Entries tagged with “Cafe Le Chocolatier”.


La Parada Kitchen with Bull head Whale Cottage PortfolioDespite one of  the worst winters ever experienced by the Cape hospitality industry, most restaurants appear to have survived it. A surprise trend is the number of Mediterranean style restaurants opening, with true Spanish and Italian owners and/or staff. This list of restaurant openings and closings is updated continuously, as we receive new information:

Restaurant Openings

*   The Harbour House group has opened La Parada Spanish Tapas restaurant on Bree Street, with a subterranean bar/nightclub (above).

*      Café Puerto Cabo has opened on Loop Street, a Spanish eatery and men’s clothing shop.

*    The House of Machines has opened on Shortmarket Street, building motorcycles, offering good Evil Twin coffee, and serving very healthy food.

*   Orphanage Cocktail Emporium is opening Orphanage Club upstairs, with 1920’s style music by live performers, later this year.

*   Equus restaurant on the Cavalli stud and wine farm on the R44 has opened. (more…)

Beerhouse Bottled Beers Whale Cottage PortfolioDespite one of  the worst winters ever experienced by the Cape hospitality industry, few restaurants have closed down recently.   A surprise however is the movement of staff between restaurants. This list of restaurant openings and closings is updated continuously, as we receive new information:

Restaurant Openings

*    Beerhouse has opened on Long Street, with 16 beers on tap and 99 bottled beers from around the world.

*    The House of Machines has opened on Shortmarket Street, building motorcycles, offering good Evil Twin coffee, and serving very healthy food.

*   Pure Good has opened downstairs in the Associated Magazines building opposite Parliament, and is owned by Shannon Smuts, the first MasterChef SA Finalist to have been eliminated.

*   The Harbour House group has opened La Parada Spanish Tapas restaurant on (more…)

Four & 20 Cafe via The Pretty BlogNo significant events have been planned to attract visitors to Cape Town and the Winelands this winter, and it appears to be the worst winter ever experienced by the hospitality industry in the Cape.  A surprise is the number of restaurant changes, as well as the the movement of staff  between restaurants.   Given the poor winter business, many restaurants have taken/are taking generous winter breaks. This list of restaurant openings and closings is updated continuously, as we receive new information:

Restaurant Openings

*    Four & Twenty Café and Pantry has opened in Wynberg

*   The Crypt Jazz Restaurant has opened below St George’s Cathedral.

*   Orphanage Cocktail Emporium is opening Orphanage Club upstairs, with 1920’s style music by live performers, later this year.

*   Cavalli restaurant on the stud farm on the R44 must be opening shortly, as Carl Habel has left the Mount Nelson Hotel as Restaurant Manager and Sommelier to join the restaurant.

*   Shake your Honey is to open in the original Madame Zingara building on Loop Street next year, after renovations commence later this year, according to an iolTravel report.  The ‘vibrant spirit of India’ is to be reflected in the 5-storey building, with a theatre, markets, restaurants, and shops.

*   Burger King has opened its (second) Tygervalley branch. Branches at Cavendish and at Grandwest are to open soon. (more…)

The first taste of the Cape winter this weekend is likely to be felt by the restaurant industry, which will see hard times in the next two months, if close to zero accommodation bookings in the Cape are anything to go by.  Other than Hermanus FynArts and the Wacky Wine Weekend kicking off next week, ‘Cook Franschhoek‘ running over the Youth Day long weekend, and the Bastille Festival weekend on 13 – 14 July, no significant events are planned to attract visitors to Cape Town and the Winelands.  A number of restaurants are closing for an annual break in the next two months.

This list of restaurant openings and closings isupdated continuously, as we receive new information:

Restaurant Openings

*   The Crypt Jazz Restaurant has opened below St George’s Cathedral.

*   Frères Bistro has opened next door to Col’Cacchio on Hans Strydom (more…)

A fantastic last half of April weather-wise has been a ‘second wind’ for Cape Town’s restaurants, delaying the closure of restaurants which will be inevitable in the long winter lying ahead.  Already April has seen six restaurant closures.  This list of restaurant openings and closings is  updated continuously, as we receive new information:

Restaurant Openings

*   Frères Bistro has opened next door to Col’Cacchio on Hans Strydom Avenue in the city centre.

*   Orphanage Cocktail Emporium is opening Orphanage Club upstairs, with 1920’s style music by live performers, later this year.

*   Cavalli restaurant is said to open on the stud farm on R44, between Stellenbosch (more…)

There have been a number of restaurant openings, and no restaurant closures have been reported this year to date, a good sign of recovery.  A very strong tourism February as well as many weddings and general Valentine’s celebrations mean business is booming for restaurants. This list of restaurant openings and closings is updated continuously, as we receive new information:

Restaurant Openings

*   The Pot Luck Club has re-opened in its new venue at the top of the Old Biscuit Mill.

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

*    Latitude33 has opened on Bree Street

*   Baked Bistro has opened in Bakoven, where Marika’s and Saboroso used to be

*   Orphanage Cocktail Emporium has expanded into an adjoining property, opening on Orphan Street, creating The Dining Room downstairs.  It is opening Orphanage Club upstairs, with 1920’s style music by live performers, later this year.

*   Antipasto Bar has opened at the new Anthonij Rupert Wines tasting room, where Graham Beck used to be, outside Franschhoek

*   Kloof Street House has opened where Opal Lounge used to be.

*    Honest Chocolate has opened a second outlet, with a ‘production kitchen’, in the Woodstock Industrial Centre

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

*   Camphors at Vergelegen has opened, with Chef PJ Vadas.

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

*   Thai Café has opened on Plein Street, Stellenbosch

*   It’s a House has opened on Jarvis Street, as a bar, coffee shop, and design art space.

*   Lion’s Head Bar opened on Bree Street, selling craft beer and food

*   Shake your Honey Mumbai is to open in the original Madame Zingara building on Loop Street, in August.

*   Chef Nic van Wyk, previously with Terroir, has opened The Eatery at Diemersdal in Durbanville.

*   Jimmy Jimanos sports bar is opening on Long Street

*   Burger King will open its first South African branch in Cape Town later this year!

*  A coffee shop, chocolaterie, bar, and fashion boutique will open in a 3-storey building on Long Street, as yet unnamed.

*   Wilderer Distillery and La Grapperia at Spice Route restaurant have opened at Spice Route wine estate, in addition to their existing location

*   TriBakery has opened near Moyo in the V&A Waterfront

*   Luke Dale Roberts appears to be continuing his expansion trail, and is said to be opening on Long Street.

*   Mischu: The Coffee Showroom has opened on Regent Road in in Sea Point.

*   Deluxe Urban Café has opened in the old Cape Quarter.

*   Gourmet Cakes has opened on Kloof Street

*   A new restaurant and micro brewery is to open next door to The Bromwell in Woodstock (name not yet known).

*   Le Venue has opened at The House of JC le Roux

*   The Harbour House group is opening a new restaurant at 107 Loop Street.

*   Goloso Pizzeria has opened in Regent Road Sea Point.

*   Frères Bistro has opened next door to Col’Cacchio on Hans Strydom Avenue in the city centre.

*   De Dorf Krug has opened in Hermanus as a Bavarian/Austrian restaurant.

*   La Parada has opened in Kalk Bay.

*   The Crypt at St George’s Cathedral has opened as a jazz restaurant.

*   Cheyne’s has opened in Hout Bay.

*   Chef Reuben Riffel is to open an artisanal beer bar.

Restaurant Closures

*   Wale Rose Lifestyle has closed down in Bo-Kaap.

*   Café Sofia in Camps Bay has closed down.  None of the other branches are answering their phones, so they may have closed down too.

*   Rhapsody’s in Green Point has closed down.

*   Cape Town Fish Market has closed down in Somerset West

*   Café Le Chocolatier has closed down in Franschhoek.  The owner has taken over Apprentice in Stellenbosch.

* Pepperclub on the Beach has closed down in Camps Bay, to make way for a luxury boutique hotel.

*   Eastern Palace has closed down.

*   Urban Garden has closed down

*   The Reserve nightclub and Brasserie have closed down.

*   St Yves in Camps Bay is closing down on 4 May, to make way for the new Boutique Hotel in The Promenade.

*   Bar1 in Camps Bay, which was planned as a summer ‘pop-up’ bar and restaurant, has closed down.

Restaurant staff/venue changes

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

*   De Oude Bank Bakkerij is expanding, and will open a retail section selling charcuterie, fresh meats, home-made ice cream, and wines, collectively called De Companje.

*   Taste Restaurant has moved to Bilton Wines

*   Bar1 has opened where Sunbird Bistro was in Camps Bay.

*   Chef Reuben Riffel and his colleague Maritz Jacobs have been contracted to design the menus and prepare the food for weddings and events at Allée Bleue.

*   Thai Café is to open where the coffee shop was at the entrance to Piazza St John in Sea Point

*   Sensei Deon de Jongh has left Okamai at Glenwood wine estate in Franschhoek.

*   The Urban Garden Restaurant has opened where Bistro on Rose was.

*   Isabella Immenkamp, the excellent service-orientated hostess at Burrata, is leaving for Jordan Restaurant at the end of February.

*   Chef Alessandra Masciadri and her husband Chris Kennedy from Milan have taken over Goloso Deli and Restaurant on Regent Road, Sea Point.

* Bukhara is said to be opening in the V&A Waterfront, where Passage to India was

*   Jewel of India has opened upstairs in the ex Wale Rose Lifestyle building in Bo-Kaap.

*   Josephine’s Cookhouse has closed down in Newlands (ex Caveau), and Toad & Josphine has opened in its space.

*   Awestruck is said to open in the ex-Caveau space on Bree Street.

*   Sinn’s Ice Cream Emporium has re-opened in the Camps Bay Promenade, with a reduced space, and much cleaner interior and new furniture.

*   Wild Peacock Emporium has named its restaurant The Larder for dinners.

*   Patty September (ex-Boschendal) has taken over as the Manager of Haute Cabriere Restaurant from Lasse Presting.

*   Bayside Café has closed down in Camps Bay after 24½ years, and has moved to Portico Building, corner Marine Drive and Athens Road, Blouberg.

*   Flatteur is to open where Gesellig was, on the corner of Regent Road and Church Street in Sea Point.

*   Sage Restaurant has moved to Chabivin Champagne and MCC Farm on the Blaauwklippen Road.

*   Massimo’s in Hout Bay is changing its name to Amici di Massimo’s for 10 – 12 months, to be run by Johan, while Massimo undergoes medical treatment in Italy. It will revert back to Massimo’s when they return.

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

2011: what a year it’s been for the world, South Africa, and Whale Cottage – unpredictable, up and down, and a year in which one had to rethink every way in which one has run one’s business and life.  Most would say that it’s been one of the worst years ever!  But despite the tough times, there has been a lot to be grateful for as well.  I have summarised some of the high and low lights of the year:

1.  The knock which tourism took, especially from May – August, in being one of the worst winters ever experienced, had an effect on all sectors of the economy.  Restaurants frantically offered specials to gain cashflow, guest houses went back to dropping rates as they do in winter, and few took rate increases in summer, unlike their hotel colleagues, who suffered poor occupancy too.  More hotels and restaurants closed down than ever seen before. The recession in the UK hit South African tourism and wine sales badly, previously our major source market. From 50 % of our business in the summer months in Camps Bay, the UK business will be no more than 5 % this summer.  High airfares and the crippling UK airport taxes have not helped. The tourism situation was so bad that we wrote an Open Letter to national Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk, as Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited were not aware of how bad things were in the Cape, and therefore did nothing to market the region and to help the tourism industry. Cape Town Tourism spent all its energy on Twitter, not yet the medium of communication of our average tourist, and on wasteful promotions, and therefore we did not renew our 20 year membership. The welcome increase in German tourists has not made up this shortfall, but we have been delighted to welcome many more South African guests.   The World Cup has become a swearword, the reality of its lack of a tourism benefit becoming clear. A blessing from Santa has been a much improved festive season, with no snow-bound tourists or strong south-easter wind, as happened last year.

2.  Events are hugely beneficial for business, and the Argus Cycle Tour, J&B Met, and Cape Town International Jazz Festival attracted out of town guests. The U2 and Coldplay concerts helped fill beds and delighted Cape Town audiences.  A fantastic outcome of Coldplay’s performance is that the music video for ‘Paradise’ was filmed in our city, the Boland and the Karoo – no better part of the world could have been chosen for this song!

3.  Cape Town has had an exceptional year, the darling of the world, winning the World Design Capital 2014 bid, Table Mountain being named one of New7Wonders of Nature (amid some controversy and as yet subject to verification), named top destination in TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Destination (for what it was worth!), and featuring strongly in the new James Bond book ‘Carte Blanche’.  Our city hotels, especially the Cape Grace and Steenberg Hotel, featured on international top hotel lists. Good news was the sale of the V&A Waterfront to a local company, which is investing in the upgrade of and addition to the country’s most popular tourist destination.

4.   Despite the doom and gloom, there were more restaurant openings, and chef and restaurant staff changes this year than in many years: The Pot Luck Club, Hemelhuijs, Dash, Casparus, Dear Me Foodworld, The Franschhoek Kitchen, Il Cappero, Café Benedict, The Kitchen at Maison, Sotano by Caveau, Knife, De Oude Bank Bakkerij, Ryan’s Kitchen, Caffe Milano, Mozzarella Bar, Cassis Salon de Thé, Power & the Glory, Haas Coffee, Johan’s @ Longridge, Skinny Legs & All, KOS Coffee & Cuisine, Café Dijon @ Zorgvliet, Le Coq, Act and Play Bar at the Baxter, Sunbird Bistro, Societi Brasserie, Jason’s, Bird Café with new owners, Maria’s after a long renovation closure, Toro Wine & Aperitif Bar, Valora, Café Le Chocolatier, Haute Cabriere Cellar Restaurant after a renovation and chef change, Art’s Café, Spice Route, Mitico, Knead on Kloof, Chez Chez, La Bella, 5 Rooms, Terbodore Coffee Bar, Wale Rose Lifestyle, The Black Pearl, Bistro on Rose, Slainte, Babel Tea House, Rhapsody’s, Café Extrablatt, Harvest, McDonalds in the V&A,  The Mussel Bar, The Franschhoek Food Emporium, Makaron, F.east, Bean There Fair Trade, Sabrina’s, Harbour House in the V&A, MCC Franschhoek, Clarke Bar & Dining Room, Roberto’s, French Toast, Saboroso, Mezepoli, Rocca in the Cape Quarter, and Roca in Franschhoek opening their doors, and new suppliers Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants and The Creamery opening too.

5.  Sadly, the recession was noticeable as it hit restaurants, and it was some of the newer restaurants that were badly hit, including What’s On Eatery, The Olive Shack, Bella Lucia, Blonde, Jardine, Caveau at the Mill, Nando’s in Camps Bay, The Sandbar, The Bistro, Restaurant Christophe, Doppio Zero in Green Point and Clarement, shu, Oiishi Delicious Caffe, Hermanos, The Kitchen Bar, Wildwoods, The Green Dolphin, De Huguenot restaurant, Wildflour, Depasco, Kuzina, and 221 Waterfront.

6.  The eating highlight of the year was the tribute dinner to the closing of El Bulli, one of the world’s best restaurants, by Tokara, Chef Richard Carstens excelling in serving a 13-course meal to a packed restaurant on 30 July, earning him and his team a standing ovation.  This meal alone should have made Chef Richard South Africa’s top chef in the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards, but sole judge Abigail Donnelly proved that she was incapable of handling this new role and responsibility, not only in excluding Chef Richard from her Top 10 list, but also in awarding the new Boschendal Style Award to her client Makaron.

7.   Franschhoek evolved as THE wine region, Boekenhoutskloof being recognised as South Africa’s top winery by the Platter Guide, and La Motte the top wine estate in South Africa by the Great Wine Capitals Global Network.  In the latter competition, Tokara was selected as top wine estate restaurant in the country. The sale of the Franschhoek Graham Beck farm was announced, and the operation closes mid-year in 2012. The winemaking will take place at Steenberg and at Graham Beck in Robertson, while a Graham Beck tasting bar Gorgeous will open at Steenberg in February.

8.   Hermanus was in the tourism marketing spotlight, when miraculously both the committee of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau resigned, and the Cape Whale Coast Destination Marketing Organisation was disbanded by the Overstrand Mayor.  We had written about the self-interest which had been served by the previous leaders of these two bodies in ‘Lermanus’!  A welcome product for Hermanus is the recently created Hermanus Wine Route, marketing of which will be in the capable hands of Carolyn Martin of Creation.

9.   The Consumer Protection Act was introduced in April, and has shown benefits in product deficiencies and returns.  Little effect has been seen for the tourism industry.  The Tourism Grading Council of South Africa tried to change its accommodation assessment standards, which caused a huge outcry.  Despite changing back to what they had before, many accommodation establishments lost faith in the organisation, and have not renewed their accreditation.

10.  The wedding of Prince Albert II and Princess Charlène in July put South Africa in the world spotlight, not only due to the televised broadcast of the wedding, but also as they celebrated their wedding with a second reception, at The Oyster Box in Umhlanga, now the country’s best known hotel.

11.  This year proved that the ‘social’ in Social Media is a misnomer in many respects, but it is the marketing platform which cannot be excluded.  We celebrated the 10th anniversary of our WhaleTales newsletter, the 3rd year of blogging, and our 1000 th blogpost this year.  We are grateful to our Facebook friends and likers, Twitter followers, and blog and newsletter readers for their support.

It is hard to predict 2012, and we will go with the flow.  2011 has made us tougher and even more thick-skinned, we have learnt to change with changed tourism times.  We look forward to a stable world economy, politics, as well as weather in 2012!

POSTSCRIPT 2/1: The most read posts on our blog in 2011 were the restaurant winter specials, the Festive Season packages, the marriage of Prince Albert and Princess Charléne, the review of Casparus, the restaurant summer specials, the review of Gaaitjie in Paternoster, the death in Cape Town of the President of Ferrero Rocher,  the listing of restaurant openings and closures, the Consumer Protection Act, and Table Mountain making the New7Wonders of Nature.

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

The recession has taken its toll, and a number of restaurants have closed down.  Interestingly, a number of chefs are moving too, an unusually high staff turnover, some of the movements due to the restaurant closures.  It is noticeable that many restaurants which opened earlier this year have closed their doors already.  Despite the recession, new restaurants have opened or are in the process of opening (we have previously listed restaurants which opened and closed earlier this year).  We will update the list of restaurant openings/closures/changes regularly, and welcome contributions:

Cape Town

*    F.east Indian Restaurant has opened on the corner Long and Bloem Streets, in Cape Town

*    Bean There Fair Trade Coffee has opened on Wale Street, two doors down from Honest Chocolate

*    What’s On Eatery on Watson Street has closed down

*    Chef Christo Pretorius, previously of De Huguenot, has started as Sous Chef at 1800 Restaurant at the Cape Royale Luxury Hotel

*     Wildflour has closed down on Regent Road in Sea Point.

*     221 Waterfront has closed down in the V&A Waterfront, and a ‘concept store’ McDonald’s is opening in its space

*     Dash Restaurant at the Queen Victoria Hotel has lost its Chef Oliver Cattermole (now at Le Franschhoek Hotel), Manager Darren Morgan (now at the One&Only Cape Town), and F&B Manager Alton van Biljon.  Executive Chef Stephen Templeton has also left for a position in the Caribbean.

*    Harbour House has opened a branch in the V & A Waterfront (right), where Fisherman’s Choice was

Café Extrablatt has opened where shu used to be, in Green Point

*     Mezepoli from Johannesburg has opened in the Nando’s space in Camps Bay

*    Goloso Italian Deli and Wine Bar has opened on Regent Road in Sea Point, near KOS

*   Clarke’s Bar and Dining Room has opened, two doors away from Bird’s Café on Bree Street, as an American-style diner, owned by Lyndall Maunder, ex-Superette

*   A late night dinner and dance restaurant will open in the ex-Brio space, with a chef from St Tropez, and a DJ from Cannes

*   Chez Chez has opened as an Espresso and Cheesecake Bar (serving 13 different cheesecakes), 3 De Lorentz Street, Tamboerskloof.

*    The Black Pearl is the new name of the Tapas, Restaurant and Cocktail Bar, with new owners, of the ex-Seven Sins on Kloof Street.

*   Bistro on Rose has opened at 35 Rose Street

*   Rhapsody’s franchise restaurant, mainly in Pretoria, has opened next door to Café Extrablatt in Green Point, where Doppio Zero used to be, with Exceutive Chef Claire Brown, previously with Ginja and Pierneef à La Motte

*   Wale Rose Lifestyle has opened in Bo-Kaap, on the corner of Wale and Rose Street, serving Cape Malay as well as ‘cosmopolitan food’.

*   Andy Fenner (JamieWho?) and friends have opened Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants in Metal Lane, 8 Kloof Street, opposite McDonald’s.  They are stocking Farmer Angus McIntosh’s beef, Richard Bosman’s pork, and eggs and chicken from Simply Wholesome.  A barista will make coffee, and Jason will bake special chorizo muffins and bacon brioche for them.  Saturday markets in the parking area outside may be on the cards.

*   Renamed Blues Beach House restaurant (right) in Camps Bay has re-opened, having been reduced in size by about half, and changed its menu to ‘beach food’*

*   Chef Leigh Trout, ex- Mange Tout at the Mont Rochelle Hotel, has bought Bird Café and Gourmet Eatery on Bree Street, with Kevin Mink.

*    Chef Jacques de Jager, has left Salt Restaurant, setting up a consultancy.  Chef Daniel Botha from Le Franschhoek Hotel has taken over his job.

*   Cocoa Oola has opened on Kloof Street, where Oishii used to be

*   Sommelier Neil Grant, ex-sommelier of Rust en Vrede, is opening Burrata, a new Italian restaurant in the Old Biscuit Mill in mid-February

*   Societi Brasserie has opened in Constantia

*   Manna Epicure is now owned by Betsie van der Merwe from Johannesburg

*   Luke Dale-Roberts, just crowned Eat Out Top Chef, has opened the Pot Luck Club, a Tapas Bar next to The Test Kitchen.

*   Chef Scottie Henry is the new chef at Sinatra restaurant at the Pepper Club Hotel

*   The Mussel Bar has opened on the Victoria Street level of the Bay Hotel in Camps Bay.

*  Peter Tempelhoff of the McGrath Collection, and The Green House in the Cellars Hohenhort Hotel  specifically, has been honoured with the title Grand Chef of Relais & Chateaux.  He is the first Cape Town and only the third South African chef to receive this honour.

*   The Bungalow has opened as a 400-seater restaurant where La Med used to be, part of the Kovensky Group, also owning Pepenero, Paranga, The Kove and Zenzero.

*   Chef Brian Smit is now at Tides Restaurant at the Bay Hotel in Camps Bay, previously with Noisy Oyster in Paternoster

*   La Belle Café & Bakery has opened in the Alphen Boutique Hotel.

*   5 Rooms Restaurant has opened at the Alphen Boutique Hotel

*   Gypsy Café has opened in Observatory

*   Kuzina in the Cape Quarter has been sold, and whilst still serving Greek food, it is now called Rocca.

*   Sabrina’s has opened where Depasco was, at the corner of Kloof and Long Street

*   Arts Café has opened at Artscape.

*   Chef Craig Paterson has started as Executive Chef at Dash (Queen Victoria Hotel), the V&A Hotel, and Dock House

*   Caveau at the Josephine Mill has closed down

*   Café Sofia in Green Point has become Slainte

*   Knead has opened a large outlet in Lifestyle on Kloof, Gardens

*   Mitico has opened a pizzeria and ‘spaghetteria’ on Kloof Street, where St Elmo’s used to be

*   Mamma Mia in Steenberg is closing down at the end of February

*   Don Pedro’s in Woodstock will re-open on 14 February, under Madame Zingara management

*   Madame Zingara is said to be re-opening in its original building on Loop Street

*   Tong Lok on Kloof Street has closed down.

*   Mason on Kloof Street has closed down

*   Buzz on Kloof Street has closed down

*   Black Pearl on Kloof Street has closed down

*   Myög has opened as a frozen yoghurt outlet, at 103 Kloof Street

*   Thai Café has opened in the Cape Quarter

*   Bruce von Pressentin has been appointed as Executive Chef at The Restaurant@Longridge

*   David Higgs has resigned as Executive Chef from Radisson Blu Gautrain in Johannesburg (previously with Rust en Vrede).

*   Paulaner Bräuhaus in the V&A Waterfront is closing down on Sunday 19 February!

*   The Fez is closing down.

Franschhoek

*  The Olive Shack at Allora in Franschhoek has closed its restaurant operation, and will only operate as a shop selling olive-related products.

* Leopard’s Leap has opened its Tasting room and Liam Tomlin Food Studio and Store outside Franschhoek

* The Kitchen and The Tasting Room has opened on Maison wine estate in Franschhoek, with Chef Arno Janse van Rensburg (ex Ginja, Myoga), and Manager Julian Smith (ex Azure, Grande Provence,  Waterkloof, Pierneef a La Motte) (left)

*   Haute Cabriere Cellar Restaurant has re-opened with new decor, and new chef Ryan Shell.

*    Reuben’s is opening a Franschhoek branch in nhis self-owned building off the main road, and will run it concurrently until its Huguenot Road branch lease expires next year

*   Franschhoek Famous Pancake House, with owner Gideon, has re-opened as a take-away pancake outlet, in Mont View Centre, next to the gym, in Fabriek Street, Franschhoek.

*   Batho’s Place African Restaurant has opened in the township in Franschhoek.  082 090 8660

*    Chef Oliver Cattermole, previously with Dash and What’s On Eatery, has started as Executive Chef at Le Franschhoek Hotel.

*   Dieu Donné in Franschhoek has leased its restaurant to Martin and Marco from Durban, and they have renamed it Roca. Chef Jo van Staden has returned to Durban with her husband, Chef Gerard van Staden, who has returned to the Beverley Hills Hotel, after a short stint at the Pepper Club Hotel’s Sinatra restaurant.

*   Chef Chris Smit of Café BonBon has resigned

*   Café Le Chocolatier has opened a chocolate manufacturing and demo outlet Le Chocolatier Factory, next to its restaurant, in Franschhoek

*    Bijoux Chocolates has opened on Huguenot Road in Franschhoek.

*   Terbodore Coffee Roasters have opened a coffee roastery and coffee shop, at Goederust, outside Franschhoek

*   The sushi restaurant has closed down

*   MCC Franschhoek has opened in the Village Square, opposite the church, stocking 34 MCC’s from Franschhoek and serving food as well

*   Judy Sendzul has sold her share in The Salmon Bar to Gregory Stubbs of Three Streams trout farm

*  Babel Tea House has opened at Babylonstoren, serving sandwiches, cake and teas.

*  Donovan Dreyer from Grande Provence has resigned and starts as Restaurant manager of Indochine at Delaire Graff on 6 January.  Aldo du Plessis has taken over as Restaurant Manager at Grande Provence.

*   Mon Plaisir Restaurant has moved next door to the Chamonix tasting room

Stellenbosch

*   De Huguenot Restaurant and Harry Q Bar have closed.  The De Huguenot Estate will concentrate on weddings and events only.

*    Cavallo restaurant is said to open on the stud farm on R44, between Stellenbosch and Somerset West, in 2012 or 2013

*    Chef Anri Diener has left Majeka House, and Chef Tanja Kruger from De Huguenot Restaurant has taken over her position

*   Vanessa Quellec has joined Wild Peacock Food Emporium, to promote their Valrhona Chocolates

*   The owners of Sweet have returned to Sweden, and Dimitri has bought it and renamed it Dimi’s.

*   Manager Chris Oliver and Chef Marissa Chandansing of Johan’s@Longridge have left, and will start a new restaurant, details as yet undisclosed

*   Casparus will close between 24 December and 9 January

*   Laurille and Lynne from Olivello Restaurant on Marianne wine estate outside Stellenbosch are handing over the ownership of the restaurant to Alex and Jane Bradbeck on 23 January.

*   Cupcake on Dorp Street has closed down, and Dorpstraat Deli opens at the end of February

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

Paarl

* Chef Matthew Gordon has opened Harvest, a new restaurant at Laborie

* Peaches and Cream on the Main Road in Paarl has been taken over by Anica Bester

*  The Spice Route Restaurant has opened on the ex-Seidelberg, now belonging to Fairview.

Somerset West

*  Events manager Mandy Smith and Restaurant Manager Allan Ware have been retrenched at Waterkloof

Hermanus/Overberg

*    Mediterrea in Hermanus has changed its name to Grilleri

*   Patron Chef Stefan Louw has taken over the running of Heaven on Newton Johnson wine estate in the Hemel en Aarde wine valley.

*   Ex-Hermanos chef/owner Wayne Spencer is now at Burgundy in Hermanus

*   Simone’s Restaurant has opened in Napier

*   Tipples Bar and Grill has opened in Hermanus

*   Rivendell Estate and Bistro has opened as a restaurant and winetasting venue on the road between Hermanus and the N2, near the Kleinmond turn-off.

Garden Route

*   Katarina’s has opened at the Kurland Hotel.

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

Franschhoek has been known for its gourmet status for many years, not only for its top restaurants, but also for the excellent ancillary food businesses in the village.   Now a new chocolate manufacturing facility adds another dimension to Franschhoek’s status, with the opening of Le Chocolatier Factory, offering 90 different chocolate types at any time, out of a total repertoire of 250.

While chocolates are made in the shop, Le Chocolatier Factory is no factory at all, and one can see the staff making the chocolate when coming in to buy chocolates, next door to their restaurant Café le Chocolatier, in Place Vendôme, as one enters Franschhoek.  Dark chocolate outsells milk chocolate by 60 to 40 %, and champagne truffles are the most popular seller.  The Le Chocolatier chocolates contain little cocoa butter, and the dark chocolates have very little sugar content.

Three ex-staff of Huguenot Fine Chocolates, of which two chocolatiers did their training in chocolate-making in Belgium, make the chocolates, using Lindt chocolate and also their equipment.  Passionate owner Daniel Waldis is Swiss, and his love for chocolate led him to buy the restaurant about two years ago, and to introduce more chocolate items to his menu, given the name of the restaurant.  They have wonderful cakes such as Black Forest, Vanilla Mousse, muffins, brownies and Chocolate Dreams, a well as chocolate frappé and hot chocolate.  All coffee is served with a complimentary chocolate.

Initially, chocolates were made on a small scale inside the restaurant, until they ran out of space, and the restaurant became busier, being one of few to stay open until 20h00, even in winter.  A shop which Waldis owned next door to his restaurant, for another business, has now become the home of his chocolate business. Waldis is seeing a tourist benefit in his business, and is offering packages for individuals and tour groups.   The Silver Tour costs R40, and one can observe the chocolate making and choose 5 chocolates.   The Gold Tour costs R69, and includes the observation of the chocolate making, as well as a selection of six chocolates, and a cappuccino or a hot chocolate.  The Platinum Tour costs R249, and allows one to make one’s own chocolates, with a certificate provided of one’s newly gained chocolate skills.  The price includes an hour with the chocolatiers, as well as a coffee. Children are enjoying this tour too, and are charged R149, with a minimum of two to be booked. Chocolates are charged at R79 per 100g, and R149 per 200g.  Hospitality turn-down packs will also be available on order. Chocolate-making demos are also taken to events.

Waldis says of this course that it is better than the one at the Lindt Chocolate Studio in the Cape Quarter in Cape Town, which is not owned by Lindt. Their course was attended by one of his staff, and they had to ask him questions about chocolate-making!  He explained how complicated chocolate-making is, in getting the base thinner rather than thick, and to keep the exterior of the chocolate shiny.  He is a strong supporter of Lindt, preferring its taste to Belgian chocolate, which has a higher cocoa butter content.

Seeing a gap in the Franschhoek market, Waldis has also introduced a little deli, selling predominantly German but also Italian, imported goods such as pudding powders, bulk Lindt chocolate, waffle biscuits, Schwartau jams, créme cappuccino, Haribo sweets, sour cherries, bottled gherkins, bottled garlic, Remoulade sauce, German mustard, black olives, German mayonnaise, biscuits, and lemon tea.   They will be adding Valrhona chocolate slabs to the range too.

Due to the popularity of the restaurant, as well as the additional business that the Le Chocolatier Factory is bringing to the restaurant, a part of the Place Vendôme garden space has been allocated alongside the restaurant, providing additional seating for 36 guests.

Le Chocolatier Factory, Place Vendôme, Huguenot Road, Franschhoek.  Tel (021) 876-2233.  Website under construction.  Monday – Sunday, 8h00 – 18h00

POSTSCRIPT: Le Chocolatier has closed down in Franschhoek, and has moved to The Apprentice in Stellenbosch.

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

Reuben’s Franschhoek and our Whale Cottage Franschhoek both opened seven years ago, and I fell in love with Reuben’s when I first stumbled upon it in 2004.   It was fresh and different, with a unique menu, the service was outstanding with Maryke Riffel heading front of house, a young French sommelier was charming, and Chef Reuben Riffel cooking and often coming out of the kitchen to chat to his guests.  Despite the last visits having been disappointing, we kept supporting his restaurant, well positioned for our guests to walk to in Franschhoek.  We have reached the end of our tolerance of poor service and mediocre food at Reuben’s Franschhoek.

Reuben Riffel had opened a restaurant in Cambridge for friends when Boekenhoutskloof directors Tim Rands and Marc Kent invited him to come back to his home town to open a signature restaurant on the main road.  Reuben had started working as a barman at Chamonix in Franschhoek, and started cheffing when a chef did not come to work.  He loved it so much that he developed himself without any formal chef training. Reuben’s fame in Franschhoek was instant, with an Eat Out Top 10 award in 2004 for Best Restaurant and Best Chef, a mere 6 months after opening, something that had never occurred before.  Reuben’s opened a branch at the Robertson Small Hotel, owned by Rands, about three years ago, and last year it was a huge honour for him to have been invited by Sol Kerzner to open a branch at the One&Only Cape Town.  It was obvious that the food and service quality would suffer as Reuben tried to stretch himself across his three restaurants, and it is in Franschhoek that we have heard other locals complain, and other guest houses too no longer send business there.  Chef Reuben tried to get help, having chefs Richard Carstens and Camil Haas working with him in Franschhoek, but both left him at short notice.

The main restaurant interior is large, with a separate room for functions or more guests, and an unpopular passage close to the noisy kitchen.  The bar has an interesting counter made from a plane wing.  Reuben’s has a large fireplace, making it warm and cosy, but it was smoky at times, due to the heavy wind on my last visit.  Tables are wooden, with the Reuben’s name engraved into the top, with white leather chairs, and a bench against the wall.  The managers sit behind a counter, in front of a Reuben’s branded wall, and it looked rather untidy from my angle, with a silver handbag on the floor, and boxes visible.   A bowl of fruit was on the counter, looking more like a hotel dining room reception than that of a restaurant,  with no flowers at all, as they used to have.  Each table has a little ceramic jar of coarse salt.  No pepper grinder is on the table, nor is it offered for any dish. Cutlery is by Maxwell Williams. Staff wear white shirts, and black pants and aprons.  There are no tablecloths on the tables.

When I popped in at Reuben’s, just wanting something warm but light, after a long two and a half hour concert in the church, a table was available, after a five minute set-up, in a still busy restaurant.   I was handed the standard menu, and saw with a shock that it has changed: individual prices have been removed, and the prices are listed as R220 for 2 courses, R268 for 3 courses, and R315 for 4 courses, which was not what I was looking for.  I asked about the winter special, but the Manager Carmen, Chef Reuben’s sister, looked at me as if I had lost it.  The Winter Special (3-courses for R150) is no longer available, she said. She then fetched the Street Smart special menu, which ran until the end of last week in honour of all the Street Smart restaurants collecting monies to help street children rebuild their lives, with a voluntary R5 donation at 57 participating restaurants, which offered four courses for R195.  This is also not what I had in mind.  I was then told by Carmen that locals are allowed to order individual items off the menu, at R65 per starter, R 120 for a main course, and R65 for a dessert.  Somehow the maths did not add up, in that a starter/dessert and main would only cost R185, instead of the quoted R220.  I also want my guest house guests to enjoy a meal without the pressure of having to order for a minimum of R220 per person, given the tight financial times.  As guest house owners we were not informed by Reuben’s that this had changed.

In the confusion of the two menus presented and the price issue, I chose the Street Smart option, and Carmen kindly allowed me to replace the oxtail main course with a steak.  It was the worst ever dining experience at Reuben’s Franschhoek (our previous dinner on 24 April coming a close second, with the fireplace not lit on a chilly night, two wines on the list being out of stock, no vintages specified for the wines by the glass, the lunch menu still on the blackboard at dinner, very expensive wine by the glass, messy pouring of the wine, kingklip served for the ‘tuna pickle’ and blamed on a typing error, no cheese on the French Onion soup, and very slow service in a long wait for the main course).

Reuben’s brother Jevon was the waiter, and brought two slices of dry-looking wholewheat bread, the nice bread tray with a choice of breads baked by Chef Reuben’s mother clearly no longer being offered.  Jevon ‘wipped’ when I asked him to remove the bottled water he brought to the table without checking with me.  I only drink fresh Franschhoek water!  After bringing a jug of water, and pouring a glassful, he did not top it up again.  Chef Reuben was not on duty, and it was Chef William Carolissen doing the honours in the kitchen.

The only Shiraz by the glass available was a Reuben’s house wine made by Goose wines, at R45, which I declined.  It surprised me that Reuben is not Proudly-Franschhoek in his choice of branded wine. The ‘pre-starter’ was a French Onion soup, with epoise toast and gruyere, nothing special at all.   Of the four courses, I enjoyed the Warm duck salad the most, a rather busy collection of shredded duck, toasted cashews, avocado slivers, papaya, orange, sprouts, radishes, cucumber, served with a cinnamon soya dressing and miso honey.  Listing the ingredients, only two or three items of each, seemed an overpromise, and perhaps more of fewer ingredients would have been better.  The biggest disappointment was the grilled Chalmar beef sirloin, served with what was called ‘glazed vegetables’, but were steamed mange tout and green beans, ‘swimming’ in a port and mushroom ‘jus’!  In a separate bowl came the worst ever chips, thick cut, over-dosed with salt and pepper, and raw inside.  I asked Carmen if it is customary to bring chips, as the menu did not state it, and she said it was.  I suggested that she check with clients about the choice of starch, as I am not a chip eater and would have preferred something healthier and saltless.  She ‘wipped’ and did not respond to my feedback, nor to my returned bowl of chips!  The steak was more medium than the ordered medium-rare, and the very heavily salted and liquid ‘jus’ spoilt it completely.   Things looked up with the attractive dessert, being Apple tarte tatin (delicious), apple panna cotta (nice green colour but bland and tasteless), and a most odd-tasting green vanilla Calvados sorbet, the description sounding better than the actual dessert.

Wishing to understand why Reuben’s had changed the menu to a non-price one (not seen in seven years), and how I could still bring my guests to the restaurant with responsible pricing, I spoke to Carmen once more.  She showed her irritation, stating that no one else had complained about it (neither had I – I was just trying to understand it), and that if guest house guests arrived, they would offer them the local price choice as well.  What she did not know was that the Pohl family of four staying with us over the same weekend had reserved a table directly on the same evening, on our recommendation.  They were not offered any special pricing on the a la carte menu, nor the Street Smart menu.  Carmen became more and more defensive about the menu, and said that I should question Reuben about it, as he had designed it.  She could not explain the rationale for such an expensive winter menu, but she did tell me that individual prices will be added to the menu in summer again, which confused me even further! I was struggling to pick up 3G for Twitter inside the restaurant, and when checking this with Martell Smith, the Deli Manager who doubles up as a hostess in the restaurant at night, she assured me that the internet was switched on.  When I stepped outside, the internet worked perfectly, as it did when I returned inside the restaurant.  Martell seemed to ‘wip’ about this.  Martell had come to the table to check on my satisfaction with the steak (no other course was checked), and it was so bad that I just shook my head, not wanting to have anyone else ‘wipping’ around me if I were to express what I was feeling!

Reuben’s brother Jevon had worked for us a good six years ago, and had run off in a huff and a puff without giving notice when he was reprimanded for making a costly error.  He has never served me at Reuben’s previously.   He did not speak a word to me, just being a ‘fetcher and carrier’, except at the end, when he demanded that I sign the credit card slip.  When I questioned his lack of communication, he walked off while I was speaking to him, throwing a ‘wip’ with his colleague.  When he walked past my table, I asked him why he had walked away, and I received a rude torrent of abuse from him, which was completely uncalled for. I told Carmen about Jevon’s rudeness, and she then lashed out at me, saying that I should speak to Reuben, as Martell had called Reuben, complaining to him about our interaction about the internet, and then she walked off while I was speaking to her!

The menu has shrunk in size to A4, with many more menu items that on the previous A3 menu we had.  I was surprised to see advertising on the menu for Reuben’s recycled ‘stemware’, as well as for Moniki chocolates from Tulbagh, when Franschhoek has the excellent Cafe Le Chocolatier and Huguenot Fine Chocolates!  The menu no longer lists the who’s who of the kitchen.   The menu is changed daily, Carmen told me.  On the evening that I was there, the soup choices were French Onion, mushroom, and rich cauliflower.  Eleven starters included the signature squid, blue cheese and onion tart, salmon sashimi, chicken liver parfait, mussels, oysters, and a butternut salad.  There were 10 main courses, including chicken and prawn curry, pork belly, sole, gnocchi, oxtail, springbok steak, calf’s liver (always been my favourite), and beef tartar.  Ten dessert options included lime creme brûlee, Valrhona chocolate pave, carrot cake pudding, poached pears, and a cheese platter.   Sides of vegetables can be ordered at R35.

For the seven years of daily business sent to Reuben’s in the summer months, with regular problems tolerated over the years in making bookings with Reuben’s staff telephonically, the last dinner was a sad one, as it appears that Reuben’s staff feel that they can lash out at customers.  The service standard is inconsistent, as I have had nothing but excellent service from another Manager Raymond, and from Jessica, a long-standing waitress.  It is sad that Chef Reuben’s family members should have been the rudest of all the staff on Saturday, and disappointing was his nepotistic “my staff are perfect” response to an e-mail I sent after the dinner, informing him that I no longer felt comfortable in sending guests to the restaurant after the rudeness I had experienced.  There was no apology nor thanks for all the business that we had sent there over the years, nor acknowledgement of our almost evangelical promotion of what was a favourite restaurant for a long time.

It would appear that Reuben realises that he has grown too big, and he has bought a building up the road from Place Vendome, to which he will move his restaurant in November, being a smaller sized 50-seater, with space for an extra venue at which he can do cooking demonstrations, to keep business going in winter, and ensuring a big saving in rent, he told me at the Mandela birthday meal media conference at the Drakenstein Prison a few weeks ago.  His Manager Raymond told me that both Franschhoek restaurants will run concurrently until the lease of the current restaurant expires, meaning that Reuben will have four restaurants for at least another year, which can only mean further service problems. Talk about Reuben trying to get out of his contract at the One&Only Cape Town continues to circulate in Franschhoek, despite his denial, but then he blatantly denied that he was opening at the One&Only Cape Town a year ago!

Reuben’s Franschhoek is not worthy of an Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant nomination any more.  If one dares to pass on any feedback to the staff, one might be reported to ‘headmaster’ Chef Reuben, and be abused by the staff!  Reuben has lost the passion for his business, and the Franschhoek restaurant needs a professional full-time Manager who can go beyond the Groendal-syndrome.  Reuben has to be at the One&Only Cape Town restaurant three times a week, appears in Robertson’s spice advertising, does cooking demo’s, and increasingly appears to be ‘commercialising’ himself, losing touch with what is going on in his restaurants as a result!  The current pricing policy is cheeky, and communicates that Reuben’s does not seek the support of locals.  We wish Reuben well in balancing all his balls!

POSTSCRIPT 8/8:  We are delighted to hear from our guests who went to Reuben’s on Saturday evening that the 2-, 3-, and 4-course price option has been dropped, and that each item on the menu is back to being individually priced!  They found the food excellent, especially the bean soup, but were disppointed that the waitress had no knowledge about the wines on the board at all.

POSTSCRIPT 7/9: We have heard that the sale of the building that Reuben’s was buying in Franschhoek fell through.  They may be considering another option close by.

Reuben’s Franschhoek, 19 Huguenot Road, Franschhoek. Tel (0-21) 876-3772.  www.reubens.co.za (The website contains an Image Gallery, but one must click onto thumbnails to view them.  The menu is an out of date one for 11 August of last year.  A Winter 2011 Special menu, looking very similar to the Street Smart one, is listed!).  Monday – Sunday Lunch and Dinner.

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