Tag Archives: Matthew Gordon

Vrede en Lust showcases its white wine portfolio, luscious lunch at Lust Bistro & Bakery!

V&L Entrance Whale Cottage PortfolioYesterday we were invited to a first media event at Vrede en Lust at the outskirts of Franschhoek, with the specific purpose to expose the wine estate’s ten white wines, making up about one-third of its production, given that Vrede en Lust is perceived as a predominantly red wine producing wine farm.

The origin of Vrede en Lust dates back to 1688, owned by French Huguenot Jacques de Savoye, who planted 10000 vines in 1691.  The Buys family bought the farm in 1996, modernising it by building on its 320 year heritage. Former Nederburg winemaker Günter Brözel helped them build the cellar, and acts as a consultant when needed.  About 36 ha of the 55 ha farm is planted to vines.  They have recently bought Ricton close by, with a capacity of 60 ha.  In addition, they own Casey’s Ridge in the Kogelberg Biosphere in Elgin, with 54 ha of vineyards.  Vrede en Lust produces 30000 9 litre cases of wines per year, made from 800 tonnes of grapes.  Of their production, 68% is sold via their Tasting Room and at shows, while 15% is exported.  They have 1200 Wine Club members.

We met in the tasting room, having to do the tasting inside due to the unexpected rain and cooler weather. We were welcomed by Etienne Buys, brother of farm owner Dana Buys, who has taken over the management and viticulture of V&L Etienne Buys Whale Cottage PortfolioVrede en Lust, so that Dana can spend more time with his first love, being IT.

Charming winemaker Susan Erasmus, expecting her second child in May and previously at Neethlingshof (and having done harvests at Groot Constantia, Zevenwacht, and St Emilion), was a confident presenter of her white wine ‘babies‘, although she used technical terminology at times, where some of us got lost.  Interesting was observing the tastings continue in the Tasting Room, Continue reading →

Cape Town & Winelands Restaurant closures bad sign for winter to come!

Capetonians are still reeling from the news that the country’s and our city’s largest restaurant, Paulaner Bräuhaus, closed down on Sunday evening, after ten years of operating in the V & A Waterfront.  Our blogpost about this closure has received more than 1000 unique views in the past 48 hours, an unheard of high readership demonstrating the interest in this story.  Kloof Street appears to be experiencing a particularly bad series of restaurant closures, the street having the most restaurants in Cape Town.  Our list of latest restaurant openings and closures will be updated continuously, as we receive information.

Cape Town

*   Clarke’s Bar and Dining Room has opened on Bree Street, as an American-style diner, owned by Lyndall Maunder, ex-Superette

*   Chez Chez Espresso and Cheesecake Bar has closed down off Kloof Street, Tamboerskloof.

*   The Black Pearl (ex-Seven Sins) on Kloof Street has closed down

*   Andy Fenner (JamieWho?) and friends have opened Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants in Metal Lane, 8 Kloof Street, opposite McDonald’s.  They are stocking Farmer Angus McIntosh’s beef, Richard Bosman’s pork, and eggs and chicken from Simply Wholesome.  A barista will make coffee, and Jason will bake special chorizo muffins and bacon brioche for them.

*   Neil Grant, ex-sommelier of Rust en Vrede, has opened Burrata, a new restaurant in the Old Biscuit Mill

*   Societi Brasserie has opened in Constantia

*   Luke Dale-Roberts, Eat Out Top Chef, has opened the Pot Luck Club, a Tapas Bar next to The Test Kitchen (photograph above). He will also open a real Test Kitchen, a private experimental place to develop new recipes

*   The Bungalow has opened as a 400-seater restaurant where La Med used to be, part of the Kovensky Group, also owning Pepenero, Paranga, The Kove and Zenzero.

*   La Belle Café & Bakery has opened in the Alphen Boutique Hotel.

*   5 Rooms Restaurant has opened at the Alphen Boutique Hotel

*   Gypsy Café has opened in Observatory

*   Kuzina in the Cape Quarter has been sold, and is now called Rocca.

*   Sabrina’s, which opened about two months ago where Depasco was, at the corner of Kloof and Long Street, has closed down

*   Arts Café has opened at Artscape.

*   Chef Craig Paterson has started as Executive Chef at Dash (Queen Victoria Hotel), the V&A Hotel, and Dock House

*   Caveau at the Josephine Mill has closed down

*   Café Sofia in Green Point has become Slainte

*   Knead has opened a large outlet in Lifestyle on Kloof, Gardens

*   Mitico has opened a pizzeria and ’spaghetteria’ on Kloof Street, where St Elmo’s used to be

*   Mamma Mia in Steenberg has closed down

*   Don Pedro’s in Woodstock has re-opened, under Madame Zingara management

*   Madame Zingara is said to be re-opening in its original building on Loop Street

*   Tong Lok on Kloof Street has closed down.

*   Mason on Kloof Street has closed down (to become a Slug & Lettuce)

*   Buzz on Kloof Street has closed down

*   Myög has opened as a frozen yoghurt outlet, at 103 Kloof Street

*   Thai Café has opened in the old Cape Quarter

*   Paulaner Bräuhaus in the V&A Waterfront has closed down!

*   The Fez is closing down.

*   Giorgio Nava’s Down South Food Bar has closed down

*   Fat Back Soul has been renamed South China Dim Sum Bar

*   On a Roll has opened in Mowbray as a gourmet hot dog restaurant

*   The Dog’s Bollocks has opened as a burger pop-up restaurant

*   Saints Burger Joint has opened on Kloof Street

*   Cape Bubble Tea, which recently opened in Camps Bay, has closed down

*   Dear Me has opened its Pantry

*   Chef Jannie Melis has left French Toast

*   Jackal & Hide has opened on Kloof Street

*   Eat on Breda Street has closed down

*   Graham Beck’s Gorgeous bubbly bar has opened at Catharina’s at Steenberg, with Jenna Adams as the Manager.

*   Operator Pamela Trevelyan and Chef Lana Doyle have left Sunbird Bistro in Camps Bay.

*   Col’Cacchio is opening new outlets in Claremont and Westlake

*   Chef Daniel Botha, who started at Salt restaurant at the Ambassador Hotel in November, has left. Dale Thebus is the new head chef.

*   Vaudeville has closed down

*   Shin Tai Asian Kitchen is opening on Regent Road in Sea Point

*   Bistro 1682 Manager Juergen Welp has left, and has been replaced by Marc Cowen.  Assistant Manager Jenna Adams has moved over to Catharina’s to run Gorgeous by Graham Beck.  New assistant managers are Cable Ermstrom and Hilton Klassen.

*   A new Vida é Caffe is opening on Prestwich Street in April, and a cupcake shop is said to be opening around the corner, on Ebenezer Street, next to T & Co/Table 13, in Green Point

*   GM Nigel Pace has left the Cape Grace Hotel

*   Il Cappero will moving from Barrack Street to Fairway Street in Camps Bay, opening in May.

*   Saints on 84 Kloof has opened on Kloof Street

*   Sushibox has opened at Newlands Village

*   Richard’s Supper Stage & Bistro has opened on Main/Glengariff Roads in Sea Point, as a dinner theatre (from May), and restaurant, owned by Richard Loring and Roland Seidel

*   ‘I my Laundry laundry restaurant has opened on Buitengracht Street

*   West Street Café has opened in the new Woodstock Foundry, owned by Chef Alan West

*   Orphanage has opened as a cocktail and tapas emporium on Bree Street

*   Valora on Loop Street has closed down

*   ACT Restaurant and Play Bar at the Baxter Theatre closed down overnight on the last March weekend, without paying its rent for the past three months.

*   Philip Arno Botes is the new Chef at Pure Restaurant at Hout Bay Manor.

*  Take & Bake German Bakery has closed down on Main Road Sea Point

*  Maz Sushi has closed down on Main Road Sea Point

*   Planet Green Salad Bar has opened on Kloof Street

*  Burrata will introduce a new 3-course food and wine pairing menu before the end of April.

*  Vanilla in the Cape Quarter has closed down.

*   Chef Bruce Robertson has opened Bruce’s Beach House for lunches, in Scarborough

*   Cake designer Martin Senekal has closed Cafeteria in De Waterkant, now only selling on order and at the Old Biscuit Mill market

*   Madame’s on Napier has opened in De Waterkant

*   Moyo is to open where the Paulaner Braühaus was in the V & A Waterfront.

*   Sinn has closed down its Deli at Wembley Square

*   Table Thirteen is closing down in Green Point and moving to Paarden Eiland at the end of May

Franschhoek

* Leopard’s Leap has opened its Tasting room and Liam Tomlin Food Studio and Store outside Franschhoek

*    Reuben’s is opening a Franschhoek branch in his self-owned building off the main road, when his Huguenot Road branch lease expires this year

*   Dieu Donné in Franschhoek has leased its restaurant to Martin and Marco from Durban, and they have renamed it Roca.

*   The sushi restaurant has closed down

*   MCC Franschhoek has opened in the Village Square, opposite the church, stocking 34 MCC’s from Franschhoek and serving food as well

*  Babel Tea House has opened at Babylonstoren, serving sandwiches, cake and teas.

*  Donovan Dreyer from Grande Provence has resigned, and started as Restaurant Manager of Indochine at Delaire Graff.  Aldo du Plessis has taken over as Restaurant Manager at Grande Provence.

*  The Franschhoek Food Emporium has closed down.

*   Bijoux Chocolates has closed down its chocolate manufacture, will continue selling chocolates.

*   Chef Bjorn Dingemans has left The Franschhoek Kitchen at Holden Manz, to open up a new restaurant on Lourensford wine estate in spring. Cheyne Morrisby is the new chef at the Franschhoek Kitchen.

*   Chef Vanie Padayachee has joined Le Quartier Français

*   Chef Darren Roberts is leaving Grande Provence for a new appointment in the Seychelles at the end of April.

*   Alton van Biljon has been appointed as Restaurant Manager at Haute Cabriere.

Stellenbosch

*    Cavallo restaurant is said to open on the stud farm on R44, between Stellenbosch and Somerset West, this year or next

*   Cupcake on Dorp Street has closed down, and Dorpstraat Deli will open

*   De Oude Bank Bakkerij has opened a bar, serving Bartinney wines, and craft beers.

*   Bruce von Pressentin has been appointed as Executive Chef at The Restaurant @ Longridge

*   David Higgs has resigned as Executive Chef from Radisson Blu Gautrain in Johannesburg (previously with Rust en Vrede), and was said to be headed for his home country Namibia.  He starts at The Saxon in Johannesburg in May.

*   Slug & Lettuce will open where Beads is on Church Street

*   De Huguenot, with its Harry Q Bar and wedding reception facilities, will be auctioned on 14 March.

*   Stables at Vergelegen Bistro has opened as a lunch restaurant in Somerset West.  Its Lady Phillips Restaurant is being given a make-over by Christo Barnard, and will open in June, with a new name called The Vergelegen Restaurant.

*   Warwick wine estate’s new chef is Dane Newton (ex-Chamonix, Cascade Manor).

* Tokara closes for a winter break from 22 April, re-opens on 4 May

Paarl

* Chef Matthew Gordon has opened Harvest, a new restaurant at Laborie

*  The Spice Route Restaurant has opened on the ex-Seidelberg, now belonging to Fairview.

Hermanus/Overberg

*    Simone’s Restaurant has opened in Napier

*   Tipples Bar and Grill has opened in Hermanus

*   Rivendell Estate and Bistro has opened as a restaurant and winetasting venue on the road between Hermanus and the N2, near the Kleinmond turn-off.

*  Grilleri has closed down

Garden Route

*   Katarina’s has opened at the Kurland Hotel.

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

Restaurant Review: Harvest Restaurant at Laborie Chef Matthew Gordon’s best!

Yesterday I revisited Laborie wine estate in Paarl, to try their new Harvest restaurant which opened almost a month ago, and which has now been taken back by property owner the KWV.  I found it vastly improved, and to be the best of all the restaurants in which Chef Matthew Gordon is or has been involved.

Chef Matthew has been synonymous with restaurants in Franschhoek, and attracted attention when he had three restaurants in the village, when other chefs (e.g. Reuben Riffel, Camil Haas) went outside the village boundary when they expanded their restaurant portfolio.  It was a shock to hear earlier this year that he had not renewed his lease at Haute Cabriere, a restaurant he started 16 years ago.  He also had a joint ownership in The Grillroom (but not anymore), the French Connection, and Cotage Fromage (also withdrawn).  In Cape Town he consulted to Vanilla in the Cape Quarter.   One did not expect him to pop up in Paarl, but his mother Penny told me a month earlier that he would be opening the restaurant at Laborie.   The lease of the previous Laborie restaurant operator had expired and the KWV had chosen to not renew it.  Whilst the food was good, its service was not, I found on my visit earlier this year.

The unfriendly service at the security boom unfortunately has not changed, and I laughed when the new Manager Yolanda Prinsloo told me that it is the same company that Grande Roche uses for its security, the security staff providing the worst and rudest security service I have ever experienced. They were true to form yesterday, being pedantic about why they were asking where I was going on the property, and then justifying at length why they had to ask, rather than opening the boom!  One parks at the back of the building, and I immediately noticed that the terrace has been built up and extended out, with its beautiful view onto the Drakenstein mountain.  I also walked past the very newly planted herb garden, and saw the vegetable garden behind the parking area after it had been pointed out to me.  Being a lovely Cape summer day, I chose to sit outside, as did all other patrons.

The restaurant interior looks lighter and whiter, and Yolanda told me that it was the work of restaurant decorater Francois du Plessis (who also did Dash and Dear Me Foodworld).  It was a surprise, given the less-is-more and low key decor, mixing most of the old and adding little new, retaining the (rearranged) brown leather furniture inside, the flow of the long room divided by serving tables, with new white curtains with a hessian ribbon.  White-painted branches of a fruit tree were the wall decor, with little vases attached holding fresh white rose buds and rosemary.  More and more Winelands restaurants are using interestingly shaped vine pieces on their walls (Johans@Longridge doing it best, but also at Creation), but I thought the Laborie ones odd, white against white not working very well.  The walls are filled with rather heavy-looking Cecil Skotness paintings and while valuable and belonging to the KWV, they did not match the name of the restaurant or its interior at all. The Skotness exhibition has been spread across to all the Laborie buildings. Most odd was the decor touch in the bathroom, with three white clipboards to which had been clipped cut-out pictures of women from magazines!  On the terrace modern white LED-lit pots have been added to the terrace edge, planted with white roses.  The outside tables are less attractive with wooden tops and heavy metal bases, with an uncomfortable bar midway.  The chairs are light aluminium frames with black cane.  Grey couches and a table divide the outside seating area.  I sat next to an old oak tree, in which someone had put their cigarette ‘stompie’, which had not been picked up by staff.  My waitress seem quite disinterested when I passed on this feedback to her. Disappointing by contrast to the decor is the lack of a table cloth on the outside tables, and the unbranded little perspex salt and pepper grinders. Cutlery and crockery is by Fortis, and a material serviette is supplied.  The restaurant seats 80 patrons inside and 100 on the terrace.

Yolanda told me that she had started her career as a waitress at the Grande Roche, working her way up to Deputy GM in the twelve years that she worked there.  She then moved to the Three Cities Group, and worked at The Rex and Plettenberg Park on the Garden Route.  She came to check that everything was in order regularly, and I admired her patience when a pushy German supplier came to peddle his wares during lunch service.   All the staff of the previous restaurant operator have left, which is an improvement for the restaurant, now falling under the estate manager Cobus van Graan, who was dining at a table next to me. Geraldine White is the Head Chef, previously having worked at The Grillroom. Chef Matthew acts as Consultant Chef, and came to say hello, a nice touch.  He told me that they were expecting 700 people for the Carols by Candlelight last night, and that they were preparing picnics for it. Laborie branding comes through on the black aprons worn by the waiters, and umbrellas on the terrace.

Yolanda introduced the menu to me as being ‘South African contemporary cuisine’, serving ‘organic and free range produce’. It is presented on A3 board, and the waitress showed me all the headings on the menu which I could order from, which I told her I could read. She told me that the mussels had ‘sold out’ (at 12h45), that creamy spinach is served with all main courses, and that the specials of the day were a free-range chicken burger and marinated porcini mushroom salad, both at just over R60.   The problem with French menu names (such as potato dauphinoise) is that the staff cannot pronounce them, and my waitress really struggled with this word.  Disappointingly ordinary Ciabatta slices were brought to the table with old-fashioned butter balls, and little milk jugs of olive oil and balsamic. I ordered Kingklip when I was told that it was the linefish, and Chef Matthew served it with mash as they do not serve rice, as well as with a tomato, onion and bean salad which covered the fish, giving the dish a nice colour touch, and fennel adding to the enjoyment.  It was one of the best kingklip dishes I have tasted. Disappointing was that it was not served with a fish knife.  Other main course options include a Karoo lamb burger (R68), and a selection of steaks ranging from R90 for 180g fillet to R118 for 250g fillet.  With these can be ordered sauces and butters (e.g. Café de Paris) at R18 each.  The menu specifies that the sirloin, rump and prime rib are free-range and come from the Weltevrede farm in the Free State ‘when available’. One worries about the carbon footprint of getting the steak to the Cape, when there are other very good sources of meat closer by. Steaks are vacuum-packed and aged for at least two weeks, the menu states.

For dessert I chose fresh summer berries served with a Sabayon sauce made from Laborie Chardonnay the waitress said, although the menu describes it as a Late Harvest.  It was served in a beautiful glass dish.  Most desserts cost around R40, and other options are an Apple and boerejonggens tart served with a Marula anglaise and homemade gingerbread ice cream, a chocolate tart with a hazelnut and chocolate spring roll and homemade Kit kat ice cream, crème brûlée, and cling peach cheesecake with pistachio anglaise and balsamic syrup.  I liked the touch of the coffee bean on top of the well-made cappuccino.

The menu introduction sounded a little corny and is partly misleading: “What makes us stand out from the crowd… is it,(sic) the catch of the day delivered fresh this morning, our genuine Karoo lamb and beef (the beef comes from the Free State the menu says lower down), fresh produce from our veggie patch (but I saw the truck delivering many pockets of potatoes), herbs from our garden or the fact that we use free-range and organic where possible?   The answer… all of the above, plus fun and fresh in everything we do. Harvest, a haven for good times, friends and fun for the whole family. Are you ready to experience the difference?” .  The media release states that ‘Matthew sources produce locally from the Paarl region’.

The lunch and dinner menus differ in that sandwiches and salads feature strongly on the Lunch menu. The Dinner menu has interesting starters and main courses, including a duck parfait (R48) starter, and mains of ‘Tooinjies River’ quail risotto (R110), springbok fillet (R135), rack of Karoo lamb (R125), and duck served with Van der Hum sauce (R125). The winelist has predominantly KWV and Laborie wines, but a few other wines are listed too.  Wines by the glass cost only R20 for Laborie Cap Classique Brut 2008 (R90 per bottle), Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Chardonnay 2010, and KWV Classic Pinotage Rosé.  Piper-Heidsieck Cuvée Brut costs R80 per glass and R750 per bottle. Laborie Shiraz 2010 costs R120, and other brands offered are Landskroon, the KWV Cathedral Cellar, Laborie Jean Taillefert 2009, and KWV Mentors 2009 (at R310).

I refused the offer to have the meal comped, as I had not been invited and had chosen to come for lunch, but appreciated the offer.  Harvest staff needs waiter training, but the improved standard of the new restaurant and its quality food makes it a viable alternative to Bosman’s at Grande Roche, the only other restaurant worth considering in Paarl.

Harvest Restaurant, Laborie, Paarl.  Tel (021) 807-3095. www.laboriewines.com.  Monday – Sunday lunch, Saturday breakfast, Wednesday – Saturday dinner.

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

Recession impacts on Cape Town and Winelands restaurant openings and closures!

The recession has taken its toll, and a number of restaurants have closed down.  Interestingly, a number of chefs are moving too, an unusually high staff turnover, some of the movements due to the restaurant closures.  It is noticeable that many restaurants which opened earlier this year have closed their doors already.  Despite the recession, new restaurants have opened or are in the process of opening (we have previously listed restaurants which opened and closed earlier this year).  We will update the list of restaurant openings/closures/changes regularly, and welcome contributions:

Cape Town

*    F.east Indian Restaurant has opened on the corner Long and Bloem Streets, in Cape Town

*    Bean There Fair Trade Coffee has opened on Wale Street, two doors down from Honest Chocolate

*    What’s On Eatery on Watson Street has closed down

*    Chef Christo Pretorius, previously of De Huguenot, has started as Sous Chef at 1800 Restaurant at the Cape Royale Luxury Hotel

*     Wildflour has closed down on Regent Road in Sea Point.

*     221 Waterfront has closed down in the V&A Waterfront, and a ‘concept store’ McDonald’s is opening in its space

*     Dash Restaurant at the Queen Victoria Hotel has lost its Chef Oliver Cattermole (now at Le Franschhoek Hotel), Manager Darren Morgan (now at the One&Only Cape Town), and F&B Manager Alton van Biljon.  Executive Chef Stephen Templeton has also left for a position in the Caribbean.

*    Harbour House has opened a branch in the V & A Waterfront (right), where Fisherman’s Choice was

Café Extrablatt has opened where shu used to be, in Green Point

*     Mezepoli from Johannesburg has opened in the Nando’s space in Camps Bay

*    Goloso Italian Deli and Wine Bar has opened on Regent Road in Sea Point, near KOS

*   Clarke’s Bar and Dining Room has opened, two doors away from Bird’s Café on Bree Street, as an American-style diner, owned by Lyndall Maunder, ex-Superette

*   A late night dinner and dance restaurant will open in the ex-Brio space, with a chef from St Tropez, and a DJ from Cannes

*   Chez Chez has opened as an Espresso and Cheesecake Bar (serving 13 different cheesecakes), 3 De Lorentz Street, Tamboerskloof.

*    The Black Pearl is the new name of the Tapas, Restaurant and Cocktail Bar, with new owners, of the ex-Seven Sins on Kloof Street.

*   Bistro on Rose has opened at 35 Rose Street

*   Rhapsody’s franchise restaurant, mainly in Pretoria, has opened next door to Café Extrablatt in Green Point, where Doppio Zero used to be, with Exceutive Chef Claire Brown, previously with Ginja and Pierneef à La Motte

*   Wale Rose Lifestyle has opened in Bo-Kaap, on the corner of Wale and Rose Street, serving Cape Malay as well as ‘cosmopolitan food’.

*   Andy Fenner (JamieWho?) and friends have opened Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants in Metal Lane, 8 Kloof Street, opposite McDonald’s.  They are stocking Farmer Angus McIntosh’s beef, Richard Bosman’s pork, and eggs and chicken from Simply Wholesome.  A barista will make coffee, and Jason will bake special chorizo muffins and bacon brioche for them.  Saturday markets in the parking area outside may be on the cards.

*   Renamed Blues Beach House restaurant (right) in Camps Bay has re-opened, having been reduced in size by about half, and changed its menu to ‘beach food’*

*   Chef Leigh Trout, ex- Mange Tout at the Mont Rochelle Hotel, has bought Bird Café and Gourmet Eatery on Bree Street, with Kevin Mink.

*    Chef Jacques de Jager, has left Salt Restaurant, setting up a consultancy.  Chef Daniel Botha from Le Franschhoek Hotel has taken over his job.

*   Cocoa Oola has opened on Kloof Street, where Oishii used to be

*   Sommelier Neil Grant, ex-sommelier of Rust en Vrede, is opening Burrata, a new Italian restaurant in the Old Biscuit Mill in mid-February

*   Societi Brasserie has opened in Constantia

*   Manna Epicure is now owned by Betsie van der Merwe from Johannesburg

*   Luke Dale-Roberts, just crowned Eat Out Top Chef, has opened the Pot Luck Club, a Tapas Bar next to The Test Kitchen.

*   Chef Scottie Henry is the new chef at Sinatra restaurant at the Pepper Club Hotel

*   The Mussel Bar has opened on the Victoria Street level of the Bay Hotel in Camps Bay.

*  Peter Tempelhoff of the McGrath Collection, and The Green House in the Cellars Hohenhort Hotel  specifically, has been honoured with the title Grand Chef of Relais & Chateaux.  He is the first Cape Town and only the third South African chef to receive this honour.

*   The Bungalow has opened as a 400-seater restaurant where La Med used to be, part of the Kovensky Group, also owning Pepenero, Paranga, The Kove and Zenzero.

*   Chef Brian Smit is now at Tides Restaurant at the Bay Hotel in Camps Bay, previously with Noisy Oyster in Paternoster

*   La Belle Café & Bakery has opened in the Alphen Boutique Hotel.

*   5 Rooms Restaurant has opened at the Alphen Boutique Hotel

*   Gypsy Café has opened in Observatory

*   Kuzina in the Cape Quarter has been sold, and whilst still serving Greek food, it is now called Rocca.

*   Sabrina’s has opened where Depasco was, at the corner of Kloof and Long Street

*   Arts Café has opened at Artscape.

*   Chef Craig Paterson has started as Executive Chef at Dash (Queen Victoria Hotel), the V&A Hotel, and Dock House

*   Caveau at the Josephine Mill has closed down

*   Café Sofia in Green Point has become Slainte

*   Knead has opened a large outlet in Lifestyle on Kloof, Gardens

*   Mitico has opened a pizzeria and ‘spaghetteria’ on Kloof Street, where St Elmo’s used to be

*   Mamma Mia in Steenberg is closing down at the end of February

*   Don Pedro’s in Woodstock will re-open on 14 February, under Madame Zingara management

*   Madame Zingara is said to be re-opening in its original building on Loop Street

*   Tong Lok on Kloof Street has closed down.

*   Mason on Kloof Street has closed down

*   Buzz on Kloof Street has closed down

*   Black Pearl on Kloof Street has closed down

*   Myög has opened as a frozen yoghurt outlet, at 103 Kloof Street

*   Thai Café has opened in the Cape Quarter

*   Bruce von Pressentin has been appointed as Executive Chef at The Restaurant@Longridge

*   David Higgs has resigned as Executive Chef from Radisson Blu Gautrain in Johannesburg (previously with Rust en Vrede).

*   Paulaner Bräuhaus in the V&A Waterfront is closing down on Sunday 19 February!

*   The Fez is closing down.

Franschhoek

*  The Olive Shack at Allora in Franschhoek has closed its restaurant operation, and will only operate as a shop selling olive-related products.

* Leopard’s Leap has opened its Tasting room and Liam Tomlin Food Studio and Store outside Franschhoek

* The Kitchen and The Tasting Room has opened on Maison wine estate in Franschhoek, with Chef Arno Janse van Rensburg (ex Ginja, Myoga), and Manager Julian Smith (ex Azure, Grande Provence,  Waterkloof, Pierneef a La Motte) (left)

*   Haute Cabriere Cellar Restaurant has re-opened with new decor, and new chef Ryan Shell.

*    Reuben’s is opening a Franschhoek branch in nhis self-owned building off the main road, and will run it concurrently until its Huguenot Road branch lease expires next year

*   Franschhoek Famous Pancake House, with owner Gideon, has re-opened as a take-away pancake outlet, in Mont View Centre, next to the gym, in Fabriek Street, Franschhoek.

*   Batho’s Place African Restaurant has opened in the township in Franschhoek.  082 090 8660

*    Chef Oliver Cattermole, previously with Dash and What’s On Eatery, has started as Executive Chef at Le Franschhoek Hotel.

*   Dieu Donné in Franschhoek has leased its restaurant to Martin and Marco from Durban, and they have renamed it Roca. Chef Jo van Staden has returned to Durban with her husband, Chef Gerard van Staden, who has returned to the Beverley Hills Hotel, after a short stint at the Pepper Club Hotel’s Sinatra restaurant.

*   Chef Chris Smit of Café BonBon has resigned

*   Café Le Chocolatier has opened a chocolate manufacturing and demo outlet Le Chocolatier Factory, next to its restaurant, in Franschhoek

*    Bijoux Chocolates has opened on Huguenot Road in Franschhoek.

*   Terbodore Coffee Roasters have opened a coffee roastery and coffee shop, at Goederust, outside Franschhoek

*   The sushi restaurant has closed down

*   MCC Franschhoek has opened in the Village Square, opposite the church, stocking 34 MCC’s from Franschhoek and serving food as well

*   Judy Sendzul has sold her share in The Salmon Bar to Gregory Stubbs of Three Streams trout farm

*  Babel Tea House has opened at Babylonstoren, serving sandwiches, cake and teas.

*  Donovan Dreyer from Grande Provence has resigned and starts as Restaurant manager of Indochine at Delaire Graff on 6 January.  Aldo du Plessis has taken over as Restaurant Manager at Grande Provence.

*   Mon Plaisir Restaurant has moved next door to the Chamonix tasting room

Stellenbosch

*   De Huguenot Restaurant and Harry Q Bar have closed.  The De Huguenot Estate will concentrate on weddings and events only.

*    Cavallo restaurant is said to open on the stud farm on R44, between Stellenbosch and Somerset West, in 2012 or 2013

*    Chef Anri Diener has left Majeka House, and Chef Tanja Kruger from De Huguenot Restaurant has taken over her position

*   Vanessa Quellec has joined Wild Peacock Food Emporium, to promote their Valrhona Chocolates

*   The owners of Sweet have returned to Sweden, and Dimitri has bought it and renamed it Dimi’s.

*   Manager Chris Oliver and Chef Marissa Chandansing of Johan’s@Longridge have left, and will start a new restaurant, details as yet undisclosed

*   Casparus will close between 24 December and 9 January

*   Laurille and Lynne from Olivello Restaurant on Marianne wine estate outside Stellenbosch are handing over the ownership of the restaurant to Alex and Jane Bradbeck on 23 January.

*   Cupcake on Dorp Street has closed down, and Dorpstraat Deli opens at the end of February

*   De Oude Bank Bakkerij has opened a bar, serving Bartinney wines, and craft beers.

Paarl

* Chef Matthew Gordon has opened Harvest, a new restaurant at Laborie

* Peaches and Cream on the Main Road in Paarl has been taken over by Anica Bester

*  The Spice Route Restaurant has opened on the ex-Seidelberg, now belonging to Fairview.

Somerset West

*  Events manager Mandy Smith and Restaurant Manager Allan Ware have been retrenched at Waterkloof

Hermanus/Overberg

*    Mediterrea in Hermanus has changed its name to Grilleri

*   Patron Chef Stefan Louw has taken over the running of Heaven on Newton Johnson wine estate in the Hemel en Aarde wine valley.

*   Ex-Hermanos chef/owner Wayne Spencer is now at Burgundy in Hermanus

*   Simone’s Restaurant has opened in Napier

*   Tipples Bar and Grill has opened in Hermanus

*   Rivendell Estate and Bistro has opened as a restaurant and winetasting venue on the road between Hermanus and the N2, near the Kleinmond turn-off.

Garden Route

*   Katarina’s has opened at the Kurland Hotel.

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

What’s On at What’s On Eatery? A new chef, a new menu to come!

The most exciting restaurant news in Cape Town must be the move of Chef Oliver Cattermole of Dash Restaurant at the new Queen Victoria Hotel, to What’s On Eatery at the end of this month, the ideal marriage of superb host Trevor Jordaan with a superb chef.  The restaurant will be serving food with ‘simplistic elegance’, in a homely and hearty environment, and is set to become even more popular than it already is.

Chef Oliver attracted my attention with his most beautiful ‘Alice in Wonderland’ vegetable garden he created with the beef fillet and mash dish at Dash.  Oliver is a quiet man who is passionate about what he creates, and told me about his plans for What’s On Eatery when we met with Trevor yesterday.  He wants to position What’s On as a small neighbourhood eatery, and is looking forward to lifting What’s On to new heights. He will serve simple food, cooked impeccably, and beautifully presented.  His menu is likely to change monthly, and some of the starters include Prawn cocktail, Roast beef salad, Caprese salad, Mussels with cider (his personal favorite), and Oysters with seaweed.  Mains are likely to include Linefish of the day, Monkfish Masala, Breast of lamb, and Pork belly with apple puree, crackling and black pudding soil.  On the Dessert menu could appear delectable items such as Lemon tart (using the Le Gavroche recipe but with an Oliver twist), Chocolate marquise, a Chocolate plate using chocolate by CocoaFair, and Elderflower berries and custard.  The lunch menu will be lighter, with platters of charcuterie, fish, and cheese, as well as soups and gourmet ciabattas.  Starters will range from R35 – R65, main courses from R95 – R165, and desserts around R40 – R45. Gorgeous sorbet palate cleansers will be served.

Chef Oliver grew up in Durbanville, and worked on weekends for George Jardine at the Cellars Hohenhort hotel whilst he was still at school.  He did a kitchen internship with Matthew Gordon at Haute Cabriére Cellar Restaurant for 2,5 years, and worked alongside Scott Kirton, the La Colombe chef.  Chef Oliver left for the UK, and worked at 2-Michelin star restaurant Le Gavroche, in which kitchen Michel Roux jnr reigned. He said it was tough working in a French kitchen, without being able to speak French, but it did give him a good grounding.  The rule of the chef was ‘my way or no way’!  This kitchen influenced Chef Oliver the most, and he owns ten Roux cookery books, and makes his jus and sauces the Roux way.  In this kitchen they do things the old-fashioned way, and here Oliver learnt discipline, punctuality, time-keeping, and being organised, in a kitchen that was run with ‘military precision’. Here he worked with Phil Carmichael, ex-Maze chef at the One&Only Cape Town.  He moved to The Ivy, one of London’s top restaurants with 400 covers, of which Giles Conran once said: “The most fashionable piece of furniture in London is a table at The Ivy”, and worked there for three years.  This restaurant sees VIP’s such as Tony Blair, Tom Cruise, Julia Roberts, the Beckhams, John Travolta, and Elton John eat good British food here regularly. It is one of the ultimate places to be seen, and serves the ‘best of British’ food, Chef Oliver said.  Even Gordon Ramsay used to eat at The Ivy every Friday evening, having beef tartar, and fish and chips. Oliver worked here as Chef de Partie, and was responsible for the vegetables, one of the hardest sections of this kitchen, the menu offering 37 side dishes.

Novelli’s at The London Capital Club, with Jean Christophe, for whom George Jardine worked, was Chef Oliver’s next employer.  This one-Michelin star restaurant serves refined food with clean and sharp lines in its presentation. Foraging was a trademark of this restaurant.  When most of his colleagues left, Chef Oliver left too, working on a Silverseas cruise liner for six months.  Then he spent 2,5 years at Cannizaro House, which was awarded three rosettes by the UK AA Guide, first as Sous Chef and then as Senior Sous Chef.  Foraging here too was important, and ’boutique’ ingredients were sourced in the preparation of modern British food.  A snowed-in Christmas last year made him decide to return to his home city, and he was offered a job by Newmark Hotels, first at their V&A Hotel, and then at the Queen Victoria Hotel, where he and the team of chefs designed the exciting Dash menu.  Chef Oliver says his job as Chef de Cuisine at Dash has broadened his horizons and pushed his culinary boundaries. Chef Oliver is the son of Nigel Cattermole, a co-founder and partner in Siris Vintners, owner of Wines @ the Mill, and lecturer at Varsity College.

Owner Trevor Jordaan is planning a number of changes to coincide with Chef Oliver’s arrival: the downstairs room will be set up as upstairs, with highback chairs, and some other decor upgrades; the counter will be set up as a bar, and bar snacks will be served, such as home-made biltong; a new awning and signage is planned; Chef Oliver will come out of the kitchen after the service;  the opening hours will change to 9h30 – late, without closing in the late afternoon, Monday – Friday, and on Saturday evenings.

POSTSCRIPT 4/10: I have not wanted to eat at What’s On Eatery until new Chef Oliver has settled in, but could not help ordering the new starter Durbanville Asparagus with coddled hen’s egg and soldiers this afternoon, when stopping by for a coffee, excellent value at R45, and beautifully presented.  I met the new sous chef Wesley, who also worked at Dash, and previously at Jardine.

POSTSCRIPT 31/10: Sadly and unexpectedly What’s On Eatery closed down today.

What’s On Eatery, 6 Watson Street, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 422-5652.  www.whatsoneatery.co.za.  Twitter: @Whatsoneatery

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

Haute Cabrière Cellar Restaurant breath of fresh air, exciting new chef

The Haute Cabrière wine cellar and restaurant are an institution in Franschhoek, having opened sixteen years ago, with a location on the slopes of the Franschhoek Pass that has one of the best views of the village.  Chef Matthew Gordon’s departure earlier this year allowed the Von Arnim family to take over the management of the restaurant, creating an opportunity for the restaurant interior to be redone, and for new chef Ryan Shell to be appointed, re-opening on 1 September.

The best part of the refurbishment is that the restaurant has received permission from the powers-that-be to serve guests outside, to capitalise on the beautiful view over the Franschhoek valley, which one does not see much of when sitting inside.  Winetasting too can now be done outside at special tables and chairs, outside the next-door cellar, home to the Saturday morning 11h00 cellar tour which ends with the Sabrage highlight.  Christiane von Armin, daughter-in-law of flamboyant legend owner Achim von Arnim, took on the restaurant project, and her first step was the furnishing.  She has added the most comfortable white leather chairs, and two white couches with a coffee table with a vase of deep red roses are a friendly homely welcome as one enters through the massive glass doors.  Achim is a painter too, and his works are hung in the restaurant and the wine cellar.  New chandeliers have been added, the glass crystals having an almost identical shape to the chair backs.  The winetasting room and restaurant are now visibly connected, in that a new window allows each side to see the other, and creates a display space for all the Haute Cabrière wines, best known for the Pierre Jourdan sparkling wines. Tables have white table cloths, and the abundance of white in the restaurant makes it look fresh.  French-style café music plays in the background.

Having tried to eat at the restaurant on Thursday evening (they only open in the evenings on Friday and Saturday in September), I returned yesterday for lunch and arrived just as Achim’s wife Hildegard, son Tamo, Christiane,  Jos Baker, and Ian and Lise Manley arrived, and I was privileged to be spontaneously invited by Christiane to join their table.   The Manleys have been appointed to handle the publicity for Haute Cabrière. Jos Baker was the first shareholder of the wine estate, and was a good friend of ‘Omi’ Theodora von Arnim, Achim’s mother, and Tamo regaled us with stories about what sounded like a wonderful colourful character. Jos still judges the San Pellegrino World’s Best 50 Restaurants, and is off to Europe shortly to do her judging. I got to know Jos as a member of Cape Town Slow Food, and she was the most creative planner of exciting events for the club.  Sadly she is no longer involved.

Exciting is the young chef Ryan Shell, who will position the Haute Cabrière restaurant as one of Franschhoek’s best again. Chef Ryan left the Prue Leith Chef’s Academy as a lecturer, and has worked in Franschhoek before, with Chef Margot Janse at Le Quartier Français, with Chef Chris Erasmus (now at Pierneef à La Motte) when at Ginja, and with Mike Bassett at Myoga. He has also worked at the Michelin-starred Longueville Manor on the Isle of Jersey.   His inspiration to cook came for his aunt, who encouraged him to go to chef’s school. Ryan says he is part of a team of eight making the cuisine magic happen, and that it is easy to do so in the beautiful cave-design building, to which guests come because they want to be there, making them easy to please.  His menu will evolve, much like the wines in the cellar next door, he says, and he has made three changes to the menu in the past ten days already, ensuring that it remains fresh.  Zelda Oelofse-Cornthwaite is the manager, and she has retained most of the previous Haute Cabriére restaurant staff, and has added Desiree, the previous manager of Bouillabaisse.  Staff wear white shirts and black pants, with a strongly branded red Haute Cabriére apron.  Their service is friendly and efficient.

The menu and wine list are presented in a black leather holder.  The menu introduction refers to the changes that have taken place in the restaurant, but that it is still committed to established traditions and the ‘true marriage between food and wine, setting the scene for our food to dance with our wines for your enjoyment’. What was started by Chef Matthew Gordon has been carried on by Chef Ryan, in that almost all dishes, even the desserts, are available in full and half portions, allowing one to taste a larger number of dishes, and making eating at the restaurant cost-effective.  Most of the Haute Cabrière wines are available by the glass too.  The table setting has a glass of sparkling wine on each table, and probably would make one order a glass of bubbly as a start.  We were offered a glass of Pierre Jourdan Cuvée Belle Rose.  The menu has a wine pairing recommendation for each dish, and dishes containing nuts are marked.

Chef Ryan impressed by coming to the table, to introduce his amuse bouche of a trio of roast tomato soup, prawn beignet, and buffalo mozzarella, tomato and onion salad.  His lovely freshly-baked bread was quickly finished.  The starter choices are Malay curried butternut soup with a lime prawn mousse and coconut (R30/60), very yummy duck liver parfait (left) served on blueberry toast, and a celery and orange salad (R45/65), confit lamb terrine filled with apricot (R40/60), and pickled beetroot salad (R35/55).   The six main courses offer a variety of choices, including meat, fish and vegetarian: braised pork belly is served with peach pommes puree, roasted porcini and a peanut froth (R60/R100), Beef Wellington (R76/R125), a beautiful light and healthy lasagna of Franschhoek salmon trout (right) with orange-buttered baby vegetables (R65/110), tomato and buffalo mozzarella tart (R50/90), crown roasted chicken breast with sweet corn couscous (R65/110), and porcini-crusted wildebeest loin served with a bitter chocolate jus (R75/145).

It is on the dessert side that Chef Ryan’s creativity really comes to the fore, in the elements the desserts are composed of.  I chose lemon thyme panna cotta, for its unusual addition of butternut anglaise, and was served with a blueberry tuille and grilled vanilla chiffon (R40/55).  Other options are bitter chocolate crème brûlee served with banana and rosemary beignets, mint syrup and sour cherry sorbet (R40/60); Pierre Jourdan poached pears served with molasses pudding and vanilla and rooibos ice cream (R30/55); and strawberry and champagne jelly served with spicy walnut ice cream (R40/60).  Coffee is by LavAzza.

The Pierre Jourdan Cap Classiques Brut, Cuvée Belle Rose, Brut Savage, and Blanc de Blanc range in price from R32/R129 to R42/R169.  The Cuvée Reserve is only available by the bottle, at R264.  Pierre Jourdan is honoured in the brand name, having been the first owner of the Cabriére wine estate.  Haute Cabriére Chardonnay/Pinot Noir 2010 (R27/109), Unwooded Pinot Noir 2011 (R30/119), Pinot Noir 2011 (R47/189); Pierre Jourdan Tranquille lower alcohol wine (R21/82); Pierre Jourdan Ratafia (R16/129) and Fine de Jourdan potstill brandy (R27/R219) are also offered, all at very reasonable prices.

Haute Cabriére Cellar Restaurant is an exciting reinvented rediscovery, and Chef Ryan is a breath of fresh air in this well-established restaurant.  It offers a good variety of creatively prepared dishes as well as wines at affordable prices.

POSTSCRIPT 30/10: Lovely lunch at Haute Cabriere today, and well looked after by Desiree and her staff. Spoilt with glass of Pierre Jourdan Cuvée Belle Rose.  Excellent tender fillet in Beef Wellington (starter portion), and interesting sour cherry sorbet, with cherry and cinnamon soup for dessert.

Haute Cabrière Cellar Restaurant, Franschhoek Pass, Monday – Sunday lunch, Friday and Saturday dinner (in September, from October lunch and dinners daily).  Tel (021) 876-3688. www.cabriere.co.za

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

Restaurant closures sign of tough times in the Cape! Yet new ones opening!

It would appear as if the world-wide recession has only hit South Africa, and the Cape in particular, now and with a severe bang.  There is almost daily news of restaurant closures, three alone in the past three days, sad given how much the restaurants have invested in building a brand name and a regular following for their businesses.

The more than 100 restaurants in Cape Town and in the Winelands that are offering such generous Winter specials must be commended, and we will do our best to make their specials known to as many persons as possible.  We encourage our readers to do the same, to prevent any further closures.

We have created a new blogpost, with the restaurants opening and closing, and chefs moving, since spring 2011.

The following restaurants have closed down in the past few months, and these may not be the only ones as the winter takes its toll:

*   Jardine’s Restaurant has closed on Bree Str

*   Liquorice and Lime has closed down on St George’s Mall

*   Cheyne has closed on Bree Street

*   The Kitchen Bar in the Quarters’ Hotel in Hermanus has closed

*   The Bistro in Franschhoek has closed down

*   The Sandbar in Camps Bay has closed down

*   The Blonde building is up for sale, and does not appear to be re-opening in August, as was announced by The Caviar Group, owners of Blonde

*   The Green Dolphin Jazz Club in the V & A Waterfront has closed down

*   Mezzaluna in Loop Street has closed down

*   Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant judge Pete Goffe-Wood’s Wild Woods Restaurant has closed down.

*   Restaurant Christophe closed down in Stellenbosch on 25 June. Eat Out Top 20 Chef Christophe Dehosse will be back at Joostenberg from August.

*   Nando’s in Camps Bay has closed down

*   Haute Cabriere, under the chefmanship of Matthew Gordon, closed on 7 June at the wine tasting venue with the same name in Franschhoek.  See below for re-opening.

*   Karma closed down in Camps Bay

*   Hermanos in Hermanus has closed down

*   Fizz Affair Champagne and Wine Bar has closed down in Franschhoek

*   Doppio Zero in Green Point has closed down

*   Nzolo Brand Café has closed down in Church Street

*  L’Aperitivo has closed down.  See below for Valora.

*   On Broadway’s in-house restaurant has closed down.  Re-opened as Roberto’s on 7 July – see below.

*   Doppio Zero Claremont has closed down

*   Brio 1893 is closing down on 12 August

*   Chenin has closed in the old Cape Quarter

*   Cafe Max has closed down in De Waterkant

*   Bella Lucia has closed down in Wynberg

*   Iconic restaurant Linger Longer has closed down in Johannesburg after the death of chef Walter Ulz, 2010 Eat Out Lannice Snyman Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.

*   Postocini Express has closed on Greenmarket Square

*   De Huguenot Restaurant, only having open for six months, closes at the end of October.  The Harry Q bar will continue operating, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.  The De Huguenot Estate will concentrate on weddings and events.

*   Wildflour has closed down on Regent Road in Sea Point.

*  The Olive Shack in Franschhoek has closed its restaurant operation, and will only operate as a shop selling olive-related products.

*   221 Waterfront has closed down in the V&A Waterfront

*   What’s On Eatery in Watson Street has closed down

But all is not doom and gloom, and the restaurateurs that are opening restaurants in these difficult times must be congratulated and wished well.  These restaurants opened their doors this year :

*   Etienne Bonthuys (ex-Tokara) has opened his long-awaited restaurant on Dorp Street, Stellenbosch, called Casparus, in partnership with artist Strijdom van der Merwe (left).

*   DISH has opened at Inn on the Square, Greenmarket Square

*   The Olive Shack at Allora in Franschhoek has opened as a deli, doing olive oil tastings, and serving Breakfast, Greek lunches and picnics

*   Tables restaurant has opened at Nitida wine estate in Durbanville

*   Mozzarella Bar has opened on Kloof Street, Gardens

*   Café Benedict has opened on the main road in Franschhoek.

*   Trinity has opened as a ‘super club’ in Bennett Street in Green Point

*   Il Cappero Italian Restaurant* has opened in Barrack Street

*   Caffé Milano* has opened on Kloof Street, Gardens

*   The Stone Kitchen has opened at Dunstone Winery in Wellington

*  The Franschhoek Food Emporium has open in Place Vendome, and is owned by legendary Topsi Venter’s daughter Danielle

*   What’s On Eatery* has opened in Watson Street, between Loop and Bree Street

*   Haas Coffee Collective has opened on Rose Street in Bo-Kaap

*   Crunch:The Pastry Shop coffee shop and bakery has opened in Paarl, owned by Gerard van Staden, previously chef at Le Franschhoek Hotel

*   Dear Me Brasserie and Tjing Tjing Bar has opened on Longmarket Street (right).

*   Act Restaurant and Play Bar have opened at the Baxter Theatre

*   Le Coq has opened in Franschhoek

*   Dash has opened in the Queen Victoria Hotel in the Waterfront

*   Café Dijon has opened another branch at Zorgvliet wine estate

*   Harbour House has opened a branch in the V & A Waterfront, where Fisherman’s Choice was

*   KOS Coffee & Cuisine has opened in The Regency on Regent Road in Sea Point

*   Café Extrablatt has opened where shu used to be, in Green Point

*   Skinny Legs & All has opened on Loop Street

*   Leopard’s Leap will open its picnic facility, tasting room and cookery school outside Franschhoek in November/December

*   De Huguenot Estate has opened The Marianne, Harry Q Bar and Fraiche, with ex-Hunter’s Country Lodge chef Tanya Kruger in the kitchen. (The De Huguenot restaurant closes at the end of October – see in closures above, and Fraiche Deli will no longer open).

*   Cicciobella Pizzeria has opened in Hout Bay

*   Takumi has opened, with Chef Papa San the Sushi Master

*   Sunbird Bistro has opened in the ex-Sandbar space on Victoria Road in Camps Bay, with Lana Doyle as chef and Pamela Trevelyan as Manager. Smart blue/white interior. Serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, cocktails and tapas.

*   The Grand Camps Bay will be operated by the ex-Sandbar for Breakfast and lunch.  The Grand takes over from 4 pm.

*   Mezepoli from Johannesburg is opening in the Nando’s space in Camps Bay on 20 October

*   Saboroso has opened in Bakoven, where Marika’s used to operate

*   Café Le Chocolatier has opened a chocolate manufacturing and demo outlet Le Chocolatier Factory, next to its restaurant, in Franschhoek, utilising Lindt equipment and chocolate

*   Haute Cabriere Cellar Restaurant has re-opened, with new chef Ryan Shell.

*   Cavallo restaurant is said to open on the stud farm on R44, between Stellenbosch and Somerset West, in 2012 or 2013

*   Roberto’s has opened underneath On Broadway, owned by Chef Roberto de Carvalho, ex-chef at the Twelve Apostles Hotel and the One & Only Cape Town

*   Luigi’s is opening in Paarl where Ciao Bella used to be

*   Our Place is opening in Durbanville where Avocado used to be

*   Friends Café has opened at 44 Belvedere Street, Claremont. Tel (021) 674-5510

*   Valora has opened where L’Aperitivo was, on Loop Street

*   Rococoa has opened in The Palms Decor and Lifestyle Centre in Woodstock

*   Luke Dale-Roberts (The Test Kitchen) is opening another restaurant in Wynberg, said to be where Bella Lucia is – this report, initially announced on the Spill blog, has been denied by Luke Dale-Roberts

*   Reuben’s is opening another Franschhoek branch off the main road, and will run it concurrently until its main road branch lease expires next year.

*   Toro has opened in the old Cape Quarter, near the back entrance of Andiamo, as a Wine/Aperitivo Bar, with an ex-Overture chef

*   Goloso Italian Deli and Wine Bar has opened on Regent Road in Sea Point, next door to Wildflour.

*   Franschhoek Famous Pancake House, with owner Gideon, has opened as a take-away pancake outlet, in Mont View Centre, next to the gym, in Fabriek Street, Franschhoek.

*   Cafeteria has opened in De Waterkant, initially selling wraps, sandwiches, coffee, and beautiful pastries, cakes and macaroons by Martin Senekal as take-aways, and planning to expand into a sit-down coffee shop in October.

*   A late night dinner and dance restaurant will open in the ex-Brio space in October, with a chef from St Tropez, and a DJ from Cannes

*   LM Grills has opened in Onrus, outside Hermanus, previous owners of restaurants with same name in Johannesburg and Mocambique

*   Chez Chez has opened as an Espresso and Cheesecake Bar (serving 13 different cheesecakes), 3 De Lorentz Street, Tamboerskloof.

*   Bistro on Rose has opened at 35 Rose Street

*   The Slug & Lettuce has opened on Long Street

*   Rhapsody’s franchise restaurant, mainly in Pretoria, is to open next door to Café Extrablatt in Green Point, where Doppio Zero used to be

*   Wale Rose Lifestyle has opened in Bo-Kaap, on the corner of Wale and Rose Street, serving Cape Malay as well as ‘cosmopolitan food’.

*   Andy Fenner (JamieWho?) and friends are opening Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants on Kloof Street, opposite McDonald’s, in December

* The Kitchen at Maison opens on Maison wine estate in Franschhoek on 16 November, with Chef Arno Janse van Rensburg (ex-Ginja, ex-Myoga), and Manager Julian Smith (ex-Grande Provence, ex-Waterkloof, ex-Pierneef a La Motte)

*   McDonald’s is opening a ‘concept store’ in the V&A Waterfront, where 221 Waterfront used to be

*   Batho’s Place African Restaurant has opened in the township in Franschhoek.  082 090 8660

*   Liam Tomlim’s Cookery School opens at Leopard’s Leap at the end of November, next door to La Motte in Franschhoek, also serving picnics.

*   F.east Indian Restaurant has opened corner Long and Bloem Streets, in Cape Town

Restaurant changes:

*   Chef Jacques de Jager, has left Salt Restaurant, after about 18 months

*   Restaurant Manager Darren Morgan has left Dash Restaurant, and is now at the One&Only Cape Town

*   Food & Beverage Manager of Dock House, Queen Victoria Hotel and V&A Hotel, Alton van Biljon, has left

*   Chef Lucas Carstens has left Reuben’s at One&Only Cape Town, and joined Cuvée Restaurant, at Simonsig wine estate

*   Blues in Camps Bay is reducing the size of its restaurant, and re-opens as Blues Beach House on 14 October

*   Chef Leigh Trout has left Mange Tout at the Mont Rochelle Hotel, and has bought Bird Café and Gourmet Eatery on Bree Street, with Kevin Mink.  They re-opened on 1 September with an amended interior and a new menu.

*  Ex-Hermanos chef/owner Wayne Spencer is now at Burgundy in Hermanus

*   Carl Habel, Sommelier of The Mount Nelson Hotel, has been appointed Restaurant Manager of Planet Restaurant too

*   Peaches and Cream on the Main Road in Paarl has been taken over by Anica Bester

*   Mediterrea in Hermanus has changed its name to Grilleri

*   Patron Chef Stefan Louw has taken over the running of Heaven on Newton Johnson wine estate in the Hemel en Aarde wine valley.

*   The Black Pearl is the new name of the Tapas, Restaurant and Cocktail Bar, with new owners, of the ex-Seven Sins on Kloof Street.

*   Chef Oliver Cattermole has left Dash restaurant at the Queen Victoria Hotel, and joined What’s On Eatery on 1 October.

*   Cocoa Oola has opened on Kloof Street, where Oishii used to be

*   Chef Anri Diener has left Majeka House, and Chef Tanja Kruger from De Huguenot Restaurant takes over her position

*  Chef Daniel Botha has left Le Franschhoek Hotel, and starts at Salt Restaurant on 1 November

*  Chef Oliver Cattermole, previously with Dash and What’s On Eatery, has started as Executive Chef at Le Franschhoek Hotel on 7 November.

*   Chef Matthew Gordon in Franschhoek is opening a new restaurant in Paarl

*   Dieu Donné in Franschhoek has leased its restaurant to Martin and Marco from Durban, and they have renamed it La Rocca. Chef Jo van Staden has returned to Durban with her husband, Chef Gerard van Staden, who has returned to the Beverley Hills Hotel.

*   Chef Chris Smit of Café BonBon has resigned

*   Chef Christo Pretorius, previously of De Huguenot, has started at 1800 Restaurant at the Cape Royale Luxury Hotel

*   Sommelier Neil Grant of Rust en Vrede has resigned, leaves at the end of November, and is said to open a new restaurant in the Old Biscuit Mill

The following restaurants are taking a winter break:

*   La Colombe: 30 May – 20 June

*   River Café:   10 – 30 August

*   Constantia Uitsig:   4 – 26 July

*   The Grand Café Camps Bay:   June and July

*   Pure Restaurant: 1 – 31 July

*   Terroir: 1 – 11 July

*   Grande Provence:   18 – 31 July

*   Pierneef à La Motte:  15 June – 15 July

*   French Connection: 30 May – 20 June

*   Freedom Hill: July and August

*   Overture: July

*   Waterkloof: 27 June – 20 July

*   French Toast Wine & Tapas Bar 18 – 24 July

*   Tasting Room and Common Room at Le Quartier Francais closed until 31 July

*   The Olive Shack at Allora in Franschhoek is closed until the end of September

*   Tokara Restaurant: closed 8 – 22 August

*   Blues in Camps Bay is closing for a month from 22 August – 2 October, for renovations to reduce the size of the restaurant

*   Allée Bleue will not be serving lunch on Mondays and Tuesdays during September.

*   The Kove in Camps Bay is closed until mid-September for renovations

*   Laborie Restaurant in Paarl is closed for renovations until end October.

POSTSCRIPT 28/7: Pete Goffe-Wood, ex-owner of Wild Woods in Hout Bay, has written a frank article on Food24 about why he recently closed his restaurant. He blames Capetonians for not supporting restaurants in winter months, which means that they have to cover costs out of savings created in summer, to keep the business afloat in winter (this is a general Cape winter scenario for all businesses in the tourism industry – if one does not know about this, one should not be in the business in the first place!).  He writes that Johannesburg restaurants do not suffer this seasonality.  The recent 2-week summery spell proved what an important role the weather plays – business was booming for restaurants and accommodation as Capetonians left their homes, went out, and spent money, a welcome cash injection in these difficult times.  The Bastille Festival in Franschhoek had record attendance during this period.

Restaurant Specials cause cost undercutting, which attracts business and provides cashflow, but does not help the industry, he writes. If specials weren’t offered, one probably would have seen a far greater number of restaurants closing down. They are hugely popular, and on this blog the Restaurant Specials listings are the most popular of all blogposts.  He also blames restaurant owners, often chefs, for being too ’emotional’ about their businesses, and for not seeing the signs of tough times early enough, which may call for closing one’s restaurant.  Clearly opening any business at the moment is high risk, and for a hospitality business the risk is even higher.   Goffe-Wood also lashes out at the recent Weekend Argus article about Restaurant Closures, using names from this blogpost.  As much as he blames journalist Helen Bamford for getting her facts wrong, he does too, in calling her Linda!  Describing a non-renewal of a restaurant lease as not being a restaurant closure or failure is very debatable – if things were going well, leases would have been renewed, especially for a restaurant like Haute Cabriere, where Chef Matthew Gordon had operated for 16 years!

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

Restaurant Review: Le Coq good value Franschhoek family restaurant, dreadful ‘Dali’ decor!

I have the highest regard for the entrepreneurial spirit of Robert Maingard, although he is not Franschhoek’s favourite semi-citizen.  Mr Maingard has incredible faith in Franschhoek, judging by his investment in this village, including ownership of Dieu Donné, Le Franschhoek Hotel, Crepe et Cidre, numerous small shopping centers on the main road (one which includes a Clicks and the village’s second Pick ‘n Pay, which has had the residents up in arms), and now owner of Café Benedict and the newly opened Le Coq restaurant.  I visited the restaurant three times over two days, to get a grip on this ‘schizophrenic’ restaurant, which is located in the new (as yet unnamed) centre which was built where the old Huguenot Hotel once stood.

The French rooster is the symbol of all things Gallic, Wikipedia informs, and Mr Maingard’s Mauritian roots show in his choice of name for the restaurant in this French-faux village.   The rooster that graces the entrance to the restaurant was found under a table in Mr Maingard’s home, Llewellyn Lambert told me.  The restaurant is huge, with an industrial feel to the space, with visible airconditioning trunking.  The restaurant is divided over two levels, each seating about 60 patrons, probably the largest restaurant in Franschhoek.  The upstairs level has its own Grill menu, and focuses on steak.  Here too is a coldroom, so that one can see the meat hung for use for grilling, and from which meat can be sold to customers to take home.   Downstairs, the menu focus is on affordable light meals.   

With its French name, its interior design is a surprise, it is so bizarre! The downstairs section has a fireplace, which will be cosy in the cold Franschhoek winter, and above it hangs a Salvador Dali ‘replica’.  Here is where things go dreadfully wrong with the decor, the designer being Carol Cornwall, of Cornwall Interiors in Durban, who has done all Mr Maingard’s Quarters Hotels, Dieu Donné and Crepe et Cidre.  Dali was a Spanish abstract artist, now used in a French style Franschhoek family restaurant.  There is another Dali ‘replica’ upstairs, a copy of the famous ‘The Persistence of Memory’ above its fireplace, the well-known pocketwatch one, hence all the clocks on the walls.  Without the explanation by Lambert, I would not have made the connection.  There are more ‘Dali’s’ to come, I was told!

But worse still is the lounge sections that have been created in each of the two levels, for those patrons who have to wait for a table (it will take some time to get to this stage, given that Franschhoek is already seeing its first pre-winter casualties, with restaurants and other shops closing down).  The furniture for these two sections looks like it comes straight out of Joshua Doore –  a white ‘plastic’ couch upstairs, and ‘velour’ high back chairs in orange and blue downstairs!   Going back for the third time, I understood the decor approach, being to pick up the blue and the burnt orange from the ‘Dali’s’ for the chairs, but it is the execution that I cannot understand, in that they make the restaurant feel common and kitsch.  The rest of the decor, in terms of the tables and dining chairs (white leather downstairs and beige fabric upstairs) is absolutely fine.  Lambert told me that Mr Maingardis an avid antique collector, and antique sewing machines have formed the bases for the upstairs granite-top tables.   One can sit outside on the terrace upstairs, with a lovely view onto the Franschhoek mountains, but also onto the large parking area below. Parking is a benefit of the new development, given that Franschhoek lacks parking on its main road.  

Mr Maingard recently bought the Lecca il Gelato franchise for Franschhoek, and will be using one of his already vacated shops in the new center in which Le Coq is located for the new ice cream shop.  It is so big, that he has decided to make the shop a play and activity centre for children while their parents eat at Le Coq – I could think of nothing better for a kid to play in an ice cream shop!  

I could not help but think that the large industrial-style two-tier restaurant reminded me of my own joke that the two Franschhoek Pick ‘n Pays have two target markets: one serves the ‘bodorp’, and the other the ‘onderdorp’, and so too the restaurant’s upstairs grill and downstairs Light Meal section is likely to see a similar divide!

The managers are a collection of staff from Maingard properties.  Lambert came from Quarters in Durban earlier this year, to open Café Benedict.  Manager Nikki Leu comes from Durban too, where she did staff training for Mr Maingard’s businesses.  I found it very hard to connect with her.  Food & Beverage Manager Alan Smith comes from the Grill Room, opposition to Mr Maingard, previously owned by Matthew Gordon and the late Trevor Kirsten, who was also a Franschhoek property mogul, vying for the same high street properties.  Chef Albert van der Loo comes from Dieu Donné.   He said that running a kitchen for a 120 seater restaurant is no problem, especially as the orders are staggered over the evening, compared to the 240-seater Dieu Donné, where all guests wanted to order immediately after the sun has set, creating huge pressure on the kitchen.  He has a massive downstairs kitchen for the light meals, and the steaks are prepared upstairs.  Chef Albert is excited about the new challenge he has in running his own kitchen, and says he worked hard on creating the right balance of dishes for the Light Meal menu.  He is bringing in a sushi chef from Japan, a relative of the sushi chef’s girlfriend from the ‘bodorp’ Pick ‘n Pay. His vision at Le Coq is to offer good quality affordable meals for Franschhoekers.

The tables do not have table cloths, but material serviettes and St Tropez cutlery.  A very light weight steak knife by Victorinox seemed too light to be effective, but did  a good cutting job.  There are no condiments.  Only a little glass candle holder is on the table.  No one offered pepper on any of my three visits.   My first visit was for lunch on Saturday, in the downstairs section, and I had a most delicious pea and mint soup from the Cold menu selection (good value at R35, but when Etienne Bonthuys charges R30 for the thickest and creamiest Avocado soup with prawn, it is not!).  I asked the waitress whether it comes with bread, but she said it did not. I returned on Saturday evening, on my way to Stellenbosch, and tried the Tempura prawn from the Hot menu selection.  I asked specifically if it is de-shelled, and the waitress checked that it would be.  The tempura batter is around the prawn tail as well, and I was talking so much that I bit into the tail which did have the shell over it, which spoilt the dish for me.  I had a good Cuturra coffee, with a strong coffee flavour.  If one sits downstairs, one may order from the Grill menu, but one may not order from the Light Meal menu if one is sitting upstairs, which seems odd and inflexible.   Other Cold Meal options (R35 – R75) are smoked salmon salad, roast beef and blue cheese salad, Caprese salad and Bruschetta of Beef Tartare. Oysters cost R90 for six.  The Hot Meal menu prices range from a most affordable R60 – R75, and include mussels, fish and chips, oxtail, beef burger, Cape Malay chicken curry and penne pasta carbonara.  Gelatos, jellied sparkling wine, chocolate brownies and ‘American Dreams’ cost R30 – R40.

The Grill menu has three starters:  The Prawn cocktail was wonderful, with six juicy prawns, at R65, but I did suggest to Chef Albert that he take off the tails; beef carpaccio (R50), and a Chef’s salad at R55.  There are seven grilled meat options, served with chips and onion rings, ranging from R75 for an Algerian spatchcock baby chicken to R105 each for a 500 gram T-bone steak, and 250 gram fillet.  The weight of meat is not specified on the menu, but the waitress told me the weight when I asked her, unfortunately getting the weight of two items wrong, one of them being for the fillet I ordered.  The fillet was good, served alone on a plate, and the sauce and mash came in two extra dishes.  I had ordered the steak Medium Rare, but it tended to Medium, and Chef Albert (who commendably came to check after every course) explained that it has to do with the ageing of the meat, taking away some of the pink colouring of the meat.  It was very tender, and Chef Albert told me that they source their meat from Tomi’s near Hermon, where they farm with Angus cows.  Le Coq is the first Franschhoek client, and Chef Albert was very impressed with the marbling of their meat. Sauces cost R15, and one can choose Hollandaise, Bourbon mushroom, Classic red wine steakhouse, and green peppercorn sauces.  Desserts here are simply one of four Gelato flavours, costing R35.

The menus and winelist are beautifully presented, and Chef Albert worked with photographer Eddie Wilson to create covers for them using beautiful photographs, one taken from the restaurant.   The winelist covers has a photograph of three Dieu Donné wines, but has a good selection of mainly Franschhoek wines.  It has a description of the wine, but no information on regions or vintages is provided. The white wines range from R30/R100 for Overhex Balance and R30/R110 for Flagstone Noon Gun, to R 380 for Graham Beck Pheasant Run Sauvignon Blanc. Other wines by the glass are Dieu Donné Chardonnay (R35/R110), Protea Chenin Blanc (R30/R90) and Ashton Kelder Chardonnay (R35/R115).  Red wines start at R 30/R110 for Ashton Kelder Satynrooi and R30/R110 for Avondrood Blue Whale, up to R 500 for Chamonix Pinot Noir Reserve.  I was surprised to see Chocolate Block Shiraz blend charged at a pricey R390.  Other red wines by the glass are Diemersfontein Pinotage (R50), Perdeberg Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon (R35/R130),  and GlenwoodMerlot at R40/R165.  Sparkling wines are not sold by the glass, which is a shame, and include Dieu Donné Blanc de Blanc Brut (R200), Graham Beck’s Brut Rosé (R240), Colmant (R280), and Moët “en” Chandon (R950).  One can also order “Le Coq-tails” and “Le Moq-tails” at R35 – R45.  

To celebrate the opening of the restaurant on Friday, live music will be played in the lower section every weekend day and evening.  I found the band from Wellington terribly loud, as did the chef, and they were asked to tone things down a little.  Every month there will be new groups playing.

Le Coq is a restaurant out of the usual Franschhoek mould, and one wonders if there are enough locals with families to support this large restaurant, currently being supporters of Kalfi’s, Col’Cacchio and Allora.   It offers very good value for money, especially in the downstairs Light Meals section.  Its staff service and training needs attention.  Its French/Spanish decor conflict needs drastic help. It will survive the winter and any continuation of the downturn, as Mr Maingard is the owner of the building, so that his cost structure is different to that of any other restaurant. It needs a stronger leaderto run the restaurant.  It lacks focus, trying to please too many tastes under one roof, and creates confusion with two-restaurants-within-one.  It will be interesting to see if they receive the support from the anti-Clicks ‘bodorp’ Franschhoekers living in a village known for its nasty politics!

POSTSCRIPT 21/5: I popped in for a cappuccino this afternoon, and immediately noticed the addition of a massive “Dali Atomicus” print by photographer Philippe Haselman, featuring Dali, three thrown cats, and a thrown bucket of water – what a weird composition!  From a Google search I learnt that the photograph took 26 takes over five  It looks very impressive behind the bar, and much nicer than the Dali painting copies hung in the restaurant.  The Manager Alan has already left the restaurant, for a job elsewhere.

Le Coq, 32 Huguenot Road, Franschhoek.  Tel (021) 876-4224.  No website yet.  Tuesday – Sunday, lunch and dinner.

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

Franschhoek chefs will be cooking (with wine) at ‘Cook Franschhoek’ in June!

A number of hands-on demonstrations by some of the top chefs in Franschhoek will take place over the weekend of 10 -12 June, the chefs sharing their knowledge and passion for their craft, in what Franschhoek Wine Valley is calling ‘Cook Franschhoek’. 

The chefs that have been included in ‘Cook Franschhoek’ are Margot Janse of The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français, Neil and Tina Jewell from Bread & Wine, Bjorn Dingemans from Franschhoek Kitchen at Holden Manz wine estate, Judy Sendzul from the Salmon Bar, Ryan Smith from Ryan’s Kitchen, Leigh Trout from Mange Tout at Mont Rochelle Hotel, Darren Roberts at Grande Provence, Chris Erasmus at Pierneef à La Motte, Pierre Hendriks of Le Bon Vivant, Matthew Gordon from Haute Cabriere, Adrian Buchanan from Freedom Hill, as well as representatives of L’ermitage, Huguenot Fine Chocolates, Le Franschhoek Hotel, and Franschhoek Country House and Villas.   Each course will accept 8 – 30 participants, depending on the size of the demonstration venue.   Each demonstration will be paired with a Franschhoek wine.  Most, but not all, of the demonstrations will be held at the Franschhoek Kitchen.  The cost per course and the venues will be announced tomorrow, and will be added to this blogpost.

Franschhoek’s best wine estates will participate in ‘Cook Franschhoek’ too, including Franschhoek Pass Winery, La Motte, Grande Provence, Cabrière, Haut Espoir, Anthonij Rupert Wines, Mont Rochelle and Môreson. 

Accommodation will be available at a variety of accommodation establishments over the ‘Cook Franschhoek’ weekend.  Whale Cottage Franschhoek is offering ‘Cook Franschhoek’ participants a special reduced winter rate for the weekend.

Franschhoek is re-asserting its positioning as the Gourmet Capital of South Africa.  While it may no longer have the largest number of Eat Out  Top 10 restaurants, it has just launched the Franschhoek Wine Valley Food & Wine Route, and ‘Cook Franschhoek’ is another demonstration of Franschhoek’s culinary leadership.

‘Cook Franschhoek’, 10 – 12 June.  www.franschhoek.org.za. Tickets can be bought at www.webtickets.co.za

POSTSCRIPT 18/3: The Franschhoek Wine Valley has not dotted all its i’s nor crossed all its t’s, and therefore is not yet able to provide cost, chef and venue details, as was promised for yesterday.  Darren Roberts from Grande Provence denies being a participant of the ‘Cook Franschhoek’ programme, not the first time that they have been erroneously listed on a Franschhoek programme, Roberts says. 

POSTSCRIPT 6/4: The program for Cook Franschhoek has been finalised.  Most of the demos will take place at Franschhoek Kitchen at Holden Manz, the exception being those at the Salmon Bar, Le Quartier Français, Allora, and Pierneef à La Motte.  At each demo a chef and a matching winemaker will participate.  Prices range from R 30 for a chocolate tour and tasting at Huguenot Fine Chocolates, to R 225 each for two demos by the Salmon Bar, hosted by Judy Sendzul of the Salmon Bar and Marc Kent of Boekenhoutskloof: a Farmed versus Wild-caught salmon cook-off on 11/6, and a Salmon and Trout Tasting on 12/6.   On average the prices for the other demos range between R100 – R150.   Grande Provence and Le Bon Vivant are no longer participating in the event.  The full Franschhoek chef and winemaker list is as follows:

*   Adrian Buchanan of Freedom Hill restaurant, and Dieter Sellmeyer of Lynx

*   Chris Smit of Café Bon Bon, with Rob Armstrong of Haut Espoir

*   Bjorn Dingemans of Franschhoek Kitchen, and Mark Carmichael-Green of Holden Manz

*   Leigh Trout of Mange Tout at Mont Rochelle Hotel, and Dustin Osborne of Mont Rochelle 

*   Judy Sendzul of Salmon Bar, and Marc Kent of Boekenhoutskloof

*   Ryan Smith of Ryan’s Kitchen, and Neil Patterson of Antonij Rupert Wines

*   Matthew Gordon of Haute Cabriere, and Takuan von Arnim of Cabriere

*   Daniel Botha of La Verger at Le Franschhoek Hotel, and Susan Erasmus of Vrede & Lust

*   Neil and Tina Jewell of Bread & Wine, and Clayton Reabow of Môreson

*   Chris Erasmus of Pierneef à La Motte, and Edmund Terblanche of La Motte

*   Louis Jansen of Monneaux, and and DP Burger of Glenwood

*   Philip Aplas of Allora, and Terra del Capo (Anthonij Rupert Wines)

*   Ethne Booysen of L’Ermitage Hotel, and Wynand Grobler of Rickety Bridge

*   Margot Janse of Le Quartier Français, and Rob Armstrong of Haut Espoir

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

Wellington Wine Route: friendly wine estates

I spent the past weekend in my old hometown Wellington, and stayed at Grand Dédale Country House  on the Doolhof wine estate, at the end of the Bovlei Road.   Angelo of Grand Dédale had set up some appointments to visit the private wine estates (Nabygelegen and Klein Optenhorst).  My wine estate visits were concentrated on the Bovlei Road (4 km of it is untarred, which rattled me and the car when I first arrived, but two days later it was no longer an issue), and my impression of this first taste of the fine Wellington wineries is one of overwhelming friendliness and good neighbourliness.  I did not manage to visit all the wine estates in Wellington, and Welvanpas, Bosman Family Vineyards, Andreas, the Jorgensen Distillery (not a wine estate but producing very exciting spirits), and others will have to wait for a next visit:

Doolhof

The 380 ha wine estate lies at the end of the Bovlei Road, and while its name means labyrinth in Afrikaans, a cul de sac was also given this name.  Doolhof belongs to Dorothy and Dennis Kerrison.  Its soils are “finer, more balanced and deeper than in the surrounding countryside, with clay content evenly distributed”.  The roots are able to grow to four meters and beyond, the Room Directory informs Grand Dédale guests.   The location of the farm allows it to have cooler summers and warmer winters than the norm in Wellington.  Less than 10 % of the farm is under vine.  Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Merlot, Pinotage and Shiraz are grown.  The remainder of the farmland is uncultivated, and consists largely of fynbos.  The Biodiversity and Wine Initiative is supported by Doolhof, and a programme is in place to remove alien Black Wattles, and to plant indigenous wetland plants and trees.  The cellar was started in 2004, and the tasting room once was the stables on the farm.   Its architecture and interior decor reflects that of Grand Dédale Country House on the wine estate, but is less extravagant.  The Doolhof hostess used the word “elegant” to describe it perfectly.  One can sit inside the spacious airconditioned tasting room, or outside at a water feature.   One can order food as well, I was told, and an arrangement with Grand Dédale Country House to provide this service has ended, with a dedicated chef starting next week, to prepare meals for the Doolhof tasting room visitors.  

There are three Doolhof wine ranges, and their labels are equally elegant:

*   the Cape range is the entry level range, and its wines are a blend of own grapes as well as those of other estates.  Sauvignon Blanc, Cape Robin Rosé, Cape Boar (Merlot-based blend) and Cape Roan blend with Shiraz.  The price ranges from R 33 – R49.

*   the Signatures of Doolhof range is made from Doolhof grapes only, and Sauvignon Blanc (R54), Chardonnay Unwooded (R54), Chardonnay Barrel Fermented (R92), Cabernet Sauvignon (R70), Shiraz (R70), Pinotage (R86), Petit Verdot R124), Renaissance blend (R80), Merlot (R81) and Malbec (R124) is produced.  

*   the Legends of the Labyrinth range has three wines: The Minotaur is the most expensive wine sold at Doolhof, at R150, and is a blend of six grapes: Merlot, Malbec,  Petit Verdot, Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz;  Lady in Red is a Bordeaux-style blend (R70); and Dark Lady is a Pinotage with chocolate and mocha aromas (R70). 

The Doolhof Tasting Room staff are smartly dressed, in blue shirts with Doolhof branding.  Natasha was a self-confident and knowledgeable hostess, and made photocopies of more detailed notes on each wine, in colour, and for each wine a suitable food pairing suggestion is provided.  A stem tag identifies the wine one is tasting, a professional touch.  The brochure is attractive and professional looking.   One can join the ‘Denizens of Doolhof Wine Club’, a rather unfortunate name!  The wine estate is largely bottling with cork, but is planning to move more towards screwcaps in future.

It seems a shame that Grand Dédale and Doolhof do not interact more, by displaying each others brochures.  The Grand Dédale Room Directory has detailed information about the wine estate.  Both are on Twitter, and should support each other in that medium too.   The Doolhof wines dominate the Grand Dédale wine list.

Doolhof Wine Estate, Bovlei Road, Wellington.  Tel (021) 873- 6911. www.doolhof.com Monday – Saturday 10h00 – 17h00, Sunday 10h00 – 16h00

Dunstone Winery

Dunstone Boutique Winery opened in 2006, and 2,7 ha of the 4 ha is planted to vine.  The name of the winery was chosen by its owners Lee and Abbi Wallis, Dunstone being the place in the United Kingdom in which the couple got engaged.  A lot is made of the ‘stone’ part of the Dunstone name, in that the entrance wall is built from stone, there is a stone display as one walks from the tasting room to the garden, the vases with fly-deterrent branches have little stones in them, and the bill for The Stone Kitchen restaurant (separate review to come) comes with a large stone on the silver holder, to prevent it from flying away.   I felt that the wine estate is “schizophrenic”, in not knowing what character it wishes to have, judging by its entrance, building and interior.  The most beautiful stainless steel Weimaraner dog logo is erected on each of the walls at the entrance, in honour of the Wallis’ dog named Shiraz.  The stainless steel dogs lead one to expect a very high-tech winery, being so new and with its strong use of stainless steel, and also as the winery calls itself ’boutique’, but the wine tasting building is very ordinary, without a defined architectural style.   But what is even odder is the cottagey wood furniture in the tasting room, which also is the interior seating for the restaurant.  The restaurant tables and chairs look really old-fashioned, and a long table has benches with cushions on them in different colours and patterns – the material from these have been laminated, and are used as (small) place mats in the restaurant.  A lamp above the wine tasting counter has been made from a ‘wingerdstok’, and has fairy lights laced through it.  The big stainless steel vats are in the room too, as is a display fridge with chef Johan van Schalkwyk’s muffins to buy, and some of his jams and muesli mixes which he sells, as well as trays of desserts he was serving at a wedding that same evening, as he also runs a catering company called Twist.  The beautiful brochure for the winery creates even more confusion, in that it has a beautiful image of the Weimaraner logo on the stone wall, in silver, on the front cover, again giving the winery a very hi-tech image.  The Dunstone labels also have the Weimaraner logo on them, also in silver.   

Carina Stock is a friendly German wine hostess, and she will be increasingly involved in all aspects of the wine production.  She studied art and jewellery design, and spent many years at Uitkyk, in restoring wallpaintings.  She has worked at Boschendal and at DG Bellingham.  More than 11000 bottles are produced per year.   At Dunstone all vineyard work is done by hand, and tractors are not used.     Carina offered me four Dunstone wines to taste: 

Rosé 2010 (R45):   Crisp and dry, with strawberry, raspberries and plum.

Merlot 2007 (R65): Silver Medal won at Veritas Awards 2008 – full-bodied, ripe dark fruit, spices and oak, matured in French oak barrels for up to 14 months.  The Merlot 2008 (R65) is a lighter wine.

Shiraz 2009 (R120): First 5-star Platter rating for a Wellington wine, in 2010 edition, for the 2008 vintage, as well as Gold won at International Wine Challenge and Old Mutual Trophy Awards, and Double Gold at Michelangelo Awards.  2008 vintage sold out.  2009 vintage described by Jancis Robinson as “Dry, baked nose but sufficiently juicy fruit on the palate.”  The wine is matured in French, Hungarian and American oak for up to 14 months, is heavier, and “with a long finish”.     

Adi Badenhorst is the consultant winemaker.  Alli’s father Robert Frith is always on the farm during the harvest, Carina said.  He encouraged the Wallis couple to take out some of the guava trees, and plant grapes, being a garagiste in the UK.  Wine lovers are encouraged to come and help harvest the grapes and to participate in the winemaking process, even stomping the grapes, a personalised participation.  One must call to ensure that there is harvest or winemaking activity taking place on a given day.

Dunstone Winery, Bovlei Road, Wellington.  Tel (021) 873-6770. www.dunstone.co.za  Open Monday – Friday 10h00 – 17h00, Saturday 11h00 – 15h00. 

 Bovlei Cellar

As one drives out of Wellington, towards the Bain’s Kloof Pass, the Bovlei winery is on the right, a co-operative of 32 farmers producing 8000 tonnes per year.  Established in 1907, it is the oldest in Wellington (there are two others) and is the second oldest co-operative in South Africa, I was told by Tasting Room hostess Melissa van Wyk.   The wines sold at Bovlei are extremely good value, but range in Platter rating from 2 – 3,5 stars.

There are four ranges:

*   The winemakers selected specific grapes from specific members’ farms to make the Vineyard Selected Range, consisting of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz and a Shiraz/Mouvedré blend, all costing R50

*  the rest of the members’ grapes go into the making of their Lifestyle range, consisting of Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Beaukett, Gewürztraminer and Special Late Harvest, all costing between R 22 – R25.  The reds are Pinotage, Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, at R30 a bottle.  Rosé costs R20, and a sparkling Brut R30.  The Shiraz won the Best Shiraz and Best Red in the 2010 “Quest for the Best” of Wellington competition. 

*   The Thomas Kipling range is available in Cabernet Sauvignon, Dry Red, Dry White and Cabernet/Merlot blend, made exclusively for Pick ‘n Pay, Game and other liquor outlets, starting off at R19,99.

*   The Bovlei Centenary Selection is available in a Shiraz, Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, each costing R35, a 100th birthday celebratory range made in 2007.

Bovlei Cellar, Bain’s Kloof Road, Wellington. Tel (021) 873-1567.  www.bovlei.co.za  Monday – Friday 8h00 – 17h00, Saturday 8h30 – 12h30. 

Nabygelegen

I was extremely fortunate to get an appointment to meet James McKenzie, from the private wine estate that is highly rated by wine writer Neil Pendock, I was told.   A misunderstanding about my expected time of arrival was quickly forgiven by James, and he patiently sat with me, doing a detailed tasting of his Nabygelegen and Snow Mountain ranges. He told me that he bought the 35ha farm (19,5ha under vine) ten years ago, having been a banker in London and Zürich.  He was so determined to become a winemaker that he studied wine making by correspondence course, and first worked on wine farms in France, Spain, New Zealand and Chile, to learn from them.  The farm dates back to 1712, and one of his wines is named after this date.  He is hands-on, harvesting, marketing, receiving journalists, wine-making, organising the use of the cottage by guests, and the planned use of the old stables as a winetasting facility and restaurant.  Johan Wiese is a consultant viticulturist for Nabygelegen.  The pricelist states that his wines are “handcrafted wines”.  The brochure states the mission of Nabygelegen to be “To create of wines character and concentration reflecting vineyard specific terroir, using environmentally sound techniques, subscribe to ethical labour practices and enthusiastically pursue upliftment in the valley”.  It recommends a suitable food type to eat with each of the wines.  James makes the Nabygelegen range, utilising grapes from his own farm, which consists of the following:

*   Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (R40) – very fruity, the best Sauvignon Blanc he has made to date, James said, and his 2010 vintage of 6000 bottles has just sold out

*   Lady Anna 2009 (R32) – a light and fruity chenin blanc, sauvignon blanc and semillion blend, named after the neighbouring farm owner Anna Lategan, who is respected for having freed her slaves a number of years ahead of the official abolition of slavery in 1815.  Her ghost is said to wander on Nabygelegen and De Compagne, the neighbouring farm!

*   Chenin Blanc 2009 (R45) – full-bodied chenin, which is barrel fermented

*   Scaramanga 2008 (R50) – the Spanish nickname for Tempranillo, and also the name of the “baddie” character in ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ Bond movie. Tempranillo is one of the grape types from which this wine is made, with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec.  It is made in the New World style, with focus on its flavour and smell. Only four wine estates grow Tempranillo in South Africa.  It is an upfront wine.

*   Merlot 2007 (R62) – sweet cherry and berry

*   Petit Verdot 2008 (R80) – intense fruit with layers of vanilla and chocolate

*   Seventeen Twelve 2006 (R90) – a classic Bordeaux Blend of Petit Verdot, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon,

The Snow Mountain range was launched last year, out of a need for a more pronounceable name for the English market, and it was named after Sneeukop, the highest mountain peak in Wellington.  The grapes are bought in from other Wellington farms, which are higher up, and therefore grow in a ‘continental climate’ and not a Mediterranean one, as do most other local wines, excellent for the production of the Pinot Noir in particular, he said.

*   Rosé 2009 (R30) – made in the French style, not sweet, served at Wimbledon

*   Pinot Noir 2009 (R90) – highly regarded, has been served at Kensington and Buckingham Palaces

One of James’ greatest enjoyments is the ‘number of beautiful places’ in which his wines are sold.  I asked him which these are, and his top three are the following: Librije’s in Zusje in Holland; Claridges in London; and The Green and Blue Wine Shop in London, owned by ex-South African Kate Thal.  We started tasting in the tasting room initially, tasting the whites and Rosé, then walked through the maturation cellar, which is used as a function venue, for which James’ friend Matthew Gordon from Franschhoek cooks, and tasted the Pinot Noir and reds in a most special tiny underground cellar, which has a glass window showing the soil depth and the rock formation.   I was lucky enough to be given a bottle of the Snow Mountain Shiraz 2009, which has not yet been released.

Nabygelegen, Bovlei Road, Wellington.  Tel (021) 873-7534.  www.nabygelegen.co.za  Monday – Friday 10h00 – 16h30, Saturday 9h00 – 12h30.

Klein Optenhorst

Jenny and Naas Ferriera have lived on Klein Optenhorst since 1987, on a farm that once was the home of my classmate Beverly Pywell and her family, and which I had visited for birthday parties.   A small 1 ha property has Pinot Noir grapes and the most beautiful garden, which the Ferreiras developed over time.   A gazebo with a whale weathervane has become the logo for the boutique wine estate, and caught my eye immediately.   Since 1994 the family produced Pinot Noir, but last year decided to make a Pinot Noir MCC sparkling wine instead, utilising the talents of Pieter Ferriera, whose wife Ann is the niece of Naas.   I was offered a glass of the beautiful bubbly by Ferreira daughter Jane Eedes, who is marketing the sparkling wine, a total of 1592 bottles of this maiden vintage having been produced. The inspiration for the label design by Eddy Haumann is the salvias from Jenny’s garden.  I was treated to a guided tour of the garden, and was most generously given a bottle of the Pinot Noir as well as the Pinot Noir MCC.  

Klein Optenhorst, Bovlei Road, Wellington.  Tel Jane Eedes 083 324 6855.

Diemersfontein

Located at the entrance to Wellington from the Paarl side, Diemersfontein has become a ‘residential estate’, is a wine farm, a spa, has a preparatory school, and has 30 rooms of accommodation.  I have not been to Diemersfontein for many years, and have not ever drunk their wines nor seen their wine tasting room.  I had booked a table for lunch, and had a vision of an old manor house with a big stoep, which was the original Diemersfontein homestead.  It is only used as accommodation and David Sonnenberg, the current owner, has an office there, I was told.  The Sonnenberg family (linked to Woolworths) has owned Diemersfontein since 1943, and originally apricots were the main fruit harvest.   Then export plums were farmed.      Wine has been made in the past ten years, and the property is described as a “Residential Wine Estate”.

 I was disappointed to find a modern building which houses both the restaurant Seasons (see review) and the Tasting Room.    The Tasting Room was not immediately visible, and we could not work out which door was unlocked, to allow us to enter.  It is small, compared to some of the others I visited in Wellington over the weekend, just containing a counter with bar chairs.   Aubern was friendly, and hunted down the last brochure for the wine estate.  Brett Rightford is the cellarmaster, and he is responsible for making all the Diemersfontein wines other than Pinotage, which is the responsibility of Francois Roode.

There are three ranges at Diemersfontein, for which 70 % of the grapes come from the estate, and the remainder are bought from other Wellington farms.  The Platter star rating of each wine is listed on the price list:

*   Carpe Diem is the flagship, and its wines are matured in French and American oak for 15 months as a minimum.  The Pinotage 2008 was awarded 4,5 stars by Platter, and is sold out.   Prices are on the high side, between R 89 (Chenin Blanc and Viognier) and R110 for Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, and Malbec.

*   The Diemersfontein range spends 6 months in oak, and is priced at R70, only the Pinotage being slightly more expensive.  There is a Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Summer’s Lease Shiraz-based blend and a Heaven’s Eye Bordeaux-style blend.  A red blend called “For the Birds!” sells at a low price of R45, and 10 % of sales goes to the “Save our Seabirds” Fund of Birdlife South Africa 

*   The Thokozani range was launched last year, and is an empowerment project, with staff, investors and the Sonnenbergs as shareholders, and Aubern is focused on his goal to become a shareholder too.  The Chenin Blanc/Chardonnay/Viognier blend costs R49, Rosé R 39, and the Shiraz/Mourvedré/Viognier blend costs R 69.

For its good reputation, duration of wine production, and stature of wine estate, I was disappointed with the lack of marketing collateral, photocopied price list, and the ‘ordinariness’ and small size of the tasting room. Diemersfontein came across as the most ‘commercialised’ of the Wellington wine estates I visited, yet was friendly too.

Diemersfontein Wines,  Jan van Riebeeck Drive, Wellington.   Tel (021) 864-5050. www.diemersfontein.co.za  Monday – Sunday 10h00 – 17h00.

A tear-off map of Wellington’s accommodation, wine estates, restaurants and shops was printed about three years ago, but does not appear to have been updated.  It is similar to the excellent Franschhoek Wine Valley map, providing not only a location perspective, but also the contact details and tasting times.   It appears to have been replaced with a recent brochure on Wellington.   An update of the tear-off map for the wine estates would be a good idea, to encourage winelovers to visit as many wine estates as they can.   A website of the Wellington Wine Route, or even a blog, may be a consideration too.

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