Monday 20th March 2017 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
Three days after its opening, writer Llewellyn Lambert, architect Jan de Wet, and I visited The Silo Hotel, Cape Town’s new Tourism jewel located in the V & A Waterfront. We enjoyed lunch at The Silo Rooftop on its eleventh floor. Nine days later I returned for another Rooftop lunch. I compare the two lunches and document the changes which have taken place between my two visits below.
Last week I wrote about the opulent new The Silo Hotel, a member of The Royal Portfolio owned by Liz Biden, and the generosity of its space, the friendliness of its staff, and the luxuriousness of its furniture and fittings.
I also wrote separately about The Granary Café at The Silo Hotel, and stated in the review that the dining facility, which offers breakfast, Sunday lunches, Afternoon Teas, lunches and dinners, is anything but a ‘Café’.
We chose a table facing the Waterfront, a glass barrier making sure that one enjoys a perfect view onto the port below, Signal Hill, and the V & A itself. Our waitress Kudchi took the drinks order, so Llewellyn thought that a glass of Le Lude Brut Rosé NV would be a perfect replacement for a dry cappuccino for me, as the coffee machine for the Rooftop did not have the correct phase electrical connection, and had to be replaced. As reported before, sitting on the Silo Rooftop allowed us to meet Liz Biden, the owner of The Royal Portfolio; Luis Pinheiro, the GM; Wes du Plessis the Duty Manager, who looked after us; Simon Mandy, the GM Sales and Marketing, who was hands on in helping on The Silo Rooftop, and he managed to organize a dry cappuccino from The Granary Café on the sixth floor; André Pieters the Guest Relations Manager; Dylan van Blerk the Restaurant Manager; and Executive Chef Veronica Canha-Hibbert.
The Silo Hotel staff all wear Levi jeans and a golf shirt, while managers wear a white open neck shirt, and a navy blue jacket. Waitrons wear a waistcoat, and cute blue canvas sneakers. We joked that we would like to work there, for the cool staff dress. I was impressed that material napkins were offered in the more casual The Silo Hotel eatery.
The Silo Rooftop menu has the same look as that of The Granary Café, is A5 in size, has a discreet white hard cover with the name of the restaurant and bar, and the geometric design of the hotel pillow windows is depicted in the inside front and back covers. The menu is much reduced relative to that of The Granary Café, and we were surprised at how inexpensive the dishes are. A few dishes from The Granary Café are also on The Silo Rooftop menu.
The menu starts off with a ‘Something Light‘ section, containing a mix of dishes: soup of the day (R70), a charcuterie platter with preserves and pickles (R120), and Vietnamese rolls with sriracha (a sauce made by blending jalapeño and Serrano peppers, garlic, brown sugar, and vinegar) costing R95. Salads offered are gravlax with rye, beetroot, and créme fraiche (R125); watermelon with feta, kalamata olives, and salsa verde (R80); and Caesar, costing R135 when ordered with prawns, and R100 if ordered with chicken. The chicken Caesar salad was Jan’s choice, and we were impressed with the size and beauty of the bowl in which it was served.
From the Tempura Bar I ordered the tempura hake with mayonnaise (R125), a very generous portion. In the Tempura Bar section one can also order Tempura prawns with a dipping sauce (R155), and vegetable Tempura with matcha salt (R95).
In the ‘Charcoal fired’ section was listed the dishes prepared on a Green Egg on the Rooftop, there being no other cooking facilities on this level. Llewellyn ordered the pulled pork sandwich, a colorful dish served with red slaw and barbecue sauce – see the look of the dish six days later below (R135). Other options are Greek Lamb Gyro served with tzatziki, red onion salsa, and tapenade (R150), the most expensive Rooftop dish; and charred corn salsa, served with tomato relish and coriander sour cream (R45). Dessert options are Mango sorbet with coconut ice cream and white chocolate crème (R80); a delicious-sounding white macaron sandwich with vanilla ice cream, honey comb, and hazelnut popcorn (R90); and seasonal fruit with sorbet (R65).
The wine list for The Silo Rooftop is a reduced version of the wine list of The Granary Café. In the Bubbly section, there are only six options, with local brands Le Lude, Klein Constantia, and Morena offered, and imported Laurent Perrier, Taittinger, and Tenuta Col Sandago prosecco. The number of options per cultivar is reduced, offering one, two, or three wines only. Eight cocktails are offered, ranging in cost from R65 to R95.
One is unable to book for lunch, but we were told that it is not (yet) too busy over lunchtime. The Rooftop is really busy from 16h00 onwards, no doubt because of the lovely sunset to the west of the building.
Our payment for the bill was declined, a generous gesture. We were told that heaters, blankets, and a sun-and-rain protective canopy are to come. The Silo Rooftop has a magnificent view from what is the tallest building in the Waterfront, at 65 meters. While service was initially slow (we understood that it was only the third day of operation), it picked up tremendously when Wes arrived at the Rooftop. The prices are very reasonable, especially given the portion sizes.
Nine days after our lunch at The Silo Rooftop, I returned, this time with my guest Ben Goble. I noted some changes relative to our first visit, including that one can no longer access the 11th floor if one is not a hotel guest. One can now book lunch at The Silo Rooftop. I noticed that there were more waiters on duty, and there was more than one chef too. Material napkins have been replaced by paper ones, not a good change in my opinion. We were told that the menu has changed already, less popular dishes having been removed, including the watermelon salad, the charred corn salsa, the salad with Gravlax, and some price adjustments have been made, dishes increasing by R5 each. I also saw that the Cocktail menu has been moved to the front of the menu/winelist. Prices of cocktails have increased by between R5 to R25.
Wes du Plessis was on the Rooftop, and once again took good care of us. We ordered sparkling water, which is kept cold in attractive modern design Perspex ice coolers. Ben ordered a Mojito Spritz, made with Belvedere Vodka, mint, lime, sugar, and soda (R90). We sat at the same table, with a view onto the Waterfront. It was a lovely sunny day, but with a light cool breeze. Throws are available, and we were offered one proactively by one of the staff. A brand new coffee machine is now on the 11th floor, so we put it to the test, and an excellent dry cappuccino was made. I loved the simplicity of serving the white sugar and brown sugar in small glasses, even though I don’t use sugar.
The Silo Hotel GM Luis Pinheiro came to chat, as I had a question re the terminology to use regarding the unusual geometric pillow windows. I have added the information he provided to the Blogpost I have written about The Silo Hotel interior and accommodation (the first above). Luis and his staff have been extremely welcoming and accommodating. Wes had assisted me with the booking for the lunch, and made sure that we did not lose it when we had to shift the arrival time to one hour later. The Royal Portfolio GM Sales and Marketing Simon Mandy came to say hello. Executive Chef Veronica Canna-Hibbert also came to greet us.
All tables have marble tops on the Rooftop, and the chairs have woven backs which reflect the geometric pattern in the pillow windows of the hotel. The Green Egg was operated by Chef Miguel de Carres, whom we did not meet on our first visit. The Green Egg is the only form of hot cooking on The Silo Rooftop, the hotel kitchen being on the fifth floor, and the other dishes are brought up by means of a special staff lift. Ben and I both ordered from the ‘Charcoal Fired’ section of the menu, Ben’s choice being the pulled pork sandwich (R140), which had the same description but had more mayonnaise in the slaw, making the colour less red, compared to Llewellyn’s order of it on our first visit. A nice new touch was the mini onion rings placed on top of the dish.
I ordered the Greek lamb Gyro, served with tzatziki in a flatbread, which had been covered with olive tapenade, an unusual ingredient. (R155). I asked for the red onion salsa to be excluded, and there were no tomatoes as in a typical shwarma. The flatbread was very crisp, so one cannot roll it up and eat it by hand, as one would a shwarma. I broke off pieces of the flatbread, and ate it by hand. It was served with sweet potato crisps, but they were so light that they tended to blow away in the breeze, so I used the (upturned) bowl in which they were served to hold them on my plate. Our food was served with paper serviettes, which does not reflect the caliber of the hotel, and gauze serviettes would have been one step better. Ben loved his pulled pork sandwich whereas I was disappointed with my Gyro. Chef Miguel told us that the flatbread is made with bread dough but without a raising agent. It is not kneaded. It contains parsley and rosemary. He said that both the pork and the lamb will have a cumin and cardamom taste, having been prepared in a brine with these two spices. He also told us that the barbecue sauce used in the pulled pork sandwich had been made in-house. Ben liked the sauce and the balance it gave to the red onion slaw. Both our dishes were served in the beautiful bronze rim plates made by ceramicist Mervyn Gers.
I did enjoy the dessert very much, and the creativity of the Macaron Sandwich, with vanilla ice cream being the middle of two white macaron sections (R95). It was served with honeycomb and hazelnuts (there was no popcorn in the dish, as described in the menu), both giving the dessert texture. Ben and I shared the dessert and we loved the beautiful bowl in which it was served, made by Luzerne Ceramics, the same producers from Singapore of the side plates. The dessert is a creation by Pastry Chef Devin Jones, whom we did not see as he had the day off. Waiter Jonathan poured a chocolate milk over the dessert into the bowl
Ben and I were grateful to be shown the Penthouse and a standard Silo Room, the former which I had seen on my first visit, and I have added more detail and photographs in the Silo Hotel and accommodation Blogpost referred to above. We went back to the sixth floor, and both had a cappuccino made with Truth coffee in The Granary Café, each served on a rose gold tray, with the same glass sugar holders, including one for Truth sweeteners too. With it was served rusks, a savory one with lemon and thyme, and another being dry peach and chocolate, which Chef Bianca Loose helped us to identify the ingredients of.
When I offered to pay for our lunch, Dylan van Blerk refused payment for it, on instruction of Luis, once again a generous gesture.
The Silo Rooftop appears to not be running perfectly as an eatery yet, and may require its own dedicated manager to control the food and beverage offering and serving thereof. It does have the most amazing views and must be Cape Town’s highest open air Bar and Eatery. Despite the price increases, The Silo Rooftop prices still are reasonable.
POSTSCRIPT 26/3: Last night Rebecca Goble and I had dinner at The Granary Café at The Silo Hotel, my first sunset visit. It was a perfect evening, with no wind and beautiful sunsets from the 11the floor The Silo Rooftop. The service was perfect, compared to my two previous visits. We enjoyed a Strawberry Dacquiri, with white rum, lime juice, and sugar (R75); and an Airmail cocktail (Ron Zacapa rum, Fynbos honey, fresh lime, Brut bubbly) before our dinner. We noted the new Rooftop hostess, a good change.
The Silo Rooftop, 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