Tag Archives: Brewers Union

Should SA Tourism not check what is written about Cape Town before it is published?

Yours Truly Dan-20140306150809239202-620x349Yesterday the respected Sydney Morning Herald published a super article about Cape Town  and its food and beverage entrepreneurs in the main (‘Cape Crusaders‘), the visit by its writer Rachel Olding having been sponsored by SA Tourism.  Containing two errors, one significant in its incorrect name for Table Mountain, it raises the question as to whether SA Tourism should insist on seeing copy first before it is published, not a popular nor common offer made by writers!

The writer’s focus was on the entrepreneurs in Cape Town, ‘bringing fresh new energy to Cape Town‘.  She adds: ‘In Cape Town, like so many international cities, they’re increasingly clad in plaid shirts, plugged into the hottest global trends and leading a hipster revival mixing the best of different eras and cultures with their own Capetonian touch’.  She quotes a tour guide that Cape Town has baboons to remind one that Cape Town is in Africa, feeling more European in its nature!

Yours Truly on Kloof Street and on Long Street (owned by Daniel Holland); the Grand Daddy Hotel; Royale Eatery (described as ‘hip new‘ which it is not!); Deluxe Coffeeworks (owned by Carl Wessel and Judd Francis) on Church Street and in Gardens; the Old Biscuit Mill; A Store is Good on Kloof Street (owned by Dario Lette);  Supremebeing and Wardrobe on Kloof Street; Frankie Fenner Continue reading →

The House of Machines not just a bikers bar, serves good coffee and healthy food too!

The House of Machines Interior Whale Cottage PortfolioThe House of Machines opened on Monday in a pedestrian lane on Shortmarket Street, and promises to be a good coffee spot as a start, as its co-owner Brad Armitage was a co-owner of Vida e Caffè when it first opened.  We found a motorcycle shop discreetly positioned at the back of the outlet, and experienced a vibrant coffee shop, bar, and light snack restaurant with very friendly and attentive service.

The building dates back to the 1890s and has housed a bar, a restaurant, a workshop for furniture designer Gregor Jenkin, and most recently a yacht design company. All three the co-owners designed the interior.  It is dominated by a massive black bar/serving counter, with wooden table counters attached to the wall at which one sits on signal red (not Vida red, as I joked with Brad!) stools.   Each table can seat up to four comfortably, and has a glass jar with Bakers & Chef cutlery, and Natural salt and pepper grinders.  Beautiful ceiling beams and weathered cement floors have been left as is.  The seating wall is covered with a collection of photographs of the three co-owners with their bikes, on their visit to the USA, which they undertook to obtain ideas and inspiration for their new venture.  Paul van der Spuy is one of the owners, who loves coffee shops, is a men’s fashion designer who owns Blue Collar White Collar, is the unofficial ‘Mayor of Cape Continue reading →

Orphanage Cocktail Emporium expands, opens The Dining Room!

Earlier this week Katie and Jonny Friedman invited me to see the expansion of their Orphanage Cocktail Emporium, The Dining Room having opened in an adjacent building three weeks ago.  This is the first step of the expansion, with the Orphanage Club opening later this year.

One can enter The Dining Room directly from around the corner in Orphan Street, or via The Parlour on Bree Street, and down a flight of stairs.  The interior feel in the long rectangular space is similar to that of The Parlour, with blue and white striped upholstery on the couch seating all along the wall, and is dominated by a similar crystal and key chandelier.  The space has been cleverly used, with a bar counter, as well as an open kitchen.

The menu has evolved, and is no longer the sheet of folded brown paper, but a neatly bound menu of cocktails, wines, and food.  The food offering has grown vastly, a number of the original dishes having been retained.  The same menu is offered in the Cocktail Emporium and in The Dining Room, meaning that one can choose to eat in the relatively more quiet The Dining Room, or in the ‘clubby’ Cocktail Emporium.  The prices are good value, with none of the dishes exceeding R135. One of the new dishes is the Brewers & Union Beer Battered Linefish, which a most delicious kingklip covered in a thick tasty batter, wrapped in paper and served with crispy fries (R85).  Rui Esteves, co-owner of the brewery, Tweeted his approval of how his product has been used when he saw our Tweet: ‘Had it last night…it was good’. Katie had the new Sesame Chicken Skewers, a colourful dish (R85). The menu is divided into

*  ‘Sharing Plates’, being starter or tapas styles dishes (R50 – R85), meant to be shared with friends, including Cauli Fritters, cheese poppers, smoked snoek paté, breaded prawns, octopus crunch, spicy fish cakes, mini chicken pitas, and little lamb buns.

*   ‘Light Plates’ are meant to be eaten individually, and range from R40 – R75.  One can choose between Orphanage omelette, Gazpacho, feta and roasted butternut ciabatta or salad, corn and avocado salad, Caesar salad, and Tricolore salad.

*   ‘Main Plates’ range from R55 – R135, and include the signature crayfish on butter buns, chicken Milanese, espetadas, Quesadilla, large lamb bun, spicy meatball subs, large Wiener, Orphanage Risotto made with porcini mushrooms, Arrabiata pasta, Beef fillet Robata served with mustard aioli, springbok carpaccio, cheese slate, charcuterie, and an Orphanage Mezze platter.

*   I chose the Panna Cotta with a berry coulis from the ‘Pudding’ selection, which also offers cheesecake, a sorbet trio, and the popular molten cocoa fondant, all costing R40.  The cappuccino was made perfectly, as per my request.

Kent Scheermeyer has acted as consultant for the Orphanage house wines, the range including Chenin Blanc (R40/R150), Sauvignon Blanc (R42/R160), Chardonnay (R42/R160), Rosé (R46/R180), Red Blend (R46/R180), and Pinot Noir (R50/R195), each wine made by a different winemaker.  The Red Blend, for example, comes from Mullineux Family Wines.  An additional wine, which we enjoyed together, was Thunderchild, made for Die Herberg children’s home in Robertson, of which 5 ha on their property have been planted to vines, with the support of a number of Robertson winemakers. The wine has made by Springfield winemaker Abrie Bruwer, its maiden vintage 2008 now being available.  All the profit of the wine goes to the children’s home.

The Orphanage Club will open when they have received their licence to operate until 4h00, likely to take another six months, Katie said.  She showed me the space upstairs, above The Dining Room, which will have its own bar, and entertainers performing.  It has a terrace, with a good view over Cape Town.  Both the Orphanage Club and The Dining Room can be booked for events.

The Dining Room, Orphanage Cocktail Emporium.  Corner Bree and Orphan Street, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 422-2004. www.theorphanage.co.za Twitter: @OrphanageClub Monday – Saturday.  Occasional opening on Sundays and public holidays.

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

Pub Review: Watching the World Cup at The Twankey Bar

For my last World Cup viewing I chose The Twankey Bar at the Taj Hotel in Cape Town, a bar I had wanted to visit on a previous occasion, but which was closed for stocktake on that day (the Germany versus England match).  Last night it was the 3rd and 4th play-off between Germany and Uruguay, and the five Germans at The Twankey Bar were delighted with their team’s 3-2 win.

I did not know that the Widow Twankey is a well-known character in Alladin.   According to Wikipedia, she is a “pantomime dame portrayed as a man” (read more here). The Widow Twankey figurine is a feature outside on the erstwhile Board of Executors building in which The Twankey Bar is housed, and gave the bar its name.

The Twankey Bar has a swanky feel, as you step into it from the corner of Adderley and Wale Streets, in a  venue separated from the Taj Hotel.   It has beautiful wooden floors, marble table and bar tops, red leather tub chairs (uncomfortably high and very sharp arm rests), bar chairs and some of the other tub chairs are in silver leather, a silver painted pressed steel ceiling, beautiful art deco lamps, and silk-like curtains in a deep red and silver.   The silver and red theme is not carried through in the staff uniforms, which are a creme shirt, black cap and black pants, odd given the colourful uniforms the staff wear in Mint and Bombay Brasserie inside the Hotel.   A lone black and white photograph of a boat decorates one wall, and echoes the “seafood” theme, probably picked up from the anchor in the Twankey statuette.  I would have liked a little more light, especially to read the bill.

We were given the choice of rugby or soccer, as the initial guests in the Bar were not watching any sport.  When they left, soccer won, and the volume was turned up.   Nothing in The Twankey Bar reflected the world’s largest sport event taking place in the country.  With five of us in the Bar during the match, we certainly made the “gees”, but there were not enough customers on the rainy and cold Cape Town night to give it the spirit.   But when your team wins, you don’t need other people’s “gees”!   It was an exciting match, and kept one holding thumbs and begging Paul the Octopus to make his prediction of a win for Germany come true, his seventh correct prediction! 

The menu is a simple yet elegantly designed one, laminated, and I was encouraged by the Manager Leslie Heaven to take it home with me so that I did not have to write it all down.  The menu states “Seafood * Champagne * Guinness * Oysters” on the front, and this gives one a feel of its focus immediately.  The manager told me it is an Irish pub, due to the Guinness served.   The Seafood focus is odd for a pub, but it is only Calamari (R55), Tempura Prawns (R85), and the Tuna Tatiki (R85) that meet this description.  On the table were heavily spiced cashew nuts, wasabi peanuts and chilli poppers, encouraging one to drink more beer to get over the spiciness.  On the reverse side it refers to its “Tapas Menu”.

Our food and beer were brought quickly after placing the order, with new-looking quality cutlery and very small material serviettes.   The Guacamole and spicy tortilla dish (R50) was massive – despite having asked for the least spicy tortillas, they were still pretty hot, and the manager organised some toast instead.  The guacamole was spicy too, with a strong taste of onion.  I am used to guacamole being smooth – The Twankey Bar’s was chunky.   The Quail spring rolls were served with chilli plum sauce, and were an expensive choice at R 65 for four small rolls, but were enjoyable.  I liked the Karoo Lamb Samoosas, four small ones costing R 55, not having any spices in them.   The serving of four large prawns came with a very diluted soy sauce, but I was brought the real thing when I requested it.    Oysters cost R90 for six.  Other “Small plates” one can order are Chicken Tikka Wrap served with mint chutney (R55), Tequila Salmon Gravlax (R75) and Jalapeno Poppers (R45).  What I liked was that as far as pub food goes, this was the most creative menu of all the pubs I visited during my World Cup journey.  What I disliked was the spiciness of almost all the dishes, limiting my choice.  

The Menu is dominated by the drinks on offer; including ten Cocktails all costing R40; four non-alcoholic ones (R30 each); two draught beers (Guinness at R 29 and Jack Black at R 20); and bottled beer – Heineken, Peroni and Windhoek are very reasonably priced at R 20, while the Brewers Union Unfiltered, Dark and Stepheiss (sic) all are charged at R 40, the same price at which it is sold at &Union up the road.   One can order Moet et Chandon at a precious R 225 per glass, or at R 900 per bottle, and even splurge on a bottle of Dom Perignon Brut Rose at R 8000!  Seven of the thirteen Methode Cap Classique wines offered can be ordered by the glass, and seem expensive – Pierre Jourdan Cuvee Brut and the Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel are the cheapest at R 50 per glass, while the Teddy Hall Blanc de Blanc costs R 100 per glass.  I was proud to see Melissa Nelsen’s Genevieve Blanc de Blanc listed – what a prestige for the new sparkling wine producer who only launched her brand earlier this year!   A small selection of red and white wines is offered, by the glass and per bottle, and commendably the vintages are specified.  The prices seemed more reasonable here – for example the 2007 Villiera Merlot costs R 35 by the glass, and the Warwick First Lady Red Blend 2008 costs R40.  

I was grateful when the Manager took over looking after our table when our waitress seemed more interested in chatting to her colleague and watching the soccer.  She was asked to bring the prawn tempura dish to the table in the halftime, but this did not happen and had to be requested.   While the World Cup is history after tonight, it surprised me that, generally speaking, bar staff do not seem to understand that one would like to hear the commentator during a match – a problem I picked up at Harvey’s Bar and Salt Vodka Bar too.  It irritated me that they kept coming to ask something and even blocked the TV screen during what was a most exciting match.   At one stage we had to ask them to stop the icemaking machine because it made such a noise.   It was one of few pubs (also Salt Vodka Bar, and Pure at Hout Bay Manor) in which I saw a manager, and whilst he could have been more assertive with his staff about the disturbances, he was good at reading customer irritations, coming to check with us, and acting upon feedback immediately.

The Twankey Bar is not a food destination in itself, but would be the start or end to a special evening in town.  Recently it was decided that The Twankey Bar should stay open until 23h00, as guests were popping in for a late snack.  The food is expensive and spiciness dominates, but the drinks are more reasonably priced. 

The Twankey Bar, Taj Hotel, corner Wale and Adderley Streets, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 819-2000. www.tajhotels.com  (The website exaggerates, in my opinion, when it describes The Twankey Bar as a “seafood restaurant”.   It also claims to have “sublime jazz”, but we did not experience any music).  Open from 11h00 – 23h00, Mondays – Saturdays.

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