Tag Archives: Bizerca Bistro

2015 vintage of 1771 wine bottled by Dorrance Cellar, made from grapes of oldest vine in Southern Hemisphere!

imageI had the pleasure of starting my day today with a glass of Champagne and oysters delivered by neighboring Bizerca Bistro at Dorrance Cellar, to witness the bottling of a historic wine.

I was invited by James Boreland to participate in the bottling by owner Christophe Durand of the 2015 vintage of 1771, a Crouchen Blanc (which used to be referred to as a Cape Riesling) made from grapes Continue reading →

Oh la la! French Bistro to open at urban working winery Dorrance Cellar!

imageI was invited by Cabo Esperanço Wines to attend a trade tasting of wines by Vondeling, Oak Valley, Blackwater, and Keermont earlier today at Dorrance Cellar on Hout Street, which I had never visited before. What a lovely space, with an earthy underground cellar feel. I was excited to hear that French Bistro Bouchon will open at Dorrance Cellar next month. Continue reading →

American Express Platinum Fine Dining Awards 2016; 2017 Platinum Taste Awards to challenge Eat Out Awards?

Amex Award tableLast night (7 September) the American Express Platinum Fine Dining Awards 2016 were presented for Cape Town, the Winelands, and the Garden Route at The Watershed in the V&A Waterfront, a total of 31 awards presented. Last night (14 September) the Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal awards were presented at Katy’s Palace Bar in imageJohannesburg.

Interesting announcements made during the evening in Cape Town appear to indicate that the Platinum Taste Awards (new name from next year) will take Eat Out head on next year! At the awards event, the name change for next year was announced, as was that the Platinum Taste Awards will introduce seven award categories. It is no longer a criterion for a restaurant to accept Continue reading →

Launch of 24ct online luxury jewelry and bullion bar boutique a sparkling affair!

24ct Jewelry Tree Whale CottageOn Thursday evening I attended the launch of the new online luxury jewelry and bullion bar service 24ct, not being very sure what the event was about until I arrived at Bizerca Bistro, the function held in the semi-covered and impressively decorated courtyard of Bizerca, sparkling with a bespoke collection of jewelry, and gold and silver bars in different sizes.

Continue reading →

Streetsmart smart move for restaurants and beneficiaries!

StreetSmart Banner Whale Cottage PortfolioI have not been a great fan of the forced R5 addition to one’s restaurant bill without permission in Streetsmart restaurants, but after attending the presentation of monies to support the good community work for street children it is funding, and hearing what a difference the money makes to the less fortunate at a function held at The Salesian Institute on Thursday evening, my perception about Streetsmart has changed completely.

Established in 2005 by tour operator Margi Biggs as a means of helping street children, and now chaired by committee junkie Nils Heckscher (he has been or currently serves on the board of FEDHASA Cape, Cape Town StreetSmart Nils Heckscher Whale Cottage PortfolioTourism, the former Cape Town Routes Unlimited, and Tourism Marketing of South Africa), Streetsmart generated just over R900000 in the past year, and a total of R7 million since its establishment.  R5 is added to the restaurant bill per table, irrespective of the number of patrons seated at the table.  This money is transferred to Streetsmart once a month.  Streetsmart is also collected in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and in India.

Heckscher suffers badly from being in the shadow of his very well-known Continue reading →

Western Cape restaurants lead the Diners Club International Winelist Awards 2013!

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 Continue reading →

Eat Out Top 20 Restaurant Finalist List: Stellenbosch and Cape Town tie for Gourmet Capital!

Eat Out has just announced its Finalist Top 20 Restaurant list, from which the Top 10 Eat Out DStv Food Network Restaurant Award winners will be chosen.  Seven each of the twenty finalist restaurants are from Stellenbosch and Cape Town, three are from Franschhoek, one is from Johannesburg, one is from KwaZulu-Natal,  and one from Pretoria.  Bruce Palling, UK food blogger and new right-hand judge to Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly, has just returned to London after a 14 day and 25 lunch and dinner ‘feasting and tasting’ trip to South Africa, mainly spent in the Cape.

We congratulate the following Top 20 finalists:

Cape Town:

Bizerca Bistro

The Greenhouse

La Colombe

Planet Restaurant

The Pot Luck Club (subsequently withdrawn)

The Roundhouse

The Test Kitchen

Stellenbosch:

Delaire Graff

Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine

Makaron

Overture

Rust en Vrede

Terroir

Tokara

Franschhoek:

Babel

Pierneef à La Motte

The Tasting Room

Other:

DW Eleven-13

Hartford House

Restaurant Mosaic

Our prediction of the Western Cape Finalists did not include Bizerca (odd selection as the restaurant is moving to a new venue next month) and The Pot Luck Club (the tapas restaurant of Luke Dale-Roberts)! The Roundhouse is a surprise entry to the list, as its Chef PJ Vadas left in March, and it is a shame that the creativity of Chef Gregory Czarnecki at Waterkloof has once again not been recognised. For the second year running Chef Reuben Riffel has not made the Top 20 list, his Robertsons and Rama endorsement no doubt costing him a standing in this list!  The Top 20 list is very predictable this year.

The Top 10 Eat Out Restaurant Award winners will be announced at a gala dinner at The Westin hotel on 25 November.

POSTSCRIPT 18/9: In speaking to restaurateurs today after the Top 20 Restaurant Awards Finalist List was announced, the following criticism about the list has been expressed:

*   The Pot Luck Club only opened in December 2011, and therefore it has not been open for a full twelve months, as the rules state.  We all know that Mrs Donnelly has a very soft spot for Chef Luke Dale-Roberts, but the same rules must apply to all.

*   Grande Provence Chef Darren Badenhorst worked alongside Chef Darren Roberts for more than a year, as did Chef Eric Bulpitt at The Roundhouse work alongside Chef PJ Vadas before he left. Grande Provence was not evaluated for the Top 20 list, while The Roundhouse was!  Last year Rust en Vrede had to sit out a year, when David Higgs left, even though Chef John Shuttleworth had worked alongside Chef David for more than a year.  This highlights how inconsistent the application of the rules is.

*   Eat Out Judge Bruce Palling flew to Johannesburg to have lunch at DW Eleven-13 on Saturday, but does not appear to have made it to Restaurant Mosaic in Pretoria or to Hartford House in KwaZulu-Natal.

POSTSCRIPT 19/9: It is ironic, if not shocking, that Mr Palling’s presence in the Top 20 Restaurant Award Finalist evaluation did not safeguard Mrs Donnelly from falling into the same trap of her bias in including The Pot Luck Club, which has not been operating for a full year. It appears that Chef Luke Dale-Roberts has withdrawn The Pot Luck Club from the Awards today, and we salute him for doing the right thing.  However Eat Out should never have selected the restaurant in the first place!  This is how Eat Out subsequently announced the withdrawal of The Pot Luck Club from the Top 20 list, stating that they will not replace the restaurant with another: Our original communication listed The Pot Luck Club as one of the nominees. However, on discussion with chef Luke Dale-Roberts, we discovered the restaurant only opened in December 2011, and not in November 2011. (One month short of the cut-off.) Therefore, as per our judging criteria, The Pot Luck Club is not eligible for the awards this year. Luke fully supports our decision and we wish him all the best with the restaurant for 2013!’

POSTSCRIPT 3/10: I met Werner Hayward, Brand Manager at New Media Publishing, at The Christian Eedes Chardonnay Report presentation yesterday, and we discussed the infamous new UK Eat Out Top 10 Restaurants judge Bruce Palling, and how he did not prevent the embarrassing error of including The Pot Luck Club into the Top 20 Finalist Restaurant List. He admitted that this had been a ‘stupid mistake’ by his company!

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

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

Rossouw’s Restaurants 2012: No superlative SA Platinum 3-star Restaurant!

JP Rossouw’s Restaurant 3-star list is usually published ahead of the Eat Out Restaurant Awards. and helped to serve as a predictor for the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant list.  This year it could not be used, as the Eat Out event is taking place a week earlier, and Rossouw Restaurants’ 2012 3-star list was only announced on Twitter for the first time yesterday, on the eve of the 2011 Eat Out DStv Food Network Restaurant Awards, taking place at the Rotunda at the Bay Hotel in Camps Bay this evening.

Interesting firstly is that a Platinum Award for best 3-star restaurant has not been awarded by Rossouw, writing on Twitter that “Rossouw’s 2012 Platinum Award for standout 3 Star not awarded this ed. Changes & notable newcomers not yet achieved a track record” .  Yet stalwarts like The Tasting Room, Terroir, Overture have been consistent and around for some time.

Comparing Rossouw’s list of 24 3-star restaurants with the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant finalist shortlist of twenty, the following ten exclusions from Rossouw’s 3-star list are evident:  Tokara, Pierneef à La Motte, The Restaurant at Grande Provence, Hartford House, Planet Restaurant, Bosman’s, Azure, Roots, Restaurant Maison, and Babel.  The ten restaurants that the lists have in common are Greenhouse, Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine, La Colombe, Nobu, Overture, The Roundhouse, The Tasting Room, Terroir, The Test Kitchen, and DW Eleven-13.  Bizarre is that Zachary’s at Pezula is included, in that it only operates two nights a week!

The 24 3-star 2012 Rossouw’s Restaurants are the following:

Western Cape:  95 Keerom Street, Aubergine, Bizerca Bistro, The Common Room, Greenhouse, Ile de Pain, Jordan Restaurant, La Colombe, Mariana’s, Nobu, Overture, Roundhouse, Rust en Vrede, The Tasting Room, Terroir, The Test Kitchen, and Zachary’s.

KwaZulu-Natal: 9th Avenue Bistro

Gauteng:  Butcher Shop & Grill, Cube, DW Eleven-13, Grillhouse, Ritrivo, and Thomas Maxwell Bistro.

Interesting is that two chefs have told me that recent reviews by Rossouw of their restaurants have appeared to settle old scores,  and that what Rossouw writes in his Business Day reviews often contradicts what he posts about the restaurants on his website or publishes in his book.  This is unprofessional behaviour from Rossouw, and may be a reason why his ratings and reviews have little significance.

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

2011 Eat Out DStv Food Network Restaurant Awards: a prediction!

On Sunday the long-awaited Eat Out DStv Food Network Restaurant Awards will be presented at the Bay Hotel’s Rotunda in the presence of 360 chefs and restaurant lovers. This year sees a number of changes in the Awards, with the Top 10 name having fallen away as a generic title, due to the introduction of additional categories which have been judged, and the controversial sole judging of the winning restaurants in each category by Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly.

As we have done before, we predict the following restaurants to make the Top 10 Restaurant list, based on write-ups we have seen, our own experience, and patron talk.  No offence is intended to the chefs we have not included.  The list is not intended as a ranking.  Not knowing the Johannesburg, Pretoria and KwaZulu-Natal restaurants, we are guessing those:

*   We have previously predicted that Chef Richard Carstens at Tokara will be Top Chef/Best Restaurant, for his creativity in food preparation and presentation, for continuously re-inventing himself and his dishes, for his quest to learn new things, and for the amazing El Bulli tribute dinner he prepared on 30 July.  The restaurant has just been selected by the Great Wine Capitals Global Network as the best Winelands restaurant in the country.

*   The Test Kitchen‘s Luke Dale-Roberts is most foodies’ prediction for Top Chef, and he does feature often in TASTE, the magazine that Mrs Donnelly is Food Editor of.  She told me recently that Woolworths chose Luke for a Christmas range, and that is why he receives so much coverage.

*   The Greenhouse at Cellars Hohenhort Hotel, with Chef Peter Tempelhoff, who has just been honoured as Relais & Chateaux Grand Chef, the first in Cape Town, and only the third in South Africa.

*    Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine is a stalwart, and while its restaurant building is not the greatest and grandest, George gets on with what he is excellent at, without any PR hype

*   The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Francais with Chef Margot Janse cannot be excluded from the list, for its listing as the only South African restaurant on the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

*   DW Eleven-13 with Chef Marthinus Ferreira in Johannesburg was a Top 10 restaurant last year. The only criticism I have seen about this restaurant is its location.

*  Hartford House in KwaZulu-Natal, with Chef Jackie Cameron, regularly on the Eat Out Top 10 restaurant list, the best that this province has to offer.

*   Chef Bertus Basson of Overture is another chef who reinvents himself and his food, and gets on with what he does well.  No PR hype.

*   Pierneef à La Motte with Chef Chris Erasmus has all the elements to make Top 10, but recently the food and service quality has started to slip.  The estate has been selected as top South African wine estate in the Great Wine Capitals Global Network.  Excellence drives everything that this estate does.

*   Babel is extremely trendy right now, and I hear lots of ooo’s and aaa’s about it, and is heavily booked, but it has only been open for lunch in its first year of operation.  Chef Darren Roberts of Grande Provence is a chef who gets on with things, quietly and creatively, and would be a more deserved Top 10 restaurant, this restaurant making the Top 10 every second year to date.

Other Top 20 Restaurant Finalists are Planet Restaurant, La Colombe, Nobu, Babel, Bosman’s, The Round House, Azure, Terroir, Roots in Johannesburg, and Restaurant Maison in Pretoria.

For the first time, Eat Out has introduced new Restaurant Award categories.  The Best Steakhouse Award could go to one of 29 steakhouses listed by Eat Out, and this may be where Johannesburg could have a winner, known to have a selection of good steakhouses, and making up almost half the Eat Out Steakhouse list.  In the Cape, Carne, Belthazar, and HQ are some of the steakhouses which feature on the list.

There are 18 finalists for the Boschendal Style Award, and this may be a little bit of a consolation prize for not making Top 10, and also gives newer restaurants which have not been open for a full year a chance at winning something.  The nominees for this category include Hemelhuijs, The Saxon, The Test Kitchen (an odd choice), Planet Restaurant, Thomas Maxwell Bistro in Johannesburg, Woodlands Eatery, Pierneef à La Motte, Kream, Makaron (at Majeka House, a consultancy client of Mrs Donnelly), Babel, Overture, The Grand Café and Beach (very odd!!), Rust en Vrede, Central One Restaurant (in the hotel at which David Higgs is the chef now), Dear Me Foodworld, Craft Trattoria, Pure, and Indochine.  If Babel falls out of the Top 10, it may win this award.

The Best Bistro Award finalist list has 43 nominees, and feels a little like a listing of every other restaurant which did not make the Top 10 finalist list.  Odd is how broad the ‘Bistro’ name has been stretched to include some restaurant nominees!  Bistro Sixteen82 should win this award, but stiff competition could come from Bizerca Bistro, Ryan’s Kitchen, Cuvee@Simonsig, The Common Room at Le Quartier Français, The Foodbarn, Dear Me, Franschhoek Kitchen, and Bread & Wine. Odd is to see Reubens Franschhoek on the list, which has continuous negative feedback.

I have not seen the Best Italian Restaurant nominee list, but Giorgio Nava’s PR machine has announced that 95 Keerom Street is one of the nominees.  He is a likely winner, embodying ‘Italianess’, but without charm!  The Best Asian Restaurant and Best Country-Style Restaurant nominee lists have also not been seen, and Mrs Donnelly did not wish to release the nominee lists.

Interesting is how the Eat Out Awards dinner has grown to 360 attendees.  If one calculates that each of the Top 20 Restaurant finalists will take a table, that leaves another 160 seats, not all filled yet, judging by e-mail reminders about the event.  With so many finalists and nominees, there will be many disappointed empty-handed chefs and restaurant owners on Sunday evening!

POSTSCRIPT 17/11: This Eat Out article has an interesting analysis of past Top 10 Restaurant/Chef winners, and some demographic break-downs of chefs as well.

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