Tag Archives: Elton John

Restaurant Review: Jan Restaurant haven of style, superb cuisine, and SA hospitality in Nice!

imageLast Friday my life changed, when I had the pleasure of meeting the nicest possible Chef Jan-Hendrik van der Westhuizen in the world, and eating at his Nice-based Jan Restaurant, which opened almost two years ago. To my knowledge it is the imageonly South African chef-owned restaurant listed in a Michelin Guide!

I first heard about Chef Jan from the Facebook page of Errieda du Toit, and was granted a Friend request!  I loved his photographs, and the Michelin Guide listing achievement for one of our locals made me determined to visit Continue reading →

La Residence lays on a feast for a good cause!

On Sunday La Residence impressed with the fundraising lunch it hosted to raise monies for the Stuart McFarlane Foundation, to assist in finding a cure for Motor Neuron Disease, a disease which Stuart McFarlane, previous GM of La Residence, suffers from (as does Joost van der Westhuizen), and for which there is no cure currently.

La Residence GM Edward Morton and events manager Chantell Viljoen created the Stuart McFarlane Foundation, and sent out a mailer to encourage support for the Foundation, by attending a lunch in honour of Stuart, for which we paid R500 a head.  The grand entrance room, which is a lounge and dining room all in one, looked magnificent, with one long table set for 45 persons.  I was lucky to sit next to Jo Sinfield, the co-owner of Deluxe Coffeeworks in Franschhoek and who has hospitality interests too, and opposite Ali Macfarlane from Inspirational Places, and her fiancé Carl.  Many guests present were from the hospitality industry, having worked with Stuart at La Residence, its sister property Birkenhead House in Hermanus, Singita, and at Ellerman House. Fireplaces were lit and made the room cosy, on a grey winter’s day.  Guest of honour, Kfm’s Elana Afrika, was her bubbly self, and was amazing in networking around the table, and remembering the names of almost all the guests present.  She reminded us that ‘giving is a must’, and mentioned her radio station’s ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ campaign it runs regularly, making one realise that there are others with bigger problems than those that we have.

A few speeches were made, donations were auctioned to raise further funds, and a good time was had by all, the saxophonist adding a high note to the event.  Wines were from the Felicité range from Newton Johnson in Hermanus, at which wine estate Stuart works now, and we were offered a choice of Chardonnay 2011 and Pinot Noir 2011, the latter being an excellent example of one of the wine varieties that the Hemel en Aarde valley is famous for.

Chef Leonard Marais went to great lengths to serve a feast, canapés having been served with the Rosé sparkling wine on arrival.  On sitting down, we were served a free-range chicken, pistachio nut and asparagus terrine, served with a fine salad, spiced apple chutney, as well as melba toast, and a basket of home-baked breads and rolls.   This was followed by a Corn Chowder, a colourful warm soup for a cold day.

For the main course we were served a generous portion of oven-roasted leg of lamb, garlic and herb potato gratin, cumin glazed young carrots, fine beans, beetroot sprouts, and a rosemary jus.  For dessert we had a baked pear pudding, which was served with a delicious home-made Fererro Rocher ice cream.

La Residence, and The Royal Portfolio owners Phil and Liz Biden, impressed with their generosity in hosting the lunch and donating some of the prizes for the auction.  The elite boutique hotel, at which Elton John stays when he performs in Cape Town, is the best of its kind in Franschhoek, and showed its friendliness and demonstrated its heart for others in organising the lunch and in creating the Foundation for their ex-colleague Stuart McFarlane.  Everyone attending not only enjoyed Chef Leonard’s excellent lunch but also felt good about doing good for someone else.

La Residence, Elandskloof Road, Franschhoek.  Tel ()21) 876-4100   www.laresidence.co.za Twitter: @LaResidence  Lunch and dinner on request and subject to availability for outside guests.

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

What’s On at What’s On Eatery? A new chef, a new menu to come!

The most exciting restaurant news in Cape Town must be the move of Chef Oliver Cattermole of Dash Restaurant at the new Queen Victoria Hotel, to What’s On Eatery at the end of this month, the ideal marriage of superb host Trevor Jordaan with a superb chef.  The restaurant will be serving food with ‘simplistic elegance’, in a homely and hearty environment, and is set to become even more popular than it already is.

Chef Oliver attracted my attention with his most beautiful ‘Alice in Wonderland’ vegetable garden he created with the beef fillet and mash dish at Dash.  Oliver is a quiet man who is passionate about what he creates, and told me about his plans for What’s On Eatery when we met with Trevor yesterday.  He wants to position What’s On as a small neighbourhood eatery, and is looking forward to lifting What’s On to new heights. He will serve simple food, cooked impeccably, and beautifully presented.  His menu is likely to change monthly, and some of the starters include Prawn cocktail, Roast beef salad, Caprese salad, Mussels with cider (his personal favorite), and Oysters with seaweed.  Mains are likely to include Linefish of the day, Monkfish Masala, Breast of lamb, and Pork belly with apple puree, crackling and black pudding soil.  On the Dessert menu could appear delectable items such as Lemon tart (using the Le Gavroche recipe but with an Oliver twist), Chocolate marquise, a Chocolate plate using chocolate by CocoaFair, and Elderflower berries and custard.  The lunch menu will be lighter, with platters of charcuterie, fish, and cheese, as well as soups and gourmet ciabattas.  Starters will range from R35 – R65, main courses from R95 – R165, and desserts around R40 – R45. Gorgeous sorbet palate cleansers will be served.

Chef Oliver grew up in Durbanville, and worked on weekends for George Jardine at the Cellars Hohenhort hotel whilst he was still at school.  He did a kitchen internship with Matthew Gordon at Haute Cabriére Cellar Restaurant for 2,5 years, and worked alongside Scott Kirton, the La Colombe chef.  Chef Oliver left for the UK, and worked at 2-Michelin star restaurant Le Gavroche, in which kitchen Michel Roux jnr reigned. He said it was tough working in a French kitchen, without being able to speak French, but it did give him a good grounding.  The rule of the chef was ‘my way or no way’!  This kitchen influenced Chef Oliver the most, and he owns ten Roux cookery books, and makes his jus and sauces the Roux way.  In this kitchen they do things the old-fashioned way, and here Oliver learnt discipline, punctuality, time-keeping, and being organised, in a kitchen that was run with ‘military precision’. Here he worked with Phil Carmichael, ex-Maze chef at the One&Only Cape Town.  He moved to The Ivy, one of London’s top restaurants with 400 covers, of which Giles Conran once said: “The most fashionable piece of furniture in London is a table at The Ivy”, and worked there for three years.  This restaurant sees VIP’s such as Tony Blair, Tom Cruise, Julia Roberts, the Beckhams, John Travolta, and Elton John eat good British food here regularly. It is one of the ultimate places to be seen, and serves the ‘best of British’ food, Chef Oliver said.  Even Gordon Ramsay used to eat at The Ivy every Friday evening, having beef tartar, and fish and chips. Oliver worked here as Chef de Partie, and was responsible for the vegetables, one of the hardest sections of this kitchen, the menu offering 37 side dishes.

Novelli’s at The London Capital Club, with Jean Christophe, for whom George Jardine worked, was Chef Oliver’s next employer.  This one-Michelin star restaurant serves refined food with clean and sharp lines in its presentation. Foraging was a trademark of this restaurant.  When most of his colleagues left, Chef Oliver left too, working on a Silverseas cruise liner for six months.  Then he spent 2,5 years at Cannizaro House, which was awarded three rosettes by the UK AA Guide, first as Sous Chef and then as Senior Sous Chef.  Foraging here too was important, and ’boutique’ ingredients were sourced in the preparation of modern British food.  A snowed-in Christmas last year made him decide to return to his home city, and he was offered a job by Newmark Hotels, first at their V&A Hotel, and then at the Queen Victoria Hotel, where he and the team of chefs designed the exciting Dash menu.  Chef Oliver says his job as Chef de Cuisine at Dash has broadened his horizons and pushed his culinary boundaries. Chef Oliver is the son of Nigel Cattermole, a co-founder and partner in Siris Vintners, owner of Wines @ the Mill, and lecturer at Varsity College.

Owner Trevor Jordaan is planning a number of changes to coincide with Chef Oliver’s arrival: the downstairs room will be set up as upstairs, with highback chairs, and some other decor upgrades; the counter will be set up as a bar, and bar snacks will be served, such as home-made biltong; a new awning and signage is planned; Chef Oliver will come out of the kitchen after the service;  the opening hours will change to 9h30 – late, without closing in the late afternoon, Monday – Friday, and on Saturday evenings.

POSTSCRIPT 4/10: I have not wanted to eat at What’s On Eatery until new Chef Oliver has settled in, but could not help ordering the new starter Durbanville Asparagus with coddled hen’s egg and soldiers this afternoon, when stopping by for a coffee, excellent value at R45, and beautifully presented.  I met the new sous chef Wesley, who also worked at Dash, and previously at Jardine.

POSTSCRIPT 31/10: Sadly and unexpectedly What’s On Eatery closed down today.

What’s On Eatery, 6 Watson Street, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 422-5652.  www.whatsoneatery.co.za.  Twitter: @Whatsoneatery

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

Two Cape hotels on Telegraph Top 50 best hotel world list

Two local Cape hotels have made it onto The Telegraph “50 best hotels in the world” list, which the paper published on 31 December.  Writers of the Telegraph  Travel section selected the top 50 hotels, and divided them into three rates brackets.  The two Cape hotels both featured in the £150 – £300 per room per night price range, the mid price range.

La Residence  in Franschhoek is a very low key property locally, with little visible advertising.  Its business comes from international advertising and word of mouth.  Its biggest claim to fame is Elton John, the famous guest who comes to stay whenever he performs in Cape Town, and he always thanks the owners, Liz and Phil Biden, during his concerts.   When La Residence moved to its new site in Franschhoek, John was consulted as to what he wanted in terms of decor for “his” room.   Surprisingly, “his” room is not any larger than the other rooms that face the dam outside.  “His” room has an Indian decor style.   Every room is unique in its decor, created by interior decorator Ralph Krall.

The article describes La Residence as follows: “An 11-suite extravagance on the slope of Franschhoek, the Cape Village that is probably South Africa’s prettiest.  No expense has been spared.   Each of the suites has its own decor theme, from Buddhist retreat to French decadent, while the public areas are a riotous collection of Louis XIV furniture.   Persian carpets, plus objets, art and fabrics from India, Indo-China, France and Italy and everywhere else.  And it works thanks to the impeccable taste of Liz Biden, the proprietor”.

Grootbos  is located outside Hermanus, just beyond Stanford, before one gets to Gansbaai, and is known for its focus on conservation, not only of fynbos, but also of whales at De Kelders close by and other sealife, such as penguins, on Dyer Island.  The article writes as follows about Grootbos: “Found on one of the finest whale-watching coastlines, this five-star retreat offers unadulterated luxury without the guilt.  Every effort has been made to assimilate these fabulous private lodges – complete with all mod cons, state-of-the-art bathrooms, four-poster beds and unsurpassable views – into the environment.  And what an environment: a 1750-hectare reserve that is home to more than 740 different species of plants and the impossibly white sands of Walker Bay”.

Some of the other hotels that made the Telegraph Top 50 list include Mama Shelter in Paris, Mykonos Grace Hotel in Mykonos, Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Place in Budapest, Villa Marie in Saint Tropez, The Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai,  Four Seasons George V in Paris, Four Seasons New York, Four Seasons Istanbul, The Dorchester in London and The Carlyle in New York.

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

Winelands gets Style-ish new magazines!

The Winelands is clearly seen to be a geographic area with money, if the launch of two lifestyle publications is anything to go by.  Last month the Spring 2010 edition of Franschhoek Style was launched, while winestyle was introduced to bloggers and to potential advertisers earlier this month, its launch Summer 2011 issue expected in December.  Both publications are published quarterly and are offered free of charge.

Franschhoek Style is the brainchild of the publishers Schäfer Media, owners of the Franschhoek Tatler, being Barry Phillips and Siegfried Schaefer, and is described by them as “a magazine reflecting the good life in Franschhoek”.   The publication is a glossy, coffee-table type, which one can leave in a guest house lounge as well as look forward to reading, in being informative about Franschhoek.  The editor is Helen Naude, who manages the Franschhoek community radio station.  The first issue contains an impressive number of ads, given the state of the economy, from tour operator &Beyond, Akademie Street Guest Houses, Oyster (wood-based designs), Le Franschhoek Hotel & Spa, TAGHeuer, Solms Delta, Mont Rochelle, Franschhoek Cellars, Peacock Blue, Ebony decor shop, The Sofa Studio, The Diamond Works, Viglietti Motors, Franschhoek Manor, Ashbourne House, Indian Summer, Le Bon Vivant, Paarlberg BMW , Rusthof, Auberge La Dauphine, Seeff, Graham Beck and Investec.   What is missing from the list is Le Quartier Francais, a surprise as it is usually the first to hijack prominence in a Franschhoek publication.  The design by Virtual Da Vinci Creative Room is clean, and the thick paper and glossy finish make this publication top quality, reflective of what Franschhoek stands for.

Editorial offers shopping advice for wines and decor items to be found in Franschhoek; a ‘Spring Diary’ listing events; a review of Fyndraai Restaurant at Solms Delta; a Franschhoek Uncorked overview of the wines of the wine estates that participated in the festival; a write-up of the prestigious and best accommodation in Franschhoek, being La Residence (at which Elton John stays when in the Cape); an article about the effect of fires on fynbos;  a write-up of Rickety Bridge; Franschhoek wine profiles; “Three perfect days in Franschhoek”;  a profile of entrepreneur Mike Bosman; a feature on the art galleries in Franschhoek; an article on the La Motte Mountain Meander, on which one can spot baboons and blushing brides; a write-up on the BMW 5 series; a write-up of Le Jardinet;  a profile of Minnie Pietersen, who heads up the Youth Empowerment Action project for street children in Franschhoek; a book review page; and a write-up of Sante’s Wellness Centre.  What is commendable is that a digital version of the magazine is available, and is quick to download and easy to page through and read, unlike Crush!, the digital food and wine magazine, that is still struggling with technical problems, including its first page, which does not open. 

As I typed this blog post, I had the sinking feeling that most of the publication’s editorial in fact was advertorial, with either being an exchange for advertising placed, or straight paid-for advertorials.   Readers today are smart, in identifying such advertorial, which is not disclosed nor marked as such, and lowers the credibility of the publication, no matter how well designed and glossy it is, and could therefore make it unattractive for guest houses to stock.   Franschhoek Style: www.franschhoekstyle.co.za

winestyle is a publication of the Manta Media group, publishers of a collection of seemingly unrelated magazines, being winestyle, surfing and diving.  Jenny Ratcliffe is the editor of the magazine, a most suitable person given her family’s Warwick ownership.   Not surprisingly, the launch of the magazine was held at Warwick.   What is refreshing about the publishing of magazines by Manta Media is that it is so environmentally friendly.  Instead of publishing x number of copies every quarter, it is printed on demand, after one registers for free.  The magazine is then posted to the readers, which means that the publishers are efficient about the number of copies they print, and there is no wastage.   This results from the niche publishing company asking itself: “how  should magazines be published in the digital age?”   By registering its readers in a database, the publishers of winestyle will send regular news updates to its reader database by e-mail, keeping them informed weekly about wine news.  For advertisers the benefit of this publishing approach is of immense benefit in that the readers are winelovers who request to subscribe by registering, giving quality readership.  winestyle will not be available for sale in retail outlets, to maintain its reader focus.   An online shop will sell the products of the magazine’s advertisers.   The most expensive advertisement, a 3-page inside front cover gatefold, costs R 11700 exclusive of VAT.   winestyle: www.mantamedia.co.za

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

Restaurant Review: La Petite Tarte retains French ‘recipe’

La Petite Tarte has been a favourite for the last eight years, but I had avoided it (and everything else in that area) for the last two years, given the building work for the new Cape Quarter.  I returned on a post-World Cup glorious summery winter’s day, to discover that little has changed at the French pavement cafe’, other than the ownership.

The French model Jessica started La Petite Tarte, and she sold to the Italian Christiane.   We connected due to having the same name.  A year ago Johan de Villiers and Len Straw bought the cafe’, having previously managed the prestigious La Residence in Franschhoek, the most elite accommodation in the gourmet village, Elton John having been one of the guests.  All the La Petite Tarte staff have been retained, and most of the menu as well.

The menu starts with “Welcome to our little corner of Paris”, and one’s eye catches the seven Mariage Freres French teas, each costing R22, the same price as the Rooibos Cappuccino and Spicy Chai.  Wine options are very limited, with a Two Oceans house wine at R 30, and a merlot/shiraz blend at R 40.  Pongracz Brut is offered by the bottle at R130 or by the glass at R35.  The Rose’ is also offered, and is a little more expensive.  The owners are so obliging that they will run down to the fancy-looking TOPS at the new Cape Quarter, and will buy whatever the customer fancies.   The water was served in a carafe, with lemon slices and ice, without having to request it.

Good news is that breakfast is served all day, and choices include a plain croissant at R16, or one served with cheese and preserves (R28), or with ham and cheese (R35).  Muesli, fruit and yoghurt costs R40.  A most delicious and creamy scrambled egg with lots of crispy bacon, roasted cherry tomatoes and toast cost R48, and R 54 when served with avocado and salmon.   Souffle omelettes can be ordered with bacon and cherry tomatoes (R58), or with avocado and salmon (R62). 

For lunch the options are one of Johan’s delicious chicken pies, often with leek or mushroom added, or the haddock pie. The chicken pie was sold out already, even though I had arrived at the start of lunch.  Croque Monsieur and Croque Poulet cost R 48 each.   A Club Sandwich costs R 48, while two quiche options are available daily, and could be baby marrow and feta, chicken and rosemary, spinach and feta, butternut and blue cheese, or salmon and dill, ranging from R48 – R58.  Salads cost R58 – R62.  

A sweet ending to lunch, or a tasty accompaniment to afternoon tea, are the famous almond apricot, apple and pear tartlets, at R28.  Flourless chocolate and almond cake, and whole orange and almond cake, cost R 30.

I’ll be back at La Petite Tarte, having reconnected with an old favourite, and having been impressed with the hands-on management of the two new owners, something that was not always the case with the previous owners.

La Petite Tarte, Shop A11, 72 Waterkant Street, old Cape Quarter, Cape Town.  tel (021) 425-9077.  No website.  Monday – Friday 9h00 – 17h00, Saturday 9h00 – 14h30.

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