Tag Archives: Cormac Keane

Café Chic reopens with slick service, excellent cuisine, hands-on but controversial Chef Conrad Gallagher!

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 Continue reading →

Restaurant Review: TRUFFLE first ‘5 star 100% Halaal Fine Dining Bistro’ in Cape Town not yet ‘5 star’!

Truffle Exterior Whale CottageThe bottom end of Chiappini Street has housed two of my favourite restaurants in their time – Bruce Robertson’s The Showroom and Cormac Keane’s Portofino, both the talking point of Cape Town in their time.  After a surprisingly long tenancy by low class Leaf, a smart ‘5 star 100% Halaal Fine Dining Bistro‘ has opened, called TRUFFLE.  The restaurant was opened to offer top-end Halaal cuisine, which has not been available in Cape Town before.  The name was chosen for its association with indulgence, which is echoed throughout the restaurant.

I had seen the exterior branding whilst driving down Buitengracht Street a week ago, but could not find any website via Google.  Yesterday I stopped by, and was astounded how the restaurant interior has changed since Leaf occupied the space until about a year ago.  Mohammed Adam was kind enough to spend time with me, to share information about the restaurant. Truffle Mohammed Adam Whale Cottage He and Nisreen Ebrahim are joint owners, Nisreen and her husband Rafiq being previous owners of four fast food outlets they would not reveal the names of (LinkedIn revealed that they were Nando’s outlets), and took over the space in January. Mohammed did all the interior design, after some building work was done, half of the upstairs being closed off by means of a wall now, to give the kitchen double volume space.  Almost everything has been changed, other than the wooden floor in the outside section, with a new wooden floor upstairs; new wooden steps for the staircase to match the tops of the tables and the Continue reading →

Chef Liam Tomlin flourishing at new Chef’s Warehouse & Canteen on Bree Street!

Chefs Warehouse Chef Liam and chefs Whale Cottage PortfolioLiam Tomlin is the most internationally experienced and respected but one of the least known chefs working in Cape Town, despite having worked in our country for ten years.  The recent move of his Chef’s Warehouse & Cookery School on New Church Street to Bree Street, now named Chef’s Warehouse & Canteen, seems to have transformed him and he seems happier than he has been for a long time, being back in the kitchen and hands-on in his restaurant.

Located in a heritage building on food fashionable Bree Street, where Caveau used to be before it went under, Chef’s Warehouse & Canteen has been painted a soft grey, which brings out the best of its simple red Chef’s Warehouse branding.  When I arrived to meet Judy for lunch, I spotted former Portofino restaurateur Cormac Keane Chefs Warehouse Exterior Whale Cottage Portfolioihaving lunch as I was taking a photograph of the exterior of the building. Cormac was a maverick whilst he lived in Cape Town, and it is a shame that he left Cape Town to return to London, having shaken things up in the restaurant industry when he operated here until the World Cup 2010, it not living up to his expectations. The Irish roots of Chef Liam and Cormac created a friendship in the early days in Cape Town for both men, which still holds.  Chef Liam started his career in Australia, and opened his restaurant BANC in Sydney, which earned him a 3 Hats award, as well as two Restaurant of the Year awards.  He moved to our country ten years ago, and has written cookbooks (‘BANC’,Season to Taste’, and ‘Lessons with Liam‘), which are available at Chef’s Warehouse, still serves on the British Airways Taste Team, and has assisted wine estates such as La Motte in setting up Pierneef à La Motte and its kitchen.  For a year he operated at Leopard’s Leap in Franschhoek, selling cooking and baking utensils and vessels, and offering cooking courses, whilst also Continue reading →

Celebration: Reaching the milestone of 1000 blogposts!

Today we have reached an exciting milestone on our Whale Cottage Blog, in that this is our 1000th blogpost.  We thank our readers for their support in reading our blog, and for providing feedback, to help us improve as we developed over the almost three years. In numerology, 1000 symbolises multitude and perfection, we have learnt from Google, and we dedicate our next 1000 blogposts to be worthy of this definition.

Highlights have been making the Top 10 on the Most Controversial Blog category of the 2010 SA Blog Awards, achieving a cumulative unique readership of just under half a million in the last 16 months (about 30000 per month on average), and setting up the Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club last year.

So what have we learnt about blogging and our blog in the close to three years:

*   Restaurant news in general, and reviews and special offers specifically have attracted the greatest interest on this blog.   Our most widely read restaurant reviews, since we went onto Google Analytics 16 months ago, are for Tokara DeliCATessen, Sotana by Caveau, Gaaitjie, Pierneef à La Motte, and Duchess on Wisbeach.  It was the enjoyment of writing the review of Portofino restaurant, owned by Cormac Keane, that got us started with reviews, and we have written more than 100 reviews since then.  We have seen negative reaction to some of these, and have been banned from the Caveau group of restaurants (including Sotano), the Caviar group of restaurants (Beluga and Sevruga), Opal Lounge, and Café des Arts as a result.  Restaurants generally are poor at Social Media, and only a handful blog and/or are on Twitter.  This means that a restaurant’s information most often is provided by a blog rather than by the restaurant’s own website, which can be to its advantage or diadvantage, depending on the reviews that are listed on the first page of Google.  Other highly read blogposts are the Winter and Summer Restaurant Specials lists, the Table Mountain vote for the New7Wonders of the World, Prince Albert and Charlene Wittstock’s visit to Fresnaye in January 2009, and the Disney service training programme instituted just days before the World Cup. 

*   Tourism topics have also attracted attention, probably because there are far fewer writers on this topic.

*    Word spreads quickly if a blogpost is controversial, and brings in new readers to the blog.  Despite all allegations to the contrary, we have never written a blogpost to be controversial.  It is the reaction to it by our readers that causes the controversy. 

*   Comments have become harder to manage, and increasingly cowardly commenters write anonymously to slate the writer of the blog or the subject of a blogpost.  If one deletes such comments, one is criticised; if one publishes them, one is equally criticised!

*   While blog readers enjoy honesty, and probably read this blog for it, those that are on the receiving end of it plus their friends do react with venom, rather than using the feedback to improve their service and quality. The nastiness in ‘unSocial Media’, our new name for it, has been shocking, especially in a campaign by David Cope on Twitter, where anything goes!

*   Blogging has become very competitive, as bloggers chase readership, and want to be the first to review a new restaurant.  Achieving a first page Google listing for a restaurant, for example, can attract readership over time to the blog by new users when they Google the name of a restaurant.    

*   Readership is disappointingly low on public holidays and weekends.  Saturdays have the lowest blog reading numbers, dropping by up to half of weekday readership. Our highest readership of this blog was on 16 June 2010, during last year’s World Cup, when a tag for ‘2010’ was widely linked to this blog, attracting 9000 page views on that day alone. 

*   Although most readers are unknown to the writer, one carries a huge responsibility in shaping people’s opinions through what one writes.   We try our best to remain objective in presenting information at all times.  We have been blamed for wishing to destroy restaurants and new initiatives, yet supply news about restaurant openings and specials all the time.  Attempts were made last year by Michael Olivier (Editor of Crush!), David Cope (The Foodie Blogger) and Skye Grove (Cape Town Tourism PR Manager) to have this blog closed down.  We moved our blog hosting to America, to prevent this. 

*   Information as well as images are most likely to bring traffic via Google to the website, followed by Twitter.   Facebook is far less likely to draw traffic.

*   The weekly Sweet & Sour Service are enjoyed by readers, and many readers read the blog on a Friday, to check who has received the Sour Award, and then catch up in reading the blogposts of the pevious week.  The Spar Sweet/Limelight Sour Service Awards attracted an unusually high readership, and still do.

Looking forward, we plan to continue being honest, no matter what the cost.  We will endeavour to remain relevant, and to remain heard in the increasing Social Media ‘noise’, as more and more blogs are started, and existing ones reinvent themselves.   We will try to write shorter blogposts!   We will continue helping others to become better bloggers, and will endeavour to never stop learning from others too.

Thank you 1000 times for your readership and support!

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

Restaurant Review: Leaf Restaurant and Bar still very green, but good value!

It is a strange feeling to enter the newly opened Asian Leaf Restaurant and Bar in what was the location of two favourite restaurants – The Showroom and Portofino – in that the restaurant interior is exactly as it was when Cormac Keane closed Portofino in April, with a few changes – grass green serviettes on the side plates, brand new staff wearing green Leaf-branded T-shirts, and a massive ghetto-blaster out on the deck, with too-loud music.  The hardest thing about going to Leaf will be to choose what to eat, its choice of dishes being so vast.  In general, the prices are very reasonable, and the portions generous, offering excellent value for money.  Anyone looking for the two previous restaurants and their cuisine should stay away.

The opening of the restaurant was delayed due to a problem in getting the credit card machine installed. The restaurant had opened just more than a week before I visited it, and I went back on the following day, as I did not have much time on my first visit.    I sat outside on the deck for my Saturday lunch, and almost choked on my calamari when I saw the massive ghetto-blaster, which had been set up on the deck, on a table with a table cloth.  I asked if they were going to have a party, but it was meant to create atmosphere outside, to attract a younger crowd, said the Manager Ambrose.  Fortunately the music was switched off when I sat outside, it being unbearably loud.  The deck looks fuller in having more chairs and tables than in the past, and each outside chair has a red blanket, a clash with the green theme.    A hand-written blackboard welcomes one on arrival, advertising a most amazing sushi special offer – 51 % (no, not a typing error) off all a la carte sushi from 11h00 – 19h00 daily, and all-day on Sundays.

Owner James Ye (Chinese for ‘leaf’) bought the restaurant from Keane, and took over all fixtures and fittings.   Manager Ambrose, with ‘cheffing skills’, he said, when he prepared my calamari for the first lunch, worked at the Cape Town Fish Market for the past twelve years, leaving as Executive Head Chef responsible for menu development and costing.  Ye came from China to be a sushi chef at the V&A Waterfront branch of the Cape Town Fish Market, and left to open The Empire on Main Road in Sea Point, and also opened Saki in the Sable Centre in Montague Gardens.  He is also a frozen seafood supplier.  A number of staff at Leaf have worked at the Waterfront branch of the Cape Town Fish Market, and this made me nervous about my first meal there.   I was pleasantly surprised when my calamari was served – a massive plate with a very large portion of Patagonian calamari tubes, egg rice, tartar sauce made with Japanese mayonnaise, and the most wonderful steamed carrots and beans, an absolute steal at R79.  I was the only guest in the restaurant on this first visit.

I returned for Sunday lunch, now sitting inside, and having two more tables for company.  The ghetto-blaster had been moved under the outside table, but the table cloth which was meant to hide it was not long enough to do so.  The table cloths and serviettes look badly ironed, if at all, and we questioned the side-plates being on the right – Ambrose said he wants Leaf to be different!   Some knives had their serrated edges to the outside, rather than facing inside the setting, little signs of how new the staff are.   Staff stretch in front of one when clearing items away, or in bringing additional cutlery, a pet hate.  Any ex-regular would cringe if they saw the rose patterned cushions that are placed over the definitive ghost chairs of the restaurant.  We were served a very tasty onion focaccia bread with a crispy cheese crust, with a milk jug each of balsamic vinegar and olive oil.   It is clear that things are less pretty and more functional at Leaf, and I missed a woman’s hand in the management.

We were offered a complimentary cocktail, and I chose the ‘virgin’ “Peach Tree Mosquito”, a refreshing mix of fresh mint, lime juice, cane sugar, peach juice, soda and crushed ice.   Two champagnes are on the winelist, Veuve Cliquot and Pommery Brut Royale, at R999 and R1100, respectively.  MCC sparkling wines offered are Simonsig (R29/R175), Beyerskloof Brut Rose (R24/R145) and Pierre Jourdan Belle Rose (R265).  An innovative touch is the choice one has of ordering wine by the glass in 175 ml and 250 ml quantities, as well as by the bottle, allowing one to have different wines with each course or dish one eats.  The Sauvignon Blancs, for example, start at R 19 (175ml), R27 (250ml) and R79 (bottle) for the Du Toits Kloof brand, Zevenwacht 360 being the most expensive (R40/R60/R170).   For Shiraz lovers the entry level is Robertson (R20/R29/R87), and Diemersdal (R14/R62/R185) the most expensive.   A good selection of wines is offered per varietal.

Leaf has three menus: Sushi, Hot Pot and Dim Sum, and a standard a la carte menu. None of the three menus are integrated design-wise, and some have photographs of some of the dishes, while others do not.  The a la carte menu is the most professional looking, and is dominated by leaves on the pages.  I started with a Hand roll of avo and prawn from the Sushi menu, which normally has salmon and caviar added, but which I declined – the normal price is R 39, but with the 51 %-off, it only costs R19.   I cannot eat a hand roll by hand, so I was brought a steak knife to cut it.  I love the prawn and avo hand roll at Fu.shi in Plettenberg Bay, and that is my benchmark.  That of Leaf came close, but the end bits were dry, with the mayonnaise too concentrated in the middle.   Sushi lovers will delight in the vast variety offered, including Sashimi platters (16 pieces for R138), Salmon platters and Tuna platters (21 pieces for R149), and eight combination choices of R99 Sushi platters.   The Sushi menu also offers Crab, Prawn, Vegetable, Seared Tuna and Japenese (sic) Seafood salads, ranging from R30 – R58.   Other options are smaller portions of Sashimi, Nigiri, Fashion Sandwich, Maki, Inside Out Roll and Edo Roll, as well as Tempura vegetables and prawns, and a selection of hand rolls.

The Dim Sum menu offers eighteen choices of steamed and pan-fried dumplings, deep fried wontons, and more, with prices ranging from R28 – R48, while the Hot Pot menu offers sixteen choices, ranging from R22 for Tofu to R150 for Crayfish.  I did not have anything off this menu, being overwhelmed by the menu options offered across the three menus.

The a la carte menu tries hard to get away from the “Chinese” label the restaurant has already earned prior to its opening, and Manager Ambrose asked me specifically to not refer to it as a Chinese restaurant.  The Starters include Oysters (R15 – R20), Harumaki (deep-fried spring rolls), Calamari, Mussels, Tuna Tartare, Tempura, and Dumplings, no item costing more than R59, and Crayfish Cocktail (R99).  The Tempura prawn starter had five Indian Tiger Prawns, served as the most wonderful deepfried crispy thick “Japanese style battered morsels of food”, with sweet chilli sauce, at R40.  The Chicken springrolls were delicious, with a different crispy batter, costing R25.  Soups are Eastern in style, including Tom Yum, at R48.  Salads range in price from R48 – R58.  Fish and chips cost R40. Three calamari dishes range from R59 – R79.  Crayfish is served grilled or steamed, at R249, or Thermidor, at R299 – no weight/size is specified.   Seafood platters, served with a choice of two sides, range from R99 for line fish to R499 for the Executive (crayfish, scallops, line fish, prawns, baby squid, calamari and mussels).   Steak options are Sirloin (200 g for R79, 300 g for R109), and fillet (250 g for R119), and one can also order lamb shank, lamb chops and oxtail.  Three chicken dishes range from R59 – R79, while two Duck options are available, Peking Duck at R149, and Marinated Duck at R119.  I chose the latter, and was disappointed with its taste and presentation – it was served on a bed of chopped lettuce, with a very rich dark sweet soy sauce, making the plate look very messy.  The duck was nowhere near my duck benchmark, being that of Haiku.  Sticky rice and steamed vegetables were well prepared.   I was surprised to not see any desserts on the menu, but I am sure that no one could manage to eat any, after the great selection of starters and main courses. Coffee is by LavAzza.

One leaves Leaf confused about whether one likes the restaurant or not, and one tends to think back of wonderful meals and chats one had with Bruce and Cormac, given the familiarity of the furnishings.   If one loves Eastern food, and seeks value for money, one can do no better than to eat at Leaf.  The staff need time and practice to get their service up to speed, but in general they are friendly and eager to please.  Food is served the whole day, and not in lunch and dinner time bands, as is so common, which means that one can pop in at any time if one is feeling peckish.  Given time, Leaf can blossom, and bring new life to this restaurant space.

Leaf Restaurant and Bar, Harbour Edge Building, Chiappini Street, Green Point, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 418-4500. www.leafrestaurant.co.za (The “webside” is still under construction).

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

Restaurant Reviewer receives harsh ‘reviews’ about restaurant review

Rossouw’s Restaurants is South Africa’s only restaurant guide (Eat Out may have more glitz and glamour, but it does not come close to this ‘Platter’ equivalent to restaurants), and its owner JP Rossouw has established himself as a credible source of restaurant information, despite one not actually knowing what credentials Rossouw has to be a restaurant critic.  That credibility has now been questioned, with readers of his largely negative review of the new La Mouette restaurant in Sea Point grilling (pardon the pun!) Rossouw on his use of other reviewers, yet marking them with his initials, as if he had written the review himself.

Whilst knowledgeable about wines, and earning a living from them, in that he often wrote about wine in the Cape Times, is said to compile restaurant winelists, and consults to restaurants about wines, Rossouw commendably has been focused on only writing about restaurants in his blog (even though he does not know the difference between a blog, a blog post and a website) and in his annually updated Rossouws’ Restaurants hard copy guide.   Confusingly the book may contain some reviews that his blog does not, and vice versa.

On Friday, after publishing his very critical review of La Mouette, the first critical commenter “Eric” lashed out at Rossouw for his review: “Phew JP, you were mean! This review is so out of character for you – long, nitpicking, nasty, disparaging. You must have been having a bad day before you went for lunch to La Mouette. I hope you go back to get with the programme”.  This was followed by a further critical comment by “Cormac” (someone using the name of Portofino Cormac Keane, or the man himself?) “I am also quite surprised reading your review, it is unduly harsh for a restaurant that has been open for two weeks. I have eaten there twice and found the food to be very good, and I am not easily pleased”.

Rossouw’s loyal fans “Bazil” – could he be a Rossouw reviewer, the same Bazil that is a ‘Food Fanatic’ on Eat Out’s restaurant review panel, who lists La Mouette as one of the restaurants that he has reviewed, and who wrote in his 2 May Eat Out “review” that he had been to the “new and officially not open” La Mouette? – (and likens Rossouw to AA Gill, the “revered and feared London food critic”!) and “Michael” quickly jumped to Rossouws’ defence, and a spat developed, which led to the closing of the Comments section of the restaurant review, an unprecedented move.  Rossouw later explained that he felt that comments had become personal between commenters, and removed the offensive comments. When this writer had exposed Carne in not being truthful about its “organic meat” and Karoo origin claims, Rossouw allowed commenters to attack the comment writer without censorship.  This was picked up by one of the commenters and questioned.

Impatiently wanting to get her point of view across, and reacting to Rossouw’s comment censorship, “Sisteranna” used another restaurant’s comment box to give Rossouw a most articulate piece of her mind, questioning:

1.   Rossouw’s censorship and deletion of comments

2.   The cowardice of commenters in using pseudonyms

3.   Writing restaurant reviews after one visit only

4.   The credibility of reviews published with Rossouw’s initials JPR but not written by himself :”I am afraid thie (sic) entire state of affairs has cast serious doubt in my mind as to the integrity and veracity of any reviews published here”.

Every time she wrote a comment, Rossouw wrote back, and he clearly started tripping over his words, in that he had to admit that he had sent another reviewer to review the restaurant.  Here things become a little hazy, especially as Rossouw had removed a response by him, in which he had admitted to “Cormac” that he himself had not been to the restaurant, but that his reviewer had written the review.  He added that what was posted was far less harsh than how the reviewer had written it, implying that he had edited it to tone it down (one questions why the ‘truth’ should not have prevailed, given that it was a pretty harsh review anyway).  

When he was challenged about not writing all reviews himself by the commenters and on Twitter, he changed his tune, and implied (in a fudgy sort of way), that he had first sent a reviewer, and then had gone to the restaurant himself to review it.   However, observing this as a regular Rossouw’s Restaurants blog reader, it is quite out of character for Rossouw to review a restaurant within 2 weeks of it opening.  In the past Rossouw has been surprisingly slow on restaurant opening and closure news, and reviews of new restaurants.  Many reviewers will give a new restaurant some time to settle in before they attempt a first review, and one saw Rossouw’s time delay in the past to be for this reason. 

Then he tripped himself up by stating that his reviewer had been to the restaurant for dinner, yet he quoted lunch prices (La Mouette has different prices for its dishes for lunch and dinner).  Had Rossouw been at the restaurant himself, he would have known about the price difference.   Rossouw claims his reviews are independent, paid for and unannounced, which is how it should be, but he his well known to established restaurateurs.  Restaurants would pull out all the stops were they to see him arrive.   One wonders how he deals with the “independence” issue if he is paid by restaurants to consult to them about their wines.

Rossouw further claimed that he had written the review himself.  However, it was unusually long, and very critical, especially about the wine prices, and this again is out of character with Rossouw’s “Mr Nice Guy” image, according to “Eric”.  Rossouw normally only writes three paragraphs or so, and often one has been frustrated that he has not been critical enough, but he clearly does not want to offend restaurants (generally).  Rossouw replied to “Sisteranna”: “Where I do use a team is for the reviews that appear in the printed guide.  …. the blog and the book are separate but are linked”.   Does this mean that Rossouw will publish the review in his 2011 printed guide?  He continued: “All blog reviews on this website are written by me and only after a meal which I pay for”, contradicting himself again.

One of the commenters has told me that his comment was edited by Rossouw before being posted, to make himself look good and the commenter look apologetic, which was not what he had intended.

Many of the 33 comments to date (as at 10h00 this morning) are the diatribe between Rossouw and the tenacious “Sisteranna”, who, when challenged, revealed her identity as Sonia Cabano.  A Google search identified her as a chef (who trained in London, at Kensington Place amongst others, where La Mouette chef Henry Vigar was the head chef until a few months ago), cookery book writer (KOMBUIS) and as having presented cooking programmes on kykNET and SABC3, a lady who clearly knows what she is talking about.  She is persistent in her questioning of Rossouw’s inconsistencies in his comments, and subsequent responses. 

In having created a stimulating debate and raised a few laughs, the La Mouette review and the comments received have raised important ethical and procedural issues about restaurant reviews.

Rossouw’s review and all the comments can be read here.   Read our review of La Mouette here.

POSTSCRIPT: JP Rossouw has written a very calm and reasoned response to this post on his website.

POSTSCRIPT 8 JUNE: In response to a request by JP Rossouw to “correct” my blog post, I replied to him on Friday 4 June, and asked him to meet with me, to tell me the whole story and to show me the two La Mouette invoices for the meal for himself and for his reviewer, to prove that both of them ate at the restaurant.   He has not replied to this invitation to date.   We also note that Rossouw has edited some of his comments on his website relating to this issue, to emphasise that he and another reviewer went to the restaurant on separate occasions, telling a different story to the way he originally told it via his responses to comments to his blog post.

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

Restaurant Review: Sloppy Sam not sloppy at all

A spontaneous invitation to join Cormac Keane, previous owner of Portofino, for dinner at one of his new favourite restaurants, led to the introduction to Sloppy Sam on Somerset Road in Green Point, Cape Town.   While its name may put one off from trying the restaurant, it is anything but sloppy.  Sloppy Sam is a most warm and welcoming restaurant.   Its business card promises “Simple Food Cooked Well”.

The charming Persian owner and hands-on chef Hooman Saffarian spent time at our table, always a plus when the owner takes the time and trouble to meet his customers.   Equally impressive was waiter Bradley, who had the right balance of attentiveness, service, and friendliness, and clearly loves his job.  He proudly said that he has worked at the restaurant for a year, and would not easily move, even if he were to be paid more somewhere else.

Sloppy Sam is a Cape Town institution, having been established on Glengariff Road in Sea Point as a milk bar in 1935.   In 1984 Saffarian bought the restaurant, only the fourth owner in the 75 year history of the restaurant.   He sold the restaurant in 1993, but he and his family missed the restaurant so much that he bought it back.  Four years ago the restaurant moved to its current location, previously the home of “The Restaurant”, whose owner Graeme Shapiro emigrated to Australia.   Sloppy Sam has a namesake in Rome, we are told.

The first impression of Sloppy Sam on entering is that it is a Greek restaurant, as the music sounds Greek.   It has Greek style chairs, in a Greek-blue, and has a homely feel from its cluttered yet neat look – crates of bottled water, wine, and Persian delicacies stand on the floor, and add to the decor.   Shelves are filled with imported jams, pomegranate juice, and pickled garlic.   A bowl has an attractive collection of red onions, lemons and aubergines.  Persian rugs hang over the balcony and on the wall, and they, together with the works of art, are for sale out of the restaurant.   Saffarian sells antiques as well, Bradley tells us.

The menu and winelist are in one document, a no-nonsense plastic folder with information.   The menu has mediterranean Mazzehs, which include tarama, tzatziki, dolmek, kuftek (meatballs) and bademjan, all at R 35, served with pita bread, a little over-toasted for my liking, making it tough.  Feta, olives and humus cost R 38. Spanakopita, sardines and tuna carpaccio cost around R 39, and two salads cost R 47.   All main courses have been kept under R 100, at R 99 for the lamb shank, roasted lamb neck and pepper steak, and the lamb ribs,lamb chops, moussaka, beef and chicken kebabs, calamari and tuna are cheaper.   The pan-fried calf’s liver is R 75.   I love liver, and while it was not as thick-cut as I like it prepared, it was certainly tasty.  The potato mash could have been creamier, and not feel as if it was just compressed potato.  The tzatziki and humus were excellent.   Keane enjoyed his chicken kebabs with a spicy tikka.  Desserts cost between R 25 – R 33, for baklava, halva and malva pudding.

Bradley offered me a choice of two wines in dinky bottles – I have not seen these in a restaurant for years!   I choose the 2006 Blaauwklippen Cabernet Sauvignon, and was allowed to taste it without asking!   The wine list has a small selection of inexpensive wines: Chardonnays range from R 120 for Hartenberg to R 165 for Springfield Wild Yeast; white blends from R 95 for the Buitenverwachting Buiten Blanc to R 120 for a Haute Cabriere Chardonnay/Pinot Noir; Rose’s cost R 69 for the Nederburg and R 85 for the Boschendal Blanc de Noir; Fleur du Cap Cabernet Sauvignon costs R 120, while the Springfield Whaleberg costs R 229; Beyerskloof Pinotage is R 99, while the Hartenberg costs R 130; the Villiera Merlot costs R 115, the Bilton costs R 140; the Bellingham Shiraz costs R 120 and the Diemersdal R 135.

The restaurant has the cutest website ever seen (restaurants generally are not well-known for their marketing), which looks like a picture book, and makes a sound when you turn the pages.  It opens on the Homepage with a proud shot of Saffarian, with loud middle-Eastern music.  It warns one not to expect “blitz cooking” at the restaurant.   We will definitely return to Sloppy Sam.

Sloppy Sam, 51a Somerset Road, Green Point, tel 021 419-2921, www.sloppysam.co.za.  Open Mondays – Saturdays, evenings only.

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

Restaurant News: Cape Town and Winelands restaurant winter specials

Cape Town’s restaurants are feeling the hospitality winter blues, with a large number of restaurants announcing their restaurant specials.  The winter has claimed its casualties too, and there could be more in what has been a poor winter for many businesses.

La Mouette has opened at 78 Regent Road in Sea Point.   Brio is a new jazz restaurant, in half of the ex-Riboville in town (on the Adderley Street side), while Liquorice and Lime has taken over the other half of Riboville (on the St George’s Mall side).  Van Hunks has opened at 1 Union Street, off Kloof Street in Gardens.  Cafe Nood has opened in Wilderness Road, Claremont. Ryan’s Kitchen has opened at Rusthof guest house in Franschhoek – the chef Ryan Smith is ex-Mont Rochelle.  On Broadway has moved to the New Space Theatre building at 44 Long Street, with a new restaurant where Anytime was.  Buena Vista Social Club has moved to the top end of Portswood Road in the Waterfront.    The House of Meat has opened in the Pepper Club Hotel, corner Long and Bloem Streets, offering a full braai for R 295, from 3 pm every day.   Amazink, ex-Roots, in Khayamandi in Stellenbosch, has opened, with Bertus Basson from Overture an advisor. Spiros has opened in Hout Bay.  Mason’s Cafe & Grill has opened in the ex-Cafe Gainsbourg.  La Cantina has opened in the Alliance Francaise. The De Leuwen Jagt restaurant on the Seidelberg wine estate outside Paarl has opened The Fabulous Bakery.   Gesellig has opened on the corner of Church and Regent Roads in Sea Point, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.   Chez d’Or has opened in Franschhoek, with Richard Carstens as consultant Chef, scheduled to stay until September, but he left on 28/7.  It has been confirmed that Carstens will take over the running of Tokara in October, given that Etienne Bonthuys is set to open a new restaurant on Dorp Street in Stellenbosch.  Gesellig is a cosy and friendly new eatery in Sea Point.   Indochine  has opened at the Delaire Graff wine estate in Stellenbosch.  The Long Table Restaurant and Cafe has opened at Haskell Vineyards in Stellenbosch.  The Wild Peacock Food Emporium has opened in Stellenbosch.  Knife Restaurant has opened in the Crystal Towers Hotel & Spa, a sister restaurant to Fork.  De Oude Bank Bakkerij has opened in Stellenbosch.  Cafe Le Chocolatier has taken over from Cafe Vendome in Place Vendome in Franschhoek. Leaf Restaurant and Bar has opened where Portofino/The Showroom were located.  Epicerie Fine is the new name of the L’Ermitage Deli in Franschhoek, and has a new owner.   Sommelier Restaurant at the Sante Hotel and Wellness Centre has re-opened.  Illyria coffee shop has opened in the Eikestad Mall in Stellenbosch. Babylonstoren is to open a restaurant in October, next door to Backsberg.  The Fish Shack has opened at The Paddocks in Milnerton.  Reubens at One&Only Cape Town has opened.   Luigi’s from Hout Bay is said to be opening where Vista Mare was in The Promenade in Camps Bay.   Satay Bar has taken over from Zucca in Kloof StreetPierneef à La Motte has opened at La Motte. Luke Dale-Roberts, ex-chef at La Colombe and making 12th place on the Top 50 Restaurants in the World list earlier this year, will be opening The Test Kitchen at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock in November.  Sofia’s at Morgenster will open in Somerset West in November.  Down South will open on Long Street in October.  French Toast has opened at 199 Bree Street, a tapas and wine bar.  Babel opens at Babylonstoren next to Backsberg on 14 November.   Hemelshuijs has opened at 71 Waterkant Str, serving breakfast and lunch, and dinner on request.

Portofino, which opened where The Showroom was, has closed its doors. The first review of Portofino appeared on this blog.   Cafe Gainsbourg on Kloof Street, Anytime on Long Street, Josephine’s Patisserie, Ginja, maze at the One&Only Cape Town, La Table de France in Sea Point, Panarotti’s and Shimmi’s Bar in Hermanus, Miguel’s in Plettenberg Bay, and Bouillabaisse and La Brasserie in Franschhoek have also closed down.   Camil Haas, the co-owner of Camil’s in the Cape Royale Luxury Hotel, has left the restaurant, but is doing food and wine pairing evenings in Franschhoek, and has joined Reuben’s, substituting for Reuben Riffel in Franschhoek and at the One&Only.  Yum in Vredehoek has closed down.   In Camps Bay the Cape Town Fish Market and Terra Mare have closed down.  Luke Dale-Roberts is no longer the Executive Chef at La Colombe, but will consult to the restaurant.   Tank in the old Cape Quarter is to get a new name.   Cafe des Arts has taken over from Topsi’s in Franschhoek.  Satay Bar has taken over from Zucca in Kloof Street.  shu has closed down on Main Road, Green Point, and it appears that Camil’s has too.   Madame Zingara has left Cape Town, to pitch her tent in Johannesburg.  Le Quartier Français has clsoed iCi, and has opened The Common Room.

Some restaurants are closing to have a winter break. The Mount Nelson’s Cape Colony re-opens with a new interior and new menu on 1 November.  Vaudeville has closed between August and October.  Marianna’s in Stanford is re-opening on 14 October. The Salmon Bar in Franschhoek re-opens on 1 November, undergoing renovations in a new location (parts of ex-Bouillabaisse and Pam Golding venue). Massimo’s Pizza Club in Hout Bay has gone into winter hibernation, and is likely to reopen in November, in a new venue across the road from its previous venue in Hout Bay, with the new name Massimo’sMario’s, which had to close during the World Cup due to a fire in the kitchen, has re-opened. 

The following restaurant specials have been announced (NOTE: This Specials list is updated continuously).  WE HAVE STARTED A NEW SPRING/SUMMER SPECIALS LIST

We have seen our list used without acknowledgement on other bloggers’ blogs – please acknowledge Whale Cottage Portfolio Blog as your source:

CAPE TOWN

*   The Cru Cafe in the Cape Quarter:  buy 1 wine flight, get 1 free, served with snacks, all days of week, lunch and dinner

*   Wang Thai: 2 courses including rice R 69, at V&A Waterfront, Constantia, Somerset West, and Lagoon Beach branches, until 30 November 

*   Andiamo in the old Cape Quarter: R 49 breakfast special (juice, cooked breakfast, cappuccino), until 11h30 daily; 2 pizzas or 2 pastas with 2 glasses of wine R 125; Basil, chilli chicken/salmon salad with bottle of water or colddrink R 59, until 31 October. Tel (021) 421-3687

*   Pure at Hout Bay Manor: 3 course dinner for R 200, and R 280 with a glass of wine added

*   Vanilla in the Cape Quarter:  1/2 price sushi 12 – 6 pm, 25 % off cocktails

*   Pepenero in Mouille Point : sirloin and chips R 79, seafood platter R 129, prawn platter R 99, oysters R 9 each, half-price sushi, spaghetti bolognaise R59

*  Sinn’s Restaurant at Wembley Square:  lunch (6 options) at R 50.  3-course dinner at R 135.

*   Hussar Grill, in Camps Bay and Green Point: 400g beef ribs, 200g rump/sirloin steak, 200g boerewors R99, until stocks last

*   Pepper Club on the Beach in Camps Bay: “Nip and Tuck promotion” – Prawn platter R98; Potjies R79,95; Sirloin and Prawn combo R89,50; Seafood platter R139,95; half-price sushi – until end October

*   Kuzina in the new Cape Quarter:  Meze platter for two plus bottle of wine R 189, Mondays – Fridays 12h00 – 18h00 and Sunday evenings from 18h00. Continuous. Tel (021) 418-8000

*   Saul’s Sushi@Vegas, 118 Main Road, Sea Point: “Eat as much as you like” sushi R 120 Mondays and Tuesdays, “two for the price of one” sushi Fridays and Saturdays

*   Theo’s on Beach Road, Mouille Point: oysters R 6 each, 1 kg prawns R 99, line fish R79, for lunch and dinner.  300 gram sirloin steak, spatchcock chicken peri peri and 500 gram spare ribs all R 79 for lunch only.  Full sushi platter R99, half platter R50. Tel (021) 439-3494.

*   1800 in the Cape Royale Luxury Hotel, Main Road, Green Point: 300g sirloin steak R99. Until end October.

*   Myoga at Vineyard Hotel, Newlands: 6 course dinner, with 5 choices per course, for R 150, Mondays – Saturdays, continues throughout summer 

*   Tank in old Cape Quarter: 2 courses R R140, 3 courses for R 165, both with a glass of wine, until end October.  Tel (021) 419-0007  

*   Beluga, The Foundry, Green Point: 1 kg prawns R99; 50 % off sushi Sundays – Mondays from 12h00 – 19h00.  Tel (021) 418-2948.

*   The Kove, Victoria Road, Camps Bay: 2-course meal with glass of wine R120; Fish and chips R 79, 400g ribs R75, Oysters R 9,  Seafood Platter R129, Rump 250gm R 79, Rump 500gm R 109, 1kg of prawns R 99, Lamb chops R99.  Tel (021) 438-0004

*  Cafe Sofia in Camps Bay, Green Point, etc:  Breakfats specials, Burger R59, Chicken skewers R59. 

*   221 Waterfront: two drinks for price of one, Mondays – Fridays, 16h30 – 18h30, two dishes on “Lite” and Sushi sections of menu for the price of one, 3-course dinner for R 135

*   Jakes in the Village/on Summerley, in Steenberg and Kenilworth, respectively:   25 % off all dishes, 5 – 7 pm only, Mondays – Saturdays, until end September

*   Buitenverwachting in Constantia:  2 courses R 149, 3 courses R 169, 4 courses R 199

*   Duchess of Wisbeach, corner Main and Wisbeach Roads, Sea Point – free bottle of wine for a table of four

Le Restau Paradiso, Kloof Street: Marie’s Menu 3 courses R 110; Capetonian Menu 3 courses R 130; French Classics Menu 3 courses R 150, until December.

*   A Tavola in Claremont: 50 % off all pasta dishes on Mondays. 

*   The Lookout Deck, Hout Bay:  6 prawns free with specific main courses; 6 oysters R 36 (5 – 7 pm only), until end September

*   La Mouette, Regent Road, Sea Point: 6 courses for R 175.  Express Lunch – 2 courses (with 2 choices each) at R 99.   Monday – Saturday dinner, Tuesday – Sunday lunch,  until launch of Summer menu at Garden Party on 10 October. Tel (021) 433-0856

*   Blonde restaurant, Hatfield Street: “two …blondes are better than one” promotion of 25 % off the bill, until September

*   Lagoon Beach, Milnerton – 2 course meal from R 75, “all-you-can-eat” Sunday buffet R 99

*   Jardine, Bree Street: 3-course dinner at R 180, Tuesdays – Saturdays

*   Berthas in Simonstown: 1 kg mussels, 1 kg Queen prawns or 1 kg mini seafood platter cost R 99 each

*   Ricks Cafe Americain, lunch special for R 39, Mondays – Saturdays, until 31 October

*   The Square Restaurant, Vineyard Hotel, Newlands: 5-course dinner costs R 165.  Tel (021) 657-4500

*   Pepperclub Luxury Hotel & Spa: 6 oysters and a glass of bubbly R60, Fridays from 16h00, with jazz

*   Aubergine:  2-course lunch R184,  3-course lunch R235, Wednesdays – Fridays

*   Balducci’s: All pizzas (except Flaming Prawns) R49, 26-piece Platinum Sushi Plate for R99, Burgers from R55.  Monday – Sunday, 12h00 – 18h00.

*   Ferrymans, V&A Waterfront: 3-course pairing meal, with wines matching starter and main course, at R200, until September.

*   Saul’s Taverna: for every meal ordered from main menu, the second person get’s a free main course from chef’s special menu

*   Societi Bistro: “Tour of France” – 3-course French menu R 150, until October

*   Chapman’s Peak Hotel, Hout Bay: Moelas Estufadas R35, Escargots R35, Oxtail R99, Hake and squid, chorico R29, Hake Fillet R69, Butternut and feta lasagne R69.  Tel (021) 790-1036

*   Quay 4: Snoek and chips R59, until October

*   Black Marlin: Snoek on braai R55, half crayfish on braai  R75, Saturdays and Sundays;  3 course meal plus glass of sherry R125, until October

*   Hildebrand: 2 courses R 89, 3 courses R 120, until September

*   Chenin Restaurant and Bar: Sirloin steak R60. Tel 021 425-2200

*   Leaf Restaurant and Bar : 51 % off sushi from 11h00 – 16h00 and all day Sunday, 18 prawns for R69, 50 % off dimsum. Current

*   Gesellig, Regent Road, Sea Point: 2 courses plus soup or dessert = R 90 for dinner; lunch costs R40 for dishes usually costing R65 – R77 12h00 – 14h00

*  The Fish Shack Restaurant and Wine Bar, Paddocks, Milnerton: Shack Platter and glass of wine R 90

*   Blowfish in Blouberg: Seafood platter R 89, 20-piece sushi platter + glass of wine R99, 500g rump steak R 95, Chicken schnitzel R75, Prawn platter R69, Thai seafood curry R79, Mixed Grill Espetada R95, until October. Tel 021 556-5464

*   Ocean Basket: Starter, seafood platter, and bottle of Two Oceans wine for 2 for R 235 (only at Hout Bay, Plumstead, Tygervalley and V&A branches), until 31 October.

*   Live Bait, Kalk Bay Harbour: pan-fried paprika calamari R50, until end October, Monday – Thrursday lunch, Sunday – Thursday dinner, tel 021 788-4133

*   Bamboo, below Cape Royale Hotel: unlimited prawns at R 95 on Sunday evenings, 10 oysters for price of 8

*   Cape Town Fish Market: 2 courses R 59, 3 courses R 69, (snoek paté, 200 g hake and chips, koeksisters) until 17 October

*   Cafe Chic:  3 courses R130, half price cocktails Wednesdays, until October. Tel (021) 465-7218 

*   OYO at V&A Hotel : 500g crayfish special R185. Current

*   Krugmann’s Grill, V&A Waterfront: 200g sirloin steak and 4 prawns R 65; chicken or beef burger with chips for lunch only 12h00 – 17h00 R29, both offers until end October

*   Spur: rump and sirloin, and beef or chicken schnitzel all R 59,95, until end October

*   Dale’s Black Angus Grill, Tableview: Beef Burger, Minute Fillet Steak and Egg, Mussel and Lobster Pot, Zuricher Geschnetzeltes, all R40; Liver R35; Fish & Chips R30; Castle Draft R12, until end October Tel (021) 551-7776 

THE WINELANDS

*   Allee Bleue, outside Franschhoek: choice of three 250 gram steaks at R 99, including a glass of estate wine, May – September. Tel (021) 874-1021

*   Olivello, Klapmuts, outside Stellenbosch: 2-course meal R 99, 3-course meal R 119.

*   Le Bon Vivant in Franschhoek: 2-course meal for R 150, 3 courses for R 175, until end October. Tel (021) 876-2717

*   Cuvee, Simonsig wine estate, outside Stellenbosch:   2 course lunch or dinner + glass of wine R 170, 3 courses R 200, August – October

*   Bosman’s, Grand Roche Hotel, Paarl: 3-course lunch and 2 glassses of wine for R 260, Sundays

*   Lanzerac Hotel in Stellenbosch : 3 course lunch R 235

*   Le Petite Ferme, Franschhoek: 2 courses R 100, 3 courses R 150, plus carafe of wine, live music, every Friday evening, until end October

*   Ryan’s Kitchen at Rusthof, Franschhoek : 5 course meal Taste of Africa R395, with wine added R595.  Summer Tel (021) 876-4598.  

*   Noble Hill, Klapmuts: Farmer’s Lunch costs R 62, Mondays – Fridays

*   Restaurant Christophe, Stellenbosch: business lunch – 2 courses R130, 3 courses R 150, Tuesday – Friday, served within one hour, all year

*   Allora in Franschhoek: 3 course menu at R89, until end November. Tel (021) 876-4375.

*   Café Nadine, L’Ermitage, Franschhoek – pasta, sald and glass of wine  R69.  Tel (021) 876-9200

*   Waterkloof Restaurant at Waterkloof in Somerset West: Summer special – 2 courses R140, 3 courses R170, and includes a tasting of 5 Waterkloof wines. Tel (021) 858-1491

*   L’ermitage, Franschhoek: 2 course meal and glass of wine R85. Until end October. Tel (021) 876-9200

OTHER AREAS

*   Season in Hermanus: 2 course meal R 75, bredie of the day R 48, Sunday roast R 65, 3-course Sunday lunch R 110. Tel (028) 316-2854

*   Mediterrea in Hermanus: 3 course meal R 195, Monday – Thursday dinners and Sunday lunches

*   The Class Room, Hermanus: 5 course gourmet dinner, R 165, Wednesdays – Saturdays, until end October.  Tel (028) 316-3582

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

Copyright: Whale Cottage Portfolio

Cape Town restaurant news: who’s hot and stirring?

The Cape Town restaurant scene has been buzzing this month, with a number of new restaurants opening, and an e-mail exchange creating the biggest restaurant stir ever experienced in the city.

The opening of the Cape Quarter extension on Somerset Road in De Waterkant has seen two restaurants open in the centre to date: Cru Cafe, a restaurant which has created “its own terroir” in the centre, says director Elsie Pells, in serving a selection of 150 wines hand-picked by Pells, a Cape Wine Master.   Voila, an all day breakfast and light meal restaurant, owned by the owners of Wakame, is a friendly addition, with cakes, muffins, croissants, fudge, toffee apples and many more treats prepared on site.   A clever touch is that glass domes presenting the treats are placed upon stacks of cookery books!  Downstairs, at the entrance, is an Andiamo Espresso, which is a sister coffee shop to the one in the original Cape Quarter, but on a very much reduced scale, only selling coffee, ice creams, juices, sandwiches and muffins.  It belongs to the same owners as the amazing Spar Gourmet Food Store at the entrance to the center.   Vanilla will open at the end of the month, and is owned by father and son duo Nigel and Simon Newhouse from Tuscany Beach in Camps Bay.   It will be the lead restaurant in this centre, with 180 diners catered for on two levels.   The chef  Evan Coosner worked at Reuben’s  and Ginja previously.   Kuzina – Greekooking, LAZARI, and BICCCS (Bread, Ice Cream, Cakes, Coffee, Croissants, Sandwiches) are restaurants still set to open in the centre.    To celebrate its opening, the Cape Quarter has organised a Food & Brandy Festival on 13 and 14 November, with Giggling Gourmet Jenny Morris, in conjunction with the Alchemy of Gold (Klipdrift, Flight of the Fish Eagle, Oude Meester, Nederburg, Uitkyk and Van Ryn’s brandies), talking and preparing food all day long.

The talk and tweet of the town has been an e-mail exchange between Cormac Keane, owner of new restaurant Portofino, and a client, who cancelled a 5 pm dinner reservation one hour before time of arrival.  Keane expressed his frustration to the client in no uncertain terms and with true Irish directness.  The client was not happy with the replies he received from Portofino, and made contact with some websites that had written favourable reviews of the restaurant, including WhaleTales.    He also sent it to a hip website called 2oceansvibe, which decided to post the e-mail exchange on its blog, leading to an outburst of mainly critical and at times extremely crass and defamatory attacks against Keane.  On the other hand, many readers of the exchange admired Keane for standing up to an inconsiderate customer, and lauded him for his bold and direct stand. The end result:  the customer has gone into hiding, and has requested that his name be deleted from the exchange on the 2oceansvibe website.  For Portofino, it has meant a fully booked restaurant ever since the e-mail exchange was circulated around the city, reinforcing that there is no such thing as bad publicity!   The WhaleTales’ review of Portofino, which was written shortly after Portofino opened, was offered as a link in some of the website comments, and the review attracted more than 2000 readers in the past week, a record readership.   A vindictive customer tried to show up what he felt was a rude restaurateur, and got more than he bargained for.  Instead of spreading the word to prevent others from going to Portofino, he has done the restaurant the best possible favour by creating wide-spread exposure for it, a bonus for a restaurant which only opened 6 weeks ago, and now has become the best known restaurant in town!   Portofino is not the first restaurant to have told a customer to not return: Le Quartier Francais, Carne, Beluga and Sevruga are known to have done so too!    Carne and Le Quartier Francais are finalists for the Prudential Eat Out Top 10 restaurant awards, and it begs the question whether such poor restaurant customer care should make them eligible for such a sought-after award.  

Another restaurant that is on the Eat Out Top 10 restaurant shortlist is The Roundhouse in Camps Bay, which has demonstrated its arrogance almost since its inception, stating at the outset that its goal is to become the best restaurant in Africa.  A response of the owner Fasie Malherbe to a customer comment on the Eat Out website is a scary reflection of what one might encounter at this ‘Big Brother’ restaurant: “every guest that has ever walked through our door and dined with us is on record to the extent that I will outline your exact time of arrival, what you ate, what you drank as aperitif’s, digestif’s wine that was served to you, the guests comments made on each dish, positive or negative feedback, special dietry (sic) requirements, the guest interaction between staff is noted, what car you drove, whether you smoked or not, how many times you went to the restroom and any other details that we could use to ensure that when you return that we may ensure consistency in offering or if you have complaints as we have here that we have all our ducks in a row and can learn from the ordeal”!

Bruce Robertson, the previous owner of The Showroom, which is where Portofino is now located, has confirmed that the Franschhoek restaurant that he is consulting on is that of La Motte, which is due to open in May.   The wine estate has just opened its new tasting room.   Robertson is also working with Warwick wine estate outside Stellenbosch on their gourmet picnic offering, which will be available from 1 December.  Robertson is also a gourmet food tour guide now, and he led the editor and 8 readers of USA foodie magazine Bon Appetit around the culinary delights of the Cape, including Reuben preparing a meal at Boekenhoutskloof in Franschhoek; a winepairing dinner at Grand Roche with Cederberg Wines; a malas tasting at Paul Cluver matched to organic farm foods; a seafood braai paired with Hamilton-Russell wines at Birkenhead in Hermanus, with the Southern Right whales frolicking in the ocean as a backdrop; and an interactive Cape Malay cooking demonstration with Cass Abrahams and paired with L’Omarins wines. 

OYO, the restaurant in the V&A Hotel in the Waterfront, is offering a crayfish special at R 185 for 500 grams.  A choice of hot or cold crayfish is offered.  Sister restaurant SALT at the Ambassador Hotel in Bantry Bay is also offering this special.

Alle’e Bleue wine estate has opened its beautiful top class winetasting room, and has a new outside courtyard restaurant seating about 80 linked to it, serving only five options:   Flammkuchen, Bobotie, a cheese platter, a chicken/spinach salad and a mixed grill.

Delaire Graff has made three changes after only being open for four months:  its prices have increased, its staff have changed, losing their exceptional Maitre’d, and their menu has changed.   Read a report on the latest visit here.

New Italian restaurant Alla Posta is to open at 51 Kloof Street shortly.  It will not only offer Italian delicacies, but also Italian furniture, decor and books, and show Italian movies.

Two new restaurants are set to open in Franschhoek soon, both owned by one of Franschhoek’s largest retail and hospitality landowners Robert Maingard.   In the old station building once hosting the Tourism Bureau, a sports bar is set to open, while a creperie should have opened a few months ago already close to the Huguenot Fine Chocolate shop.   A Franschhoek branch of Gelato Mania, which already exists on Somerset Road, in Green Point, opened recently and is tucked away alongside Col’Cacchio.

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

Restaurant Review: Lucky number Table Thirteen

A first visit to Table Thirteen, on the recommendation of Cormac Keane of Portofino, on a Saturday morning, was perfect in terms of service delivery, the generousness of the egg and bacon breakfast served, and the personal interaction from the Manager and chef Eileen.  As the owner Lara O’Sullivan was out of town, Eileen was happy to provide information.   

 

The menu on the deli board changes daily, and can include sweet pea and broccoli soup (R 38); homebaked ham truffle mushroom phyllo pie (R 70); grilled Norwegian salmon with feta and spring onion polenta (R 80); bacon, parmesan and thyme tart and salad (R70); Greek olive and artichoke chicken served with spring onion polenta and salad (R 70); and spinach, broccoli, and olive Quinoa with roast vegetables and salad (R 60). What is wonderful is that breakfast is served all day.   Bread and cakes are baked on the premises.   Sandwiches and salads can also be ordered from a printed menu.

 

The restaurant is located inside a shared space with T&Co, an interior design shop owned by Tanya Sturgeon, who bought the building, and has recently opened a T&Co in Johannesburg too.   Crystal chandeliers decorate the restaurant, and it has an eclectic collection of chairs, very few matching but this creates a fun interior.

 

A second visit a few days later disappointed when Eileen had left already, and had left the running of the restaurant to the waitressing and kitchen staff.  The waitress ignored the client until she was called for service, she served the bread and soup without a serviette and a knife, and served the apple tart with crème fraiche when fresh cream had been requested and confirmed.   Miraculously some “cooking cream” was found in the kitchen, and complemented the apple tart perfectly.   A quiet word spoken by Tanya, who happened to be in the restaurant, to the Table Thirteen staff improved service dramatically, and she instructed them to comp the meal, a generous and unexpected service recovery.

 

Table Thirteen is open on Mondays to Fridays from 8 – 17h00, and on Saturdays from 8h00 – 14h30.   It is located in Unit 78, Victoria Junction, Ebenezer Road, opposite the Green Point traffic department, and around the corner from Beluga, Green Point. Tel 021 418 0739.

 

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