Entries tagged with “Ile Maurice”.


Amex Award tableLast night (7 September) the American Express Platinum Fine Dining Awards 2016 were presented for Cape Town, the Winelands, and the Garden Route at The Watershed in the V&A Waterfront, a total of 31 awards presented. Last night (14 September) the Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal awards were presented at Katy’s Palace Bar in imageJohannesburg.

Interesting announcements made during the evening in Cape Town appear to indicate that the Platinum Taste Awards (new name from next year) will take Eat Out head on next year! At the awards event, the name change for next year was announced, as was that the Platinum Taste Awards will introduce seven award categories. It is no longer a criterion for a restaurant to accept (more…)

Rossouw's by Diner's Club South African Restaurant GuideAfter 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 (more…)

Chenin Blanc Top 10 Huguenot Cheese Brulee Whale CottageThe 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: (more…)

MasterChef 2 14 Chef David dish Whale Cottage PortfolioOnce 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 (more…)

The number of 2012 American Express Platinum Fine Dining Programme restaurants has dropped for the first time in its 14 year history, down from 88 restaurants in 2011 to 78 this year, with twelve of last year’s winners having closed their doors, reports Chef!.  This demonstrates the severity of the hospitality crisis.

The dominance of the Western Cape, with 33 of the 78 awards, highlights that the province is the cuisine capital of South Africa.  New award entrants are also largely from the Cape, being Nobu, Bistro Sixteen82, Planet Restaurant, Reuben’s at the One&Only, and Pierneef à La Motte, out of eight new entrants.  Three re-admissions are The Restaurant at Grande Provence (photograph), Bosman’s at the Grande Roche Hotel, and Saagries in Johannesburg.

Chefs said that the recognition is welcome, in being a member of the fine dining programme, given the difficult time of the year, after a very long and bleak winter.  The major criterion for consideration by the Programme organiser Tamsin Snyman, in partnership with restaurant critic Victor Strugo, is accepting payment by American Express, which may have disqualified many other top restaurants (such as Dash, The Test Kitchen, Casparus, Johan’s @ Longridge, Terroir, Waterkloof, Indochine, Tokara, and Delaire Graff) from being eligible for evaluation. The judges evaluated the quality and creativity of the cuisine, the service, the wine list, decor and ambiance, the overall excellence, and acceptance of a booking for a table of four on the same day.

Eight of last year’s Programme restaurants did not make the 2012 list, including Rust en Vrede (probably due to the departure of Chef David Higgs), Haute Cabriére Cellar Restaurant (probably due to the recent change in chef), Emily’s, Myoga, Bizerca and Belthazar. Snyman said that ‘there is an increasing mediocrity on the South African fine dining restaurant scene’, reports Chef! The restaurants that have closed their doors in the past year include Auberge Michel, Linger Longer, Jardine, and Hunter’s Country Restaurant.

The 2102 American Express Platinum Fine Dining Programme restaurants are as follows, according to Business Day:

CAPE PENINSULAAubergine, Buitenverwachting, Bukhara (city bowl), Catharina’s, Constantia Uitsig, The Food Barn, Gold, The Greenhouse, Haiku; Il Leone, La Colombe, Roundhouse, Savoy Cabbage
CAPE WINELANDS:  96 Winery Road, Boschendal, Bread & Wine, Fraai Uitzicht 1798, French Connection Bistro, Jardine at Jordan, Mimosa Lodge, Overture @ Hidden Valley, The Pavilion, Reuben’s (Franschhoek), Seafood @ The Marine, Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français
EASTERN CAPE: Hacklewood Hill (Port Elizabeth)
FREE STATE:  De Oude Kraal
KLEIN KAROO:  Kalinka Karoo Cuisine
GARDEN ROUTE: La Locanda (George), Sand @ The Plettenberg, Zinzi @ Tsala (Plettenberg Bay), Serendipity (Wilderness), Trans Karoo (Great Brak), Pembreys, Zachary’s at Pezula (Knysna)
JOHANNESBURG: Bellagio, Bellgables, Bukhara (Sandton), Butcher Shop & Grill, Byzance, La Cucina di Ciro, Gramadoelas, La Campagnola, Le Canard, Mastrantonia, Metzuyan, Osteria Tre Nonni, Piccolo Mondo, Pigalle (Sandton), Roots @ Forum Homini, Saxon, Sel et Poivre, Wombles, Yamato
PRETORIA:  Geet, La Madeleine, La Pentola, Mosaic, Ritrovo Ristorante,
KWAZULU-NATAL: Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse, Daruma, Hartford House, Harvey’s, Ile Maurice, Roma Revolving Restaurant, Spice, Sugar Club

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

This week marks the official launch of two competing but neighbouring restaurants in the new Cape Quarter extension on Somerset Road in De Waterkant.   Cru Cafe’ (see review here) has been open since the beginning of the month, but celebrated its launch on Tuesday.  Vanilla has also opened, and its launch evening is on Friday.   In general, these are the two ‘serious’ restaurants in this new lifestyle centre, that is set to take off as Capetonians discover its unique combination of high quality shops.   Lazari is a restaurant that disappointed on a first visit, with a shrieking pink interior, and the restaurant staff and the patrons being unsure as to which of their two terraces are for smokers and non-smokers!   The visible food preparation area when one enters the restaurant is enough to put one off from entering and sitting down!

This week saw the opening of the long-awaited Crepe et Cidre in Franschhoek, near Huguenot Fine Chocolates.  It belongs to Robert Maingard, the largest hospitality owner in the village, also owning Le Franschhoek, and Dieu Donne, and he is also set to open a sports bar in the old station building soon.  He is opening two further restaurants in Franschhoek, on opposite sides of the main road, when he completes the malls next year, one being on the current Pick ‘n Pay site and the other on the site where the Huguenot Hotel was located.   Crepe et Cidre will be run by Gerhard van Staden, previously chef of the Le Franschhoek.  The creperie has “imported” Yann Guyonvarch from Brittany in France to train the staff in crepe-making.  His true French accent is a delight, but his stay will be a short 2 weeks.  Imported French cider is served.

At La Brasserie in Franschhoek, the Friday jazz evenings will start again tomorrow (30 October), and the opening session will be dedicated to the launch of a CD ‘Tribute to Alex van Heerden’, who played with the Cape Dutch Connection, and passed away tragically.

In Hermanus the new Hermanos restaurant has opened in the building in which Joubert restaurant operated before closing down earlier this year, with a new chef and owner Wayne Spencer.  He was originally the Executive Chef at Birkenhead House in Hermanus, and at Phinda Game Reserve, and worked at the Michelin-starred Port Palace in Monaco.   He says of his new restaurant that it is fine-dining but that it is not intimidating, and he will not place a lot of emphasis on plating the food.  He intends to come out of the kitchen, to chat to his guests, which is commendable – too few chefs do so.   The menu is small, with 5 starters (R36 – 48), 7 mains (R68 – R 110), and 4 desserts (ranging betwen R 30 – R 40), and sounds interesting. The winelist is more extensive, and is very proudly-Hermanus.  The restaurant is open Mondays to Saturdays for dinner only initially, and can be booked at tel 028 313-1916.  

The Seafood at The Marine restaurant in Hermanus was a pleasant surprise earlier this week, when the most delicious kingklip was served.  The restaurant offers a choice of two courses at R 180 and 3 courses cost R 215.   A number of irritations on arrival – struggling to find the booking on the reservation list and a wobbly table – were sorted out when addressed, and the Relais & Chateaux crested butter arrived rock hard, so much so that it was unspreadable.  The restaurant has no ambiance, it being too brightly lit and it not having any attempt at a decor focus.  But the food cooks, and the hand of Executive Chef Peter Tempelhoff, a previous Eat Out Top Ten chef whilst at Grande Provence, is evident.  The biggest surprise was the presentation of three scoops of ice cream on a block of ice, serving a functional as well as an aesthetic role.   The whale-shaped biscuit served with the coffee, whilst not new, remains a cute and clever touch.   The service is friendly and willing, and a miscommunication between the waiter and the kitchen was quickly rectified.   No senior management was visible all evening.   The cloakrooms are most disappointing for a five-star hotel, and the owner Liz McGrath would do well to invest some monies in upgrading these at The Marine.

The speculation in a previous WhaleTales blog post that Ginja is to move to New Church Street (between Buitengracht and Kloofnek Roads), into the previous Relish and Nova restaurant space, has been confirmed by the EatOut website.  “Executive Chef Chris Erasmus will continue the Ginja legacy with his playful take on gastronomy, abundant with colour, texture and taste – using the finest local produce”, the website says. 

Allee Bleue in Franschhoek is hosting its first Sushi and wine-pairing evening on Friday 6 November, at R 195, with a miso soup and tempura prawn starter, and five main sushi courses, each paired with a different Allee Bleue wine.   The dessert is a green tea brulee.  Chef Dane Newton, previously at Chamonix, is known in Franschhoek for his sushi.    In addition to Allee Bleue’s Bistro, the new Winetasting Courtyard 5-item menu, and the scrumptious picnic baskets, a small beer garden menu is also available to be enjoyed with the Paulaner draught beer served at the lower end of the estate.

Jordan wine estate is opening its The Restaurant at Jordan on 21 November.   The e-mail sent to announce the opening looks amateurish, and is an instant turn-off, as one is asked to commit to the food one would like to eat on that day, and the exact time slot in which one would like to eat it in.  Payment must also be done by bank transfer prior to arrival.  For a weekend treat, a visit to a wine estate is enjoyed in leisurely fashion, without being so prescriptive!  George Jardine of Jardine is the new chef of the country restaurant.

Cafe’ Sofia is boldly advertising its seven branches (Green Point, Camps Bay, Sea Point, Rondebosch, Gardens, Greenside and Blouberg) in a striking half-page advertisement: “Come and experience our new 2010 menu, the best breakfast in town or Happy Hour Cocktails.  You may be in for a surprise”.  The Happy Hour cocktails are priced at R 25 for cocktails and R 15 for beer on tap between 17h00 – 19h00, while breakfasts range from R 19 – R 29. 

It was a food book launch week last week, with“Franschhoek Food”, written by Myrna Robbins, featuring the main chefs of Franschhoek’s restaurants, and some of their favourite restaurant menu recipes, as well as wine pairing suggestions.   “South Africa On a Plate” was also launched, a book featuring restaurants that deduct R 5 off the patron’s bill to go toward the Streetsmart charity.   A three-course dinner suggestion, with the recipes, is featured for each restaurant.   Grande Provence, Cafe’ 1999, Jewel of India, Auberge Michel, Ginga, Haiku, Rust en Vrede, Jardine, La Colombe, Ninth Avenue Bistro, Myoga, Mosaic, Bosman’s, Hartford House, Roots, The Saxon, Ile Maurice, and Terroir are some of the restaurants included in the book.   The inspiration for the book comes from Jess Meredith-Watts and his fiance’ Louise, who were touched by beggars on the streets, and felt that they could make a difference, by giving all the profits of the book sales to the Streetsmart charity.   More details about the book are available here.

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