Tag Archives: Klein Genot

New Franschhoek Wine Valley Food and Wine Route puts Franschhoek restaurants and wine estates on the map

The Franschhoek Wine Valley (the new tourism body name, the “Tourism Association” part of the name recently having been dropped) Food & Wine Route has been launched to the media, and soon will be presented in a new map, that will reflect the wealth of 42 restaurants, 48 wine estates and 3 delis and shops that sell foodstuffs in and around Franschhoek. The new Food & Wine Route is a good marketing reaction to the increasing dominance of Stellenbosch as the new gourmet center of South Africa, and its large number of wine estates, even though the tourism association’s website still refers to Franschhoek as the “Gourmet Capital of South Africa”!

Last year we wrote about the Food & Wine Route when it was first announced, and from the initial information it appeared to have a broader focus initially.  Now the Route is more focused, and will incorporate mainly the restaurants and wine estates that are members of Franschhoek Wine Valley.   Interestingly, the geographic delineation of Franschhoek has been broadened to incorporate the wine estates and restaurants on the R45 between Klapmuts and Simondium, including Noble Hill, Backsberg, and Babel at Babylonstoren, on the basis that they have become members of the Franschhoek Wine Valley association, even if they fall under the Paarl wine district.   Strangely, Glen Carlou has not chosen to be part of the Franschhoek Food & Wine Route, it being one of the first properties one passes when driving to Franschhoek on the R45.

Tania Steyn, the Marketing Manager of Franschhoek Wine Valley, explained that this new project consists of two parts.  The first is the Food & Wine Route map, in A3 size, which will list all the restaurants and wine estates, the one side featuring those in the village, and the other side those that are outside Franschhoek.   The Food & Wine Route map will replace the most handy Franschhoek Wine map, which guest houses and their guests have found to be useful in highlighting all the Vigneron members in Franschhoek.  The second part of the project is an e-commerce platform for specific Food and Wine Route Experiences, that one cannot visit spontaneously without a booking.  The bookings will be made on the website, and it is hoped that visitors to Franschhoek will book a number of such experiences, and will therefore stay in the area for longer.

The wine estates on the new Franschhoek Wine Valley Food & Wine Route are Akkerdal, Allèe Bleue, Anthonij Rupert Wines (L’Ormarins and Protea brands, and home of the outstanding Motor Museum), Backsberg, Boekenhoutskloof, Boschendal Wines, Chamonix, Colmant Cap Classique & Champagne, Dieu Donnè Vineyards, Franschhoek Cellar, Glenwood, Graham Beck Franschhoek, Grande Provence Estate, Haute Cabriere (with Pierre Jourdan sparkling wines), Holden Manz (previously Klein Genot), La Bri, La Chataigne, La Motte (with Pierneef art gallery), La Petite Dauphine, La Petite Ferme, La Manoir de Brendel, Leopard’s Leap, Lynx Wines, Maison, Mont Rochelle, Moreson, My Wyn, Noble Hill, Plaisir de Merle, Rickety Bridge, Solms-Delta (with interesting slave museum), Stony Brook, Topiary Wines (newest Platter 5-star sparkling wine in Franschhoek), Val de Vie, and Vrede & Lust.   These wine estates can be visited without appointment.

Those estates for which one must book a winetasting are Eikehof, Franschhoek Pass Winery (Morena sparkling wine), Haut Espoir, La Bourgogne, La Roche estate, La Vigne, Landau du Val, Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons and Von Ortloff.  Bellingham Wines, Klein Dauphine, La Chaumière and Veraison Vineyards are not open to the public at all, but their wines can be bought at the highly regarded Franschhoek wine shop La Cotte Inn on the main road in the village.

The Franschhoek restaurants and food outlets on the Food & Wine Route are Allora, Babel at Babylonstoren, Backsberg, Boschendal Restaurant, Boschendal Le Café and Boschendal Le Pique-Nique, Bread & Wine, Café Allèe Bleue, Cafè BonBon, Col’Cacchio Pizzeria, Cosecha Restaurant at Noble Hill, Dalewood Fromage (but not open to the public), Dieu Donnè Restaurant, Dutch East, Elephant & Barrel, Essence, Fizz Affair Champagne Lounge, Franschhoek Kitchen at Holden Manz, Freedom Hill Restaurant, Fyndraai Restaurant at Solms-Delta, The Restaurant at Grande Provence, Haute Cabrière, Huguenot Fine Chocolates, Kalfi’s, Fromages de France (La Cotte Inn),  Le Bon Vivant, Dish @ Le Franschhoek, Le Verger The Orchard Restaurant (Le Franschhoek Hotel), The Common Room, The Tasting Room,  L’Ermitage Restaurant, Mon Plaisir at Chamonix, Mange Tout, Monneaux, Reuben’s, Rickety Bridge, Ryan’s Kitchen, Salmon Bar, The Country Kitchen, The French Connection, The Grill Room, The Jam Jar, The Olive Shack, and The Polo Club Restaurant (at La Vie). Oddly, Pierneef à La Motte is not listed, and one hopes this is just an oversight.   Other missing restaurants are Café Benedict, BICCCS, Chez D’Or, Cotage Fromage at Vrede & Lust, Crepe & Cidre, Café Le Chocolatier, Café des Arts, and the Franschhoek Food Emporium.

The Franschhoek Food & Wine Route Experiences which one can book include the following:

*   Solms-Delta Cape Music Tour, teaching participants about “Cape rural and vernacular music”. R 50 (minimum of 6 persons).  Monday – Sunday.

*   Plaisir de Merle “Award-winning wines wine tasting”. R 20, and R40 if cellar tour added. Monday – Saturday

Plaisir de Merle Flavour Sensation Tasting, food and wine pairing. R 50.  Monday – Saturday

*   Plaisir de Merle Wine & Chocolate Tasting. R 50. Monday – Saturday

*   Charcuterie Tasting with Neil Jewell. R 25 – R105. Daily before 11h00 and after 15h30

*   Franschhoek Cellar Cheese and Wine pairing. R 35.  Daily

*   Huguenot Fine Chocolates Chocolate Tour and Tasting. R 25.  Daily 11h00 and 15h00

*   Chamonix Grappa & Schnapps Tasting. R15.  Daily

*   Dieu Donné Micro-brewery and beer tasting. R15 beer tasting and R 35 for full bewery talk and tasters.  Daily

*   Babylonstoren Guided Garden Visit. R 20, Wednesday – Sunday 10h00 and 15h00.

*   Le Bon Vivant Surprise Menu. R 485 for 5-course meal and wine, R360 without wine. Daily except Wednesdays.

*   Food and wine pairing at Pierneef à La Motte. R 195 for 5 pairings, extra R 50 for glass of La Motte MCC. Tuesday – Sunday 12h00 – 14h00.

*   Cape Gourmet Delights Tour, with stops at Grande Provence, Moreson and Vrede & Lust. R1995 per day includes “light lunch”. 10 persons maximum.  Monday – Friday.

A walking tour as well as a talk on ceramics are part of this programme, but seem out of place in not having anything to do with Wine or Food.

One hopes that the Franschhoek Wine Valley Food & Wine Route map will indicate which wine estates, food shops and restaurants sell foods, such as the vegetables, breads and chocolates at the Farm Shop at Pierneef à La Motte; salmon products and breads at the Salmon Bar; the Mediterranean delicacies at The Olive Shack; wonderful freshly baked wholewheat bread at Grande Provence; breads and sweet treats at Café BonBon and Café Benedict; olive oils and balsamic vinegar at Allèe Bleue; heavenly chocolates as well as breads at Café Le Chocolatier; Truckles cheeses at Franschhoek Cellar; and a selection of home-made pies, preserves, dips, cold meats and breads at the new Franschhoek Food Emporium.   It would be good if the fortnightly Farmers’ Market at Holden Manz also be listed.

We salute the Franschhoek Wine Valley for putting together this initiative, and trust that the Food & Wine Route map will be finalised and printed as soon as possible, given that the summer season ends in two months’ time.   We encourage Franschhoek Wine Valley to add the names of the omitted Franschhoek restaurants, by encouraging them to sign up as members, so that the map can be as representative of the food and wine delights in Franschhoek as possible.

POSTSCRIPT 22/4: The new Franschhoek Wine Valley Food & Wine Route maps have been made available, and can be collected from the Franschhoek Tourism Bureau, or from Whale Cottage Franschhoek.  Oddly, it lists the two Pick ‘n Pays too, under the ‘Franschhoek Restaurants & Food section”.  Following our recommendation above, the Franschhoek Food Emporium was added, but Café Le Chocolatier, Café Benedict, BICCCS, Chez d’Or, Cotage Fromage, Crepe et Cidre, Café des Arts, and the new Le Coq are not on the map.  Other sources of food to buy, as listed two paragraphs above, are not indicated on the map.

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

Restaurant Review: Franschhoek Kitchen refreshingly new!

Inquisitiveness led me to one of Franschhoek’s newest restaurants, the Franschhoek Kitchen, which opened three months ago, on the recently renamed Holden Manz Wine Estate.   I had not seen anything written about it nor heard anyone recommend it yet.  Despite the incredibly hot 42°C day, I was impressed with the refreshing approach to the restaurant, and its chef Bjorn Dingemans. 

The restaurant was previously called Genot, which had been built on the Klein Genot wine estate.  The estate had belonged to Angie and Joey Diamond, but they had to hastily sell by auction last year.  Surprisingly from a marketing perspective, the new owners have decided to change the brand name to Holden Manz, and even the Klein Genot wines will be rebranded in future.   Information about the new owners Migo Manz and Gerard Holden is scant from the staff, saying they are international businessmen.  They are about to open a contemporary African art gallery on the main road in Franschhoek.  The restaurant is into its third phase – it had opened originally under the eye of Bertus Basson from Overture and his colleague Mark.   They withdrew after a year when they did not make money there.  Then Angie Diamond tried to do her own Baia-meets-Franschhoek fish restaurant, which did not succeed either.  Now it has a new chef and a new name, with some of the old staff.

On the surface little has changed.  Branding off the Huguenot Monument Road refers to Klein Genot on the brown provincial signage, but once one reaches one’s destination, the new elephant-themed Holden Manz branding is visible on signage boards and flags.   The security is new, with one half of the narrow gate closed, which means that no one can enter nor leave, even worse so if cars arrive simultaneously from both directions, as happened when I visited.   When I spoke to the security guard, he was very defensive, and said he was busy with paperwork in his security hut.   Not a good welcome, with a wait in the Franschhoek heat.   I became even more nervous when I saw only one car parked outside the cellar and restaurant, and more so when I saw them sitting outside, and not in the restaurant upstairs.   I received an unplanned shower from two sprinklers, which were watering the vines on the way to the restaurant.  

A person looking like a Restaurant Manager asked if I wanted a booking.  However, I had called and made a reservation two days before, and found it odd that he did not seem to know about it, especially as there were no other guests!   He never introduced himself, nor came to speak to me.  I was seated outside, and it probably was a mistake, as the fans on the terrace just circulated the already very hot air.  But Chef Bjorn came to the table when I asked some questions which the waiter Lorenzo could not answer.   He indicated immediately that he knew who I was, as he follows bloggers!   We had never met, and he came to Franschhoek from the UK.   He exuded confidence, told me he grew up in Somerset West, trained at the Greenhouse at the Cellars Hohenhort, and then worked at Soho House in Babington, under Chef Ronnie Bonetti, who used to be the Head Chef at the River Café.  He told me that he has a patch of land behind the restaurant in which he can plant his vegetable and herb requirements, making him self-sufficient up to 80 % of his fresh produce requirements.  Salmon is sourced from the trout farm close by.  On Holden Manz he also has access to figs, peaches, grapes, apples and pears, which he can use in his dishes, and he proudly told me that he makes his own chutney.   He has free reign in terms of his menu and kitchen, and changes his lunch and his dinner menu daily, hence it is printed on paper.   The menu is introduced with “please ask us for the provenance of produce & seasonal offerings, we aim to source only organic and local food”.  It ends as follows: “fruits, vegetable & herbs are sourced from our gardens when in season”.  (The menu on the website is very similar to the one I received on Thursday, which means that only one or two items are changed daily).

As far as the decor goes, nothing inside the restaurant has been changed by the new owners – the chandeliers, the purple upholstered chairs around one table (the others are covered with a more subtle beige velvet) and two couches on one side.  The Kitchen is massive, and is open to the patrons to see from their tables.

The view from the restaurant terrace is onto the wine estate’s vineyards and the Franschhoek mountains in the background.   Tables are laid with good quality napery, and contemporary cutlery.  The waiter brought an attractive looking dish with fresh rosa tomatoes from the garden, mixed olive oil and balsamic, and ground salt and pepper.  A very crispy ciabatta was brought to the table, and I had to stop the waiter when he wanted to serve a second slice of the lovely bread.   I started with the Smoked salmon, rosa tomatoes and asparagus salad, beautifully presented and perfect for the hot day (R60).  Other starters that day were tomato, buffalo mozzarella and garden basil salad (R55); soup (R45); beef carpaccio, rocket and parmesan R(60);  grilled squid (R55); and sea bass carpaccio (R55).  Two persons can share an antipasti platter with cured meats, olives, mozzarella, tomatoes, spinach and grilled bread, good value at R75.   It was too hot for a main course, although I was tempted by the prawns and asparagus dish (R160), and will come back to try it.  Other main courses cost under R100, for a pasta of the day, angel fish, and linefish.  Duck breast costs R125, steak R100 for ribeye, and R135 for fillet; lamb chops cost R145.

I loved the description by Chef Bjorn of his Messy Martini dessert, served in a martini glass, with crumbed meringue, fresh cream, blueberries, strawberries and sprinkled with chopped nuts (R40), a steal at the price and a refreshing end to a surprisingly successful meal.  Other dessert options cost R45 for chocolate pot, lemon tart, and a cheese platter.

The winelist is also printed on paper, and Klein Genot wines feature in all varieties offered, and is the only brand served by the glass, except for the sparkling wine, which is by Pierre Jourdan, at R42 (R170) for a glass of Brut and R59 (R235) for the Belle Rose.   A small selection of no more than three brands is offered per variety.  Only the Klein Genot vintages are supplied, not those of the other brands.   No information about the region of origin is provided.   Other than the Klein Genot 2007 Shiraz (R57/R170), Heron Ridge (R120) and Kevin Arnold’s (R395) Shiraz are sold. 

The Franschhoek Kitchen was a breath of fresh (but hot) air, and I will certainly return, to see what Chef Bjorn has up his sleeve next.  He is planning classic movie nights on Wednesdays, accompanied by a three-course meal.  I wish him and the owners more business, as it felt extravagant to have the chef prepare the meal for me alone, but I did not complain!   I was impressed that the sprinklers had been switched off when I went back to my car, and that the security guard had the gate open for me when I left!

POSTSCRIPT: 11/1  I returned to Holden Manz for the Farmer’s Market last Saturday, which was not a typical representation of the foods which are normally available at the fortnightly markets, I was told.   Tonight I went for dinner with my nephew, and had a Caprese salad, with fresh rosa tomatoes and tender basil, served with a rich Buffalo Mozzarella, as a starter, and the prawns and asparagus for the main course.   I would have preferred the prawns to be deshelled, and had to ask for a finger bowl.   The sprinklers were set on a lower level, but still wet the pathway to the car.  The responsiveness by the security staff at the gate could be faster.   The restaurant has received a number of bookings since this review was published on Saturday, Chef Bjorn said proudly.  Now that I know the name of the Manager Martin, he is more responsive, and less introverted.   Chef Bjorn will also take over the Blog and start a Twitter account for Franschhoek Kitchen.

POSTSCRIPT 18/1:  I returned to Franschhoek Kitchen with two Whale Cottage Managers this evening, and all three of us had the linefish – Carole and I both chose the kingklip, served with baby potatoes, asparagus and the freshest Rosa tomatoes from the Holden Manz garden (R90).  Marianna had the sea bass, and found its taste ‘wilder’.   The kingklip was a generous and juicy portion, outstanding in preparation.  Chef Bjorn spoilt us with a platter of wonderful ham and salmon, mozzarella, greens, and olives, served with toasted ciabatta.   For dessert he sent us trial portions of new desserts that have been added to the menu – a brandy panacotta and a white chocolate mousse, the latter being an especially big hit, indulgently tasting a little like cookie batter with a soft meringue topping.    We had a wonderful evening, impressed even more by Chef Bjorn’s cuisine.   When one eats at Franschhoek Kitchen, one gets a glass of Klein Genot Rosé for free with the meal.

POSTSCRIPT 23/4: I returned to the Franschhoek Kitchen on a cold Easter weekend evening, and enjoyed the cosiness of the fire in the restaurant, as well as the good winter-style food prepared by Chef Bjorn Dingemans – wild mushroom and white truffle risotto starter, pork neck stuffed with sage and apple, and a selection of the desserts, including new pastry chef Stuart’s carrot cake, and poached pear and vanilla cream cheese, which the chef sent to the table.  It is good to hear that lunches are getting busy at the restaurant.  Evenings are still quiet, but guests can be collected from guest houses by the Holden Manz shuttle.

POSTSCRIPT 7/8:  Last night I enjoyed one of the Fondue is Fun evenings at Franschhoek Kitchen, which have been a sell-out success since they were introduced earlier this winter.  A fondue pot with boiling oil was set in the centre of the table, and surrounding it was a collection of glass jars, containing fish, chicken, beef strips and prawns, and bowls of boiled potato pieces and crumbed mushrooms.  Sauces one could dip the meat and vegetables into before cooking them were a champagne batter, sweet chilli sauce, and jus.  A collection of spices was also available for dusting one’s fondue items: cajun, fish and vegetable spice.  Delicious crispy bread was available.   We were offered a glass of new Holden Manz port, in an elegant glass.  The fun really started when all the diners were divided into groups, and wine manager Guy Kedian became the quiz-master, testing the Trivial Pursuit knowledge of all present.  Correct answers were rewarded with a point, and for each incorrect answer, the team lost a point.  This brain-taxing exercise was followed by a wonderful Lindt chocolate fondue, with which was served pieces of fruit, Brownies and donuts, all delicious when dipped into the chocolate.  Everyone had a wonderful fun evening.  Further Fondue is Fun evenings this month take place on 17 and 27 August, and cost R150, excluding drinks.

Franschhoek Kitchen, Holden Manz Wine Estate,  Green Valley Road, Franschhoek.   Tel (021) 876- 2729.  www.holdenmanz.com. (The website contains the menu, still lists the festive season specials, and has a small gallery of only interior shots, with no food shots.   A blog has been started, with only three posts to date).  Open Tuesday – Saturday 10h00 – 22h00, and on Sundays 10h00 – 15h00. (The menu says: “sunday is family day – slow cooked lunch or braai”).  No Breakfast is served, only lunch and dinner (the website says Breakfast is served every second Saturday when they host the Farmer’s Market, contrary to the waiter’s information).   Picnics are also offered.

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

Restaurant Review: Dutch East not Dutch, nor Eastern, nor a ‘culinary jewel’!

Of all the restaurants that I have visited and reviewed, newly opened Dutch East in Franschhoek has been one of the most difficult to come to grips with, to categorise and to review.   It appears to not have a focus, and to be all over the place in terms of what it wants to achieve.

When we spoke to co-owner Sainkie du Toit, the front-of-house manager, she immediately emphasised the South African nature of the restaurant, but with an Eastern touch.  We could not see the “Eastern” touch at all, and in fact there was little South African about it, except for a BBQ one can order, as well as offal.   Sainkie tried to correct herself, and referred us to the menu, in which the restaurant describes itself as “contemporary, with a South African influence and an Asian touch”, and “Fresh local ingredients infused with eastern flavour combinations”.  Our party of three could not see the Asian, South African nor contemporary descriptions in the menu items at all.  However, the menu had some French names, and a “chimichurri relish”, which is South American, is served with the squid starter.  Sainkie could not explain how they had got to the name, or why they chose the name out of about 40 options.

The problem is the menu.  I’m all for creativity and doing things differently, but when a new restaurant sets itself up in a space of a restaurant that was frowned upon by many of the locals (Burgundy), one cannot move too quickly or too radically until one has a following.  It was the grouping of the menu items that caused the biggest challenge, with headings for “raw” (e.g. steak tartar, seared tuna, shaved salmon, springbok tataki), “small” (curried eggs, meat balls, “black lip abalone” and grilled scallops), “breads” (tortilla with duck, pizza, baguette – served at lunch only), “cured” (biltong sirloin, kudu carpaccio, coppa, smoked trout and more), “offal” (veal tongue, lamb’s head “tourchon”, oxtail, and pork trotter), “meat” (hangar steak, lamb shoulder, pork belly, quail and rib eye), and “fish and shellfish” (kingklip, crayfish with Cafe de Paris, tiger prawns).   One can even order a “BBQ”, serving a whole sheep’s rib, game sausage, and the unmissable toasted cheese, tomato and onion sandwich, and a salad.  A minimum of 6 guests must order this South African “braai” dish for it to be prepared, it costs R130 per head, and it must be booked in advance.  “Sweets” are the apple crepe, fried milk tart, brulee, and Swiss chocolate fondant.

We could not get to choose what we liked, so we looked at the Winter Special menu, which is charged at R150 for three courses and a glass of Protea shiraz or sauvignon blanc (made by Anthonij Rupert Wines).   We made sure that we all chose a different combination of dishes, to give us nine opportunities to try them.   What is confusing is that the Winter special menu has prices for each individual dish, even though one can only order from it for the three courses, at the total price of R150. 

Our waitress Nolundi had a lovely smile, and also could not explain the essence of the menu to us before Sainkie came to the table, stating that the restaurant serves, “afval, raw meat and game meat”.   This was a bad start for us.   She said the wine came from “Reuben”, but not the restaurant Reuben, she said, meaning Rupert.   

The wine list is very ‘proudly Franschhoek’, almost every wine estate being represented, probably making it one of the most comprehensive Franschhoek wine lists: Graham Beck, Rickety Bridge, L’Omarins, Glenwood, Rupert & Rothschild, Porcupine Ridge, Stonybrook, Boekenhoutskloof, Grand Provence, Landau du Val, Solms Delta, Lynx, Haut Espoir, Haute Cabriere, Chamonix, Klein Dauphine, La Bri, Vrede & Lust, Klein Genot, Bellingham, Eikehof, and Pierre Jourdan.  The list contains a few typing errors.   What was unusual was to lable the sparkling wines as “bubblies” and the Rose’s as “blushes”.

We were served three tiny slices of garlic and herb pizza while we decided on our order.  The pizza slices were over-salted, and contained onion, and spoilt the palette for what was to come.   The water took a long time to come to the table as they had run out of jugs (the restaurant was half full).   Our starters arrived almost immediately:  the spinach soup arrived lukewarm and was terribly bland, but the parmesan-topped bread was very tasty.   The squid came in a soup plate with a lot of liquid, but was not described as a soup.  The idea of ‘pairing’ this with red pepper and yellow pepper was probably meant to be a good one, in that it would have added colour to the dish – the problem was that the red pepper was hidden by the 6 tiny tubes of calamari, and the yellow pepper was so overcooked that it became a brown ‘something’ on top of the calamari, and was initially unidentifiable until one tasted it.   The calamari dish had a distinct taste of nutmeg, not a good match in my opinion.  The “spring rolls” were served as three samoosas, and were not served with the advertised salsa, but with bits of paw paw, cucumber, onion and tomato and lots of rocket.  When we asked Sainkie about the spring rolls, she apologised, saying that the kitchen staff had rolled the spring rolls into the wrong shape.

None of us was happy with the starters, and we asked our waitress to relay this to the kitchen.  There was no response from Sainkie about the feedback, and she seemed to steer clear of our table thereafter.  We were nervous about our mains, but we fared far better.   The gemsbok steak was cut into slices, and was tender.  It was such a large portion that I had to ask to take half of it home.   The spinach was perfect, and the “potato mash” was served as if it was a whole potato.   The Venison pot au feu was very tender, and came with dumplings, underneath a pastry layer.   The lamb’s tail was bravely chosen by my colleague, and served  “barbequed”, making it quite black, too burnt for the taste of our Brazilian trainee.   The lamb was served with more rocket, polenta mixed with sweetcorn, and “Sauce Gebriche”, an odd mayonnaise sauce with boiled egg and pickled cucumber.  When we checked with Sainkie, she went to the kitchen to find out for us for sure – she returned with the news that there was anchovy in it too, but my sharp-tasting colleague could not detect this at all.

The desserts had mixed reactions.  The rhubarb, strawberry and custard dessert, on a bread base, was a compressed stack served with plum sherbet, which needed some extra cream or custard, as it is very dry.     Poached pears were served in a soup plate with rooibos sultanas, in a ginger cinnamon broth, far too weak to allow one to get a clear taste of the ingredients.  Once again, we felt that the fruit should have come with custard or cream.   As the Winter specials menu only had two options for desserts, I requested an apple crepe dessert from the main menu, and offered to pay in the difference of R10.   It was very tasty and a generous portion, with caramelised apple and raisin, and vanilla ice cream.   The first cappuccino was not frothy and had spilled over the side, but was quickly replaced with a great frothy one in a clean cup, when requested.  

Sainkie admitted that co-owner and chef Pasch du Plooy (previously at Reubens, L’ermitage and Bouillabaisse) was not on duty, and this appeared to explain the poor quality of many aspects of our meal, and the kitchen mistakes.   We pointed out to her the chipped candleholder on our table.   She said that she knew about it, but that she had not been able to find a replacement.   We advised her to have none at all rather than one with two chips in it.   We also advised Sainkie to reflect the restaurants dishes in the Winter special menu, so that one can get a taste for them, especially as it is such a complex menu, and she admitted that it had been a mistake in their May special menu to not have done so.  Sainkie and Pasch are both graduates of the highly regarded Institute of Culinary Arts Chef’s School  in Stellenbosch, and met each other there.  The raw facebrick interior and exterior of the restaurant are the same as the previous restaurant, with only a name change.

Without being asked, Sainkie discounted the meal by R 72,45 on our total bill of what should have been R488 in total, for 3 meals, one tea, the cappuccino and the dessert surcharge, a reduction of 15%.   Sainkie invited me to come back to try the standard menu as the guest of the restaurant when I return to Franschhoek.   The bill is confusing, in that each of the items of the Winter Special menu is charged individually, and almost every item, even the mains, were charged at R 50 a dish, even though one pays R 150 for the meal and the glass of wine in total.

The website states boldly :”Authentic and inspiring, DUTCH EAST is a culinary jewel in the heart of Franschhoek’s iconic main street”.  We believe that Dutch East has a long way to go before it can make this claim!

Dutch East,  42 Huguenot Street, Franschhoek.  Tel 021 876-3547. www.dutcheast.co.za (The website has irritating photographs flashing, if one does not click onto a specific website page, when one first opens it.  It commendably does carry a lot of information, unusual for restaurant websites in general, but irritatingly does not list prices for its dishes and wine list).  Open 7 days a week, lunch and dinner.  Corkage R30.

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

More restaurant openings bubbling under

More restaurant opening and movement news continues to reach WhaleTales.

Klein Genot is ending its relationship with Mark Radnay, of the Overture partnership with Top 10 chef Bertus Basson, after a one-year marriage, due to the restaurant not being financially viable, says Basson.   Angie Diamond, the owner of the luxury 5-star Klein Genot boutique hotel and winery called WhaleTales to say that she is taking over the Genot restaurant, with a name refinement to Genot Restaurant Cigar Bar, from 1 November, and is celebrating the opening with a Frank Sinatra tribute evening on 5 November, and a jazz evening on 6 November.    Diamond says her new restaurant model is Baia, the upmarket seafood restaurant in the V & A Waterfront, but at far reduced prices.  Starters range in price from R 38 for sardines to R 68 for parma ham and melon, with mussel and prawn starters costing R 58.   Salads average R 48, and the fish main courses range between R 78 for the calamari and sole to R 98 for baby kingklip.   Meat dishes range from R 78 for a spatchcock chicken to R 138 for rack of lamb. Pasta dishes are available at R 48 – 58, and desserts cost R 48 each.  Live music will be offered on Friday and Saturday evenings.   The restaurant is also offering a new service to guest houses, with complimentary transfers to the restaurant.   Genot is also offering picnic baskets, to be enjoyed at 20 picnic spots along the riverbank of the wine estate.

Overture restaurant on the Hidden Valley wine estate outside Stellenbosch is going from strength to strength, and chef Bertus Basson says a younger more affluent clientele is booking at the restaurant.   A sommelier starts at Overture at the beginning of October.   The sister catering company has been awarded the catering for all events at Lourensford, and will be moving its operation to the Somerset West wine estate.

Chef Bruce Robertson has revealed that two of his current restaurant consulting projects are for two hotels managed by Queensgate Holdings.  The Upper East Side Hotel is opening as a 4-star conference hotel in Woodstock in May 2010, and Robertson is setting up a 260-seater restaurant and kitchen.   He is also setting up the 160-seater restaurant and kitchen for the hotel Queensgate is opening in Pearl House on Adderley Street,   Furthermore, Robertson is setting up a gourmet picnic service at Warwick Estate in November, according to a recent tweet from Mike Ratcliffe (“Gourmet picnic project with Chef Bruce Robertson taking shape”).   About the Franschhoek restaurant that he is helping to set up, Robertson is staying mum, only revealing that it is on a wine estate.   Robertson has also become a gourmet tour guide, and has teamed up with Bon Appetit magazine and Ryan Hilton from AdmiralityTravel to bring tour groups from the USA to South Africa, with Robertson taking them to unusual gourmet highlights, including slowfood, outstanding herb gardens, wine biodiversity, and cooking for his guests.

More than seventy restaurants received 2010 American Express Platinum Fine Dining Awards this month, 13 of these going to new restaurants winners, reports TravelWires.   The new restaurant winners in the Western Cape include Bizerca, Gold, Salt, The Pavilion in Hermanus, Grande Provence, and Rust en Vrede.  Those from other parts of the country, receiving the Awards for the first time, include Mastrantonio, Osteria Tre Nonni, Sel et Poivre, Harvey’s, Roma Revolving Restaurant, and Orange.   The Award winners are judged on the basis of cuisine, service, wine list, decor, ambiance and overall excellence and consistency.   Standards are checked regularly, says American Express.

The Caviar Group of restaurants, which already includes Beluga and Sevruga, as well as the Caviar deli in the V & A Waterfront, is opening its first non-caviar named restaurant, to be called Blonde.   Its newsletter is keeping the location of the new restaurant a secret, but hints at the decor and style as follows:  it will be a 120-seater restaurant offering ‘fine-dining cuisine’, and will only be open in the evenings.  It is in a Victorian building, it has a ‘seductive interior of bar and lounge’, it has ‘couches covered in rich fabrics, the gorgeous wooden floors and high ceilings, to the crisp white linen, designer chairs, beautiful staircase, and romantic balcony”  They gush on : “One thing’s for sure.  Blonde will be in a class of its own.   We love Blonde!”   It refers one to the website www.blondedining.co.za for more information, but there is none!  Caviar’s design agency Malossol has tweeted on Twitter that they are currently designing a Caviar “group menu”, which means that Blonde could be opening soon.

Ginja restaurant, currently located off Buitengracht Street, in a building which has not benefited the image of the restaurant, and once a national top 10 restaurant, is said to move to the building in which Nova restaurant was, on New Union Street in the City Bowl.

George Jardine of Jardines is said to be opening the new restaurant on Jordan Wine Estate in Stellenbosch, and to be moving to the Winelands, for a lifestyle change.

Allee Bleue’s plans to open a fine dining restaurant lower down on the Franschhoek estate appear to be on ice, due to the economic climate.   However, construction work on its second informal restaurant linked to its wine tasting venue, adjacent to the security entrance, is almost complete.

Few details are available about the restaurant which is opening at La Motte wine estate. About ten days ago Hein Koegelenberg, the owner, posted the following blog post: “Construction of La Motte’s restaurant and art gallery is coming along nicely on the grounds of the estate in Franschhoek….A bridge will connect the restaurant and the tasting room.  Whilst the team …is working hard to build the structure, other teams are equally busy to make sure that the restaurant and gallery are going to be world class and offer unforgettable experiences”. 

Reuben and Maryke Riffel’s baby daughter Latika was born last Monday.   Congratulations go to them from all at Whale Cottage.

DoppioZero in Main Road, Green Point, has an impressive decor, with the luxury of space.  It has opened a bakery in the restaurant, with breads, rolls, croissants, cakes and other sweet treats for sale.   The franchisor was hands-on in the restaurant last weekend, serving customers, and checking customer satisfaction, to ensure the success of this newest restaurant in the franchise chain, having opened less than 2 weeks ago.   An interesting and clever service offered by the restaurant is a “mess-bib”, Doppio branded, which is put around patrons eating pasta or any dishes with a sauce.

New restaurant Le Tique opens in the Sugar Hotel on Main Road in Green Point tomorrow.   Restaurant-lovers can pay R 250 each to attend the opening.  “Entice yourself with the finest gourmet from the earliest renaissance, contemporary twisted, French with a hint of European Influences. Featuring South Africa’s Finest Venison.  Platinum wines of this worlds, proudly South African viticulture. Bellini’s & cocktails to lure your fantasies” is the copy contained in the invitation.

Basil O’Hagan, whose O’Hagan’s pub chain was liquidated 8 years ago, is reinventing himself and has launched a new pub and restaurant chain called Brazen Head, with 23 pubs planned for the greater Cape Town area in the next ten years, including the city center, Hermanus, Paarl, Somerset West, George, Knysna, and Tygervalley.   An outlet is already trading in Stellenbosch, reports Cape Business News, and other Brazen Head pubs are already operating in Gauteng.

Bukhara was to have re-opened its restaurant in Burg Street, but the person answering the call yesterday said that there is no opening date in sight yet, it probably being another 2 – 3 weeks.   Bukhara is doing renovations and repairwork after a fire caused damage in the restaurant some time ago.   A restricted Bukhara menu is available at Haiku, the sister restaurant downstairs from Bukhara.

Late casualties of the credit crunch are Aqua D’or and the Franschhoek Water Company, both of which have closed down.  The Franschhoek Water Company was the supplier of the L’Aubade and Franschhoek mineral water brands.  Earlier this year the Franschhoek Water Company had handed over the distribution of its water brands to Aqua D’or, but took the distribution back when customers complained about the poor service from Aqua D’or. NOTE: SINCE THIS POST WAS WRITTEN, AQUAD’OR HAVE CONTACTED WHALETALES TO DENY THEIR CLOSURE.  THE INFORMATION OF THE CLOSURE WAS INDUSTRY TALK, AND WHEN THE COMPANY WAS CALLED FOR CONFIRMATION, THE SALES AND ADMIN DEPARTMENT LINES JUST RANG, WHICH WAS TAKEN AS A CONFIRMATION OF THE CLOSURE OF THE COMPANY.  EARLIER THIS YEAR AQUA D’OR FACED PROVISIONAL LIQUIDATION.   WE APOLOGISE TO AQUA D’OR FOR ANY INCONVENIENCE WHICH THIS POST MAY HAVE CREATED.

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

Stellenbosch takes over Gourmet crown

Three Stellenbosch restaurants have made the 2009 Prudential Eat Out Top Ten restaurant list, being Overture, Rust en Vrede and Terroir.   The first two restaurants are new entrants to the top ten list.     

The Stellenbosch success is at the expense of Franschhoek, which retains only one restaurant on the top ten list, being the Tasting Room at Le Quartier Francais,  slipping from top position last year to 7th place this year.     Franschhoek’s Grand Provence and Bread & Wine, on the top ten list last year, fell off the top list, with the former falling off the top twenty list.    Reubens did not manage to make the top ten list, but was on the top 20 list.  
Competition for the top ten list was tough, with many new restaurants making the top twenty list, from which the top ten restaurants were selected.   The winners, in order, are as follows: La Colombe, Jardine, Terroir, Overture, Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient in Pretoria, Rust en Vrede, The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Francais, Roots at Forum Homini, Bizerca and Hartford House.    La Colombe was selected as Restaurant of the Year and its chef Luke Dale-Roberts the Chef of the Year.  Terroir won the Service Award, while the Lifetime Achievement Award was made posthumously to Frank Swainston, who was at Constantia Uitsig until his death earlier this year.

Notable upsets were the exclusion from the list of The Showroom and Aubergine.    Ginja was a top ten winner last year, but did not even make the top twenty list this year.

The judges selected the top restaurants on the basis of operating for a year or more, the chefs demonstrating a passion for their business, showing a dedication to uplifting the industry,  where chefs source their ingredients, and consistence and excellence in all aspects of their business.  Food quality counted for 70 points, service for 20 and ambience for 10 in judging the top restaurants.

Seven top restaurants are in the Western Cape, of which three in Cape Town, three in Stellenbosch and one in Franschhoek.

Bertus Basson, award-winning chef at Overture, opens Genot on Kleingenot in Franschhoek today.

New restaurant openings on the menu

Despite the depressed economy, the restaurant industry appears to be confident about the future, with a number of new restaurant openings.  

The first restaurant to open is the re-awakened Roundhouse in Camps Bay, once the site of one of Cape Town’s finest restaurants.   Owner Fasie Malherbe proudly brags that his restaurant will become the best in Africa!   He is unashamedly Proudly Capetonian, and states that he only wants locals to support his restaurant – he is not interested in tourists.   Also owner of the training company Let’s Sell Lobster, which has just been contracted by Wines of South Africa to train 2010 winestewards to deliver excellent service, Malherbe recently supported his GM’s rudeness, on the basis that his shareholder interests were being protected!

Franschhoek already is the Gourmet Capital of South Africa, with three of the country’s Top Ten restaurants located in this beautiful village.   Competition is set to increase, with three new restaurant openings.  Richard Carstens is said to be opening on Huguenot Road, not far from the Monument, in a newly renovated Victorian Cottage.    Carstens was a Top Ten chef when he headed up Bijoux in Franschhoek about 5 years ago, and continued wearing the Top Ten chef crown when he left Franschhoek for Lynton Hall near Pietermaritzburg.   A stint at Manolo in Cape Town followed, but ended before it had really got going. Carstens may not be opening in Franschhoek after all, given an alleged fall-out with landlord Trevor Kirsten. 

Bertus Basson is cooking up a storm at his restaurant Overture on the Hidden Valley Estate in Stellenbosch, and will turn up the heat in Franschhoek when he opens his restaurant Genot on Kleingenot in December.  Ever evolving Solms Delta is opening its new restaurant Fyndraai in the season. Reubens has undergone a make-over and expansion, and newly married Maryke Riffel is back on the floor, welcoming patrons.

Camps Bay too will see a further four new restaurants opening this season, with the Grill House, an Indian restaurant and a Paranga Bar opening below Blues.   The Grand Cafe will open in the Opium location, as a restaurant well-known to the Plettenberg Bay jetset for its simple yet yummy menu and exceptional music.  The Grand in Plettenberg Bay was the brainchild of Gail Behr, who has since sold her Grand Cafe and Rooms.  The Grand in Camps Bay will also offer accommodation.