I was recently invited by Little Black Book event organiser Marina Nestel to two launch functions at Lou Lou’s Bar, a top new nightspot as well as daytime eatery, which has opened in the Cape Quarter in De Waterkant.
Last week I ate lunch at Mondiall twice. The first was a family lunch, and the second was an invitation to try the new Winter Menu at Mondiall and to meet new Chef Riaan Burger, who has been at the restaurant for six weeks. The experiences were chalk and cheese. Mondiall has been repositioned as a French Brasserie, serving ‘refined comfort food’, rather than as an around-the-world restaurant when it opened.
The family lunch followed the scattering of the ashes of our late mother, which we had done in Table Bay on the yacht IQ, which moors outside Mondiall. I was very disappointed with the lunch, which was a special group menu, a reduced version of former Chef Peter Tempelhoff’s menu. Chef Riaan was not working on the Freedom Day public holiday, owner Patrick Symington was not there, and Reservation Manager Mandy Smith whom I had dealt with in making the booking and discussing the menu, was not there either. The let-down was the waitress, and poor communication between Mandy and the Manager Franco. The food quality was not as expected either. I admire Patrick for proactively sending a sms to ask how the lunch went, and I told him about my disappointment. What was amazing was the glazed pork belly, offered as a Tapas dish, served with crackling, and a honey soy glaze. This dish remains on the new menu. Continue reading →
* PriceWaterhouseCoopers has secured an agreement for Fournews Developments (Johannesburg-based restaurant group with News Café and more) to buy the Moyo brand, to secure the continued operation of Moyo in Kirstenbosch, Blouberg, Melrose Arch, Zoo Lake and at Pier in Durban, and thereby save 500 jobs. Moyo restaurants in the V&A Waterfront, Fountains in Pretoria, and at Spier have closed in the past month.
* The weak Rand has affected tourism in two ways: the lead times of travellers in making bookings have shortened dramatically, often to the same day, and tourists have more money to spend when they arrive.
* Amarula Cream has won a gold medal at the 2014 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, one of the first accolades for the brand in the USA, and a springboard for its future marketing in that country. The brand has also been voted as one of the world’s top bar brands, according to a survey commissioned by Drinks International. The Continue reading →
My friend Whitney and I decided to give the new Tashas in the V&A Waterfront a try, after we had both heard good things about the restaurant, which opened in the previous Mugg & Bean space a month ago. It was a poor experience, leaving a bad taste in our mouths, both Whitney and I getting ill from the food.
The owner and chef Raynne Roll told us that each of the eleven Tashas created around the country over the past eight years is themed decor wise, and has signature dishes and specialist wines to tie in with the theme. The theme of the Waterfront branch is Spanish, and hence the additional Tapas menu and Spanish style cakes, which are unique to the branch. Bowls and paella pans have been bought in from Spain for the new restaurant. Tashas Constantia is French Country inspired, Pretoria is South African, Melrose Arch is ‘Sushi, Oysters and Champagne’, Rosebank in Johannesburg is New York, and the Nicolway branch is Portuguese.
I arrived before Whitney did, and walked in from the mall entrance, where the branding is so small that it is easy to miss. The iron gates do not look relevant to a
The Sweet Service Award goes to Mezepoli Meze and Wine Bar in Camps Bay, for hosting the members of the Camps Bay Guest House Association for lunch last week. The restaurant has a sister restaurant at Melrose Arch in Johannesburg, and can seat more than 100 guests. It serves sushi as well as a selection of nearly 100 Mediterranean and Middle East meze dishes, including cheeses, vegetarian mezes, dips, salads, meats, seafoods, and desserts. The restaurant offers platters for a set price of R135, including salads, haloumi, dips with pita bread, falafel, spanakopita, dolmades, calamari, keftethes, and souvlaki chicken, which we sampled, a very enjoyable meal.
The Sour Service Award goes to FNB, and its poor service in supplying its client, the V&A Waterfront’s newly opened Vovo Telo, with a credit card machine. Having eaten and shopped at Vovo Telo soon after it opened, it was a surprise to hear that they did not have a credit card machine, which meant that the goods selected had to be returned. A few days later the situation was the same, so we decided to call on customer Twitter power, Tweeting FNB MD @MichaelJordaan about the problem. He delegated this to @RBJacobs, who calls himself the ‘FNBGuy’, and he seemed a real go-getter initially, in terms of his Twitter responses. Every deadline FNB gave Vovo Telo Cape Town in terms of delivery date and time was not met by them, and when they delivered a credit card machine four days after the commencement of the Twitter requests, and two weeks after the outlet opened, it was a fixed line one, and not a portable credit card machine required by restaurants! Their service levels are unacceptable, and FNB demonstrated that it cannot satisfy basic customer needs on Social Media, not even if Tweets are directed to its MD.
The WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented every Friday on the WhaleTales blog. Nominations for the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be sent to Chris von Ulmenstein at email@example.com. Past winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of this blog, and in the WhaleTales newsletters on the www.whalecottage.com website.
In walking around Franschhoek during the Bastille Festival yesterday, I was surprised to discover Taste South Africa, the most beautiful transformation of what was previously the Le Grange decor shop in The Yard, behind the Salmon Bar, off the main road in Franschhoek. Taste South Africa belongs to Fiona Phillips of Cybercellar (“Where else can you buy virtually all your South African wine?”, her business card asks cleverly), and is the first multi-brand winetasting venue in Franschhoek.
Fiona started Cybercellar twelve years ago, having been an equity trader on both the London and Johannesburg Stock Exchanges. It represents more than 700 wine estates in South Africa, with deliveries of wines made by courier 3 – 5 days after purchase. Taste South Africa will function as a tasting venue not only for South African wines, but for local products too, such as olive oils, and cheeses. For the Bastille Festival, Fiona and her manager Dominic Adelbert, previously sommelier at Aubergine restaurant, have focused on twelve Franschhoek wine estates, including Chamonix, Topiary, Solms-Delta, Mont Rochelle, Vrede & Lust, Backsberg, Lynx, Boschendal, Noble Hill, La Motte, Rickety Bridge, and Holden Manz, giving them free exposure, to introduce their facility.
Not only is the concept unique for Franschhoek, but I was bowled over by the interior design by Xperiencemakers. Lots of white on the floors and walls, with neat shelving, standardised presentation of information about each wine estate, and the most impressive red lamps, which contain the word “Taste” in South Africa’s official languages, create an interior of class. A grey carpet has the following Ernest Hemingway quote printed on it: “Wine is the most civilised thing in the world”. On display too are bronze sculptures by Vincent da Silva, an architectural student. They add to the classy interior.
Wine will not be physically sold from the tasting venue, but orders can be placed via Cybercellar while one is at the tasting venue. This Bastille weekend is a dry run for Taste South Africa, and it officially opens on 1 August.
Taste South Africa is an exciting new asset of Franschhoek, and a beautiful showcase of South African wines. Exciting functions have been planned, including food and wine pairing events, bloggers’ dinners, Twitter tastings, and a live-feed Twitter screen is to be added. The next Taste South Africa tasting venue will open at Melrose Arch in Johannesburg.
Taste South Africa, The Yard, off Huguenot Road, Franschhoek. Tel 021 876-2649. www.tastesouthafrica.co.za Twitter: @TastingSA
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage