Entries tagged with “Balducci’s”.


Bungalow fireplaceIf it depends on the Cape weather, it is hardly winter yet. However, the first restaurants are sending out their Winter Specials information, summarised below.  The list is updated continuously. We welcome information about new specials:

Cape Town

*   Umi in Camps Bay: 2 course set menu R155, 3 courses R195.  Beef shortrib R105, beef sirloin R95, fish & fries R85, Tataki Beef R55, Beef sliders R55, Baby squid R45. Half price sushi. Cocktails R40  Tel (021) 437-1802 (added 1/5/15)

*   Pepenero in Mouille Point : 2 courses R150, 3 courses R190. Sirloin R90, Rump R90, Lamb cutlets R120, Seafood platter R160, Sushi platter R130, Veal schnitzel R110, Oxtail R110, prawn platter R130, chicken liver pasta R80, and chicken curry R90 .  Half price sushi (selected items) all day. Cocktails R35. Daily. Tel (021) 439-9027 (added 1/5/15)

*    5 Rooms, Alphen Boutique Hotel: 2 courses R160; 3 courses R 200; Sirloin R95, slow braised lamb shank (more…)

Restaurant fireplaceThe Winter 2014 specials for more than 90 Cape Town and Winelands restaurants follow below, and are updated continuously. We welcome information about new specials, and the feedback about your meals at these restaurants:

Cape Town

*   Umi in Camps Bay: 3 course set menu R260, 5 courses R360, both include a shared bottle of Warwick First Lady. Order 3 meals off a la carte menu, get the 4th free.  Slow cooked shortrib R110, Karan beef sirloin R95, Japanese beer marinated Karan beef fillet R120, pork belly R90, warm salmon and black bean R120, and fish & fries R85.  Tel (021) 437-1802 (added 10/5/14)

*   Pepenero in Mouille Point : Order 3 meals and get 4th (cheapest) free; Sirloin R89, Rump R89, Lamb cutlets R99, Seafood platter R149, Sushi platter R129, Crayfish tails R169, Veal schnitzel R95, Soup of day R40,  Prawn platter R139, Oxtail R110, and Osso Buco R89.  Half price sushi (selected items) all day. Daily. Tel (021) 439-9027 (updated 10/5/14)

*    5 Rooms, Alphen Boutique Hotel: 2 courses R170; 2 courses with bottle of Warwick First Lady (shared between two) R220; 3 courses R 220; 3 courses plus bottle of Warwick First Lady (shared between two) R 270. Sirloin R95, Baby chicken R95, Braised oxtail R110, Seafood bouillabaisse R135, Grilled Prawn R99, Slow braised lamb shank R115. Tel (021) 795-6313 (updated 10/5/14)

*   Zenzero, Camps Bay:    2 courses R160; 2 courses with bottle of Warwick First Lady (shared between two) R210;  3 courses (more…)

Seelan Exterior branding Whale Cottage PortfolioFor the first time Chef Seelan Sundoo has opened his own restaurant,  after having been used by investors and operators in the past to be their front man, but not getting the recognition from them for the following he has, which I observed when I was invited to enjoy lunch at Seelan Restaurant & Bar at Quay 5 in the V&A Waterfront yesterday.  Seelan Restaurant & Bar reflects the past connections of Seelan as chef at the Grand Café and La Perla, but his Shimmy Beach Club and Reserve Brasserie past are not visible.

Seelan worked as Head Chef at La Perla in Sea Point for many years, and he has employed eight staff from La Perla. One cannot help but feel that one is in La Perla, with the smart white tuxedo jackets which the male-only waiters wear.  Seelan was attracted to The Grand Camps Bay, which he headed up, with Justin Paul Jansen atSeelan Seelan Sundoo Whale Cottage Portfolio his side.  Justin displayed his knack of attracting patrons to the restaurants, remembering their names and faces, and offering excellent service.  The woven cane chairs in the outside section of Seelan remind one of The Grand.  Justin was offered the opportunity to open The Reserve on St George’s Mall,  and Seelan moved to The Grand on the Beach. Justin later called in Seelan to open the Reserve Brasserie, and to be its Chef.  When The Reserve closed down, Justin went to New York, and Seelan started up the Shimmy Beach Club as co-owner, being its front person. It being time to move on, Seelan made the long overdue decision to open his own Mediterranean style restaurant.  Justin said that Seelan is a ‘man of taste and class’, and that Shimmy Beach Club did not suit his style. (more…)

Diners Club Winelist Awards 2More restaurants in the Western Cape than in any other province entered and received a Diners Club International Winelist Award 2013. At the 30th Awards function held for the Western Cape at the Vineyard Hotel on Wednesday,  MasterChef SA Judge and Tsogo Sun Chef Benny Masekwameng announced the 38 winners in the Diamond, 30 in the Platinum, 26 in the Gold,  and 2 in the SilverDiners Club Chef Benny Whale Cotatge Portfolio Award categories, 96 awards in total.

Veteran wine critic Dave Hughes chaired the judging panel, which included fledgling judge Chef Benny, restaurant guide editor JP Rossouw,  wine judges Christine Rudman and Fiona McDonald,   Winestyle.biz owner Nikki Dumas, and the Cape Wine Academy head Marilyn Cooper.  He said that it was fitting that the Awards ceremony was held at The Vineyard hotel, the Newlands area having been the first in Cape Town in which grapes were grown, but soon (more…)

Noseweek 20th birthday Whale Cottage PortfolioThe Sweet Service Award goes to Noseweek and its editor Martin Welz, for 20 years of service to South Africans, for identifying corruption amongst bankers, lawyers, business persons, and government officials, for speaking the truth, and ‘for exposing unethical behaviour in our society’, Mayor Patricia de Lille said at the anniversary celebration at Catharina’s restaurant at Steenberg last night.  The role of the publication in helping the ordinary (wo)man in the street was saluted by a number of speakers, but it was the moving talk by Erma Viljoen from Pretoria, whose story was featured in the June issue of the publication, that demonstrated the unselfish service and dedication to a story by Mr Welz and his team.  Mrs Viljoen worked at the University of Pretoria, and has a rare disease Mitochondrial Cytopathy, which rendered her unable to work, therefore running out of sick leave and annual leave. For the past five years she has fought for her right to be compensated by the university and its provident fund for losing her job, and approached Mr Welz more than two years ago.  Noseweek Erma Viljoen Whale Cottage PortfolioNew Pretoria-based Noseweek journalist and ex-Carte Blanche investigative journalist Susan Purèn wrote the story, each sentence backed up by information proving what was written. An offer of a R40000 payout was increased to R1,3 million by the university and paid, but Mrs Viljoen is eligible to receive much more than that, the publication believes. The University reacted to the article by submitting a complaint to the Press Council, highlighting 88 errors in the three page article, literally one per sentence in the article, Mrs Viljoen shared, sitting at the same table last night.  The article has led to an advocate offering his services to Mrs Viljoen (many Pretoria lawyers (more…)

On Wednesday the Slick Group, owners of Balducci’s, Gibson’s Gourmet Burgers & Ribs, and Belthazar, invited the Camps Bay guest house owners and managers for lunch at Balducci’s, to thank them for their support in the past year, to present the newly designed Slick Restaurant Group Loyalty Card, which is aimed at locals in the main, and to share information about the winter specials at Balducci’s and at Gibson’s. This Italian style restaurant has something for everyone, and has a menu with the greatest appetite appeal we have ever seen.

The A5 menu for Season 2013/14 looks like a magazine, with exquisite photography of their dishes, one per section of the menu, making the choice of what to order even harder, as everything on the menu sounds good enough to eat, and the photographs add to the appetite appeal. The second half of the Menu contains the winelist. Like a magazine, the menu is interspersed with advertising, which is not irritating, except that it is a large number of pages (68 in total) to go through when choosing what to eat and to drink.

The menu introduction explains the restaurant’s policy to be more ‘environmentally responsible’, explaining that it uses alien wood in its pizza ovens, it uses vegetables and fruit that are in season, and local ‘superb quality procured meat, poultry, fish and game’. Only fresh chicken is used, and grain-fed 28 day matured beef. Extra virgin award-winning olive oil is used, the menu states. No BYO wine is allowed, and neither is photography (I was not stopped in photographing the dishes for this blogpost), the first time that I have seen photography prohibited in a restaurant. In terms of the new Liquor Act (2013) it is a criminal offence for restaurant patrons to take unfinished bottles of wine, malt or spirits with them when they leave, the menu states.  The menu is printed on Sappi Triple Green recyclable paper.  Select menu items are marked in green as being the owner’s ‘personal healthy option choice’.

The Italian heritage of the restaurant shows in the division of the menu into

*   Antipasti – we shared Antipasti platters (R140) as a starter, which included a Caprese salad, Springbok carpaccio, avocado, tomatoes, butternut, grilled aubergine, grilled chili and garlic calamari, and fresh baked toasted bread.  Other options include Minestrone and Onion soups (R57 each),  prosciutto and melon (R90), tuna tataki (R88), salmon (R55), oysters (SQ), prawns (R40 – R180), as well as eleven salad choices (R75 – R104).

*   Primi Piatti – this section offers burgers (classic, gorgonzola, Swiss cheese, bacon guacamole, luxury lamb, ostrich, vegetarian, and chicken) ranging from R65 – R85; a very extensive sushi selection (the 24 piece Platinum Sushi Plate is a winter special at R109*); 35 pizza options, ranging from R60 – R110; and eleven pasta choices, ranging from R65 – R150.  In winter the prices of pizzas and pastas, with one exception each, have been reduced to R54*.

*   Secondi Piatti – most of us had a different main course, and each plate looked generous, and beautifully presented.  Our intern Lorraine chose the kingklip, which was served on a bed of grilled butternut, aubergine, and green beans, and was topped with parmesan slices, olives and tomatoes (R140). Other fish options are calamari (R95), Norwegian salmon (R159), mussels (R110), crayfish (R90 per 100g), and seafood platters (R345/R695). Corrie praised the Butter Chicken Curry (R150), as the best he has ever tasted.  My Veal Marsala was served with linguine and an excellent light parmesan cream, sautéed mushrooms, and a Marsala sauce (R115). Other meat dishes include veal (most cost R115), game (R180), a variety of steak options (most R160), and lamb shank (R160).  A 250g 28 day matured rump steak is on special during winter at R79*.

*   Dolce – Most desserts cost R59, and their Tiramisu has been a firm favourite for years, the finger biscuits soaked in Espresso and Kahlua, with an Amarula sauce. Other options are chocolate fondant, crème brûlée, malva pudding, ice cream, sorbet and frozen yoghurt, and a white Lindt chocolate cheesecake.

*   Formaggi – a selection of cheeses costs R90.

The winelist section has a large number of advertisements of supplier wine estates.  Each wine region and wine variety is defined and described:

*   ‘Bubbly’ – MCCs offered include Pongrácz NV (R60 per glass/R240 per bottle), Pierre Jourdan Brut NV (R70/R250), L’Omarins Brut Classique NV (R88/R325), Steenberg ‘1682’ Chardonnay 2011 (R350), and De Wetshof NV (R121/R480).  Moët et Chandon costs R650.

*   Bianchi/white wines – an extensive number of wines is offered per variety, eighteen alone for Sauvignon Blanc (from R34 – R68 per glass, and R130 – R280 per bottle).

*   Rossi/Red wines – eight Shiraz options are offered, from R37/R145 for Franschhoek Cellars ‘Baker Station’ 2011 to La Motte’s 2009 Shiraz (R360).

*   ‘Aficionado Lounge‘ – brandy, Calvados, Armagnac, Grappa, port, sherry, beers,  and Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky are offered.

The Slick Loyalty Card was explained to us by Slick Marketing and Reservations Co-ordinator Michelle Page. Patrons receive 10% off their bill on presentation of the Loyalty Card, and a R200 birthday voucher. The Winter Special prices quoted above apply to dishes (marked with * above) ordered between 12h00 – 18h00.

Our Camps Bay guest house group had a most enjoyable lunch at Balducci’s, owner Ian Halfon popping in to greet the group.  The new Winter Specials are great value, for a restaurant that is perceived to be on the expensive side.  In going through the menu for this blogpost, it was a surprise to see how many reasonably-priced dishes it contains.  Service is smart, the serving staff is neatly and professionally dressed, and the location in a quieter section of the V & A Waterfront is an advantage.

POSTSCRIPT 10/6: Michelle has explained the photography policy in greater detail, and food and people photography is allowed: ‘Re photography of the décor, we felt we put a lot of effort into the look and feel of the restaurant. Creating something special.Guests can take pics of food and celebrations and of themselves with pleasure and post and review etc, we have no problem with that‘.

Disclosure:  We received a bottle of Balducci’s Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon House Wine and a small box of Emporio Leone chocolates with the menus of the three Slick Restaurant Group restaurants.

Balducci’s Ristorante Pizza Seafood Bar, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 421 6002. www.balduccis.co.za Twitter: @Balduccis_CT  Monday – Sunday.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Welcoming the guests attending the Christian Eedes Cabernet Sauvignon Report 2013 at Burrata on Thursday, sponsor Sanlam Private Investments CEO Daniël Kriel said that South African wine drinkers should thank our winemakers for producing such good quality wines at affordable prices. It was the second year in which the Christian Eedes Cabernet Sauvignon Report was presented.

Kriel said he had done a Google search about Cabernet Sauvignon, and to his surprise found that Wikipedia did not mention South Africa in its first paragraph.  He learnt about the wide range of terroirs and climates in which the grape variety is grown, from Canada down to the 15° latitude in Argentina.  South Africa is only referred to in the New World wines section, and then only Stellenbosch and Constantia are mentioned.  He referred to the markets being in terrible chaos on Thursday, and he was happy to escape the office to not see what was happening on his computer screen.  Having recently been to New York, and paying $89 for a reasonable Californian, he said that we should be grateful for the affordable and good quality wines which our winemakers produce.  He justified the investment by Sanlam Private Investment in The Christian Eedes Cabernet Sauvignon Report in that their clients love wine and have a passion for them, as do the leaders of businesses!

Christian Eedes thanked the wine writers present for spreading the word about his 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Report, allowing him to renew the relationship with his sponsor.  Using the same judges Roland Peens of Wine Cellar and James Pietersen of Balducci’s, sixty Cabernet Sauvignons were evaluated.  He announced that Wade Bales has put together a special Cabernet Sauvignon Top 10 pack, based on Eedes’ Report results. Bales could not tell me how much he will charge for the special pack.

In introducing the Top 10 list, Eedes said that the 5 point scale had been used for the ratings (instead of the 100 score which he has recently moved to for his wine evaluations), and that within a star band, the estates are listed alphabetically on his Top 10 list. The panel had found the local Cabernet Sauvignons, the second most planted varietal locally, ‘on the whole, very impressive in quality…characterised by richness and weight‘.  He added that while Cabernet Sauvignon ages well mainly due to its high level of tannins, wine drinkers are placing less value on this characteristic. ‘Winemakers seem to be going to great lengths to emphasise fruit and the resulting wines are tending to be ever riper, sweeter and more alcoholic.  The best examples display fruit concentration but retain shape and form’.  The panel had found some ‘clumsy addition of tartaric acidity‘, done to add freshness, but it resulted in sourness in some instances.

The Christian Eedes Cabernet Sauvignon Report 2013 Top 10 list is as follows:

*   5 stars:   La Bri 2009 (Irene Waller was the proud recipient), and Le Riche Reserve 2010.

*   4,5 stars:   Graham Beck The Coffeestone Cabernet 2011, Guardian Peak Lapa 2010, Rickety Bridge Paulina’s Reserve 2010, Rudera 2011, Springfield Méthode Ancienne 2006, Thelema 2009, and Waterford 2009.

*   4 stars:   Rust en Vrede 2010.

Burrata served a selection of tasty canapés, including porcini and cheese sticks; sirloin and radicchio crostini; fried crumbed smoked mozzarella, short rib and red pepper risotto balls; and toasted brioche with chorizo, green olive and mint purée.  The restaurant had been cleared of all its table and chairs, to allow the top ten Cabernet Sauvignons to be set up for tasting after the announcement of the top achievers.

It was a treat to catch up with a small select group of ten winemakers, and share their news.  Erika Obermeyer was still excited about her recent trip on the Queen Mary 2 from Durban to Cape Town, spending one day giving lectures to the cruise guests. Irene Waller was excited for Franschhoek (she heads up the local Vignerons association) that two of the top 10 Cabernet Sauvignons are from the wine valley, which is receiving increasing recognition.

Disclosure: We received a bottle of Graham Beck The Coffeestone Cabernet 2011 as part of the media pack.

The Christian Eedes Cabernet Sauvignon Report, www.whatidranklastnight.co.za Twitter: @ChristianEedes  www.sanlamprivateinvestments.co.za

Burrata, The Old Biscuit Mill, 373 Albert Road, Woodstock, Cape Town. Tel (021) 447-6505. www.burrata.co.za Twitter: @BurrataSA   Monday – Saturday, Lunch and Dinner.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio:  www.whalecottage.com Twitter: WhaleCottage

The Autumn and Winter 2013 specials for Cape Town and Winelands restaurants follow below, and are updated continuously. We welcome information about new specials, and feedback about your meals at these restaurants:

*   Pepenero in Mouille Point : Sirloin and chips R89, Lamb shank lasagne R99, Seafood platter R149, Sushi platter R129, Crayfish tails R169, Chicken schnitzel R85, Minestrone R65, Chicken liver pasta R80, Prawn platter R119. Half price sushi all day. Daily. Tel (021) 439-9027 (updated 2/9)

*   Theo’s on Beach Road, Mouille Point: Oysters R8 each, Seafood soup R55, Prawn special R110, Linefish and prawn combo R99, Linefish and calamari R99, Sole and Calamari R99, Rump or sirloin R99, Spare Ribs R99, Rump Espetada R99, 250g Lobster and prawn platter R139; Seafood platter R125. Tel (021) 439-3494 (updated 12/6)

*   Sevruga in the V&A Waterfront: 2 course lunch R125, 3 courses R165, 4 courses R195;  half price sushi and dim sum Monday – Saturday 12h00 – 18h00; 25 % off sushi and (more…)

Many years ago Gerd Zerban had the most amazing confectionery and bread bakery, linked to his two Zerban’s restaurants in the Garden’s Centre and in Sea Point.  His new EuroHaus restaurant, which has just opened as part of what is still called Marcelino’s Bakery but will change its name to EuroHaus, is a bitter disappointment, and is no reflection of the old Zerban’s.

Marcelino The Bakery opened two and a half years ago, as a big open-plan bakery.  The owner was Marcelino Siljeur, and his mentor and colleague was Mr Zerban.    Zerbans was THE coffee shop and bakery in the 1980’s, attracting patrons with a European background in particular.  Marcelino’s father worked for Mr Zerban at that time.  Mr Zerban sold his business to Checkers in the late Eighties, and took up a challenge from Natie Kirsch to set up eight ’Hot & Crusty’ outlets in Manhattan.  He enjoyed the taste of New York, and then became a consultant for supermarkets in New York.   Returning to Cape Town, he set up the baking side of New York Bagels in Sea Point, and there he trained Marcelino as his apprentice.   They went their separate ways, and then decided to get together to start up Marcelino The Bakery.  Earlier this year Marcelino left, and Mr Zerban has chosen to rename the Bakery to EuroHaus, with the pay-off line ‘A culture movement’. The name is meant to represent five European countries, and the logo currently used has a football feel about it, with the flags of Germany, France, Italy, Portugal, and Spain depicted. Despite being so new, the logo is to be changed, and the pay-off line will become “Where flavours and people meet”! The idea is that each day two specials will be offered, and they will represent two of the EuroHaus countries. Despite Mr Zerban’s German background, and one’s expectation that he would repeat some of his popular Zerban’s menu items, the EuroHaus menu is extremely basic, with breakfast items, salads, soups, sandwiches, pasta, grills, and pies, with only a few German menu items, and almost none from the other European countries.

The interior is an interesting mix of wooden beams used to make counter tops and seating, coming from recycled wood from a ship. Turquoise blue has been used in the upholstery of wall benches and lamps, but does not strike one as a bakery colour, nor particularly ‘Euro-pean’ either.  Two decor oddities are the ‘chandelier’ made from Consol glass jars, each jar containing an LED light and a little toy, a decor quirk costing R20000, and the disassembled piano parts against a wall (almost like Deluxe Coffeeworks has motorcycle parts on the walls of its outlets), coming from an idea which the Modules Interior Design consultancy had seen in an American restaurant, which has a grand piano jutting out of a restaurant wall, I was told. Hanging from the ceiling is a ‘Sputnik’, the first in the country, which removes moisture and dampness, and costs R75000!  Weird too is the mix of very rough wooden ‘home-made’ benches for the counter, and fine Bentwood chairs at the tables.  Table tops are black metal, and don’t really match the wood of the rest of the furniture.  Seating is available outside too, where the MyCiti Bus pavement has been newly prepared.  The top windows were dirty, looking like they had not been cleaned since the builders left the site.  Cutlery is by Fortis Hotelware.  The five European EuroHaus flags will be put up outside the Bakery.

I tried to ask the waiter some questions about the restaurant, but did not get very far, as he did not seem to understand much of what I asked him, saying yes to every question.  When I asked for the manager, he pointed at the gentleman sitting at the neighbouring table, who was having his lunch, and had ignored all my questions directed at the waiter.  Reza Daniels is one of two brothers who are the joint managers. He was most suspicious of my questions, and got annoyed when I asked him at which restaurants he had previously worked, trying to make me understand that having been a purser on a cruise ship and a duty manager at a Best Western Hotel in the UK qualified him to run the restaurant.  He walked away from my table, refusing to answer any further questions. It was clear that Mr Zerban has delegated most of the running of EuroHaus to the two brothers, with disastrous results!  They also run a laundry in Kenilworth. The second brother Shaam is much friendlier, and was very relaxed in filling in the missing details, and volunteering information.  He too sat down at a table close by to have his lunch.

The restaurant had no ice for the water on the 30°C day, and the butter that came with the rolls accompanying the food was soft.  I laughed when I saw the Robertsons salt and pepper grinders on the table, one of them already having the label half torn off! The focus of the restaurant is to not offer fine-dining, and for clients to not have to feel obliged to order a full meal, so that they can just pop in for a coffee or a drink at night, Shaam said.  I ordered the Vol-Au-Vent, the two pastry cases containing the Ragout Fin (chicken and mushroom cream sauce) being crispy and light (R 45).  The menu states that each dish comes with a choice of chips or a French side salad, but my order just arrived with the salad, without my choice having been asked.  The two ‘European’ specials of the day were Farfalle Primavera (R45), and a 200 gram sirloin steak with savoury rice and three vegetables (R 69). Soups come in two sizes (R18-R25/R30 – R38) for Goulash, Chilli Con Carne, and Soup of the Day; Chicken, French, Niçoise, Greek and fruit salads cost R25 – R45; Pasta dishes such as lasagne, marinara, bolognaise, and macaroni and cheese cost R25 – R50; hamburgers and chicken schnitzel cost R50; a quarter grilled chicken R45; ‘boboti’  (sic) and rice R50; veal loaf, Frankfurters, and Bratwurst with potato salad R35; pies R35; and cheese and cold meat platters cost R45.  Coffees are served as a double shot, and cappuccinos cost R19/R22. Breakfast is served until midday, and free-range eggs are used. A Continental Breakfast of 3 rolls or a croissant costs R24, a mini breakfast of egg, bacon and tomato R35, a full English breakfast R45, a Farmers Breakfast R40, and a Health Breakfast R40.  Omelettes cost R20. Sandwiches cost between R20 for cheese and tomato – R50 for grilled steak.

Shaam admitted that they have had a ‘crazy teething period’ since they opened just over two weeks ago.  A liquor licence has been applied for, but currently they are sharing that of Royale Eatery close by.  Chef Deon Locke had started at the restaurant on the day I visited, and said that he has 22 years’ experience, having returned from Africa, where he did contract catering for US Aid on construction sites in Sudan and Afghanistan. He helped open Balducci’s, and has been a chef at the Royal Cape Yacht Club.

One wishes for Mr Zerban that he can find someone to pull the restaurant together,  to give it a professional identity and one brand name, professional service, waiter training, and friendliness to its customers. It is clear that Mr Zerban appears to have handed over control of the restaurant to the two Daniels brothers.  The food is good quality, and I was told that all the recipes are those of Mr Zerban.  The value for money is good for most of the menu items.

EuroHaus, 210 Loop Street, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 422-0168 www.marcelinothebakery.com Monday – Sunday 7h00 – 21h00 – 23h00.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

An Amsterdam restaurant concept has been introduced to South Africa, kicking off in Cape Town and the Winelands, offering a real-time reservation system, and introducing the first Dining City Restaurant Week of specials from 22 – 29 September, whereby locals will be able to enjoy two and three course lunches and dinners at reasonable prices, and experience the real-time booking system of new restaurant website www.diningcity.com.  In the Netherlands the most recent Restaurant Week generated 200000 bookings from more than 1000 restaurants.

DiningCity Restaurant Week is the concept of ​​the world’s leading online restaurant guide www.DiningCity.com. The company was founded in 1998 in Amsterdam, and is currently active in Belgium, Austria, Hungary, Italy and Spain, and outside Europe in cities like New York, Singapore, Dubai, Shanghai, and Beijing. On the South African website one can select restaurants on price, cuisine, location and atmosphere. Information about the restaurants is presented by means of photos, menus and videos.

The principle of the system is that for Restaurant Week restaurants in Cape Town and the Winelands offer a certain number of their seats to Restaurant Week, with a 3 course lunch costing R125 and a 3-course dinner costing R200.  Some restaurants will charge a supplement of R50, indicated with a star on the Dining City website (and in the list below). The condition is that all restaurant reservations must be made via the website, which automated system will confirm the booking, send reminders on the date of the booking, and will request feedback about the meal experience the following day. This will eliminate the taking of bookings telephonically or by e-mail, and should reduce no-shows, a problem which Cape Town restaurants experience regularly.  Initially the restaurants will not be charged to join Restaurant Week (in Amsterdam restaurants pay € 200 per year to be part of the system, said Dining City CEO Tertius van Oosthuyzen), but they will pay R10 per seat booked.  I caught Tertius just before his flight back to Amsterdam, and he was delighted that he had managed to get 20000 seats on board in the first few days of launching Restaurant Week almost a month ago. He is hoping to get 40 restaurants on board by the time that Restaurant Week starts.

The 38 restaurants which have signed up for Restaurant Week already are: Planet Restaurant*, The Roundhouse*, The Duchess of Wisbeach*, Pigalle*, 5 Rooms*, Ashton’s at Greenways, Baia, Balducci’s, Belthazar, Blakes*, Blues Beach House, Buitenverwachting*, Bukhara*, Café Chic, Café Dijon, Catharina’s*, Chandani, Five Flies*, Gold Restaurant*, Haiku*, Il Cappero, Jackal & Hide, L’Apero*, La Mouette*, Marimba, Myoga*, Paranga*, Pepenero*, Pure, Reserve, Roberto’s, Savoy Cabbage, Signal Restaurant, The Bungalow,* The George @ Romney Park Hotel, The Grand Café and Beach, Top of the Ritz, and Westin Executive Club*.

Few Winelands restaurants have been signed up to date:  Roca* at Dieu Donné, Haute Cabriere*, Dish at Le Franschhoek (photograph), Mange Tout*, Monneaux*, and Waterkloof*.

Tertius was at pains to explain that they are not taking on beleaguered Eat Out, the largest restaurant database in South Africa, and he was happy to see that they have posted a write-up about Restaurant Week on their site.

Restaurant Week will form part of Cape Town’s promotion of tourism in September. “We are keen to encourage locals to come out of hibernation, with an offer that will not be equalled in terms of quality and value, until the next DiningCity Restaurant Week,” said Tertius.  Next year Dining City SA will focus on Johannesburg, for the second Restaurant Week they will organise, in April.  It is planned to host two such restaurant special promotions every year.

POSTSCRIPT 22/9: The Restaurant Week started today, and I tried to make a booking at Dish Restaurant at Le Franschhoek via the Dining City website, but it has no link to the Restaurant Week website, on which one has to make the restaurant bookings for the Restaurant Week.  When I got to the right website, I could not make the booking, as it had already eliminated today’s date, and only offered dates from tomorrow onwards. Earlier in the day I was asked to provide feedback about the booking process by Dining City via Twitter, which I did, and I received a number of defensive and aggressive Tweets as well as DM’s (Direct Messages), basically questioning my intelligence about not understanding their websites and booking system.  The Tweeter was Tertius van Oosthuyzen, the Dining City CEO! Not a good introduction of this Dutch businessman to our local restaurant industry!

Despite the bad Tweet start with Dining City, I had a lovely evening at Dish Restaurant, and Chef Oliver Cattermole and his team were firing on all cylinders. Three courses at R200 is exceptional value. His amuse bouche was the highlight this evening, a cranberry-coated chicken liver ‘popsicle’.  The starter was a mushroom soup which I have tasted previously.  The main course was beef fillet with Chef Oliver’s famous ‘vegetable garden’ plating, using vegetables grown for him especially at La Motte by Daniel Kruger.  The dessert was a chocolate fondant made from 100% smoked chocolate, served with a cognac ice cream, and a hazelnut chocolate paste smear.  Chef Oliver sent a taste of Le Franschhoek’s new Lemoncello, which he made from the hotel’s own produce, to the table.

Dining City Restaurant Week, 22 – 29 September. www.DiningCity.co.za Twitter: @DiningCitySA

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage