I cannot remember when an Eat Out Awards event was so exciting in its Top 10 countdown, with so many surprise restaurants on this year’s list, reflecting how more daring the Eat Out judging team has become, no longer playing it safe, which is highly commended. Since Chef Margot Janse took over in heading the Eat Out Awards judging panel in 2018, she has been ruthless in her restaurant recognition, which we already noticed when Eat Out announced its Top 30 nomination shortlist for this year, in some of the top restaurants it excluded! Continue reading →
Each year I attempt a prediction of the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurants in South Africa, from the restaurant guide’s Top 30 nomination short list. Each year it seems to get more difficult to predict which restaurants will make the top of the grade, the new Head Judge Margot Janse pulling many surprise punches in her Top 10 List last year, and even this year in her Top 30 nominations list. On Sunday 17 November the Restaurant industry ‘Oscars’ will be presented to the Top 10 South African Restaurants at GrandWest. Continue reading →
Eat Out released its Top 30 shortlist for the 2019 Top 10 Restaurant Awards minutes ago. The biggest shock is that Chef Liam Tomlin’s Chefs Warehouse & Canteen has not been nominated! Just two years ago Eat Out awarded Tomlin the Chef of the Year Award!
When I first wrote that Chef Liam’s restaurant on Bree Street did not belong on the Eat Out Top 20 shortlist, when it was nominated for the first time four of five years ago, not conforming to the criteria for fine dining, Chef Liam denigrated me in Facebook and banned me from his restaurants! It seems that the new judging team at Eat Out has seen the light, and feels the same about it! Continue reading →
At the Eat Out Restaurant Awards 2017 this evening, held at GrandWest, some shock results stunned the restaurant industry. Eat Out continues its love affair with Chef Luke Dale-Roberts, with three of his four restaurants making the Top 10 Restaurant List, a spectacular achievement! The biggest shock was the spectacular slide of La Colombe, the restaurant which had all the opportunity to make the number one slot, but only making the seventh rank, a karmic reaction to the restaurant losing focus, opening too many restaurants, and getting involved in restaurant politics! Continue reading →
It has become a tradition for me to predict the Top 10 Eat Out Restaurant Awards, held at GrandWest later today. This year the Top 10 Award prediction is particularly difficult, as Eat Out has changed its procedure yet again, announcing a Top 30 Finalist List for the Awards this year! Fascinating in this year’s awards will be to see Chefs Luke Dale-Roberts and Liam Tomlin go head-on against each other with their four/three restaurants in the Awards, respectively! Continue reading →
It was a surprise to pick up that The Bakery @ Jordan, operated by Chef George Jardine and his staff for more than two years, will become part of the Jordan Tasting Room and that the Winery will operate its own Bakery from May onwards. Continue reading →
I was invited to attend the opening of The Good Bakery in Muizenberg yesterday by Robert of 6 Spin Street Restaurant, who had tried the bread of the new bakery earlier in the week, and had pronounced it to be excellent. The Good Bakery is focused on a small range of breads, which is baked from an unglamarous garage outlet alongside the railway line. It opened two weeks ago.
Martin Moessmer is the young enthusiastic owner of The Good Bakery, who worked at Jardine Restaurant as an apprentice pastry chef with George Jardine. He spent a year working in the kitchen at Murrayfield Golf Club in Scotland, then returned to South Africa to work at the restaurant at the Botanic Gardens in Pietermaritzburg, and cooked for a BBC crew that was filming in the Kruger National Park.
Martin enjoys baking bread, especially when he has had to endure the poor quality bread generally available in Cape Town. He never baked only one bread, but baked a number at a time, and realised that he is really good at it. His regular customers think so too, and his prices are extremely reasonable: 80 % and 100 % rye loaves cost R 15, ciabatta R 12, focaccia R 22, kitke R 18 and croissants R6 each. Martin supports organic and local products in the creation of his breads, and these include Eureka Mills Stone Ground unbleached wheat and rye, Khoisan salt, free range milk, and Cremelat or Ayrshire butter.
Martin will deliver, on arrangement, and he is working on distribution points in town, to make his breads accessable to Atlantic Seaboard and City Bowl customers.
While you are in Milner Street, do pop in at Kitch-Kombuis close to The Good Bakery – it serves excellent cappuccinos, homemade sandwiches, shortbread, apple tarts and many more treats, at Muizenberg prices!
The Good Bakery, 12 Milner Street, Muizenberg. Tel 074 174 5554. No website.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com
A Twitter friendship with co-owner Wilhelm Kuehn, and a challenge from him to visit the restaurant to do a review, was the reason for returning for a meal at Jardine Restaurant in the Cape Town city centre, after 18-months since the previous visit.
Jardine Restaurant makes me think that it is somewhat ‘schizophrenic’ – a fine-dining ex-Top 10 restaurant, which also has an informal take-away at its Jardine Bakery section, and an informal sit-down lunch at tables and benches outside the door on the pavement. Restaurant founder and co-owner George Jardine has opted out of city living, to start a new country restaurant on Jordan wine estate in Stellenbosch, and now only cooks at Jardine Restaurant “2 or 3 times a week”, I am told, but the restaurant still carries his name. Wilhelm tells me that Waterkloof and Tokara were alternate options George Jardine had evaluated for his new restaurant.
Jardine has handed over the chef reins to Eric Bulpitt, who has worked at the Winchester Mansions Hotel, The Showroom, Ledbury in London, and at Jardine Restaurant with George. Kuehn was a lawyer, and now is the General Manager, keeping a fine eye on things upstairs, walking the floor to check that all runs smoothly.
Jardine Restaurant had to face the humiliation of falling from 3rd place in the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant list of 2009 to between 12 – 20th place last November. One does not know if the judges felt that things had slipped, or because they felt that an award cannot go to a chef when he is not cooking there all the time any more – Jardine’s move to the winelands had been widely announced. Kuehn says the Top 10 award result last year created introspection, but Bulpitt’s new menu for the restaurant is drawing in regulars. I heard tourists, and recognised Howard Godfrey, MD of @home, as patrons, on an almost-full Thursday evening.
When one arrives one is met by Johan. I had not booked, but he made a plan to make a table available. I told him I would be out by 9 pm, but Jardine is not for fast in-and-out dining, mainly because the menu requires one to have a minimum of two courses, and I therefore only left after about two hours.
The downstairs section has never made an impact, and is set up as a bar and lounge. Upstairs the restaurant space has a central middle area, and tables against the windows, separate from the rest. It is not a particularly attractive space decor-wise, only a pop-art painting by Richard Scott on the far wall creating a splash of colour, one of a few artworks on the walls, coming from Worldart. A functional shelf holds functional cutlery holders and crockery. Close by, an old-fashioned cash register has an untidy collection of paperwork next to it. The tables have white tablecloths, and attractive and comfortable brown leather chairs. I sense a woman’s hand is lacking in the decor of the room (as I did at the Warwick tasting room recently) – all is very functional here. The chef and his kitchen crew of five work in a very small space, preparing each dish. Chef Eric is in the centre, finishing things off.
Wilhelm comes to chat and we talk about Twitter, other restaurant Twitterers, and the soon-to-open nearby Cookery School. A waitress brings the menu, printed on strong board, and it changes day by day. One chooses two (R 230) or three courses ( R 260), a 5 course chef’s menu (R 400) or a wine pairing menu (R350), the last two options not being explained by the waitress. A side salad is specified as costing R 45 extra, and other (unspecified) sides at R 35.
The menu choice was five starters and mains, and four desserts. The starters seemed esoteric (‘Evita and Princess figs’ -two varieties of figs, I was told and ‘vegetable patch’) or too fishy (oysters, mussels and salmon) for my taste. Main choices were line fish, Frazerburg lamb leg, seared Kroondal duck breast, rump, and grilled elf mushrooms.
An amuse bouche is served, almost over the top and ‘airy-fairy’, very foamy in general, and is meant to be an olive tapenade covered by a “tomato spoon” (missed the tomato taste), white pepper and a basil leaf. It is extremely light and aerated, and I am brought another because the air will have escaped while Wilhelm and I talk too much. I love duck, and was surprised when it was served – I call it “deconstructed”, with four little bits of duck, and little portions of “parfait en croute, celeriac, pomegranate and shallot” spread out on a wooden platter. The tiniest of tiny flowers, nuts and other ingredients are sprinkled across the plate. Had I not ordered a side of the most wonderful crunchy green beans sprinkled with flaked almonds, I would have still been hungry after the main course. The parfait is outstanding, the little that is offered.
The dessert options were chocolate torte, citrus tomato minestrone, pineapple souffle flambe, and a selection of South African cheeses (gorgonzola, camembert, labare-style cheese, ash-rind goat’s cheese and gruyere served with walnut toast and watermelon konfyt). The cheese platter, served on an extremely heavy granite slab, was an excellent choice, and was an enjoyable slow eat. It was decorated with the finest apple slices, always great with cheese, and slices of strawberry and raspberries, as well as nuts and blueberries.
The waitress was very efficient in explaining the menu items, but each item has so many components, that when the dish is brought to the table, one has long forgotten what exactly the chosen dish entails (Opal Lounge has the same problem). But the waitress was patient in running through the ingredients again. One irritation is the waitress offering her personal recommendation of the duck – I know that many restaurants do not allow their staff to eat the restaurant’s food, so I always reject such “recommendations”, as tastes do differ. I chose the duck, because I love duck, not because she recommended it.
The winelist is attractively presented in a brown leather cover, matching the chairs. It is an extensive list, separating bubblies, whites and reds, each sub-divided into varietals and blends, followed by two pages of mainly French and some Spanish wines. Wines by the glass are reasonably priced – a Villiera by-the-glass costs R 40, a Tribout R 120. A Jardine (made by Paradyskloof) Unwooded Chardonnay costs R 25, a Lammershoek Roulette Blanc R 40. The La Motte Millenium and Sterhuis cost R 45 each (for 125 ml). For the tasting menu one can order 60 ml portions of wines too. Billecart-Salmon champagne is served in various options, ranging from R 950 – R 7 000 a bottle. Two Graham Beck Cap Classiques cost R 410, the VIlliera R 190. Red wine options number 35, and range from R 95 for a MAN Shiraz to R 990 for a Muemve Raats De Compostella 2006; 27 white wine options range from the Jardine Unwooded Chardonnay at R 100 to R 780 for the Platter 2010 White Wine of the Year, the Sadie Palladius. French wines start at R 1 600 per bottle, to R 8 600 for a Chateau Lafitte-Rothschild 1995.
The sommelier Jaap-Henk Koelewijn is told that I have ordered a glass of La Motte Millenium 2007, and that I would like it poured at the table (I distrust wine-by-the glass service). Johan tells me that they have actually found a bottle of 2006 – what luck! Koelewijn comes to the table, does not show me the bottle, as I ask of him twice, and just carries on pouring the small portion. I ask him if I may not taste the wine. He retorts that he has done so already! There was no “hello, my name is Jaap, I am the sommelier, let me tell you some more about the La Motte Millenium…” from him. Why is that sommeliers have such attitude and arrogance (like at Bosman’s and Reubens in Franschhoek)? The minute I started the cheese platter, he was back to offer me another top-up of the wine or a port. No question was asked whether I had enjoyed the first glassful. The empty glass was probably taken to communicate that it was good! I had to ask for a cappuccino to accompany the coffee, as this was not offered as a beverage option.
The lunch menu changes regularly too, and that of 11 March had four starters (oysters and mussels as per the dinner menu) and two salads, 3 mains (line fish, rump and mushrooms, as per the dinner menu), and 3 desserts (chocolate torte and cheese as per the dinner menu). Here the prices look reasonable, and one can order per dish. The sums do not add up if you see the lunch prices for individual menu items, compared to paying for 2 or more dinner courses. Wilhelm says the lunch menu dishes are simpler.
If Wilhelm had not come to chat, I would have left without the “connection” to Jardine Restaurant. There is some very soft music, so soft that it is inaudible. It gets progressively hotter in the room, as the airconditioning is on but the windows are open, defeating the function of the aircons. A fan is brought from around the corner, and makes a difference.
Jardine Restaurant, corner Bree and Bloem Street, Cape Town. Tel (21) 424-5640. www.jardineonbree.co.za. Twitter @JardineCapetown. Open for dinner Monday – Saturday evenings, lunch is served Wednesdays – Fridays.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com
The “Taste of Cape Town” is in its third year, and its new location (it has had a different location every year) at the Rhodes High School in Mowbray is the best ever, with parking adjacent to the field on which the stands are set up. It is a wonderfully inexpensive and convenient way to taste one’s way through 19 of Cape Town’s, Franschhoek’s and Stellenbosch’s best (and some lesser good) restaurants.
Delegates at the S A Food Bloggers’ Conference received free entrance tickets to the “Taste of Cape Town” and only had to buy the crowns, which are the wine and food tasting currency. All wines and foods served cost between 4 – 8 crowns (R 20 – R 40).
With 18 restaurants present (as well as Camil’s serving oysters but being such a last minute stand it is not located with the other restaurants), it was not possible to taste all the dishes (each restaurant offered three choices in the main) at all the restaurant stands. My companion was our new Brazilian trainee Muriele Stefani, and we shared portions to allow us to taste a larger variety of foods:
* the highlight was Reuben’s prawn, rocket, yuzu dressing and wasabi cream, a mini-meal in itself, compared to the other stands, which mainly only served a piece of meat or fish without any other accompaniments. Impressively Reuben Riffel was in the makeshift “kitchen”, doing the hands-on preparation.
* Bistro Sixteen82, with chef Brad Ball, served a crispy panko crumbed fried crab, soft shell crab, with dressed pea shoots and smoked paprika aiolli
* Eric Bulpitt at Jardine Restaurant offered two very tasty Kroondal duck leg patties, which also contained pomegranate, celeriac, and walnut
* It was nice to meet hands-on Philip Carmichael from maze, who was taking orders rather than cooking. His peppered biltong consomme was the most attractive of all the dishes eaten, with a fried quail’s egg presented on top of the biltong consomme, with shaved biltong. The taste of the soup was disappointing, having a bean soup taste.
* At Nobu chef Hideki Maeda’s crispy pork belly with spicy miso was simply just that – nothing to distract from the compact dish.
* Grande Provence’s Darren Roberts served a ballantine of Elgin free-range chicken and lobster with white onion risotto. The lobster was nowhere to be seen, and gave the chicken a less-than-nice taste.
* From its name, Overture’s braised pig’s cheek, parsley pomme puree, carrots and gremolata was very popular, served by chef Craig Cormack. It was a very filling tasting portion.
* Overture’s chocolate mille-feuille and raspberry ice cream was a dreamy yet filling sweet end to a lovely tasting.
* A bonus was a chocolate cup filled with Nutella and topped with a cherry at the Southern Sun stand, with The Cullinan pastry chef Jean hand-making the lovely sweet treats at no charge. Macaroons and lemon meringue tartlets were also available for tasting.
Foodlovers will enjoy Pick ‘n Pay’s Fresh Living Chef’s Theatre, at which top chefs, including some of those with stands, do demonstrations, and Jenny Morris, the Giggling Gourmet, at the Checkers’ stand. The wine stands feel like “poor cousins”, receiving less attention than the restaurant stands, despite brands such as Hermanuspietersfontein, Thelema, Boschendal, Steenberg, Spier and many others being present.
What is lovely about the “Taste of Cape Town” is meeting up with other food and wine lovers. Some of the restaurant stands have a table and chairs, at which one can be lucky enough to sit to eat one’s tasting dish, and meet friends and acquaintances coming to the stand in this way. Reubens’ stand had its Franschhoek black-and-white checkered floor replicated as decor on one wall of the stand, and offered very comfortable white leather dining chairs.
Given the cooler weather, being wrapped up in a white blanket by a Heineken hunk at the end of the tasting and washing down all the lovely food with a Heineken was a lovely ending to a special evening.
Taste of Cape Town, Rhodes High School, off Klipfontein Road, Mowbray. Saturday 13h00 – 17h00, 18h30 – 22h30, and Sunday 12h00 – 17h00.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com