On my third winetasting day in Mendoza in Argentina, I was lucky that my Park Hyatt hotel concierge Charlie had managed to book a visit for me at Zuccardi Winery Piedra Infinita in the Uco Valley, the second and newer winery of this successful family wine producer. Of all the top restaurants which I evaluated in Argentina, this winery restaurant was by far the best I ate at in the country. I learnt while writing this article that this winery was awarded the honour of Best Vineyard in the world earlier this year! Continue reading →
Predicting the Top 20 shortlist for the 2010 Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards was relatively easy. Predicting the Top 10 winners out of this list, which Eat Out will announce at its gala dinner tomorrow evening, is much harder. Here is our predicted list of Top 10, in no particular order, and admittedly uncertain about the non-Cape Town restaurants. We have analysed JP Rossouw’s list of 23 three-star Rossouw’s Restaurants (the highest rating he awards), to help us make the prediction. See more about Rossouw’s list below.
* Rust en Vrede – as written before, I boldly predict this will be the number one restaurant on the Top 10 list. David Higgs is doing excellent work, without any fanfare, and he made top 100 of S. Pellegrino Top 50 Restaurants in the World list earlier this year. He was also recognised as joint winner as the best vineyard restaurant by the Great Wine Capitals of the World. An absolute professional. (On Rossouw’s Restaurants’ 3-star list, and Rossouw has awarded the restaurant his one and only Platinum Award, motivated as follows: “consistently deliver an exceptional dining experience in all respects”).
* Jardine – cooking at the gala dinner, and this is a sure predictor. Chef Eric Bulpitt has returned from 6 weeks of working in the Noma kitchen, the number 1 of the Top 50 Restaurants in the World, at no compensation, demonstrating Eric’s dedication to and passion for his craft. (Surprisingly, not on Rossouw’s Restaurants’ 3-star list!).
* Jordan’s Restaurant with George Jardine – the interior decor (or lack of) may leave a lot to be desired, but George Jardine is a dedicated chef, and has won many a Top 10 Eat Out award whilst at Jardine (On Rossouw’s Restaurants’ 3-star list).
* Overture – Chef Bertus Basson has been on the Top 10 list for two years running, and re-invents his restaurant continuously. Stunning location on Hidden Valley estate. (On Rossouw’s Restaurants’ 3-star list).
* The Green House – Chef Peter Tempelhoff has been a past winner, both for this Cellars Hohenhort hotel restaurant as well as for Grande Provence in Franschhoek. (On Rossouw’s Restaurants’ 3-star list).
* The Tasting Room – Chef Margot Janse. Not liked by all, and very expensive, but probably the most-crowned restaurant in the history of the Top 10 Restaurant Awards (Back on Rossouws’ Restaurants’ 3-star list, after falling off it in the 2010 edition).
* Restaurant Christophe – Chef Christophe Dehosse is the most charming French restaurateur, serving excellent foie gras and other French-style food. (Not on Rossouw’s Restaurants’ 3-star list, despite Rossouw first highlighting Dehosse’s talents whilst he was at Joostenberg).
* Mosaic– chef Chantel Dartnall from Pretoria is cooking at the Awards dinner, and made the number 2 slot last year. (Not on Rossouw’s Restaurants’ 3-star list)
* The Roundhouse – on the Top 10 list last year, and chef PJ Vadas cooking for the Awards Gala dinner (On Rossouw’s Restaurants’ 3-star list).
* La Colombe – this is a difficult one. Luke Dale-Roberts has led this restaurant to the top of the Eat Out list two years running, and was recognised internationally in reaching 12th position on the Top 50 Restaurants in the World list. Dale-Roberts is a consultant chef to La Colombe now, and has opened his own new restaurant The Test Kitchen. I predict that he will be acknowledged for his excellent performance this year, but will not be awarded the number one position due to his reduced La Colombe involvement. His recent whirlwind visit to The Fat Duck and El Bulli, both on the S. Pellegrino Top 50 Restaurants in the World list, just after he opened The Test Kitchen, is a reflection of his dedication to improving himself even further.
The other restaurants on the Eat Out Top 10 shortlist are: Reuben’s Franschhoek, Aubergine, Terroir, and Zachary’s, all of which have also made Rossouw’s Restaurants’ 3-star list. Bosman’s, DW Eleven-13, Linger Longer, Roots, Waterkloof Restaurant and Hartford House are also top 20 finalists, but do not appear on Rossouw’s Restaurants’ 3-star list.
Rossouws’ Restaurants 2011 3-star restaurant list is as follows: Assaggi, Butcher Shop and Grill, Mastrantonio, The Grillhouse, Thomas Maxwell Bistro, all in Johannesburg; Ritrovo in Pretoria; 95 Keerom, Aubergine, Bizerca Bistro, La Colombe, Magica Roma, The Greenhouse, The Roundhouse, and Nobu in Cape Town; Jordan with George Jardine, Rust en Vrede, Overture, Terroir, Reuben’s Franschhoek, Tasting Room in Stellenbosch/Franschhoek; Zachary’s and Ile de Pain in Knysna; and Marianna’s in Stanford. Rossouw defines a 3-star restaurant as one that “shines in its price point and offers a truly special food experience…. it’s the all-round feeling of pleasure that’s created by a lovely space, warm hospitality, good service, and crackerjack food. Track record is also important : three star restaurants should consistently deliver on their promise”. No doubt his inclusion of Magica Roma will have critics sniggering again, the response to the same inclusion in 2008.
The Eat Out 2010 Awards Gala evening at the Westin Grand hotel will be a wonderfully festive one, no matter what the outcome of the Top 10 list will be. No doubt it will be controversial, but not anything as controversial as the results were in 2009!
POSTSCRIPT 28/12: I was surprised to see an Erratum slip fall out of Rossouw’s Restaurants when I paged through it at Exclusive Books yesterday. It concerns the 3-star Restaurant list, Rossouw’s highest accolade. In the book Glen Carlou was incorrectly added to the 3-star list, and Magica Roma was left out, the note states. This is a very poor reflection on Rossouw’s editing and production skills.
POSTSCRIPT 15/4: It has been announced that David Higgs has resigned, and will leave Rust en Vrede mid-June.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Spier is the wine estate that attracts the largest number of visitors of the 588 wine estates in the country, says Su Birch, CEO of Wines of South Africa (WOSA). The estate offers theatrical and musical productions, as well as eco-experiences in interacting with cheetahs and eagles. It has 62 000 hotel guests and 40 000 conference delegates visiting every year, in addition to the day visitors.
Wine tourism is a fast growing and possibly the largest segment of the South African tourism industry, and is worth R 6.75 billion, says Andre Morgenthal, also of WOSA, reports Business Report. Wine tourists are from Europe in the main.
Growth has been particularly evident since Cape Town joined the Great Wine Capitals of the World network. The bio-diversity of the winelands, the increasing number of excellent restaurants opening on wine estates, and the marketing focus on wines have created the growth in wine tourism.
The Great Wine Capitals of the World network is looking for nominations for its Best of Tourism Awards to select the best wine estates in respect of dining, accommodation, architecture, parks and gardens, arts and culture, innovative wine tourism experiences, and wine tourism services. Participants from Cape Town, Bordeaux, Bilbao-Rioja, Mendoza, Mainz, Florence, Porto and San Francisco-Napa will compete for the awards. More details are available on www.greatwinecapitals.com.