Entries tagged with “Luddite”.


Last night I attended the launch of the ‘Platter’s by Diners Club International 2019 South African Wine Guide’ at the Table Bay Hotel. It was an evening of some surprises, and new awards presented! But one thing was consistent – the Mullineux duo of Chris and Andrea lead this country in its consistent wine award performance, winning Winery of the Year for the third time in the 39 year history of the Platter’s Guide.  (more…)

imageLast week Winemag announced its Wine Label Design Awards winners, the second year that it has hosted the event, which is sponsored by self-adhesive label supplier Rotolabel.

The Awards event was held at AVA Gallery in Church Street, not the easiest venue to get to in town at that time of the day. (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Taittinger has redesigned its bottle label and gift pack, to reflect its status as official champagne sponsor of the 2014 World Cup soccer in Brazil.   Holograms have been used, and the footballs on the label appear raised but are flat.  The brand has already been fined in France for advertising its link to the World Cup, but will communicate this in other countries, especially in South America, having the right to the title until the end of 2015.

*   The directive by the Minister of Finance that VAT be levied on international e-books levels the playing field says the Publishers’ Association of South Africa (PASA), despite VAT being charged on books not being encouraged by the PASA.  The new legislation is not a surprise as governments are working on collecting VAT/sales tax on sales in their regions. Foreign retailers selling into South Africa will now have to register as VAT vendors. A healthier retail book trade is expect to result. Internationally digital book sales are at about 50%, but in South Africa they are currently only at 20%.  Charging VAT could generate R 1 billion in revenue for the country. The Cape Town Book Fair, running from 13 – 15 June, will showcase the latest technological developments on e-reading. (received via media release from The Embassy)

*   Bushman’s Kloof Wilderness Reserve is hosting a  number of Food and Wine Weekend treats in winter, pairing with top wine estates, including Meerlust (30 May – 1 June), Bouchard Finlayson (27 – (more…)

Mondiall Interior 1 Whale Cottage PortfolioAfter a superb sail around Table Bay, for the media launch of the Cape2Rio Yacht Race, during which we were escorted back into the harbour by a school of dolphins, my birthday lunch at Mondiall, previously The Green Dolphin, was a super spoil on Friday, both by Nicolette Waterford and the restaurant.

Mondiall is co-owned by Chef Peter Tempelhoff, Executive Chef of the McGrath Collection and Eat Out Top 10 Chef of The Greenhouse, and Patrick Symington, previous owner of Café Dharma and Asoka.  Chef Peter remains at the McGrath Collection (we were told Mrs McGrath has eaten there four times since the restaurant opened at the beginning of the month), and pops in regularly.  Patrick was in the restaurant on Friday, and was a most charming host, sitting down at our table to chat.  I asked Patrick about their incorrect spelling of  ‘Mondial‘, Mondiall Patrick Symington Whale Cottage Portfoliomeaning around the world, apt for the V&A Waterfront location as South Africa’s leading tourist attraction. Patrick had a most plausible esoteric explanation for it numerologically (it’s a very lucky number 8, and balanced too), as well as design wise, the two legs of the ‘M’ balancing with the two ‘l’s at the end of the word!  He said that it is a unique word, and is theirs now!  Patrick is involved in solar heating now, when he is not at Mondiall.  He said that they are ‘in for the long haul‘ with the restaurant, having signed a lease for 5 years, with an option to renew for a further five. Patrick led the staff in singing for my birthday!  Chef Oliver Cattermole is one of my favourite chefs, having met him when he was at Dash at the Queen Victoria Hotel, whereafter he had a short stint at the former What’s On, and then he worked at the Le Franschhoek Hotel before joining and setting up the kitchen at Mondiall, the menu design being a partnership between Chefs Peter and Oliver.   Suzanne Taylor, previously of former Constantia Uitsig, was a gracious Restaurant Manager. (more…)

Poor New Media Publishing.  They are bravely trying to fix the image of what was once their prestigious restaurant awards, given the radical decision two years ago to cut the committee which helped editor Abigail Donnelly judge our top restaurants, and has commendably embarked on a journey to engage with the industry to hear its feedback and suggestions.  Now its judge for the 2012 Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant awards, the UK blogger Bruce Palling, is posting a blow by blow review of each restaurant he was sent to by Mrs Donnelly, for evaluation as a Top 20 restaurant. Not even Mrs Donnelly has sat with the Eat Out Top 20 Restaurant Awards shortlist chefs, to pass on feedback to them.

To save face from the judging debacle of 2011, when Mrs Donnelly chose to fire her judging committee of many years, and appoint herself as the sole judge, New Media Publishing decided that they needed an international judge to give the publication credibility for the 2012 awards.  Whoever at New Media Publishing chose to appoint Bruce Palling should be fired, for his vindictive and unprofessional utterings whilst he was in our country as their guest, and currently, seeming to take great joy in slating almost everything about our restaurant and wine industry after having been in our country for a (more…)

New Eat Out judge, blogger Bruce Palling from the UK, has arrived in Cape Town to assist Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant and associated awards organiser Abigail Donnelly in selecting the top ten restaurants in the country and in ranking them.  He has barely set foot in the country, never having been here before, and he has attracted controversy already!

Palling is a rude Tweeter, and on Twitter yesterday afternoon he announced his arrival, having been to Clarke’s second hand bookshop on Long Street, and in having eaten springbok for lunch, commenting on its bland taste: Cape Town on a glorious sunny Spring day – and my first experience of Springbok – surprisingly mild…was expecting more depth of flavour...  A chef retaliated immediately: It’s not stag steaks stored in the deepfreezer for 3 years wrapped in wellington boots, boet”. Palling also Tweeted a comment which was criticised for its implied racism, by labelling a fellow guest on skin colour at the restaurant: Black guest excusing lateness@Cape Town restaurant: “Sorry but had to take taxi because my Ferrari cant make it over bumps at entrance here”. For that Tweet he was admonished too, including by Über-Tweeter Jane-Anne Hobbs.

Palling, who is being accommodated at the Taj hotel, will be visiting the Top 20 restaurant list, unless Ms Donnelly has already cut that list down to her Top 10, and he will assist her in ranking the list, and in choosing the winners in the categories introduced last year: Boschendal Style Award, Best Italian, Best Asian, Best Bistro, Best Steakhouse, and Best Country Style restaurant.  This is our prediction of where Palling can be expected to eat in potential 2012 Eat Out Top 10 restaurants in the next few days in the Western Cape (we have excluded Grande Provence, The Roundhouse, and Nobu due to chef changes, and other deserving restaurants at which the chefs have been at the restaurants for less than a year):

*   The Test Kitchen

*   The Greenhouse

*   Planet Restaurant

*   Makaron Restaurant

*   Tokara

*   Delaire Graff

*   Pierneef à La Motte

*   Overture

*   Terroir

*   Babylonstoren

*   Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine

*   Waterkloof

*   La Colombe

*   Rust en Vrede

*   The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français

From Palling’s blogposts, of which variations are published in the Europe edition of the Wall Street Journal occasionally, one has learnt the following about his eating and drinking tastes:

1.   Local is lekker:  he wants to eat ‘native produce’ rather than it being imported  (e.g. ‘wallaby’ in Australia!)

2.   He is fond of wine, and it should be local and single varietal, and not blended

3.  His benchmark is Michelin-ism

4.  He is quick to describe food as ‘bland’

5.   He has a ‘boredom with egg-dominated dishes’

6.   He loves ‘Nordic’ (especially Swedish) cuisine

7.   He scoffs at molecular gastronomy, which he calls ‘pretend food’, and likes to be able to identify produce on a plate ‘rather than look at an inanimate mixture of textures and smears’

8.  He ‘cherishes food which exudes strong, not to say, disgusting odours’.

It will be interesting to see if Palling’s assistance to Ms Donnelly will make any difference to the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards results. Palling has already shown that he is a difficult and opinionated writer and judge, and a rude Tweeter.

POSTSCRIPT 5/9: Eat Out has just announced that it is hosting a weekend of food celebration from 23 – 25 November, with international chefs in attendance too: This is from their website:

On Friday 23 November, there will be an exclusive dinner with Massimo Bottura, chef at Osteria Francescana, number 5 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, the prestigious annual awards sponsored by S. Pellegrino and Aqua Panna.

On Saturday 24 November, for the first time ever, we’ll be hosting an Eat Out Conference at The Westin Cape Town on Cape Town’s foreshore. Speakers at the inspiring, interactive day include top international chef Massimo Bottura; Bruce Palling (Wall Street Journal critic, World’s 50 Best Restaurants judge, blogger and Eat Out 2012 judge); and British food designer Andrew Stellitano (check out his incredible food landscapes, sculptural pancakes and edible Louis Vuitton handbagshere). Local speakers include reigning Chef of the Year, Luke Dale-Roberts, and prominent members of the local food and restaurant community, who’ll join a panel discussion led by Eat Out editor and judge, Abigail Donnelly.

On Sunday, the winners of the 2012 Eat Out DStv Food Network Restaurant Awards will be announced at a glittering awards ceremony in the Grand Ballroom at The Westin Cape Town. A four-course meal will be prepared by top chefs, and the new Top 10 will be announced, along with the winners of the awards for best steakhouse, bistro, Asian, country-style and Italian restaurant, along with the Boschendal Style Award“.

POSTSCRIPT 9/9: Bruce Palling has been eating his way around the Cape, and the only clues that he is leaving is that he has eaten Springbok on more than one occasion, and he is Tweeting photographs of the wines he has drunk with his meals, which must be very frustrating for him, as he is a keen food photographer, but that would give the judging away!  His wine choice over the past five days has included Zorgvliet Cabernet Sauvignon (vintage not mentioned), Raats Cabernet Franc 2008, Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir 2010, Raats Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Paul Cluver 7 Flags Pinot Noir 2008, and Luddite Shiraz 2006. He is seeking wines with less than 14% alcohol content, to suit his wife’s requirement, and has been asking for advice on Twitter, a sad reflection on the restaurants at which he has eaten not being able to advise him!  He has taken back his criticism of springbok in his Tweet on his arrival (see above), and Tweeted on Friday: “Take back Springbok being boring/bland – had 2 non sous vide versions which lean + voluptuous helped along by Raats Cabernet Franc 08”. No local chefs, with the exception of Oliver Cattermole, who is not in the running for the Eat Out Top 10 Awards as he has not been at Dish at Le Franschhoek for a full year, have interacted with Palling on Twitter.  Chefs Peter Tempelhoff (Greenhouse), Jackie Cameron (Hartford House), Gregory Czarnecki (Waterkloof), Margot Janse (The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français), Scot Kirton (La Colombe), Tanja Kruger (Makaron), Eric Bulpitt (The Roundhouse), Marthinus Ferreira (DW Eleven – 13), and Tokara Restaurant are all following Palling on Twitter, perhaps hoping for a clue or two.  Further disparaging Tweets in reaction to our Palling blogposts have been posted by Palling, one of which was (unprofessionally) ReTweeted by Le Quartier Français’ The Tasting Room owner Susan Huxter).

POSTSCRIPT 12/9: Le Quartier Français’ The Tasting Room and McGrath Hotels’ The Greenhouse must be concerned about Bruce Palling’s attack on ‘Relais Chateau‘ (sic) on Twitter today, both hotel groups belonging to Relais & Châteaux.

POSTSCRIPT 13/9: One hopes that Bruce Palling’s restaurant judging is better than his a-palling spelling and photography. This was his Tweet from Biesmiellah last night: “Taking a break at Biedmiellah (sic) – Babotie (sic) and Denning Vleis (sic)”. Poor quality writing, especially from a ‘journalist’!

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

Top Eat Out Chef Luke Dale-Roberts, owner of the second ranked Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant The Test Kitchen, has opened The Pot Luck Club, another winning restaurant next door to his existing restaurant.  One need not worry that Chef Luke will only be seen at The Test Kitchen, where he has always been very hands-on, or that one has to bring one’s own ingredients to cook one’s meal, or has to share one’s fabulous food if one does not want to!

The word ‘potluck’ is almost 500 years old, and refers to providing food for an unexpected guest, offering him or her the ‘luck of the pot’, states Wikipedia.  Over time the term evolved to become a gathering of persons, each bringing a dish, to be shared and eaten communally by the group.  In Ireland the potluck practice was for women to share the ingredients they had available, and cook them together in one pot.  At The Pot Luck Club one is encouraged to order different dishes, and to share them with others at the table. At the restaurant the term has a creative interpretation, in that four The Pot Luck Club chefs have a dish each included in the menu, while the rest of the dishes probably have been a team effort devised with Chef Luke.

The Pot Luck Club venue is almost equal in size to The Test Kitchen, but the space is better utilised in that less space is used for the food preparation, being set against the back wall, dedicated to this restaurant only. Running into the food preparation area is the bar, which serves both restaurants, and this is only noticeable as The Test Kitchen staff, with different uniforms, are visible in The Pot Luck Club when they collect drinks. A part of the space has been cordoned off by means of a hanging Peter Eastman resin artwork ‘screen’, and two tables can cater for a larger group booking for The Test Kitchen.  The artwork is for sale, but no prices are indicated, and the staff do not know them, one being connected with the artist if one wants to purchase something. The ‘private’ section has colourful lampshades, which shine through the screen cut-outs, and add character to The Pot Luck Club.  It is hot in the restaurant, with no airconditioning, even if the door is open. Downlighters are well placed on metal beams high above, lighting up the black artwork, not all visible against the black and plum walls, and focusing on the tables. Tables have milled steel tops, as they do at The Test Kitchen, with light wood chairs, and counters running against the left wall and alongside the bar. The tables are laid with ceramic plates, in grey and in a light brown, the latter looking as if it is a piece of wood, and the ceramic water mugs have a similar look, and have probably been made by Imizo, which made The Test Kitchen tableware too.  The cutlery is comfortable to hold and unusual in its design, imported from Europe Chef Luke said, but the brand name is not visible in the logo on the cutlery.  Chopsticks are also on the table. Two tiny glass containers contain coarse salt and ground peppercorns.  Felt-covered glass bowls hold a tealight candle. The music was odd, an eclectic mix of unidentifiable bands and some South American music, with no Asian music at all.  I loved the long rectangular serviettes, long enough to cover one’s lap properly, probably the work of Chef Luke’s fashion designer wife Sandalene, who also designed the staff uniforms, floral for The Test Kitchen, and grey tops with a plum pocket for the male waiters, and dresses for the lady waiters at The Pot Luck Club. The restaurant can seat about 45 guests.  A new door links the two restaurants, and Chef Luke was visible, regularly overseeing the food preparation at The Pot Luck Club.

The menu and winelist are printed on a cream board, with The Pot Luck Club name and wild boar logo.  Chef Luke could not explain exactly how he and Sandalene had got to the logo, but it had evolved from a discussion of where they wanted to take the restaurant, and to give it a visual identity.  All dishes are served on square wooden boards or on the ceramic plates in the same cream and plum colours. There are no headings or sections on the menu, but small space differences allow one to identify ‘snacks’ to order whilst waiting for drinks (such as crispy curried celery leaves, steamed Edamame beans with miso and toasted garlic salt, shaved parsnips with Madagascan black pepper salt, and Chrisna olives, a whole garlic, with red pepper pesto and artisan bread, which we selected, disappointingly boring, yet the smoked olives had an exceptional taste. All of these cost between R20 – R30).   A salad section includes Claus’ Coconut Calamari Salad (the coconut taste was not evident, and it was served with lime, coriander, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, green beans and daikon), Ash’s Tuna Tartare, and Pot Luck Club Tartare, served in both Asian and classic style, each costing R60, as well as a mixed green and tomato salad at R25.  A third section did not appear to have anything in common, being mushrooms on toast (R55), blue cheese mousse with an apple and parsley salad and walnuts (R50), and an excellent rich and creamy foie gras ‘au torchon’ (prepared in a cloth bag in the traditional poached method, we were told), with brioche, sprinkled with grated walnuts and truffle, and served with a most delicious nectarine, grape and champagne chutney, at R120, the most expensive dish on the menu.

The fourth section contained the largest number of dishes, and could be seen to be the main courses, even though the prices were reasonable in ranging between R30 – R80.  My son had Ivor’s crispy duck spring roll, served with daikon and a hoisin dressing, unfortunately with a bone inside. The best dish we tried was the smoked Chalmar beef fillet which was served with a heavenly black pepper and truffle café au lait sauce (with port, brandy and cream).  Other options are steamed queen scallops, crispy pork belly with Luke’s XO dressing, fried prawns, Chinese style pork rib, and smoked and fried quail, served as per the menu description with no extras. Baby potato wedges with smoked paprika salt can be ordered, for R25.  A choice of two desserts is available: Wesley’s Tapioca served with passion fruit sorbet and toasted coconut (R45), and fresh summer berries served with fig leaf ice cream (R50), which we declined.

From the cocktail list we were invited to choose a complimentary drink in honour of my son’s birthday, and we both chose the Summer Berry Kir, with blackberries, raspberries and elderflower, to which Sauvignon Blanc had been added. The bar list has a wide range of liqueurs, beers (including four from &Union), and a good selection of reasonably priced wines, about five per variety.  Commendable is that about 25 wines are offered by the glass, out of a total of about 80 wines, a good selection at very reasonable prices.  Pol Roger Brut Reserve NV costs R950, while local MCC’s range from R40/R195 for Pongracz, to R450 for Pongracz Desiderius 2001.  Shiraz starts at R50/R230 for Kleinood Tamboerskloof 2007, with Luddite being the most expensive at R480. Adam Mason’s Kaboom! already was not available, but his Shazam! was offered as an alternative, a Shiraz Pinotage blend.

The website invites one to pop in at The Pot Luck Club after work for an early bite or a late dinner.  We booked yesterday morning, and while the restaurant was fully booked, Jeanine made a plan for us, showing that booking is advisable.  Eating at The Pot Luck Club is quicker (the dishes arrived rapidly), and far less expensive than at The Test Kitchen, meaning that one can have an affordable taste of Chef Luke’s craft.  On the website he motivates why he created a new restaurant, and did not just expand The Test Kitchen: “…I’m a chef and I like to cook and develop recipes and make new discoveries and The Pot Luck Club will offer both myself and the chefs working here exactly those opportunities”. The open plan nature of The Pot Luck Club places a huge responsibility on all the staff on show behind the counters, and one of the bar chaps eating crisps out of a packet while on service probably wasn’t appropriate.   The service from Manager Simon and Deputy Manager Marcus was attentive and friendly, and Chef Luke coming to chat at our table despite his restaurants being full and busy was a treat.  The Pot Luck Club menu will evolve, with new dishes already having been added in the past two weeks.  Whilst based on the principle of serving small dishes, The Pot Luck Club is far beyond a tapas restaurant.

The Pot Luck Club, The Old Biscuit Mill, 375 Albert Road, Woodstock.  Tel (021)  447-0804.   www.thepotluckclub.co.za Tuesday – Saturday dinners.

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

I had been to Nobu just after it opened two years ago, and was not very impressed by it, due to a service issue, but a return visit on Saturday evening, at the invitation of the One&Only Cape Town and its PR Consultant Ian Manley, was a delight, with a noticeable menu and service evolution in the past two years, with unique Japanese, Peruvian and even South African elements in it.  Nobu serves the largest sushi and sashimi selection in South Africa, I was told, and with the most unusual ingredients, such as abalone, scallop, lobster and langoustine.

Hostess Delphine welcomed us, and said that she had left after the opening training, but had returned again, and did the traditional Nobu greeting of Irashamase, which is echoed by all her staff, meaning ‘welcome to our house’.   We were well looked after by waitress Nonte and sommelier Keith, and especially by manager Sebastian, who was most knowledgeable and sought information from the chef when  he could not answer a question.  He has been at Nobu since its opening.  I asked Sebastian why he and the staff were not wearing a name badge, and he told me that all the staff are part of the team, and no individual stands out.

The restaurant, like Reuben’s, is downstairs, with a very high ceiling which contains lighting that looks like Japanese paper lamps.  We asked about the circles which run along the walls, but could not find an explanation for them, as they are unique to Nobu.  Sebastian found out that American Adam D. Tihany was the interior designer.   Tables have black lacquer tops, and chairs are dark stained.  In general, the lighting is low.

Owner Nobuyuki Matsuhisa worked in Peru after he trained in Japan, and then opened a restaurant in Alaska.  It burnt down two months after opening.  He then opened Matuhisa in Los Angeles, and in 1992 he opened Nobu in New York, with actor Robert de Niro as a major backer.  There are now 28 Nobus around the world.  Sebastian told me which dishes are the classic trademark ones, which one is likely to find at any Nobu (we can attest to that, as a group of Americans sat next to us, and they immediately discussed these as well, clearly knowing them from past experience at another Nobu):

*   Yellowtail sashimi and jalapeno (R115)

*   New style sashimi, lightly seared (R75 – R210)

*   Tiradito (sashimi and chilli) (R105 – R210)

*   Tuna sashimi salad (R110)

*   Black Cod Den Miso is the best known dish of all, the cod being marinated in the Den Miso sauce for 3 days (R395)

*   Prawn Tempura in rock shrimp style, fried in cotton seed oil, and served with ponzu, creamy spicy and jalapeno sauces (R125)

*   Omakase, the chef’s recommendation, in which the chef prepares a 7-course meal based on what the patron likes to eat, consisting of two cold appetisers, a salad, one hot fish dish, one hot beef dish, soup and sushi (served after the main courses in Japanese style), and a dessert, at R 550.

The menu had a cardboard cover, with replaceable pages inside, allowing for regular menu changes.  Blanched soya beans sprinkled with sea salt were brought to the table while we were discussing the menu, and they became more-ish as I got the hang of eating them out of the pod.  If I eat Asian foods in Cape Town, I have gone to Haiku  in the past, and therefore I tried more Haiku-like dishes to start, to serve as a comparison.  I started with abalone (R16) and lobster (R28) sushi, its presentation very different to my past experience of what I can now call more ‘commercialised’ sushi.  The lobster sushi was soft and almost jelly-like, and it was explained that it was because it had not been cooked.  I could not recognise it from  the lobster I know.  The abalone had some tough sections to it, and I know that abalone generally needs a good beating and cooking in a pressure cooker because it is so tough.  After posting the photograph of this dish, there was some criticism of the serving of abalone, but Sebastian assured me that the restaurant has a licence to obtain and serve it.  The avocado (R18 for two slices), asparagus (R25 for two), and shitake mushroom (R20 for two) tempura was delicious, with a very light crispy batter.  The highlight however was a new dish recently created by chef Hideki Maeda, which he has included in his 7-course Chef’s Special Omakase tasting menu (R850), being a 100g portion of Wagyu beef imported from Australia, served with foie gras, fig jam, fig tempura and a balsamic reduction (R395) – it was heavenly, a perfect main course size, given the preceding starters and the dessert to follow!   What made it even better was the beautiful slim and elegant Elia cutlery that I ate it with, having used chopsticks for the starters. 

For dessert I ordered Suntory whisky cappuccino, a delicious cappuccino look-alike served in a coffee cup, with four layers inside, and one is encouraged to scoop deep inside the cup to have a taste of all four the layers of coffee brûlée, cocoa crumble (adding a wonderful crunch), milk ice cream and the Suntory infused froth on top – an absolute treat.   I was surprised to see a selection of desserts, all costing around R60 – R75, that were largely ‘Westernised’, including a local malva pudding.  The winter menu special is a 5-course meal with one appetiser, the Rock shrimp tempura, Beef Toban Yaki, soup and sushi, and a dessert, at R299, and is a good way to try some of the classic international Nobu dishes.

The winelist has a brown leather cover, and contained a selection of cocktails and Sake (R150 – R590 for 150 ml), as well as of mainly local and some French wines.  It is not as extensive as that at Reuben’s by any means.   Sommelier Keith is Let’s Sell Lobster trained, and worked at The Round House after his training.  It showed in that the wines-by-the-glass we ordered were brought to the table poured and untasted by ourselves, Keith saying that this is how he had been taught.  He did oblige by pouring the subsequent wines at the table, and allowing us to taste them.  Wines served by the glass include Pommery Brut Royale (R175/R850), Billecart Salmon Brut Reserve (R200/R975), Billecart Brut Rosé (R295/R1550), Graham Beck Brut (R49/R240), Villiera Tradition Brut (R44/R210), and Graham Beck Brut Rosé (R98/475).  White wines range from R34 for 150 ml of Ken Forrester Sauvignon Blanc to R74 for Rustenberg Chardonnay.  Red wines start at R54 for 150 ml of Springfield Whole Berry Cabernet Sauvignon to R118 for Bouchard Finlayson Galpin Peak Pinot Noir 2009.  About five options are offered per variety, and the Shiraz selection started at R 280 for La Motte 2008, up to R560 for Luddite 2005.

Nobu has something and more for everyone that appreciates excellent Asian style cuisine, and Haiku won’t be seeing me in a great hurry again, as there is much more variety, friendlier service, and no star order minimum at Nobu.  The professional service by Sebastian was a large part of the enjoyment of our dinner at Nobu. 

Nobu, One&Only Cape Town, V&A Waterfront. Tel (021) 431-5888. www.oneandonlycapetown.com. (The hotel website contains a page for Nobu, with a menu and winelist, but the photographs are in a general Image Gallery, unmarked, and mixed with those of Reuben’s and the Vista Bar).  Monday – Sunday, dinner only.

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

One of the exciting things about winter is that a number of restaurants are offering excellent value Gourmet evenings, with top wine makers presenting their wines, paired with special dishes prepared by the chefs of the restaurants.  It is a shame that some of the dates clash.

The Pavilion at The Marine Hotel, Hermanus

6 May:   Bouchard Finlayson Winery

3 June:   Paul Cluver Wines

1 July:   Klein Constantia Wine Estate

5 August:   Creation Wines

2 September:   Hamilton Russell Vineyards & Southern Right

The 5-course dinners, paired with wines, cost R 320 per person.  Tel (028) 313-1000

The Grand Café Camps Bay

11 May:   Peter Falke Wines

15 June:   Stellekaya

13 July:   Haute Cabriere

The 3-course food and wine pairing dinner costs R300.  Tel (021) 438-4253 NOTE THAT THE RESTAURANT IS CLOSED UNTIL END JULY, CONTRADICTING THE NOTICE ABOUT THE PAIRINGS THEY SENT

The Grand on the Beach

18 May:   Antonij Rupert Wines

22 June:   Ernst Gouws & Co

20 July:   Peter Falke

The 3-course food and wine pairing dinner costs R300.  Tel (021) 425-0551

Bosman’s, Grande Roche Hotel, Paarl

27 May:   AA Badenhorst Family Wines with winemaker Adi Badenhorst

10 June:   The House of Krone with winemaker Matthew Krone

22 July:   Glen Carlou with winemaker Arco Laarman

26 August:   Backsberg with winemaker Guillaume Nell

3 September:   Nederburg Auction Pre-dinner with cellarmaster Razvan Macici

28 October:   Raats Family Wines with winemaker Bruwer Raats

The 5-course meal with wine, coffee, canapés and petit fours costs R690.  Tel (021) 863-5100

The Garden Room, Mount Nelson Hotel

29 April:   Vergelegen with winemaker Andre van Rensburg

27 May:   Bouchard Finlayson with winemaker and owner Peter Finlayson

24 June:   Neil Ellis Wines with owner Neil Ellis

29 July:   Groote Post with winemaker Lukas Wentzel

26 August:   Rust en Vrede with winemaker Coenie Snyman

30 September:   Deetlefs with winemaker Willie Stofberg

28 October:   Boschendal with winemaker Lizelle Gerber

15 November:   Moreson with winemaker Clayton Reabow

9 December:   Boekenhoutskloof with winemaker Marc Kent.

The 7-course dinner costs R 395 per person with matching wines.  Tel (021) 483-1000

Chenin Wine Bar and Restaurant

26 May:   Ernie Els Wines

Cost is R 100. Tel (021) 425-2200

Buitenverwachting

28 April: Buitenverwachting winemaker Brad Paton

Cost of the 5-course meal is R460.  Tel (021) 794-3522

Nobu at One&Only Cape Town

29 April:   Stark-Condé Wines

Cost of the 7-course meal is R R480.   Tel (021) 431-5111

What’s On, Watson Street

7 May:   Fleur du Cap winemaker Christoff de Wet

Cost of the 6-course dinner and wines is R300 per person or R500 per couple.  Tel (021) 422-5652

Marika’s, Gardens

9 May:   Mischa and Eventide

6 June:   Barton Wines winemaker JP Geyer

4 July:   Nabygelegen with winemaker James McKenzie

Cost of 5-course dinner and wines is R 200.  Tel (021) 465-2727

1800°C Grill Room, Cape Royale Luxury Hotel

7 May:   Hartenberg Estate

2 June:  Morgenhof

7 July:   Warwick wine estate

4 August: La Motte Wine Estate

Cost of 4-course dinner with welcome drink and wines R335.  Tel (021) 430-0506

Casa Nostra, Sea Point

28 May:   Fairview

2 July:   Klein Constantia

Cost of 4-course meal R230.  Tel (021) 433-0187

Bergkelder, Stellenbosch

30 June:   Fleur du Cap Unfiltered

Cost of 5-course meal, Wine and Flavoured Salt tasting by Craig Cormack of Sofia’s is R400.  Tel (021) 809-8025

French Toast

22 June: L’Avenir Vineyards

6 July:   Constantia Glen

3 August :  Diemersdal

7 September:   Creation Wines

5 October:   Rustenberg Wines

Cost of 3-course Tapas and wine pairing R 220 per person.  Tel (021) 422-3839.

24 August: Overgaauw vintage port pairing (with David van Velden) with food, R80.  Tel (021) 422-3839

Café BonBon, Franschhoek

8 June:  Jacoline Haasbroek from My Wyn

22 June:   Haut Espoir

4-course dinner and wine pairing R195 per person.  Tel (021) 876-3936

La Mouette, Sea Point

8 June:  Arco Laarman from Glen Carlou

4-course French theme dinner R240 per person. Tel (021) 433-0856

Swiss & Austrian Social Club, Sea Point

11 June:   Waverley Hills Organic Wines

5-course dinner paired with five wines R250.  Tel (021) 434-8405

Fork

19 July:   Joubert-Tradauw

9-course emal paired with wines R225.  Tel (021) 424-6334

15 on Orange

21 July:  Warwick wines

6-course meal paired with wines R295.  Tel (021) 469-8000

Knife Restaurant

27 July: Glenwood Wines

4-course meal paired with wines R220.  Tel (021) 551-5000

Warwick Wine Estate

22 and 29 July: 4-course dinner paired with Warwick wines, celebrating Stellenbosch Wine Festival.  R390. Tel (021) 884-4410

The Class Room, Hermanus

12 August: Rust en Vrede

3-course dinner paired with wines R195.  Tel (028) 316-3582

Harvey’s at Winchester Mansions

3 August: Avontuur Wine Estate

5-course dinner paired with 7 Avontuur wines R345. Tel (021) 434-2351

5 October: Luddite

5-course dinner paired with 6 Luddite wines at R345 per person Tel (021) 434-2351

Sinn’s, Wembley Square

25 August: Durbanville Hills with winemaker Wilhelm Coetzee

4-course dinner paired with 4 wines R225.  Tel (021) 465-0967

Pure Restaurant, Hout Bay Manor

24 September:   Groote Post wine estate

5-course dinner paired with wines R 260.  Tel (021) 791-9393

96 Winery Road

28 September:   Van Ryn’s

4-course dinner paired with Van Ryn’s brandy R320.  Tel (021) 842-2020

Cassia Restaurant, Nitida wine estate, Durbanville

30 September:  Nitida wines

4-course dinner paired with Nitida wines R 300.  Tel (021) 976-0640

Bayside Café, Camps Bay

30 September: Beyerskloof Wines

5-course dinner paired with Beyerskloof Wines R 175 per person.  Tel (021) 438-2650

Clos Malverne, Stellenbosch

28 October: Clos Malverne wines

5-course dinner paired with Clos Malverne wines R 445.  Tel (021) 865-2022

La Residence, Franschhoek

18 November: Waterford Wines with winemaker Francois Haasbroek

6-course Dinner paired with Waterford wines R 800.  Tel (021) 876-4100

The Vineyard Hotel

Friday 13 May

Schalk Burger & Sons

Friday 27 May

Warwick & Vilafonté

Friday 10 June

West Coast Wines with Tierhoek

Friday 24 June

Stellakaya with Ntsiki Biyela

Friday 1 July

La Motte

Friday 15 July

Solms Delta Wine Estate

Friday 5 August

Dombeya Wines with Rianie Strydom

Friday 19 August

Catherine Marshall Wines

Friday 2 September

Meerlust Wine Estate

Friday 16 September

Favourites from Wine Concepts

Friday 7 October

Hermanuspietersfontein

Friday 21 October

Wines from the Swartland (Kloovenburg, Babylon’s Peak)

Friday 28 October

Constantia Valley Wines

The dinner costs R 250 per person.  Tel (021) 657-4500.

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

My previous visit to Jardine, soon after George Jardine had left to start his new Stellenbosch restaurant Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine, was not as excellent as I had expected, feeling that George Jardine had left a gap that new chef Eric Bulpitt still needed to grow into.   Our return visit last week shows that Chef Eric has got there, and that George Jardine is no longer expected nor ‘present’ at Jardine.   The advertised three course Spring Special meal is in fact a 7-course one, thereby offering excellent value.  

I was interested in the four week period that Chef Eric had recently spent at Noma in Copenhagen, the number one of the San Pellogrino Top 50 Restaurants in the World and a 2-star Michelin restaurant.   It was Chef Eric’s choice as restaurant ‘mecca’, for its focus on ‘natural’ gastronomy, and he worked there without pay, and in the company of many other chefs from around the world, to undergo a ‘learnership’ in this renowned restaurant.   The first influence that Noma has had on Chef Eric is sourcing ingredients from nature, by foraging with his team in The Glen as well as in Newlands Forest, to find herbs and plants for his dishes, including wood sorrell, chickweed, Cape Chamomile, and nasturtiums.  He also learnt about flavour combinations.  The goal orientation of a restaurant such as Noma, which is based on focus and excellent organisation, was a further impactful influence, which Chef Eric wants to strengthen across the board at Jardine Restaurant.  He described it as being almost “militaristic”, with strict rules and regulations to work by.  He noted how the labour legislation differs in Denmark, in that one can fire staff if they do not deliver, and this is accepted by the staff, unlike South Africa and its restrictive labour law.

Other than the hostess Christina, who seemed to know who I was without welcoming me by name and therefore coming across as unfriendly, the service from new Manager Simon Widdison (Johan Terblanche has moved across to be the Manager at Tokara, which opens today) was friendly, as was that of Hannes the waiter (although he must please learn to not stretch across customers to place the fork on the left, and was not quite au fait about wine and food details).   The biggest surprise of all was how friendly and relaxed Jaap-Henk Koelewijn (what an apt surname!), the sommelier, has become.  The waiter had incorrectly indicated that the Jardine Shiraz was from Le Riche, to which I said yes immediately, when it was actually from Cederberg.   Jaap-Henk immediately offered to replace it with Hartenberg at the Jardine price, and had no problem in pouring the wine at the table and allowing me to taste it first.

In coming to try the 3-course Spring Special running until the end of October, at a most reasonable R180, one does not expect any extras.  We were therefore most surprised that we were served three pre-starters, and an amuse bouche, prior to the three course meal, making it a 7-course meal.   The first dish to arrive was interesting-looking deep-fried tapioca over which frozen goat’s cheese had been grated.  I associate tapioca with ‘pudding’, and not favourably from my childhood, so I was a bit nervous about trying it.  I felt it to be a little dry, and so only had a taste of it.   The second dish was vetkoek with a gorgonzola centre, which my son loved and I did not at all, finding it rather bland.  What I loved was the third treat, being a most unusual Kingklip crisp made by dusting the thinnest slice of the fish in tapioca flour, and serving it with a ponzu dressing, made from citrus and soya.  My ‘Larousse Gastronomique’ defines tapioca as follows: A starchy food extracted from the roots of the manioc plant, which is hydrated, cooked, then ground.  It is used mainly for thickening soups and broths and making milk puddings and other desserts”.  Clearly this is an ingredient that Chef Eric loves. The amuse bouche was a cauliflower spuma, with a very delicate and light taste on top, and a spicy taste underneath.

The three course Spring Special only has one choice per course, and last Friday it was a Confit duck leg terrine served with spicy orange and naartjie chutney as starter; the main course was sirloin steak served with smoked mash, spinach and carrot puree; and the dessert was a selection of three sorbets and ice creams.  The duck terrine was served in a circular slice, quite coarse and crumbly, and bound by a leaf. I had it with the lovely Cape seedloaf.   My son preferred to not eat the terrine, and Chef Eric made him a Vegetable Patch starter from their a la carte menu, a most beautifully presented Spring-looking collection of baby beetroot, butternut, cherry tomatoes, parsnip, buffalo mozzarella, and a watercress emulsion, on ‘mushroom soil’, resembling that in texture, and made by drying mushrooms, grinding them, and then adding butter and herbs.

I had asked the kitchen to take the photographs for me, due to the softer lighting at our table, and this may have been the reason why both our steaks had lost their temperature when brought to the table.  They were immediately replaced, and were excellent, two small pieces, with wonderful carrot puree and spinach, decorated with tiny nasturtium leaves, foraged by Chef Eric and his team earlier that day.  The smoked mash was good, but I would have preferred it plain, as the smoked taste was too dominant.  The dessert sorbet and ice cream choices were lemon and thyme, espresso coffee and chocolate, coconut milk yoghurt and chilli, and pear and glühwein.  I felt that of all the dishes served, the desserts allowed Chef Eric’s creativity to come to the fore the most, with the unsual combination of flavours, and beautiful presentation with a ‘birdseed’ crisp on a patterned square plate.

The winelist has a black leather cover too, reminding me of that at Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine, and its first page contains the names of the artists whose work is on display in the restaurant and for sale.   Its introduction states that the winelist is a personal selection of wines to complement the ‘gastronomic feast’.  Wines by the glass include Colmant Brut (R65); Sterhuis Blanc de Blanc (R55); Jardine Unwooded Chardonnay, which comes from Vriesenhof (R30); Lammershoek Roulette Blanc (R45), Trizanne Sauvignon Blanc (R45); Jardine Shiraz (which comes from Cederberg, and costs R 40); La Motte Millennium (R45); Sterhuis Merlot (R45); and Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc (R45).    The Shiraz selection ranges from MAN Vintners at R95, to Luddite at R450, the Jardine costing R160, Hartenberg R330, and Miglarina R250.

If one does not enjoy the Spring Special before the end of October, a steal at R180 for seven courses, one can order  a 2-course meal at R240, or a 5-course one at R480. 

Jardine is one of twenty finalists for the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards, and chef Eric is one of four chefs (with David Higgs, PJ Vadis and Chantel Dartnall) that will be cooking for the guests attending the Top 10 Awards ceremony.  It is said that cooking at the Awards dinner is a sure-fire guarantee of making the Top 10 list, although Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly specifically denied this when she met with these chefs recently.  With Chef Eric’s dedication to his craft, and his recent unpaid ‘learnership’ at Noma allowing him to re-invent himself after four years at Jardine Restaurant, he stands a good chance of making it onto the Top 10 list.  

POSTSCRIPT 14/1: It has been announced that Jardine’s will close down at the end of February – its lease comes up for renewal then.  The focus will be on Tokara in Stellenbosch.   Part of the motivation is the departure of George Jardine to start his own restaurant, Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine. Chef Eric Bulpitt will move to The Roundhouse.

POSTSCRIPT 28/2: Jardine has closed, without a whimper or a thank you for the client support from the management.

Jardine Restaurant, 185 Bree Street, Cape Town.   Tel (021) 424-5640 www.jardineonbree.co.za  (It is odd to see George Jardine’s photograph on the website, and to see him listed as an owner, when he is not involved in any apparant way.  The website needs to be updated, reflecting the staff promotions and movements, including the Noma visit.  The website could also do with an Image gallery, to show off Chef Eric’s cuisine creativity).  Twitter @JardineCape Town.  Tuesdays – Saturdays.

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