Entries tagged with “Dutch”.


How refreshing and uplifting to see Cape Town and its beauty presented in a new music video by Lost Frequencies, a joint production by Belgian DJ and producer Felix De Laet, with Dutch DJ duo Zonderling, for their new song ‘Crazy’, in the midst of our city making headlines for all the wrong reasons currently! It already has close to 19 million views, and is enjoying great hit success. (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Google has announced that it will launch driverless automatic cars in five years from now.  The company is working with American authorities to test the safety of these cars.

*   The SA economy could grow by 2,1% this year, a better growth rate than that of 2014, with lower oil prices, higher consumer spend, fewer strikes, lower inflation rate, and a small interest rate hike later this year.  Barclays Africa economist Peter Worthington says that the growth rate could be even higher, were it not for Eskom’s loadshedding!

*   Food prices could fall this year due to the decreasing oil and therefore fuel price, reducing inflation, but not by much, it is (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*  The Eat Out Gala Dinner, at which the country’s Top 10 Restaurants will be announced, will be held at Thunder City on 16 November.  Mercedes-Benz is the new title sponsor of the Awards.

*   The charity ‘Chefs who Share’ dinner, to be held in the City Hall on 11 September, will have seven pairs of top local chefs cooking for guests, each team paired with a local sommelier as well as an international Michelin star chef.  The international chefs are Gerd Kastenmeier from Kastenmeier Dresden, Alfred Miller from Wirtshaus Schöneck Innsbruck, Andreas Meyer from Schloss Prielau, Christoph Geschwendtner from Schlosshotel Fiss, Anton Schmaus from Restaurant Storstad, Bernard Reiser from Restaurant Würzburg, and Christian Grainer from Christian’s Restaurant.  (received via media release from Amplicon PR)

*   Table Bay Boulevard is to be named after former President FW de Klerk, it has been recommended by the City of Cape Town’s Naming Committee, subject to a public participation process.  The recommendation has been supported by Premier Helen Zille and former Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

*   Huffington Post’s Travel Blog interviewed Chef Luke Dale-Roberts of Eat Out top restaurant (more…)

Cape Town is likely to see more German and Dutch tourists this summer, reported the Weekend Argus recently, as the visitors from the UK continue to stay away due to that country’s recession. The UK was our city’s largest source of international tourism business until 2010, but its proportion of tourism business has dropped significantly. South African visitors will dominate over the forthcoming summer season.

German tourists increased by 9% and Dutch visitors by 4% last year relative to 2010. Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold said: “We will continue to work with our industry partners, as well as trade and media from that region, to further strengthen these tourism ties”. Cape Town Tourism hosted a group of 100 German travel agents from Gebeco, a tour operator specialising in China and the Far East, in June.  Western Cape Minister of Tourism Alan Winde said the growth was due to the “great work being done by the provincial government, its tourism destination marketing agency Wesgro, Cape Town Tourism, and other roleplayers, ensuring that our city is an attractive place to visit for tourists from around the world”. Wesgro took over the marketing of the Western Cape in April, so cannot be lauded for any marketing success to date, nor for any success in 2011, very little marketing activity being evident.

According to Barbara Zieme, Cape Town Tourism’s representative in Germany, German tourists are attracted to the city’s natural beauty, ‘wildlife’ and culture.  Germany is the world’s fourth strongest economy, and currently is keeping the Eurozone afloat. It is one of the most travel-happy nations in the world. More than 1 million Dutch residents are expected to travel internationally.

A local study has shown that more locals will travel to Cape Town than last year, and they are planning a beach holiday specifically.  The survey was conducted before the punitive petrol price increase earlier this month, so one hopes that this intention remains.

A geographic region that Cape Town Tourism and Wesgro appear to pay little, if any, attention to but that is showing good tourism interest and bookings for the Whale Cottage Portfolio is Scandinavia, especially from Sweden.

Summer bookings generally still are very slow for Cape Town, but the festive season period is showing healthy enquiry numbers and bookings.  Cape Town and the Western Cape is coming out of its worst winter season ever, so any increase in tourism activity is most welcome.

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

A unique magical musical and dinner show has opened at The Rainbow Room in Mandela Rhodes Place, in time for the festive season, as well as for tourists arriving in Cape Town.    It is a unique way in which the his(story) of the establishment of Cape Town until the present day is told via music, dance and food.

Conceptualised by dynamic event co-ordinator Alison McCutcheon of event company Rainbow Experience Marketing, written by Deney Willie, directed by Godfrey Johnson (known for his Brel productions) and choreographed by ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ Didi Moses, the Cape Town Show is a ‘Marvellous celebration of the people of the Cape, their history, freedom and magnanimous spirit of Ubuntu”.  Talented young 19 and 20 years olds have been selected into The Rainbow Academy,  and trained for the show.  The Rainbow Academy allows its students “to earn while they learn”   The show is hosted in a large space, perhaps too large initially until the audience size builds up, and is complemented with audio-visual images screened alongside the stage – the vibrancy of the performers attracts one’s attention to the stage, so that one does not pick up much of the additional information on the screens. Images of Nelson Mandela flank the screens. The show with a three course dinner costs R295, and without dinner it costs R 120.

Prior to the first act one is served the starter, which is the most more-ish French-inspired Lavache crisp bread coated with black and white sesame seeds, served with hummus and a real Cape delicacy Cape snoek fish paté.   The first act focused on the arrival of the first visitors to the Cape, going as far back as 1488, with first arrival Bartholomew Diaz making a stop on his way from Portugal to the East.  The cultures of the Dutch, German, French, Malaysian, Northern African peoples and other settlers is described, and the historical events of occupations and settlements, as well as the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910 and of the Republic of South Africa in 1961 is narrated and sung. The songs chosen to tell the story were not all known, and included a David Kramer/Taliep Pietersen song from their musical ‘Goem’, a very vibey 1930’s ‘Get Happy’, and the emotive ‘Meadowlands’.  A Klopse scene includes standards such as ‘Suikerbossie’, ‘Vat jou goed en trek Ferreira’ and more.  District Six also makes an appearance in the show.

In the break, the main course is served, the orders for which are taken prior to the start of the show.  Whilst not typically Cape, we ordered the dukkah-crusted beef fillet served on mash and spinach, with a very strongly spiced chakalaka sauce.  The fillet was served perfectly as ordered, medium and medium rare for my colleague and for me, respectively.  One has two other choices for the main courses, which are more Cape-like: vegetarian curried lentil cottage pie, and Cape butter chicken curry served with a homemade roll and sambas.  

The second half of the show focused on the impact of the apartheid laws, the defiance of the population affected by them, and the freedom achieved for the nation, with soundbites of then-President FW de Klerk announcing the scrapping of all laws of segregation, and Nelson Mandela’s speech after his release from Victor Verster prison, saying that all South Africans have the “right to human dignity in our rainbow nation”.  The show ended with the celebration of freedom and the spirit of Ubuntu.  The music chosen for the second act included the well-known ‘Pata Pata’, made famous by Miriam Makeba; Jeremy Taylor’s ‘ Ag Pleez Deddy’ brought back nostalgic memories of a by-gone era of drive-in movies, popcorn and bubblegum!;  ‘Gimme Hope Jo’anna’; ‘Paradise Road’ by Eddie Grant; and the national anthem ‘Nkosi Sikelelel iAfrika’, presented in a vibey way.  

Dessert is a sweet treat trio of a mini-koeksister, melktert and chocolate brownie.   I had it with an excellent LavAzza cappuccino, a surprise, in that I was wondering where I would have to go to find one close by after the show.    The catering is done in-house, with a contracted chef doing a great job in a tiny kitchen, we were told.  The Beverage list is short and sweet, especially on the wine side, and very inexpensive.   Wines-by-the-glass offered are M’Hudi Rea Dry at R20/R90, M’Hudi Kwea Red at R20/R90, and Excelsior Pure Bred Red R25/R100.   No Shiraz is offered, with only one or two Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinotage options.   Pongracz Brut costs R150, and 2 Oceans Rosé R 20/R90.  Amstel, Castle, Windhoek Lager and Windhoek Lite all cost R16;  Heineken, Peroni and Millers, Hunter’s Dry and Savannah cost R17; and Jack Black costs R20.

A surprise was when the cast came back on the stage for an un-announced encore, singing real Cape classics such as ‘Daar kom the Alabama’, ‘Dina Dina Oh’, as well as Ipi Tombi. 

The Cape Town Show is a great way for locals to be reminded of the colourful and often painful history of the Cape, and the rich heritage it has.   It is also a quick way for tourists to learn about the history of our country, and have a memorable evening, enjoying Cape culture and food.  The audience enjoyed the enthusiasm of the performers, and were captivated by the music. There are a few teething problem, like waiter training and understandability of all the words in the spoken story, but as it is early days for the show, they are sure to be addressed.

Disclosure:  As a member of the Food & Wine Bloggers” Club, having attended the October meeting which was hosted by the Rainbow Experience, we received complimentary tickets to the Cape Town Show.

Cape Town Show, The Rainbow Room, Mandela Rhodes Place, Wale Street, Cape Town.  Tel 072 875 9723.  Book at www.webtickets.co.za.  Wednesday and Friday evenings.  Doors open at 19h00, show starts at 20h00.

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

Hemelhuijs is a heavenly new restaurant which opened two weeks ago in Waterkant Street, close to the World Cup pedestrian bridge crossing over Buitengracht Street, on the city side.   It is owned by Jacques Erasmus, who was one of the founders of Manna, which had a strong following on Kloof Street, whilst it was owned by Maranda Engelbrecht (she has just opened Babel at Babylonstoren).   Jacques assured me that Hemelhuijs is not another Manna, and that there will be no coconut bread, part of a Manna signature dish.

I asked about the restaurant name, and the Dutch imprint.   The name came from the direct translation, which would be the house of joy, or it being heavenly.  The restaurant is also around the corner from the Lutheran Church, which one sees on Strand Street.  He chose the Dutch link, to give it a more charming feel and it reflects his heritage and family tradition, coming through in the menu, for example the fresh farm eggs, farm chicken and lamb ribs, all of which Jacques and his team have reinvented.

The restaurant is a large space, and spills out onto the traffic-free pedestrian walkway.  Neighbouring buildings sell products relating to the design and decor industry (Lightworld, Finda spa baths, and a paint shop is being set up).  A Peruvian restaurant is set to open across the walkway.   When one walks in, one sees a display space for Jacques’ ‘home ware’ range, black ceramic crockery which Jacques has designed and is made for him. The black colour, not just on the outside but inside too, retains the heat of the plates when pre-warmed, for half an hour, he told me.  I thought them to be great for getting a better photograph relative to the dominant use of white plates in restaurants.   Jacques uses the restaurant as an outlet for the home ware, as well as for the wonderful slick classic yet modern square-shaped zen-feel furniture, made from wood and black steel structures, all of which can be ordered.  Material serviettes are provided, and the cutlery is new and shiny, a classic modern design. 

Jacques told me that he is the creator of crockery chandeliers, which I first saw at Manna, and he also made the three modern chandeliers with crockery from the Dutch East India Company for the new Pierneef à  La Motte.   There are no crockery chandeliers at Hemelhuijs.  Not only is Jacques an interior designer and restaurateur, but he is also a restaurant consultant, helping others to set up new restaurants.   On the ceiling is a large rectangular white structure, on which Jacques created images, ‘like a 5-year child having fun and playing’, he explained.   I asked him which his favourite restaurant is, and he immediately said it is his home, having eggs on toast.  He most regularly goes to Chef Pon’s in Gardens, for its predictability, nothing about the menu or the food changing.

Business has been good to date, and lunches tend to be fully booked, mainly by female supporters, rather than city businessmen, as Jacques had expected.  Many of the clients are ex-Manna friends.  The A3 white menu looks just like that which Manna first used, and on one side it says simply: “Hemelhuijs: Everyday Luxury”, a nice and simple positioning.   Breakfast is served all day, and most of the menu items are relatively standard dishes with one surprise ingredient, giving them a creative twist.   The wine selection is very small and focused, the “boutique house wine” being Henry Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz, made by Hennie Andrews near Napier, not only a good wine maker, but the original bread baker at Manna.  Two sparkling wines are served: Graham Beck Brut Rosé and Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel, reasonably priced at R35/R160. 

The menu has no dishes costing more than R90, for Baked salmon trout, pine nuts, dried cranberries and grapefruit butter.   I ordered Fresh asparagus, smoked salmon and a wonderful hollandaise sauce (R70), served with home-baked rye bread, which I dunked in the sauce, to mop it up.  The white asparagus spears were lightly blanched, making them super crunchy.  The dish looked beautiful in the black bowl.  For breakfast/brunch one can order fruit and yoghurt (R40); poached eggs, prosciutto, artichoke and hollandaisse sauce (R55); scrambled egg, salmon and toasted apple cake! (R50); and omelette and maple syrup glazed bacon, figs and goat’s cheese! (R55).  Salads cost R55 – R65.   Marzipan and dried apricot roasted chicken, a definite for the next visit, costs R 60; slow roasted lamb ribs cost R75; and the Hemelhuijs burger with creamed mushrooms and poached egg costs R70.   Crostini with various toppings range from R35 for mozzarella and tomato, to R50 for chicken and avocado.  The duck liver paté and preserved orange also sounded wonderful (R45).   Balsamic vinegar and olive oil (Hamilton Russell) are served in the most exquisite glass carafés, the olive oil one containing a herb sprig, giving it a special touch and taste.  The cappuccino (R17) was served with ‘anys-beskuit’, three generous helpings, at no charge.

I will be returning to heavenly Hemelhuijs for a breakfast later this week.  Jacques was very generous with his time and information.   The business card says: “Wholesome food, freshly made juices, artisan home ware, delicious daily bakes’.

POSTSCRIPT 6/11:  I have been back to Hemelhuijs twice since writing the review earlier this week, having the scrambled egg and salmon breakfast dish, as well as the most wonderful roast chicken with cherries, rocket cream, and marzipan and dried apricot stuffing.

POSTSCRIPT 13/4:  I went to look at the dinner at Hemelhuijs last night (only open on Wednesdays), but had to wait until 19h00 for it to open, so went to Keenwä, the Peruvian restaurant close by first, as they open at 18h30.  I ordered what sounded like a nice watercress and poached egg salad, at R55 – it was half a boiled egg on a side-plate full of hard-to-eat watrecress with some pine kernels.  I felt more than ripped off, especillay when the manager did not flinch nor ask a question in presenting the bill in full, after I left the plateful of watercress minus the egg!

POSTSCRIPT 10/5: Today I had lunch at Hemelhuijs with interior curator Neil Stemmet, also owner of award-winning Le Must in Upington, at which Hemelhuijs owner Jacques started his cheffing career, and with chef and cookbook writer Sonia Cobano.  I had a most unusual and very tasty combination of pork and chicken liver terrine, served with orange preserve and toasted rye bread.

POSTSCRIPT 16/5:  This evening Hemelhuijs was opened especially to cater for the persons invited to the opening of the ‘Openness to Explore’ exhibition at the Freeworld Design Centre next door.  The menu at Hemelhuijs was changed yesterday, and prices are creeping dangerously close to R100 – they had used the lunch menu and not their Wednesday evening menu.   While delicious, the three ‘frikadelle’ on a lick of mash accompanied with a sprinkling of tomato and onion was expensive at R95, but it was delicious.

Hemelhuijs Restaurant, 71 Waterkant Street, Cape Town. Tel (021)  418-2042.  No website.  Monday – Friday 8h00 – 15h00.  Saturday 9h00 – 15h00.   Wednesday evenings from 19h00.

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

A quaint and very unusual new restaurant, called De Oude Bank Bakkerij, has opened in an alley off Church Street in Stellenbosch, and challenges conventional restaurant operations.   It sells the most delicious artisanal breads baked on the property, by owner Fritz Schoon, who worked at Ile de Pain in Knysna for 18 months to learn from the best breadmaker, he says.

Fritz has Dutch roots stretching far back, and that is why he chose the Dutch name for his bakery and restaurant.  It is an unusual space, and feels like a covered courtyard to a building which opens onto the Dorp Street Gallery and a crystal glass shop, the former on Church Street and the latter on Bird Street.   The building previously was the offices of the District Bank.  Individual square tables with very uncomfortable heavy metal chairs, as well as shared long wooden tables with benches, fill the space.  One wall looks like a cosy lounge, with shelves filled with books.

As one enters, one sees the Lucas Jamon ham, from Prince Albert, hanging over the counter, with the freshly baked breads on display for sale behind it.   It has a cosy ‘untidiness’, making it homely. It is also a deli, selling the breads, wines, coffee, jams and tapenades.  The deli counter, and place to pay, is unusual, in being a piece of wood on top of stacked logs.

Fritz is cute, with beautiful eyes, a young entrepreneur who seems to be in his baking element in the shop.   He is so hands-on that his apron is full of flour dust.  He is so proud of what he is doing that he has put up photographs of all his suppliers.  He has taken special care to source wines and other supplies from suppliers who are small and artisanal too.  His wines come from mainly unfamiliar wine estates such as Berry Box, Noble Savage, Rainbow’s End, Bartinney, Marklew, Topaz, and Clouds, all from Stellenbosch, and his coffee comes from the Conti micro-roastery in Kuilsriver.  Beer on tap comes from Birkenhead in Stanford, at R20 for 330ml and R55 for 900ml. The wine-by-the-glass cost ranges from R20 – R40, and R60 – R190 per bottle.

Fritz comes from Kempton Park, studied quantity surveying, and worked on a building site, supplying food to the construction workers on the sites he worked at.  He enjoyed artisanal baking, and therefore decided to train at Ile de Pain in Knysna, regarding Markus Farbinger one of the best artisanal bakers.  He also uses stoneground flour and allows the natural fermentation of his dough to make and bake his breads, just as Ile de Pain does.   The breads made at the De Oude Bank Bakkerij are French Ciabatta, Baguette, Sourdough, Dark Rye Sourdough, as well as salted seed and rustic olive sticks.

What is even more unusual about the restaurant is that the menu is the cheapest possible to produce – a handwritten photocopied menu that itemises every item one may wish to order, on the principle that one only pays for what one gets.  Everything is priced, and the customers at each table fill in the quantity per item they wish to order, minimising order errors.   I would normally have been critical of the menu, but it is such a surprise, and in keeping with the character of the restaurant, that Fritz can get away with it – it must be the little hearts that are drawn on the menu!   He has written the following on the menu, to explain his restaurant philosophy: “Pain de vie is the bread of life. This is what I hope to create here.  The opportunity to break bread with friends and family.  I believe that this is what fuel (sic) our daily existence, our life purpose.  Sit. Talk. Laugh. Debate… and eat more BREAD!”  I love it!

Some of the “Condiments” one can order with 2 slices of bread, costing R5 – 7 for two, are farm butter (R4), schmaltz (R6), mustard glaze (R5), olive tapenade (R6), roasted black olives (R10), and a most delicious shitake mushroom pesto (R8).   Jams cost R5, and include olive marmalade, “nastergal jam”, rasberry (sic) jam, and bluegum honey (R6).   Cheese brands are specified, Ganzvlei matured cheddar costs R10, Forest Hill brie R8, and Witzenberger Kimilili R8.  On the meat side, Coppa ham costs R8, as does Smoked Pork, Beef salami and Black Forrest (sic) Ham.  Namib beef biltong is R10, and Lucas Jamon costs R30.

I ordered the ‘creamy scrambled eggs with bacon on sourdough toast’ at a mere R 25, the yellowest egg dish I have ever eaten – these must be specially sourced free-range eggs for sure.  Gourmet sandwiches can also be ordered, at R25 – R30, depending on the topping.  A slice of Butterkuchen costs R12.  Organic teas are offered at R10 and less, and a cappuccino costs R14.   Six coffee styles are offered.  My cappuccino was brought to the table in a wooden cup, on a wooden saucer, with a long wood handle spoon, which was far too long for the saucer, but just added to the natural wood feel of the restaurant.  The bread is served on wooden boards, with wood-handle cutlery – the knives are uncomfortable to use.    We saw three patrons share a wooden tray filled with a selection of bread slices and lots of little portions on the “Condiments” list, looking like a delicious tapas feast.

I loved the differentness of De Oude Bank Bakkerij, and loved the way Fritz has turned many restaurant conventions on their head, by creating a special and unusual, yet simple, restaurant.   I am definitely going back.

De Oude Bank Bakkerij, 7 Church Street, Stellenbosch.  Tel (021) 883-2187 (phone not always answered).  No website.  On Facebook.  Twitter: @OudeBankBakery  Open Tuesday – Friday 8h00 – 15h00, Saturdays from 9h00 – 15h00, and Sundays from 9h00 – 13h00.  On Wednesday and Saturday evenings pizza, beer and wine are served from 18h30 – 22h00.   On the Stellenbosch Restaurant Route.

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

Of all the restaurants that I have visited and reviewed, newly opened Dutch East in Franschhoek has been one of the most difficult to come to grips with, to categorise and to review.   It appears to not have a focus, and to be all over the place in terms of what it wants to achieve.

When we spoke to co-owner Sainkie du Toit, the front-of-house manager, she immediately emphasised the South African nature of the restaurant, but with an Eastern touch.  We could not see the “Eastern” touch at all, and in fact there was little South African about it, except for a BBQ one can order, as well as offal.   Sainkie tried to correct herself, and referred us to the menu, in which the restaurant describes itself as “contemporary, with a South African influence and an Asian touch”, and “Fresh local ingredients infused with eastern flavour combinations”.  Our party of three could not see the Asian, South African nor contemporary descriptions in the menu items at all.  However, the menu had some French names, and a “chimichurri relish”, which is South American, is served with the squid starter.  Sainkie could not explain how they had got to the name, or why they chose the name out of about 40 options.

The problem is the menu.  I’m all for creativity and doing things differently, but when a new restaurant sets itself up in a space of a restaurant that was frowned upon by many of the locals (Burgundy), one cannot move too quickly or too radically until one has a following.  It was the grouping of the menu items that caused the biggest challenge, with headings for “raw” (e.g. steak tartar, seared tuna, shaved salmon, springbok tataki), “small” (curried eggs, meat balls, “black lip abalone” and grilled scallops), “breads” (tortilla with duck, pizza, baguette – served at lunch only), “cured” (biltong sirloin, kudu carpaccio, coppa, smoked trout and more), “offal” (veal tongue, lamb’s head “tourchon”, oxtail, and pork trotter), “meat” (hangar steak, lamb shoulder, pork belly, quail and rib eye), and “fish and shellfish” (kingklip, crayfish with Cafe de Paris, tiger prawns).   One can even order a “BBQ”, serving a whole sheep’s rib, game sausage, and the unmissable toasted cheese, tomato and onion sandwich, and a salad.  A minimum of 6 guests must order this South African “braai” dish for it to be prepared, it costs R130 per head, and it must be booked in advance.  “Sweets” are the apple crepe, fried milk tart, brulee, and Swiss chocolate fondant.

We could not get to choose what we liked, so we looked at the Winter Special menu, which is charged at R150 for three courses and a glass of Protea shiraz or sauvignon blanc (made by Anthonij Rupert Wines).   We made sure that we all chose a different combination of dishes, to give us nine opportunities to try them.   What is confusing is that the Winter special menu has prices for each individual dish, even though one can only order from it for the three courses, at the total price of R150. 

Our waitress Nolundi had a lovely smile, and also could not explain the essence of the menu to us before Sainkie came to the table, stating that the restaurant serves, “afval, raw meat and game meat”.   This was a bad start for us.   She said the wine came from “Reuben”, but not the restaurant Reuben, she said, meaning Rupert.   

The wine list is very ‘proudly Franschhoek’, almost every wine estate being represented, probably making it one of the most comprehensive Franschhoek wine lists: Graham Beck, Rickety Bridge, L’Omarins, Glenwood, Rupert & Rothschild, Porcupine Ridge, Stonybrook, Boekenhoutskloof, Grand Provence, Landau du Val, Solms Delta, Lynx, Haut Espoir, Haute Cabriere, Chamonix, Klein Dauphine, La Bri, Vrede & Lust, Klein Genot, Bellingham, Eikehof, and Pierre Jourdan.  The list contains a few typing errors.   What was unusual was to lable the sparkling wines as “bubblies” and the Rose’s as “blushes”.

We were served three tiny slices of garlic and herb pizza while we decided on our order.  The pizza slices were over-salted, and contained onion, and spoilt the palette for what was to come.   The water took a long time to come to the table as they had run out of jugs (the restaurant was half full).   Our starters arrived almost immediately:  the spinach soup arrived lukewarm and was terribly bland, but the parmesan-topped bread was very tasty.   The squid came in a soup plate with a lot of liquid, but was not described as a soup.  The idea of ‘pairing’ this with red pepper and yellow pepper was probably meant to be a good one, in that it would have added colour to the dish – the problem was that the red pepper was hidden by the 6 tiny tubes of calamari, and the yellow pepper was so overcooked that it became a brown ‘something’ on top of the calamari, and was initially unidentifiable until one tasted it.   The calamari dish had a distinct taste of nutmeg, not a good match in my opinion.  The “spring rolls” were served as three samoosas, and were not served with the advertised salsa, but with bits of paw paw, cucumber, onion and tomato and lots of rocket.  When we asked Sainkie about the spring rolls, she apologised, saying that the kitchen staff had rolled the spring rolls into the wrong shape.

None of us was happy with the starters, and we asked our waitress to relay this to the kitchen.  There was no response from Sainkie about the feedback, and she seemed to steer clear of our table thereafter.  We were nervous about our mains, but we fared far better.   The gemsbok steak was cut into slices, and was tender.  It was such a large portion that I had to ask to take half of it home.   The spinach was perfect, and the “potato mash” was served as if it was a whole potato.   The Venison pot au feu was very tender, and came with dumplings, underneath a pastry layer.   The lamb’s tail was bravely chosen by my colleague, and served  “barbequed”, making it quite black, too burnt for the taste of our Brazilian trainee.   The lamb was served with more rocket, polenta mixed with sweetcorn, and “Sauce Gebriche”, an odd mayonnaise sauce with boiled egg and pickled cucumber.  When we checked with Sainkie, she went to the kitchen to find out for us for sure – she returned with the news that there was anchovy in it too, but my sharp-tasting colleague could not detect this at all.

The desserts had mixed reactions.  The rhubarb, strawberry and custard dessert, on a bread base, was a compressed stack served with plum sherbet, which needed some extra cream or custard, as it is very dry.     Poached pears were served in a soup plate with rooibos sultanas, in a ginger cinnamon broth, far too weak to allow one to get a clear taste of the ingredients.  Once again, we felt that the fruit should have come with custard or cream.   As the Winter specials menu only had two options for desserts, I requested an apple crepe dessert from the main menu, and offered to pay in the difference of R10.   It was very tasty and a generous portion, with caramelised apple and raisin, and vanilla ice cream.   The first cappuccino was not frothy and had spilled over the side, but was quickly replaced with a great frothy one in a clean cup, when requested.  

Sainkie admitted that co-owner and chef Pasch du Plooy (previously at Reubens, L’ermitage and Bouillabaisse) was not on duty, and this appeared to explain the poor quality of many aspects of our meal, and the kitchen mistakes.   We pointed out to her the chipped candleholder on our table.   She said that she knew about it, but that she had not been able to find a replacement.   We advised her to have none at all rather than one with two chips in it.   We also advised Sainkie to reflect the restaurants dishes in the Winter special menu, so that one can get a taste for them, especially as it is such a complex menu, and she admitted that it had been a mistake in their May special menu to not have done so.  Sainkie and Pasch are both graduates of the highly regarded Institute of Culinary Arts Chef’s School  in Stellenbosch, and met each other there.  The raw facebrick interior and exterior of the restaurant are the same as the previous restaurant, with only a name change.

Without being asked, Sainkie discounted the meal by R 72,45 on our total bill of what should have been R488 in total, for 3 meals, one tea, the cappuccino and the dessert surcharge, a reduction of 15%.   Sainkie invited me to come back to try the standard menu as the guest of the restaurant when I return to Franschhoek.   The bill is confusing, in that each of the items of the Winter Special menu is charged individually, and almost every item, even the mains, were charged at R 50 a dish, even though one pays R 150 for the meal and the glass of wine in total.

The website states boldly :”Authentic and inspiring, DUTCH EAST is a culinary jewel in the heart of Franschhoek’s iconic main street”.  We believe that Dutch East has a long way to go before it can make this claim!

Dutch East,  42 Huguenot Street, Franschhoek.  Tel 021 876-3547. www.dutcheast.co.za (The website has irritating photographs flashing, if one does not click onto a specific website page, when one first opens it.  It commendably does carry a lot of information, unusual for restaurant websites in general, but irritatingly does not list prices for its dishes and wine list).  Open 7 days a week, lunch and dinner.  Corkage R30.

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