Entries tagged with “Bouillabaisse”.


Cafe Chic exterior Whale CottageCafé Chic opened in Gardens in 1999, a Victorian building with a chic interior created by French owner Francoise Queyroi.  A year ago the restaurant was closed and placed on the market, but has not yet found a buyer. It was a surprise that Chef Conrad Gallagher has taken over the building, renting it lock, stock and barrel, including its cutlery (by Helcometals from Egypt/France), crockery, glassware, table cloths, and serviettes, with a view to buying it in future.  Given Chef Conrad’s reputation related to a Cafe Chic Conrad Gallagher Whale Cottageprevious era of owning restaurants in Cape Town, it is brave of him to return!

Chef Conrad had opened Geisha in 2007 in the building alongside Newport Deli in Mouille Point, spending R3,5 million on its interior, when he received an eviction order, being informed that the building was to be demolished, to make way for a new building.  He moved to the Cape Royale (more…)

MasterChef 2 8 Bottom 6 Pressure Test Whale Cottage PortfolioAfter chickening out in episode 7, six of the fifteen Finalists had to go into the Pressure Test, one of them having to go home, being Tumi Moche, probably a hard choice for the judges, as the Bouillabaisse that the bottom three had to prepare was praised by them.  Herman Cloete enjoyed his plating MasterClass at Restaurant Mosaic.

The Test episode started with a cheese tasting, four Woolworths cheeses presented to each of the six Finalists, to be looked at, smelt, andMasterChef 2 8 Camembert Whale Cottage Portfolio tasted. Leandri van der Wat was devastated, as she had already shared in the previous episode that she hates cheese, and never cooks with it nor eats it.  They were given cottage cheese, gorgonzola, feta, and camembert to taste and identify.  Amanda Beck, Mary Martin, and Sanet Labuschagne were released from the Pressure Test in getting most of the cheeses correct, leaving Tumi, and the sisters Leandre and Seline van der Wat, to go into the Pressure Test. (more…)

Our list of latest restaurant openings and closures lists more openings than closures, and a number of restaurant location changes. This list is updated continuously, as we receive information:

Restaurant Openings

*   Café Dijon has closed its restaurants on Plein Street and at Zorgvliet in Stellenbosch, and has opened in the Rockwell Centre in Green Point, Cape Town, on Napier Street opposite Anatoli’s.

*   Luke Dale-Roberts, Eat Out Top Chef at The Test Kitchen, is to open a real test kitchen, called The Kitchen of Dreams, a private experimental place to develop new recipes, at the Old Biscuit Mill

*  Chef Luke Dale-Roberts is opening a pop-up Pot Luck Club in Swiss ski resort Verbier, at the Hotel Farinet, from 8 December – April, to be run by him, his chef Nicolas Wilkinson, and front of house Selena Afnan-Holmes.

*   Col’Cacchio has opened a new outlets in Westlake, and a new one is coming in Claremont too.

*   A new Vida é Caffe new branches are to open on Maindean Place in Claremont, at the new Wembley Square 2 development, at The Paddocks, and Groote Schuur.  Two more branches are planned for Mauritius.

*    Honest Chocolate is opening a second outlet, a ‘production kitchen’ in the Woodstock Industrial Centre

*   Moyo is to open in November, where the Paulaner Braühaus was in the V & A Waterfront.  It has taken over the tearoom at Kirstenbosch already.

*   TRUTH Coffee has opened on Buitenkant Street

*   FEAST is to open where Franschhoek Food Emporium was, in Place Vendome

*   Deluxe Coffeeworks has opened where Reuben’s Deli used to be in Franschhoek.

*   Okamai Japanese Restaurant has opened at Glenwood wine estate in Franschhoek

*   Cavalli restaurant is said to open on the stud farm on R44, between Stellenbosch and Somerset West, this year or next

*   The Slug & Lettuce has opened where Beads was on Church Street in Stellenbosch

*   Stables at Vergelegen Bistro has opened as a lunch restaurant in Somerset West.  Its Lady Phillips Restaurant is being given a make-over by Christo Barnard, and will open on 1 November with a new name called Camphors at Vergelegen. The new chef will be PJ Vadas, previously of The Roundhouse in Camps Bay.

*   Coopmanshuijs in Stellenbosch is opening a restaurant.

*   Chef Johan van Schalkwyk has left the Stone Kitchen at Dunstone Winery, and has opened his own restaurant Twist Some More in Wellington.

*    Chef Bjorn Dingemans has opened The Millhouse Kitchen restaurant on Lourensford wine estate in Somerset West.

*   Chef Shane Sauvage (ex-La Vierge) has opened La Pentola restaurant in Hermanus.

*   Ali Baba Kebab (renamed from Laila) has opened as a small beef and lamb kebab take-away and sit-down outlet, next door to Codfather in Camps Bay

*   Gibson’s Gourmet Burger and Smoked Ribs has opened as a 70-seater restaurant in the V&A Waterfront, taking part of Belthazar. Owned by the Belthazar/Balducci group.

*   Down South Food Bar, previously on Long Street, is said to re-open in the Riverside Centre in Rondebosch

*   Ou Meul Bakkery from Riviersonderend has opened a bakery and coffee shop in Long Street

*   Deluxe Coffeeworks has opened a roastery and coffee bar at 6 Roodehek Street

*    The Deli @ The Square has opened at Frater Square in Paarl.

*   David Higgs (ex Rust en Vrede) is opening a new 30 seater restaurant in The Saxon in Johannesburg.

*   Big Route Top Gourmet Pizzeria has opened on Main Road, Green Point, next door to Woolworths, serving 52 different pizzas, salads and crêpes.

*   Cousins has opened in the Parliament Hotel, where Il Cappero used to be.

* Aces ‘n’ Spades Bar has opened in ex-Boo Radley on Hout Street

*   No. 6 Restaurant at Welbedacht has opened at Welbedacht/Schalk Burger & Sons wine estate in Wellington, run by the ex-owners of Oude Wellington

*   Café Dulce is to open a new branch in Tygervalley Centre

*   Gourmetboerie is to open at the bottom end of Kloof Street, where Depasco used to be, in October.

*   Kushi Indian Restaurant has opened a branch on Main Road in Sea Point

*   Time & Place Restaurant and Bar has opened on the corner of Wale and Buitengracht Street

*   Make Sushi Bar has opened in Sea Point

*   Thai Café is opening on Plein Street, Stellenbosch

*   Simply Asia has opened in Paarl

*   Restaurant @ Zomerlust has opened in Paarl

*    Christina’s has opened at Van Loveren in Robertson

*   Bellini’s is said to be opening on Greenmarket Square in October

*   Moksh Authentic Indian Cuisine restaurant has opened in Paarl

*   Vino’s has opened in Wellington

*   Alfama’s has opened on Waterkant Street

*   Taj Mahal has opened in Sea Point

*   It’s a House is to open on Jarvis Street in October, as a bar, coffee shop, and design art space.

*   Lion’s Head Bar is to open on Bree Street in October, selling craft beer and food

*   An Indian restaurant is to open in the original Madame Zingara building on Loop Street, by the Madame Zingara Group

*   The Caviar Group is opening three new restaurants in the Gateway Centre in Umhlanga by the end of this year: Beluga, Sevruga, and Osetra

*   A new bar and Café is to open underneath the Cape Royale Luxury Hotel, where Bamboo used to be

*   Cattle Baron has opened in Hermanus.

*   Café Blanc de Noir has opened on Brenaissance wine estate in Stellenbosch

* The Reserve is said to be opening a beach restaurant in the V&A Waterfront.

*   Chef Nic van Wyk, previously with Terroir, is opening a restaurant at Diemersdal in Durbanville during the course of this month.

*   Lizette’s Kitchen has opened in Vöelklip, Hermanus.

*   Cattle Baron is to open at Pontac Manor in Paarl

*   Col’Cacchio is opening in Hermanus at the end of November

*   Merchant Café is opening on Long Street, opposite Merchants on Long, later this month.

* Paulina’s Restaurant is opening at Rickety Bridge in Franschhoek

*   Ocean Jewel Deli opens at Woodstock Junction on 22 October.

*   Buitenverwachting has opened a Coffee Shop and Roastery

* Wakaberry is opening on Kloof Street at the end of October

*   Rock Sushi Thai has opened in Meadowridge

*   Jimmy Jimanos sports bar is opening on Long Street

*   Dolcé Bakery is opening in St John’s Arcade in Sea Point

*   The Coffee Bloc has opened at Buitenverwachting

*   The Salzburger Grill has opened in Sea Point

Restaurant Closures

*   Sabarosa in Bakoven has closed down.

* Sunbird Bistro in Camps Bay has closed down

*   Limoncello in Gardens has closed down, but is continuing with its pop-up restaurant truck

*   Paparazzi has closed down on St George’s Mall

*   Wicked Treats in Franschhoek has closed down.

*   Casa Nostra has closed down in Sea Point, until it finds a new venue.

*   Bistro on Rose in Bo-Kaap has closed down as a restaurant

*   The Kove in Camps Bay has closed down, its space has become part of sister restaurant Zenzero

*   Sinnfull has closed down in Sea Point and Camps Bay

*   Liam Tomlin Food is closing down in Franschhoek at the end of October

Restaurant staff/venue changes

*    Il Cappero has moved from Barrack Street, to Fairway Street in Camps Bay.

*  Table Thirteen has reduced in size in Green Point and will open in Paarden Eiland later this year.

*   The V&A Waterfront Food Court is closed for renovations until November.  A sign outside the construction area lists the following businesses moving into or returning to the area: Primi Express, Anat, Carnival, Nür Halaal, Royal Bavarian Bakery, KFC, Boost Juice, Simply Asia, Steers, Debonairs, Subway, Marcel’s, and Haagan Dazs.  Nando’s is also opening.

*   Fyndraai Restaurant will move to another building on the wine estate in November, and will offer fine dining.  The current restaurant will serve light lunches and picnics.

*   Josephine Gutentoft has moved to Makaron at Majeka House as Restaurant Manager and Sommelier.

*   The Reserve has changed its name to Reserve Brasserie. Seelan Sundoo, ex Grand Café Camps Bay and ex La Perla, is the new consultant chef and GM (Seelan Sundoo has since left, now running the Shimmy Beach Club).

*   Chef Andrew Mendes from ex-Valora is now at Nelson’s Eye restaurant, where they are setting up a lunch section and cocktail bar upstairs.

*   Giulia’s Food Café Restaurant has opened where Miss K was on Main Road, Green Point. Now serve Italian-style lunch and dinner, but have retained some Miss K breakfast and pastry items.

*   Having bought the farm about 18 months ago, Antonij Rupert Wines has taken over the Graham Beck Franschhoek property. They will re-open the tasting room in October, initially offering all its Antonij Rupert, Cape of Good Hope, Terra del Capo, and Protea wines to taste.  They are renovating the manor house, to which the Antonij Rupert and Cape of Good Hope wines will be moved for tasting at a later stage.

*   Orphanage is expanding into a property at its back, opening on Orphan Street, in December, creating a similar second bar downstairs, and opening Orphanage Club upstairs, with 1920’s style music by live performers

*   GOLD Restaurant has moved into the Trinity building

*   Opal Lounge has closed down on Kloof Street, and has moved into Blake’s Bar building, renaming it Dinner at Blake’s. A wine and tapas bar has also been opened, called Bar Rouge.

*   Mano A Mano has opened on Park Street, where Green’s used to be.

*   MondeVino Restaurant at Montecasino in Johannesburg, the MasterChef SA prize for the next two years, is to be renamed Aarya, and is to be run by Chef Deena Naidoo from November onwards.

*   Bizerca has moved into the ex-Gourmet Burger space in Heritage Square on Shortmarket Street.

*    Co-owner Abbi Wallis has taken over the running of The Stone Kitchen at Dunstone Winery in Wellington.

*   Marcelino has left Marcelino’s Bakery, leaving the control with Mr Zerban.  A Zerban’s style restaurant is being added onto the bakery and will open mid-October.  It will change its name to EuroHaus.

*   Chef Chris Erasmus from Pierneef à La Motte is doing a stage with Chef Rene Redzepi at Noma, the number one World’s 50 Best Restaurants, in Copenhagen this month

*   MasterChef SA runner-up Sue-Ann Allen is joining South Africa’s number one Eat Out Top 10 restaurant The Greenhouse as an intern for a month, from 21 August.

*   Vintage India has moved out of the Garden’s Centre to the corner of Hiddingh and Mill Street, around the corner.

*   Nook Eatery in Stellenbosch has been sold, with new owners.

*   Crêpe et Cidre has closed down in Franschhoek.  Gideon’s The Famous Pancake House has opened in its space.

*   Brampton winetasting bar on Church Street, Stellenbosch, is undergoing renovations to treble its current size, planning to reopen in the first week of September.

*   Noop restaurant in Paarl has new owners

*   Buena Vista Social Club has changed its name to Barbosa Social Club

*   Chris Marais is the new chef at Blaauwklippen, previously with The Oyster Box

*   Daniel de Villiers is the new chef at Grand Dedale in Wellington, previously with Delaire Graff

*   Phil Alcock is the new chef at Two Oceans Restaurant at Cape Point, having previously worked at The Cape Grace, The Showroom, maze, and more

*   Albert van der Loo, previously with Le Coq and Dieu Donne restaurants in Franschhoek, is the new Head Chef at Oude Werf Hotel in Stellenbosch.

*   Chef Emile Fortuin, who was at Reuben’s Robertson for a very short time, has left and moved to Tokara

*   Camil and Ingrid Haas (ex Bouillabaisse and Camil’s) have returned to Franschhoek, with the view to get involved in a restaurant

*   Chef Cheyne Morrisby has left The Franschhoek Kitchen at Holden Manz, and has joined the Mantella Group (owners of Blake’s and ex-Opal Lounge). Update: Chef Cheyne has left the Mantella Group, after a very short time.

*   Tiaan van Greunen is the new Executive Chef at Reuben’s at The Robertson Small Hotel, after the departure of Emile Fortuin

*   Alex von Ulmenstein is the new Restaurant Manager at Indochine, at Delaire Graff Estate

*   Manager Raymond Brown has left Reuben’s Franschhoek, and has been replaced by Martell Smith.

*   Zelda Oelofse is the new Manager of Harvest Restaurant at Laborie, having taken over from Yolanda Prinsloo.

*   Maryna Frederiksen is the new Executive Chef at The Franschhoek Kitchen at Holden Manz.

*   The ex-Caveau owners are said to be taking over the running of the Twankey Bar of the Taj hotel.

*   Sand at The Plettenberg hotel has changed its name to Seafood at The Plettenberg.

Restaurant breaks

*   Grande Provence is closing on Sunday evenings until the end of September.

*   Tokara is closing for a Spring break from 24 September – 4 October

*   Planet Restaurant is closed on Sunday evenings until the end of September

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

It is very bold to close down two restaurants in Stellenbosch, and to start from scratch in Cape Town.  This is what Sarah and Dup du Plessis have done, moving their two Café Dijon restaurants on Plein Street and at Zorgvliet in Stellenbosch into a most beautifully decorated space in the Rockwell Centre on Napier Street in Green Point, serving excellent Bistro food, one of the best French style restaurants in Cape Town.

When I first heard that Café Dijon was moving into the Rockwell Centre, my heart sank for the new venture, thinking that they were taking the space of Camil Haas’ Bouillabaisse, which closed down two years ago. But the Rockwell Hotel that operates from the building has made that space its bar, and created a small restaurant in the ex-Crepe Suzette space.

Café Dijon is in a space that once was a decor shop, facing Anatoli’s. Using In House designer Lawrence Holmes, the restaurant sports three ‘palm tree’ wood-cladded pillars, which not only add a most stunning decor imprint, but also hold downlighters, having a functional role too.  The original marble topped bar counter was transported across from the Plein Street branch, as were the bistro-style tables and chairs.  In raised sections near the stackable sliding doors new tables have been added, made from beautiful wood with an extra black section added, to make it look like slate. Here the bistro chairs have red striped or black and white check upholstery. A couch with blue and white striped upholstery provides seating for the tables in the lower section. The tables are allowed to show off their beauty and not hidden by a table cloth, but material serviettes and St Tropez cutlery add quality. Cape Herb & Spice Atlantic Sea Salt and Extra Bold Pepper grinders are on each table.  Laminated floors look like they are made from wine vats, with names of wine varieties.  At the entrance is a wooden structure, partly a ‘canopy’ containing downlighters, as well as a section in which wines can be stored, similar to the racking used to make champagne.  Near the bar small white and black floor tiles give an aged Bistro effect.  Bunches of San Pellegrino bottles with LED bulbs also create lighting, as do wine bottle-shaped lights hanging over the bar counter.  Interesting is a wall with names, which the designers created to honour some of the special people in Dup and Sarah’s life, with some French names added, e.g. Le Roux, Olivier, Du Buisson, and Mouton,  to suit the theme of the restaurant. The wall even contains the Zondernaam name, a brand name which Tokara owner GT Ferreira had to kill because it became more popular than its first brand, Dup told me. The walls have a green paint effect. Black canopies with the Café Dijon branding are due to be erected on the two sides of the restaurant.  I loved the big black table outside, which has been built around a tree.

The owners of Café Dijon are not French at all, but locals.  Johan (’Dup’) du Plessis grew up in the Banhoek valley, and his wife Sarah comes from Somerset West.  Sarah trained at Silwood Kitchen and then worked in Monaco for Sir David Brown of Aston Martin fame.  Dup grew up in a household in ‘which real men don’t cook’, but he did learn to, and they met at Deltacrest outside Franschhoek.   When it burnt down, they decided to open a ‘Thirties style bistro in Stellenbosch, opposite the Town Hall, offering classic French dishes and comfort food, which suited the design of the venue perfectly. Sarah and Dup started Café Dijon four years ago, and chose a cat for their logo, many Bistro’s having an animal name, explained Sarah.  In Stellenbosch an edict had banned cats in restaurants in the 1950’s, and Rose Jordaan’s grandmother had a black cat statue erected in front of the Stellenbosch library.  They live outside Franschhoek, and both are in the restaurant, Sarah looking after the kitchen until after lunch, while Dup stays on until they close in the evening.  Dup had a visitor when I ate there on Thursday, while Sarah was an excellent hostess, checking on her customers regularly.

A blackboard at the door advertised the specials: Angus beef burger R50; seared tuna with basil pesto R120; and the cheese of the day being Dalewood Brie at R60. The menu is printed on cream paper, and one is advised that food allergies should be shared with the waiter, as many dishes contain shellfish, garlic, dairy, or nuts, something one rarely sees on menus of late.  Dup is very proud of the Toulouse sausage which they make themselves from pork shoulder, nutmeg, garlic, and white wine, and he insisted that I try it as a starter. Amazingly, Sarah remembered how much I had enjoyed their duck liver paté at their Zorgvliet restaurant more than a year ago, and sent out a taster of it with home-baked ciabatta.  The sausage has a very mild taste, in contrast to the strong bite of the Dijon mustard. The sausage dish is usually a Bistro main course, two sausages served with pommes frites, a tomato and onion salad, and Dijon mustard, costing R70.  The paté is part of a charcuterie platter, served with parma ham and Felino salami, costing R65.  Other starters range from R55 – R 70, including steak tartare, calamari, trout, tomato tart, and marrow bones. Seven salad options include roasted beetroot, a classic Caesar, poached egg and bacon lardons, pear and Parma ham, grilled steak and rocket, and smoked duck breast, none costing more than R75.

Fish dishes are restricted to squid linguine (R75), and steamed West Coast mussels served with a white wine garlic, cream, and parsley sauce (R95).  For the main course I ordered from the Bistro section, being pork belly with pommes purée, puy lentils, a pork croquette, an apple and grain mustard jus, and pea shoots (R115), which I had not seen for some time.  The Bistro section also offers French onion soup, snails Bordelaise and chicken melanzane (R52 – R76 price range). Duck a L’Orange, served with confit duck leg, cabbage, bacon lardons, and an orange and Van der Hum sauce, sounds delicious, and good value at R120. A number of steak options are also offered, ranging from R115 for 200g Angus beef to R130 for fillet.  One can order sauces, vegetables, and salads as extras.

Desserts are very inexpensive at R35, and include Crème Brûlée, caramelised lemon tart, strawberry meringue (Eton Mess style), and chocolate profiteroles with caramel cream. I had a baked apple tartlet with almonds and honey, with a LavAzza cappuccino.  The cheese of the week costs R60.

The winelist offers three or four options per varietal, and it is disappointing that vintages are not specified on the paper winelist, which can easily be updated should the vintages run out.  Moët et Chandon NV and Veuve Clicquot cost around R550, while Pongracz, Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel, and Graham Beck Brut cost R175. Four Shiraz options are offered, ranging from Thelema’s Elgin Sutherland at R150, to Rust en Vrede at R375.  The winelist is dominated by Stellenbosch wines.

Café Dijon will become a welcome stop not only for lunch and dinner, but also in-between meals for a coffee, drinks, and tapas outside, which will be introduced shortly.  Ample parking is available underneath the building, on the opposite side. The service from Eric was very good, and there was not one sign that this restaurant had only been open for one week when I ate there.  The prices are very reasonable, and Dup and Sarah are hands-on, a definite plus.

POSTSCRIPT 5/9:  I popped in for a coffee and a Strawberry Meringue after a concert this evening, and was delighted that the restaurant was so busy. Yet a party of four left angry, saying that the food order was not brought to the table correctly, and that they had been overcharged. The owners had left early, the manager had the night off, and the chef had turned ill, leaving the busy restaurant in the hands of a junior team.  This is the second angry complaint we have received in the past week, in both instances the owners not being there. Best is to check if one or both owners will be there when booking.

Café Dijon, Rockwell Centre, Napier Street, Green Point.  Tel (021) 418-3910. www.cafedijon.co.za Twitter: @CafeDijonCT   Tuesday – Sunday lunch, Tuesday – Saturday dinner.

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

Our list of latest restaurant openings and closures fortunately lists more openings than closures, and will be updated continuously, as we receive information.

Restaurant Openings

*    De Grendel wine estate has opened De Grendel Restaurant, with Chef Ian Bergh and owner Jonathan Davies (photograph left)

*   Luke Dale-Roberts, Eat Out Top Chef, is to open a real test kitchen, called The Kitchen of Dreams, a private experimental place to develop new recipes, at the Old Biscuit Mill

*   Col’Cacchio has opened a new outlets in Westlake, and a new one is coming in Claremont too.

*   A new Vida é Caffe has opened on Prestwich Street, and a new branch is to open on Maindean Place in Claremont, and one in the new Wembley Square 2 development in July.  Two more branches are planned for Mauritius, it is said.

*   Madame’s on Napier has opened in De Waterkant

*   Hussar Grill is to open at Steenberg

*   Richard’s Supper Stage & Bistro has opened on Main/Glengariff Roads in Sea Point, as a dinner theatre, and Bistro restaurant, owned by Richard Loring and Roland Seidel

*    Honest Chocolate is opening a second outlet with a ‘production kitchen’ in the Woodstock Industrial Centre

*   The Fez has reopened as a nightclub on Friday, to be called Sideshow

*   West Street Café has opened in the new Woodstock Foundry, owned by Chef Alan West

*   Moyo is to open where the Paulaner Braühaus was in the V & A Waterfront in summer.  It has taken over the tearoom at Kirstenbosch too.

*   Josephine’s Cookhouse has opened in Newlands, belonging to the Societi Bistro owners

*   Vovo Telo has opened in the V&A Waterfront, in half of the original Vaughn Johnson shop. They have branches in Port Elizabeth, Pretoria, and Johannesburg already.  The name is Portuguese, and means ‘Grandfather’s place’.

*   Orinoco has opened on Bree Street, serving Mexican and Venezuelan food

*    Keenwa has opened the P.I.S.C.O Bar above its restaurants, open Thursdays – Saturdays from 5 pm

*   Characters has opened on Roeland Street

*   TRUTH Coffee has opened on Buitenkant Street

*    Planet Green Salad Bar has opened on Kloof Street

*    Liam Tomlin Food Studio and Store at Leopard’s Leap in Franschhoek is opening a Deli in September

*   FEAST is to open where Franschhoek Food Emporium was, in Place Vendome

*   Deluxe Coffeeworks has opened where Reuben’s Deli used to be in Franschhoek.

*   Okamai Japanese restaurant has opened at Glenwood wine estate in Franschhoek

*   Cavalli restaurant is said to open on the stud farm on R44, between Stellenbosch and Somerset West, this year or next

*   Dorpstraat Deli has opened in Stellenbosch, where Cupcake used to be.

*   De Oude Bank Bakkerij has opened a bar, serving Bartinney wines, and craft beers.

*    Slug & Lettuce is to open where Beads was on Church Street in Stellenbosch

*   Stables at Vergelegen Bistro has opened as a lunch restaurant in Somerset West.  Its Lady Phillips Restaurant is being given a make-over by Christo Barnard, and will open in June with a new name called The Vergelegen Restaurant.

*      Chef Jonathan Heath has left Indochine, and will be opening a restaurant at Coopmanshuijs on Dorp Street in August.

*   Chef Johan van Schalkwyk has left the Stone Kitchen at Dunstone Winery, and has opened his own restaurant Twist Some More in Wellington.

*    Chef Bjorn Dingemans is to open up The Millhouse Kitchen restaurant on Lourensford wine estate in Somerset West in July.

*   Grilleri (ex-Mediterrea) has closed down, and Chef Shane (ex-La Vierge) is now heading the re-named La Pentola restaurant.

*   Cassis Paris Salon de thé has opened in the Gardens’ Centre, on the first level.

*  Melissa’s has opened at Somerset Mall in Somerset West

*   Ali Baba Kebab (renamed from Laila) has opened as a small beef and lamb kebab take-away and sit-down outlet, next door to Codfather in Camps Bay

*   Gibson’s Gourmet Burger and Smoked Ribs has opened as a 70-seater restaurant in the V&A Waterfront, taking part of the Belthazar space. Owned by the Belthazar/Balducci group.

*   Giorgio Nava is said to be re-opening his Down South Food Bar, previously on Long Street, in the Riverside Centre in Rondebosch

*   Tamboers Winkel has opened on De Lorentz Street, just off Kloof Street, Gardens/Tamboerskloof *   Ou Meul Bakery from Riviersonderend is said to be opening a bakery in Long Street

*   Deluxe Coffeeworks is opening a roastery to service all its outlets, at the previous German Club and Roodehek Restaurant.

* The Deli on the Square is to open at Frater Square in Paarl in July.

*   David Higgs (ex Rust en Vrede) is opening a new 30 seater restaurant in The Saxon in Johannesburg.

*   Big Route Top Gourmet Pizzeria has opened on Main Road, Green Point, next door to Woolworths, serving 52 different pizzas, salads and crêpes.

Restaurant Closures

*   Valora on Loop Street has closed down

* Vanilla in the Cape Quarter has closed down.

*   Toro Wine and Aperitif Bar in De Waterkant has closed down

*    Gesellig on Regent Road in Sea Point is standing empty, closed down or undergoing a major renovation

*   Sapphire has closed down in Camps Bay

*   Caveau at Josephine’s Mill has closed

down and the Bree Street venue is up for rent

*   High Level Restaurant in Bo-Kaap has closed down

*   Caveau on Bree Street and Gourmet Burger on Shortmarket Street, belonging to the same owners, have been closed down by their bank.

*   Sabarosa in Bakoven has closed down.

Restaurant staff/venue changes

*    Il Cappero has moved from Barrack Street to Fairway Street in Camps Bay.

Table Thirteen has reduced in size in Green Point and will open in Paarden Eiland later this year. *   Chef Fred Faucheux is the new Executive Chef at Nobu.

*    Piroschka’s Kitchen has moved from Bree Street to Waterkant Street, De Waterkant

*  MasterChef SA finalist Guy Clark, who was eliminated in episode 9, has started as a chef at the Madame Zingara restaurant group, at Café Mozart and the Bombay Bicycle Club.

*   Rotisserie 360° on Bree Street has changed its name to Café Frank

*   Salt Deli has changed its name to Salt Café

*   The V&A Waterfront Food Court is closed for renovations until November.  A sign outside the construction area lists the following businesses moving into or returning to the area: Primi Express, Anat, Carnival, Nür Halaal, Royal Bavarian Bakery, KFC, Boost Juice, Simply Asia, Steers, Debonairs, Subway, Marcel’s, and Haagan Dazs.  Nando’s is also opening.

*   Chef Darren Badenhorst is the new Executive Chef at Grande Provence. Chef Darren Roberts has left for a new appointment in the Seychelles.

*     Alton van Biljon has been appointed as Restaurant Manager at Haute Cabriere.

*    Ryan’s Kitchen is now offering cooking classes on Friday mornings, starting on 1 June

*   Chef Shaun Schoeman of Fyndraai Restaurant at Solms Delta has the amazing honour to be working at Noma in Copenhagen for two weeks in July.  He also shared that Fyndraai will move to another building on the wine estate in November, and will offer fine dining.  The current restaurant will serve light lunches and picnics.

*  Taste South Africa, belonging to Cybercellar, has closed down in The Yard off the main road. They have Tweeted that they are looking for new premises.

*    Reuben’s, which was said to be moving its Franschhoek branch, appears to be staying at his existing venue, despite having bought another restaurant venue off the main road close to Place Vendome.  He is also thought to open a restaurant in his home on Akademie Street.

*   Emile Fortuin has been appointed as Executive Chef at Reuben’s Robertson

*   Sommelier Josephine Gutentoft has left Grande Roche, and starts at Makaron at Majeka House in July, F&B Manager Chretien Ploum having left

*   The Reserve will change its name to Reserve Brasserie next month. Seelan Sundoo, ex Grand Café Camps Bay and ex La Perla, is the new chef.

*   Haiku does not enforce the minimum 4 star order requirement in winter.

*   Café Dijon is closing its restaurant on Plein Street in Stellenbosch later in June, and re-opening in the Rockwell Centre in Green Point, Cape Town, where Camil Haas once had his Bouillabaisse restaurant.

*   Chef Andrew Mendes from closed down Valora is now at Nelson’s Eye restaurant, where they are setting up a lunch section and cocktail bar upstairs.

*   Miss K Food closed down in Green Point, now ex-owner Kerstin going on a well-deserved break after 5 years. The new owner Maurizio Porro, with his chef Ernesto, has kept the staff and furniture of Miss K, and most of her menu initially. By September they will have transformed themselves into an Italian fine-dining restaurant to be called Guilia’s Food Café Restaurant, and will be open from 8h00, as well as for dinner.

*   Rob and Nicky Hahn have left Proviant in Paarl, and now run eat @ Simonsvlei on the Old Paarl Road

*   Karl Lambour is the new General Manager of Grande Provence.

*   Virgil Kahn is the new head chef at Indochine at Delaire Graff

*   La Motte is said to be working on a relaunch of a restaurant it owns in Somerset West.

*   Having bought the farm about 18 months ago, Antonij Rupert Wines has taken over the Graham Beck Franschhoek property. They will re-open the tasting room in October, initially offering all its Antonij Rupert, Cape of Good Hope, Terra del Capo, and Protea wines to taste.  They are renovating the manor house, to which the Antonij Rupert and Cape of Good Hope wines will be moved for tasting at a later stage.

*   Chef Marco, who opened Rocca at Dieu Donné in Franschhoek, has returned to Durban.

*   Orphanage is expanding into a property at its back, opening on Orphan Street, in December, creating a similar second bar downstairs, and opening Orphanage Club upstairs, with 1920’s style music by live performers

Restaurant breaks

*   La Colombe is closing for renovations from 17 May – 16 June.

*   Constantia Uitsig is taking a winter break from 25 June – 24 July.

*   The River Café is closing for a winter break from 13 August – 4 September.

*   Nguni in Plettenberg Bay closes from 1 May – 31 July

*   Bientang’s Cave in Hermanus is closed for renovations until 21 June.

*   The Kove in Camps Bay will be closed from 1 May – 30 August

*    Burgundy in Hermanus will be closed for dinners until 17 June

*   Makaron Restaurant at Majeka House will be closed until 2 July

*   Olivello at Marianne Estate will be closed from 30 July – 21 August

*   Grande Provence is closing on Sunday evenings until the end of September.

*   Pierneef a La Motte will be closed from 18 June – 13 July.

*   The main Delaire Graff restaurant closes from 3 June – 6 July, but Indochine continues to trade.

*   Blues will be closed from 1 – 30 June

*   Waterkloof in Somerset West is closing for all June.

*   The Franschhoek Kitchen at Holden Manz is closed for all of June

*   Pure Restaurant at Hout Bay Manor will be closed from 23 June – 3 August

* L’Apero at the Grand Daddy Hotel is closed for repairs until 17 June

*   Charly’s Bakery closes between 23 June and 16 July.

*  Kitima is re-opening from its winter break on 17 July

*   Terroir, Kleine Zalze: Closed from 25 June – 9 July. Open for dinner only 10 – 13 July. Open for lunch and dinner 14 July. Open for lunch 15 July.

*   Pane e Vino is closing from 1 – 31 July

*   Bistro 1682 at Steenberg is closed from 1 – 26 July.

*   The Kitchen at Maison is closed until 3 August

*   De Oude Bank Bakkerij will be closed from 8 – 16 July

*   Massimo’s Pizza Club is closing from 23 – 31 July

*   Rust en Vrede is closed from 8 July – 6 August

*   Tokara is closed between 9 – 16 July

*   Reuben’s Franschhoek is closed from 16 July – 1 August

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

The Haute Cabrière wine cellar and restaurant are an institution in Franschhoek, having opened sixteen years ago, with a location on the slopes of the Franschhoek Pass that has one of the best views of the village.  Chef Matthew Gordon’s departure earlier this year allowed the Von Arnim family to take over the management of the restaurant, creating an opportunity for the restaurant interior to be redone, and for new chef Ryan Shell to be appointed, re-opening on 1 September.

The best part of the refurbishment is that the restaurant has received permission from the powers-that-be to serve guests outside, to capitalise on the beautiful view over the Franschhoek valley, which one does not see much of when sitting inside.  Winetasting too can now be done outside at special tables and chairs, outside the next-door cellar, home to the Saturday morning 11h00 cellar tour which ends with the Sabrage highlight.  Christiane von Armin, daughter-in-law of flamboyant legend owner Achim von Arnim, took on the restaurant project, and her first step was the furnishing.  She has added the most comfortable white leather chairs, and two white couches with a coffee table with a vase of deep red roses are a friendly homely welcome as one enters through the massive glass doors.  Achim is a painter too, and his works are hung in the restaurant and the wine cellar.  New chandeliers have been added, the glass crystals having an almost identical shape to the chair backs.  The winetasting room and restaurant are now visibly connected, in that a new window allows each side to see the other, and creates a display space for all the Haute Cabrière wines, best known for the Pierre Jourdan sparkling wines. Tables have white table cloths, and the abundance of white in the restaurant makes it look fresh.  French-style café music plays in the background.

Having tried to eat at the restaurant on Thursday evening (they only open in the evenings on Friday and Saturday in September), I returned yesterday for lunch and arrived just as Achim’s wife Hildegard, son Tamo, Christiane,  Jos Baker, and Ian and Lise Manley arrived, and I was privileged to be spontaneously invited by Christiane to join their table.   The Manleys have been appointed to handle the publicity for Haute Cabrière. Jos Baker was the first shareholder of the wine estate, and was a good friend of ‘Omi’ Theodora von Arnim, Achim’s mother, and Tamo regaled us with stories about what sounded like a wonderful colourful character. Jos still judges the San Pellegrino World’s Best 50 Restaurants, and is off to Europe shortly to do her judging. I got to know Jos as a member of Cape Town Slow Food, and she was the most creative planner of exciting events for the club.  Sadly she is no longer involved.

Exciting is the young chef Ryan Shell, who will position the Haute Cabrière restaurant as one of Franschhoek’s best again. Chef Ryan left the Prue Leith Chef’s Academy as a lecturer, and has worked in Franschhoek before, with Chef Margot Janse at Le Quartier Français, with Chef Chris Erasmus (now at Pierneef à La Motte) when at Ginja, and with Mike Bassett at Myoga. He has also worked at the Michelin-starred Longueville Manor on the Isle of Jersey.   His inspiration to cook came for his aunt, who encouraged him to go to chef’s school. Ryan says he is part of a team of eight making the cuisine magic happen, and that it is easy to do so in the beautiful cave-design building, to which guests come because they want to be there, making them easy to please.  His menu will evolve, much like the wines in the cellar next door, he says, and he has made three changes to the menu in the past ten days already, ensuring that it remains fresh.  Zelda Oelofse-Cornthwaite is the manager, and she has retained most of the previous Haute Cabriére restaurant staff, and has added Desiree, the previous manager of Bouillabaisse.  Staff wear white shirts and black pants, with a strongly branded red Haute Cabriére apron.  Their service is friendly and efficient.

The menu and wine list are presented in a black leather holder.  The menu introduction refers to the changes that have taken place in the restaurant, but that it is still committed to established traditions and the ‘true marriage between food and wine, setting the scene for our food to dance with our wines for your enjoyment’. What was started by Chef Matthew Gordon has been carried on by Chef Ryan, in that almost all dishes, even the desserts, are available in full and half portions, allowing one to taste a larger number of dishes, and making eating at the restaurant cost-effective.  Most of the Haute Cabrière wines are available by the glass too.  The table setting has a glass of sparkling wine on each table, and probably would make one order a glass of bubbly as a start.  We were offered a glass of Pierre Jourdan Cuvée Belle Rose.  The menu has a wine pairing recommendation for each dish, and dishes containing nuts are marked.

Chef Ryan impressed by coming to the table, to introduce his amuse bouche of a trio of roast tomato soup, prawn beignet, and buffalo mozzarella, tomato and onion salad.  His lovely freshly-baked bread was quickly finished.  The starter choices are Malay curried butternut soup with a lime prawn mousse and coconut (R30/60), very yummy duck liver parfait (left) served on blueberry toast, and a celery and orange salad (R45/65), confit lamb terrine filled with apricot (R40/60), and pickled beetroot salad (R35/55).   The six main courses offer a variety of choices, including meat, fish and vegetarian: braised pork belly is served with peach pommes puree, roasted porcini and a peanut froth (R60/R100), Beef Wellington (R76/R125), a beautiful light and healthy lasagna of Franschhoek salmon trout (right) with orange-buttered baby vegetables (R65/110), tomato and buffalo mozzarella tart (R50/90), crown roasted chicken breast with sweet corn couscous (R65/110), and porcini-crusted wildebeest loin served with a bitter chocolate jus (R75/145).

It is on the dessert side that Chef Ryan’s creativity really comes to the fore, in the elements the desserts are composed of.  I chose lemon thyme panna cotta, for its unusual addition of butternut anglaise, and was served with a blueberry tuille and grilled vanilla chiffon (R40/55).  Other options are bitter chocolate crème brûlee served with banana and rosemary beignets, mint syrup and sour cherry sorbet (R40/60); Pierre Jourdan poached pears served with molasses pudding and vanilla and rooibos ice cream (R30/55); and strawberry and champagne jelly served with spicy walnut ice cream (R40/60).  Coffee is by LavAzza.

The Pierre Jourdan Cap Classiques Brut, Cuvée Belle Rose, Brut Savage, and Blanc de Blanc range in price from R32/R129 to R42/R169.  The Cuvée Reserve is only available by the bottle, at R264.  Pierre Jourdan is honoured in the brand name, having been the first owner of the Cabriére wine estate.  Haute Cabriére Chardonnay/Pinot Noir 2010 (R27/109), Unwooded Pinot Noir 2011 (R30/119), Pinot Noir 2011 (R47/189); Pierre Jourdan Tranquille lower alcohol wine (R21/82); Pierre Jourdan Ratafia (R16/129) and Fine de Jourdan potstill brandy (R27/R219) are also offered, all at very reasonable prices.

Haute Cabriére Cellar Restaurant is an exciting reinvented rediscovery, and Chef Ryan is a breath of fresh air in this well-established restaurant.  It offers a good variety of creatively prepared dishes as well as wines at affordable prices.

POSTSCRIPT 30/10: Lovely lunch at Haute Cabriere today, and well looked after by Desiree and her staff. Spoilt with glass of Pierre Jourdan Cuvée Belle Rose.  Excellent tender fillet in Beef Wellington (starter portion), and interesting sour cherry sorbet, with cherry and cinnamon soup for dessert.

Haute Cabrière Cellar Restaurant, Franschhoek Pass, Monday – Sunday lunch, Friday and Saturday dinner (in September, from October lunch and dinners daily).  Tel (021) 876-3688. www.cabriere.co.za

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

The Salmon Bar at The Yard in Franschhoek recently re-opened in a new venue in the same centre, but now is visible to the main road.    The new venue has an odd shape, but its interior decor is marine-orientated, and it is far better able to communicate that it is all about salmon and trout, but also serves wonderful breakfasts, sells outstanding breads, as well as muffins, croissants and cupcakes, and excellent cappuccinos.  The restaurant seems to have got streets better since its re-opening at the beginning of December.

Judy Sendzul is the clever owner of The Salmon Bar at The Yard, which was previously located at a courtyard off the main road when it first opened three years ago, so it was especially popular amongst the Franschhoek locals, who liked the restaurant for its coffee, breakfasts, and salmon meals, to buy wonderful bread, and to sit at a restaurant table without the noise distrubance of trucks driving by on the main road.  Initially I was not a salmon fan, and therefore did not consider it for lunches, or even dinners, when these were introduced.  But that has changed.  The website describes the owner Judy as “chef, restaurateur, retail food product developer and marketer”.  She worked at Woolworths, developing new products for two years.   The Three Streams Smokehouse, a partner in the venture, also supplies Woolworths with salmon.   

When Bouillabaisse closed down, the developers of The Yard moved the Pam Golding offices to the Bouillabaisse space, and The Salmon Bar took the Pam Golding space, but also that of Schwartz jewellers behind it.  The result is a long thin extended restaurant, which almost divides itself into two sections: one near the ‘retail section’ of the restaurant and its pay point, and another set further back, towards the courtyard.  The space has been used cleverly, with a counter running down the length of most of the restaurant.  There are comfortable couches against the other wall, and modern white chairs.   I have always admired the modern wave-like glass shelves which The Salmon Bar uses to display its breads, and these were in use in the old location already.   Being focused on marine decor ourselves at Whale Cottage, it is a pleasure to see another business’ fish focus, with an engraved outline of a fish in the ceiling, linked to a slogan:  “We source our fish responsibly and cook it simply for breakfast, lunch and dinner”.  A wooden fish collage has been hung up behind the couches, and fishes have been painted on the wall above the trout and salmon fridges.  The table number has a fish on it. On another wall there is another saying: “Produced and passionately hand made in Franschhoek”.   The menu says “We source responsibly and cook simply”. 

The Salmon Bar describes itself as “Restaurant, Bar, Deli, Bakery” on its menus.  There are two menus, one for Breakfast, which is served until midday, and one for the other meals of the day, available throughout the day.  The Breakfast menu is a small laminated menu, printed on both sides, and offers a large variety of interesting and unusual choices: croissants cost R15; pain au chocolate R15; muffins R22; toast, grape jam and Huguenot cheese costs R30; a croissant with oak smoked Royale Highlands trout and cream cheese costs R45;  scrambled eggs and toast are my favourite, served plain at R30, R35 with tomato relish added, and R40 with bacon; lemon scrambled eggs with trout and crème fraîche cost R55; poached eggs (R30); fried eggs and bacon cost R40; boiled eggs and soldiers (R35); frittata and chorizo R55; bagel and scrambled egg with bacon or trout costs R45; ricotta hotcakes, berries and crème fraîche cost R40; and mushrooms on toast with ham R60.  Cappuccino is charged at R15. 

Cleverly the winelist is printed on a wine bottle, and is a small selection of mainly Franschhoek wines, heavily weighted to those from Boekenhoutskloof.  There are five white wines, starting at R25/R90 for Porcupine Ridge Sauvignon Blanc, and for the Wolftrap Viognier Chenin Blanc, to R55/R220 for the Boekenhoutskloof Semillon.  “Pink wines” offered are Wolftrap (R25/R90) and Haut Espoir (R33/R130).  Five red wines start at Wolftrap Syrah Mourvedre Viognier (R25/R90), and The Chocolate Block costs R60/R260.   “Fine wines” cost R900 for Bollinger, Krone Borealis Cuvée MCC 2007 costs R35/R170, and Krone Rosé Cuvée R45/R220.

The main menu is A3-sized, and one side sketches the “Journey of the Royale Highlands Trout”: the eggs are hatched in Franschhoek.  The fingerlings are transported to the Lesotho Highlands, where the clear and cold water of the Katse Dam is ideal for farming trout. Then the full-grown trout are returned to Franschhoek, where they are cured and smoked.   On the other side, the extensive, unusual and unique salmon and trout focused menu is printed.   Sashimi is offered, 6 pieces of salmon cost R65 and 6 pieces of tuna R75.   “Japanese tapas” offered is salmon and prawn pot stickers – there was far more salmon than prawn in these, and the manager agreed that it is predominantly made from salmon, and explained that the prawn content is finely chopped.  I would have expected a 50/50% prawn and salmon content. One could not taste the prawns at all (R35); grilled whitefish (R45); the prawn rice noodle spring roll was crunchy, containing mange tout, with a delicious crispy ‘wrapper’, but containing chilli and therefore had quite an afterbite! (R30); and Oshi Zushi (pressed salmon sushi – R35/R70).  “Smoked and cured” offerings are Loch Duart Scottish salmon and toast (R85), and a smoked salmon platter (R125).   Trout paté costs R55, prawns Marie Rose R85; Teriyaki salmon bites R85; New Zealand mussels R65; and Richard’s cured meats R75.   Salads are unusual too: grilled Yakitori salmon salad, with seaweed and mushrooms (R98); yellow fin tuna (R75); hot smoked trout Niçoise (R85); spicy pear salad (R55); and a 4-cheese platter costs R85.   “Grills” available are linefish (R85); fish cakes (R65); Franschhoek trout (R75); Loligo squid (R65); and prawn/salmon Tom Yum” (R55). 

The Deli sells Tokara olive oils, as well as jams, honey, cheese, trout, salmon paté, and a wonderful collection of breads – the dough is supplied by Knead Bakery, and baked on the premises: buttermilk rye, light rye, ciabatta with olives, multi-seed health bread, fruited muesli, and barley, potato and rosemary bread, ranging in price from R22 – R28.  Baguettes cost R12.  One can also buy Black Tiger prawns, tuna, mussels, Norwegian salmon, Rainbow Trout, Richard Bosman’s Quality Cured Meats, and home-made mayonnaise. 

I love going to The Salmon Bar, with really friendly staff, and a chef who is willing to bend the rules about which of their lovely breads may be used to make toast.  Parking always seems to be available outside on the main road.   The prices charged are reasonable, and the restaurant has a niche untouched by any other in Franschhoek or the Western Cape.

The Salmon Bar at The Yard, 38 Huguenot Road, Franschhoek.  Tel (021) 876-4591.  www.salmonbar.com (The website lists the menus and winelist, and each page has a beautiful salmon shot, but the general food items are not featured due to the lack of an Image Gallery. Some photographs of the interior are of the previous location).  Open Monday – Sunday 8h00 – 21h00.

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

Let me admit at the outset that I was sceptical as we set off to our dinner on Saturday evening at the new Reuben’s at the One&Only Cape Town, which opened last Wednesday.  I need not have been.  I was overwhelmed by how outstanding the food and service was, with fair prices for the food, but with generally more expensive dishes than those at Reuben’s in Franschhoek, and with very high prices for mostly exceptional wines.  Reuben’s at the One&Only Cape Town is a ‘grown-up’ and sophisticated Reuben’s, the best Reuben’s by far!

I have never written a review about Reuben’s Restaurant, despite it having been my favourite ever since I stumbled upon it in June 2004, when it first opened in Franschhoek.  Immediately I felt it was a restaurant for me, and it became my favourite, and we recommended it passionately to our Whale Cottage Franschhoek guests.  The initial service levels, which made Reuben’s the top of the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurants as well as Reuben Riffel the Top Chef six months after opening, could not be maintained, and gradually the service levels dropped, starting with the telephonic bookings, down to rude service from the then-sommelier/manager.

A review of the new Reuben’s needs to trace back the history of its opening at the One&Only Cape Town.  It is well-known that Gordon Ramsay’s maze opened at the hotel in April 2009, and that the contract with the restaurant was abruptly cancelled by the hotel at the end of July.  Reuben Riffel was tipped to open in Ramsay’s place, but Reuben denied this to us and to the media.   Clare McKeon-McLoughlin of Spill Blog confidently predicted Reuben’s appointment, even though Reuben had not yet made a final decision nor signed the contract.  We were told that her disclosure caused mayhem in the hotel, as staff at the hotel did not know about the appointment, and that the then Hotel PRO Etienne de Villiers’ supposed “endorsement” of the apppointment in the Spill blog post was untruthful, and may have led to his recent departure from the hotel.   It would appear that an Irish maze staff member, who has since returned to London, was the mole, spilling the beans to Spill.   In less than a month after the announcement of Reuben’s appointment, the restaurant has opened its doors at the One&Only Cape Town, and is confidently trading.   In terms of this controversy, Reuben says he prefers to stay out of it and remain in the kitchen!

When I made the booking on the morning of our dinner, the restaurant answered as “Restaurant at One&Only”, the interim name that the restaurant had before Reuben’s opened.   We were allowed to park in the basement of the hotel, and there is no charge.  When we walked into the restaurant, we could not help but feel that we were in maze.  I was looking for the Brasserie that Reuben had been quoted to be opening at the One&Only Cape Town, but we could not see it.  The same horrid carpet and massive orange lampshades are still there.   The furniture has not changed, although the table tops have been varnished and the Reuben’s name engraved into them.  Other than branding on the chic black and burgundy staff aprons, on the lift list, and on the menu, there is no Reuben’s branding outside or inside the restaurant.  Surprisingly, the orange/brown colouring of the maze interior matches Reuben’s rust brown colour scheme almost perfectly.   We were critical of the maze interior when we went there soon after its opening last year.  Reuben says that the interior will be amended in three stages, with the tables completed, and bistro boards with specials going up shortly.   The interior decorator that Reuben’s has used in Franschhoek and Robertson will be coming this week to see how she can soften the harsh hotel interior.

The maze and Reuben’s marriage will take some time to gel to the benefit of the new restaurant.   From maze the restaurant has inherited the decor, all the waitrons (there was no shortage of staff on the floor), managers and also kitchen staff, the outstanding sommelier Andre Bekker and his Diamond award-wining Diner’s Club Restaurant Winelist, a wine library of over 700 wines, the choice of three breads baked by the kitchen, and the waitron service standards that have been set in the past, being much higher than those of Reuben’s in Franschhoek.   From Reuben’s comes the menu, the little coarse salt pots on the tables, a far more informal style of dress (the ties of the managers have come off), a more relaxed interaction with customers, something that was not encouraged at maze, as well as new serving dishes and some cutlery.  The One&Only staff were trained by Reuben’s wife Maryke about their service standard, the menu and the food.  The staff have tasted the dishes, and are still doing so as Reuben fine-tunes the menu for the official 1 October start.   The winelist and the menu are miles apart, and need to find each other, the former being very expensive and also out of character with the Brasserie feel which Reuben’s wants to create, and with the winelists in Franschhoek and in Robertson.

The exact relationship between Reuben Riffel and the One&Only Cape Town is unclear, but the hotel employs and pays the Reuben’s kitchen and waitron staff.   The brief was for Reuben to get the best kitchen staff possible.  This reduces the risk for Reuben, and means that he is compensated for his brand name and for his time through a share of the turnover.   Having a room at the hotel is a fringe benefit the Reuben’s Franschhoek staff are enjoying when they come through to town.  The arrangement with the hotel has allowed Reuben to appoint Camil Haas, previous owner of Bouillabaisse in Franschhoek and Green Point and of Camil’s in Green Point, to substitute for him at the One&Only Cape Town and in Franschhoek from October, giving each of these two Reuben’s a heavyweight chef every day.   In addition, Maritz Jacobs, previously of Le Quartier Français and 15 on Orange hotel, is the new Head Chef at the One&Only Cape Town, meeting Reuben’s requirement for a young and energetic chef.  The Pastry Chef is René Smit.  Reuben is called the Concept Chef on the menu, as he is on the Reuben’s menus in Franschhoek and in Robertson.  Samantha Housden from Tank will be joining as the Restaurant Manager on 1 October.  Reuben recently bought out his Boekenhoutskloof partners Tim Rands and Marc Kent, who helped him set up the business six years ago.  He says this gives him new flexibility to make decisions more quickly, and to steer his business where he wants it to go.

The menu is A3 in size, and has the same format as that in Franschhoek and Robertson.  It is neatly divided into a Starters, Main Courses and Desserts section, as well as a mini Vegetarian menu of Starters and Main Courses, a Fish and Seafood section, as well as Side Orders.   In future it will also carry the names of the special suppliers of fine organic produce that Reuben’s will be sourcing.   The menu content in terms of dishes offered is vastly different at the new Reuben’s, compared to the Franschhoek branch.  The menu is being fine-tuned in the next 10 days before the official opening, and has already seen changes in the first four days of its operation.

A small bowl of olives was brought to the table, as was three types of bread: a baguette, tomato bread and black olive bread.   Butter was on the table, as was a bottle of Willowcreek olive oil.  I ordered Asparagus with a hollandaise and orange reduction (R60) as a starter from the Vegetarian section, which was topped with the most wonderful micro-herbs, being miniature coriander, basil and rocket, and adding the most wonderful taste to this dish, beautifully presented on a glass dish.   Other starters are oysters at R25 each, pickled veal tongue (R60), chilli salted baby squid and shredded duck salad at R70 each, salmon tartar and cured venison at R75 each, mussels (R80), and a white asparagus and langoustine salad (R110).

My main course was the most wonderful kingklip (R140) – a good portion of firm fish, served with the unusual combination of avocado, on a bed of mash (I chose it to be plain, but the menu specified it to be tumeric mash), and with crunchy Chinese cabbage, a mint salsa and coconut cream.   The same micro-herbs served as garnish for the dish, and again added a unique taste to round off the dish, the best kingklip I have ever eaten.  My only criticism was that a serrated knife instead of a fish knife was served.  My colleague had Karoo lamb curry (R135), served in a bowl, with sambals (yoghurt and pineapple, and chopped tomato and cucumber) and basmati rice in a tiny iron pot, presented on a separate dish.    She loved the genuine Cape Malay taste of it, and picked up garlic and ginger notes, as well as jeera, cardamom and barishap spices in her lamb stew, with dhania leaves on top.  She called it “hemelse kos”, it tasted so good!   Other Main Course options are lamb rack (R175); ostrich fillet, 180 g beef fillet and a 450 g rib-eye steak at R 170 each; quail saltimbocca (R130); 240g sirloin and pork belly at R125 each; veal tripe (R120); and Reuben’s faithful wonderful calf’s liver at R115.  Other Fish options were yellowtail (R110) and Tandoori spiced prawns (R170).   Side orders cost R 35, but all main courses come with a starch and a vegetable.

For dessert my colleague had Muskadel crème with poached hanepoot grapes, ginger crumble and raspberry ice cream, in a glass bowl and served on a slate plate.  Slate is used extensively at Jordan’s Restaurant with George Jardine, and to a lesser extent at Jardine’s.  My dessert was a fascinating Lemon and olive oil custard, to which was added cocoa crumble, a half-round thin slice of chocolate as well as Swiss chocolate mousse, finished off with edible gold paper which I thought the kitchen had forgotten to take off!   Desserts cost R65, expensive I felt, but the portions were generous.  Other desserts are a seasonal fruit compote, Amarula scented malva pudding, Tequila sundae, and a bitter chocolate fondant, the latter costing R80.  I felt, on the basis of two desserts, that the desserts needed more work.  My cappuccino did not arrive at the same time as the dessert, as requested, and was not very foamy.  It was immediately replaced with one in a bigger cup size, and was very foamy.  Petit fours were brought to the table after the dessert plates were cleared, also on a slate plate.

The sommelier Andre has been at the hotel almost since it opened, and he says that the winelist has not changed much from its impressive start.   They have added wines bought at the Nederburg and CWG auctions, as well as garagiste and boutique winery brands.   Some international wine prices have been reduced over time, and some local wine prices have increased.   The 37-page winelist will be changed, the lengthy introduction to the South African wine industry to be removed.  I disliked the division of the wines by region, and then by varietal on the maze winelist, but this will not change.  It means that if one likes drinking a Shiraz, for example, one has to check through every region’s Shirazes to check which one to order.  It could take one  a whole evening to wade through the many wines on offer, including 50 wines-by-the-glass, 32 champagnes, and 18 MCC sparkling wines, as well as wines imported from France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, the USA, and Australia.   I did not like the file/folder look of the winelist, and do not remember it looking like this at maze.   Its practicality in updating vintages and prices is an obvious advantage.  The yellowish cover of the wine list does not match the Reuben’s colour scheme.   Wines-by-the-glass can be served in 50ml, 150ml and 250 ml quantities, making the expensive wines a little more affordable by reducing the quantity one drinks!  Wine flights in three’s are also available, by region or by varietal.   I chose a glass of 2006 Glen Carlou Shiraz, which cost R 72 for a 150ml glassful – 50ml cost R24, and 250ml R120.   The 2005 Luddite Shiraz prices were R37/R112/R187 per glass.  The 2007 Brampton cost R9/R28/R47.  Migliarina Shiraz 2006 cost R17/R52/R87.  A glass of 150ml of bubbly cost R260 for Ayala ‘Rose’ Majeur, R200 for Billecart Salmon Brut, R98 for Graham Beck Rosé, R49 for Graham Beck Brut, and R44 for Villiera.   It is clear that the wine prices are exceptionally high.  Andre spoilt me with a complimentary glass of dessert wine.

We felt privileged that Reuben came out of the kitchen to sit and chat with us.  He intends to come out of the kitchen a lot more in future, and having chefs working for him will allow him to do this.  Starters will be prepared behind the counters inside the restaurant in future, to allow diners to connect with the food preparation and the kitchen staff too.   Reuben is working on creating synergy in the menus for his three Reuben’s, yet having unique items on each menu that reflect what customers like in each area.  At the One&Only Cape Town the calf’s liver is extremely popular, he says, as is his Veal tripe (‘Pens en Pootjies’).   We were struck by Reuben’s humility and quiet confidence that he has made the right decision by opening his latest Reuben’s at the One&Only Cape Town.  He recognises that service levels can improve in Franschhoek, and he sees a benefit of exchanging his staff between the two locations, so that the One&Only Cape Town service standards can become those of the Franschhoek staff too.    There will be no launch function, Reuben preferring to quietly open and delivering on the expectations of a more demanding Cape Town as well as international clientele.   Reuben’s staff also prepare the hotel breakfasts.

We will recommend Reuben’s at the One&Only to our Whale Cottage Camps Bay guests with confidence, and we will return.

Reuben’s at the One&Only Cape Town, One&Only Cape Town, V&A Waterfront.  Tel (021) 431-5888. www.reubens.co.za (The new restaurant is not yet listed on the Reuben’s website, nor on the One&Only Cape Town website).  Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Monday – Sunday.

POSTSCRIPT 20/9: Samantha Housden’s restaurant experience includes launching London’s Level 7 Café at the Tate Modern Gallery and managing the Eyre Brother’s restaurant owned by the godfather of gastro-pub cuisine David Eyre.  She started Cilantro in Hout Bay, having been its chef too.  She has left Tank to join Reuben’s at the One&Only Cape Town.

POSTSCRIPT 25/9: We returned for dinner a week later, and met the new Restaurant Manager Samantha Housden for the first time.   She came to check on our table regularly, as did Marcus, an interim manager.  Due to a strong attempt to upsell us by a waiter, we asked for waiter Victor, who had served us the previous week, and his service was as good as ever.   The recognition by the staff from our visit a week ago was impressive – from the hostess as we arrived (I had used my son’s name for the booking this time), to the sommelier Andre and the waiter Victor remembering specific requests and likes from a week ago – in line with Reuben’s Franschhoek.   Disappointingly the food was not as good as it was a week ago – the kingklip was undercooked and did not have the lovely microherbs (but a generous portion was brought to the table when I asked about them) and the sirloin had lots of sinews.   Reuben was in the kitchen, and spontaneously came to say hello.  I was delighted to hear that sommelier Andre has heeded our feedback, and will revise the winelist, to arrange it by varietals, and to mention the regions, which will make wine selection much easier in future. 

POSTSCRIPT 14/1:   I arrived in good spirits, and was shocked at the disappointing food quality and service.   Although the telephonist tried to put through my call three times, so that I could check if I could still get a table at 22h00, no one in the restaurant answered the phone.  I decided to arrive anyway.   I was warmly received by the hostess, and discovered immediately that Manager Samantha Housden is no longer at Reuben’s.  The evening shifts were getting to her, I was told.  Kagiso Mmebe is the new Manager, and started three weeks ago, having been a lecturer in Restaurant Practice at the University of Johannesburg.  A sweet waitress Unite took my order efficiently, and that is where her service support ended.  She brought butter and olives, but never came with the bread.  I had to ask a manager for it.  It was explained to me that Unite is a runner, being trained up to be a waitress, but she wears the same colour shirt as do the waiters, so one cannot identify her lesser skills.  She is meant to work under the guidance of a waiter, but this did not happen.   I ordered the baby chicken main course (R135), which was not cooked properly, even after sending it back once.   My choice of carrots with vanilla and honey as the side-dish was an excellent one.   The wild mushroom sauce tasted strongly of an Oxo stock cube, with not a piece of mushroom to be seen.  The sauce was taken away, and mushrooms added.  I had to ask for a finger bowl.  The wine steward Tinashe Nyamudoka was wonderful, just taking my wine order and pouring the Glen Carlou Shiraz 2004 at the table, as requested.   The frozen espresso cake with a berry coulis and an odd-looking meringue was excellent (R65).   Assistant Manager Marcus Isaacs kindly took the chicken off the bill.  It was disconcerting to hear from the staff that Reuben Riffel has barely been seen at the restaurant in the past two weeks, although Marcus disagreed.   Camil Haas is not at Reuben’s One&Only at all anymore.  There is no sign of any further decor changes, after the curtains were opened.  The new summer menu, launched last week, has very understated Reuben’s branding, and does not look like a Reuben’s menu anymore, and there is no listing of the names of the chefs on it anymore – not even Reuben’s name is mentioned!  Chef Aviv Liebenberg from Reuben’s Franschhoek (and previously Robertson) has been moved to Cape Town, working with Chef Maritz.   I could not help but be concerned as to where Reuben’s in the One&Only Cape Town is heading – it certainly is no longer a-maze-ing!

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

Franschhoek still officially carries the Gourmet Capital crown, even though it faces strong competition from Stellenbosch, which is seeing the opening of an increasing number of excellent restaurants, so much so that we recently suggested that the town establish the Stellenbosch Restaurant Route.

Franschhoek probably has sat back on its gourmet laurels for a while, but must be delighted about the opening of two new excellent restaurants, Ryan’s Kitchen and Pierneef à La Motte, which add new interest to Franschhoek as a culinary destination.  In fairness to Franschhoek, I have suggested a Franschhoek Restaurant Route:

*   Pierneef à La Motte is culinary art, and has upped the quality of Franschhoek’s restaurant choice.  Its focus is Winelands Boerekos with a contemporary twist.  Chef Chris Erasmus is a breath of fresh air, working with historic recipes and transforming them into works of art,  reflecting Pierneef’s standards.  Tel (021) 876-8000

*   Grande Provence  is quietly delivering quality cuisine, with chef Darren Roberts doing the most beautiful presentation of his food.   The restaurant is not afraid to charge  a price that reflects his standards of cooking.   Outstanding decor, and surrounded by artwork from its Gallery.  Perfection is visible from the time one drives into the wine estate.  Top 10 restaurant for the past two years. Tel (021) 876-8600.

*   The Tasting Room is loved by some, but not by all.  It is expensive.  It seems to have good nights and bad nights.  Joint 10th with Overture on Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant List last year.  Tel (021) 876-2151

*   Ryan’s Kitchen has only been open for three months, set in a guest house,  with a high-tech kitchen, and quality cuisine by chef Ryan Smith.  “Contemporary South African cuisine” is the restaurant positioning, and a stronger African feel will be introduced in October, with a “Taste of Africa” menu.   Tel (021) 876-4598

*   Reuben’s has been the darling of Franschhoek, and a recent Tweet stated that it is the restaurant that tourists visit, while those that know go to Le Bon Vivant.   Opened 6 years ago, the restaurant’s service standards have dropped as Reuben’s has expanded to Robertson, and chef Reuben Riffel has taken on more projects.  Recently lost the sommelier to Bosman’s, but may not be a bad thing for the restaurant, as she was not very customer-friendly.  The biggest compliment to Reuben and his team, but also the largest challenge, in opening Reuben’s at One&Only Cape Town  (A first meal at the new Reuben’s was a-maze-ing).   Tel (021) 876-3772

*   Allee Bleue has been very low key restaurant-wise, and it is uncertain exactly where the management wants to go with its dining options.  The Bistro at the entrance to the wine estate has always been friendly, and serves Bistro-style food at reasonable prices.  The departure of Chef Dane Newton is a shame, but with his replacement currently working at the Michelin-starred Schwarzer Adler, interesting things could be coming out of this kitchen soon. Tel (021) 874-1021

*   Cafe Bon Bon is one of the most relaxed and friendly breakfast and lunch-time stops in Franschhoek, on a most beautifully developed small-holding.  Tel (021) 876-3936

*   Haute Cabriere is owned by Franschhoek restaurant mogul Matthew Gordon.  While many find the ‘cave’-like interior a shame given the beautiful view outside, it remains popular, also as a wedding venue, and has a good relationship with Cabriere wines. Tel (021) 876-3688

*   La Petite Ferme is one of the best known restaurants with consistent quality and does not amend its menu much.  Visitors return, not only for the quality food but also for the wonderful view over Franschhoek, and for the relaxed atmosphere.  Tel (021) 876-3016

*   Dieu Donné also has an excellent view from its glass ‘walls’.   Its food quality was better when it first opened about two years ago. Tel (021) 876-2493

*   Le Bon Vivant is tucked away, off the main road, and is a ‘loner’, doing its own thing.  Beautiful presentation of food by chef Pierre. Tel (021) 876-2717

*   Rickety Bridge has a restaurant right at the vineyards, and offers picnics in summer.  Tel (021) 876-2129

*   French Connection is another Matthew Gordon restaurant, and is a pedestrian favourite of locals and tourists.  Good main road location.  Serving breakfast as well now.  Tel (021) 876-4056

*   Dutch East was struggling when we visited it in June.  It seemed to be trying too hard.   There is no particular style of food served.   Tel (021) 876-3547

*   Chez d’Or was previously Cafe Rouge, and has expanded its size, and brought the restaurant closer to the main road.   Sandwiches and pedestrian Bistro food.   Tel 082 372 7645

*   Allora is a good quality Italian restaurant.  Despite sister-restaurants in Johannesburg, the welcome is personal and one does not get a chain-feel at all. Good value family eating.  Tel (021) 876-4375.

*   Col’Cacchio is one of a chain by the same name, and one can predict what is on offer.  Not the best service, but very popular for outside sitting.   Tel (021) 876-4222

*  Boschendal– other than going there for historical reasons, or to eat their long-standing buffet lunch, there is little to attract one to an estate that does not yet embrace excellence, a shame given its heritage.  Its Le Piqniques are well-known and very popular in summer.   Tel (021) 870-4272

*   Fyndraai at Solms-Delta wine estate is a pleasant surprise, with interesting Kaapse kos.  On good weather days, sitting on the terrace is a treat.  Tel (021) 874-3937

*   Cotage Fromage is a joint venture between Matthew Gordon, Duncan Doherty and Pierre Smith, serving breakfasts and lunches, and doing the catering for wedding and other events at Vrede & Lust.   The menu does not reflect the capabilities of the three chefs.   Tel (021) 874-3991

*   The Grillroom is another Matthew Gordon restaurant, and fills a niche for patrons wanting mainly steak.  Unique restaurant in that one can buy good quality meat to take home too, as well as Franschhoek wines.   Tel (021) 876-2548

*   Cafe des Arts has taken over from Topsi’s, a Franschhoek institution.  Topsi still appears to be there regularly. (Tel (021) 876-2952

*   Salmon Bar is undergoing a renovation in part of the old Bouillabaisse building, which will enhance its visibility when it re-opens in November. Tel (021) 876- 4591

*   Bread & Wine is linked to Le Quartier Français, and only serves lunches.  Previously included in Eat Out Top 10 list, to the surprise of many. Good bread and charcuterie.  Tel (021) 876-3692.

*   Mon Plaisir is on the Chamonix estate, and is owned by a French couple offering French fare.  Little ambiance inside the restaurant.  Tel (021) 876-2393

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

I had only heard good things about Ryan’s Kitchen, which opened on the Franschhoek main road almost three months ago. The restaurant is an asset to Franschhoek, Ryan Smith being a creative chef with a passion for contemporary food. What makes the restaurant interesting is that it is small and cosy, seating a maximum of 50 guests inside and out, in what is the breakfast room of guest house Rusthof in the morning, and the dining room for lunch and dinner for Ryan’s Kitchen. It is an ideal main road location for Ryan’s Kitchen, and its new bright neon sign must be an irritation for the local Aesthetics Committee, which likes to approve all design elements in the town.

Ryan is a Capetonian, who left the Mother City at 16, and has spent the past 16 years around the globe, on Crystal cruise ships, in the Middle East, in the UK, and even in St Petersburg, where he met his lovely wife Lana at the Astoria Hotel. Four years ago he returned to his ‘homeland’, and joined Mange Tout restaurant as chef at Mont Rochelle Hotel in Franschhoek. Then came the big step of setting up his own kitchen restaurant. The restaurant is so small inside that one’s table can be against the kitchen counter, allowing one to chat with Ryan while he is preparing the food. The high tech stainless steel kitchen and the restaurant country-cottage decor are a contradiction, especially as far as the chairs are concerned, which look dated and are not particularly attractive. Good quality napery, cutlery, crockery and glassware is on the table. Lana is assisted by staff in taking orders for the food and wine, and a number of waiters looked familiar from previous restaurants they had worked at (Allee Bleue and Bouillabaisse, amongst others).

When Lana handed the menu to us, she told us that Ryan’s Kitchen served “South African contemporary food”. I wasn’t sure what that meant, as it seemed a dish here and there were South African in nature, but that the bulk of them are cosmopolitan. The menu is printed on hardboard, with the distinctive Ryan’s Kitchen logo of a collection of hanging kitchen utensils, one of few restaurants I know to have a logo. The winter special of R 195 for three courses, including a glass of wine, only offers one choice per course (seared yellowfin tuna, Elgin chicken breasts and poached sago pudding). The a la carte menu offers five starters and mains each, and four desserts are offered. The starters range from R68 – R88, and include Madagascar prawns, Green Asparagus (with spiced veal and red pepper mince), duckliver parfait ‘peri-peri’, organic beetroot tapioca, and pickled butterfish ‘Cape Malay’.

We were offered a choice of three breads, and an amuse bouche of braised spicy chicken with eggplant and butternut foam. It was more generous than a normal amuse bouche, and the butternut taste dominated, I felt. I was unsure what to eat it with, the spoon served with it, but I preferred a fork. There was no salt or pepper on the table, and we were not offered any during the meal. When I asked for salt to have with the bread, it was brought to the table. I forgot to ask Ryan why it is not on the table. My colleague had the butterfish, and we could not believe how beautifully it was plated and presented. She loved it.

I had seen calf’s liver on a previous menu, and asked Ryan if he would have it available on the menu on the night we ate there. Despite it having been taken off the menu, he had arranged a slice of liver for me, which he served with soft yummy pork-belly, mash, spinach and chicory, garnished with pea sprouts, once again beautifully presented. The liver was prepared medium rare, absolutely perfect. Main course options are veal sweetbreads, beef fillet, Kalahari game duo, fish of the day, and creamed African samp, ranging from R95 – R128, fair prices given how expensive some restaurants have become. For dessert I had an Amarula Parfait, which had a chocolate biscuit base with peppermint crisp chips, a soft caramel centre inside the parfait, and grass green peppermint liqueur foam, which had an almost marshmallow texture. The colours in my colleague’s Ginger Malva were on the brown side, not as attractive as my colourful dessert. Desserts range from R 50 – R 60, and a selection of cheeses costs R80. A surprise was the cost of the cappuccino at R 20 – rarely have I seen it charged anywhere at such a high price, even if it is LavAzza. However, it was served with a platter of three mini-desserts of strawberries and cream, a carrot cake delight, and chocolate malva with beetroot caramel, which made the coffee good value, but we had already eaten a dessert each. I was also surprised to see a charge for a ‘palate cleanser’ (Kumquat sorbet) of R15.

The winelist is presented in a blue plastic folder, and could be improved, with loose sheets being replaceable should pricing or availability change, but the pages were coming out of the folder. The wine selection is very proudly-Franschhoek, which is commendable. Vintages are indicated, as well as the ‘flavour’ of each wine described. I had a glass of Jean Daneel Initial, a Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon blend, not my normal choice, but a very pleasant wine to match the liver.   The MCC sparkling wines include the increasingly popular pink bubblies – Graham Beck Brut Rose (R170) and Pierre Jourdan Cuvee Belle Rose (R210).  Shiraz options are Kleinood Tamboerskloof (R 190), Mont Rochelle (R210) and Waterford Estate Kevin Arnold (R250).

The staff was professional in their service, except for stretching across us to take cutlery away – a pet peeve. I did not like seeing the kitchen being mopped at the end of the evening, but that is the price one pays when one has a table close to the open kitchen, and one eats later. The kitchen looked spotless on completion of the cooking, and dishes must have been washed up elsewhere. Only once did we hear a clang from the kitchen, and it must be tough on staff to keep things calm and quiet. Ryan delegates very little in the kitchen, or so it seems, yet he made time to chat to the guests at the tables not as close to his work station as ours. He is proudly awaiting a new stove, to make soufflés and more.

Ryan has added an exciting dimension to the main road of Franschhoek, and is a breath of fresh air joining a very small selection of top restaurants (Reuben’s and The Tasting Room) on it, given the closure of Bouillabaisse, and the other more average restaurants catering for the day-tripper/motorbiking tourist.  It will be interesting to see how the opening of a number of restaurants outside Franschhoek will effect business in the village itself – Pierneef Ã  La Motte, the opening next year of the Restaurant at Maison, the excellent work of chef Darren Roberts at Grande Provence (I saw similarities in the work of chef Darren and of chef Ryan), and the newly appointed chef at Allee Bleue, currently training at Michelin-starred Schwarzer Adler.  Ryan’s Kitchen is re-inventing itself already, even if it is less than three months old.  An e-mail from Ryan indicated that his Spring menu ingredients will include asparagus, artichokes, broad beans, tomatillos, tarragon, fresh berries, Namibian Red Crab, and Madagascar Prawns.   In October a 5-course “Taste of Africa” will be introduced in addition to the a la carte menu, with springbok, crocodile, ostrich, abalone and swordfish.

Ryan’s Kitchen, 12 Huguenot Road, Franschhoek. Tel (021) 876-4598. www.ryanskitchen.co.za. Open for lunch Wednesday – Sunday, and for dinner Tuesday – Saturday.

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