I ate at KONG Bar & Grill in De Waterkant last Thursday for the first time, at the invitation of its PR Consultant Marina Nestel, and then watched the World Cup Rugby Semi-Final there on Sunday. Not expecting much from the ‘Grill’ part of the name, I was surprised to meet Chef Coenraad Spauner, who heads up the kitchen and who worked at a Michelin Plate restaurant in France last year. Continue reading →
I was aware of a new Nomad restaurant opening in Cape Town via Social Media, confusing it with the one which I knew was opening in Stellenbosch. The two new Nomad restaurants are unrelated, the Stellenbosch one having opened in March. At the end of April Nomad Fusion Bistro opened on Waterkant Street in Cape Town. Continue reading →
Jardine at Jordan Manager and former Sinn employee Riaan Moll told me recently that Chef Thomas Sinn, once an Eat Out Top Restaurant Chef, has closed down all his restaurant interests in Cape Town, and has opened Rivendell Restaurant on the road to Hermanus, near the turn-off to Kleinmond and Arabella. On our way back from a trip to Hermanus my colleague and I found an oasis of food, in the middle of nowhere, offering a whale of a good value.
Rivendell is referred to in J.R.R. Tolkien’s books, ‘Lord of the Rings’ amongst others, and means ‘deeply cloven valley‘, referring to the Bot River valley lying between two mountains. The wine estate Rivendell is owned by Austrian couple Heimo and Maria Talhammer, and they invited Chef Thomas to open the restaurant on their farm three months ago. The restaurant building is set back on the estate, and is not visible from the road to Hermanus. It was previously the tasting and functions venue, but the Continue reading →
Piazza Italia appeared on our latest list of Restaurant Openings, and it was a Facebook message from Davide Ostuni, Puglia Cheese mozzarella producer by day and Chef at Piazza Italia by night, that encouraged me to try it out last night. The restaurant has two Italians in the kitchen, a genuine Italian menu (without pizza), and Italian patrons eating there, a vote of confidence in a restaurant which has only been open for a month.
The restaurant belongs to Theresa Pearman, who comes from the jewellery industry, and fashion designer Pietro Giannuzzi, who had a dream to open a restaurant in which they could welcome and entertain their friends, bringing their dining room to the restaurant. Neither of them have prior restaurant experience, giving them a refreshing approach to owning the business, and not having any preconceived ideas about restauranting. Pietro only recently met Davide, and Theresa described the two men as being ‘soul brothers’, having a ‘bromance‘ about Italian food. I have only met Davide briefly at Burrata some time ago, and have been to see the Puglia Cheese factory, shown around by Davide’s wife Ursula. I had forgotten that Davide and Ursula owned five Italian restaurants in London, before moving to Cape Town, Continue reading →
I never experienced Cheyne’s when it operated from a small space on Bree Street after the World Cup, but was very impressed when I sampled Chef Cheyne Morrisby’s cooking at the Franschhoek Kitchen at Holden Manz. Now Capetonians can enjoy Chef Cheyne’s Australasian-infused South African cuisine in Hout Bay.
Having only opened five days ago, Cheyne’s was already fully booked for lunch yesterday, all customers choosing to sit outside on a lovely sunny autumn day. All the inside furniture was taken outside, so it is difficult to judge what the restaurant will look like when it is set up inside. Comfortable cream chairs are set at white topped tables, without tablecloths, but with material serviettes, salt and pepper grinders, Fortis Hotelware cutlery, and good glassware. A smallish sign on the Pam Arlene Place building is the only indication of where the new restaurant is, but the tables filled with happy diners attract attention of the traffic passing by. About thirty diners can be accommodated at this stage, Chef Cheyne only launching the restaurant officially later this month.
It is heartening to see Chef Cheyne with his trademark cap in the kitchen, being absolutely hands-on, at the cost of regular customer contact, but it was impressive that Chef Cheyne did come to greet each table. I overheard a table debating Cheyne’s name and how to pronounce it. Chef Cheyne is Cape Town born, worked at Blues for two years, and a planned one year job in London became an eleven year one, working at the Conran Group restaurants. In this time he cooked for Kate Moss, Kylie Mynogue, and Robbie Williams. He traveled to the East, including Thailand and Indonesia, and he said that his cooking style is that of the Pacific Rim. He loves their cooking methods, their simple approach to ingredients, and keeping food simple, fresh, clean; and uncomplicated. They use base flavours to give food a good foundation. He decided to return to Cape Town with his family, wanting them to ‘feel’ Africa, and also wanting to give back to his home country. He has two waiters, Simon being an ex-advertising industry executive, having worked at a post-production company. He wanted to switch career direction to work in a more social environment. Confident Clayton worked with Cheyne’s at his restaurant on Bree Street, whereafter he went to The Roundhouse, and then followed Chef PJ Vadas to Camphors at Vergelegen. The traveling to Somerset West became too much for him, and when he received Chef Cheyne’s call, he decided to return to work with his old boss again.
The menu is printed on brown board and will be changed monthly. It is attached to a clipboard with a small winelist. It carries an introduction by Chef Cheyne, describing his approach to cuisine: ‘I am passionate about influences and unique flavours from the Pan Asian/Pacific Rim region that stretches across South East Asia, Japan, Singapore, to Australia and New Zealand. I hope that you enjoy the food journey‘. There are about six starter and main course options, and three dessert choices. Everything sounds special yet unusual, one not finding the combination of ingredients offered by Cheyne’s elsewhere on a local menu. From the starter list there was no hesitation in ordering the crispy Crayfish tempura, miso, garlic chive wonton, and sauce shumai (R55), the added chive flower making it a most attractive starter. Other starters (ranging from R40 – R55) are Roasted rice cakes, Red Dragon sauce, toasted sesame, and coconut flakes; Beef Tataki, miso, mirin and English mustard, and Tempura onion crown; Pork belly ssam, crisp baby gem leaves, Chinese mustard and XO sauce; Keralan spiced squid, green chilli puree, red kimchi and coconut jelly; and sticky duck, pear noodles, star anise and ginger glaze.
The main course choice was an easy one too, Chef Cheyne’s speciality being pork belly, and it was tender and filling, topped with the most delicious crackling, served with an unusual corn and cumin purée, Fuji apple tempura, coconut dumplings, and soy and maple sauce (R90). Other main courses, none costing more than R95, are 48 hour Beef Short Rib, confit fingerling potatoes, braised daikon with a dashi reduction; Malaysian Laksa, grilled linefish and tiger prawns, warm cucumber noodles, and nori dust; Ramen noodles with Korean BBQ pork, bamboo shoots, spring onion, and poached egg; and Ramen noodles with white sesame and ginger chicken, prawn dumpling, and poached egg. The dessert list is short and sweet, each item costing R45: Fried apple pie, kaya paste, sticky miso, sour cream ice cream; white chocolate and toasted sesame semi freddo, with banana tempura; and a delectable pear cinnamon and ginger tarte tatin with tamarind ice cream.
The winelist contains two brands per major wine varietals, and almost all are available per bottle and by the glass. Corkage is charged at R30 per bottle. Pongracz costs R195 and Graham Beck Brut Rosé R215. Brampton Shiraz costs R35/R130, Madonna Shiraz R40/R185, La Motte Sauvignon Blanc costs R35/R140, and Durbanville Hills R30/R130.
Cheyne’s exterior and modest interior decor is unpretentious, and does not reflect the excellent creative cuisine prepared by Chef Cheyne. Service could be a little smarter, especially from Clayton, given his background. Prices are extremely reasonable, for the quality of food served. Cheyne’s will become a challenge to Hout Bay restaurants, especially Kitima. A nice touch was bringing two coconut ice bonbons with the bill.
Cheyne’s, 1 Pam Arlene Place, Main Road, Hout Bay (near Caltex garage). Cell 079 067 4919. Website under construction. Twitter: @Cheyne_Reaction. Open Tuesday – Sunday Lunch, Tuesday – Saturday dinner.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
I travel along fashionable Bree Street regularly, and noticed the new Latitude33, a mixed venue selling clothing, artwork, some deli items, and is a restaurant. Its name reflects Cape Town’s geographical location, and its interior is dedicated to the oceans surrounding our city, and surfing in particular. Its striking ceiling in the coffee preparation area reflects that this new Cape Town eatery is set to make waves!
I found the venue open last week, and was told that they close the kitchen at 15h00, and the venue at 15h30, as they open early in the morning. I had never driven past Latitude33 before its closing time, and therefore never previously had found it open and operating. Arriving just at closing time then, I was still made to feel welcome, was served an iced coffee (R25), and co-owner Charles Post came to chat, to share background information. The venue was previously a nightclub which had burnt down, and the building was extensively renovated. Charles lived in New Zealand, where he was a rugby player, but not quite at All Black level, he admitted. While he is not a surfer himself, he loves the surfing lifestyle, and that is what they have brought into the venue decor, with big surfing posters from Australia, and surfboards on some of the walls, some painted by Glen Roe, with tributes to Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, and more. A sports corner with big leather couches and a flatscreen TV will serve rugby lovers. The interesting wave-like ceiling, seemingly flowing out of the shelving unit behind the coffee machine, was inspired by photographs which Charles saw on a website for Melbourne-based Baker D Chirico. Wooden chairs and tables fill the venue, and also are on the pavement, interspersed with wine vats. The chairs have blue and red stripes on them, almost giving them an Indian touch. Cutlery is by Fortis Hotelware, and blue paper serviettes are offered. Cape Herb & Spice Atlantic Sea Salt and Extra Bold Peppercorn grinders are on the table. The multi-use venue was inspired by a shop which Charles saw in Bali. His girlfriend Olivia Franklin runs the upstairs section, with clothing for sale, as is her artwork.
The Chef is Gerald Walford, a friend of Charles from Johannesburg, and he said he enjoys the ‘change of pace in Cape Town’, although he expected it to be slower than it is! He is aware of Cape Town’s reputation for less good service, and they want to ‘bring Johannesburg service flair’ to their restaurant, and have chosen staff to achieve this. Value for money is important, and they are striving to offer the best possible quality. The feedback they have received is that their portions are too big, and they have reduced them. The menu changes regularly, and is ‘client-friendly‘. Suppliers have been ‘hit and miss’, Gerald said, but he seems satisfied with them now. They stock an interesting selection of unusual jam ‘blends’, supplied by Die Ou Pastorie in Pretoria, including Rooibos Sweet Chilli, Balsamic Pinotage Jelly, and Vanilla Plum. Chef Gerald worked with MasterChef SA judge Andrew Atkinson at the Michelangelo Hotel in Johannesburg, and calls him his mentor. He also worked with MasterChef SA Culinary Producer Arnold Tanzer during Season 1 last year. His philosophy is to make his customers as happy as possible, and to offer consistency, and therefore he is hands-on in preparing the food. I was impressed that he came to check on my feedback about the excellent Salmon Eggs Benedict (R65), which I had ordered from their all-day breakfast menu, a good enough reason to go back again. The bread range which is offered is rye, bagels, sour dough, white, wholewheat and panini, baked in-house. Eggs Benedict is also available with bacon and spinach. A full cooked breakfast costs R65, and a mini breakfast R50. Omelettes start at R20, and one can select sixteen ingredients to add, the price of each specified. French Toast sounds delicious, at R45, with a choice of bacon and syrup, Nutella and caramelized banana, berry compote and whipped cream, or chorizo and roasted coconut! Lunch is served from 12h00, and consists simply of salads (cous cous, grilled chicken, and steak, ranging from R55 – R65), burgers (beef, chicken, or ostrich, at R65), sandwiches (with schnitzel, Asian Pork belly or Club, ranging from R50 – R65) and wraps (mushrooms, grilled chicken, and beef, at R35 – R40).
Andrea Maskew is the Pastry Chef, having owned a catering company previously, and has been a freelance food stylist for Woolworths’ Taste magazine, working with Food editor Abigail Donnelly and assistant Hannah Lewry. She bakes fresh pastries and confectionery every day, including cupcakes, muffins, triple Lindt chocolate cookies, white chocolate mousse cake, and fudge. She studied at the SA Chefs’ Academy.
Coffee is by Truth, and they have borrowed a barista from the coffee supplier. Their iced coffee is good and strong. Service is friendly, but seemed slow, given that I was the only customer eating at the time. I returned yesterday, to try one of the dishes, and to photograph the interior, the chairs already having been placed on the tables on my previous visit, not making the eating section of Latitude33 photographable then. The food is excellent, but the paper menu, the paper serviettes, the menu offering, and the service all have potential for improvement. A liquor licence will be applied for, and therefore clients are encouraged to bring their own wine. No corkage is charged.
Latitude33, 165 Bree Street, Cape Town. Tel (021) 4249520. www.lat33.co.za Twitter: @Latitude33_Cpt. Monday – Friday 7h00 – 15h30, Saturday 8h30 – 14h00. Free WiFi.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Many years ago Gerd Zerban had the most amazing confectionery and bread bakery, linked to his two Zerban’s restaurants in the Garden’s Centre and in Sea Point. His new EuroHaus restaurant, which has just opened as part of what is still called Marcelino’s Bakery but will change its name to EuroHaus, is a bitter disappointment, and is no reflection of the old Zerban’s.
Marcelino The Bakery opened two and a half years ago, as a big open-plan bakery. The owner was Marcelino Siljeur, and his mentor and colleague was Mr Zerban. Zerbans was THE coffee shop and bakery in the 1980’s, attracting patrons with a European background in particular. Marcelino’s father worked for Mr Zerban at that time. Mr Zerban sold his business to Checkers in the late Eighties, and took up a challenge from Natie Kirsch to set up eight ’Hot & Crusty’ outlets in Manhattan. He enjoyed the taste of New York, and then became a consultant for supermarkets in New York. Returning to Cape Town, he set up the baking side of New York Bagels in Sea Point, and there he trained Marcelino as his apprentice. They went their separate ways, and then decided to get together to start up Marcelino The Bakery. Earlier this year Marcelino left, and Mr Zerban has chosen to rename the Bakery to EuroHaus, with the pay-off line ‘A culture movement’. The name is meant to represent five European countries, and the logo currently used has a football feel about it, with the flags of Germany, France, Italy, Portugal, and Spain depicted. Despite being so new, the logo is to be changed, and the pay-off line will become “Where flavours and people meet”! The idea is that each day two specials will be offered, and they will represent two of the EuroHaus countries. Despite Mr Zerban’s German background, and one’s expectation that he would repeat some of his popular Zerban’s menu items, the EuroHaus menu is extremely basic, with breakfast items, salads, soups, sandwiches, pasta, grills, and pies, with only a few German menu items, and almost none from the other European countries.
The interior is an interesting mix of wooden beams used to make counter tops and seating, coming from recycled wood from a ship. Turquoise blue has been used in the upholstery of wall benches and lamps, but does not strike one as a bakery colour, nor particularly ‘Euro-pean’ either. Two decor oddities are the ‘chandelier’ made from Consol glass jars, each jar containing an LED light and a little toy, a decor quirk costing R20000, and the disassembled piano parts against a wall (almost like Deluxe Coffeeworks has motorcycle parts on the walls of its outlets), coming from an idea which the Modules Interior Design consultancy had seen in an American restaurant, which has a grand piano jutting out of a restaurant wall, I was told. Hanging from the ceiling is a ‘Sputnik’, the first in the country, which removes moisture and dampness, and costs R75000! Weird too is the mix of very rough wooden ‘home-made’ benches for the counter, and fine Bentwood chairs at the tables. Table tops are black metal, and don’t really match the wood of the rest of the furniture. Seating is available outside too, where the MyCiti Bus pavement has been newly prepared. The top windows were dirty, looking like they had not been cleaned since the builders left the site. Cutlery is by Fortis Hotelware. The five European EuroHaus flags will be put up outside the Bakery.
I tried to ask the waiter some questions about the restaurant, but did not get very far, as he did not seem to understand much of what I asked him, saying yes to every question. When I asked for the manager, he pointed at the gentleman sitting at the neighbouring table, who was having his lunch, and had ignored all my questions directed at the waiter. Reza Daniels is one of two brothers who are the joint managers. He was most suspicious of my questions, and got annoyed when I asked him at which restaurants he had previously worked, trying to make me understand that having been a purser on a cruise ship and a duty manager at a Best Western Hotel in the UK qualified him to run the restaurant. He walked away from my table, refusing to answer any further questions. It was clear that Mr Zerban has delegated most of the running of EuroHaus to the two brothers, with disastrous results! They also run a laundry in Kenilworth. The second brother Shaam is much friendlier, and was very relaxed in filling in the missing details, and volunteering information. He too sat down at a table close by to have his lunch.
The restaurant had no ice for the water on the 30°C day, and the butter that came with the rolls accompanying the food was soft. I laughed when I saw the Robertsons salt and pepper grinders on the table, one of them already having the label half torn off! The focus of the restaurant is to not offer fine-dining, and for clients to not have to feel obliged to order a full meal, so that they can just pop in for a coffee or a drink at night, Shaam said. I ordered the Vol-Au-Vent, the two pastry cases containing the Ragout Fin (chicken and mushroom cream sauce) being crispy and light (R 45). The menu states that each dish comes with a choice of chips or a French side salad, but my order just arrived with the salad, without my choice having been asked. The two ‘European’ specials of the day were Farfalle Primavera (R45), and a 200 gram sirloin steak with savoury rice and three vegetables (R 69). Soups come in two sizes (R18-R25/R30 – R38) for Goulash, Chilli Con Carne, and Soup of the Day; Chicken, French, Niçoise, Greek and fruit salads cost R25 – R45; Pasta dishes such as lasagne, marinara, bolognaise, and macaroni and cheese cost R25 – R50; hamburgers and chicken schnitzel cost R50; a quarter grilled chicken R45; ‘boboti’ (sic) and rice R50; veal loaf, Frankfurters, and Bratwurst with potato salad R35; pies R35; and cheese and cold meat platters cost R45. Coffees are served as a double shot, and cappuccinos cost R19/R22. Breakfast is served until midday, and free-range eggs are used. A Continental Breakfast of 3 rolls or a croissant costs R24, a mini breakfast of egg, bacon and tomato R35, a full English breakfast R45, a Farmers Breakfast R40, and a Health Breakfast R40. Omelettes cost R20. Sandwiches cost between R20 for cheese and tomato – R50 for grilled steak.
Shaam admitted that they have had a ‘crazy teething period’ since they opened just over two weeks ago. A liquor licence has been applied for, but currently they are sharing that of Royale Eatery close by. Chef Deon Locke had started at the restaurant on the day I visited, and said that he has 22 years’ experience, having returned from Africa, where he did contract catering for US Aid on construction sites in Sudan and Afghanistan. He helped open Balducci’s, and has been a chef at the Royal Cape Yacht Club.
One wishes for Mr Zerban that he can find someone to pull the restaurant together, to give it a professional identity and one brand name, professional service, waiter training, and friendliness to its customers. It is clear that Mr Zerban appears to have handed over control of the restaurant to the two Daniels brothers. The food is good quality, and I was told that all the recipes are those of Mr Zerban. The value for money is good for most of the menu items.
EuroHaus, 210 Loop Street, Cape Town. Tel (021) 422-0168 www.marcelinothebakery.com Monday – Sunday 7h00 – 21h00 – 23h00.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Spice Route is the new name of the wine estate previously called Seidelberg, and also is the name of the brand new restaurant on the wine estate, which now belongs to Charles Back of neighbouring Fairview, which he bought from Roland Seidel last year, and re-opened the renovated estate in October.
The first impression is not a good one as one drives to the restaurant and tasting room, as the Cabernet Sauvignon vines have had to be removed due a red ant infection, and new planting will only take place in winter, I was told by the tasting room staff, my first stop at Spice Route. The staff had no knowledge of the history of the wine range, which was first made for Mr Back by maverick winemaker Eben Sadie. The tasting room has been renovated, painted white now, with new furniture, and has been brought out onto the terrace and the lawn too, with a lovely view, even onto Table Mountain. The Spice Route wines were produced in 1997 for the first time. It was explained that the exceptional Spice Route wine brand, being one of four Fairview brands, was not receiving the attention it deserves, and therefore Mr Back bought the neighbouring farm. All Spice Route wines are made by winemaker Charl du Plessis on the Swartland farm, the Malabar having its own cellar. The Spice Route wine range consists of Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Viognier, Mourvédre, Pinotage, Shiraz, Chakalaka, Flagship Syrah, and Malabar. One pays R25 to taste six of the nine Spice Route wines, and can also order an excellent value-for-money Spice Route wine and food pairing at R90, with a taste of all nine wines and three dishes off the restaurant menu: paté, kingklip, and pork belly.
The restaurant too has been extensively renovated, under the guidance of architect Johan Malherbe of Malherbe Rust, and the interior decor has been designed by René de Waal of Experience Makers. René chose a white interior for the walls, chairs, and tables, and added decor elements from the Middle East and Zanzibar to emphasise the spice link to the restaurant name, through tiles on the floor, lamps, massive jars of spices on the restaurant counter, the chairs, the place mats, works of art on the walls, and wall cornices. The spice theme also manifests in the cinnamon coloured aprons of the waitron staff. The menu/winelist cover is brown leather, and each page is Spice Route branded. Each table (without tablecloth) has a bottle of Fairview olive oil, and a set of Goldcrest coarse salt and black pepper grinders. Quality material serviettes, Fortis Hotelware cutlery, and good glassware is on the table, including a small Greek style water glass. There was no music at all, an element which could have enhanced the theme. Outside the furniture is wooden and looks like it was there before, not tying in with the inside decor. Surprising is that the cloakrooms have not been renovated yet, having been painted in a ghastly pink/red, with wall tiles missing, and having the cheapest toilet roll holders.
Staff are mainly from the previous Seidelberg restaurant, but the Manager Lize Rossouw (studied at the Institute for Culinary Arts and the International Hotel School, and moved across from Fairview) and the Chef Phillip Pretorius (previously at Fairview’s The Goat Shed and Sevruga) are new. Theo, the waiter who looked after me, worked at Meerendal with David Higgs, at Grande Roche, and at Seidelberg.
Exciting changes are planned, and in future visitors will be encouraged to follow the route at Spice Route, with a micro-brewery planned with Jack Black, and a new chocolate factory to be set up by DV chocolates (from Hermanus) in the manor house in the next two months. The DV chocolates have already been incorporated into the menu. A grappa distillery is also being considered, and picnics on the lawn outside the manor house are also planned. An organic vegetable garden is being developed, to supply both the Fairview and Spice Route restaurants, and the School House guest house near the Agter Paarl Road is planned to open as a farm stall, selling its vegetables, chocolates, beer, wine, and more. The Red Hot Glass glass blowing studio is still there, and appears unchanged. Wedding bookings are starting to roll in, Lize said.
The menu is not extensive, but interesting, and each menu item has a Spice Route wine recommendation (without the vintage or price indicated). The menu items are not all Mediterranean or Middle Eastern, but contain spices which leave a spicy after-taste. I chose a prawn and paw paw salad (R65) as a starter, which came with a generous portion of prawns, citrus segments, pineapple, cherry tomatoes, roasted peanuts, green beans, and paw paw, and was served with a lemongrass, coconut, soy, ginger, and peanut oil dressing, a refreshing start to the lunch. A treat was that Chef Phillip brought the salad to the table, so that we could have a brief chat. The suggested pairing was the Chenin Blanc, but I enjoyed it with a taste of the Shiraz. Very special too was the duck liver parfait served with an unusual pear and ginger chutney (R56), a lovely marriage, and even more unusual was the presentation of the parfait, being coated in the orange-coloured chakalaka and sesame seeds, making me nervous about it initially, but being absolutely delicious, rich and creamy. The parfait pairing recommendation was the Mouvèdre, but I had it with a taste of the Flagship Syrah.
Other starters are a ceviche of cured linefish, a spicy duck breast, pork belly with a Madagascar DV chocolate lentil salad, and a Panzanella Bread salad with marinated buffalo mozzarella, ranging in price from R48 to R62. Six main courses start at R89 for handmade potato gnocchi to R218 for a Roast rib-eye steak on the bone, for two persons to share. One can also order linefish with tandoori paste; Chalmar beef fillet; venison loin served with a DV chocolate, black currant and chilli jus; and an Indian butter chicken served with espresso foam. Five desserts cost between R42 – R58, and include a delicious apple tart tatin served with home-made vanilla pod ice cream and an unusual carrot and ginger puree, which I enjoyed with a perfectly made cappuccino, the coffee coming from Beans for Africa in Paarl; DV dark chocolate and fresh chilli Crème Brûlée; white chocolate and rose water mousse served with goat’s chevin; coconut and banana bread; and beetroot panna cotta.
Selfishly I liked that Spice Route has not yet been discovered by the tourists as is the case at Fairview, and does not feel touristy, the service being personalised and efficient. All the plans for the wine estate are likely to fill up the restaurant in future. I was sceptical about going to Spice Route for lunch, given its past offering, but was impressed with all aspects of it, except for the cloakrooms of course! I will be back to try more of Chef Phillip’s spicy menu and to taste more of the Spice Route wines!
Spice Route restaurant, Spice Route wine estate, Paarl. Tel (021) 863-5222. www.spiceroute.co.za. Sunday – Thursday 11h00 – 18h00, Friday – Saturday 11h00 – 21h00.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage
The first Café Extrablatt in South Africa and only the second outlet in Africa, on Main Road in Green Point, one of a collection of 55 franchise outlets in Germany, Austria, Turkey and Morocco, opened at the beginning of the month. It offers a wide variety of breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes and drinks, from early morning to late night, at the most reasonable prices.
Heading up the Café Extrablatt Cape Town is Guido Dierschke, a friendly proud company representative, who has worked for the company for seven or more years, in stores, in the head office management, and opening new stores. The first Café Extrablatt was opened in Emsdetten near Münster by Christoph Wefers with his brother Richard. The name relates to the Extra edition of newspapers, and a collection of Sunday newspapers was available when I visited. Magazines will be added too. The pay-off line ‘Das gewisse Extra’ (that certain extra) represents the restaurant’s ability to offer a special dish, and to have a special place in the restaurant for its customers, Guido said. In Germany there is an Italian style restaurant chain Scoozi and a Starbucks-style Voyton coffee take-away chain in the company collection, but these are not on the cards locally until the Café Extrablatt is running smoothly.
Being a franchise store, the interior decor reflects that of the German outlets. A lot of natural colours and materials are used, including leather for the chairs and couches, wood and marble for the tables, and the original wooden floors of the building have been retained to give it character. Woodbenders was used to make the furniture, and the colour palette includes leathers in orange, burgundy, green, brown and beige. Different table and seating styles are spread around the restaurant, upstairs and downstairs, to make seating sections, in which one can choose to sit, and to prevent the space from appearing as large as it is. In total the restaurant can seat 300 customers over the two levels (upstairs is for smokers), and there is seating outside on the street level and upstairs terraces too. There is a fireplace upstairs, each level having a large bar counter. The light fittings are unique to the franchise, and were made in Germany, being two styles. Downstairs in the bar area is a massive lamp made from copper pipes. On the other side of the restaurant and upstairs are ‘Tortenlampen’, designed to look like two-tier cakes. Wall lamps, with a grass look to them, are also uniquely made in Germany for the franchise outlets. There is a TV screen for matches downstairs. The location for events in the Cape Town Stadium is ideal, being across the road, and the Coldplay concert saw their first full-house. Staff wear black pants, the female waitresses white T-shirts and the males black ones, with a white apron. Cutlery is by Fortis Hotelware, cute mini salt and pepper pots are brought to the table, as are unbranded olive oil and balsamic vinegar holders, with paper serviettes.
Ryan Seale is the chef, having worked at events contract companies in the UK (Lord’s cricket ground, West Ham football ground), at Singita, and for a contract company doing the catering for the World Cup last year. His menu is largely that of the franchise, but with some additional dishes. All items on the menu are available throughout the day and night, with extremely long opening hours. A ‘German Corner’ pays tribute to the German heritage of the company, offering chicken schnitzel (excellent portion of two pieces, which I ordered with potato salad, but is listed to be served with a salad or chips, at an unbelievably low price of R35,95) and veal schnitzel at R49,95, Currywurst at R49,95, and Viennas and potato salad (made using Guido’s mother’s recipe, with apples and gherkins) at R35,95. A Breakfast Buffet with continental breakfast items, cooked breakfast as well as salads is offered at R79,95 from 8h00 – 12h00 on weekdays, and at R99,95 from 8h00 – 14h00 on weekends and public holidays. Individual breakfast items are also available, ranging from R32,95 for scrambled eggs to R45,95 for fried eggs, bacon and sausage. Many of the menu items offer a base item, with prices listed for additional extras and toppings. Bruschetta costs R 22,95 – R32,95, with tuna, ham and cheese options. Baked potato with sour cream costs R17,95, and chilli con carne, tuna mayonnaise, and salmon can be ordered as extra toppings. Pita breads with fillings cost around R40. There is meat (R45,95) and vegetarian (R39,95) lasagne, and Pick & Dips cost R11,95 – R29,95 for spring rolls, chicken strips, risotto balls and calamari. Burgers cost R39,95 – R49,95. Pizzas range from R35,95 – R67,95, and salads start at R27,95, peaking at R48,95.
Desserts are limited to Apfelstrudel at R29,95, and New York New York cheesecake from Chez Chez off Kloof Street, at R35. They also stock Eiszeit ice creams, and I had a wonderful strawberry sauce made by Chef Ryan with a yoghurt sorbet (R19 for one scoop). I had wanted to order the Apfelstrudel, but Chef Ryan came to the table, asking me not to, as he is only making his own from this week onwards. The cappuccino costs R16, and the coffee is by Hausbrandt. Asara wines (Ebony, Ivory, Fusion, Sauvignon Blanc and Rosé) are offered by carafe (R32 – R38) or bottle (R90 – R120). Pierre Jourdan sparkling wine is offered by the glass (R32) or bottle (R155), as are Graham Beck (R195), Pongrácz (R175), and Veuve Clicquot (R550). Most beers cost R18, but Heineken costs R20, and beer on tap from Paulaner, Castle and Pilsner Urquell is available too. Cocktails and ‘mocktails’ are also offered.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage
For all the doom and gloom in the hospitality industry at the moment, it is refreshing to discover a new restaurant in the center of town, that has raised the bar with a slick and chic new establishment. Valora Café, Restaurant and Bar opened on Monday, where L’Aperitivo used to be, next door to Skinny Legs & All. Valora means ‘brave’ in Latin, and is one of a number of exciting city centre restaurants to open in the past few months, which include Roberto’s, Dear Me, and What’s On Eatery.
I had noticed the sudden closure of L’Aperitivo a month ago, often driving down Loop Street. I stopped to have a chat to Chef Andrew Mendes, while the renovations were taking place. He told me that the restaurant would open on 1 August, and it did! L’Aperitivo had a large counter, which took a lot of the relatively small space. The Valora counter is smaller, positioned at the back of the restaurant, and has a far more spacious feel about it. One part of a wall is rough brick, and the rest of it is painted a light gold yellow, the back wall behind the bar is a deep burgundy, while the other two sides have glass windows, letting the welcome winter sun in on a very chilly day, with snow on Table Mountain. I liked the interior design, understated, chic, with dark wood-top tables, chairs with a white/silver fabric, and bar chars in a light rose burgundy colour. The bar counter has gold design tiles on it. The decor reminds one of What’s On Eatery and La Mouette. There is no clutter. The shopfitting and interior design was done by Ricci Cinti, who remembered me as his first boss of many years ago. His partner in Epic Ark designed the logo, which has a similarity to that of the Queen Victoria Hotel, giving it a classy feel. Outside, modern grey garden couches, with a rope to demarcate the Valora space on the pavement, add further class to the establishment. The owner wanted to create an interior that was ‘sexy and modern, finer dining, offering value for money’. The floor is a laminate that looks like it is made from old wine barrels. I found it very hot inside, and the waitress switched off the heaters.
Valora has been opened by Mike Mouneimme, who was the operator of Caprice in Camps Bay for ten years, and is the cousin of Caprice owner David Raad. The family is Lebanese, and this reflects in the Mediterranean style restaurant, which consists of a collection of Lebanese, Italian and Greek dishes. Chef Andrew worked at Tuscany Beach for more than three years before joining Valora, and prior to this at the previous Avontuur restaurant in the V&A Waterfront, and at Superior Catering, which did the private catering for the Atlantic Beach Golf Club as well as for Pearl Valley. He was not given much creative freedom at Tuscany Beach, and he is excited about the freedom to develop the menu. Andrew laughed when he said that the restaurant name comes from the bravery in opening a restaurant in these challenging times, and for the small kitchen space he has to cook in.
The cutlery is smart, being Fortis Hotelware, and I loved the special edition LavAzza Calendar 2011 cups with a gold design on them. The Fortis salt and pepper containers have a yin/yang design, and a ceramic hurricane candle holder was on the table. The paper serviettes do not match the interior quality, and Manager Lisa said that she is working on getting these changed to material ones.
The menu/winelist has a golden cover, with the logo, and looks inviting and classy. Inside the pages are in burgundy. The menu offers an extensive range of items. For Brunch one can order a baked bagel with salmon and scrambled egg, French Toast, a health breakfast, or toasted Focaccia, all at about R50. The salad choice includes Lebanese Tabbouleh and Fattoush salads, as well as Tuna, Greek, chicken, and beef salads, ranging from R58 – R78. Roast beef, cheese and tomato, and spicy chicken sandwiches made with home-made bread cost about R60. Eleven mezze choices range in price from R12 – R40, and include Lebanese flat bread, Baba Ganoush, aubergine, and Lebanese Kefta kebabs. Starters included a beautifully presented Two Tone soup, recommended by Chef Andrew, being a clever design of two soups, presented in a yin yang shape, with a rich dark beef soup sprinkled with biltong powder, and a light truffle cream with a hint of chilli, with two prawns, which was served with toasted brioche, costing R50. I enjoyed the deep fried crispy Patagonian calamari rings served with a separate bowl of lemon butter sauce, slices of lime and a sprig of origanum (R40). Other starters include snails, spicy chicken livers, and stuffed mushrooms, all costing under R50. Six main courses include a 350 gram rib eye steak (R135), Turkish spiced fillet (R125), beef ragout (R98), Psarri Plaki line fish (R105), chicken Parmagana (R75), and grilled Patagonia calamari (R70). Pasta includes wild mushroom, ravioli bolognaise, seafood pasta, and Namibian desert truffles, ranging between R70 – R110. The Valora burger costs R55, and a Prego Roll R75. Desserts cost R50 and less, and include chocolate baklava, berry panna cotta and chocolate truffles.
A small number of wines is offered, with a selection of cocktails. Dom Perignon costs R2750, Veuve Cliquot R 750, Moet et Chandon R700, and Boschendal Brut R195. Brampton white (R25) and red (R28) is served by the glass. White wines are by Lammershoek (R165), Ernst Gouws & Co, South Hill, Rickety Bridge, Seven Steps and Waverley Hills (R95). Red wines come from the same wineries (R120 – R210), with the exception of Seven Steps, as well as Kanonkop Paul Sauer at R650. The LavAzza cappuccino costs R17.
I was impressed by the classy feel of Valora, the smooth running of the restaurant on its fifth day, the creativity of Chef Andrew’s menu and food presentation, the wide choice offered, and the reasonable prices. I was not charged for the Two Tone soup, Chef Andrew saying that he wanted me to try it. Valora is a perfect spot to pop in before or after a concert or a show. The service was attentive, and Lisa kindly went to have the menu copied at a nearby shop. Parking is a challenge during the day. The menu and beverage list contains a number of spelling errors. The business cards match the menu in gold and burgundy. A cool unique touch was the stick of chewing gum which came with the bill, in a deep red wrapper with the Valora logo, although I am not sure if the Valora target market is into chewing gum! I’ll be back to try more of Chef Andrew’s cooking creativity.
POSTSCRIPT 3/6/12: Valora has closed down.
Valora Café, Restaurant and Bar, Shop 70, corner Loop and Hout Street, Cape Town. Tel (021) 426-1001. www.valora.co.za (The website is still under construction). 10h00 – 22h00 weekdays, 17h00 – 23h00 on Saturdays.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage