Yesterday I attended the launch of the new Flagstone Tasting Room in The Rockwell hotel in Green Point, a facility designed to capitalize on the tourists visiting Cape Town during the summer season.
# Meloncino: Glass of Moët et Chandon and 2 oysters R169; 750ml bottle of Moët et Chandon Impérial R 749, 750ml bottle of Moët et Continue reading →
After a one year absence, the Rossouw’s Restaurant Guide is back, with a new name, new sponsor, new editor, and a new methodology of recognising top restaurants. Restaurants in Cape Town and the Winelands still dominate the 5-star restaurant list by far, with 13 out of 20 restaurants in the Western Cape, out of 300 restaurants evaluated in total!
Yesterday ‘Rossouw’s by Diners Club International 2015 South African Restaurant Guide’ was launched in Johannesburg, now sponsored by Diners Club, the same company also sponsoring the Platter’s by Diners Club 2015 South African Wine Guide. Anna Trapido has been the editor for just more than half a year, writing individual reviews about restaurants on their website, and has compiled the new Guide, awarding twenty restaurants with 5 star ratings nationally, another change, as the Rossouw’s restaurants only achieved a maximum of 3 stars in the past, when it was run by previous owner JP Rossouw. The publication format now matches that of the Platter’s Guide. A 5-star rated restaurant is defined as a ‘consistently superlative restaurant in its category – with no/almost no issues’! To obtain a 5-star rating the restaurant had to achieve a score in excess of 90%, errors in food being unbalanced, or wines and foods not matching, counting against a restaurant, for example. Every element of the restaurant visit, from making the telephonic booking to the departure, was scored. All meals were paid for by Anna’s reviewers, all largely unknown Continue reading →
The 2015 American Express Platinum Fine Dining Awards have been announced, the Western Cape (39) having a small head start over Gauteng (33) in the number of restaurants on the list of 89 restaurants in total. Five new restaurants have been added to the list: 95 Keerom, Delaire Graff Restaurant, Kitima, and Makaron at Majeka House, all in the Western Cape, as well as The Leopard in Johannesburg.
Restaurants that were eligible to receive an American Express Platinum Fine Dining Award have to accept the credit card as payment, and have to accept a booking for four by a Platinum Card holder within four days of booking. Excellence, creativity, and offering guests an exquisite culinary experience are evaluated.
New head of the American Express Platinum Fine Dining Awards is Tamsin Snyman, who also is the Africa and Indian Ocean Islands chairman of the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards. She has taken over the Awards management from Victor Strugo, who had been involved for the past 16 years.
Nedbank Head of Corporate Card Services Pamela White said about the awards: ‘The awards continue to reflect the country’s rising culinary spirit and serve as a catalyst in championing the enhancement of the fine dining industry and experience in South Africa. As the exclusive issuer of American Express in South Africa, we are honoured to be associated with this initiative as it not only celebrates South African restaurateurs but also promotes fine dining’.
Last year the American Express Platinum Fine Dining Awards list had 95 restaurants, the Western Cape list having reduced by four restaurants on the list, despite having added four new restaurants, therefore a total loss of eight restaurants. Western Cape restaurants no longer on the list this year are La Colombe (probably due to the long period of closure and its new premises not yet operating), Zachary’s, Bukhara, Bombay Brasserie at The Taj, Savoy Cabbage, Kurland Hotel Restaurant, Constantia Uitsig (closed down), and Serendipity’s. The reason for the restaurants dropping off the list may be the tough economic climate, some of the restaurants purposely no longer accepting Amex credit cards due to their high merchant commission rate, or they have been judged to no longer meet the standards. Missing from the Western Cape list altogether but being in a Top 20 Restaurant league are The Test Kitchen, Pot Luck Club, The Kitchen at Maison, Equus, Camphors at Vergelegen, Mondiall, Tokara, Burrata, Springfontein Eats, Indochine, The Restaurant at Newton Johnson, and Jardine at Jordan.
The 2015 Award winners are: Continue reading →
Not having been to Haiku in three years, and attending a concert close by in the Old Town House two weeks ago, I booked a table at what was once my favourite restaurant. While its prices have settled, service remains a problem, unforgivable after being in business for seven years already. Food presentation was most disappointing, and the food quality has declined.
It is seven years ago that Haiku opened to hype and fanfare. It was the bees knees of restaurants, becoming cult almost immediately, helped along by the difficulty in getting a table. It won Eat Out Best New Restaurant six months after opening, a category never awarded since. Those days are long past, the arrogant waitrons losing business for the restaurant, with patrons going elsewhere to get their Asian food fix. It was easy to book the table for a Saturday night, yet when I returned from the concert the restaurant was almost full. The loud disco-style music does not match the Asian theme of the restaurant nor makes it easy for one to communicate at the table and with the waitrons, and one wonders why they need to put up the volume. I remember this as a past irritation, introduced more recently. I was interested to know how the opening of the V&A Waterfront branch a few months ago had affected business in the original branch, and perhaps predictably the waitress said it had not at all. The manager told me later that their best chefs and waitrons had been transferred to the Waterfront, so it would be worth trying this branch too. The standard of the staff was evidenced by two incidents of clanging glasses, falling on the floor and breaking, for all to hear!
I was shown my table by the hostess, booked as a table for one, only to be asked in a most irritating manner by the waiter if I was on my own. He then wanted to clear the table of superfluous dishes, rather than bring the menu. He is one Continue reading →
Once again the Western Cape has shown that it is the country’s culinary champion in its performance in and dominance of the 2014 American Express® Platinum Fine Dining Awards, which were awarded in Johannesburg last week, and in Cape Town on Monday evening. Of 95 award winning restaurants in the 16th year of review, 43 are from the Western Cape, 35 from Gauteng, 9 from KwaZulu Natal, and another eight from other provinces.
Evaluated by a judging panel consisting of Anna Trapido (previous Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant judge) and Victor Strugo, under the chairmanship of Tamsin Snyman, the Award-winning restaurants had to meet the criteria of offering ‘culinary excellence to discerning diners’. Eligibility for Continue reading →
Despite 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:
* 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.
No significant events have been planned to attract visitors to Cape Town and the Winelands this winter, and it appears to be the worst winter ever experienced by the hospitality industry in the Cape. A surprise is the number of restaurant changes, as well as the the movement of staff between restaurants. Given the poor winter business, many restaurants have taken/are taking generous winter breaks. This list of restaurant openings and closings is updated continuously, as we receive new information:
* Four & Twenty Café and Pantry has opened in Wynberg
* The Crypt Jazz Restaurant has opened below St George’s Cathedral.
* Orphanage Cocktail Emporium is opening Orphanage Club upstairs, with 1920’s style music by live performers, later this year.
* Cavalli restaurant on the stud farm on the R44 must be opening shortly, as Carl Habel has left the Mount Nelson Hotel as Restaurant Manager and Sommelier to join the restaurant.
* Shake your Honey is to open in the original Madame Zingara building on Loop Street next year, after renovations commence later this year, according to an iolTravel report. The ‘vibrant spirit of India’ is to be reflected in the 5-storey building, with a theatre, markets, restaurants, and shops.
* Burger King has opened its (second) Tygervalley branch. Branches at Cavendish and at Grandwest are to open soon. Continue reading →
The first taste of the Cape winter this weekend is likely to be felt by the restaurant industry, which will see hard times in the next two months, if close to zero accommodation bookings in the Cape are anything to go by. Other than Hermanus FynArts and the Wacky Wine Weekend kicking off next week, ‘Cook Franschhoek‘ running over the Youth Day long weekend, and the Bastille Festival weekend on 13 – 14 July, no significant events are planned to attract visitors to Cape Town and the Winelands. A number of restaurants are closing for an annual break in the next two months.
This list of restaurant openings and closings isupdated continuously, as we receive new information:
* The Crypt Jazz Restaurant has opened below St George’s Cathedral.
* Frères Bistro has opened next door to Col’Cacchio on Hans Strydom Continue reading →
Tony Jackman is a passionate cook, playwright, and a food and restaurant writer for publications and his Sliver blog. Yesterday he awarded the inaugural ten Sliver Silver Awards to the top chefs and restaurateurs in Cape Town and the Winelands at The Conservatory at the Cellars-Hohenhort Hotel.
Jackman writes in his media statement that there was no ranking in his top ten restaurant list, that the awards were not linked to a specific year, and that winning a Sliver Silver Award may be a once-off. He writes: ‘They are not in competition with other restaurant awards. Rather, they play a role of their own in bestowing a singular stamp on a restaurant. They are not given lightly, and they are not there to honour a flavour-of-the-month or a fly-by-night’. The Award is a Jackman one, not selected by a panel of judges. ‘When you have a Sliver’s Silver, it’s a badge of honour and respect from me to them’. He evaluated the restaurants’ excellence over a number of years, and said that he was ‘consistently impressed with their ability to get it right, again and again’, describing his awards as a ‘mark of honour more than a conventional award’.
Jackman’s top ten Sliver’s Silver Awards list is as follows:
* Giorgio Nava, 95 Keerom, for ‘inspired Italian authenticity and Milanese charm’
* Sabi Sabharwal, Haiku, for ‘striking Asian versatility and consistency’
* Luke Dale-Roberts, The Test Kitchen, for ‘wizardry with flavour and texture‘
* Henrico Grobbelaar, Azure at the Twelve Apostles, for ‘his finely engineered cuisine‘
* Franck Dangereux, The Foodbarn, for ‘texture and nuance with Gallic charm’
* Peter Weetman of Societi Bistro for ‘most beloved neighbourhood bistro‘.
* Bertus Basson, Overture, for ‘seasonal expression and detail‘
* Margot Janse, The Tasting Room, for ‘Avant-Garde African cuisine that always surprises‘
* Michael Broughton, Terroir, for ‘being a saucier par excellence’.
The striking Sliver Silver Award bespoke ceramic plates with koi motif were made by Mervyn Gers Ceramics, each plate unique and different to the others. Gers launched Kfm (previously called Kontrei FM) almost twenty years ago, and found his creative streak in ceramics, which he has already made for De Grendel, Babylonstoren, Moyo, and Jenny Morris.
Jackman announced at the Awards lunch, which I regrettably missed, that he will be launching Sliver’s Pop-Up Gourmet Dinners, at which food lovers will be served dinners prepared by three top chefs, with a food demo, a charity contribution, and ‘a mystery element inspired by Australian Masterchef‘.
Comparing Jackman’s Sliver Silver Awards with the latest Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards list it is clear that Jackman has only focused on Cape Town and Winelands restaurants. Missing from the Sliver Silver list is Jordan Restaurant, Rust en Vrede, and La Colombe, which made the latest Eat Out Top Ten restaurant list. Surprise Sliver Silver Award inclusions are 95 Keerom, Haiku, Azure, The Foodbarn, and Societi Bistro, some restaurants not having appeared on the Eat Out Top 10 list ever, and others having done so many years ago. But then this was Jackman’s awards ceremony, as he said right upfront!
Sliver Blog: www.sliver.co.za Twitter: @SliverMorsels
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage