Even if the Cambridge English dictionary definition of a ‘Café‘ as an inexpensive (‘a restaurant where simple and usually quite cheap meals are served‘) eatery is accepted, The Granary Café still does not deserve its ‘Café‘ name, as nothing about the contemporary classic dishes served in the sophisticated dining area is ‘simple‘. It is a showcase of Executive Chef Veronica Canha-Hibbert’s playful interpretation of her favorite classic dishes.
After a lunch on The Silo Rooftop ten days ago, Llewellyn Lambert, Jan de Wet and I returned later in the day for a tour of The Silo Hotel suites and Penthouse, guided by co-decorator of the hotel, Colleen Kosoy (with owner Liz Biden).
The Granary Café is hidden from view from the hotel reception on the sixth floor of the hotel, and one walks past a small lounge area with display cabinets filled with beautiful Ardmore Ceramics, turning the corner to see a bar counter first and foremost. Only then does one see the tables and chairs, offering dining for 40 persons. The striking view with a golden sunset from the west-facing window impresses.
Throughout the hotel are circular lamps, which tend to block the distinctive hotel windows, especially in the restaurant. They were not switched on during our dinner, as they are too bright, we were told. We felt that they compromise the architectural integrity of the restaurant.
Behind the counter operate Executive Chef Veronica Canha-Hibbert and her team of Pastry Chef Devin Jones, both previously from Ellerman House, and Chef Cheslin Cornelissen (previously at Delaire Graff, the Belmond Mount Nelson, and The Stack). Here they add the last touches to dishes which are prepared in the kitchen a floor below. The Granary Café serves Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Sunday Lunch, as well as Afternoon Tea.
Walking up to one of the tables, I noticed the rose-gold on the table, with copper sheets from Delos covering wooden tables which had been imported from Belgium. The salt and pepper grinders are in rose gold, as are the candle holders, and the rose-gold cutlery is by Buddha. The napkins are impressive, in crisp damask linen, onto which a design inspired by the hexagonal shapes seen throughout the hotel has been embroidered, in gold and in red. The design was done in-house by graphic designer Matt Dicks, and the napkins made in Cape Town. Riedel glasses are on the table. The oval woven placemats did not match the opulence of every other design detail in the hotel. Chairs are upholstered in green crushed velvet. Cacti in glass holders complete the table decoration.
We were well looked after by Restaurant Manager Dylan van Blerk, who previously worked at La Residence, another establishment in The Royal Portfolio. Hotel GM Luis Pinheiro (left), previously at the Leeu Collection in Franschhoek, came to check on our table regularly too. He described his new job at The Silo Hotel as the ‘pinnacle of his career’. Luis told us that they will adjust things at the hotel over time, as they receive feedback from their guests and patrons. He said that they are expecting to be busy in July and August, with visitors to Royal Malewane coming to the Cape, to see the whales from their Birkenhead House in Hermanus, to visit Franschhoek to taste wines and stay at La Residence, and then staying at The Silo Hotel in the V & A Waterfront.
We talked about Chef Liam Tomlin’s role in The Granary Café, given the rumour that he was to run the hotel restaurants with Chef Ivor Jones. Chef Liam is a good friend of Liz Biden and of Chef Veronica, we were told, and he provided input in early stages of the restaurant development.
A wooden bread bowl presented with a white napkin was brought to the table with ciabatta rolls and lavash, and was accompanied with garlic butter. My request for unflavoured butter was indulged. Llewellyn selected a Kleinood Tamboerskloof Syrah 2013 (R380), a most enjoyable wine. The Kleinood winery name is embossed into the label. The wine was served chilled, in an ice bucket, adding to the enjoyment of the wine.
Chef Veronica came to our table, and explained her focus on classic dishes. She recommended the steak tartare with frites, the linefish (kingklip) Provençal, and the Duck liver parfait. The menu is in A5 size, its hardened cover reflecting the restaurant name in an understated manner. The inside front and back covers reflect the hexagonal design seen throughout the hotel. It has an elasticized band to hold the pages together. The menu booklet starts with a Breakfast Menu, served from 7h00 – 11h00, with prices ranging from R35 for vanilla oats to R185 for the Harvest Table. The Granary Café menu is in sections, offering Something Light (a bread board with hummus, tapenade and olives; sweet potato fries; charcuterie; crudités with pickled eggs and chive cream; and potted salmon rillettes), ranging from R65 to R145. Starters, a Raw Bar selection, Mains, and Desserts follow, a limited selection of about five items each. An Afternoon Tea is offered at R185, with scones, macarons, finger sandwiches, profiteroles, and three different petit gateaux. Sunday Lunch costs R375 per person, with a choice of soup, gravlax, Chèvre croquettes, or Beef Tartare; pork loin, Beef ribeye, and stuffed chicken with Yorkshire pudding and vegetables; a cheese trolley; and a dessert trolley, sounding like excellent value for money. A Late Night Menu is similar to the ‘Something Light’ Menu, but with The Silo Burger (R140) added.
From the Starter list I ordered Duck Liver Parfait, beautifully presented on a blue plate, and offered with brioche, pickled mushrooms, figs, and a whole grain mustard dressing (R100), exceptional, and my favorite dish of those that I tried. Llewellyn ordered the Endive salad, which was served with green apple slices, walnuts, Parmesan shavings, and an apple vinaigrette (R65). The bowls used are beautiful, made by ceramicists Diana Ferreira and Mervyn Gers. Other starter options are soup of the day (R70), and Tomato Tart with Aubergine and rosemary (R80).
We ordered all three dishes from the Raw Bar: salmon ceviche with cucumber, red onion, sweet potato, and coriander pesto (R130); prawn cocktail, a favourite of mine generally, but it was surprising to see it served salad style, with prawns, avocado, tomato, and a Marie Rose sauce (R155); and Beef Tartare, with the raw egg on top and served with Rye Melba Toast (R100). It had a strong-tasting Barbeque sauce which Llewellyn Felt overpowered the tartare, and he sent the dish back, and it was deducted from the bill.
From the Mains list we only chose one dish, Jan ordering the colourful kingklip, served with Provençal vegetables, with yellow and red peppers, and baked cherry tomatoes (R185). Other main course options are steak served with frites and béarnaise sauce (R200); confit pork belly with apple chutney (R185), Bouillabaisse with tomato and fennel, and a basil rouille (a Provençal sauce made with red chilies, garlic, breadcrumbs, and blended with stock) at R245; and Parmesan risotto with thyme (R125).
The dessert menu has three options, made by Pastry Chef Devin. We ordered Tarte au Chocolate, made with 68% Valrhona chocolate with an almond shortbread base, a 68% chocolate macaron, pot au créme, and hazelnut ice cream (R80); and an old classic Peach Melba, for which Chef Veronica explained that the peaches were prepared sous vide, and were served with raspberry purée and vanilla ice cream (R65). Peach Melba was created by Chef Auguste Escoffier at the Savoy Hotel in London, in honour of Australian soprano Nellie Melba, as a dessert of peaches, raspberry sauce, and vanilla ice cream. I had to request a spoon for the dessert. A Cheese trolley is available at R120, and another dessert option is lychee, strawberry, and mint, with mint namelaka (creamy texture), lychee granita, and raspberry frangipane (R70).
I ordered a dry cappuccino and Jan a standard one, both arriving cold. We returned them, and a second set of coffees was served warmer. I have promised Liz Biden to return to try the cappuccinos again. We were not charged for them. With the cappuccinos slices of espresso almond opera cake were served. Coffee is by Truth.
The menu also contains the Wine List, twelve bubblies, most imported. Local MCCs are Le Lude Brut NV (R400 per bottle/R80 per glass), Morena Cuvée Catherine Brut Rosé NV (R400/R80), Silverthorn The Jewel Box 2012 (R550), and Klein Constantia Brut MCC 2012 (R500/R100). Champagnes range in price from R950 for Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs to R4500 for Dom Pérignon Rosé 2004.
Wines commendably have vintages and origin specified, and many are offered by the glass too, at reasonable prices. Two to four wines are listed per varietal, and an odd French, Italian, and German wine is included. A La Residence Rosé 2015 is a housewine listed at a reasonable R205, and R45 per glass. A cocktail menu is appended to the menu, an offering of eleven cocktails ranging from R65 to R105. Standard as well as craft beers are offered.
We enjoyed a lovely evening, despite the Beef Tartare and cappuccino disappointment. The prices are unbelievably reasonable. A concern is if the 40-seater restaurant can seat the in-house guests as well as visitors to the hotel, given that it was almost full on the evening of our dinner. Given that it was only the third day of the operation of The Silo Hotel and its The Granary Café, our experience was an exceptional one. We will definitely be back.
I have visited The Silo Rooftop Eatery and Bar twice since the hotel opened almost three weeks ago. Our Blogpost of the two visits, and the changes we found on our second visit, follows below:
I returned to The Silo Hotel on 17 March, and ordered cappuccinos for my guest Ben Goble and I at The Granary Café, following lunch at The Silo Rooftop. The coffees were served on rose gold trays, each of us receiving a separate tray, with small glass containers of brown sugar, white sugar, and Truth sweeteners. We were also served small rusks, a lemon and thyme savory one, and a chocolate and dried peach one.
POSTSCRIPT 26/3: Last night I returned to The Granary Café for dinner with a friend, and I was disappointed with the many changes which we experienced, relative to my visit three weeks ago, which is reflected in this review above. The dish prices have increased by R5, not an issue, given the reasonable pricing we previously experienced. Our first waiter was very dominant, and when we fed this back to Nick the manager, we were sent a waitress, with a very overpowering perfume and an increasing attitude. The bread basket had reduced in content greatly, and the bread no longer was impressively presented in a white serviette – last night it had a tiny material square at the bottom of the basket, with two small ciabatta rolls, two pieces of lavash, and two tiny tough pieces cut from a seeded stick (supplied by Woodstock Bakery). Executive Chef Veronica Canha-Hibbert was off-duty, so Chef Zyaad Browne came to chat, and immediately brought us a generous second bread basket. Nick told us that they do not want guests to overeat on the bread, and hence the reduction in the bread basket. The beetroot butter was untidily presented. We were brought plain butter when I requested it. The biggest surprise was the disappointing presentation of the Duck liver parfait (R105), no longer with pickled mushrooms nor with fresh figs, but with figs cooked in port and thyme (not tasting good) and onion shells. The presentation on a cream plate was uninspiring – compare last night’s dish to the one of three weeks ago (above). A special addition to the menu was Tuna Tartare (R135), which Rebecca ordered and enjoyed, offered with aioli, horseradish crème, red onions, capers, gherkins, and Tabasco. The Confit Pork Belly (R190) was excellent. I ordered the Parmesan Risotto (R130), to which Chef Zyaad especially added peas to the spinach in the dish, topped with Parmesan and presented with Parmesan crisps. Rebecca enjoyed the Macaron ice cream sandwich, and its presentation was vastly improved relative to what I was served with another guest of The Silo Rooftop a week ago. The difference is that Pastry Chef Devin Jones worked last night, but had the day off a week ago. I ordered a cappuccino, and confirmed that a friandise of Espresso Opera Cake would be served with it, as per our previous dinner. Nothing arrived and I had to request it with the second cappuccino ordered. The slices had reduced in size compared to three weeks ago! Overall it was a disappointing dinner, the restaurant not offering consistency and most changes to its detriment. Service should be vastly improved, with a manager in the restaurant the whole evening and not stretched between the restaurant and The Willaston Bar, as happened last night. I will be hesitant to return for dinner.
The Granary Café, The Silo Hotel, V & A Waterfront, Cape Town. Tel (021) 671-5502 (The Royal Portfolio central reservations) Tel (021) 670-0500 www.thesilohotel.com www.theroyalportfolio.com Twitter: @TheSiloHotel @Royal_Portfolio Instagram: @thesilohotel_ @theroyalportfolio
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: click here Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein