Pastry Chef André Steyn joined La Colombe just over a week ago, having worked at Delaire Graff for over three years. He attracted my attention with his creative desserts as well as forest Amuse Bouche presented in a glass bowl whilst he worked at Delaire. The Chef once had a dream to become an architect, and it is our restaurant industry’s luck that his life path led him to cheffing. Continue reading →
* SAA Acting CEO Nico Bezuidenhout has announced that one of its subsidiaries may be sold, and a stake in SAA could be sold too. Subsidiary Mango may be listed. Losses have been reduced from R7 million per day last year to R5 million per day two months ago.
* Spur has been named as our country’s leading restaurant brand, out of 45 evaluated (the list is not supplied, but appears to consist of franchise brands), followed by McDonalds, Ocean Basket, Mugg & Bean, and Wimpy. The study was conducted in November last year, amongst customers earning R5000 per month or more. Continue reading →
Yesterday I spent the afternoon in Franschhoek, and used the opportunity to visit the completely transformed Franschhoek Cellar, for which re-opening I had received an invitation, but could not attend the Monday evening function last month. The redesign led to the closure in October and November last year, and the Franschhoek Cellar re-opening in December. What has emerged is a monster, not suited to brand ‘Franschhoek’ at all!
For the first time I noticed yesterday that one can no longer park in front of the building, an area which was shared with that for The Stall. There is no entrance into the wine tasting centre off the R45 entrance to Franschhoek anymore. Instead the walkway to the centre has been turned into a garden, with a rose garden, another with protea varieties, and a fountain wall. To the left of the building are some unusual looking ‘umbrellas‘, as if they are Continue reading →
Last night my friend Whitney Wentzel and I enjoyed a very generous dinner at Burrata, losing track of the number of courses we enjoyed. I had been invited to hear from co-owner Neil Grant what exciting developments are planned at Bocca, which will open on the corner of Bree and Wale Streets in mid-September, as well as longer term at Constantia Uitsig, when they take over the former River Café, with a name change.
Bocca (means ‘mouth’ in Italian) will seat 70 diners on two levels inside, as well as a further 23 on a deck extending out of the restaurant on Bree Street, which has an extra-large pavement. Neil and Chef Annemarie Steenkamp will open Bocca, with the assistance of Matteo, a sommelier who has worked on the cruise ship The Residence at Sea. He in turn will have a sommelier supporting him. The Bocca kitchen is smaller, Chef Annemarie said, but she is excited in having designed most of it herself. A sister pizza oven to the one at Burrata, also sourced from Naples, has been installed, in orange. Space has been allowed for a bar counter. Seating is at counters, as well as at custom-designed tables and chairs. There will be more colour in the interior, and less industrial design, than at Burrata. The interior design was done by INHOUSE designers, who also designed the interiors of Burrata, The Test Kitchen, The Butcher Shop & Grill, and Carné. A number of locations were considered for the new restaurant, including the former Rhapsody’s space on Main Road in Green Point.
Neil and his business partner Barry Engelbrecht are delighted that they found the Bree Street Continue reading →
Cape Town is gearing for an influx of Muslim tourists from the Middle East, who are spending Ramadan in a cooler climate with shorter days, making the day-time fasting more palatable, according to Cape Town Tourism. Muslim tourists spend $126 billion globally per annum.
Ramadan starts on Saturday 28 June and continues until 27 July. In this period Muslims are not allowed to eat nor drink any liquid during the daytime, they pray more, read the Qu’ran, and attend special services in mosques.
Cape Town has the largest Muslim community in South Africa, and our country is regarded as the second most Muslim-friendly globally, a survey has found. Muslim tourists require Halaal food, reasonable accommodation prices, and Muslim-friendly experiences in the cities they visit. This tourism segment is lucrative, in its fast growing population, and its tourism numbers are expected to exceed those of some of Cape Town’s source markets by 2020.
Cape Town has a strong Muslim history, its local Cape Malays coming from Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and India, their forbears having been brought to Cape Town as slaves by the Dutch East India Company. The Muslim community is particularly visible in the colourful houses in Bo-Kaap, in which about 6000 Muslims live, an area dating back to the 16th century. Athlone and Continue reading →
* Good news for long-haul travellers from the UK is the announcement by its government that from April 2015 the Air Passenger Duty will decrease, with the tax falling away on all flights with a destination less than 2000 miles from London, and the tax to be levied on destinations 2000+ miles from London will be at a lower rate. The UK has the highest departure tax ‘in the Western world‘, which has increased by 470% since 2007! It also is the country with the second worst rated air tax and airport charges in the world!
* Metrorail is to receive R233 million from the Transport Ministry to address its commuters complaints: too few trains, not frequent enough, not punctual, dirty, broken carriage windows, infrastructure problems at Cape Town station, lack of security, and no communication about delays, reports the Cape Times. Upgrades to track infrastructure will also be addressed.
* Lufthansa, Condor, TUIFly, and Air Berlin are cancelling flights and expecting delays due to public sector ground 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
Many restaurants are opening and have opened this summer, with only three months of the summer season left in which they can create awareness and make an impact before the dreaded winter arrives after the Easter weekend. New restaurants are far more casual, with informal dining.
This list of restaurant openings and closings is updated continuously, as we receive new information:
* Umi Asian restaurant opened in December with The Marly hotel in the Camps Bay Promenade, owned by The Cove (Kovensky) Group (photograph above).
* Equus restaurant on the Cavalli stud and wine farm on the R44 has opened. Carl Habel left the Mount Nelson Hotel as Restaurant Manager and Sommelier to join the restaurant, but left before it opened. Chef Henrico Grobbelaar from the Twelve Apostles heads up the kitchen.
* Shake your Honey is to open in the original Madame Zingara building on Loop Street this year, according to an iolTravel report. The ‘vibrant spirit of India’ is to be reflected in the 5-storey building, with a theatre, markets, restaurants, and shops.
* A new restaurant and micro brewery is to open next door to The Bromwell in Woodstock (name not yet known).
* TriBakery has opened on Bree Street.
* Vida e Caffe is opening coffee shops at Shell petrol stations, 40 initially and 300in total. It has also opened in Garden’s Centre, and in St John’s Piazza in Sea Point.
* The Black Sheep Restaurant has opened on Kloof Street. Continue reading →
* The Washington Post recommends Mullineux Chenin Blanc and AA Badenhorst Secateurs as two of five good food pairing wines.
* SAA is discounting flights between Johannesburg and New York or Washington to $855 for the dates 10 – 30 November, in a promotion called ‘November to Remember’.
* The SA Vodka Festival, which was scheduled to be held at The Lookout in the V&A Waterfront from 30 October – 1 November, was cancelled a few hours before the doors were to open! No explanation has been provided to exhibitors and to the public to date.
* South Africa’s first Mzansi Latino Festival will be held at the River Continue reading →
Rey Franco, FEDHASA Cape chairman of the Restaurant and Catering Industry segment, seems to be out of touch with the segment which he represents, in claiming in Cape Business News that 27 new restaurants opened and only three closed down in the Cape in the past year! The situation is much worse in terms of restaurant closures, despite far more new restaurant openings.
Our ongoing tracking of restaurant openings shows that new restaurant openings were greater in number than the FEDHASA Cape figure, at 80 openings in the past twelve months, and included Cousins, Thai Café in Stellenbosch and Sea Point, De Oude Meul Bakkerij, Frères Bistro, The Urban Garden, Goloso Deli & Restaurant, Goloso Pizzaria, Bar1, Tamboerswinkel, I ♥ my Laundry, Millhouse KItchen at Lourensford, Reserve Brasserie, The Rotisserie at Leopard’s Leap, Café Blanc de Noir at Brenaissance, Moyo at the V&A Waterfront, Mischu, Cattle Baron in Paarl, Latitude33, Baked Bistro, Richard’s Supper Stage & Bistro, Deluxe Urban Café, The Eatery at Diemersdal, De Grendel Restaurant, Camphor’s at Vergelegen, Antipasto Bar at Antonij Rupert Wines, Kloof Street House, Orphanage, Peter’s House, Le Venue at JC le Roux, Mitico, Slug & Lettuce on Kloof Street and in Stellenbosch, Ali Baba Kebab in Camps Bay, 5Rooms, La Belle Café & Deli, Big Route Top Gourmet Pizza, Stables at Vergelegen, Vovo Telo, Glashuis at Babylonstoren, Hussar Grill at Steenberg, Dorpstraat Deli, The Boat House, Orinoco, Cassis Paris Salon de Thé, Dog’s Bollocks, Jackal & Hide, Saints on 84 Kloof Street, Sushibox, Mama Cucina in Riebeek Kasteel, Salzburger Grill, The Stall, Shimmy’s Beach Club, The Red Table Restaurant at Nederburg, EuroHaus, Merchant’s Café, Truth on Buitenkant Street, Deluxe Coffeeworks, No 6 Restaurant at Welbedacht, Simply Asia in Paarl, La Pentola in Hermanus, Lizette’s Kitchen in Hermanus, Vino’s in Wellington, Sacred Ground Bakery & Deli in Franschhoek, Col’Cacchio In Hermanus and Westlake, Christina’s at Van Loveren, four Vida e Caffè, Gourmetboerie, Kushi Indian Restaurant, Moksh Authentic Indian Cuisine, Alfama, Paulina’s Restaurant at Rickety Bridge, Wakaberry in Rondebosch and Kloof Street, Okamai at Glenwood, Café Dijon in Green Point, and Deli @ The Square in Paarl.
Restaurant closures were more severe in the past year than reflected (maybe Franco wanted to project a perfect picture of the Cape restaurant industry, or he is that out of touch?), with at least 29 closures as per our count, which included Vanilla, two Café Dijon in Stellenbosch, Sabarosa in Bakoven, Toro Aperitif Bar, Caveau on Bree Street, Gourmet Burger, Limoncello, Casa Nostra, Wicked Treats in Franschhoek, Bistro on Rose, Paparazzi, Rhapsody’s, Cape Town Fish Market in Somerset West, Josephine’s Cookhouse, Wale Rose Lifestyle, Mason, Café Sofia in Camps Bay (all outlets may have closed down), Gesellig, Beads in Stellenbosch, French Toast Wine Bar & Tapas, ACT Restaurant, The Kove, Planet Green Salad Bar, Freedom Hill, Sapphire, Grilleri in Hermanus, Franschhoek Deli, and Illyria in Stellenbosch.
The article emphasises how tough the restaurant industry is, with rising cost of food, electricity and gas, rental, and staff a major challenge, as is the tightening budgets of restaurant patrons. The restaurant industry is highly overtraded and fragmented, and Franco says that ‘keeping a restaurant above water (sic) has always been a tough challenge’. He adds that only a few have a winning ‘recipe of setting, food, social placement and value proposition’.
He noted a trend of restaurants opening at the start of summer, with restaurant closures visible at the start of winter. His statistic of two restaurants opening for every restaurant closure knocks his own restaurant opening and closure statistics mentioned above. He also has seen an increased demand of catering for children, and a focus on healthy and organic food. Loyalty programmes work, and refurbishments keep a restaurant interior fresh, he advises.
The larger franchised restaurants have done well in the past year, the Spur Corporation’s sales having increased by 17,5% in the last six months of 2012, whilst the Famous Brands franchises of Steers, Debonairs, Wimpy, Mugg & Bean, and Fishaways jointly increased turnover by 13% last year. It is the smaller independents that may face another bleak winter to come, starting early this year due to the early Easter, which is synonymous with the end of the summer season.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage