Tag Archives: De Waal

Restaurant Review: ‘Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine’ an outstanding mouthful!

George Jardine is a highly respected chef, and has been a regular on the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards list.  His move to the Jordan Winery in Stellenbosch, to open the mouthful of a brand name ‘Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine’ in November last year probably cost him the Top 10 listing, but has been a welcome lifestyle change for him and his family.  The new restaurant has added substance to the Stellenbosch Restaurant Route, and to Stellenbosch taking over the Gourmet Capital crown of South Africa.

The setting of the Jordan wine estate at the end of the Stellenbosch Kloof Road is special, with lots of birdlife, and no traffic noise.  A huge dam in front of the winery and the restaurant attracts even more birds.   The parking area reflected the popularity of the restaurant, filled with cars on a Friday afternoon.   A compliment to the chef is that Hein Koegelenberg and his wife Hanlie (Rupert) of La Motte had brought some of their staff for a treat (their new Pierneef a la Motte restaurant opens in the next few days), whilst Gary Jordan (Jordan Wines owner) also had a table of eight in the restaurant.  I enjoyed chatting to both.

When I reviewed Jardine’s in Cape Town, I noted that George Jardine was not visible in that restaurant, despite marketing information which led one to believe that Jardine would be looking after his Cape Town restaurant a few days per week.   This does not seem to be the case, as Jardine is very hands-on in his restaurant at Jordan’s (one has to remain sober to get around the Jordan/Jardine brand names)!

The restaurant brand name is on the building near its entrance door (but not visible from the parking area), in silver lettering, adding a modern touch to a building that is not!  It looks functionally designed and built from outside, and this perception does not change when one is inside.   The interior is a Jardine’s Cape Town deja vu – the open plan kitchen (much bigger preparation space here though), functional interior, some paintings of pomegranates and figs, very functional kitchen counter from the customer perspective, almost old-fashioned, not particularly attractive lightwooded chairs, and modern stacking glass doors. The lovely overlay over the white tablecloth reminded me of Overture’s new tablecloths.  The glassware and cutlery is average, but I noticed David Walters’ ceramic touch in the square side plate.  The serviette seemed superwhite, of very good quality.  The waiters look neat in white shirts, black pants and black aprons.

The waiter Andrew was perfect – not pushy, not arrogant, helpful, informative, patient in answering all my questions, just disappointing when he did not e-mail the winelist on the same day, as promised (it appears he had delegated this to Jardine’s wife, who did not attend to it until I called for it).  He presented the menu on a black leather holder (similar to that of Overture, Majeka House and others I have seen recently).

The first thing I noticed on the menu was the date with a weather description “A misty 23rd July”.   One has two choices on the menu – a three-course Menu Du Jour winter special at R 180, and R220 if one has two wines – one does not have any choices on this menu.   Alternatively the three-course a la carte menu allows one to choose two dishes for R 200, and 3 courses for R225, and one has up to four choices per course.   There is little difference in value between the two options, and therefore I ordered from the a la carte menu.

The winelist is cute and neat, a small square size, bound in a black leather cover, and each page has a quotation relating to wine on it.  Corkage is indicated at R50, and only one bottle is allowed.  The winelist is introduced as follows: This is a selection of wines we enjoy. Each bottle is full of love, passion and a story and if you listen carefully with your taste buds some part of that story may show, explaining terroir, slopes, altitude, climate and other interesting details. A wine however is not made by one person alone, much like the food you are about to enjoy. Thousands of people from farms, most of which can be seen from where you are sitting, have had an effort in making your wine – whether that is planting, pruning, squashing or bottling it. Please enjoy our effort in presenting their effort.”

The wine range contains a mix of Jordan and other wines, and the price band is such that it offers an affordable wine for every pocket.  Wines-by-the-glass are surprisingly affordable, a glass of Chameleon (a Jordan brand) Rose’ costing R25, and a glass of Jordan Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Mellifera does not cost more than R40.  White wine bottle prices start at R90 for a Chameleon Sauvignon Blanc/Chardonnay, peaking at R700 for a Jordan CWG Auction Reserve Chardonnay.  De Waal Pinotage costs R85, a Jordan Sophia R963.   While the winelist shows vintages, it does not describe any of the wines. I ordered a glass of Jordan Syrah 2006, which was very smooth, smoky and full-bodied, reminding me of a shiraz made the old-fashioned traditional way.

The bread plate was the most creative I have ever seen, refreshingly different, and reflects that Jardine is an ardent bread baker.   The square bread plate had a bowl of aoili, a block of farm butter, crisp strips made from sweet potatoes, and a breadstick made from vetkoek dough.   It wasn’t just the individual items that looked amazing, but the way in which they were presented made it look like a course in itself.

What I found interesting, having been at Jardine’s in Cape Town where “organised chaos” seemed to dictate food presentation, is that Jardine is very angular, his food presented in square containers.  The starter, for example, was presented on a black slate tile (I remember slate at Jardine’s in Cape Town for the cheese platter) and this was set inside a square glass container, with a serviette neatly placed between the two containers, making its presentation look very smart.

The duck liver parfait starter, with a confit duck bonbon rolled in sesame seeds, served with prune and celeriac chantilly and tiny slices of toasted brioche, was melt in the mouth (the bonbon had been left off the plate by mistake initially).  Other starter options were Saldanha Bay mussels, pan fried west coast mackerel, and hand rolled fettuccini.   The main course arrived after about a 45 minute wait, which seemed long, in that I had run out of questions to ask, been to the bathroom, and read all my Twitter updates.  My main course intrigued me, in that it was not any old pork, but “Penny Verburg’s suckling pig roasted”, which was served with braised cavolo nero (a type of black cabbage), parsnip and gremolata.  Penny is the wife of Botriver-based Luddite winemaker Neels Verburg, and she has a good hand with organic pig rearing, Andrew told me.  The pork was thinly sliced, and every now and again one had a bite of the thinnest pieces of crackling, giving good mouthfeel as well as taste. Other starter choices were Chalmar ribeye, hake, and gnocchi.   I felt that I had hit the jackpot in both choices, they were so outstanding.   I didn’t have any dessert, but I could have chosen between chocolate souffle, an interesting sounding baked Pimm’s creme catalan (just saw a very similar dessert on the La Colombe menu), or a cheese board.

The Menu du Jour was Vichyssoise with a warm salad of sauteed tongue, gnocchi and gremolata; braised veal brisket; and chocolate hot pot with vanilla ice cream and praline.

I will go back to Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine, on a summery day, so that I can sit outside, and try more of Jardine’s creations.   It is a pity that Jardine is so hands-on that he does not allow himself to leave the kitchen at all to greet his customers, a contradiction as he is visible to all diners, but he makes no eye contact, and barely responded when I thanked him for the lovely lunch when I left.

Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine, Jordan Winery, Stellenbosch Kloof Road, Stellenbosch.  Tel (021) 881-3612.  www.jordanrestaurant.co.za (The website is not operational.  Surprisingly, no information about the restaurant is available on the Jordan Wines’ website www.jordanwines.com ). Open for lunch Wednesdays – Sundays, and on Thursday and Friday evenings for dinner.   On the Stellenbosch Restaurant Route

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

Restaurant Review: Nook Eatery celebrates, no longer hidden in the corner!

Nook Eatery is one of my favourite eateries, and I have always been made to feel welcome since I discovered it a year ago.  Today it celebrates its first anniversary (and co-owner Luke’s birthday yesterday).   From a quiet low-key opening, it has grown into a known and loved destination, and having Restaurant Christophe next door, the two restaurants have become a food lovers’ haven on Van Reyneveld Street in Stellenbosch, although they differ vastly.  Nook is no longer a hidden corner!

Co-owner Jessie is the chef, and she takes special pride in preparing everything herself, and sourcing organic foods where she can.  Nook has become a popular student lunch stop, and their pizza evenings on Wednesdays, the only day they open at night, are extremely popular.   They have a collection of cream tables and modern silver chairs outside, and on a summery winter’s day this is the ideal spot to watch the student parade.  It is enjoyed by non-students too.  Luke connects with his customers, often hands-on in taking the orders and serving the food, and the regulars soon become friends.

Breakfast starts at 8h30, and scrambled eggs cost a mere R20.  Lunch is served from 12h00 – 15h00, and one can order the soup of the day – sweet potato and pear soup on the day that I was there (R30); Croque Monsieur (R35); a Nook Burger, made from free-range beef and served with salad, avocado and fries (R50); toasted sandwiches, made with Boerenkaas (R26) or with gypsy ham added (R32), Thai chicken (R35), Roast Beef (R36), and mushroom brushetta (R32).  Sweet treats include croissants (R12); massive pain au chocolat (R14); toasted coconut bread (R12); French toast, bacon and syrup (R30); and poached pear and Greek yoghurt (R28).

The lunch buffet opens at 12h00, and is a recent addition at Nook Eatery, for which those that know and want it come to punctually, before the food runs out.  It costs R13 per 100 gram.  The buffet changes daily, and on the day I visited Nook it consisted of slow roasted lamb and rice; mushroom, cinnamon and lemon; organic pear and gorgonzola salad; organic lentil and spinach salad; and avocado, tomato and herb salad.  The ‘Wood-Fired Wednesdays” pizza evenings have become an institution, and eleven pizza choices are available, including Argentinian chorizo, avocado and gorgonzola (R62); organic pear, gorgonzola and fresh rocket (R52); anchovies and capers (R50); and four cheese – with mozzarella, gruyere, gorgonzola and parmesan (R50).

The wine list is short – De Waal Sauvignon Blanc (R16 by the glass, R65 bottle), Kumala (R18/R70) and Krone MCC (R20/R100). MAN Vintners Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz all cost R70.

Nook Eatery is highly recommended, for friendly service, an homely atmosphere and excellent healthy food.   It was selected as the location for the soccer-inspired “League of Glory” TV series.

Nook Eatery, 42 Van Reyneveld Street,  Stellenbosch.  Tel (021) 887-7703. www.nookeatery.co.za.  Free wireless internet.  8h00 – 16h00 Monday – Friday, 8h00 – 13h00 Saturday.  Pizza evening Wednesdays 18h00 – 21h00.   On the Stellenbosch Restaurant Route.

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

Restaurant Review: Bosman’s too Grande for its own good?

After a three year absence, an unbooked dinner at Bosman’s at Grande Roche in Paarl earlier this week was an impromptu decision and a disappointing experience.

Bosman’s has everything going for it – it is housed in a beautiful manor house, has a captive audience with the Grande Roche hotel guests dining there, it is a 5-star hotel, and it is a member of Relais & Chateaux, an international quality accommodation association.   For years the restaurant competed with Le Quartier Francais for first and second place in the gourmet stakes, and both were Top 10 restaurants for many years.  Bosman’s introduced a tasting menu, with winepairing, before Le Quartier did.

What is it that has made Bosman’s fall off the Eat Out Top 10 restaurant list completely over the past 3 years or so, and not even make the top 20 shortlist in the past two years, I asked myself, and the new German waiter Tom.  He diplomatically declined an answer to the question, and I wondered if it was the lack of awareness of Executive Head Chef Roland Gorgosilich that may be the reason.   He has worked at Bosman’s for at least 4 years, and took over the kitchen when his predecessor Frank Zlomke passed away last year.  Yet no one knows of Roland, and the hotel has not publicised his appointment, except on Facebook.   Tom the German waiter ventured one comment – perhaps the very new team at Bosman’s has not quite jelled, he observed.   Every winter the hotel and restaurant closes for a substantial break, and it loses staff who take on part-time winter jobs elsewhere and then stay on.    So, for example, the staff told me, a lot of staff left for Reubens, and more recently, to Asara, where ex Grande Roche GM Horst Frehse is the new GM.   In the past 2 years the hotel management has been (surprisingly) taken over by the Mantis Collection, the company running Shamwari, amongst others, and hardly known for its gourmet food there, and also was running the restaurant at Delaire Graff, but has already been relieved of its restaurant involvement there.

As a local one is surprised when an establishment that sets itself up as the extreme epitome of dining, can treat locals so shabbily.  The man at the boom, George, did not welcome me on arrival, just pointing his arm in the direction of the hotel, a robot just doing his duty.   When I walked in, I stood for a while in the entrance foyer, waiting for attention, and finally Edwina van der Westhuizen, the head waiter (no gender specification in her title) arrived.  She showed me to a table, and immediately asked if I did not want a Bistro menu instead.   Was this because I am a local, or because I came on my own?  It turned out that Edwina was the most senior person on duty, with all waiters and sommeliers reporting to her.  No restaurant management was on duty, despite the restaurant being fully booked, mainly with hotel guests.

Edwina talked me through the Bosman’s menu, like a machine, at an extreme speed so that one could not understand what she was saying.  She was repeating something off a ‘song-sheet’, without having the passion for what she was talking about.  All she tried to say was that one can mix and match the items between the a la carte and the tasting menus.  Tom, the new German waiter, took over the table, and took the order efficiently.   The bread plate arrived, and a dry slice of wholewheat bread and another type was served, with (soft) butter, a cream cheese and a balsamic/pine nut kernel spread, a threesome that has not changed in 3 years ago.   

I was asked what I wanted to drink before the winelist was presented, and had to ask for it.  It is intimidating, at 77 pages of wines, separated by variety and by region, making it easier to choose a wine than at the One&Only, where the region is dominant, and one has to find one’s favourite variety region by region throughout the whole winelist.   In total, 550 lables are stocked by the hotel.  Surprisingly, the Assistant Sommelier took some time to come to the table, to help with the wine-by-the glass choice.   The head sommelier ignored my table completely, only stopping briefly once, to clear the glasses without a word.   As a shiraz lover the choice of only two wines-by-the glass was disappointing, especially as the Migliarina was an unknown.   The sommelier said that the wine is made by an ex-Bosman’s sommelier, but he did not have any further details about the winemaker, himself probably being new to the restaurant.  Interestingly the sommelier tastes the wine before he pours a tasting for the guests, but only for full bottles sold, and this did not happen for the wine-by-the glass.

The white wine by the glass is as inexpensive as R 38 for a Graham Beck ‘Gamekeeper’s Reserve’.   Red wines-by-the glass range in price from R 43 for a De Waal Pinotage to R 155 for the Zorgvliet Richelle.   I was allowed a tasting of the 2005 Migliarina (R 57 per glass)  and the 2006 Ataraxia ‘Serenity’ (R 65 per glass), and chose the former.   The most expensive shiraz by the bottle was a Mont Destin ‘Destiny’, at R  1 150, a 2005 De Trafford costing R 850, and the Boekenhoutskloof Syrah 2005 costing R 850 too.  The 2004 and 2006 Boekenhoutskloof were a little more reasonable in price, at around R 650.   The most reasonably priced shiraz is a Black Oystercatcher, at R 220.   Meerlust Rubicon costs R 950 for the 1999, R 800 for the 2001, and R 1 100 for the 1998.  Water was brought to the table without a slice of lemon, despite a request.

Bosman’s is unashamedly expensive, more so than maze at the One&Only in Cape Town.   It offers a “Harmony of South” menu choice, with mainly seafoods, at R 525 for 4 courses and R 580 for 5 courses.  The tasting menu costs R 620 for 6 courses, without wines (Le Quartier Francais’ Tasting Room charges R 550 for 5 courses and R 700 for 8 courses).   A vegetarian menu option costs R 320 for 3 courses and R 480 for 4.   On the a la carte menu there are a limited number of choices, starters ranging in price from R 60 for the veloute’ of potato and sour cream, braised white leek and pickled duck breast – R 125 for the veal cassoulet of sweetbread.  The chef’s amouse bouche was a pepper-crusted impala.  I chose the veloute’, and it was poured over the pre-prepared duck and leeks, the little that there was on the plate, at the table by a junior waitress.  It could have been done with panache by a professional.   It was tasty, but tasted very floury.   The 6 main courses range from R 125 for a sundried tomato and marjoram risotto to R 235 for a springbok loin, the beef fillet costs R 230, the kingklip R 210 and the rack of lamb R 225.   The beef fillet was extremely tender, so much so that one could take it apart with one’s fork, but quite salty in taste.  The portion was tiny, as was the accompanying 3 minute baby potatoes.   It was amusing to see the silver dome serving still happen at Bosman’s, but the more modern rectangular plates do not lend themselves to the round dome.  The impressive simultaneous dome ‘upliftment’ of the past has been lost in the past 3 years. 

The few dessert options were of no interest, and as the wait for the main course to be served had been 2 hours after arrival, they were declined, but an apple strudel from the Bistro taken home in a most boring cardboard box, with no attempt to decorate it, other than sprinkled with castor sugar, as it would have been on a plate.   The full menu price was charged.

A visit to the cloakrooms showed up another 5-star hotel, the second in a week (see the review of Seafood at the Marine Hotel in Hermanus here), with a less than adequate public bathroom.  The toilet doors and seats are wooden, giving these bathrooms a cottage-like feel, contradicting the crystal chandeliers and high gloss tiled floors in the restaurant.   Some messy trunking to hide the wiring of the airconditioning caught one’s eye immediately.    A definite bathroom upgrade is needed.

Grande Roche has been known to have a large following of German guests, and it was a language heard spoken by the guests throughout the evening.  Only one German speaking waiter was on the floor, and the head sommelier appeared to be able to speak the language as well.   Given a full restaurant, and more staff than guests, it seemed, this must be a disappointment for them.

The most glaring deficiency of the evening was that no one came to the table to check on one’s satisfaction with each course, and this is where Bosman’s falls short.  The staff seemed static and mechanical, lacking spontaneity, only Tom the German waiter responding to questions put to him.   Not one staff member was interested in one’s reason for coming to the restaurant, one’s past history with it, or the motivation for coming to eat there – in fact it seemed that the restaurant staff are totally disinterested in their clients!   It took a concerted effort, after a number of reminders, to obtain details of the new F & B Manager Alan Bailes – he is so new that it took some time to find his e-mail address in the computer!   What was impressive was the spontaneity and service interest shown by the German-speaking hotel receptionist, the only staff member seemingly enjoying her job.   On driving out one had to hoot for George to open the boom, despite the longish driveway between the restaurant and the boom, which should have made him stand at the boom already when the car arrived.  He got into an argument with the guest about the fact that he felt that he had been at the boom promptly.  His attitude was a disappointing end to an evening that confirmed that the staff’s arrogance at Bosmans, bar an exception or two, is the downfall of this once highlight of gourmet grandeur!

The total cost of the veloute’, the beef fillet , the glass of red wine and the ‘take-away’ slice of strudel was R 402.   Bosman’s Restaurant, Grande Roche Hotel, tel 021 863-5100. www.granderoche.com.

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