Category Archives: Franshhoek

Sweet Service Award goes to Café Roca Speakeasy; Sour Service Award goes to Discovery!

The Sweet Service Award goes to Café Roca Speakeasy in Franschhoek, with excellent service on my recent visits to it in Franschhoek, first for a Tapas lunch and writing of a new chapter of my SwitchBitch Book 3, then returning for live music played that evening. Owner Craig Sherril offered to sell my SwitchBitch books at the restaurant, a very kind gesture. He also showed me the new Marilyn’s Champagne and Oyster Bar as well as Sushi restaurant he is opening this month, next to his Café Roca Speakeasy. 

Continue reading →

Few restaurant openings and closures in Cape Town and the Winelands: February 2019

The tough conditions for the restaurant industry in Cape Town and the Winelands continue, with few restaurants opening or closing. A surprise is that Bertus Basson @ Spice Route is no longer operating, a killer negative review late last year possibly being the nail in the coffin. Now Basson only has five Stellenbosch restaurants plus all his catering assignments and TV appearances to juggle! Interesting is that Chef Liam Tomlin has opened a ‘contemporary ecological tapas’ restaurant in Barcelona, well-suited to his tapas restaurant offerings!

Restaurant openings

#   Ellen Jay has opened inside Constantia Fabrics. Continue reading →

Chef Luke Dale-Roberts joins multi-restaurant ‘club’ with Chefs Reuben Riffel and Bertus Basson!

EatOutChefLukeChef Luke Dale-Roberts is the newest multi-restaurant owner, following in the footsteps of Chefs Reuben Riffel and Bertus Basson.

Yesterday it was confirmed that Chef Luke is opening Short Market Club on Shortmarket Street, in a pedestrian section of the street next door Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 27 September

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*  It’s World Tourism Day, with a theme focused on water!

*   Klein Constantia has received excellent in-depth coverage on Nederburg Auction 2013 American key-note speaker Joe Roberts’ 1 Wine Dude Blog.

*   The American State Department has issued a world wide travel warning about potential terror attacks.

*   The first ProWein China will be held in Shanghai on 13 November, and all its 500 stands have been sold.

*   Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille is placing pressure on SAA to reinstate a direct route between Cape Town and the USA. and she is routing for Miami, just having returned from a trade visit to that city.  Such a direct route would be beneficial for tourism.

*   Noise is the most common complaint of hotel guests in 19 tourist destinations, but Cape Town hotels are an exception in not receiving complaints about noise.  Modernity, location, and service speed are the most common compliments.  Cape Town hotels also ranked top on GRI (Global Review Index), the average online reputation of hotels, followed by Melbourne, St Petersburg, Sydney, and Dublin.

*   Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir and Chardonnay will be paired with a 5 course dinner at Nobu at the One&Only Cape Town on 2 October, at a cost of R595. (received via newsletter from One&Only Cape Town)

*   Author E.L. James has launched a Fifty Shades of Grey wine Continue reading →

Tasting Room Africa/Middle East best in World’s 50 Best Restaurants

The 2011 S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards ceremony was held last night, and number 2 Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français, with chef Margot Janse at the helm, was the only South African restaurant to make the prestigious Top 50 list, for the seventh year running, and won Best Restaurant in Africa/Middle East, at 36th position, down from number 31 last year.  The top restaurant on the World’s 50 Best is Noma from Copenhagen, its second successive year at the top. France remains the country with the most Best Restaurants, at seven, followed by Italy and the USA, with six each.

South Africa also featured in the 51-100 Restaurant ranking, with Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Top Chef David Higg’s Rust en Vrede  team making 61st place (up from last year’s 74th place), enhancing the sadness about his departure from the restaurant in June, and La Colombe (now without Luke Dale-Roberts) at 82nd place, a vast fall from 12th position last year.

Rank Position Restaurant Country Awards
1 Noma Denmark The S.Pellegrino Best Restaurant in the World. The Acqua Panna Best Restaurant in Europe
2 Up 2 El Celler De Can Roca Spain  
3 Up 2 Mugaritz Spain  
4 Up 2 Osteria Francescana Italy The Chefs’ Choice sponsored by Electrolux
5 Down 2 The Fat Duck England  
6 Up 1 Alinea USA The Acqua Panna Best Restaurant In North America
7 Up 11 D.O.M Brazil The Acqua Panna Best Restaurant In South America
8 Up 1 Arzak Spain  
9 Up 2 Le Chateaubriand France  
10 Per Se USA  
11 Down 3 Daniel USA  
12 Up 12 Les Creations de Narisawa Japan The Acqua Panna Best Restaurant In Asia
13 Up 3 L’Astrance France  
14 Up 15 L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon France  
15 Up 2 Hof van Cleve Belgium  
16 Down 3 Pierre Gagnaire France  
17 Up 2 Oud Sluis Netherlands  
18 Down 3 Le Bernardin USA  
19 Re-Entry L’Arpege France  
20 Up 28 Nihonryori RyuGin Japan Highest Climber Sponsored by Lavazza
21 Up 1 Vendome Germany  
22 Down 1 Steirereck Austria  
23 Up 7 Schloss Schauenstein Switzerland  
24 Up 26 Eleven Madison Park USA  
25 Up 9 Aqua Germany  
26 Up 1 Quay Australia The Acqua Panna Best Restaurant In Australasia
27 Up 1 Iggy’s Singapore  
28 Up 7 Combal Zero Italy  
29 Up 4 Martin Berasategui Spain  
30 Re-Entry Bras France  
31 Up 15 Biko Mexico  
32 Down 12 Le Calandre Italy  
33 Re-Entry Cracco Italy  
34 New Entry The Ledbury UK Highest New Entry Sponsored by Silestone
35 Down 12 Chez Dominique Finland  
36 Down 5 Le Quartier Francais South Africa The Acqua Panna Best Restaurant In The Middle East and Africa
37 New Entry Amber China  
38 Down 2 Dal Pescatore Italy  
39 Up 1 Il Canto Italy  
40 Down 14 Momofuku Ssam Bar USA  
41 Up 2 St John UK  
42 New Entry Astrid Y Gaston Peru  
43 Up 6 Hibiscus UK  
44 Maison Troisgros France  
45 Down 4 Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee France  
46 Down 9 De Librije Netherlands  
47 Down 33 Restaurant de l’Hotel De Ville Switzerland  
48 New Entry Varvary Russia  
49 New Entry Pujol Mexico  
50 Re-Entry Asador Etxebarri Spain  

 The S. Pellegrino awards are organised by The Restaurant  magazine, and the award-winning restaurants are nominated by and voted for by “800 international restaurant industry experts”, says the S. Pellegrino 50 Best Restaurants website. “What constitutes ‘best’ is left to the judgement of these trusted and well-travelled gourmets.  There is no pre-determined check-list of criteria”, the website says, and the results are a “simple computation of votes”.  The World’s 50 Best Restaurants is an ‘honourable survey of current tastes and a credible indicator of the best places to eat round the globe”.  There are no requirements for eligibility for the ranking, and the length of time that the restaurant has been open, and the culinary awards won are not taken into consideration for the vote.   For the first time, a livestream presentation allowed one to watch the Awards ceremony from the comfort of one’s home, making one feel part of the ceremony.

Other Awards presented were the following:

*  2011 One to Watch: Frantzen & Lindeberg from Stockholm (number 57) 

*   Lifetime Achievement Award: Juan Mari Arzak (number eight)

*   Chef’s Choice:   Osteria Francescana (number 4)

*   Fastest Climber: Nihonryori Ryugin of Japan (number 20)

*   World’s Best Female Chef: Anne-Sophie Pic, of Maison Pic, first female Michelin three star chef in France

Last year Noma also was named the Best Restaurant in the world, with chef René Redzepi at the helm.  Ferran Adria’s El Bulli, long in number one position, was second, and Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck came third. Adria withdrew from this year’s awards, as he is closing his restaurant for an indefinite period of time.

Tamsin Snyman heads up the Southern African judging team, stepping into her late mother Lannice Snyman’s shoes.   Lannice held this position for years.  What is odd is that the performance of South African restaurants on the Wold’s 50 Best Restaurants and Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards  has been so different, Le Quartier Français’ Tasting Room consistently having done well on the international Awards list, even when it did not make the Eat Out list in the past.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio:  Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Solms-Delta sparkles on BBC Four

Franschhoek winery Solms-Delta was one of two South African wine estates featured in the third programme of a BBC Four documentary series called ‘Wine’ this evening, reports


“Called “WINE: The Future”, the episode focused on two wine producers who are each re-tooling post-apartheid South Africa on their own respective estates”.

“The segment follows the story of Mark Solms, a world-renowned neuroscientist who has brought black empowerment and sweeping social changes to a 320-year-old farm. The colourful culmination is a Franschhoek valley first: a Harvest Festival for the workers hosted by the farm’s owners, complete with the vernacular music of the rural Cape. A performance by the farm’s very own Delta Optel Band is a touching high point.” says the website.

“It’s hard not to be moved by what the two South African wineries, both at least partially black owned, are trying to achieve,” said The Observer wine writer Tim Aitkin, after watching a preliminary screening.

The wines of Solms-Delta have received positive nods from several UK wine writers. Solms-Hegewisch Africana 2005 was included by Neil Beckett in his “1001 Wines You Must Taste Before You Die”.    Wine critic Jancis Robinson includes Solms Hiervandaan (2004) among her ‘Franschhoek favourites’. Writing in the Financial Times, she says: “”Mark Solms … has fast drawn attention to the Solms-Delta winery on his family property on the road in to Franschhoek since he moved back there from London five years ago … With ex-Boschendal winemaker Hilko Hegewisch, Solms is … experimenting with winemaking techniques suggested by his reading of ancient texts – which makes for some seriously distinctive wines.”  

The other estate featured in the programme is M’hudi Wines, owned by Oupa Rangaka.  The BBC website claims that Oupa is the “only black people to own a vineyard in South Africa’, which is not true, as Tokyo Sexwale is a proud owner of the Oude Kelder wine estate in Franschhoek.

“Slumdog Millionaire” comes to Franschhoek

The author of ‘Q & A’, Vikas Swarup, Deputy High Commissioner for India in South Africa, will be one of the speakers at the third Franschhoek Literary Festival, to be held from 15 – 17 May.   His book was the inspiration for the Oscar and other film industry award-winning movie ‘Slumdog Millionaire’.

“I wanted to show that knowledge is not the preserve of the educated elite and that even a ‘street-kid’ can possess the wisdom to win a quiz show,” said Swarup in an interview with Transworld about what inspired him to write the book, as quoted on the Franschhoek Literary Festival website.

The book tells the story of an orphan from the backstreets of Mumbai who is falsely accused of cheating in a television game show.    

Swarup’s novel ‘Q&A’  has won various accolades, including the Most Influential Book of the Year 2008 from Kingstone Bookstore, Taiwan’s largest book chain. It was also shortlisted for the Best First Book by the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the Exclusive Books Boeke Prize 2006, as well as the Prix Grand Public at the 2007 Paris Book Fair.

Chefs & Champagne cook in Franschhoek!

A mix of top chefs and French champagnes and Cap Classiques from Franschhoek are on the menu in Franschhoek for an indulgent “Chefs & Champagne” weekend from 27 – 29 March.  

Chefs and their restaurants have been matched with Champagne and Cap Classique brands, and will be offering private chef’s table dinners and lunches, reflecting the “lavish lifestyle” of Franschhoek, the ad for the event says.

So, for example, Le Franschhoek is serving a five course dinner with Pierre Jourdan for just 18 persons, at R 720 per head, on 27 March.   Mange Tout at Mont Rochelle is serving a 5 course dinner  for 20 persons with Billecart Salmon Champagne, the most expensive dinner of them all, at R 1 350 per head, on 27 March.   Ruebens is pairing with Graham Beck and serving a  6 course lunch on 29 March at R 940 per head, for 20 persons.

Bookings can be made by e-mailing Darielle at

Music Revival Sweet and Google Sour Service Awards

The second Sweet Service Award goes to Christopher Duigan from Music Revival in Pietermaritzburg, for spoiling Franschhoekers and others with a most wonderful Spring Classical Music Festival last weekend, the fifth such Festival to be held in Franschhoek.      Not only does Duigan organise the musical content of the weekend-long programme, but he also performed at all six concerts.   Bravo to performers Christopher Duigan, Joanne Rozario, the Kerimov Trio, James Grace and Federico Freschi, as well as to the sponsors Ebony, La Fontaine, Clarins, and Nedbank, for making the Music Festival possible! 


The Sour Service Award goes to Google, represented by Carnelian Event Management, for cancelling a Google Adwords workshop for members of Cape Town Tourism a day before the workshop, earlier this week, without informing the members of Cape Town Tourism, despite a promise to Cape Town Tourism Operations Manager Bronwen d’Oliviera that they would do so.   The Cape Town Tourism, S A Tourism and MTN brands, which were sponsorship partners of the workshops, have been negatively affected, and the delegates that booked for the workshops severely inconvenienced.    Cape Town Tourism did send an sms to its members, but forgot to inform those members that have opted to not receive their intrusive sms-messages.  Carnelian Event Management did not respond to an invitation to comment. 




The WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented every Friday on the WhaleTales blog.  Nominations for the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be sent to Chris von Ulmenstein at