Tag Archives: Franschhoek Food Emporium

Good Food & Co Deli opens in Franschhoek!

Good Food & Co Michelle and Kim Whale Cottage Portfolio

The Franschhoek Food Emporium was a favourite stop in Franschhoek, until it closed down a year ago.  Fortunately it has just re-opened as Good Food & Co, with a new owner Johanita Henning and Chef Kim Cox, and does not look very different to its past interior.  It was a delight to see Michelle van Sittert again, who was at Sacred Ground when it opened, and was a fantastic asset for the bakery/coffee shop.

Kim is the chef, whom I have met twice already, and she prepares the cooked foods, and orders the stock from the best suppliers.  Her meat comes from Ryan Boon, for example, who distributes Spier’s Farmer Angus’ beef.  Her lamb comes from Fairview.  In her display cabinet Continue reading →

Many Mediterranean-style restaurants open in Cape Town!

La Parada Kitchen with Bull head Whale Cottage PortfolioDespite one of  the worst winters ever experienced by the Cape hospitality industry, most restaurants appear to have survived it. A surprise trend is the number of Mediterranean style restaurants opening, with true Spanish and Italian owners and/or staff. This list of restaurant openings and closings is updated continuously, as we receive new information:

Restaurant Openings

*   The Harbour House group has opened La Parada Spanish Tapas restaurant on Bree Street, with a subterranean bar/nightclub (above).

*      Café Puerto Cabo has opened on Loop Street, a Spanish eatery and men’s clothing shop.

*    The House of Machines has opened on Shortmarket Street, building motorcycles, offering good Evil Twin coffee, and serving very healthy food.

*   Orphanage Cocktail Emporium is opening Orphanage Club upstairs, with 1920’s style music by live performers, later this year.

*   Equus restaurant on the Cavalli stud and wine farm on the R44 has opened. Continue reading →

New Restaurant openings celebrate Spring in Cape Town & Winelands!

Beerhouse Bottled Beers Whale Cottage PortfolioDespite one of  the worst winters ever experienced by the Cape hospitality industry, few restaurants have closed down recently.   A surprise however is the movement of staff between restaurants. This list of restaurant openings and closings is updated continuously, as we receive new information:

Restaurant Openings

*    Beerhouse has opened on Long Street, with 16 beers on tap and 99 bottled beers from around the world.

*    The House of Machines has opened on Shortmarket Street, building motorcycles, offering good Evil Twin coffee, and serving very healthy food.

*   Pure Good has opened downstairs in the Associated Magazines building opposite Parliament, and is owned by Shannon Smuts, the first MasterChef SA Finalist to have been eliminated.

*   The Harbour House group has opened La Parada Spanish Tapas restaurant on Continue reading →

Café Dijon and Ou Meul Bakkery move to Cape Town, and other Spring restaurant news!

Our list of latest restaurant openings and closures lists more openings than closures, and a number of restaurant location changes. This list is updated continuously, as we receive information:

Restaurant Openings

*   Café Dijon has closed its restaurants on Plein Street and at Zorgvliet in Stellenbosch, and has opened in the Rockwell Centre in Green Point, Cape Town, on Napier Street opposite Anatoli’s.

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

*  Chef Luke Dale-Roberts is opening a pop-up Pot Luck Club in Swiss ski resort Verbier, at the Hotel Farinet, from 8 December – April, to be run by him, his chef Nicolas Wilkinson, and front of house Selena Afnan-Holmes.

*   Col’Cacchio has opened a new outlets in Westlake, and a new one is coming in Claremont too.

*   A new Vida é Caffe new branches are to open on Maindean Place in Claremont, at the new Wembley Square 2 development, at The Paddocks, and Groote Schuur.  Two more branches are planned for Mauritius.

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

*   Moyo is to open in November, where the Paulaner Braühaus was in the V & A Waterfront.  It has taken over the tearoom at Kirstenbosch already.

*   TRUTH Coffee has opened on Buitenkant Street

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

*   Deluxe Coffeeworks has opened where Reuben’s Deli used to be in Franschhoek.

*   Okamai Japanese Restaurant has opened at Glenwood wine estate in Franschhoek

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

*   The Slug & Lettuce has opened where Beads was on Church Street in Stellenbosch

*   Stables at Vergelegen Bistro has opened as a lunch restaurant in Somerset West.  Its Lady Phillips Restaurant is being given a make-over by Christo Barnard, and will open on 1 November with a new name called Camphors at Vergelegen. The new chef will be PJ Vadas, previously of The Roundhouse in Camps Bay.

*   Coopmanshuijs in Stellenbosch is opening a restaurant.

*   Chef Johan van Schalkwyk has left the Stone Kitchen at Dunstone Winery, and has opened his own restaurant Twist Some More in Wellington.

*    Chef Bjorn Dingemans has opened The Millhouse Kitchen restaurant on Lourensford wine estate in Somerset West.

*   Chef Shane Sauvage (ex-La Vierge) has opened La Pentola restaurant in Hermanus.

*   Ali Baba Kebab (renamed from Laila) has opened as a small beef and lamb kebab take-away and sit-down outlet, next door to Codfather in Camps Bay

*   Gibson’s Gourmet Burger and Smoked Ribs has opened as a 70-seater restaurant in the V&A Waterfront, taking part of Belthazar. Owned by the Belthazar/Balducci group.

*   Down South Food Bar, previously on Long Street, is said to re-open in the Riverside Centre in Rondebosch

*   Ou Meul Bakkery from Riviersonderend has opened a bakery and coffee shop in Long Street

*   Deluxe Coffeeworks has opened a roastery and coffee bar at 6 Roodehek Street

*    The Deli @ The Square has opened at Frater Square in Paarl.

*   David Higgs (ex Rust en Vrede) is opening a new 30 seater restaurant in The Saxon in Johannesburg.

*   Big Route Top Gourmet Pizzeria has opened on Main Road, Green Point, next door to Woolworths, serving 52 different pizzas, salads and crêpes.

*   Cousins has opened in the Parliament Hotel, where Il Cappero used to be.

* Aces ‘n’ Spades Bar has opened in ex-Boo Radley on Hout Street

*   No. 6 Restaurant at Welbedacht has opened at Welbedacht/Schalk Burger & Sons wine estate in Wellington, run by the ex-owners of Oude Wellington

*   Café Dulce is to open a new branch in Tygervalley Centre

*   Gourmetboerie is to open at the bottom end of Kloof Street, where Depasco used to be, in October.

*   Kushi Indian Restaurant has opened a branch on Main Road in Sea Point

*   Time & Place Restaurant and Bar has opened on the corner of Wale and Buitengracht Street

*   Make Sushi Bar has opened in Sea Point

*   Thai Café is opening on Plein Street, Stellenbosch

*   Simply Asia has opened in Paarl

*   Restaurant @ Zomerlust has opened in Paarl

*    Christina’s has opened at Van Loveren in Robertson

*   Bellini’s is said to be opening on Greenmarket Square in October

*   Moksh Authentic Indian Cuisine restaurant has opened in Paarl

*   Vino’s has opened in Wellington

*   Alfama’s has opened on Waterkant Street

*   Taj Mahal has opened in Sea Point

*   It’s a House is to open on Jarvis Street in October, as a bar, coffee shop, and design art space.

*   Lion’s Head Bar is to open on Bree Street in October, selling craft beer and food

*   An Indian restaurant is to open in the original Madame Zingara building on Loop Street, by the Madame Zingara Group

*   The Caviar Group is opening three new restaurants in the Gateway Centre in Umhlanga by the end of this year: Beluga, Sevruga, and Osetra

*   A new bar and Café is to open underneath the Cape Royale Luxury Hotel, where Bamboo used to be

*   Cattle Baron has opened in Hermanus.

*   Café Blanc de Noir has opened on Brenaissance wine estate in Stellenbosch

* The Reserve is said to be opening a beach restaurant in the V&A Waterfront.

*   Chef Nic van Wyk, previously with Terroir, is opening a restaurant at Diemersdal in Durbanville during the course of this month.

*   Lizette’s Kitchen has opened in Vöelklip, Hermanus.

*   Cattle Baron is to open at Pontac Manor in Paarl

*   Col’Cacchio is opening in Hermanus at the end of November

*   Merchant Café is opening on Long Street, opposite Merchants on Long, later this month.

* Paulina’s Restaurant is opening at Rickety Bridge in Franschhoek

*   Ocean Jewel Deli opens at Woodstock Junction on 22 October.

*   Buitenverwachting has opened a Coffee Shop and Roastery

* Wakaberry is opening on Kloof Street at the end of October

*   Rock Sushi Thai has opened in Meadowridge

*   Jimmy Jimanos sports bar is opening on Long Street

*   Dolcé Bakery is opening in St John’s Arcade in Sea Point

*   The Coffee Bloc has opened at Buitenverwachting

*   The Salzburger Grill has opened in Sea Point

Restaurant Closures

*   Sabarosa in Bakoven has closed down.

* Sunbird Bistro in Camps Bay has closed down

*   Limoncello in Gardens has closed down, but is continuing with its pop-up restaurant truck

*   Paparazzi has closed down on St George’s Mall

*   Wicked Treats in Franschhoek has closed down.

*   Casa Nostra has closed down in Sea Point, until it finds a new venue.

*   Bistro on Rose in Bo-Kaap has closed down as a restaurant

*   The Kove in Camps Bay has closed down, its space has become part of sister restaurant Zenzero

*   Sinnfull has closed down in Sea Point and Camps Bay

*   Liam Tomlin Food is closing down in Franschhoek at the end of October

Restaurant staff/venue changes

*    Il Cappero has moved from Barrack Street, to Fairway Street in Camps Bay.

*  Table Thirteen has reduced in size in Green Point and will open in Paarden Eiland later this year.

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

*   Fyndraai Restaurant will move to another building on the wine estate in November, and will offer fine dining.  The current restaurant will serve light lunches and picnics.

*   Josephine Gutentoft has moved to Makaron at Majeka House as Restaurant Manager and Sommelier.

*   The Reserve has changed its name to Reserve Brasserie. Seelan Sundoo, ex Grand Café Camps Bay and ex La Perla, is the new consultant chef and GM (Seelan Sundoo has since left, now running the Shimmy Beach Club).

*   Chef Andrew Mendes from ex-Valora is now at Nelson’s Eye restaurant, where they are setting up a lunch section and cocktail bar upstairs.

*   Giulia’s Food Café Restaurant has opened where Miss K was on Main Road, Green Point. Now serve Italian-style lunch and dinner, but have retained some Miss K breakfast and pastry items.

*   Having bought the farm about 18 months ago, Antonij Rupert Wines has taken over the Graham Beck Franschhoek property. They will re-open the tasting room in October, initially offering all its Antonij Rupert, Cape of Good Hope, Terra del Capo, and Protea wines to taste.  They are renovating the manor house, to which the Antonij Rupert and Cape of Good Hope wines will be moved for tasting at a later stage.

*   Orphanage is expanding into a property at its back, opening on Orphan Street, in December, creating a similar second bar downstairs, and opening Orphanage Club upstairs, with 1920’s style music by live performers

*   GOLD Restaurant has moved into the Trinity building

*   Opal Lounge has closed down on Kloof Street, and has moved into Blake’s Bar building, renaming it Dinner at Blake’s. A wine and tapas bar has also been opened, called Bar Rouge.

*   Mano A Mano has opened on Park Street, where Green’s used to be.

*   MondeVino Restaurant at Montecasino in Johannesburg, the MasterChef SA prize for the next two years, is to be renamed Aarya, and is to be run by Chef Deena Naidoo from November onwards.

*   Bizerca has moved into the ex-Gourmet Burger space in Heritage Square on Shortmarket Street.

*    Co-owner Abbi Wallis has taken over the running of The Stone Kitchen at Dunstone Winery in Wellington.

*   Marcelino has left Marcelino’s Bakery, leaving the control with Mr Zerban.  A Zerban’s style restaurant is being added onto the bakery and will open mid-October.  It will change its name to EuroHaus.

*   Chef Chris Erasmus from Pierneef à La Motte is doing a stage with Chef Rene Redzepi at Noma, the number one World’s 50 Best Restaurants, in Copenhagen this month

*   MasterChef SA runner-up Sue-Ann Allen is joining South Africa’s number one Eat Out Top 10 restaurant The Greenhouse as an intern for a month, from 21 August.

*   Vintage India has moved out of the Garden’s Centre to the corner of Hiddingh and Mill Street, around the corner.

*   Nook Eatery in Stellenbosch has been sold, with new owners.

*   Crêpe et Cidre has closed down in Franschhoek.  Gideon’s The Famous Pancake House has opened in its space.

*   Brampton winetasting bar on Church Street, Stellenbosch, is undergoing renovations to treble its current size, planning to reopen in the first week of September.

*   Noop restaurant in Paarl has new owners

*   Buena Vista Social Club has changed its name to Barbosa Social Club

*   Chris Marais is the new chef at Blaauwklippen, previously with The Oyster Box

*   Daniel de Villiers is the new chef at Grand Dedale in Wellington, previously with Delaire Graff

*   Phil Alcock is the new chef at Two Oceans Restaurant at Cape Point, having previously worked at The Cape Grace, The Showroom, maze, and more

*   Albert van der Loo, previously with Le Coq and Dieu Donne restaurants in Franschhoek, is the new Head Chef at Oude Werf Hotel in Stellenbosch.

*   Chef Emile Fortuin, who was at Reuben’s Robertson for a very short time, has left and moved to Tokara

*   Camil and Ingrid Haas (ex Bouillabaisse and Camil’s) have returned to Franschhoek, with the view to get involved in a restaurant

*   Chef Cheyne Morrisby has left The Franschhoek Kitchen at Holden Manz, and has joined the Mantella Group (owners of Blake’s and ex-Opal Lounge). Update: Chef Cheyne has left the Mantella Group, after a very short time.

*   Tiaan van Greunen is the new Executive Chef at Reuben’s at The Robertson Small Hotel, after the departure of Emile Fortuin

*   Alex von Ulmenstein is the new Restaurant Manager at Indochine, at Delaire Graff Estate

*   Manager Raymond Brown has left Reuben’s Franschhoek, and has been replaced by Martell Smith.

*   Zelda Oelofse is the new Manager of Harvest Restaurant at Laborie, having taken over from Yolanda Prinsloo.

*   Maryna Frederiksen is the new Executive Chef at The Franschhoek Kitchen at Holden Manz.

*   The ex-Caveau owners are said to be taking over the running of the Twankey Bar of the Taj hotel.

*   Sand at The Plettenberg hotel has changed its name to Seafood at The Plettenberg.

Restaurant breaks

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

*   Tokara is closing for a Spring break from 24 September – 4 October

*   Planet Restaurant is closed on Sunday evenings until the end of September

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

Brett Garner Sweet and Franschhoek Food Emporium Sour Service Awards

The Sweet Service Award goes to Brett Garner from Franschhoek, editor of The Month newspaper, owner of Franschhoek IT, and co-owner of The Traveller’s Lodge. Brett came to the rescue in not only bringing a network cable to our Whale Cottage Franschhoek within 15 minutes of my call to him (I had offered to fetch it), but he also invited me to keep it.  The network cable was needed to fix a faulty router, to allow me to do my e-mails and to blog. Brett’s responsiveness and generosity demonstrated village friendliness and collegiality, something we have not seen in Franschhoek often.

The Sour Service Award goes to the Franschhoek Food Emporium. On my last visit to the deli a few weeks ago, the Manager Danielle Rittel greeted me, but she was engrossed in doing her month-end accounts at the counter.  She did not get up to serve me, and instead left me to be served by her (very new) assistant, who was incredibly slow, forgot to charge for all my purchases, and did not look at me when she spoke to me. She stood directly next to Danielle, who did not react to this at all.  She did nothing to take over or to apologise for the poor service delivery when I expressed my irritation.  Financial irregularities and staff management problems have led to the closing down of the deli last weekend.

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

Cape Town & Winelands Restaurant closures bad sign for winter to come!

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

Cape Town

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

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

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

*   Andy Fenner (JamieWho?) and friends have opened Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants in Metal Lane, 8 Kloof Street, opposite McDonald’s.  They are stocking Farmer Angus McIntosh’s beef, Richard Bosman’s pork, and eggs and chicken from Simply Wholesome.  A barista will make coffee, and Jason will bake special chorizo muffins and bacon brioche for them.

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

*   Societi Brasserie has opened in Constantia

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

*   The Bungalow has opened as a 400-seater restaurant where La Med used to be, part of the Kovensky Group, also owning Pepenero, Paranga, The Kove and Zenzero.

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

*   5 Rooms Restaurant has opened at the Alphen Boutique Hotel

*   Gypsy Café has opened in Observatory

*   Kuzina in the Cape Quarter has been sold, and is now called Rocca.

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

*   Arts Café has opened at Artscape.

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

*   Caveau at the Josephine Mill has closed down

*   Café Sofia in Green Point has become Slainte

*   Knead has opened a large outlet in Lifestyle on Kloof, Gardens

*   Mitico has opened a pizzeria and ’spaghetteria’ on Kloof Street, where St Elmo’s used to be

*   Mamma Mia in Steenberg has closed down

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

*   Madame Zingara is said to be re-opening in its original building on Loop Street

*   Tong Lok on Kloof Street has closed down.

*   Mason on Kloof Street has closed down (to become a Slug & Lettuce)

*   Buzz on Kloof Street has closed down

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

*   Thai Café has opened in the old Cape Quarter

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

*   The Fez is closing down.

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

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

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

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

*   Saints Burger Joint has opened on Kloof Street

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

*   Dear Me has opened its Pantry

*   Chef Jannie Melis has left French Toast

*   Jackal & Hide has opened on Kloof Street

*   Eat on Breda Street has closed down

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

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

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

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

*   Vaudeville has closed down

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

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

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

*   GM Nigel Pace has left the Cape Grace Hotel

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

*   Saints on 84 Kloof has opened on Kloof Street

*   Sushibox has opened at Newlands Village

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

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

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

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

*   Valora on Loop Street has closed down

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

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

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

*  Maz Sushi has closed down on Main Road Sea Point

*   Planet Green Salad Bar has opened on Kloof Street

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

*  Vanilla in the Cape Quarter has closed down.

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

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

*   Madame’s on Napier has opened in De Waterkant

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

*   Sinn has closed down its Deli at Wembley Square

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

Franschhoek

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

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

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

*   The sushi restaurant has closed down

*   MCC Franschhoek has opened in the Village Square, opposite the church, stocking 34 MCC’s from Franschhoek and serving food as well

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

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

*  The Franschhoek Food Emporium has closed down.

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

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

*   Chef Vanie Padayachee has joined Le Quartier Français

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

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

Stellenbosch

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

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

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

*   Bruce von Pressentin has been appointed as Executive Chef at The Restaurant @ Longridge

*   David Higgs has resigned as Executive Chef from Radisson Blu Gautrain in Johannesburg (previously with Rust en Vrede), and was said to be headed for his home country Namibia.  He starts at The Saxon in Johannesburg in May.

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

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

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

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

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

Paarl

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

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

Hermanus/Overberg

*    Simone’s Restaurant has opened in Napier

*   Tipples Bar and Grill has opened in Hermanus

*   Rivendell Estate and Bistro has opened as a restaurant and winetasting venue on the road between Hermanus and the N2, near the Kleinmond turn-off.

*  Grilleri has closed down

Garden Route

*   Katarina’s has opened at the Kurland Hotel.

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

Franschhoek pop-ups with October ‘Art in Clay’ exhibitions, Music Festival, and ‘Cook Franschhoek’!

Franschhoek understands the value of regular events, and the power they have in attracting visitors to the village.  During October it is hosting its first ‘Franschhoek Art in Clay’ ceramics exhibition, Ceramics Fair, a pop-up ceramics shop, and setting up ‘pop-up’ restaurants in some of the participating galleries too.  In addition, the summer season of Cook Franschhoek takes place, and a Classical Music Festival will end off the month on a high note.

The driving force behind the ‘Art in Clay’ event is David Walters, who is one of South Africa’s leading potters and has been working in Franschhoek for a number of years now.   The participating galleries, and the ceramicists exhibiting their work, are the following:

Ceramics Gallery: Potter David Walters has been working in ceramics for 35 years, and now specialises in porcelain.  He has started specialising in creating dinnerware for some of the top restaurants in our country, including Reuben’s. He founded the Midlands Meander.  Exhibition of work by him, his daughter Sarah Walters, and by Jonathan Keep, Christo Giles, John Wilhelm, and Lindsay Scott.  Reuben Riffel will prepare a lunch on 23 October (sold out already). High Tea will be served, using David Walters’ hand-made tea sets, including Wedgewood nougat and Angel biscuits, on weekends, at R50.   24 Dirkie Uys Street.  Monday – Sunday 10h00 – 18h00. Tel (021) 876-4304.

Artefact: Tiny gallery with ceramics work by Vuyisa Potina, Andrea Desmond Smith, Kobus Stander, David Walters, and Sarah Walters.  Daniel Hugo Street.  Tel (021) 876-4304.

Ebony: Ceramics work by Clementina van der Walt, Hennie Meyer, Katherine Glenday, Lisa Ringwood, Mick and Sally Haigh, and Michael Chandler. Opening cocktail party for invited guests only, with food served by Neil Jewell on ceramicware made by the exhibitors. Franschhoek Square, Huguenot Street.  Tel 082 558 2221

Gallery at Grande Provence: Ceramics works by Imiso Ceramics, Zizamele Ceramics, Michael Haig, Louise Gelderblom, and Rae Goosen.  Lunches available daily next door in the Restaurant at Grande Provence. Main Road.  Tel (021) 876-8600.

IS Art: Ceramics work by Hylton Nel, Ralph Johnson, Helen Vaughan, Lisa Firer, Ann Marais, Wilma Cruise, Dale Lambert, Wendy McLachlin, Sue van Rensburg, Chris Smart, Caroline Heydenrecht, Hannes van Zyl, John Wilhelm, and Rebecca Tetley.   Lunch for 12 served in the gallery on 23 October by Margot Janse.  Huguenot Str.  Tel (021) 876-8443.

La Motte Museum: The theme if the exhibition is “Potters who are no longer with us”, paying tribute to deceassed and emigrated potters, in exhibiting the Ceramics SA exhibition at the Rust-en-Vrede Gallery, and from the Social History Collection of Iziko Museums of Cape Town.  Artists’ work exhibited includes that of Barbara Jackson, Bonnie Ntshalinsthali, Hyne Rabinowitz, Esias Bosch, Tim Morris, Sonja Gerlings, and Marietjie van der Merwe.  Lunches are available at Pierneef à La Motte.   Tel (021) 876-8850. Tuesday – Sunday 9h00 – 17h00.

The ‘Pop-Up’ Ceramics shop will be located in The Yard (where Isabellina was, at 38 Huguenot Road, home of the Salmon Bar and Pam Golding Properties) for the month of October,  including ceramics work by Heath Nash, Zizamele, Imiso Ceramics, Andy de Klerk of Cabinetworks, Urban Africa, Soulchild, and Chimpel. Under the trees outside the Dutch Reformed Church hall members of the Cape Craft & Design Institute and of Ceramics SA will display and sell their pottery on Saturday 29 October.

In honour of Franschhoek’s Gourmet status, and many potters’ crafting dinnerware for the local restaurants, the Summer season of ‘Cook Franschhoek’ takes place next weekend, from 7 – 9 October, and allows food lovers to rub shoulders with the local chefs and winemakers.  On Friday Chef Chris Smit of Café BonBon will prepare beetroot risotto, beetroot chutney, and beetroot flatbread, paired with Haut Espoir wine; Chef Adrian Buchanan of Freedom Hill will demonstrate preparing grilled scallops with prawns, chorizo and pea shoot salad; Salmon Bar’s Chef Judy Sendzul will do a salmon and trout tasting, paired with Boekenhoutskloof wines; Chef Paula Johnson of Le Verger at Le Franschhoek Hotel will prepare chocolate hazelnut dacquoise, paired with La Bri wines; Chef Ryan Smith of Ryan’s Kitchen will do an ice cream, and sorbet demo, pairing with Antonij Rupert Wines; Chef Chris Erasmus of Pierneef à La Motte will demonstrate cooking meat with shiraz, chocolate spice and berries, using La Motte wines.  On Saturday the Franschhoek Food Emporium’s Chef Robert Rittel will do a talk on the art of patés and terrines, pairing with Lynx Wines; Chef Shaun Schoeman of Fyndraai Restaurant will talk about veldfood flavours, pairing with Solms-Delta Winery; Chef Chris Smit of Café BonBon does a pork belly demo, pairing with Haut Espoir; Chef Ryan Smith repeats the ice cream and sorbet demo, paired with Antonij Rupert Wines; Chef Margot Janse prepares beetroot sponge, spinach and onion puree, buttermilk labne, dill and cucumber granita, paired with Haut Espoir wines; Chef Paula Johnson of Le Verger repeats her chocolate hazelnut dacqouise, paired with La Bri wines; and Chef Chris Erasmus of Pierneef à La Motte repeats his course on cooking meat with Shiraz;  Chef Adrian Buchanan repeats the scallop, prawn, chorizo and pea shoot salad demo, paired with their Freedom Hill wines; and the Salmon Bat trout and salmon tasting , paired with Boekenhoutskloof wines, is repeated.  On Sunday Chef Reuben Riffel will cook miso glazed Franschhoek salmon trout, paired with Boekenhoutskloof; Chef Chris Smit of Café BonBon demonstrates the making of a Christmas apple and cranberry cake, and a spice-infused milk tart, paired with Haut Espoir; and the art of patés and terrines by Chef Robert Rittel of Franschhoek Food Emporium, with wines by Lynx, is repeated.

To add a crescendo to the month-long ceramics exhibition, talented Steinway pianist Christopher Duigan has organised the 8th Classic Music Festival for the last weekend of October.  The programme kicks off with a tribute to ‘The Phantom of the Opera’, with Zorada Temmingh performing in the Dutch Reformed Church, utilising a restored 1925 silent movie version of the film, with organ improvisation, on Friday 28 October. On the programme for 29 October are Claude Bolling’s suites for flute and jazz piano in the Dutch Reformed Church; a Food, Wine and Music tasting takes place in the courtyard in The Yard, outside the Salmon Bar and Taste South Africa, with cheese, charcuterie, and trout boards, a wine tasting, and music by accordionist Stanislav Angelov; and ‘Music of the Night’ with Louise Howlett and Albert Combrink at Café Bon Bon, with dinner.   On Sunday Christopher Duigan will perform ‘Liszt vs Liszt’ at the Dutch Reformed Church; classical guitarist James Grace performs at Bread & Wine over lunch; and a ‘Festival Finale’ will be held at Café Bon Bon.

Franschhoek Art in Clay, Franschhoek.  1 – 30 October.  Contact David Walters for more information: Tel (021) 876- 4304.   For details of the Classic Music Festival: www.musicrevival.co.za For tickets for Cook Franschhoek: www.webtickets.co.za

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

Restaurant closures sign of tough times in the Cape! Yet new ones opening!

It would appear as if the world-wide recession has only hit South Africa, and the Cape in particular, now and with a severe bang.  There is almost daily news of restaurant closures, three alone in the past three days, sad given how much the restaurants have invested in building a brand name and a regular following for their businesses.

The more than 100 restaurants in Cape Town and in the Winelands that are offering such generous Winter specials must be commended, and we will do our best to make their specials known to as many persons as possible.  We encourage our readers to do the same, to prevent any further closures.

We have created a new blogpost, with the restaurants opening and closing, and chefs moving, since spring 2011.

The following restaurants have closed down in the past few months, and these may not be the only ones as the winter takes its toll:

*   Jardine’s Restaurant has closed on Bree Str

*   Liquorice and Lime has closed down on St George’s Mall

*   Cheyne has closed on Bree Street

*   The Kitchen Bar in the Quarters’ Hotel in Hermanus has closed

*   The Bistro in Franschhoek has closed down

*   The Sandbar in Camps Bay has closed down

*   The Blonde building is up for sale, and does not appear to be re-opening in August, as was announced by The Caviar Group, owners of Blonde

*   The Green Dolphin Jazz Club in the V & A Waterfront has closed down

*   Mezzaluna in Loop Street has closed down

*   Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant judge Pete Goffe-Wood’s Wild Woods Restaurant has closed down.

*   Restaurant Christophe closed down in Stellenbosch on 25 June. Eat Out Top 20 Chef Christophe Dehosse will be back at Joostenberg from August.

*   Nando’s in Camps Bay has closed down

*   Haute Cabriere, under the chefmanship of Matthew Gordon, closed on 7 June at the wine tasting venue with the same name in Franschhoek.  See below for re-opening.

*   Karma closed down in Camps Bay

*   Hermanos in Hermanus has closed down

*   Fizz Affair Champagne and Wine Bar has closed down in Franschhoek

*   Doppio Zero in Green Point has closed down

*   Nzolo Brand Café has closed down in Church Street

*  L’Aperitivo has closed down.  See below for Valora.

*   On Broadway’s in-house restaurant has closed down.  Re-opened as Roberto’s on 7 July – see below.

*   Doppio Zero Claremont has closed down

*   Brio 1893 is closing down on 12 August

*   Chenin has closed in the old Cape Quarter

*   Cafe Max has closed down in De Waterkant

*   Bella Lucia has closed down in Wynberg

*   Iconic restaurant Linger Longer has closed down in Johannesburg after the death of chef Walter Ulz, 2010 Eat Out Lannice Snyman Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.

*   Postocini Express has closed on Greenmarket Square

*   De Huguenot Restaurant, only having open for six months, closes at the end of October.  The Harry Q bar will continue operating, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.  The De Huguenot Estate will concentrate on weddings and events.

*   Wildflour has closed down on Regent Road in Sea Point.

*  The Olive Shack in Franschhoek has closed its restaurant operation, and will only operate as a shop selling olive-related products.

*   221 Waterfront has closed down in the V&A Waterfront

*   What’s On Eatery in Watson Street has closed down

But all is not doom and gloom, and the restaurateurs that are opening restaurants in these difficult times must be congratulated and wished well.  These restaurants opened their doors this year :

*   Etienne Bonthuys (ex-Tokara) has opened his long-awaited restaurant on Dorp Street, Stellenbosch, called Casparus, in partnership with artist Strijdom van der Merwe (left).

*   DISH has opened at Inn on the Square, Greenmarket Square

*   The Olive Shack at Allora in Franschhoek has opened as a deli, doing olive oil tastings, and serving Breakfast, Greek lunches and picnics

*   Tables restaurant has opened at Nitida wine estate in Durbanville

*   Mozzarella Bar has opened on Kloof Street, Gardens

*   Café Benedict has opened on the main road in Franschhoek.

*   Trinity has opened as a ‘super club’ in Bennett Street in Green Point

*   Il Cappero Italian Restaurant* has opened in Barrack Street

*   Caffé Milano* has opened on Kloof Street, Gardens

*   The Stone Kitchen has opened at Dunstone Winery in Wellington

*  The Franschhoek Food Emporium has open in Place Vendome, and is owned by legendary Topsi Venter’s daughter Danielle

*   What’s On Eatery* has opened in Watson Street, between Loop and Bree Street

*   Haas Coffee Collective has opened on Rose Street in Bo-Kaap

*   Crunch:The Pastry Shop coffee shop and bakery has opened in Paarl, owned by Gerard van Staden, previously chef at Le Franschhoek Hotel

*   Dear Me Brasserie and Tjing Tjing Bar has opened on Longmarket Street (right).

*   Act Restaurant and Play Bar have opened at the Baxter Theatre

*   Le Coq has opened in Franschhoek

*   Dash has opened in the Queen Victoria Hotel in the Waterfront

*   Café Dijon has opened another branch at Zorgvliet wine estate

*   Harbour House has opened a branch in the V & A Waterfront, where Fisherman’s Choice was

*   KOS Coffee & Cuisine has opened in The Regency on Regent Road in Sea Point

*   Café Extrablatt has opened where shu used to be, in Green Point

*   Skinny Legs & All has opened on Loop Street

*   Leopard’s Leap will open its picnic facility, tasting room and cookery school outside Franschhoek in November/December

*   De Huguenot Estate has opened The Marianne, Harry Q Bar and Fraiche, with ex-Hunter’s Country Lodge chef Tanya Kruger in the kitchen. (The De Huguenot restaurant closes at the end of October – see in closures above, and Fraiche Deli will no longer open).

*   Cicciobella Pizzeria has opened in Hout Bay

*   Takumi has opened, with Chef Papa San the Sushi Master

*   Sunbird Bistro has opened in the ex-Sandbar space on Victoria Road in Camps Bay, with Lana Doyle as chef and Pamela Trevelyan as Manager. Smart blue/white interior. Serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, cocktails and tapas.

*   The Grand Camps Bay will be operated by the ex-Sandbar for Breakfast and lunch.  The Grand takes over from 4 pm.

*   Mezepoli from Johannesburg is opening in the Nando’s space in Camps Bay on 20 October

*   Saboroso has opened in Bakoven, where Marika’s used to operate

*   Café Le Chocolatier has opened a chocolate manufacturing and demo outlet Le Chocolatier Factory, next to its restaurant, in Franschhoek, utilising Lindt equipment and chocolate

*   Haute Cabriere Cellar Restaurant has re-opened, with new chef Ryan Shell.

*   Cavallo restaurant is said to open on the stud farm on R44, between Stellenbosch and Somerset West, in 2012 or 2013

*   Roberto’s has opened underneath On Broadway, owned by Chef Roberto de Carvalho, ex-chef at the Twelve Apostles Hotel and the One & Only Cape Town

*   Luigi’s is opening in Paarl where Ciao Bella used to be

*   Our Place is opening in Durbanville where Avocado used to be

*   Friends Café has opened at 44 Belvedere Street, Claremont. Tel (021) 674-5510

*   Valora has opened where L’Aperitivo was, on Loop Street

*   Rococoa has opened in The Palms Decor and Lifestyle Centre in Woodstock

*   Luke Dale-Roberts (The Test Kitchen) is opening another restaurant in Wynberg, said to be where Bella Lucia is – this report, initially announced on the Spill blog, has been denied by Luke Dale-Roberts

*   Reuben’s is opening another Franschhoek branch off the main road, and will run it concurrently until its main road branch lease expires next year.

*   Toro has opened in the old Cape Quarter, near the back entrance of Andiamo, as a Wine/Aperitivo Bar, with an ex-Overture chef

*   Goloso Italian Deli and Wine Bar has opened on Regent Road in Sea Point, next door to Wildflour.

*   Franschhoek Famous Pancake House, with owner Gideon, has opened as a take-away pancake outlet, in Mont View Centre, next to the gym, in Fabriek Street, Franschhoek.

*   Cafeteria has opened in De Waterkant, initially selling wraps, sandwiches, coffee, and beautiful pastries, cakes and macaroons by Martin Senekal as take-aways, and planning to expand into a sit-down coffee shop in October.

*   A late night dinner and dance restaurant will open in the ex-Brio space in October, with a chef from St Tropez, and a DJ from Cannes

*   LM Grills has opened in Onrus, outside Hermanus, previous owners of restaurants with same name in Johannesburg and Mocambique

*   Chez Chez has opened as an Espresso and Cheesecake Bar (serving 13 different cheesecakes), 3 De Lorentz Street, Tamboerskloof.

*   Bistro on Rose has opened at 35 Rose Street

*   The Slug & Lettuce has opened on Long Street

*   Rhapsody’s franchise restaurant, mainly in Pretoria, is to open next door to Café Extrablatt in Green Point, where Doppio Zero used to be

*   Wale Rose Lifestyle has opened in Bo-Kaap, on the corner of Wale and Rose Street, serving Cape Malay as well as ‘cosmopolitan food’.

*   Andy Fenner (JamieWho?) and friends are opening Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants on Kloof Street, opposite McDonald’s, in December

* The Kitchen at Maison opens on Maison wine estate in Franschhoek on 16 November, with Chef Arno Janse van Rensburg (ex-Ginja, ex-Myoga), and Manager Julian Smith (ex-Grande Provence, ex-Waterkloof, ex-Pierneef a La Motte)

*   McDonald’s is opening a ‘concept store’ in the V&A Waterfront, where 221 Waterfront used to be

*   Batho’s Place African Restaurant has opened in the township in Franschhoek.  082 090 8660

*   Liam Tomlim’s Cookery School opens at Leopard’s Leap at the end of November, next door to La Motte in Franschhoek, also serving picnics.

*   F.east Indian Restaurant has opened corner Long and Bloem Streets, in Cape Town

Restaurant changes:

*   Chef Jacques de Jager, has left Salt Restaurant, after about 18 months

*   Restaurant Manager Darren Morgan has left Dash Restaurant, and is now at the One&Only Cape Town

*   Food & Beverage Manager of Dock House, Queen Victoria Hotel and V&A Hotel, Alton van Biljon, has left

*   Chef Lucas Carstens has left Reuben’s at One&Only Cape Town, and joined Cuvée Restaurant, at Simonsig wine estate

*   Blues in Camps Bay is reducing the size of its restaurant, and re-opens as Blues Beach House on 14 October

*   Chef Leigh Trout has left Mange Tout at the Mont Rochelle Hotel, and has bought Bird Café and Gourmet Eatery on Bree Street, with Kevin Mink.  They re-opened on 1 September with an amended interior and a new menu.

*  Ex-Hermanos chef/owner Wayne Spencer is now at Burgundy in Hermanus

*   Carl Habel, Sommelier of The Mount Nelson Hotel, has been appointed Restaurant Manager of Planet Restaurant too

*   Peaches and Cream on the Main Road in Paarl has been taken over by Anica Bester

*   Mediterrea in Hermanus has changed its name to Grilleri

*   Patron Chef Stefan Louw has taken over the running of Heaven on Newton Johnson wine estate in the Hemel en Aarde wine valley.

*   The Black Pearl is the new name of the Tapas, Restaurant and Cocktail Bar, with new owners, of the ex-Seven Sins on Kloof Street.

*   Chef Oliver Cattermole has left Dash restaurant at the Queen Victoria Hotel, and joined What’s On Eatery on 1 October.

*   Cocoa Oola has opened on Kloof Street, where Oishii used to be

*   Chef Anri Diener has left Majeka House, and Chef Tanja Kruger from De Huguenot Restaurant takes over her position

*  Chef Daniel Botha has left Le Franschhoek Hotel, and starts at Salt Restaurant on 1 November

*  Chef Oliver Cattermole, previously with Dash and What’s On Eatery, has started as Executive Chef at Le Franschhoek Hotel on 7 November.

*   Chef Matthew Gordon in Franschhoek is opening a new restaurant in Paarl

*   Dieu Donné in Franschhoek has leased its restaurant to Martin and Marco from Durban, and they have renamed it La Rocca. Chef Jo van Staden has returned to Durban with her husband, Chef Gerard van Staden, who has returned to the Beverley Hills Hotel.

*   Chef Chris Smit of Café BonBon has resigned

*   Chef Christo Pretorius, previously of De Huguenot, has started at 1800 Restaurant at the Cape Royale Luxury Hotel

*   Sommelier Neil Grant of Rust en Vrede has resigned, leaves at the end of November, and is said to open a new restaurant in the Old Biscuit Mill

The following restaurants are taking a winter break:

*   La Colombe: 30 May – 20 June

*   River Café:   10 – 30 August

*   Constantia Uitsig:   4 – 26 July

*   The Grand Café Camps Bay:   June and July

*   Pure Restaurant: 1 – 31 July

*   Terroir: 1 – 11 July

*   Grande Provence:   18 – 31 July

*   Pierneef à La Motte:  15 June – 15 July

*   French Connection: 30 May – 20 June

*   Freedom Hill: July and August

*   Overture: July

*   Waterkloof: 27 June – 20 July

*   French Toast Wine & Tapas Bar 18 – 24 July

*   Tasting Room and Common Room at Le Quartier Francais closed until 31 July

*   The Olive Shack at Allora in Franschhoek is closed until the end of September

*   Tokara Restaurant: closed 8 – 22 August

*   Blues in Camps Bay is closing for a month from 22 August – 2 October, for renovations to reduce the size of the restaurant

*   Allée Bleue will not be serving lunch on Mondays and Tuesdays during September.

*   The Kove in Camps Bay is closed until mid-September for renovations

*   Laborie Restaurant in Paarl is closed for renovations until end October.

POSTSCRIPT 28/7: Pete Goffe-Wood, ex-owner of Wild Woods in Hout Bay, has written a frank article on Food24 about why he recently closed his restaurant. He blames Capetonians for not supporting restaurants in winter months, which means that they have to cover costs out of savings created in summer, to keep the business afloat in winter (this is a general Cape winter scenario for all businesses in the tourism industry – if one does not know about this, one should not be in the business in the first place!).  He writes that Johannesburg restaurants do not suffer this seasonality.  The recent 2-week summery spell proved what an important role the weather plays – business was booming for restaurants and accommodation as Capetonians left their homes, went out, and spent money, a welcome cash injection in these difficult times.  The Bastille Festival in Franschhoek had record attendance during this period.

Restaurant Specials cause cost undercutting, which attracts business and provides cashflow, but does not help the industry, he writes. If specials weren’t offered, one probably would have seen a far greater number of restaurants closing down. They are hugely popular, and on this blog the Restaurant Specials listings are the most popular of all blogposts.  He also blames restaurant owners, often chefs, for being too ’emotional’ about their businesses, and for not seeing the signs of tough times early enough, which may call for closing one’s restaurant.  Clearly opening any business at the moment is high risk, and for a hospitality business the risk is even higher.   Goffe-Wood also lashes out at the recent Weekend Argus article about Restaurant Closures, using names from this blogpost.  As much as he blames journalist Helen Bamford for getting her facts wrong, he does too, in calling her Linda!  Describing a non-renewal of a restaurant lease as not being a restaurant closure or failure is very debatable – if things were going well, leases would have been renewed, especially for a restaurant like Haute Cabriere, where Chef Matthew Gordon had operated for 16 years!

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

Restaurant Review: Café des Arts poor quality, lacks interest, gives Franschhoek a bad name!

It’s been a long time since I have been to a restaurant that is as badly run and so overall disappointing as Café des Arts, previously Topsi’s.  It is an embarrassment for Franschhoek, a village that prides itself on its gourmet standards.

I had read feedback about Café des Arts on Twitter, both Rob Armstrong and Dax Villanueva praising it, and felt obliged to try it out, one of the few Franschhoek restaurants I had not been to yet.   I arrived at about 20h00 on Friday evening, to a restaurant which still has the Topsi’s signs outside on the main road and on Reservoir Street, dishonest I felt, given that the restaurant name change took place in August last year, and no attempt has been made to change the signs after taking over from esteemed chef Topsi Venter.  I was one of four tables, all Franschhoekers that I knew.  I was surprised in retrospect to see them eating there, one couple in particular, having come out from Cape Town and previously owning a wine farm in Franschhoek.

I take my time in ordering at a restaurant, assimilating the interior, making notes about what I have observed, and felt pressurised to order by the co-owner Louise Rambert, when I had not even looked at the menu board.  She brought the winelist blackboard to the table first, but oddly placed it behind me, which meant that I had to turn around to read it.   The menu blackboard was placed against a wall, which I could read more comfortably, yet not all the handwriting on it was legible.   The teriyaki pork belly with Asian noodle stirfry had sold out, but it had not been deleted from the menu board, and Louise snapped at me when I wanted to order this dish.

I had not been to Topsi’s for many years, but remember that she had tables on two levels of the restaurant.  Now it is contained to the higher level, the entrance section being an untidy mess, containing a bookshelf that had not appeared to have been touched in years and left in a haphazard state.  An industrial fridge and a counter with the coffee machine, as well as more menu boards, were visible, the room looking more like a storeroom than part of a restaurant.  Tables are wooden, with riempies-style chairs.  There are no tablecloths, and a paper serviette is offered.  The cutlery and glassware is cheap.   On the table was an Oryx desert salt grinder and an unbranded pepper grinder, as well as a green sugar bowl.   On a cold winter’s night the ceramic fireplace made the restaurant comfortably warm.  The kitchen is open to the restaurant.  There was artwork on the walls,  mainly by Wakaba Mutheki, but also by other artists, such as Koos de Wet, the only other artist’s name which Louise could remember, yet they sell the artwork for RED! The Gallery in Tokai.  A Mandela portrait is striking in its realism, and costs R30000.   One wonders how a gallery could place this expensive art in such a poor quality restaurant environment.  Louise told me that they have sold quite a few works already.

Chef Chris Hoffman previously owned Café des Arts in Kalk Bay, where he had a similar concept of displaying art in his restaurant, but these were local artists.  He was trained as a chef by Topsi 16 years ago, in her Franschhoek restaurant, and he took over Topsi’s after a visit last year, feeling that Topsi was struggling to run her restaurant after a serious knee operation, and that her family was neglecting her, one of the other guests told me.  Chris closed down his restaurant in Kalk Bay, and took over Topsi’s, renaming it Café des Arts, and Topsi can be seen there frequently, I was told, when she is not at her daughter’s good Franschhoek Food Emporium deli in Place Vendôme.

At first I thought Louise was a waitress, as she had attitude, but she pointedly told me that she was the ‘owner’ of the restaurant, until I asked her about the chef, and she admitted that he co-owns the restaurant with her.  I have never met a restaurant owner who is so disinterested in her clients, who deals with them functionally, who takes no interest in finding out what makes them come to the restaurant, and whether one is a local or not.  Louise told me proudly that they do not advertise, as they are only there to serve the locals, and want to get known by word-of-mouth.   A waitress worked with Louise, but stood near the kitchen most of the time, only bringing one dish to the table, and not communicating at all.  Louise asked for feedback about my main course dish, being lamb’s liver, and when I told her it was tough, she did not respond, walking away from the table.   It became clear to me why she was pressuring me to order – the chef Chris left at 8.45 pm, once he had cooked my liver, walking through the restaurant in his odd-looking civvies, blatantly demonstrating that he had finished with us and his restaurant for the day!

The lamb’s liver (R75) was served with mash, bacon, and balsamic onions, and a rather tasty sauce, but was tough, but the pedestrian knife may have been partly to blame. I am so used to Reuben’s calf’s liver, that I did not like the lamb’s liver by comparison.   I felt the dish to be expensive for what one got.  Other options are two salads, a soup (R48) and mussels (R55/R85) for starters, two fettuccine dishes (R65 – R75), and main course choices were Red Snapper and Lamb loin chops (R110 – R115).   I ordered the apple crumble for dessert, and was assured by Louise that it came with fresh whipped cream, but it was not whipped, and there was barely any on the plate, so that I had to ask the waitress for some more.  I had also asked Louise to only warm up the dessert a little, but it arrived piping hot.  I liked that it contained raisins, but the crumble topping was burnt.  Other dessert options were chocolate tart, and a bread and butter pudding made from croissants, Louise said verbally, but the board stated that it was made from hot cross buns.  All desserts cost R30.   I was told by one of the patrons that the menu is changed regularly, and that she likes to eat at this restaurant, as they make dishes that vegetarians like she can order. 

The winelist offered one or two wines per variety, a house Helderberg Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon (Louise told me that this belongs to Boekenhoutskloof) for R25 per glass.  Haut Espoir Shiraz costs R130, and Stony Brook Shiraz 2006 cost R35/R170.  I was disappointed with it, given its age.

I will never go back to Café des Arts, after my experience.  I found it absolutely amateurish in all respects, and cannot see how it can survive.  With a disinterest in the patrons, mediocre food, lack of food presentation, the chef leaving early, no interior design, no website, false marketing riding on the Topsi’s name,  and a hand-written invoice with no contact details should one want to book in future, Café des Arts cannot be taken seriously in Franschhoek, nor is it a tribute to what went before at Topsi’s.  I was happy to leave and have a lovely cappuccino at Reuben’s across the road.

POSTSCRIPT 4/5:   The owners’ reaction to the review has been surprisingly unprofessional, and has led to them banning me from their establishment.  See the Comments to the blogpost. 

POSTSCRIPT 14/5: I photographed the Topsi’s sign on Huguenot Road today, still up 10 months after Topsi’s closed down, and became Café des Arts!

POSTSCRIPT 22/5:  Seeing a number of extremely positive TripAdvisor reviews for Café des Arts via a Franschhoek Restaurant Google Alert today, I noticed that a review that I posted on TripAdvisor about my dinner at Café des Arts, condensed in content to my review above, has been removed!  TripAdvisor has not sent a notification as to the reason for the content removal.

Café des Arts, Reservoir Street, Franschhoek.  Tel (021) 876-2952.  No website, and none intended.  Facebook page.  Tuesday – Saturday.   Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.  

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

Restaurant Review: Franschhoek Food Emporium full of home-made goodness

The latest coffee shop/deli to open in Franschhoek is the Franschhoek Food Emporium, which opened in Place Vendôme at the entrance to Franschhoek in January.   It offers a sit-down menu service, as well as a deli, with a counter of delicious treats, as well as shelves with home-made preserves, cordials, pies and many other treats.

The Franschhoek Food Emporium is managed by Danielle Rittel, the daughter of Topsi Venter, the esteemed chef who worked at Roggeland Country House for many years, before she opened Topsi’s in Franschhoek, running it until late last year, when Café des Arts took over the restaurant and changed its name.   The connection to Topsi is not spontaneously mentioned by Danielle, Continue reading →