The Grande Roche Hotel in Paarl was the epitome of hospitality many years ago, German-owned and with cigar-smoking Hotelier Horst Frehse at the management helm. Its Bosman’s restaurant was our country’s number one for many years, until its star faded, Frehse left, and For Sale signs were seen for many years. Now the hotel is in new local hands, the name of the restaurant has changed, and it has a new Chef Patron to redevelop it!
The Hotel was in German ownership for thirty years, and attracted hundreds of German guests over the years, until its GM Horst Frehse left. Rapidly it slipped, managed by a Hospitality Group, and it was in the Bosman’s restaurant that the declining service standard was most visible, falling out of Eat Out’s Top 20/30 list, never to be seen again on any top restaurant list, and never spoken or written about again, despite the ‘Michelin-trained’ German Chef Roland Gorgosilich still being in the kitchen.
Hansie and Theresa Britz from Paarl are the new owners of the Hotel. Hansie Britz said of his new acquisition: ‘The Grande Roche has always occupied a special place in our hearts. It’s part of the Paarl identity. When (sic) opportunity arose to buy it, we jumped without hesitation’.
Hotel Director Johann Bruwer said that they plan to make the hotel a bigger part of the Paarl community life, it being a rare hotel situated on a wine farm in a ‘city’. The Hospitality estate has its own vineyards, and makes its own wines. It dates back to the early 1700s. The vineyard will undergo replanting, and the winemaking will be taken over by Bertus Fourie from neighbouring and now ‘sister’ wine farm Under Oaks.
In June the hotel will close for renovations for a month, with maintenance done, redoing a number of rooms, and creating a new bar and restaurant. The interior design will be in the hands of Francois du Plessis. A luxury spa is planned too.
Chef Pete Goffe-Wood is the Chef Patron of the new Viande (French for meat) restaurant, reflecting ‘the culinary direction’. Chef Peter explained that the restaurant ‘…will be county-style with a nose-to-tail menu. Special attention will be given to local produce with the existing herb garden expanded with vegetables to provide a proper kitchen garden’. The restaurant will be enlarged, taking over the full length of the entrance room, to seat 90 patrons, and will offer Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner, with Sunday brunches planned. Chef Peter is looking for a Head Chef, Sous Chef, Pastry Chef, and Chef de Parties.
A cocktail bar is planned, and will offer ‘innovative tapas’. With the KWV in the town, brandies will be showcased in particular.
POSTSCRIPT 16/5: Chef Peter has confirmed the departure of Bosman’s Chef Roland, but has written that he is keeping the rest of the kitchen staff:
‘Hey Chris – thanks. Yes, Chef Roland will be leaving and I will be running the kitchens. We will be changing the nature of the offering quite dramatically – The previous owners policy was that Grande Roche was pretty much the exclusive preserve of its hotel guests and we’d like to change that philosophy and make it more accessible to the general public.
Roland and his team have done a magnificent job of entertaining the hotel guests with top draw fine dining and as such Bosman’s will be no more.
In its place will be an more relaxed “nose to tail” offering called – Viande (The French term for meat).
We will be retaining the rest of the staff as we would like Grande Roche to still be recognized for the attentive and professional service that it has always been renowned for.
We will be doing a major interior refurb to reflect the new direction of the restaurant while the hotel is closed in June.
The refurb will still tip it’s hat to the history of the hotel but just give it a more modern, relaxed & welcoming feel. (Have no fear the majestic chandeliers will remain)
I look forward to welcoming you in July, our aim is to open on the 1st but you know how things go when you are at the mercy of contractors, carpenters and the like’.
Grande Roche Hotel, 1 Plantasie Street, Paarl. Tel (021) 863-5100. www.granderoche.com Twitter: @Grande_Roche Instagram @Grande_Roche
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein