Eat Out is really trying hard to be different in its Top 10 Restaurant Awards this year, and comes across as rather silly. Now it is starting to release its Top 20 Restaurant shortlist, but in batches of five restaurants at a time (ten today, in two batches), with another two batches of five to come. Instead of releasing the list of names, one has to watch a video to see the name of each Finalist restaurant. We will expand upon this Blogpost tomorrow, as the further ten restaurant names are revealed.
As someone commented, Eat Out‘s use of videos is really silly, which also was the description that applied to the announcement by video last week of the four Eat Out judges Abigail Donnelly, Chef Jackie Cameron of the Jackie Cameron School of Food and Wine (photograph), Chef Benny Masekwameng of Tsogo Sun, and Food Network show host Siba Mtongana. Names of the judging team were revealed by us in this Blog three weeks ago already. In the Judges video the judging team members come across as silly, as if the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards are a joke, which of course they are not! There is silly laughing and giggling, much like President Zuma’s infamous laugh at the Opening of Parliament!
We wrote a prediction of the Eat Out Top 20 Restaurant short-list three weeks ago, and so far only one Restaurant nomination is a surprise! The ten restaurants below, the first out of the Top 20 Restaurant list, have a 50% chance of making/not making it onto the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant list, which will be announced on 15 November!:
- Chef’s Warehouse and Canteen: this is the biggest surprise, the same restaurant having won Eat Out Best Everyday Eatery in 2014, a category which one can say was created for Chef Liam Tomlin. In the year since winning that recognition, Chef Liam has become more pedantic in only offering eight tapas dishes (a Tapas restaurant as a Top 10 fine dining establishment is a shock in itself), which has a dog in the establishment, and a chef/owner who regularly leaves his restaurant in the care of his colleagues while he jets off to Singita, for whom he works as a consultant! There is no improvement in the restaurant since last year, so the Best Everyday Eatery of 2014 cannot (logically) become an Eat Out Top 10 restaurant in 2015, but then anything is possible as far as Eat Out is concerned! There is no menu choice as far as the main course is concerned, most dessert and starter choices are pre-made in glass jars, one receives one serving spoon only for eight tapas dishes, and the restaurant closes at 20h00! Topping that is the arrogance of some of the serving staff, the uncomfortable and limited seating inside, that little effort is made to accommodate one when it is busy, and that one cannot make a reservation to eat there. Many mutter about how expensive the Tapas has become, at R450 for eight dishes for two!
- The Restaurant at Newton Johnson in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, with Chef Eric Bulpitt
- Indochine at Delaire Graff, with Chef Virgil Kahn.
- Overture, with Chef Bertus Basson, despite Overture having a new Head Chef in Adele Grewar, who has not been at the helm for 12 months, as we have raised in our Top 20 Restaurant shortlist blogpost! This should not be a Top 20 Restaurant candidate as a result!
- Tokara, with Chef Richard Carstens, who has been (unfairly) overlooked for the Top 10 Restaurant ranking in the past three years!
- DW Eleven-13 in Johannesburg, Chef Marthinus Ferreira being lucky that Eat Out has forgiven him his embarrassing string of expletives in his ‘acceptance speech’ at the Eat Out Awards last year!
- Mosaic at The Orient, Chef Chantel Dartnall having been the Chef of the Year 2014. She is one of the most creative chefs in our country, her plating being by far the best of all the chefs we have seen dishes of (photograph).
- five hundred at The Saxon, where Chef David Higgs is in charge. Chef David has traveled a lot this year, dedicating time to his passion of cycling (maybe at the expensive of his fine dining cuisine), and it is sad to hear that fine-dining will lose him to a mass-restaurant in Johannesburg when he leaves The Saxon at the end of this year.
- Jardine at Jordan with Chef George Jardine has been a perennial, despite its ordinary decor, which we believe has been updated.
- The Kitchen at Maison, with Chef Arno Janse van Rensburg, having spent his winter holiday working in restaurants in Denmark.
- The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français, Chef Margot Janse having celebrated 20 years with the restaurant earlier this month.
- Foliage, owned by Chef Chris Erasmus
- Rust en Vrede, the kitchen headed up by Chef John Shuttleworth
- Camphors at Vergelegen, with Chef Michael Cooke
- The Test Kitchen, with Chef Luke Dale-Roberts. Once again the restaurant kitchen has been headed up by Chef Ivor Jones.
- Terroir, with Chef Michael Broughton
- The Pot Luck Club, headed by Chef Wesley Randles.
- The Restaurant at Waterkloof, with creative Chef Gregory Czarnecki
- The Greenhouse, redecorated, with a new menu by Chef Peter Tempelhoff
- La Colombe in a new venue, with Chef Scot Kirton.
Geographically, the breakdown is as follows:
- Cape Town: 5
- Stellenbosch: 6
- Franschhoek: 3
- Gauteng: 3
- Somerset West : 2
- Hermanus: 1
- KwaZulu-Natal: 0
Tough will be the above list for the restaurants who have not made the 2015 Eat Out Top 20 Restaurant shortlist: Pierneef à La Motte, Ryan’s Kitchen, Grande Provence, Planet Restaurant, Delaire Graff Restaurant, La Mouette, Makaron at Majeka House, Springfontein Eats, Borage Bistro, Azure at the 12 Apostles, Bread & Wine, and Burrata. Restaurants which are not eligible for Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards this year due to chef changes are Hartford House and Equus, while Boschendal’s Restaurant on the Werf has not been open for twelve months yet.
At the Eat Out Awards Gala Lunch on 15 November the Top 10 Restaurants will be announced, as will be the San Pellegrino Chef of the Year, the ‘Nederberg’ (sic!) Rising Star, Boschendal Style Award, Lannice Snyman Lifetime Achievement Award, Wine Service, Service Excellence, and the new Woolworths Sustainability Award.
Eat Out is giving its sponsor Mercedes-Benz lots of mileage, pardon the pun, as the drive to each Restaurant Top 20 Finalist is filmed in a Mercedes-Benz. The weakness thereof is that one just waits to hear the destination name, and then moves to the next restaurant video, as I did, which means that the motivation given by Eat Out for the nomination is lost to the viewer! I called one of the restaurants today, and its Manager seemed really emotional when I congratulated him, almost caught by surprise, as each of the Finalist Top 20 Restaurants had been sworn to secrecy by Eat Out! They were not told when the announcement of the Top 20 Restaurants would be made!
POSTSCRIPT 30/9: The next five restaurants to be added to the Eat Out Top 20 Restaurant list have been announced this morning. Our additions are in green. The final five Top 20 Restaurant shortlisted restaurants have just been announced, added above in green too, as is our evaluation of the final list of Top 20 Restaurants. Our congratulations go to the shortlisted restaurants.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Tel (021) 433-2100 Twitter:@WhaleCottage Facebook: click here