Tag Archives: Best Bistro

Restaurant Review Two: Karoux in McGregor on the move, to next door!

At the beginning of May Karoux moved into a next door building on the main road of McGregor, a substantial improved dining space compared to its previous space, which I had only experienced as an outside stoep area. Not only is the new restaurant space an improvement, but it feels as if Chef Ryan Josten’s creative cuisine has been inspired by the move too! Continue reading →

‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa’ episode 3 very fishy! Paternoster a West Coast ‘Greek island’!

Hayden Quinn 3 Kobus van der Merwe and Hayden Quinn 10494566_298016930370357_9146370295150676386_nIt was lovely to see ‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa’ back on track in episode 3 last night, with beautiful filming of the small fishing village where nothing happens every 45 minutes, it was joked!   The word ‘Afrikaans’ was not mentioned once by Hayden, but he struggled to pronounce the surname of his host Chef Kobus van der Merwe from Oep ve Koop Bistro,  previously named Oep ve Eet when we ate there.

Paternoster was shown from its most beautiful side, with an endless beach, fishermen’s boats on the beach, and white-washed houses making the village look like a ‘little Greek island’, Hayden observed. It is the oldest fishing village in our country, and the name of the village comes from ‘Our Father’.  Hayden stayed at Abalone House & Spa, and the ‘quirky bohemian feel’ of its interior decor was shown, being dominated by prints of the work by the late artist Vladimir Tretchikoff. The strict architectural guidelines for houses in Paternoster was highlighted.   Interesting is that there was no mention of Reuben’s Restaurant at Abalone House, one of the five restaurants belonging to Reuben’s Robertsons Pop-Up and Pop-In Riffel!  Interesting too is that Gaaitjie restaurant with unfriendly owner Suzi Holtzhausen also was not mentioned, one of the better restaurants in the village.

Chef Kobus used to work at New Media Publishing in Cape Town before returning to his home town Paternoster, where his parents own ‘Die Winkel op Paternoster’, a mouthful for Hayden to say!  Chef Kobus uses a section of the building and the garden to serve his guests, and forages seafood as well as wild greens and shoreline herbs, which he uses in the preparation of his dishes.  Chef Kobus was described as being recognised as a WWF SASSI (South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative) ambassador in his sustainable and responsible use of fish in his Bistro. Continue reading →

Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards 2014: Best event ever, some highs, some shocks!

Eat Out magazine cover Whale Cottage PortfolioAfter two disastrous years, New Media Publishing was brave enough to take stock earlier this year, and asked the industry what it wanted in the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards.  Last night that hard work paid off, with a new venue for the event, a slick and short presentation, new Awards introduced, and three new restaurants making the Top 10 Restaurant list.  The surprise was the emotion which the chefs expressed when receiving their plaques, challenging MasterChef SA Season 2 on tears!

We were one of the interviewees, meeting with Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly, its GM Aileen Lamb, MD Bridget McCarney, and Director Irna van Zyl.  We were forthright in our feedback and suggestions, including that a team of judges would be needed again (we suggested Garth Stroebel, and have yet to meet him!). We fed back that the preferential relationship with Luke Dale-Roberts in TASTE magazine (also published by New Media Publishing, and of which Abigail is the Food Editor) was unfair towards all other chefs, by featuring him every month – we were told that Woolworths had a contract with him, and therefore he received the coverage in the magazine.  This contract was terminated earlier this year, which is excellent news.  Other recommendations can be read here.  Flowing from the interviews and discussions with previous Top 20 chefs and restaurant managers, owners, and suppliers, as well as media representatives and bloggers, New Media Publishing allowed restaurants to apply to be included in the Eat Out Top 500 Restaurant List, which was selected by a Continue reading →

Eat Out DStv Food Network Restaurant Awards: Cape Town Gourmet Capital again!

Last night the country’s top restaurants and their chefs were crowned in the annual 2011 Eat Out DStv Food Network Restaurant Awards, held at the Bay Hotel in Camps Bay.  Despite controversial changes to the running of the Awards, most attendees appeared happy with the results, which saw Cape Town regain its crown as the Gourmet Capital of South Africa with five Top 10 restaurants, after a dip last year.  Stellenbosch has three Top 10 restaurants, and Franschhoek and Johannesburg one each, giving the Cape nine out of the Top 10 restaurants.

Eat Out Editor Abigail Donnelly came under fire this year, for announcing herself as the sole judge of the 1000 restaurants in South Africa, letting go of her fellow judging panel of Pete Goffe-Wood, Arnold Tanzer, and Anna Trapido, and instead relying on the 70 000 Eat Outreviewers’ posting on the magazine’s website, with the risk of them being open for manipulation, and not necessarily ‘fine-diners’. In the Eat Out 2012 magazine we received last night, 19 ‘reviewers’ were listed, being ‘these people ate their way around the country on our behalf’.  The reviewers include bloggers Andy Fenner and Dax Villenueva, as well as food and/or wine writers such as Graham Howe, Greg Landman, Fiona McDonald, and Clifford and Maryke Roberts.

The Cape Times on Friday described Mrs Donnelly’s judging criteria of the ‘hidden gems and forgotten favourites’ restaurants (this description was not a reflection of the Top 10 list): that the chef had been at the restaurant since last November (an exception was made with the Azure chef, who fell a few weeks short of this criterion), the owners and chef must be passionate about their business (odd in that Mrs Donnelly did not chat to all chefs of the restaurants that she visited, booking under a false name often), must be dedicated to ‘upliftment of the industry’ (a new criterion), the chefs must care about the sourcing of their produce, and the restaurant must be consistent in everything it does.  Food counts for 70% of the evaluation, and is scored on menu composition, seasonality, presentation, taste, price and value, wine choice, and dishes eaten.  Within menu composition, Mrs Donnelly evaluates choice, cooking techniques, variety of ingredients, and dietary requirements.  For seasonality, the variety of ingredients is evaluated, as is use of ‘local ingredients’, choice of fish, use of imported products, and out of season produce. Food presentation is judged on visual appeal, reflection of menu description, garnishing, and plates used.  Taste of the dishes is evaluated on balance, texture and complementary flavours.  Additional criteria are food and wine pairing recommendations, service levels, linen, cutlery, the bathrooms, reservations and arrivals, and the billing.  Interesting is that Mrs Donnelly says that 2011 is the ‘year of the egg and the wild sorrel’.  She adds: “Many chefs have displayed a strong sense of nature through foraging in forests or veggie gardens, and pure South African storytelling has also been celebrated”.

In the past the Top restaurant was usually awarded the Awards for Service Excellence and Chef of the Year too, but this year this was awarded separately, making the top accolade shared across three restaurants:

Restaurant of the Year: The Greenhouse, with Chef Peter Tempelhoff

Chef of the Year:  Luke Dale-Roberts of The Test Kitchen

Service Excellence Award: The Roundhouse

The Top 10 Restaurants were announced as follows:

1.  The Greenhouse, with Peter Tempelhoff, Cape Town

2.  The Test Kitchen, with Luke Dale-Roberts, Cape Town

3.  The Tasting Room, with Chef Margot Janse, Franschhoek

4.   The Roundhouse, with Chefs PJ Vadas and Eric Bulpitt, Cape Town

5.   Overture, with Chef Bertus Basson, Stellenbosch

6.   Terroir, with Chef Michael Broughton, Stellenbosch

7.   DW Eleven-13, with Chef Marthinus Ferreira, Johannesburg

8.   Jordan Restaurant, with Chef George Jardine, Stellenbosch

9.   Nobu, with Chef Hideki Maeda, One&Only Cape Town

10.  La Colombe, with Chef Scot Kirton, Cape Town

The other restaurants that were Top 20 Finalists were Azure Restaurant, Babel, Bosman’s Restaurant, Hartford House, Pierneef à La Motte, Planet Restaurant, The Restaurant at Grande Provence, Restaurant Mosaic, Roots, and Tokara.

The winners of the newly introduced Restaurant category Awards were announced at super-speed, and what was interesting was that no nominees nor finalists were mentioned per category (some had been announced for some categories in the Eat Out newsletter in the last few weeks), with the exception of the Boschendal Style Award. We requested details of the nominees of the categories, but were refused these, only being sent the Boschendal Style Awards nominees list.  No criteria were revealed for these awards, and seemed to be Mrs Donnelly’s personal pick:

Boschendal Style Award: Makaron Restaurant at Majeka House was the winner, a surprise in two respects – the R10 million newly constructed and decorated restaurant only opened its doors in September, a month before the Eat Out magazine went to print, and Mrs Donnelly is a consultant to the restaurant!  The designer was Etienne Hanekom, the art director for VISI, a sister publication to Eat Out at New Media Publishing!  The other finalists, out of 18 nominees, were Babel, Kream in Pretoria, Hemelhuijs, and, very surprisingly, The Test Kitchen!

Best Steakhouse: The Local Grill in Johannesburg (29 nominees)

Best Italian Restaurant:  No other contenders appear to have been evaluated, the award predictably going to 95 Keerom.  (The full list of Italian restaurant contenders was revealed today – 23/11)

Best Asian Restaurant: Kitima in Cape Town (no nominees list)

Best Bistro: Bizerca Bistro (43 nominees)

Best Country-Style Restaurant: A surprise win for the unknown The Table at De Meye, no nominee list having been revealed

City Press ViP Sunday Breakfast Award: Salvation Café at 44 Stanley in Johannesburg (this award was not pre-announced, and does not even appear in the Eat Out magazine with the other award listings).

The Lannice Snyman Lifetime Achievement Award : Garth Stroebel

In the past the food has always been prepared by Finalist chefs, and increasingly those invited to prepare the food were the ones that did not make Top 10.  However, this year each one of the invited chefs was from a Top 10 restaurant.  One admires the challenge of the chefs to prepare the meal for 360 persons, and Pete Goffe-Wood was the co-ordinator of the event on the food side.  Chef Peter Tempelhoff made the canapés, but these were not seen when Boschendal Grand Cuvée Brut 2007 was served on arrival.  The ‘bread’ came from Giorgio Nava, it was said, but was croissants and other sweet pastries from Caffe Milano, it appeared.  Chef Hideki Maeda prepared a baby spinach salad with dried miso and crayfish starter, which was paired with Groot Constantia Reserve White 2009.  This was followed by Chef Luke Dale-Roberts’ Ballotine of rabbit and gammon, duck liver purée, red cabbage crumbs and relish, and Everson’s pear cider jelly, paired with Chamonix Chardonnay 2009.

Michael Broughton’s trompette dusted fillet of beef with cep butter sauce, baby beet, asparagus and parsley was my favourite, for its sauce in particular, paired with Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 2009. George Jardine served his dessert of Valrhona Ivoire torte, raspberries and Ivoire chantilly on a slate plate, and this was paired with Jordan Mellifera Noble Late Harvest 2010.

The food and wine service has been disappointing for the past three years that I have attended the event, with serving staff contracted in, last night’s staff leaving much to be desired, there being no wine service initially, no ice buckets on the table for the white wine and water, and bottles arriving at the table but not linked to the course they were meant to be paired with, and other wines not listed on the menu arriving as well.  What the event needs is a Manager on the service side, walking the floor, to check on the satisfaction of the guests and the smooth flow of the event.  There were no steak nor fish knives, and many of the aspects which Mrs Donnelly mentioned as her criteria in judging the Top 10 restaurants were lacking on the food and wine side of the event.  The Eat Out Restaurant Awards should be a showcase of food and wine service perfection, at R1000 a ticket, but this has not been the case in the past three years, and particularly not last night.

The Eat Out DStv Food Network Awards did not award any Top 10 positions to any new restaurants, a disappointment, all restaurants making the Top 10 list having been on it before, with the exception of Nobu, but some with new chefs.  Some excellent chefs were overlooked, in our opinion, ‘safe’ selections having been made!. Perhaps a Top 20 finalist list should not be pre-announced, as was the case in the past. The Restaurant category Awards may need some consistency in announcing all or no finalists/nominees, and in providing a motivation why a restaurant has won a category.  Scope exists for different categories, while some current ones could be dropped. The conflict of interest by Mrs Donnelly acting as a consultant to restaurants cannot be acceptable.

POSTSCRIPT 21/11: On Twitter this morning, in reaction to this blogpost, there is feedback that The Table at De Meye is owned by an ex-photographer for TASTE magazine, a sister publication to Eat Out, and of which Mrs Donnelly is Food Editor.

Eat Out 2011: www.eatout.co.za Twitter: @Eat_Out

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

Eat Out Top 20 Restaurant Awards shortlist highlights Cape Culinary centre

The eagerly awaited Top 20 shortlist for the 2010 Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards has just been announced.   Five of the twenty top restaurants are in Cape Town, two are in Franschhoek, and new SA Gourmet Capital is Stellenbosch, with five finalists.   Fifteen of the Top 20 Restaurant list are from the Western Cape.

The Top 20 List follows:

Cape Town:   Aubergine, The Greenhouse, Jardine, La Colombe, The Roundhouse

Stellenbosch: Restaurant Christophe, Jordan’s Restaurant with George Jardine, Overture, Rust en Vrede, Terroir

Franschhoek:  Reuben’s, The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français

Paarl: Bosman’s at Grande Roche

Somerset WestRestaurant at Waterkloof

Knysna: Zachary’s at Pezula

Johannesburg: DW Eleven-13, Linger Longer, Roots

Pretoria: Mosaic

KwaZulu-Natal: Hartford House

Two weeks ago we posted a prediction of the Top 20 shortlist, and correctly predicted the inclusion of Bosman’s, Restaurant Christophe, Jordan’s Restaurant with George Jardine, The Greenhouse, Jardine, Mosaic, Overture, The Restaurant at Waterkloof, Roots, Rust & Vrede, The Roundhouse, The Tasting Room and Terroir.   We are surprised at the inclusion of Reuben’s Franschhoek, due to service issues, and of La Colombe, as its chef Luke Dale-Roberts works at the restaurant in a consulting capacity now and is opening his new restaurant The Test Kitchen in November.   A welcome surprise is to see Bosman’s on the shortlist again, after a long absence.  Surprise exclusions are Giorgio Nava’s Carne and 95 Keerom Street (he is a darling of Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly!), and of Bizerca Bistro, which controversially won in the stand-alone Best Bistro category last year.   As predicted, previous Top 10 winner Jacques de Jager of Salt (ex-Grande Provence), and previously shortlisted Top 20 Rudi Liebenberg of the Cape Colony restaurant at the Mount Nelson Hotel, did not make the 2010 Top 20 shortlist. 

The Eat Out Top 10 Restaurants will be announced at a gala dinner on 28 November.

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

Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards list grows to 11 (or is it 12?)!

The Prudential Eat Out Top 10 restaurant list can make, or break, restaurants, and so the tension in the ballroom of the Westin Grand Hotel in Cape Town was high when the top restaurant awards were announced last night.

Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly indicated that the choice for this year’s Top 10 was very tough, and clarified that a chef owning more than one restaurant (e.g. Reuben Riffel) could be eligible for an award, as could a chef who will spend more time away from his namesake restaurant (George Jardine), at his new Country Restaurant at Jordan winery in Stellenbosch.   In recent years a Top 20 list is announced a few months prior to the November highlight, and this year the new players on this list were The Round House in Camps Bay (who bravely stated at their inception that they want to be the best restaurant in Africa, and who are very Big Brother as far as observing their patrons is concerned), the Green House in the Cellars Hohenhort hotel, and Carne.

The scoring for the restaurants was 70 % for the food, 20 % for the service and 10 % for the ambiance.   Restaurants had to have operated for a minimum of a year to be considered, the owner and the chef had to show a passion for their business, they had to show a dedication to uplift the industry, they had to show that quality sourcing of their supplies is important, and consistency and excellence had to be their foundation.

The winners of the 2010 Prudential Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards are as follows, in order of rank:

1.   La Colombe in Constantia
2.   Restaurant Mosaic in Pretoria
3.   Rust en Vrede Restaurant in Stellenbosch
4.   Terroir in Stellenbosch
5.   The Roundhouse in Camps Bay
6.   The Restaurant at Grande Provence in Franschhoek
7.   The Green House at the Cellars in Constantia
8.   Roots in Johannesburg
9.   9th Avenue Bistro in Durban
10. Overture in Stellenbosch and the Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français in Franschhoek.

The tension, excitement and shock was felt by all when the winners were announced. The first surprise of the evening was that Abigail Donnelly, the editor of Eat Out magazine, had created two new Award categories, in which only she had a say in the winners. The Best Country Kitchen Award went to a perennial favourite – Marianna’s in Stanford – while, very surprisingly, the other new category was Best Bistro, which was won by Bizerca Bistro in Cape Town, a top 20 Award finalist. This made it clear that Bizerca would not make the Top 10 Eat Out Awards list for 2010. Many heads were shaking, and it sounded as if Bizerca had won a consolation prize.

The next shock was that the 10th place winner was a jointly placed Overture and the Tasting Room at Le Quartier Francais, once again sounding as if the judges could not decide which of the two restaurants to drop into 11th position, making both these restaurants joint 10th winners, and thus creating an Eat Out Top 11 Restaurants Awards this year! The list also created a stir in that Jardine fell out of the top list completely (from number 2 last year), as did Hartford House.  La Colombe, 9th Avenue Bistro, Mosaic, Terroir, The Tasting Room, Roots and Overture were all on the Top 10 restaurant list last year.   Restaurants that were on the Top 20 list, but which did not make the Top 10 list, are Reubens, Carne, Aubergine, Bread and Wine, The Food Barn, Hartford House, Zachary’s, Bizerca Bistro and Jardine.

Chantel Dartnall of Mosaic won the Chef of the Year award.   Rust en Vrede won the Service Excellence award.

Cape Town and the Winelands retain their reputation as the gourmet centre of South Africa, three awards going to Cape Town and Stellenbosch restaurants each, and two to Franschhoek restaurants.  

The 5-star Westin Grand Hotel disappointed hugely as the venue hosting an awards evening recognising the best of gourmet cooking and service in South Africa.   Its standards have dropped significantly compared to the slick function a year ago.   Luke warm waters and white wines were served, the service staff were initially unable to cope, and the airconditioning did not operate at an acceptable level.

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