Entries tagged with “Donovan Dreyer”.


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

Cape Town

*   Neil Grant, ex-sommelier of Rust en Vrede, has opened Burrata, a new restaurant in the Old Biscuit Mill.  They will introduce a new 3-course food and wine pairing menu at the end of April.

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

*   Chef Bruce Robertson (ex-The Showroom) has opened Bruce’s Boat House for lunches, in Scarborough

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

*   5 Rooms Restaurant has opened at the Alphen Boutique Hotel

*   Sabrina’s, which opened about two months ago where Depasco was, at the corner of Kloof and Long Street, has also closed down

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

*   Mitico has opened a pizzeria and ’spaghetteria’ on Kloof Street, where St Elmo’s used to be (son of the original Luigi from Hout Bay)

*   Don Pedro’s in Woodstock has re-opened, under Madame Zingara management

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

*   Thai Café has opened in the old Cape Quarter

*   On a Roll has opened in Mowbray as a gourmet hot dog restaurant

*   The Dog’s Bollocks has opened as a burger pop-up restaurant

*   Jackal & Hide has opened on Kloof Street

*   Graham Beck’s Gorgeous bubbly bar has opened at Catharina’s at Steenberg.

*   Col’Cacchio is opening new outlets in Claremont and Westlake

*   Dale Thebus is the new chef at Salt restaurant at the Ambassador Hotel.

*   A new Vida é Caffe is opening on Prestwich Street

*   A  cupcake shop is said to be opening on Ebenezer Street, next to T & Co/Table 13, in Green Point

*   Il Cappero is moving from Barrack Street to Fairway Street in Camps Bay, opening on 2 June.

*   Saints on 84 Kloof has opened on Kloof Street

*   Sushibox has opened at Newlands Village

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

*   ‘I my Laundry restaurant has opened on Buitengracht Street

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

*   Orphanage has opened as a cocktail and tapas emporium on Bree Street

*   Valora on Loop Street has closed down

*   ACT Restaurant and Play Bar at the Baxter Theatre closed down

*   Philip Arno Botes is the new Chef at Pure Restaurant at Hout Bay Manor.

*   Maz Sushi has closed down on Main Road Sea Point

*   Planet Green Salad Bar has opened on Kloof Street

*   Vanilla in the Cape Quarter has closed down.

*   Madame’s on Napier has opened in De Waterkant

*   Moyo is to open where the Paulaner Braühaus was in the V & A Waterfront.

*   Sinn has closed down its Deli at Wembley Square

*   Table Thirteen is closing down in Green Point and moving to Paarden Eiland at the end of May

*   Slug & Lettuce has opened on Kloof Street, where Mason was.

*   Pizza Vezuvio has opened in the Tygervalley Waterfront

*   Bistrot Milano has opened on Blaauwberg Road, Table View

*   Forneria Italia has opened in the Bayside Centre, Table View

*   Maharajah is selling food at the Baxter Theatre on a take-away basis prior to shows.

*   Hussar Grill is to open at Steenberg

*   Chef Fred Faucheux is the new Executive Chef at Nobu.

*   Cassis is opening a new Salon de Thé in the Gardens Centre in May

*   De Grendel has opened De Grendel Restaurant, with Chef Ian Bergh and owner Jonathan Davies

*   Toro Wine and Aperitif Bar has closed down

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

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

*   The Fez is reopening as a nightclub on Friday, to be called Sideshow

*  MasterChef SA finalist Guy Clark, who was eliminated in episode 9, has started as a chef at the Madame Zingara restaurant group next week.

*   Josephine’s Cookhouse is to open in Newlands, where Caveau at Josephine’s Mill used to be, belonging to Societi Bistro owner

*   A new Vida e Caffe is to open on Maindean Place in Claremont.

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

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

*   Rotisserie 360° has changed its name to Café Frank

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

*   Sapphire has closed down in Camps Bay

*   A new McDonalds is opening in the Sanlam Centre

*   Salt Deli has chanegd its name to Salt Café

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

*   Characters has opened on Roeland Street

*   TRUTH Coffee has opened on Buitenkant Street

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

Franschhoek

*   Leopard’s Leap has opened its Tasting room and Liam Tomlin Food Studio and Store outside Franschhoek, and the new Deli will open at the end of June

*    Reuben’s, which was said to be opening a Franschhoek branch in a building off the main road, when his Huguenot Road branch lease expires this year, appears to now be looking for an alternative restaurant venue on the main road, as the building purchase close to Place Vendome appears to have fallen through.

*   Donovan Dreyer is the new Restaurant Manager of Indochine at Delaire Graff.

*   Cheyne Morrisby is the new chef at the Franschhoek Kitchen at Holden Manz

*   Chef Vanie Padayachee has joined Le Quartier Français

*   Chef Darren Roberts is leaving Grande Provence for a new appointment in the Seychelles at the end of April.  Chef Darren Badenhorst steps into his shoes.

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

*  Wicked Treat has opened.

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

*   Deluxe Coffeeworks has opened, where the Reuben’s Deli used to be.

*   The bubbly Inge Hoffman has left Leopard’s Leap, and is the new Brand Manager for Boekenhoutskloof

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

*   Okamai Japanese restaurant has opened at Glenwood wine estate

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

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

Stellenbosch

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

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

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

* David Higgs has resigned as Executive Chef from Radisson Blu Gautrain in Johannesburg (previously with Rust en Vrede).  He starts at The Saxon in Johannesburg in May.

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

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

*   Warwick wine estate’s new chef is Dane Newton (ex-Chamonix, Cascade Manor).

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

*   Chris Olivier has opened SimpliciTea Deli in Somerset West

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

*   A new Hussar Grill is said to be opening in Stellenbosch

Wellington

*   Chef Johan van Schalkwyk has left the Stone Kitchen at Dunstone Winery.  He opens his own restaurant Twist Some More in Wellington in July.

Hermanus/Overberg

*   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.

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

Riebeek Kasteel

*   Mama Cucina has opened

Robertson

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

Garden Route

*   Katarina’s has opened at the Kurland Hotel.

Restaurant breaks

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

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

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

*   Tokara closes for a winter break from 22 April, re-opens on 4 May

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

*   The Foodbarn will be closed for renovations on 7 and 8 May

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

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

*   The Test Kitchen will be closed from 13 – 28 May

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

*   Makaron Restaurant at Majeka House will be closed in June

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

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

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

*   The main Delaire Graff restaurant closes from 3 -24 June, but Indochine continues to trade.

*   Blues will be closed from 1 – 30 June

*   Waterkloof in Somerset West is closing for all June.

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

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

Capetonians are still reeling from the news that the country’s and our city’s largest restaurant, Paulaner Bräuhaus, closed down on Sunday evening, after ten years of operating in the V & A Waterfront.  Our blogpost about this closure has received more than 1000 unique views in the past 48 hours, an unheard of high readership demonstrating the interest in this story.  Kloof Street appears to be experiencing a particularly bad series of restaurant closures, the street having the most restaurants in Cape Town.  Our list of latest restaurant openings and closures will be updated continuously, as we receive information.

Cape Town

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

*   Chez Chez Espresso and Cheesecake Bar has closed down off Kloof Street, Tamboerskloof.

*   The Black Pearl (ex-Seven Sins) on Kloof Street has closed down

*   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.

*   Neil Grant, ex-sommelier of Rust en Vrede, has opened Burrata, a new restaurant in the Old Biscuit Mill

*   Societi Brasserie has opened in Constantia

*   Luke Dale-Roberts, Eat Out Top Chef, has opened the Pot Luck Club, a Tapas Bar next to The Test Kitchen (photograph above). He will also open a real Test Kitchen, a private experimental place to develop new recipes

*   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.

*   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 is now called Rocca.

*   Sabrina’s, which opened about two months ago where Depasco was, at the corner of Kloof and Long Street, has closed down

*   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 has closed down

*   Don Pedro’s in Woodstock has re-opened, 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 (to become a Slug & Lettuce)

*   Buzz on Kloof Street has closed down

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

*   Thai Café has opened in the old Cape Quarter

*   Paulaner Bräuhaus in the V&A Waterfront has closed down!

*   The Fez is closing down.

*   Giorgio Nava’s Down South Food Bar has closed down

*   Fat Back Soul has been renamed South China Dim Sum Bar

*   On a Roll has opened in Mowbray as a gourmet hot dog restaurant

*   The Dog’s Bollocks has opened as a burger pop-up restaurant

*   Saints Burger Joint has opened on Kloof Street

*   Cape Bubble Tea, which recently opened in Camps Bay, has closed down

*   Dear Me has opened its Pantry

*   Chef Jannie Melis has left French Toast

*   Jackal & Hide has opened on Kloof Street

*   Eat on Breda Street has closed down

*   Graham Beck’s Gorgeous bubbly bar has opened at Catharina’s at Steenberg, with Jenna Adams as the Manager.

*   Operator Pamela Trevelyan and Chef Lana Doyle have left Sunbird Bistro in Camps Bay.

*   Col’Cacchio is opening new outlets in Claremont and Westlake

*   Chef Daniel Botha, who started at Salt restaurant at the Ambassador Hotel in November, has left. Dale Thebus is the new head chef.

*   Vaudeville has closed down

*   Shin Tai Asian Kitchen is opening on Regent Road in Sea Point

*   Bistro 1682 Manager Juergen Welp has left, and has been replaced by Marc Cowen.  Assistant Manager Jenna Adams has moved over to Catharina’s to run Gorgeous by Graham Beck.  New assistant managers are Cable Ermstrom and Hilton Klassen.

*   A new Vida é Caffe is opening on Prestwich Street in April, and a cupcake shop is said to be opening around the corner, on Ebenezer Street, next to T & Co/Table 13, in Green Point

*   GM Nigel Pace has left the Cape Grace Hotel

*   Il Cappero will moving from Barrack Street to Fairway Street in Camps Bay, opening in May.

*   Saints on 84 Kloof has opened on Kloof Street

*   Sushibox has opened at Newlands Village

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

*   ‘I my Laundry laundry restaurant has opened on Buitengracht Street

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

*   Orphanage has opened as a cocktail and tapas emporium on Bree Street

*   Valora on Loop Street has closed down

*   ACT Restaurant and Play Bar at the Baxter Theatre closed down overnight on the last March weekend, without paying its rent for the past three months.

*   Philip Arno Botes is the new Chef at Pure Restaurant at Hout Bay Manor.

*  Take & Bake German Bakery has closed down on Main Road Sea Point

*  Maz Sushi has closed down on Main Road Sea Point

*   Planet Green Salad Bar has opened on Kloof Street

*  Burrata will introduce a new 3-course food and wine pairing menu before the end of April.

*  Vanilla in the Cape Quarter has closed down.

*   Chef Bruce Robertson has opened Bruce’s Beach House for lunches, in Scarborough

*   Cake designer Martin Senekal has closed Cafeteria in De Waterkant, now only selling on order and at the Old Biscuit Mill market

*   Madame’s on Napier has opened in De Waterkant

*   Moyo is to open where the Paulaner Braühaus was in the V & A Waterfront.

*   Sinn has closed down its Deli at Wembley Square

*   Table Thirteen is closing down in Green Point and moving to Paarden Eiland at the end of May

Franschhoek

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

*    Reuben’s is opening a Franschhoek branch in his self-owned building off the main road, when his Huguenot Road branch lease expires this year

*   Dieu Donné in Franschhoek has leased its restaurant to Martin and Marco from Durban, and they have renamed it Roca.

*   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

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

*  Donovan Dreyer from Grande Provence has resigned, and started as Restaurant Manager of Indochine at Delaire Graff.  Aldo du Plessis has taken over as Restaurant Manager at Grande Provence.

*  The Franschhoek Food Emporium has closed down.

*   Bijoux Chocolates has closed down its chocolate manufacture, will continue selling chocolates.

*   Chef Bjorn Dingemans has left The Franschhoek Kitchen at Holden Manz, to open up a new restaurant on Lourensford wine estate in spring. Cheyne Morrisby is the new chef at the Franschhoek Kitchen.

*   Chef Vanie Padayachee has joined Le Quartier Français

*   Chef Darren Roberts is leaving Grande Provence for a new appointment in the Seychelles at the end of April.

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

Stellenbosch

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

*   Cupcake on Dorp Street has closed down, and Dorpstraat Deli will open

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

*   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), and was said to be headed for his home country Namibia.  He starts at The Saxon in Johannesburg in May.

*   Slug & Lettuce will open where Beads is on Church Street

*   De Huguenot, with its Harry Q Bar and wedding reception facilities, will be auctioned on 14 March.

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

*   Warwick wine estate’s new chef is Dane Newton (ex-Chamonix, Cascade Manor).

* Tokara closes for a winter break from 22 April, re-opens on 4 May

Paarl

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

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

Hermanus/Overberg

*    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.

*  Grilleri has closed down

Garden Route

*   Katarina’s has opened at the Kurland Hotel.

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

Earlier this week I had a taste of some of the new summer menu items at The Restaurant at Grande Provence, in exchange for some Twitter lessons I shared with Chef Darren Roberts.   By co-incidence, The Gallery at Grande Provence had some works of art in honour of Twitter, and so the visit to Grande Provence in Franschhoek became an unusual marriage of Twitter art and food art.

Artist Hester Viles linked up with fellow artist Emma Willemse in an exhibition entitled “How to”, and in it the artists question the ways in which knowledge is acquired.  ‘Contemporary consumer society (is) addicted to instant gratification aided by technological sources’, says the artists’ notes.  The ability of finding information and ‘quick fix solutions to almost any problem’ at the press of a button, such as searching Google, makes knowledge a ‘consumer item’, they state.  Ms Viles Googled ‘How to’, and used the links that came up for the inspiration for her art.  Her pieces question the connection between information, knowledge and experience.   She used discarded objects which once were important as symbols of achievement (i.e. a musical instrument, a trophy) as the basis of her pieces,  and communicated through them ‘our society’s obsessive social networking through computer technology’. She feels that Social Media has taken away personal and eye-to-eye contact, and though her work “How to Tweet effectively” (two pieces), she ‘raises issues of identity, who we are and what we have become’, encouraging the viewer to go back to communicating via touch.

Chef Darren and I debated more practical issues of Twitter over lunch, such as the timing of Tweets, the power of and the sending of photographs, pre-scheduling Tweets, and the following of Tweeters, interspersed with a new starter, main course and dessert to be added to the Grand Provence summer menu. Currently one is offered twenty choices on the 3-course (R295), 4-course (R380), and 5-course (R450) menu. Favourites that will remain on the menu include caramelised eel and foie gras terrine, tartare and carpaccio of springbok, gateaux of duck and pork rillettes, Masala-marinated quail, slow-cooked duck with grilled lobster, and grilled baby beef fillet.  Grande Provence has featured on the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards every second year, and Chef Darren deserves to be listed this year for the good work he and his team create in a very understated way.

I have been impressed with the ability of Chef Darren to create the most beautifully designed plates of food, and his new summery sugar-cured Norwegian salmon presented with a deconstructed Waldorf salad was colourful, and a creative interpretation of a classic. It contained apple dyed with beetroot, celery sorbet, and walnut soil, served with lemon bergamot rind.  The starter had been preceded by the home-baked mini health loaf, which is more-ish, and of which I am a regular purchaser when in Franschhoek. The main course was called ‘Suckling Pig’, and was a fun medley of a double loin chop, belly, boudin blanc sausage on mash, rump, and crackling, with colourful additions of pear, butternut, saffron, and tatsoi, served with an apple and hazelnut sauce.

For dessert I tried the Banana Parfait and banana, with patron anglaise, a roasted macadamia nut salsa, rocky road ice cream, and topped with the most delicate fine sugar spiral.  While the cappuccino is more expensive at Grande Provence, at R22, it is excellent value in that it comes with a surprise slate plate of three treats: Turkish delight, biscotti, and white chocolate fudge.

I admire chefs for their ability to re-invent themselves and their menus, and Chef Darren impresses with his talent of unique combinations of ingredients which are works of food art presented with style .   Most of the restaurant staff have been at Grande Provence for a number of years, and offer respectful and friendly service, guided by Manager Donovan Dreyer.

The Restaurant at Grande Provence, Main Road, Franschhoek.  Tel (021) 876-8600.  www.grandeprovence.co.za.  Monday – Sunday lunch and dinner.

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

I have been to Grande Provence many times, yet have not written a review of their dinner, but have written about their High Tea,  and Chef Darren Roberts’ visit to Hong Kong late last year.   A pre-Valentine’s Day dinner on Sunday evening was a very special treat, not just in terms of the quality of the food served, but also because of the service, the beautiful interior, and extreme friendliness.

It started when Food & Beverage Manager Donovan Dreyer came towards us as we walked to the restaurant from the parking area, to welcome us.   He had called earlier in the day, to confirm the reservation, and had apologised for not being there, as he had the evening off.  He seated us, introduced us to our waitress Shasta, and was most helpful in printing the menu for me.   He then went off, after sending two glasses of sparkling wine to the table, with the compliments of Grande Provence.

Since 2005 Grande Provence (previously belonging to Count Augusta) has belonged to a Dutch consortium called The Huka Retreats, under the management of Alex van Heeren, and they also own Huka Lodge in New Zealand (usually on the Top 100 world accommodation lists) and the privately owned Dolphin Island in Fiji.  The business card describes the positioning of the company to be :”Intimate . Sensual . Elegant”.  Grande Provence supports good causes, and its highlight is the annual fundraising lunch prepared in honour of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, sponsored in its entirety by Grande Provence.  This year it will be held on 29 May, and Grande Provence Chef Darren Roberts, his Huka Lodge counterpart Michel Louws, Rudi Liebenberg of the Mount Nelson Hotel, Gregory Czarnecki of Waterkloof and Roland Gorgosilich of the Grande Roche will each prepare one of the five courses.   I have attended two of these outstanding lunches in the past.

Chef Darren has worked as a Pastry Chef at L’Heiner Konditorei in Vienna, as well as in London, Johannesburg, Melbourne and the Seychelles.  Before joining Grande Provence last year, he worked at Farncourt Hotel, and he has been a restaurant consultant.   He always makes time to come out of his kitchen to say hello.

Similarly to Delaire Graff and Glen Carlou, Grande Provence invests in art and also has an art gallery, with regularly changing exhibitions.   I love the interior decor of Grande Provence, and Virginia Fisher is the decorator to the group of properties, and is based in New Zealand.  The tasting room has a counter made from industrial steel, and the bar chairs are the cleverest I have ever seen on a wine estate, with a tractor seat, surprisingly comfortable to sit on.   In the restaurant, she used industrial steel tables, and blue chairs in the two outside rows, and the finest white leather high-back chairs in the central row.   The restaurant has a fireplace too, and is lit, even on some nights when it does not seem necessary.  The table has linen runners in white with blue stripes, which look a little like fancy drying cloths.  The wooden salt and pepper grinders look ordinary and out of place with the silver theme (same criticism as at Glen Carlou), given the stature of and price one pays for a meal at Grande Provence.  Two sets of cutlery are laid, and the glassware is excellent.  Each table has a silver side table (more attractive than the wooden ‘handbag tables’ at Mange Tout) on which the ice bucket and the water jug go, leaving the table free for the really important reason for being there, being the food!  Staff wear black ‘GP’ branded shirts, and black pants, with a grey apron. I was happy to see that the denim staff clothing has been done away with. 

The menu is in a holder made from the same fine white leather, as is the winelist.   One must have a minimum of three courses, costing R295, four courses cost R380, and five courses R 450.   Once again, a three course meal is more than adequate, as one receives an amuse bouche as well as a palate cleanser too, adding a further two courses.  While the courses listed are identifiable as starters, mains and desserts, one may choose any three on the menu, and in any order, even if one has the dessert first!  Unusual is the bold red note on the menu that one should advise the waitrons if one would like breaks between courses.  We absolutely loved the mini wholewheat loaf that was served in small slices, containing pieces of fruit, and topped with poppy and sesame seeds.    It is sold in the tasting room, and costs R15 a loaf.   An amuse bouche was brought to the table, being a mushroom tart with mushroom puree, similar to a quiche, and placed on top of the most crispy fried parma ham, and hidden under basil leaves when served.  I was impressed with how warm the plates were when they were brought from the kitchen, and I cannot recall when last I experienced a hot plate on my restaurant visits.  My starter of Tempura langoustine tail, blackened corn and tomato was brought to the table in a soup plate, and the sweet-tasting sweetcorn velouté was poured into the plate by a waiter at the table, with much more style than we had experienced at the new Planet Restaurant at the Mount Nelson Hotel.  The tempura batter was very light and not very crispy.   My partner had ordered a Green Pea and Shimeji mushroom ravioli, which he enjoyed, but felt it to be salty.  Other starters are Tom Yum prawn risotto, caramelised eel and foie gras terrine, rillettes of duck, pork and rabbit, quail, Stilton and curried pear tartlet, carpaccio of beetroot, and duck prosciutto.  A palate cleanser of plum sorbet and lemon compote was a surprise course. 

I loved the juicy Tagine of duck, served with green olives, dates, pistachio nuts, sweetcorn polenta and walnut arancini (with a R25 surcharge).   I missed Chef Darren’s colourful plating touch, as the plate only had shades of brown on it.   My partner’s Asian braised pork belly, by contrast, had colour appeal, with oranges creating a colour contrast, and was served with tatsoi, roasted onion infused mashed potato, and a hazelnut and apple crumble.  Further main courses to choose from include Baby chicken, hake, beef fillet with lobster tail, springbok and Karoo lamb neck.  Donovan had told me that the most popular dishes ordered are the Grande Provence Seafood Selection, with his own special XO broth that Chef Darren came back with from Hong Kong last year, and crème brûlée served with a strawberry salsa, and a refreshing strawberry and mint sorbet served on a spoon, which was my dessert choice.  The brûlée was soft and creamy.  My partner chose the Prince Albert Regal cheese, served with brioche and olives.  Other dessert options are chocolate calzone, summer fruit jelly and a chocolate tart.

The winelist has mainly Grande Provence (including Angel Tears) wines, and the wine prices are roughly 50 % of cost of sales, influenced by availability and awards won.   We were impressed with the generous wine quantity poured by the glass.  My reaction to the chilled (17°C) 2007 Shiraz was picked up by the waitress, and she came back with a bottle at room temperature, and allowed me to taste that one as well, and I far preferred the non-chilled glassful.  The paper in the wine list we were given seemed heavily used.   Innovative was the first page listing of all the awards that the Grande Provence wines have won.   Wines by the glass include the Grande Provence Chardonnay (R56/R180), Sauvignon Blanc (R46/R160), Viognier and Chenin Blanc blend (R42/R140), Cabernet Sauvignon  and Shiraz (both R55/R190), Pinot Noir (R60/R230) as well as Angel Tears Sauvignon Blanc (R22/R80), White (R20/R70), Red (R22/R80), Pink (R20/R70) and Blanc de Blanc MCC (R45/R200), very affordable prices.  The Grande Provence, the wine estate’s flagship wine, costs R700.  Pongracz (R185), Pierre Jourdan Belle Rosé (R44/210), Piper Heidsiek (720) and Billecart Salmon Brut Rosé (R1500) are also available.

Donovan proudly told me about the new Rosetta imported coffee range that they will be introducing soon.   Grande Provence guests will be able to order their coffee made from beans of the origin of their choice, much as one can order a type of tea.  Beans will be available from Papua New Guinea, two options from Ethiopia, Panama, Brazil, and Indonesia. The Illy coffees will remain the baseline coffee at Grande Provence.

Grande Provence has been an Eat Out Top 10 restaurant, its previous chefs Peter Tempelhoff and Jacques de Jager having been awarded this accolade.  I am convinced that Chef Darren can achieve the same, and have found him to be one of the most creative platers and food designers, especially as far his desserts go.  I felt disappointed that our dinner did not reflect enough of this talent, which I have seen on so many previous occasions, and I told Chef Darren so when he came to say hello.  Our waitress was good and attentive, but I was annoyed when she interrupted a heated discussion between my partner and I, just to ask our permission to serve the next course, an odd touch, as one is normally in the hands of the chef as far as serving timing goes. A sign of the professionalism of Grande Provence, and of F&B Manager Donovan, was his call the following day, to check if everything had been to our satisfaction, proactively requesting feedback.  It is this care and friendliness that makes me go back to Grande Provence over and over again.

Restaurant at Grande Provence, Main Road/R45, Franschhoek.  Tel (021) 876-8600.  www.grandeprovence.co.za. (The website contains the menu, a profile of Chef Darren, and a description of the restaurant interior.  Disappointingly there is no Image Gallery to display Chef Darren’s beautiful dishes).  Monday – Sunday lunch and dinner.

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

I had not visited Franschhoek for a while, and decided to enjoy a full weekend of the Franschhoek Uncorked Festival,  to get to as many of the 20 wine estates as possible.  My feedback follows, focusing more on the marketing of the estate, its customer care demonstrated, and the food served (I would never have survived full days of wine tasting!):

        Starting at Plaisir de Merle, it was a big disappointment overall.  Given that the Festival was on, one wonders why the boom had to be closed and then opened for each individual car arriving and leaving.  Commendably all other wine estates kept their booms open for the occasion.  The drive up to the wine-tasting buildings is unattractive, with ditches on either side – there is no lane of trees to soften the entrance.  Plaisir de Merle is a Distell-owned wine farm, and supplies most of its grapes for the making of Nederburg, I read over the weekend.  The farm is one of the largest in the Cape, just under 1000 hectares.  We parked and approached the tables at which the tasting was being done and the food was prepared.  Seeing other guests queue, we did too, but the procedure was meant to be that we should have sat down at a table, and waited for a “waiter’ to come to us.  We gave our waiter the order, but he did not understand the word ‘crêpe’, even though it is one of the items on the menu – he asked if I meant a pancake!   We decided to place the order with the food preparers directly, and chose an apple and an orange crêpe.   They were so disappointing compared to the crêpes I have enjoyed here in previous years.   We had to ask for the bill three times, and in the end we could not be bothered, and left the money on the table.  A violinist and flautist provided a lively touch, and the hired staff wore white shirts and black pants, with a branded black beret.  The French theme of Franschhoek came through with three serviettes in red, white and blue on the kitsch silver underplates, which seemed out of place, given the history of the estate.  Bread was for sale, but nothing told one that it was baked with special flour ground in a recently renovated historic water mill.  We left having no knowledge about the wines, but did receive a summary of the wines on request, which had to be printed for us especially, with tasting notes for Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.

Allee Bleue focused its Uncorked activities in its Le Grand Hall, which I had not seen since its completion in March.  It is a modern structure, with an attractive entrance, and glass stacking doors.  It can seat 300 guests, mainly for weddings and product launches, with space for a band stand and dance floor.   The security guard had the boom open, and looked very smart with his Allee Bleue blue bow tie, but spoilt the friendly impression when he answered every question I asked with “yup”!   On seeing us, the Food & Beverage Manager Desmond Spangenberg, one of the friendliest persons in the hospitality industry, walked up to us and welcomed us – you cannot beat such a personal touch!  Immediately he gave us complimentary Uncorked “passports” (Plaisir de Merle did not offer to sell us any!), a glass of the wonderful newly launched Allee Bleue Brut Rose, and their very tasty Flammkuchen, an Austrian speciality much like a thin based pizza covered with ham, cream cheese and onions.  It was far too much to have it all. I was sad to hear that the likeable chef Dane Newton had left.   The friendliness, professionalism and generosity of Allee Bleue was exceptional.

        I was looking forward to the Tasting Masterclass conducted by Graham Beck wine maker Pieter Ferreira, an expert on sparkling wine production.   This estate was by far the busiest and buzziest.  The Masterclass was held in an exclusive tasting room on the first floor, with a boardroom table set up with a Graham Beck branded sheet, which allowed for 8 tasting glasses, and a pairing plate with a slice of ham, smoked Franschhoek trout, camembert and a lovely piece of thick chocolate.   Pieter sharpened our sense of smell by making us sniff at least 20 different wine glasses, with a wide variety of flavours, e.g. vanilla, cloves, fresh strawberries, pepper, and asparagus.  These would be typical elements we should have picked up on the nose of the wines we were to taste.  We tasted 12 Graham Beck wines, and Pieter was a most patient, informative and passionate tasting leader.   He threw in many interesting bits of information:  the size of the glass does not really matter in tasting wines, as long as it is not tulip-shaped; white wine glasses do not have to be smaller than red wine ones; Riedel make 27 different types of glasses, some varietal-specific (Pieter helped them select a design for Pinotage-tasting); one does not have to drink white/red wine with white/red meat; wines should be served as cold as possible, even red wines, 15 – 18 C being ideal for reds; chocolate is a good way to clear the palate; ‘beer pour’ style is the best way to pour sparkling wine, and not into an upright glass, to retain as much of the bubble.  A lovely touch was when I received a bottle of the wonderful Graham Beck Brut Rose as a gift.  The Masterclass cost R75.

 

         I stopped at the new Maison wine estate, the newest Franschhoek wine farm, and expected a Weylandt’s interior, as it belongs to Chris Weylandt.  I was surprised to see a cute cottage, bales of hay on the lawn at which sunseekers were sitting, and a very laid-back atmosphere – even the jazz band had taken some time off.   There were two food choices – a salmon or pork belly sandwich served on a nice wooden board, quite expensive at R 50 each, but the staff assured me that they were fabulous, and the pork belly one was.   It had a lovely “fish sauce” spread on it, with rocket, served on the most wonderful rye bread from Bread & Wine.  Whilst I was catching up on Twitter, Chris Weylandt came over to have a chat, and told me that the Weylandt’s interior will be introduced in the new cellar and restaurant they are opening in the first quarter of 2011.  It will serve ‘real food’, he said.  He is very proud of the great interest shown in his estate, having only opened officially two weeks ago (and is now on Twitter @Maisonestate). Wines offered for sale are Shiraz and Chenin Blanc, as well as a limited edition Viognier.  Chris is proud of the wines made from the estate’s grapes, and that they do not buy in any grapes.  Anton Bondesia is the young winemaker, having worked in Italy, New Zealand, California, and also at Spier.  The Shiraz won the 2009 SA Young Wine Trophy.   Chris Weylandt has lived in the estate for the last six years, in the oldest barn in Franschhoek with “contemporary additions”, he said, built in 1796.  It has been featured in VISI, Elle, and international design magazines.

 

        Grande Provence was quite a contrast, not having pulled in the crowds, and therefore lacking in atmosphere.  A number of winelovers sat at the counter in the tasting room. I met up with the curator of the gallery, Johan du Plessis, and he showed me around the new enlarged gallery, with very interesting works of art.  Donovan Dreyer is another lovely Franschhoek Food & Beverage Manager, and he brought me a dessert creation from Chef Darren Roberts.  The Grande Provence Pinot Noir 2009 was launched for the Uncorked Festival.   Five tasting stations were set up on the estate, with a wine matched to a restaurant speciality (e.g. chicken liver parfait, duck with green olive and date tagine, and gravidlax with apple compote and tapenade), at R 100.  A four course meal was also on offer over the weekend, at R 375, for a Gateaux of duck and rabbit rillettes, hot and sour seafood broth, osso bucco and chocolate calzone, each course paired with a Grande Provence wine.

 

        Boekenhoutskloof  was very quiet at midday on Sunday.  I was interested in going there to enjoy Reuben’s Barbeque Extravaganza, and to catch up with Reuben Riffel before he launches his third Reuben’s restaurant at the One&Only Cape Town in just more than three weeks. He probably committed to the Festival BS (before Sol). Reuben was nowhere to be seen, but his branding was on the braai.  Some of his staff was doing steak sandwiches, the prices of his dishes written on a blackboard looking rather unprofessional – the food preparation section was untidy and did not inspire one to order food.  Empty containers left by departed visitors were left on the table. The band stand was set up, without a band.  Inside, the tasting room was busy, and I had to smile when the sweet tasting lady suggested that I rather buy the Porcupine Ridge Sauvignon Blanc at Pick ‘n Pay, as it would be cheaper there than on the estate.  Boekenhoutskloof has been one of Franschhoek most  successful wine estates as far as Platter performance goes, for its Boekenhoutskloof Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.  The Chocolate Block, Porcupine Ridge and The Wolftrap are secondary brands.  The massive plastic The Chocolate Block bottle outside the tasting area was the most commercialised I have ever seen the estate, which seems to pride itself on selling its wines in a low key manner, selling itself, so to speak.

       

        My final stop was at La Motte, and I was excited about my visit there, as the new Pierneef Ã  la Motte restaurant, the new tasting room, the new Rupert family museum, art gallery, Pierneef art gallery and the Farm Shop had all opened in the past few days.  I started my visit at the Farm Shop, and saw the loveliest breads (including a shiraz-based one, and some potbrood), as well as shiraz-filled chocolates in the shop. Then it was off to the galleries and museum, a building that leads one from one room to another, with less space dedicated to the Rupert family and its patriarch, the late Anton Rupert, and more to the art.  Quiet corners have been set up dedicated to the music of Hanli Rupert, who is an acclaimed opera singer, and one can choose which of her music one wants to listen to whilst sitting in comfortable chairs.  The art gallery appeared to have more modern art, but the highlight was the section displaying 18 oils and 26 other works by JH Pierneef. La Motte had recently bought the priceless Pierneef art collection from his daughter Marita, who lives in the United Kingdom.  Dr Rupert had bought 3 sets of 120 Pierneef woodcut prints each for his three children, and some of these have been used as an inspiration on the Pierneef wine labels.  They can be seen in the Tasting Room, and in various buildings on the estate.  Hein Koegelenberg, husband of Hanli Rupert, and driver of La Motte, sat with me for half an hour of his precious time, and told me about the dedication of the estate to bring this priceless art treasure back to South Africa.  The Pierneef Collection was not available for tasting over the Uncorked weekend, but will be in future.   The new wine tasting room has allowed La Motte to have two separate wine production sections in its cellar, one for whites (under winemaker Michael Langenhoven, a passionate Sauvignon Blanc lover) and one for red wines (under winemaker Edmund Terblanche, a passionate Shiraz lover).  The tasting room is managed by Werner Briedenhann, and he is passionate about his job – a confident welcome, and a firm handshake.  He explained that one could taste five wines, and these were served with some chocolate and ciabatta to clear the palate.  Long tasting tables show the fun a group of friends can have in enjoying a tasting jointly.   Everything was handled with the greatest professionalism, with only one weakness – the lady at the entrance desk told me that the new La Motte Pierneef Hanli R was made from two blends, which I promptly Tweeted, and was immediately corrected by Hein Koegelenberg on Twitter, in stating that it is made from Shiraz, Grenache, Cinsaut and Cabernet Sauvignon. La Motte dominated the Franschhoek Uncorked Experience by far this past weekend, with its beautiful new buildings, oak trees, lawns and water features.   This is now a serious wine estate, supported by serious money, but Hanlie and Hein Koegelenberg are very humble, generous and friendly. Our review of Pierneef Ã  La Motte restaurant will be published later this week.

Overall Franschhoek Uncorked is a clever way of attracting visitors to the wine estates of Franschhoek, something the Stellenbosch Wine Festival tried for the first time this year.  However, given the captive audience they have on their estates, it is disappointing that not one of the seven estates I visited made sure that the visitors left with information about their wines, and with a restaurant menu, if applicable, or with a program of events in Franschhoek for the next few months.  The Franschhoek Wine Valley Tourism Association had been more active in sending our Tweets about Franschhoek Uncorked, but stopped doing so late on Friday, with no Tweets at all over the weekend, when it was needed most!  It is so easy to pre-schedule Tweets via Hootsuite.  The clashing of the first day of Franschhoek Uncorked with the second day of the Nederburg Auction was unfortunate, and one wonders how Franschhoek could have chosen this weekend to schedule the event.

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

The Sweet Service Award goes to Donovan Dreyer, the new Food & Beverage Manager of Grand Provence in Franschhoek, who came over to introduce himself when a colleague and I popped in to see the latest exhibition at the art gallery and had a cappuccino and a dessert each.  We were served the most beautiful desserts I have ever seen, and they matched their visual attractiveness with exquisite taste as well.    My colleague had an apple and mango tart with a tiny toffee apple on top, as well as the greenest scoop of apple ice cream on a chocolate biscuit base.  My dessert was a mini chocolate-filled croissant-like pastry, served with a thick vodka cream.  Executive Chef Darren Roberts is a talent to be watched. Donovan refused to let us pay, and we left Grand Provence impressed with their friendliness and professionalism. 

The Sour Service Award goes to Lime Media Marketing/Media Mountain, a company that has changed its name a number of times since calling in the past six months or so.  In heavy recognisable (almost trademark) Manchester accents the staff introduce themselves as a “Google certified company” and promise immediately to put one at number one position “on the first page of Google”.  I was offered a special for the Plettenberg Bay accommodation page, at a discounted rate of R 1 300 per month, down from R 4 600.   When I asked where it would be located on the Google page – as an ad on the right hand side, as an ad at the top, or as a normal Google listing, tele-sales caller Matthew could not reply, passing me on to Ben.   Normally Google ads are charged on a pay-per-click basis.    It is obvious that the company is a call centre, as one hears the buzz of numerous other callers (I heard the same salescall go out to an accommodation establishment in Hout Bay whilst speaking to Matthew).  No written communication is sent, the transaction being done electronically, so that one cannot see the paperwork at all, which makes one suspicious already.   A guest house colleague in Camps Bay, Sally from Atlantic Suites, has also experienced the pushy nature of the company, having been intimidated by them when she did not pay immediately on what the company had felt had been a done deal.

The WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented every Friday on the WhaleTales blog.  Nominations for the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be sent to Chris von Ulmenstein at info@whalecottage.com.   Past winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of this blog, and in the WhaleTales newsletters on the www.whalecottage.com website.