In one and a half years since opening in the Cape Quarter, Lou Lou’s has established itself as a nighttime Bar and Eatery. With its amazingly competitive R65 Tapas Lunch offering, Lou Lou’s has now established itself as a value for money informal Lunch destination in De Waterkant, with friendly service, judging by the very busy outside deck at lunchtime yesterday.
We wrote earlier this year that Bosman’s, and the Grande Roche hotel with it, had shaken off its stiff five star hotel image, and had become friendlier. A return visit to this Eat Out Top 10 restaurant earlier this week, to try the recently introduced Lunch Special, confirmed that this is still the case, and found Bosman’s to be unbelievable value, designed to attract locals back into the Grande Roche, and to change the perception that it is expensive.
New GM Anja Bosken came to greet me, on crutches, due to a recent knee operation, and we discussed the reception I received at the security boom, the lady on duty asking aggressively why I was there (between 1 – 2 pm one would assume it is for lunch) and then said she had to check if she could let me in! Every time I come to the Grande Roche, there is an issue with the outsourced security. Ms Bosken had just come out of a security meeting, and as the ‘new broom’, she is trying to make changes one step at a time. A very friendly new Restaurant Manager is Nazlie Barnard, who ran the Cape Malay restaurant at the Cellars Hohenhort, and Zachary’s at Pezula, and she happened to be in the parking area, greeted me, and welcomed me by my surname. This was spoilt by the waitress who asked me if I would be eating, after I sat at one of the tables prepared for lunch on the outside terrace, on a gloriously sunny winter’s day! When I told her that I was just sitting there to look at the view, she accepted my answer, and walked away, without bringing a menu. I received the nicely presented Grande Roche (no Bosman’s branding) A5 menu with gold ribbon from Nazlie, and the waitress took the marble-look underplate away from the place setting. It is odd that they do that, as it looks really nice. A fish knife and a spoon was added for the first course, and the waitress stretched across to put down a fork, despite having enough space to put it down from the left. A rather ordinary bread plate of small slices of French baguette, ciabatta, rye bread, and a sesame seed roll (I missed a slice of seedloaf) was offered with butter (I miss their choice of three spreads), Tokara olive oil, and WMF salt and pepper grinders.
In the last month, the new Bosman’s lunch special has been launched, costing an unbelievably low R120 for two courses, and R155 for three. When paired with wine, the 2-course lunch costs R210, and R290 for the three courses. What is commendable is that it will continue throughout summer, until April, with the exception of the Christmas – New Year period. For starters, one can choose Asian-flavoured butternut soup and tuna springrolls (paired with 2009 False Bay Chenin Blanc), or a Mediteranean vegetable salad with kabeljou and aceto balsamico (paired with a 2008 Crios Bride Sauvignon Blanc). For the main course one of the options is Veal Osso Bucco with garlic potato mash and green bean cassoulet (paired with 2005 Rainbow’s End Shiraz). The Seafood tagliatelle was served with kingklip, cob, salmon trout, a prawn, and seafood foam, paired with a 2005 Rijk’s Semillon, the fish types not being specified on the menu, and some were different to what I was told verbally. Chef Roland Gorgosilich has a good hand with seafood, not over-complicating his fish dishes, but I find his salt hand too heavy, it not being the first time that I have experienced this. For dessert I chose the Espresso panna cotta, which was served with a berry confit (this is the description on the menu, but I liked the waiter’s wording of it being a ‘fruit ragout’) and shortbread sticks, beautifully presented. The panna cotta was very firm and creamy, and had a rich strong coffee taste. The wine pairing for this dessert was a 2007 Stellenrust Chenin D’Muscat, of which Sommelier Josephine Gutentoft brought me a glassful, with the compliments of Ms Bosken, to make up for the ‘booming’ reception. The alternative dessert choice was a Banana Chocolate spring roll and chocolate ganache, paired with a 2008 Buitenverwachting 1769 Natural Sweet wine. I was not asked about coffee after the meal.
The view from the Grande Roche terrace onto the vineyards surrounding the hotel estate, and the Paarl mountains, is wonderful. The food is good, except for the saltiness, and the lunch is one of the best value offerings on our Winter Restaurant Specials list. I have no doubt that Ms Bosken will fix the security boom staff interaction issue, and Nazlie has to sharpen the waiter training. I will be back to try the other options on the Specials menu, and I am sure that Chef Roland will make changes to it over the next seven months, to keep it fresh.
Bosman’s Restaurant at Grande Roche, Plantasie Street, Paarl. Tel (021) 863-5100. www.grandroche.com (The website does not list the Lunch special, has very few food photographs in its Image Gallery, and does not have photographs of lunching on the terrace). Twitter: @Grande_Roche
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage