The Eat Out Top 20 Restaurant List will be announced shortly, and as has become tradition, we have prepared our prediction for what we believe the top twenty restaurants in our country to be. We also announce the judges for the 2016 Eat Out Top 10.
It is an interesting and challenging year for Eat Out, in that no matter how much the publication loves Chef Luke Dale-Roberts’ club of restaurants, none of them would be eligible for Top 20 this year:
# The Test Kitchen, as it is undergoing a six-week renovation, and complete transformation. Chef Luke traveled to New York in June too. He also travels to Luke Dale Roberts at The Saxon in Johannesburg, which he took over in January this year, every few weeks. The restaurant is even less eligible as Head Chef Ivor Jones left The Test Kitchen earlier this year, and now works for Chef Liam Tomlin.
# The Pot Luck Club cannot be eligible as Chef Wesley Randles left the restaurant to open The Shortmarket Club at the end of June.
# The Shortmarket Club has not operated for a full year.
# Luke Dale Roberts at The Saxon has not operated for a full year.
Other restaurants which are/should not be eligible for the Eat Out Top 20 Restaurant list this year:
# The Restaurant at Newton Johnson, Chef Eric Bulpitt having announced the departure of himself and his team at the end of this month, and the opening of his new restaurant Faber at Avondale on 1 November.
#. Equus at Cavalli Estate is constantly changing chefs, so therefore cannot be eligible.
# Overture, as Chef Bertus Basson is not at the restaurant most of the time, and his Head Chef Adele Gewar left earlier this year, and is returning to his Bertus Basson at Spice Route. He is opening two new restaurants shortly, Spek en Bone off Dorp Street, and the revolving restaurant on top of the Ritz Hotel in Sea Point. In addition, he regularly cooks at events.
Our prediction for the 2016 Eat Out Top 20 Restaurant shortlist is as follows, in no particular order:
# La Colombe – we are seeing excellent work from the dynamic duo of Chefs Scot Kirton and James Gaag, with a Tasting Menu reflecting the forest surrounding of the restaurant (main photograph). Their coffee pairing is unique. Chefs Scot and James visited restaurants in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco at their own expense in June. Given that The Test Kitchen will not be eligible for Top 20 this year, La Colombe will be the obvious choice of number one restaurant.
# Greenhouse – Chef Peter Tempelhoff has focused on the three McGrath properties this year, and its flagship Greenhouse, no longer being involved in Mondiall. Last year the restaurant reinvented itself completely.
# The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français – it is often criticized for not adapting or refreshing its Tasting Menu offering. Chef Margot Janse has been at the restaurant for 20 years.
# Camphors at Vergelegen – we have seen a dedicated, creative, and super friendly chef Michael Cooke, who has turned pairing on its head, by creating dishes that match a specific Vergelegen wine. He and his team forage from the extensive natural and planted offerings on the Vergelegen property.
# Foliage – Chef Chris Erasmus has developed a reputation for foraging, not only in the forests near his restaurant in Franschhoek, but also at the ocean as he did for one of the dishes which he created for the Chefs who Share Gala Dinner on Saturday!
# Mosaic at The Orient – the restaurant is known for the beautifully presented dishes created by vivacious Chef Chantel Dartnall. The restaurant is also known for its excellent wine cellar and wine list, and for the international destinations Chef Chantel travels to annually for inspiration.
#. The Restaurant at Waterkloof – the restaurant has been known for its beautiful presentation, but it is a shame that we rarely see Chef Gregory Czarnecki’s posts thereof on Facebook. The restaurant made the Top 10 list for the first time last year.
# Hartford House – Chef Jackie Cameron was synonymous with the restaurant over the many years that she worked there, and the restaurant made the Top 10 list regularly. Chef Constantijn Hahndiek, a talented chef who has been at the hotel/restaurant for eighteen months, changes his Tasting Menu daily, a commendable feat! He is a fan of liquid nitrogen, and has a vegetable and herb garden outside the restaurant.
# Benguela on Main – a new entry will be Chef Jean Delport of Benguela on Main in Somerset West. He is fresh and young, and his presentation of dishes and creativity in unique ingredient combinations is striking. The restaurant has a sommelier who is not liked by many.
# Terroir – with Chef Michael Broughton, the restaurant has a history of being in and out of the nominee list.
# Delaire Graff – the restaurant did not make the Top 20 list last year, and we reported with shock that La Motte’s Culinary Director Hetta Van Deventer did the pre-evaluation for Eat Out, a conflict of interest given that Pierneef à La Motte is also a potential Top 20 candidate! Chef Michael Deg is doing superb work, and has one of the most creative Pastry Chefs in our country in André Steyn.
# Indochine – also located at Delaire Graff, the restaurant has been a Top 20 restaurant for the past three years, and is highly regarded for the innovative Asian food prepared by Chef Virgil Khan.
# Chef’s Warehouse – does not belong on this list at all, in my opinion, and we repeat our (very unpopular) motivation from last year after it made Eat Out‘s Top 20 list: ‘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!’. Chef Liam has announced the opening of another Chef’s Warehouse in Beau Constantia, an Indian restaurant in Gardens, and I have heard about a third restaurant which will be headed up by Chef John van Zyl.
# The Kitchen at Maison has been on the Top 20 shortlist for the past three years. Its Chef Arno Janse Van Rensburg travels to a new destination each year for inspiration, and this year it was Peru, where he ate at World’s 50 Best Restaurant Central in Lima, amongst others. The restaurant has changed Manager recently.
# Chef Richard Carstens of Tokara was on the Top 10 list for other restaurants he worked at, and has been on the Top 20 list since he joined Tokara. The restaurant has changed its Manager.
# Jordan Restaurant – Chef George Jardine was not amused about his 10th position at the Eat Out Awards last year, and said so in his acceptance speech, challenging his staff to do better this year! He opened new restaurant Jardine’s in Stellenbosch earlier this year.
# Rust en Vrede – surprisingly the restaurant did not make the Top 10 list last year, but will be on the Top 20 list.
# DW Eleven-13 – the restaurant is likely to be the only Johannesburg restaurant to make the Top 20 restaurant list this year.
# The Werf at Boschendal – the restaurant started off shakily when I first ate there soon after opening last year. Although it lost its Head Chef recently, it should have settled down with passionate farm-to-table Chef Christiaan Campbell at the helm. It has an extensive vegetable and herb garden, and they source meat from their own herd.
# Pierneef à La Motte – the restaurant had a very bad year last year, and did not receive good ratings at all in a number of restaurant guides. One would assume that it has pulled up its socks since then!
The Eat Out judges were harder to identify this year, as potential candidates were also judging for the American Express Platinum Fine Dining Awards (Jackie Cameron is a new judge, and was an Eat Out judge last year), and for Recipe for Success (Reuben Riffel is the presenter, and ate at restaurants around the country to select ten restaurant chefs to feature. He has been an Eat Out judge).
The Eat Out 2016 judges are Abigail Donnelly accompanied by Lynda Ingham-Brown of Taste magazine, John Maytham of Cape Talk, Carianne Wilkinson of the Silwood Cookery School, and Chef David Higgs of Marble (and at former Top Ten restaurant five hundred and first in the country whilst at Rust en Vrede).
We look forward to seeing Eat Out‘s Top 20 Restaurant nominee list!
POSTSCRIPT 9/10: We apologize for the loss of the Comments received for this Blogpost. We lost the last three weeks of our blogposts due to a technical correction made of our website by our American hosting company. Fortunately I had a copy of each of the base Blogposts written in this period, but all Postscripts and Comments were lost.
One of the Postscripts was a copy-and-paste of a comment which PR consultant to the Luke Dale-Roberts Restaurants Ian Manley had written to a share of this Blogpost on the Facebook page of Gwynne Conlyn (since removed), in which he boldly wrote that one should not be too sure about not seeing The Test Kitchen and The Shortmarket Club on the Top 20 list this year, writing it in such a way that I commented that it sounded as if he had inside information from Eat Out! He also predicted that Shortmarket Club or Luke Dale-Roberts at The Saxon could win the Boschendal Style Award, having been nominated. He quite rightly said that the Eat Out Restaurant Top 20 shortlist in 2017 will be dominated by the presence of all four the Luke Dale-Roberts restaurants!
I also commented in a Postscript about Chef Liam Tomlin’s angry response to this Blogpost. The bulk of my writing about Chef’s Warehouse in this Blogpost was a copy-and-paste piece I had written to the restaurant making Top 20 last year, clearly indicated as such in being written in italics, and in inverted commas. Yet Chef Liam chose to chastise me for inaccuracies in it, the price in particular, in that my quote from last year (2015) referred to the 2015 price! In the response he used an obscure word when referring to our wrongly-named Blog, and I got the feeling that it had been written by David Cope of Publik! Chef’s Warehouse did not make Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant last year, and Chef Liam clearly is still smarting as a result of this insult, Chef Liam being seen as the grand daddy of our chefs! Quite touching was the comments posted by Janice Botha, insulting me, and jumping to the defence of her special man!!
POSTSCRIPT 9/10: I have been able to copy and paste the Comments into the body of the Blogpost:
# Hi John Newton
This is a newly written blogpost (you did mean that, didn’t you? ‘Blog’ and ‘Blogpost’ are two different things), with a prediction of the Top 20 Restaurant shortlist for 2016.
I quoted one paragraph from a blogpost I wrote in 2015.Other than unfriending me on Facebook, Chef Liam did not react to my motivation then. Surprised that it has taken him twelve months to do so! ‘Disrespectful’ is how one would describe his very angry writing!
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.whalecottage.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@WhaleCottage Facebook: click here Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein