Tag Archives: Maze

Corona Virus: Lockdown Journey Journal, Day 29 of Level 3, 24 August 2021

 

Tuesday 24 August 2021, Day 29 of Level 3 ūüė∑

Corona Gratitude ūüôŹ

#grateful for a lovely long day, which just got better, not feeling so well but all was forgotten when I got to newkings boutique hotel and Zest Restaurant and spent 7 hours there ūüėĪ, taking a one hour break to walk along the Sea Point Promenade, with waves crashing and creating spray, a very brave person standing very near the water‚Äôs edge; popping in at Woolies and Spar at Piazza da Luz, shopping for soup ingredients for the cold to come; for very good Status meetings with my clients; for Continue reading →

Delaire Graff makes history in Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards!

Delaire Graff Chef Christiaan Campbell kitchen Whale Cottage PortfolioFor the first time in the history of the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards two restaurants belonging to one owner have been nominated for the honoured list. Both Delaire Graff Restaurant and Indochine, under the direction of Chef Christiaan Campbell, made it onto the Top 20 shortlist, which Eat Out announced yesterday.  We are delighted with our best ever Top 20 Restaurant shortlist prediction score, in correctly guessing 18 out of the Top 20 shortlisted restaurants.

The Eat Out Top 20 Restaurant Awards shortlist contained a few surprises, leading one restaurant representative to comment that despite the new judging system and panel, little had changed in the shortlist, with only two newly opened restaurants included, being Camphors at Vergelegen (Chef PJ Vadas) and five hundred (Chef David Higgs).  Surprises were the following:

  • The non-appearance of Terroir and Mosaic at The Orient, both restaurants having made the Top 10 Restaurant list last year.¬† We have been critical of Terroir‚Äôs perennial appearance on the Continue reading →

Café Dijon and Ou Meul Bakkery move to Cape Town, and other Spring restaurant news!

Our list of latest restaurant openings and closures lists more openings than closures, and a number of restaurant location changes. This list is updated continuously, as we receive information:

Restaurant Openings

*   Café Dijon has closed its restaurants on Plein Street and at Zorgvliet in Stellenbosch, and has opened in the Rockwell Centre in Green Point, Cape Town, on Napier Street opposite Anatoli’s.

*   Luke Dale-Roberts, Eat Out Top Chef at The Test Kitchen, is to open a real test kitchen, called The Kitchen of Dreams, a private experimental place to develop new recipes, at the Old Biscuit Mill

*  Chef Luke Dale-Roberts is opening a pop-up Pot Luck Club in Swiss ski resort Verbier, at the Hotel Farinet, from 8 December РApril, to be run by him, his chef Nicolas Wilkinson, and front of house Selena Afnan-Holmes.

*   Col’Cacchio has opened a new outlets in Westlake, and a new one is coming in Claremont too.

*   A new Vida é Caffe new branches are to open on Maindean Place in Claremont, at the new Wembley Square 2 development, at The Paddocks, and Groote Schuur.  Two more branches are planned for Mauritius.

* ¬†¬†¬†Honest Chocolate is opening a second outlet, a¬†‚Äėproduction kitchen‚Äô in the Woodstock Industrial Centre

* ¬†¬†Moyo is to open in November, where the Paulaner Bra√ľhaus was in the V & A Waterfront. ¬†It has taken over the tearoom at Kirstenbosch already.

*   TRUTH Coffee has opened on Buitenkant Street

*   FEAST is to open where Franschhoek Food Emporium was, in Place Vendome

*   Deluxe Coffeeworks has opened where Reuben’s Deli used to be in Franschhoek.

*   Okamai Japanese Restaurant has opened at Glenwood wine estate in Franschhoek

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

*   The Slug & Lettuce has opened where Beads was on Church Street in Stellenbosch

*   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 on 1 November with a new name called Camphors at Vergelegen. The new chef will be PJ Vadas, previously of The Roundhouse in Camps Bay.

*   Coopmanshuijs in Stellenbosch is opening a restaurant.

*   Chef Johan van Schalkwyk has left the Stone Kitchen at Dunstone Winery, and has opened his own restaurant Twist Some More in Wellington.

*    Chef Bjorn Dingemans has opened The Millhouse Kitchen restaurant on Lourensford wine estate in Somerset West.

*   Chef Shane Sauvage (ex-La Vierge) has opened La Pentola restaurant in Hermanus.

*   Ali Baba Kebab (renamed from Laila) has opened as a small beef and lamb kebab take-away and sit-down outlet, next door to Codfather in Camps Bay

*   Gibson’s Gourmet Burger and Smoked Ribs has opened as a 70-seater restaurant in the V&A Waterfront, taking part of Belthazar. Owned by the Belthazar/Balducci group.

*   Down South Food Bar, previously on Long Street, is said to re-open in the Riverside Centre in Rondebosch

*   Ou Meul Bakkery from Riviersonderend has opened a bakery and coffee shop in Long Street

*   Deluxe Coffeeworks has opened a roastery and coffee bar at 6 Roodehek Street

*    The Deli @ The Square has opened at Frater Square in Paarl.

*   David Higgs (ex Rust en Vrede) is opening a new 30 seater restaurant in The Saxon in Johannesburg.

*   Big Route Top Gourmet Pizzeria has opened on Main Road, Green Point, next door to Woolworths, serving 52 different pizzas, salads and crêpes.

*   Cousins has opened in the Parliament Hotel, where Il Cappero used to be.

* Aces ‚Äėn‚Äô Spades Bar has opened in ex-Boo Radley on Hout Street

*   No. 6 Restaurant at Welbedacht has opened at Welbedacht/Schalk Burger & Sons wine estate in Wellington, run by the ex-owners of Oude Wellington

*   Café Dulce is to open a new branch in Tygervalley Centre

*   Gourmetboerie is to open at the bottom end of Kloof Street, where Depasco used to be, in October.

*   Kushi Indian Restaurant has opened a branch on Main Road in Sea Point

*   Time & Place Restaurant and Bar has opened on the corner of Wale and Buitengracht Street

*   Make Sushi Bar has opened in Sea Point

*   Thai Café is opening on Plein Street, Stellenbosch

*   Simply Asia has opened in Paarl

*   Restaurant @ Zomerlust has opened in Paarl

*    Christina’s has opened at Van Loveren in Robertson

*   Bellini’s is said to be opening on Greenmarket Square in October

*   Moksh Authentic Indian Cuisine restaurant has opened in Paarl

* ¬† Vino’s has opened in Wellington

* ¬† Alfama’s has opened on Waterkant Street

*   Taj Mahal has opened in Sea Point

* ¬† It’s a House is to open on Jarvis Street in October, as a bar, coffee shop, and design art space.

* ¬† Lion’s Head Bar is to open on Bree Street in October, selling craft beer and food

*   An Indian restaurant is to open in the original Madame Zingara building on Loop Street, by the Madame Zingara Group

*   The Caviar Group is opening three new restaurants in the Gateway Centre in Umhlanga by the end of this year: Beluga, Sevruga, and Osetra

*   A new bar and Café is to open underneath the Cape Royale Luxury Hotel, where Bamboo used to be

*   Cattle Baron has opened in Hermanus.

*   Café Blanc de Noir has opened on Brenaissance wine estate in Stellenbosch

* The Reserve is said to be opening a beach restaurant in the V&A Waterfront.

*   Chef Nic van Wyk, previously with Terroir, is opening a restaurant at Diemersdal in Durbanville during the course of this month.

* ¬† Lizette’s Kitchen has opened in V√∂elklip, Hermanus.

*   Cattle Baron is to open at Pontac Manor in Paarl

* ¬† Col’Cacchio is opening in Hermanus at the end of November

*   Merchant Café is opening on Long Street, opposite Merchants on Long, later this month.

* Paulina’s Restaurant is opening at Rickety Bridge in Franschhoek

*   Ocean Jewel Deli opens at Woodstock Junction on 22 October.

*   Buitenverwachting has opened a Coffee Shop and Roastery

* Wakaberry is opening on Kloof Street at the end of October

*   Rock Sushi Thai has opened in Meadowridge

*   Jimmy Jimanos sports bar is opening on Long Street

* ¬† Dolc√© Bakery is opening in St John’s Arcade in Sea Point

*   The Coffee Bloc has opened at Buitenverwachting

*   The Salzburger Grill has opened in Sea Point

Restaurant Closures

*   Sabarosa in Bakoven has closed down.

* Sunbird Bistro in Camps Bay has closed down

*   Limoncello in Gardens has closed down, but is continuing with its pop-up restaurant truck

*   Paparazzi has closed down on St George’s Mall

*   Wicked Treats in Franschhoek has closed down.

*   Casa Nostra has closed down in Sea Point, until it finds a new venue.

*   Bistro on Rose in Bo-Kaap has closed down as a restaurant

*   The Kove in Camps Bay has closed down, its space has become part of sister restaurant Zenzero

*   Sinnfull has closed down in Sea Point and Camps Bay

*   Liam Tomlin Food is closing down in Franschhoek at the end of October

Restaurant staff/venue changes

*    Il Cappero has moved from Barrack Street, to Fairway Street in Camps Bay.

*  Table Thirteen has reduced in size in Green Point and will open in Paarden Eiland later this year.

* ¬†¬†The¬†V&A Waterfront Food Court is closed for renovations until November. ¬†A sign outside the construction area lists the following businesses moving into or returning to the area: Primi Express, Anat, Carnival, N√ľr Halaal, Royal Bavarian Bakery, KFC, Boost Juice, Simply Asia, Steers, Debonairs, Subway, Marcel‚Äôs, and Haagan Dazs. ¬†Nando‚Äôs is also opening.

*   Fyndraai Restaurant will move to another building on the wine estate in November, and will offer fine dining.  The current restaurant will serve light lunches and picnics.

*   Josephine Gutentoft has moved to Makaron at Majeka House as Restaurant Manager and Sommelier.

*   The Reserve has changed its name to Reserve Brasserie. Seelan Sundoo, ex Grand Café Camps Bay and ex La Perla, is the new consultant chef and GM (Seelan Sundoo has since left, now running the Shimmy Beach Club).

*   Chef Andrew Mendes from ex-Valora is now at Nelson’s Eye restaurant, where they are setting up a lunch section and cocktail bar upstairs.

*   Giulia’s Food Café Restaurant has opened where Miss K was on Main Road, Green Point. Now serve Italian-style lunch and dinner, but have retained some Miss K breakfast and pastry items.

*   Having bought the farm about 18 months ago, Antonij Rupert Wines has taken over the Graham Beck Franschhoek property. They will re-open the tasting room in October, initially offering all its Antonij Rupert, Cape of Good Hope, Terra del Capo, and Protea wines to taste.  They are renovating the manor house, to which the Antonij Rupert and Cape of Good Hope wines will be moved for tasting at a later stage.

*   Orphanage is expanding into a property at its back, opening on Orphan Street, in December, creating a similar second bar downstairs, and opening Orphanage Club upstairs, with 1920’s style music by live performers

*   GOLD Restaurant has moved into the Trinity building

*   Opal Lounge has closed down on Kloof Street, and has moved into Blake’s Bar building, renaming it Dinner at Blake’s. A wine and tapas bar has also been opened, called Bar Rouge.

*   Mano A Mano has opened on Park Street, where Green’s used to be.

*   MondeVino Restaurant at Montecasino in Johannesburg, the MasterChef SA prize for the next two years, is to be renamed Aarya, and is to be run by Chef Deena Naidoo from November onwards.

*   Bizerca has moved into the ex-Gourmet Burger space in Heritage Square on Shortmarket Street.

*    Co-owner Abbi Wallis has taken over the running of The Stone Kitchen at Dunstone Winery in Wellington.

*   Marcelino has left Marcelino’s Bakery, leaving the control with Mr Zerban.  A Zerban’s style restaurant is being added onto the bakery and will open mid-October.  It will change its name to EuroHaus.

*   Chef Chris Erasmus from Pierneef à La Motte is doing a stage with Chef Rene Redzepi at Noma, the number one World’s 50 Best Restaurants, in Copenhagen this month

*   MasterChef SA runner-up Sue-Ann Allen is joining South Africa’s number one Eat Out Top 10 restaurant The Greenhouse as an intern for a month, from 21 August.

*   Vintage India has moved out of the Garden’s Centre to the corner of Hiddingh and Mill Street, around the corner.

*   Nook Eatery in Stellenbosch has been sold, with new owners.

*   Crêpe et Cidre has closed down in Franschhoek.  Gideon’s The Famous Pancake House has opened in its space.

*   Brampton winetasting bar on Church Street, Stellenbosch, is undergoing renovations to treble its current size, planning to reopen in the first week of September.

*   Noop restaurant in Paarl has new owners

*   Buena Vista Social Club has changed its name to Barbosa Social Club

*   Chris Marais is the new chef at Blaauwklippen, previously with The Oyster Box

*   Daniel de Villiers is the new chef at Grand Dedale in Wellington, previously with Delaire Graff

*   Phil Alcock is the new chef at Two Oceans Restaurant at Cape Point, having previously worked at The Cape Grace, The Showroom, maze, and more

*   Albert van der Loo, previously with Le Coq and Dieu Donne restaurants in Franschhoek, is the new Head Chef at Oude Werf Hotel in Stellenbosch.

* ¬† Chef Emile Fortuin, who was at Reuben’s Robertson for a very short time, has left and moved to Tokara

* ¬† Camil and Ingrid Haas (ex Bouillabaisse and Camil’s) have returned to Franschhoek, with the view to get involved in a restaurant

* ¬† Chef Cheyne Morrisby has left The Franschhoek Kitchen at Holden Manz, and has joined the Mantella Group (owners of Blake’s and ex-Opal Lounge). Update: Chef Cheyne has left the Mantella Group, after a very short time.

* ¬† Tiaan van Greunen is the new Executive Chef at Reuben’s at The Robertson Small Hotel, after the departure of Emile Fortuin

*   Alex von Ulmenstein is the new Restaurant Manager at Indochine, at Delaire Graff Estate

* ¬† Manager Raymond Brown has left Reuben’s Franschhoek, and has been replaced by Martell Smith.

*   Zelda Oelofse is the new Manager of Harvest Restaurant at Laborie, having taken over from Yolanda Prinsloo.

*   Maryna Frederiksen is the new Executive Chef at The Franschhoek Kitchen at Holden Manz.

*   The ex-Caveau owners are said to be taking over the running of the Twankey Bar of the Taj hotel.

*   Sand at The Plettenberg hotel has changed its name to Seafood at The Plettenberg.

Restaurant breaks

*   Grande Provence is closing on Sunday evenings until the end of September.

*   Tokara is closing for a Spring break from 24 September Р4 October

*   Planet Restaurant is closed on Sunday evenings until the end of September

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 Cabri√©re 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

Hotel Review: Rijk’s Country House is country kitsch, tries too hard!

I am very fond of Rijk’s Shiraz, having drunk it for the first time just after maze at the One&Only Cape Town¬† opened¬†two years ago.¬† When I saw the name of Rijk’s Country House as the only five-star accommodation option for a wedding weekend in Tulbagh, I¬†booked, given my¬†positive association with the wine.¬† But I should have known that a five-star “Boutique Hotel”, charging R 3000 per room per night in Tulbagh, was too good to be true, even though I was offered a hospitality industry rate reduction of 50%. ¬† The Hotel is not five star, in my evaluation, and tries too hard to please, and thereby fails.¬† It has a very kitsch taste in some aspects.

The reservation ran relatively smoothly with¬†Rijk’s directly,¬†but I did not receive a confirmation of my booking after transferring the 50 % deposit, and no response to my e-mail request¬†for the confirmation.¬† I therefore called Rijk’s, but only saw the number of a central reservations line, being that of African Pride Hotels, the luxury arm of Protea Hotels, who do the marketing of and bookings for Rijk’s.¬† The African Pride Hotels link to Rijk’s gave me confidence in its calibre.¬† I was put through to the sales department, and spoke to an unfriendly ‘machine’, who was speaking too fast, and he must have got annoyed when I told him that I could not understand him, and requested that he slow down.¬† He responded by putting down the phone. I then found the Tulbagh number of¬†Rijk’s lower down on the website, and called them directly.¬† Here too the telephonic communication was a struggle, until I was put through to Andretti, who did confirm telephonically that all was in order, and he¬†did so by e-mail as well.

Louisa Colquhoun, the General Manager of the 15-bedroom Rijk’s Country House, called a few days before our arrival, and apologised for the problems with the interaction with African Pride Hotels, and requested more details about the person I had spoken to there.¬† She told me that she had been sent a link to this blog by her boss, and that her boss is a regular reader.¬†

Our journey was beset¬†with delays, and we only arrived at 8.30 pm on Friday.¬† We had to call en route,¬†to find the best way to drive to Tulbagh from Franschhoek, not having been sent any directions.¬† Here too we had communication problems, in getting¬†clear guidelines as to how to drive to Tulbagh from Wellington.¬† There is no signage in Tulbagh to direct one to the town centre, or to Rijk’s¬† from there, so we had to call again.¬† When we arrived, Louisa came out to the car, to greet us, and walked us inside.¬†Two staff members almost ‘sang’ a welcome to ‘Chris and Alex’, even before we were introduced to them, and we were ‘Chris and Alexed’ by all staff throughout our stay, a little too familiar, I felt, quite a contrast to the ‘Ms von Ulmenstein’ treatment experienced at the 5-star Taj Hotel¬†recently.¬† One of the staff had a tray of welcome Rijk’s Shiraz 2004¬†for us, very generous in its pouring.¬† The other tray had towel cloths for us to use, but we did not have enough hands to take the glass and the cloth plus what we were holding already, so we could not partake of this service.¬† Louisa showed us the lounge, the Polo Wine Bar, where they do winetastings too, and the Que Sera dining room, where they serve breakfasts and dinner, and we stayed¬†to have dinner¬†immediately, without first seeing the room.¬† Louisa gave me the Guest Registration Form to complete, and most of its clauses would not pass the new Consumer Protection Act¬† with its ‘legalese’, and the waivers and indemnities.

Dinner at the 32-seater Que Sera was a hit and miss affair, mainly because we were left with a junior waitress Chantel, who was generally unknowledgeable.¬† We were the only guests dining.¬† I asked¬†Chantel who the chef was, and she said¬†her name is¬†Joan.¬† She knew nothing more about her, other than that she had worked at Rijk’s for 21 years.¬† I did not realise that it had been open for so long.¬† She said the owners of the Rijk’s Country¬†House are Stuart and Mason Cranswick, who lease the buildings from Neville Dorrington, the owner of the Rijk’s wine farm and Private Cellar.¬†The staff wear a turquoise shirt and black pants and black apron. Chantel said that she has been at Rijk’s for three years already, and worked at Paddagang restaurant previously.¬† The lighting was very low, until we asked for it to be turned up a little.¬† The room walls are bare, except for two pictures over the fireplace, but did not seem to be original works of art.¬† The white table cloth¬†had a runner over it, and the beige chairs were comfortable.¬† A vase with a carnation and a candle were on the table.¬† Eetrite cutlery was modern in design and functional.¬† A wooden board arrived with a tasty seed-topped mini-bread, olive tapenade, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.¬† When my son asked if the tapenade contains anchovies, the waitress confirmed this, so she found us some anchovy-less tapenade.¬† The menu is in a brown plastic cover, and refers to “Rijk’s Boutique Hotel”, showing some confusion as to its identity and positioning.¬† Each page of the menu is dominated by the blown-up Rijk’s¬† Country House logo, over which the menu items¬†are printed, making it hard to read them all, especially in the low light.¬† My heart sank when I saw that three of the starters were served with sweet chilli sauce.¬†

We were warned that the Beef Wellington (served with a choice of starches, my mash topped with fresh coriander) would take 20 minutes to make, which we said was fine, given that I had ordered a nicely presented Avocado Ritz¬†starter.¬† I enjoyed both dishes, except that the Beef Wellington (R120)¬†only contained mushrooms and no chicken liver pat√©.¬†¬†The fillet was perfectly cooked medium rare, as requested. My son was not happy with the Wild Mushroom and Thyme¬†Risotto (R80), being completely overcooked,¬†too salty,¬†not containing any identifiable thyme, and tasting of a spice which made it inedible.¬† We sent it back, but were still charged for it, until I asked Chantel to take it off the bill, which she did.¬† Starter options range from R37 for calamari steak strips.¬†Tempura prawns, peri peri chicken livers, gazpacho and¬†a soup of the day¬†are some other starter options. Main course prices start at R80 for the risotto, and¬†Pan-fried Citrus Salmon Trout costs R155,¬†expensive for Tulbagh, I felt.¬† Steak is served three ways, and costs R100 – R140, and one can order a 150g¬†or 200g portion.¬†¬†¬† The menu states that one can order a salad or seasonal vegetables¬†as part of¬†the main course, but this option was not presented to us, and I did not see it on the menu when we were ordering.¬† We did not order any desserts, costing about R30, but could have had desserts from a trolley, a cheese platter (R66), fruit salad or sorbet. When I ordered a cappuccino, it took a good half an hour to get one.¬†¬† The very noisy industrial-looking coffee machine is in the dining room, so we could observe the process.¬† It took three attempts to get a cappuccino served in a cup, and not a latte in a glass, despite our clear request to Chantel. ¬† We were told that the coffee comes from ‘Beans for Africa’ and was called ‘Peru Organic’.¬† Just after the starter was served, Louisa came to check on us, and we did not see her again during the dinner, and she did not ask us later¬†for feedback about the dinner.

The wine list also has a¬†brown plastic cover, and no vintages are indicated.¬† House wines by the glass cost R28 for an unspecified white and R31 for a red wine.¬†¬†¬†Organic white and Ros√© wine by the glass can be ordered at R22, but the origin of it is not identified.¬† Moet et Chandon costs R750, Billecart Brut R690, and Billecart Salmon Ros√© R1088. Cap “Classic” sparkling wines include Krone Borealis Brut, at R120, and the Nicolas Charles Krone Marque 1 is the most expensive at R420. The winelist offers a Rijk’s wine¬†in each variety, and is not always the cheapest one offered – in fact it was the most expensive option in most cases.¬† There is a heavy 50 % mark-up on the Rijk’s’ wines relative to the next-door cellar prices, the Shiraz costing R205.¬† A page in the winelist provided prices of wines one could buy from the Rijk’s Gift Shop, at R128 for the Rijk’s Shiraz, and even the three champagnes on the winelist can be bought at about 50 % less!

The welcome letter from Louisa¬†introduced Tulbagh, described Rijk’s Country House as “country living at its best”, and¬†stated that “the hotel makes use of the farms water supply and is being treated”, which I did not read on arrival, and the bottled water drinking recommendation¬†was not explained to us verbally.¬†¬†I was impressed that the letter was personalised, in referring to the wedding we were attending.¬† Surprising too was the invitation to enjoy a winetasting in the Rijk’s Polo Wine Bar in the Rijk’s Country House, rather than in the Rijk’s Private Cellar¬† tasting room.

The rooms are actually cottages away from the core¬†reception building, so we had to drive to the cottage that we were allocated.¬† It is an open plan lounge and bedroom, with a large bathroom, and a separate loo.¬†¬† My heart sank as soon as I saw the rug,¬†a cheap floor decoration, and not a Persian carpet, which would have been¬†befitting of a five star room.¬† Also, the windows have cheap plastic blinds with a net curtain, shouting ‘cheap and nasty’.¬† The end result of such¬†‘curtaining’ is that it let in the light at 6h00, not exactly what one wants on a¬†precious weekend away.¬† The beds were requested to be twin, but the beds had been separated, so each of us had to sleep on a¬† precarious single bed, something I have not done in more than 30 years (in our guest houses we keep the beds together, but use single bed linen to make up the beds).¬† There was a nice selection of magazines, but I was surprised to find a ‘Franschhoek Style’ amongst them, marketing Franschhoek, competition to Tulbagh, especially when it comes to weddings!¬† Worst of all about the¬†cottage was a sickly sweet smell in the room, probably coming from a heavy dose of Charlotte Rhys room spray that had been sprayed¬†at turn-down, prior¬†to our arrival!¬† I had to open all the windows to get the smell out of the room, and almost froze to death, not being able to sleep as a result.¬†Spread out on the bed was a dressing gown, which may be the highlight of other visitors’ stay, but certainly is not a requirement, in my book.¬† On top of this was presented the turn-down ‘treat’, the most bizarre and kitschy¬†I have ever experienced – a pink wrapped mini ‘Christmas cracker’, with silver ribbon, containing … a pink and a white marshmallow!¬† There is a Belgian chocolatier (Moniki)¬†in Tulbagh, and it would have been more fitting to use their products.¬† I got up to write when I could not sleep for most of the night, and heard the loud staff arrival just after 6h00.¬†¬† The crowning glory was that there was no water coming out of the taps the next morning, something Louisa had mentioned the night before could be a possibility.¬† Whilst we had bottled water for brushing our teeth, we could not have a shower or bath in the musty smelling bathroom – to open its window one has to step into the bath to get to the latch!¬†¬†Water clearly is¬†a problem at Rijk’s, as a letter from Louisa, which must have been in the room, but which I only read on our return, explained about “water shortages and other difficulties”, urging us to use the bottled water supplied for drinking and in the kettle.

When we came for breakfast, Louisa came to apologise for the water situation.¬† She also said that she felt that¬†Rijk’s could not meet our requirements, and offered to refund our deposit payment.¬†I told her that we had already booked alternative accommodation for the second night. ¬†Whilst the water situation was inconvenient, but out of her control, I suggested to Louisa that she waive the restaurant bill of the night before as a make-good, which she accepted.¬† However, she wrote the following day: I spoke with my Shareholders on your departure and relayed the details of your stay. ¬†I explained that you had declined a full refund but requested the dinner be complimentary.¬† They requested I get in touch with you and request your bank details as they would like to ensure the return of your deposit.¬† I would be grateful if you would allow us to facilitate this.¬† Once again we apologise that your stay did not meet your expectations and look forward to hearing from you.”¬†

The Breakfast was served outside on the vine-covered Iceberg Terrace, with a lovely view onto iceberg roses, the vineyards, and the Wintershoek mountains.¬† The colour scheme for the table runners and outdoor chair cushions is grass green and turquoise, quite ‘loud’.¬†¬†The vase of fresh roses on¬†each table was a nice touch.¬†No breakfast buffet was laid out, but a collection of breakfast items was brought on a tray and put onto a stand next to our table, consisting of two yoghurt flavours, two cereals, a cold meat and cheese platter, fresh fruit served on a chipped plate, and a basket of muffins, scones¬†and¬†croissants.¬† I was served a perfectly made cappuccino, but was initially told that it was not possible to make one due to the water problem.¬† I suggested to Chantel that she use some bottled water.¬†¬†As we were the only guests having breakfast, it was surprising that the service was so slow.¬†¬†Chantel waited until we had finished our cereals before she asked for the egg order, and this took a good 20 minutes to be brought to the table, the eggs arriving quite some time before the toast, which I had to remind Chantel¬†about.¬† The orange juice was not freshly squeezed, and came out of a bottle.¬†¬† The estate handyman came to our table to also apologise for the burst water pipe, and explained that they were working on it.¬†¬†The music at Rijk’s made one very nostalgic, and included ‘House of the Rising Sun’ and a ‘Whiter Shade of Pale’.¬†¬† As happened¬† at dinner, Louisa was barely present at breakfast, and did not check on how we enjoyed it, and if there were any problems.¬† Understandably, she was stressed about the water situation.¬†Her deputy¬†did not¬†come to our table during¬†our breakfast.

So what can I praise: the free easy wireless (but slow) internet connection, even reaching to the cottage.¬† The lovely roses.¬† The generosity of the welcome drink.¬† Louisa’s apologies for things going wrong.¬† The good breakfast scones.¬† The setting and the view.¬† However, so many other aspects appeared amateurish and the staff poorly managed, that they¬†spoilt the enjoyment of our stay.

Rijk’s Country House, Tulbagh.¬† Tel (023) 230-1006. www.rijkscountryhouse.co.za¬†(The website refers to ‘Fine Dining’, but there is no menu nor winelist.¬† The Image Gallery does not contain a single food photograph.¬† The breakfast description includes reference to a daily newspaper, but we did not see one).

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

Restaurant News: Chef Reuben Riffel cooks up a Cape Town storm in the USA!

Chef Reuben Riffel’s connection with the One&Only Cape Town is putting him, and¬†Cape Town¬†with it, on the world map, and he recently returned from a whirlwind tour of New York, with the compliments of SAA and the One&Only Hotel group.¬†

He stepped off the aircraft with his Reuben’s Franschhoek chef William Carolissen, and was whisked off to the studios of the Martha Stewart Show¬† immediately.¬† Despite her poor performance at the Design Indaba a year ago, Stewart remains an icon of American domesticity, and her show is watched by an audience of about 80000.¬† Chef Reuben had to prepare South African dishes in front of the camera and studio audience, and had pre-organised which ingredients he would require for it.¬† He had a time limit of¬†4 minutes to create¬†Cape Malay¬†pickled fish, and a¬†grilled peri peri beef salad.¬†¬†The Reuben’s slot ran for 15 minutes and had shots of the One&Only Cape Town too, with Stewart endorsing the hotel by stating that it is her favourite resort in South Africa. ¬†The show will be broadcast on¬†9 March.¬†

He was also invited to¬†appear on NBC’s Today Show, with a viewership of 3,3 million on the day of broadcast. Chef Reuben cooked with Today Show personalities Al Roker and Natalie Moralis, and here too he had to prepare two dishes (crisp prawn dumplings with rooibos tea salt, and pan roasted red snapper prepared in a West Coast basting sauce of apricot jam, garlic and soya, served with a salsa of tomato, cucumber, chilli and cilantro) in front of the audience.¬†¬†

Reuben is no stranger to cooking in front of a camera, making more and more TV appearances, on Pasella in particular, so this stood him in good stead to do our city and country proud.  Chef Reuben said the American TV staff are well organised.   Chef Reuben also prepared food for an One&Only Hotel event for travel agents and tour operators, as well as one for the media (journalists represented the New York Times Style Magazine, Travel+Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, New York Post and Travel Africa.)    

Meeting Chef Reuben and his wife Maryke at Reuben’s at the One & Only Cape Town¬†last week was an opportunity to catch up, and to check whether he is still connected to his restaurant in Cape Town, given my observations after my last visit.¬† He laughed when we chatted about¬†how incorrect deductions can be made from bits of staff information¬†one receives, and it showed him how important it is for him to communicate with all levels of staff.¬† Talking of staff, a number of changes have taken place since Reuben’s opened in Cape Town in October:¬†¬† The Manager Samantha Housden has left, after only a short stint, and has been replaced by Kagiso¬†Mmebe. ¬†In the kitchen Maritz Jacobs has been joined by Aviv Liebenberg, previously at Reuben’s Robertson, and Chef Reuben is encouraging them to visit the Old Biscuit Mill market on Saturdays, so that they can stay in touch with interesting food suppliers, and they come back with fresh products for a new special¬†“Market Day” menu on Saturdays.¬†Reuben’s staff will ‘cross-pollinate’ between Cape Town and Franschhoek, so that they get to experience the other branch.¬† ¬†Camil Haas, who was meant to shadow Chef Reuben in Franschhoek and Cape Town, will be more behind the scenes now, and will¬†manage Chef Reuben’s appearances, and the requirements linked to these, as well as the preparation for outside events.¬†

Chef Reuben explained why the current menu does not have the chefs’ names on it, and why the Reuben’s branding is so low key, in that the hotel had printed it at a time when the regular Reuben’s printer was closed over the festive season.¬†¬†The new menu¬†to be launched on 16 February will go back to its “Reuben’s” look, and its content will have a stronger Cape Town focus, with a new dessert for example called ‘Taste of Cape Town’, with small tastes of Hertzoggies, date slices, melktert, rooibos tea ice cream and a coconut koeksister.¬†¬† In Franschhoek a menu change can be expected at the end of the month, but will have a different focus to the Cape Town one.¬†¬† A Sunday buffet lunch will be introduced in Cape Town on 27 February, costing R 195.¬† The Reuben’s Cape Town menu indicates which dishes contain alcohol (for Sol Kerzner, who does not drink alcohol, and for Muslim guests), shellfish, nuts, and pork.

We spoke about the winelist, which I see as overpowering, and not really suiting a Bistro-style restaurant.¬† Chef Reuben said that Singita is buying up a portion of the wine collection, and he said that they may develop a reduced winelist for Reuben’s.¬† The One&Only Hotel has influenced the operation of Reuben’s in Cape Town, and has meant more paperwork and adherence to systems, but there are benefits too, such as the international marketing that the hotel group does.¬† Chef Reuben emphasised that Kerzner does not interfere with his operation of the restaurant. In fact, there is a good relationship between the hotel and the restaurant management, and they meet regularly to address common issues.¬† Reuben is featured in the international One&Only Hotel newsletter, which was sent out earlier this week.

The decor is evolving, and new multi-coloured glass menu boards have been erected on the columns of the restaurant, to advertise specials.  When I visited last week, a West Coast seafood special was advertised, consisting of a number of dishes.  The boards help the Cape Town branch make spontaneous additions to the menu, without having to reprint it, a greater logistical challenge here than in Franschhoek, Chef Reuben explained. 

A new cookbook is in the pipeline, and will focus on seasons.¬†¬† It will allow Chef Reuben to continue with the format of his first recipe book, and to reminisce about his childhood in Franschhoek, and his mother’s influence on his cooking.¬†¬† Richard Carstens is highly praised by Chef Reuben, and he says that Richard “is one of the best” and that “no one can touch him”.

Chef Reuben says there are definitely no further restaurant openings on his agenda, and he is learning to delegate more, to enjoy a more balanced personal and business life.¬† I left him and Maryke with the feeling that they will make the best of their new relationship with the One&Only Hotel, and that there will be no repeat of Gordon Ramsay’s distant relationship with the ex-maze, the previous restaurant at the One&Only Cape Town, and the resultant demise.

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

Restaurant Review: Reuben’s at the One&Only Cape Town is a-maze-ing!

Let me admit at the outset that I was sceptical as we set off to our dinner on Saturday evening at the new Reuben’s at the One&Only Cape Town, which opened last Wednesday.¬†¬†I need not have been. ¬†I was overwhelmed by how¬†outstanding the food and service was, with fair prices for the food,¬†but with generally more expensive dishes than those at¬†Reuben’s in Franschhoek,¬†and with very¬†high prices for mostly exceptional wines.¬† Reuben’s at the One&Only Cape Town¬†is a ‘grown-up’ and sophisticated¬†Reuben’s, the best Reuben’s by far!

I have never written a review about Reuben’s Restaurant, despite it having been my favourite ever since I stumbled upon it in June 2004, when it first opened in Franschhoek.¬† Immediately I felt it was a restaurant for me, and it became my favourite, and we recommended it passionately to our Whale Cottage Franschhoek guests.¬† The initial service levels, which made Reuben’s¬†the top of the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurants as well as Reuben Riffel the Top Chef¬†six months after opening, could not be maintained, and gradually the service levels dropped, starting with the telephonic bookings, down to rude service from the then-sommelier/manager.

A review of the new Reuben’s needs to trace back the history of its opening at the One&Only Cape Town.¬† It is well-known that Gordon Ramsay’s maze opened at the hotel in April 2009, and that the contract with the restaurant was abruptly cancelled¬†by the hotel at the end of July.¬† Reuben Riffel¬†was tipped to open in Ramsay’s place, but Reuben denied this to us and to the media.¬†¬† Clare McKeon-McLoughlin of Spill Blog confidently predicted Reuben’s appointment, even though Reuben had not yet made a final decision nor signed the contract.¬† We were told that her disclosure caused mayhem in the hotel, as staff at the hotel did not know about the appointment, and that the then Hotel PRO Etienne de Villiers’¬†supposed “endorsement” of the¬†apppointment in¬†the Spill blog post was untruthful, and may have led to his recent departure from the hotel.¬†¬† It would appear that an Irish¬†maze staff member, who has since returned to London,¬†was the mole, spilling the beans to Spill.¬†¬† In¬†less than¬†a month¬†after the announcement of Reuben’s appointment, the restaurant has opened its doors at the One&Only Cape Town, and is confidently trading.¬†¬† In terms of this controversy, Reuben says he prefers to stay out of it and remain in the kitchen!

When I made the booking on the morning of our dinner, the restaurant answered as “Restaurant at One&Only”, the interim name that the restaurant had before Reuben’s opened.¬†¬† We were allowed to park in the basement of the hotel, and there is no charge.¬† When we walked into the restaurant, we could not help but feel that we were in maze.¬† I was looking for the Brasserie that Reuben had been quoted to be opening at the One&Only Cape Town, but we could not see it.¬† The same horrid carpet and massive orange lampshades are still there.¬†¬† The furniture has not changed, although the table tops¬†have been¬†varnished and the Reuben’s name engraved into them.¬† Other than¬†branding on the chic black and burgundy staff aprons,¬†on the lift list, and on the menu, there is no Reuben’s branding outside or inside the restaurant.¬† Surprisingly, the orange/brown colouring of the maze interior matches Reuben’s rust brown colour scheme almost perfectly.¬†¬† We were critical of the maze interior when we went there¬†soon after its opening last year.¬† Reuben says that the interior will be amended in three stages, with the tables completed, and bistro boards with specials¬†going up shortly.¬† ¬†The interior decorator that Reuben’s has used in Franschhoek and Robertson will be coming this week to see how she can soften the harsh hotel interior.

The maze and Reuben’s marriage will take some time to gel to the benefit of the new restaurant.¬†¬† From maze the restaurant has inherited the decor, all the¬†waitrons (there was no shortage of staff on the floor), managers and also kitchen staff, the outstanding sommelier Andre Bekker and his Diamond award-wining¬†Diner’s Club Restaurant Winelist, a¬†wine library¬†of over 700 wines,¬†the choice of three breads baked by the kitchen,¬†and the waitron service standards that have been set in the past, being much higher than those of Reuben’s in Franschhoek.¬†¬† From Reuben’s comes the menu, the little coarse salt pots on the tables, a far more informal style of dress (the ties of the managers have come off),¬†a more relaxed interaction with customers, something that was not encouraged at maze, as well as new serving dishes and some cutlery.¬† The One&Only staff were trained by Reuben’s wife Maryke¬†about their service standard, the menu and the food.¬† The staff have tasted the dishes, and are still doing so as Reuben fine-tunes the menu for the official 1 October start.¬†¬†¬†The winelist and the menu are miles apart, and need to find each other, the former being very expensive and also out of character with the Brasserie feel which Reuben’s wants to create, and with the winelists in Franschhoek and in Robertson.

The exact¬†relationship between Reuben Riffel and the One&Only Cape Town is unclear,¬†but the hotel employs and pays the Reuben’s kitchen and waitron staff.¬†¬† The brief was for Reuben to get the best kitchen staff possible.¬†¬†This reduces the risk for Reuben, and means that he is compensated for his brand name and for his time through a share of the turnover.¬† ¬†Having a room at the hotel is a fringe benefit the Reuben’s Franschhoek staff are enjoying when they come through to town.¬† The arrangement with the hotel has allowed¬†Reuben to appoint Camil Haas, previous owner of Bouillabaisse in Franschhoek and Green Point and of Camil’s in Green Point, to substitute for¬†him at the One&Only Cape Town¬†and in Franschhoek from October, giving each of these two Reuben’s a heavyweight chef every day.¬†¬† In addition, Maritz Jacobs, previously of Le Quartier Fran√ßais and 15 on Orange hotel, is the new Head Chef at the One&Only Cape Town, meeting Reuben’s requirement for a young and energetic chef.¬† The Pastry Chef is Ren√© Smit.¬† Reuben is called the Concept Chef on the menu, as he is on the Reuben’s menus in Franschhoek and in Robertson.¬† Samantha Housden¬†from Tank will be joining as the Restaurant Manager on 1 October.¬† Reuben recently bought out his Boekenhoutskloof partners Tim Rands and Marc Kent, who helped him set up the business six years ago.¬† He says this gives him new flexibility to make decisions more quickly, and to steer his business where he wants it to go.

The menu is A3 in size, and has the same format as that in Franschhoek and Robertson.¬† It is neatly divided¬†into a Starters, Main Courses and Desserts section, as well as a mini Vegetarian menu of Starters and Main Courses, a Fish and Seafood section, as well as Side Orders.¬†¬† In future it will also carry the names of the special suppliers of fine organic produce that Reuben’s will be sourcing.¬†¬†¬†The menu content in terms of dishes offered is vastly different at the new Reuben’s, compared to¬†the Franschhoek branch. ¬†The menu is being fine-tuned in the next 10 days before the official opening, and has already seen changes in the first four days of its operation.

A small bowl of olives was brought to the table, as was three types of bread: a baguette, tomato bread and black olive bread.   Butter was on the table, as was a bottle of Willowcreek olive oil.  I ordered Asparagus with a hollandaise and orange reduction (R60) as a starter from the Vegetarian section, which was topped with the most wonderful micro-herbs, being miniature coriander, basil and rocket, and adding the most wonderful taste to this dish, beautifully presented on a glass dish.   Other starters are oysters at R25 each, pickled veal tongue (R60), chilli salted baby squid and shredded duck salad at R70 each, salmon tartar and cured venison at R75 each, mussels (R80), and a white asparagus and langoustine salad (R110).

My main course was the most wonderful kingklip (R140)¬†– a good portion of firm fish, served with the unusual combination of avocado, on a bed of mash (I chose it to be plain, but the menu specified it to be tumeric mash), and with crunchy Chinese cabbage, a mint salsa and coconut cream.¬†¬† The same micro-herbs served as garnish for the dish, and again added a unique taste to round off the dish, the best kingklip I have¬†ever eaten.¬†¬†My only criticism was that a serrated knife instead of a fish knife was served. ¬†My colleague had Karoo lamb curry (R135), served in a bowl, with sambals (yoghurt and pineapple, and chopped tomato and cucumber)¬†and basmati rice in a tiny iron pot,¬†presented on a separate dish.¬†¬† ¬†She loved the genuine Cape Malay taste of it, and picked up garlic and ginger notes, as well as jeera, cardamom and barishap spices in her lamb stew, with dhania leaves on top.¬† She called it “hemelse kos”, it tasted so good!¬†¬† Other Main Course options are lamb rack (R175); ostrich fillet, 180 g beef fillet¬†and a 450 g rib-eye steak at R 170 each; quail saltimbocca (R130); 240g sirloin and pork belly¬†at R125 each; veal tripe (R120); and¬†Reuben’s faithful wonderful calf’s liver at R115.¬† Other Fish options were yellowtail (R110) and Tandoori spiced prawns (R170).¬†¬† Side orders cost R 35, but all¬†main courses¬†come with a starch and a vegetable.

For dessert my colleague had Muskadel cr√ɬ®me with poached hanepoot grapes, ginger crumble and raspberry ice cream, in a glass bowl and served on a slate plate.¬† Slate is used extensively at Jordan’s Restaurant with George Jardine, and to a lesser extent at Jardine’s.¬† My dessert was a fascinating Lemon and olive oil custard, to which was added cocoa crumble, a half-round thin slice of chocolate as well as Swiss chocolate mousse, finished off with edible gold paper which I thought the kitchen had forgotten to take off!¬†¬† Desserts cost R65, expensive I felt, but the portions were generous.¬†¬†Other desserts are a seasonal fruit compote, Amarula scented malva pudding, Tequila sundae, and a bitter chocolate fondant, the latter costing R80.¬† I felt, on the basis of two desserts, that the desserts needed more work.¬† My cappuccino did not arrive at the same time as the dessert, as requested, and was not very foamy.¬† It was immediately replaced with one in a bigger cup size, and was very foamy.¬†¬†Petit fours were brought to the table after the dessert plates were cleared, also on a slate plate.

The sommelier Andre¬†has been at the hotel almost since it opened, and he says that the winelist has not changed much from its impressive start.¬†¬† They have added wines bought at the Nederburg and CWG auctions, as well as garagiste and boutique winery brands.¬†¬† Some international wine prices have been reduced over time, and some local wine prices have¬†increased.¬†¬† The 37-page winelist will be changed, the lengthy introduction to the South African wine industry to be removed.¬† I disliked the division of the wines by region, and then by varietal on the maze winelist,¬†but this will not change.¬† It means that if one likes drinking a Shiraz, for example, one has to check through every region’s¬†Shirazes to check which one to order.¬†¬†It could take one¬† a whole evening to wade through the many wines on offer, including 50 wines-by-the-glass, 32 champagnes, and 18 MCC sparkling wines, as well as wines imported from France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, the USA, and Australia.¬†¬† I did not like the file/folder look of the winelist, and do not remember it looking like this at maze.¬†¬† Its practicality in updating¬†vintages and prices is an obvious advantage.¬† The yellowish cover of the wine list does not match the Reuben’s colour scheme.¬†¬† Wines-by-the-glass can be served in 50ml, 150ml and 250 ml quantities, making the expensive wines a little more affordable by¬†reducing the quantity one drinks!¬† Wine flights in three’s¬†are also available, by region or by varietal.¬†¬† I chose a glass of 2006 Glen Carlou Shiraz, which cost R 72 for a 150ml glassful – 50ml cost R24, and 250ml R120.¬†¬† The 2005 Luddite Shiraz prices were R37/R112/R187 per glass.¬† The 2007 Brampton cost R9/R28/R47.¬† Migliarina Shiraz 2006 cost R17/R52/R87.¬† A glass of 150ml of bubbly cost R260 for Ayala ‘Rose’ Majeur, R200 for Billecart Salmon Brut, R98 for Graham Beck Ros√ɬ©, R49 for Graham Beck Brut, and R44 for Villiera.¬†¬† It is clear that the wine prices are exceptionally high.¬† Andre spoilt me with a complimentary glass of dessert wine.

We felt privileged that Reuben came out of the kitchen to sit and chat with us.¬† He intends to come out of the kitchen a lot more in future, and having chefs working for him will allow him to do this.¬† Starters will be prepared behind the counters inside the restaurant in future, to allow diners to connect with the food preparation and the kitchen staff too.¬†¬† Reuben is working on creating synergy in the menus for his three Reuben’s, yet having unique items on each menu that reflect what customers like in each area.¬† At the One&Only Cape Town¬†the calf’s liver is extremely popular, he says, as is his Veal tripe (‘Pens en Pootjies’).¬†¬† We were struck by Reuben’s humility and quiet confidence that he has made the right decision by opening his latest Reuben’s at the One&Only Cape Town.¬† He recognises that service levels can improve in Franschhoek, and he sees a benefit of exchanging his staff between the two locations, so that the One&Only Cape Town¬†service standards can become those of the Franschhoek staff too.¬†¬† ¬†There will be no launch function, Reuben preferring to quietly open and delivering on the expectations of a more¬†demanding Cape Town as well as international¬†clientele.¬†¬† Reuben’s staff also prepare the hotel breakfasts.

We will recommend Reuben’s at the One&Only to our Whale Cottage Camps Bay guests with confidence, and we will return.

Reuben’s at the One&Only Cape Town, One&Only Cape Town, V&A Waterfront.¬† Tel (021) 431-5888.¬†www.reubens.co.za (The new restaurant is not yet listed on the Reuben’s website, nor on the One&Only Cape Town website).¬† Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Monday – Sunday.

POSTSCRIPT 20/9: Samantha Housden’s restaurant experience includes launching London’s Level 7 Caf√ɬ© at the Tate Modern Gallery and managing the Eyre Brother’s restaurant owned by the godfather of gastro-pub cuisine David Eyre.¬† She started Cilantro in Hout Bay, having been its chef too.¬† She has left Tank to join Reuben’s at the One&Only Cape Town.

POSTSCRIPT 25/9: We returned for dinner¬†a week later, and met the new Restaurant Manager Samantha Housden for the first time.¬†¬† She came to check on¬†our table¬†regularly, as did Marcus, an interim manager.¬† Due to a strong attempt to upsell us by a waiter, we asked for waiter Victor,¬†who had served us¬†the previous week, and his service was as good as ever.¬†¬† The recognition by the staff from our visit a week ago was impressive – from the hostess as we arrived (I had used my son’s name for the booking this time), to¬†the sommelier Andre and the waiter Victor remembering specific requests and likes from a week ago – in line with Reuben’s Franschhoek.¬†¬† Disappointingly the food was not as good as it was a week ago – the kingklip was undercooked and did not have the lovely microherbs (but a generous portion was brought to the table when I asked about them) and the sirloin¬†had lots of sinews.¬†¬† Reuben was in the kitchen, and spontaneously came to say hello.¬† I was delighted to¬†hear that sommelier Andre has heeded our feedback, and will revise the winelist, to arrange it by¬†varietals, and to mention the regions, which will make wine selection much easier in future.¬†

POSTSCRIPT 14/1:¬†¬† I arrived in good spirits, and was shocked at the disappointing food quality and service.¬†¬† Although the telephonist tried to put through my call three times, so that I could check if I could still get a table at 22h00, no one in the restaurant answered the phone.¬† I decided to arrive anyway.¬†¬† I was warmly received by the hostess, and discovered immediately that Manager Samantha Housden is no longer at Reuben’s.¬† The evening shifts were getting to her, I was told.¬†¬†Kagiso Mmebe is the new Manager, and started three weeks ago, having been a lecturer in Restaurant Practice at the University of Johannesburg.¬† A sweet waitress Unite took my order efficiently, and that is where her service support ended.¬† She brought butter and olives, but never came with the bread.¬† I had to ask a manager for it.¬† It was explained to me that¬†Unite¬†is a runner, being trained up to be a waitress, but she wears the same colour shirt as do the waiters, so one cannot identify her lesser skills.¬† She is meant to work under the guidance of a waiter, but this did not happen.¬†¬† I ordered the baby chicken main course (R135), which was not cooked properly, even after sending it back once.¬†¬†¬†My choice of carrots with vanilla and honey as the side-dish was an excellent one.¬†¬† The wild mushroom sauce tasted strongly of an Oxo stock cube, with not a piece of mushroom to be seen.¬†¬†The sauce was taken away, and mushrooms added.¬† I had to ask for a finger bowl.¬† The wine steward Tinashe Nyamudoka¬†was wonderful, just taking my wine order and pouring the Glen Carlou Shiraz 2004 at the table, as requested.¬†¬† The frozen espresso cake with a berry coulis and an odd-looking meringue was excellent (R65).¬†¬† Assistant Manager Marcus Isaacs kindly took the chicken off the bill.¬† It was disconcerting to hear from the staff that Reuben Riffel has barely been seen at the restaurant in the past two weeks, although Marcus disagreed.¬†¬† Camil Haas is not at Reuben’s One&Only at all anymore.¬† There is no sign of any further decor changes, after the curtains were opened.¬† The new summer menu, launched last week, has very understated Reuben’s branding, and does not look like¬†a¬†Reuben’s menu anymore, and there is no listing of the names of the chefs on it anymore – not even Reuben’s name is mentioned!¬†¬†Chef Aviv Liebenberg from Reuben’s Franschhoek (and previously Robertson)¬†has been moved to Cape Town, working with Chef Maritz.¬† ¬†I could not help but¬†be concerned as to where Reuben’s in the One&Only Cape Town is heading – it certainly is no longer a-maze-ing!

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

Bosman’s and Zachary’s sparkle in Diner’s Club Winelist Awards

Bosman’s at the Grande Roche Hotel¬†and Zachary’s at Pezula Hotel & Spa were the two restaurants whose winelists were chosen as the best in the¬†country in the Diner’s Club Winelist Awards, announced on Monday.

A record number of restaurant winelists was entered for the prestigious Diner’s Club Winelist of the Year 2010, an increase of 10 % on last year, reports Hotel and Restaurant.¬† Under the chairmanship of Dave Hughes, the Diner’s Club Winelist Awards¬†recognises the wine range offered, as well as the matching of a restaurant’s wines to its menu.¬†¬†To be able to enter, the restaurants have to accept Diner’s Club credit cards.

The judges gave each winelist a rating, depicting their winelist performance.  The results for the Western Cape follow:

*¬† The top accolade a restaurant winelist can achieve is Diamond, with a score of 91 % or more.¬† The superior winelists are those of the following restaurants: 96 Winery Road, Asara Wine Estate and Hotel, Aubergine, Azure at Twelve Apostles, Balducci’s, Balthazar, Bientang’s Cave, Bistro Allegro, Blowfish, Bosman’s, Bushman’s Kloof, Carne, Catharina’s, Cellars-Hohenhort Hotel, City Grill, Ellerman House, Flavours, Greek Fisherman, Harbour Rock, Hunter’s Country House, Jardine, Karibu, La Colombe, Le Quartier Fran√ɬßais, Marc’s, Meloncino, Nobu, Pembrey’s, Pure, Restaurant at The One&Only, Rioja, Rodwell House, Sand, Signal at Cape Grace, The Atlantic Grill at the Table Bay Hotel, The Square at the Vineyard Hotel, The Wild Fig and Zachary’s.

*   Winners in the Platinum category (81 Р90%) were the following: 95 Keerom, Abalone House in Paternoster, Cru Cafe, Den Anker, Durbanville Golf Club, Harveys, Kitima at the Kronendal, Kurland Hotel, Milkwood, Panama Jacks, Pistachio, Salt, Simola Country Club & Spa, Bayside Cafe, The George, The Grill Room, Hussar Grill (all branches), The Marine Hotel, The Raj, The Red Herring, The Roundhouse, The Turbine Hotel & Spa (winner in this category) and Umngazi River Bungalows & Spa.

*¬†¬† Winners in the Gold Category, with a score of 71 – 80 %, are the following restaurants:¬† 3106 Restaurant @ The Cullinan, Blue Water Cafe, B’s steakhouse in Hermanus, Col’Cacchio (Camps Bay, Blouberg, Canal Walk, Cavendish, Franschhoek, Stellenbosch, Foreshore and Willowbridge branches), De Viswijf, Hermanos, Jenna Viva, Southern Sun, The Garden Lounge, The Quarterdeck and Yizani.

*¬†¬† Silver award recipients, with a score of 61 – 70 %, are Bourbon Street, Harbourview, Jemima’s, and Newlands Cafe.

The scores for the above categories seem very high, given some of the restaurants that have been included in them, and one wonders how¬†a top¬†winelist of ex-maze at the One&Only can compete with that of¬†restaurants such as Bientang’s Cave and Harbour Rock in Hermanus, with scores over 90%.

The judges noted a better presence of more affordable wines on the winelists, reflecting the current economic climate.¬† An increasing number of restaurants offer wine-by-the-glass, the judges noted.¬† The judges also praised the greater synergy between the winelist and the menu: “Now more and more restaurateurs take a lot of care in assembling a range of wines they believe complement their food and then guide the patron by means of the wine list in making an appropriate choice”, said judging Chairman Dave Hughes.

It is interesting to note that many Eat Out Top 10 restaurants are not on the winning winelist list, and include Rust en Vrede, Overture, Bizerca Bistro, Reubens, Grande Provence, Terroir, and the Mount Nelson.¬† Other top restaurants whose names are missing are Myoga, Bombay Brasserie at the Taj Hotel, Restaurant at Majeka House, Jordan’s Restaurant with George Jardine, Restaurant Christophe, Waterkloof, the Blonde …collection of restaurants (Beluga, Sevruga, Blonde), The Kovensky Quartet (The Kove, Paranga, Zenzero and Pepenero), and Delaire Graff, indicating that they do not accept Diner’s Club credit cards due to the higher commission this company takes on payments relative to Mastercard and VISA, and/or that these restaurants snub the Awards, in not seeing the value of participation.

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

Reuben Riffel becomes the One and Only Chef at One&Only Cape Town

What Spill Blog had predicted three weeks ago, but what Reuben Riffel had denied vehemently to the media and to ourselves, has been announced in the Sunday Times today – Reuben Riffel will take over the helm of one of the restaurants at the One&Only Cape Town, establishing a Reuben’s restaurant in the space vacated by Gordon Ramsay’s maze at the end of July, on 1 October.¬† This will be the third Reuben’s, joining the restaurant family in Franschhoek and Robertson.¬†¬† Reuben has committed to spending three days a week at the Hotel, to look after the restaurant.

Following speculation about¬†him taking over the restaurant, which he denied, Riffel had warned restaurateurs to heed the example of Ramsay spreading himself too thin, and in not having¬†a hands-on control over one’s restaurants, as quoted in sake24.¬†¬†

We congratulate Reuben and his team, and wish them huge success in a¬†very large space of 170 seats to fill, with all eyes from the Cape Town and international market¬†focused on how he will fill¬†Ramsay’s shoes.¬† Reuben’s largest challenge will be the service level offered, it not having been a strength of¬†his restaurants in more recent times.¬†

The full Sunday Times story follows:  

“One of South Africa’s top chefs, Reuben Riffel, has been picked to be the apple of hospitality tycoon Sol Kerzner’s eye.

Riffel – who has gone from eating pig’s head as a youngster to feeding well-heeled patrons his signature ginger and caramel pork belly – will replace famed UK chef Gordon Ramsay at Kerzner’s One&Only hotel in Cape Town. Ramsay’s Maze restaurant was expelled from the premises following rumours of crisis talks earlier this month. In an exclusive interview this week, Riffel recalled the day Kerzner, his daughter, Andrea Kerzner, and Alan Leibman, the president of Kerzner International, visited Reuben’s, his restaurant in Franschhoek. The high-profile party feasted on chilli salt squid starters, blue cheese tomato jam tarts, tomato soup with coconut sorbet and lamb shanks with waterblommetjies. Afterwards, Kerzner made Riffel a business offer he could not refuse. “I was flabbergasted. I mean, to be asked this by such a massive industry person. So I told him I’d think about it,” said Riffel.¬†Leibman was full of praise: “Mr Kerzner enjoyed the experience tremendously, he described the food as bursting with local ingredients, extremely tasty and heart-warming. He was also impressed with the extensive wine selection.”

Riffel’s contract, signed on Tuesday, stipulates that he will man the restaurant at the hotel at least three days a week. This follows on Ramsay’s striking absence from Maze. Reuben’s at the One&Only will be decorated in Riffel’s trademark ox-blood red with bold artworks. “I want it to be more relaxed, unlike the traditional idea of hotel restaurants being stiff, that colonial feeling,” he said. The softly-spoken chef, who was raised in Groendal outside Franschhoek, got his big break when he landed a job at the Chamonix Restaurant in Franschhoek, where his mother worked temporarily as a kitchen hand. He has since risen to become one of South Africa’s most celebrated chefs”.¬†¬†

The Food & Beverage Assistant Manager at the¬†One&Only Hotel Cape Town¬†has confirmed Reuben’s appointment, as has Maryke, Reuben Riffel’s wife.¬† Maryke has confirmed that they will take over some of¬†the existing staff at the hotel’s¬†restaurant, and that the Franschhoek and Robertson staff of Reubens will assist in the opening of Reuben’s at the One&Only Cape Town on a temporary basis.¬† She said that Reuben is itching to get into the One&Only kitchen, to “eat it and smell it”, but will be spending the next few days in Robertson to run a cookery course.

POSTSCRIPT 23/8:¬† The One&Only Cape Town’s media release, released today, is short and sweet, and appears rushed in containing unforgivable¬†typing errors:

“(23 August 2010) It has been announced that Reuben Riffel – one of South Africa’s best loved celebrity chefs – will open his first urban restaurant at One&Only Cape Town later this year. The annoucement (sic) was made in Cape Town late last week by Alan Leibman, President of Kerzner International (EAME).¬†

Talking to the annoucement (sic) Sol Kerzner, Chairman and CEO of Kerzner International explained that he had dined at Reuben’s restaurant in Franschhoek while he was in Cape Town over World Cup. “I saw in Reuben an opportunity to capture the essence of South African spirit and pride the world saw as we hosted this major event and invited him to bring his acclaimed local flair to a new restaurant at One&Only Cape Town. We are very pleased to have him on board and feel it’s quite fitting that One&Only’s first urban resort is also the setting for Reuben’s first urban restaurant.”

“I’m really excited and proud about the pending launch of my new restaurant,” said Reuben Riffel. “Reuben’s at One&Only Cape Town will serve wholesome bistro fare, made from locally-sourced produce. With the resort’s central location, I hope to not only introduce my food to more Capetonians, but also visitors to the Mother City. The restaurant will have a sophisticated – but decidedly unfussy – brasserie feel to it, while the food will provide an exciting combination of local flavours appealing to any palette.”¬†

Reuben’s at One&Only Cape Town will open on Friday 1 October and reservations can be made by calling 021 431 5222 or emailing restaurantreservations@oneandonlycapetown.com¬†

 

POSTSCRIPT 23/8: Fin24.com writes about the appointment of Reuben Riffel at the One&Only Cape Town today, and questions his denial to them two weeks ago about expanding his Reuben’s restaurant chain: http://www.fin24.com/Business/Gordon-Ramsays-replacement-named-20100822¬†

 

POSTSCRIPT 31/8: The One&Only Cape Town website describes the opening of Reubens at the One&Only Cape Town as follows:

“One&Only Cape Town is proud to launch Reuben’s first urban restaurant on 1 October 2010. Reuben’s serves deceptively simple, wholesome bistro fare, with fresh flavours, generous portions and beautifully plated dishes. The restaurant has a sophisticated, but unfussy, brasserie feel and the food provides the exciting combination of local flavours that one would expect from one of South Africa’s most loved chefs, Reuben Riffel.

Riffel rose to fame when his first restaurant, Reuben’s, opened to much acclaim in the historical town of Franschhoek in 2004. Reuben’s has since won the coveted Eat Out ‘Restaurant of the Year’ and ‘Chef of the Year’ awards. ¬†Reubens’s appeals to the culinary side of the soul and will be enjoyed by young and old. Reuben’s at One&Only Cape Town will open on Friday, 1 October and reservations may be made by calling +27 21 431 5222 or e-mailing restaurantreservations@oneandonlycapetown.com

POSTSCRIPT 20/9 : Reubens at One&Only Cape Town has opened ahead of its 1 October opening date.  Dinner two days ago was a-maze-ing.  Read our review 

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

Towards a Code of Ethics for Food (and other) Bloggers!

I have come across a blog called “Food Blog Code of Ethics”, compiled by two food bloggers in America, which has raised the important issue of ethics in food blogging, which principles can apply to wine and other blogging too.¬† The Code raises important issues for South African bloggers in dealing with the ethics of blogging.

Brooke Burton writes the blog ‘FoodWoolf’, subtitled “the restaurant insider’s perspective”, and Leah Greenstein’s blog is called ‘SpicySaltySweet’.¬† They got together with other food bloggers to create an ‘union of ethical food bloggers’, setting “Reviewers’ Guidelines” and compiling the Code of Ethics.¬†¬† We do not necessarily agree with all their principles, but welcome it as a foundation for a Blogging Code of Conduct that we may jointly subscribe to as members of the Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club.

The blog post on reviewing restaurants states the following principles they subscribe too – our comments are in italics.

1.   One should visit the restaurant more than once, and state if the review is based on only one visit Рwe do not agree that a review should be based on more than visit, as the strengths and weaknesses of a restaurant are usually the same and apparent immediately.   Restaurants should strive for consistency, so that the reviewer should experience it in the same way on any visit.  Reviews help restaurants improve their food and service quality, if they are smart about facing them and learning from them, not always a strength of restaurants. Multiple visits are expensive, as most visits are paid for by the reviewer.  On our Blog we will update our impression with a Postscript, as we did recently for La Mouette, for example, in that the experience was vastly different compared to previous ones, highlighting a consistency problem.

2.¬† One should sample the full range of dishes on the menu – this is a hard one to implement, as many menus are excessively big.¬† Taking a partner to lunch/dinner and ordering different dishes helps, so that the reviewer can try a larger number.¬† Recently we were criticised by Richard Carstens’ sister-in-law, Leigh Robertson, for not having a starter at Chez d’Or, and that writing a¬†review¬†based on¬†tasting three dishes only was not fair to the restaurant.¬† I doubt if a starter would have made my review any more positive.¬† Having a wide range of dishes, when paying for it, is a cost and a space consideration.

3.¬†¬† One should be fair to a new restaurant and wait for a month after its opening, to give it a chance “to work out some kinks”, and should qualify reviews as ‘initial impressions’ if the review is done¬†in less than a month after opening – bloggers have become very competitive, and some want to write a review about new restaurants before their colleagues do.¬† Our reviews state when the restaurant opened if it is new, so that the reader can read such “kinks” into it.¬†¬†The first ‘Rossouw’s Restaurants’¬†review of La Mouette raised the issue of how quickly one can/should review a new restaurant, one of Rossouw’s inspectors having been at the restaurant on its first or second day of opening.¬† Two¬†visits to Leaf Restaurant and Bar on two subsequent days showed their acceptance of customer feedback by moving the ghetto-blaster they have set up on the terrace from¬†on top of a table, to below it, after my comments to them about it.¬†¬† No other business, play or movie¬†has a second chance¬†in reviews being written about it, in that they are normally done¬†after opening night¬†– so why should restaurants be ‘protected’ in this way?¬†¬† No business should open its doors when it is not ready to do so (Leaf held back its opening because it had problems in getting a credit card machine installed by the bank)!

4.¬† One should specify if one received a meal, or part of it, or any other product for¬†free, and should also declare if one was recognised in the restaurant – absolutely agree on the declaration of the freebie, and we have regular Blog readers and Commenters who delight in checking blogs for the freebies.¬† Some bloggers are labelled by such readers as not having credibility, in that they usually only write about meals they received for free, and usually are very positive about them, so that they can be invited back in future!¬†¬† The recognisablity of the reviewer is an interesting issue.¬† I always book in the name of “Chris”, with a cell number.¬†¬† If I know the owner or a staff member of the restaurant,¬†I will state that in the review.

5.¬†¬† One should not use pseudonyms in writing reviews, and¬†reviewers should stand up and be counted by revealing their names – absolutely agree.¬† In Cape Town we have a strange situation of Food bloggers who hide behind pseudonyms.¬† Andy Fenner (JamieWho) wanted to remain unidentified when he started blogging, yet appointed a PR agency to raise his profile, and was “outed” by Food & Home, when they wrote about him, using his real name.¬† He is now open about his real name (probably being irritated by being called Jamie more often than Andy, I assume).¬† One wonders what bloggers using pseudonyms have to hide?¬† Wine bloggers seem to be more open and upfront about who they are.¬†¬† I would like to add here how difficult it is to make contact with Food Bloggers in particular¬†.¬† Most do not have a telephone number nor an e-mail address to contact them on their blogs, and one has to use a Comment box to contact them, which most do not respond to.¬†¬† Yet many of these bloggers are looking to make money from advertising on their blogs.¬†

The Code of Ethics which the two bloggers prepared with their colleagues is as follows:

“1. We will be accountable

  • We will write about the culinary world with the care of a professional. We will not use the power of our blog as a weapon. We will stand behind our claims. If what we say or show could potentially affect someone’s reputation or livelihood, we will post with the utmost thought and due diligence.
  • We understand why some bloggers choose to stay anonymous. We respect that need but will not use it as an excuse to avoid accountability. When we choose to write anonymously for our own personal or professional safety, we will not post things we wouldn’t be comfortable putting our names to.
  • If we review a restaurant, product or culinary resource we will consider integrating the standard set of guidelines as offered by the Association of Food Journalists.

2. We will be civil

  • We wholeheartedly believe in freedom of speech, but we also acknowledge that our experiences with food are subjective. We promise to be mindful√Ę‚ā¨‚ÄĚregardless of how passionate we are√Ę‚ā¨‚ÄĚthat we will be forthright, and will refrain from personal attacks.

3. We will reveal bias

  • If we are writing about something or someone we are emotionally or financially connected to, we will be up front about it.

4. We will disclose gifts, comps and samples

  • When something is given to us or offered at a deep discount because of our blog, we will disclose that information. ¬†As bloggers, most of us do not have the budgets of large publications, and we recognize the value of samples, review copies of books, donated giveaway items and culinary events. It’s important to disclose freebies to avoid be accused of conflicts of interest.

5. We will follow the rules of good journalism

  • We will not plagiarize. We will respect copyright on photos. We will attribute recipes and note if they are adaptations from a published original. We will research. We will attribute quotes and offer link backs to original sources whenever possible. We will do our best to make sure that the information we are posting is accurate. We will factcheck. In other words, we will strive to practice good journalism even if we don’t consider ourselves journalists”.

The above aspects are clear and need no elaboration.¬† The last sentence of the Code¬†is odd though, in that we are “new age” journalists, and must play by the same rules as the print, radio and TV media do.¬† That means we must research our stories, to ensure their accuracy.¬†¬† One can correct a blog post if one makes an error, including spelling and grammar ones.¬† An American food blog recently added a note about getting the name of a restaurant reviewer wrong – she did not change it in the blog post, but wrote an apology at the bottom of her post, highlighting¬†the error, which¬†most readers probably would not have picked up.¬† A controversial issue is the announcement of Reuben Riffel¬†taking over the maze space at the One&Only Hotel Cape Town, which Riffel has denied.¬†¬†¬†No correction or apology to Riffel or the hotel¬†has been posted,

We encourage Bloggers and Blog readers to give us their views on the Code of Ethics as well as the Restaurant Review guidelines, which we will be happy to post.¬† I would like to get the ball rolling by stating that the Code should include the publishing of Comments, even if they are controversial, as long as they do not attack the writer or the subject of the blog post with malice, and the Commenter is identified, as is¬†the family or other relationship of the Commenter (e.g. JP Rossouw’s and Richard Carstens’ sisters-in-law).¬†¬† I would also like to hear views about revealing to the restaurant that one is writing a review, in that I was recently criticised by the co-owner of Oskar Delikatessen for not asking permission to write a review and to take photographs, which contradicts the Code on writing unidentified.¬† A third issue is the acceptance of advertising on one’s blog, or accepting sponsorships for brands, and how this should be revealed.

POSTSCRIPT 22/8 : Reuben Riffel’s appointment as the new operator of the restaurant at the One&Only Hotel Cape Town has been announced in the Sunday Times today.¬†¬† We congratulate Spill blog on having had its ear to the ground in announcing this news ahead of all other media.¬† The One&Only Hotel had denied speaking to Spill about Reuben’s appointment at the time that they wrote the story, and Riffel had denied it too.¬†

POSTSCRIPT 29/8:¬† Since writing this post, the identity of The Foodie as being David Cope has been revealed by Crush!2.¬† Furthermore, Clare “Mack” of Spill Blog (with her husband Eamon McLoughlin)¬†has been identified as being Clare McKeon, an ex-Irish¬†TV chat show hostess, columnist, author of “The Emotional Cook”, magazine beauty journalist, and owner of the Bliss Beauty Salon.¬†¬†

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