Stellenbosch : 3 course lunch R 235

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OTHER AREAS

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

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

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

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

Copyright: Whale Cottage Portfolio