It is ironic that Shimmy Beach Club introduced its Winter Menu with a media lunch on an almost ‘summery’ day, for the second year running! It was a sociable event, and the food served in taster portions was a step up from previous Winter Menu launch lunches I have attended in the past.

It is always lovely to sit next to host Clayton Howard, who now is the GM of the Ritz Hotel in Sea Point, and previously was the GM of Shimmy Beach Club.  He is a hospitality natural, and slips into both roles easily, the Ritz belonging to the same company which owns Shimmy Beach Club. Clayton must be one of the best connected persons in Cape Town. I met Tibor Hery, a recent Restaurant Manager appointment, who has been working in bar management locally and internationally. I also met Chef Johan de Kock, who is heading up the new kitchen at the Ritz, having local and international hotel restaurant kitchen experience.

Bloemendal wine estate is also an asset of the Shimmy Luxury Group, and Clayton told us that the 40 -80 tonne production of the wine estate is used exclusively at the Bon Amis restaurant on the estate, at Shimmy Beach Club, and at the Ritz. Once the best grapes used to make the Bloemendal wines for internal usage have been selected, the balance of 920 tonnes is sold to Distell. Bloemendal wines are handcrafted in small quantities, most with a production of less than 5000 bottles. Clayton told us that they required such a volume of wine that they bought the wine estate. An equestrian hotel is to be built on the wine estate. The former Bloemendal restaurant has been demolished, and a modern new restaurant is on the drawing board. Etienne Le Roux was a strong confident and passionate presenter of each of the Bloemendal wines, which were paired with the dishes. The welcome drink was Bloemendal Nature Brut MCC, a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. 

Chef Adrian Cook (what a special surname for a chef to have!) introduced each of the dishes per course, and he told me on arrival that he had wished for real winter weather for us to enjoy his winter creations! Chef Adrian started at Shimmy Beach Club from the time it opened in 2012. 

Our lunch started with a pre-starter, a beautifully presented Beetroot Rose Har Gau, prepared to resemble red roses, and matching the beautiful roses in vases on the lunch table. It was served with soy sauce, as well as a chili sauce. I had not heard of ‘har gau’ before, and Wikipedia informed that it is a traditional Cantonese dumpling served in dim sum. Shaping them into roses is a labour of love, Clayton told me, it taking about ten minutes to create one rose. It was an amazing colorful start to our lunch. It was a surprise that they were warm. The dumplings were paired with Bloemendal Estate Ltd Chardonnay 2014.

Four starters were presented on one platter as a taster, and the Classic Borscht continued on the red theme, made with beetroot, cabbage, fennel fronds, and topped with sour cream and beef har gau dumplings (R55). It was paired with Bloemendal Waterlily Shiraz 2014.  The other starter dishes were twice-baked spinach soufflé, served with a Gruyere cheese sauce and topped with a walnut crumble (pairing with Bloemendal Estate Ltd Chardonnay 2014), at a cost of R65; pulled pork and Parmesan croquettes, plated with aioli and a spicy sweet corn and tomato salsa (pairing with Bloemendal Waterlily Pinotage 2014), costing R65; and a delicious slow-braised oxtail ravioli, served on top of creamed spinach, roasted butternut, and burnt sage butter (paired with Bloemendal Waterlily Malbec 2015), costing R80.  Other starters offered are Ceviche salmon (R90), and salt and pepper squid (R70). 

Four main courses were similarly presented on one platter: a medium-rare tender grilled beef fillet was served with duck fat confit beetroot and potato rösti, flash-fried Shimejii mushrooms, a marrow bone bon-bon, and a red wine jus (full portion costs R220).  It was paired with Bloemendal Estate Ltd Syrah 2013. The Champagne Tempura battered hake fillet was as good as it sounded, served with caviar cream cheese, and a Panzanella salad (a Tuscan salad of bread and tomatoes), costing R105, and was paired with Bloemendal Estate Ltd Semillon 2014. The oven-roasted Chicken Supreme was difficult to present, being a small piece of what is normally served as full-size portions. It was served with fondant potato, char-roasted leek, and a mushroom and brandy sauce, and was paired with Bloemendal Estate Ltd Chardonnay 2014 (full portion costs R95); and home-made potato gnocchi, with truffled porcini mushroom, marinated grilled artichoke, crispy sage, and grated Parmesan, costing R90. It was paired with Bloemendal Estate Ltd Kanonberg 2015, a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. Other main courses offered are Rhe Moodie Burger (R155), peri-Peru chicken (R145), and a Shimmy seafood platter. 

Four dessert tasters were presented to end off our special lunch: the favorite was cinnamon and sugar doughnut balls, served with Tiramisu cream, topped with a brandy snap disk, and complemented with a hot Bar One sauce, which was poured at the table (R85). It was paired with Bloemendal Noble Late Harvest  2013. The pineapple fridge tart was a creative spoil, topped with a slice of dried pineapple (R50). It was served with Bloemendal Estate Ltd Semillon 2014. I loved the naartjie ice cream which accompanied the 70% dark chocolate fondant and biscotti (R65). It was paired with Bloemendal Sweet Malbec 2013. A set Chocolate Mousse, with hazelnut japonaise, chocolate macaron, and vanilla ice cream (R75), was served with Bloemendal Noble Late Harvest 2013. Other desserts are popcorn brûlée (R55), and homemade apple crumble (R65). I enjoyed a perfectly made dry cappuccino at the end of the meal. 

I had not seen MasterChef SA Season 3 winner Kamini Pather in a long time, and she has been very busy, creating a range of cookware, as well as an App, which we are likely to be hearing more of in June. 

Clayton told me that their best seller winter dishes are the Lamb Two Ways (not tasted by us, cost of R165), the Champagne Tempura battered hake, and beef fillet. The pizzas and sushi offering is also very popular. The Shimmy Beach Club meal prices are very reasonable. 

Shimmy Beach Club, South Arm Road, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town. Tel (021) 200-7778. www.shimmybeachclub.co.za  Twitter @ShimmyBeach Instagram: @ShimmyBeach Monday – Sunday.

Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel 082 55 11 323 Twitter: @Ulmenstein Facebook: click here Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein