Tag Archives: Nigiro

Restaurant Review: FYNally, I get to eat a R62000 dinner at FYN Japanese style Fyn-dining restaurant, almost perfect!

It took six months and R62000 to get to eat at FYN Restaurant last night, the Japanese-style fine dining restaurant which Chef Peter Tempelhoff opened in Speakers Corner in the City centre at the end of November 2018. Whilst very apprehensive, given the unpleasant pre-history, I was most pleasantly surprised at the dining experience, with the exception of our waiter, who was a major let down for the restaurant! Continue reading →

Afternoon Tea at The Granary Café at The Silo Hotel a special treat feast!

I have been to The Silo Hotel four times since it opened a month ago, and the best eating experience of the four visits thus far was the Afternoon Tea, which I enjoyed with Madge Kruger, a friend visiting from Pretoria, last week. It reflected the creativity of the talented Pastry Chef Devin Jones, formerly at Ellerman House. Continue reading →

Restaurant Review: Flatteur Café in Sea Point worth flattery… or is it?!

The space that once was Gesellig on Sea Point’s Regent Road had been standing unused for a couple of months.  Now it is the home of Flatteur Café, a ‘specialty coffee shop’, according to its co-owner John du Preez, and is worthy of its name, meaning flattery in French, or so I thought on my first visit.  Unfortunately the second visit a few days later was disappointing.

John told me that they do not want to become a restaurant but that they want to focus on being a good coffee shop. They use Origin coffee and its Nigiro teas, and I enjoyed a perfectly made dry cappuccino (R20), even though they only have ‘Flat White‘ on their coffee list, yet they were happy to oblige.  The menu is short and sweet, and will change every two to three weeks. They offer a number of different coffee styles, two or three cakes daily, baked by John’s Polish partner Rafal Glenc, as well as muffins (R12), scones with jam and cream (two for R20), Danish custard slices, and a range of unusual sounding biscuits, including ginger, coconut and sultans, butternut, as well as muesli rusks.

Breakfast is served all day, a choice of scrambled eggs served with salmon and rye bread, a steal at R45, or served with mushrooms (R35); muesli, honey and yoghurt (R25); and French Toast served savory with Brie and tomato jam, or sweet, with fresh fruit and mascarpone.  On Friday I enjoyed the corn fritters with bacon and cherry tomatoes (R45).  Sandwiches are available too, on a choice of rye bread, ciabatta, and toasted croissant and cost between R45 – R55, including steak and parmesan, poached chicken breast marinated with red peppers and tapenade, and mushroom served with salsa verde and Dijon mustard.  Salads cost R45, and are a grilled Caprese, Lentil salad, and a warm winter salad with roast vegetables and couscous. A Special of the day on both days was a Feta, tomato and rocket omelette (R35).  Chef Catherine is friendly, having moved to the city after selling her Bamboo Beach restaurant in Sandbaai, outside Hermanus.  All the staff smiled, and were welcoming on the first visit.

John and Rafal lived in London for twenty years. It was John who wanted to return to his home country (he grew up in Mossel Bay), and they chose Sea Point to set up their new business, not ever having run such a business before. Rafal is a passionate baker, baking the French chocolate cake (R30), Lemon Meringue (R28), and Cappucino Cake (R40), the latter being so popular that it is sold out on most days.  They did not know predecessor Gesellig, and have smartened up the interior, with a reed ceiling, finished off the deck onto the Church Street pavement, added new wood dominant furniture on the upper level, used ‘blikborde’ decoratively on one of the walls, used wood cladding on the kitchen counter, and created a new cake and coffee counter. A large poster gives a French feel, as does the French café music.  Each table has a ‘blikbeker’ holding the sugar sticks, to continue the theme. Cutlery is by Fortis.  Books are displayed on the steps of the spiral staircase.

Flatteur Café is a friendly homely coffee shop serving excellent food at very reasonable prices.  I wrote all the above (other than the menu details) after my first visit.  When I went back on Friday it was as if the personality of Flatteur Café had changed completely. From friendly and welcoming on my first visit it was as if they did not care, with no menu brought to the table, nor order taken.  The friendly chef also wasn’t on duty, and I was horrified to see her assistant spraying a pan with what seemed half a canful of Spray & Cook. John seemed completely disinterested, working on his laptop, not checking on his two tables with customers, while the barista/waiter had his back to the coffee shop and was sharing photographs on his phone with the assistant cook, and ignoring his customers too.  I had asked John for the menu to be e-mailed, to save me writing it all down, but it never arrived, despite a follow up call.  A lovely fellow guest Jadee, who follows the Restaurant Specials on our blog, was on her first visit on Friday, but had arrived earlier. She fed back that a strange atmosphere was tangible whilst the chef had been there earlier in the morning.  It is disconcerting that Flatteur Café could have such a personality change in its first two weeks of operation.

Flatteur Café has fantastic potential, especially in Sea Point, which is short of quality restaurants and coffee shops.  One hopes that John will come out of his shell, and connect with his customers more, to make them feel welcome when they support his establishment.  Rafal and Chef Catherine add value with their special food, and the interior is attractive. Parking in the area is scarce.

POSTSCRIPT 14/6: I returned earlier this week for delicious scones, and was delighted to meet the other partner Rafal, charming, friendly, and attentive. Sadly, John ignored me completely, appearing hurt by our review above.  John and Rafal are now running their own kitchen, having let the kitchen staff go.

Flatteur Café, corner Regent and Church Street, Sea Point, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 439-3174. www.flatteur.co.za Facebook. Monday – Friday 7h30 – 18h00  Saturday and Sunday 8h30 – 18h00.  50 megabyte free wifi per visit.

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

V&A Market on the Wharf opens at the V&A Waterfront!

The long awaited V&A Market on the Wharf has opened in the historic building near the V&A Hotel in the V&A Waterfront, which once housed Planet Hollywood, David Kramer’s Theatre, and Musica, with more than fifty vendors displaying their food and beverage offerings. It is Cape Town’s first permanent market, operating from Wednesdays to Sundays, from 9h30 – 19h30.

Owned by Greg Anderson, or ‘Bubbles’ as Vaughn Johnson informed me, who took over the management of the Market when the previous operators pulled out, the Market offers a kosher deli, fresh seafood, meat, fruit and vegetables, baked ware and delicacies.  Greg impressed with his passion, and kindly offered me a V&A Market on the Wharf branded shopping bag, to ‘hide’ my Woolworths bag!  Greg is proud of the large number of new business owners that have joined as vendors, very few having been seen at any other markets in Cape Town.  V&A Waterfront tenants Vaughn Johnson and Ian Halfon had come to have a look, and we had coffee and tea together.

A last-minute building regulation hitch saw the opening of the Market delayed by two days to last Friday. The space is large, one main hall with an upstairs section housing the craft beer bar and seating for Continue reading →

Babel Tea House: a refreshing new stop in the gardens of Babylonstoren

Babylonstoren is the flavour of the year, and is on everyone’s lips.  Just over a year after opening, the hotel has made the Conde Nast Hot 100 list, and Babel Restaurant the Eat Out Top 20 shortlist.  Now the owners Karen Roos and Koos Bekker have opened the Babel Tea House on the impressive property, as a refreshment stop for visitors to their garden.

Designed to emulate a Victorian ‘kweekhuis’, the glass conservatory is positioned under oak trees about 400 meters from Babel Restaurant.  To get there, one must walk through the massive 1,2 km x 700 meter 3,5 ha fruit and vegetable garden, with 350 species, which was designed by Patrice Tarravella, who has a  Relais & Chateaux property about two hours south of Paris, which is well-known for its garden.  The Bekkers contracted Patrice to design their garden in the same style, with a lot of trellising of roses in-between the vegetables, and especially along the pathway.  One needs a hat, and comfortable walking shoes to walk on the part stony and part peach-pip path to the Tea House.  Tables with a collection of colourful chairs are set up under the trees outside the Tea House.  Inside the Tea House one can sense the decor style of Karen Roos – a collection of flowers, including blue lillies, just lying as if they are still to be put in a vase.  Another table has a collection of vegetables on a table, making a decor statement.  A third table has herbs from the garden, with Nigiro glass tea pots and warmers.   One can choose one’s herb from a collection from the garden – e.g. rose geranium, sage, mint, lavender – and have one’s own tea made, at a mere R10 a cup.  Cupcakes were also on display.

When one arrives one receives a brochure with the layout of the grounds, and of the vegetable garden specifically.  I heard that a guide can take one through the garden, but this is not communicated on arrival nor when one is at the Tea House.  Some interesting sounding garden sections include the prickly pear maze, the historical mulberry, ‘mulberry meditation’, the citrus block, the ‘guava avenue’, and many more.

It is very ‘gesellig’ at the Tea House, as a number of visitors came to say hello, including radio man Nico de Kock, the F&B Manager Annelle van Tonder, who brought me a Winner plum as a welcome, and both Karen Roos and Koos Bekker.   Karen Roos is a very private person, and had her own decor magazine ‘Red‘ many years ago, and ended her editorship of Elle Decoration, no doubt to devote more time to her new project.   She has won awards for her stylish dressing, and her impeccable taste shows in her understated decor at Babylonstoren.  Koos Bekker and I have crossed paths three times – as members of the editorial team for Die Matie whilst we were students at the University of Stellenbosch; as a client when I was seconded from Y&R Johannesburg to work with him as a market researcher when he set up M-Net 25 years ago; and as a research consultant to M-Net a few years later. Now he is the CEO of Naspers. Koos’ touch is evident in the Chinese on the signage, with English or Afrikaans, and his company has lost a lot of money there, he told me. He is still very active in China, having returned from a trip to there the day before, he told me. Babylonstoren must be the only South African tourism player that is recognising the potential power of the Chinese market. Admirably he has taken Mandarin lessons, to master this difficult language.  Koos looked like a country gentleman, with a Panama hat, was friendly and relaxed (he is an extreme work-a-holic), and he even brought me a hat to protect my face from the sun.  He has invested an inordinate amount of money in Babylonstoren, one assumes.  Koos told me that they will start producing their first wines next year in their 300 ton cellar, Charl Coetzee, previously of Clos Malverne, being their winemaker.  In the meantime they are selling wines drawn from the terroir surrounding the Simonsberg in their shop and in the restaurant.  I have read elsewhere that a tasting room for these Simonsberg terroir wines is on the cards at Babylonstoren, with a deli selling cheeses too.

The GM Terry de Waal also came to introduce himself, and told me that his background is industrial engineering and not hospitality at all.  He was the project manager when Babylonstoren was first developed, and now takes overall responsibility for the estate.   His industrial engineering skills were useful when the Tea House was designed, working with Patrice, Koos, and Karen to come up with the design of the building. I saw Terry being hands-on, carrying food boxes from the kitchen to clients.

Water is offered for free in branded bottles, and must be from the farm. Cutlery is the most stylish patterned perspex.  The food is served in a branded wooden box.  The paper table cloth is also branded, with a Delft plate, which has become a new symbol for Babylonstoren, remnants of which have been found on the grounds during the renovations.  The table cloth states that it is recycled, going into the compost after use. The concept is very simple – from a blackboard choose for a ‘sandwich’ a bread style (ciabatta, wholewheat, rye, farmstyle white), a cheese (Dalewood Huguenot, Gorgonzola, goat’s cheese, pecorino), and/or a charcuterie item (Black Forest ham, smoked chicken, soft cured biltong, smoked trout).  The cost of both the meat and cheese sandwich is R65, and R55 for either the one or the other.  A fresh garden salad with herbs is served in a separate glass jar, and there are two further jars: one with plum relish with granny smith apple and pineapple sage, and the other with a mixed herb oil. My rye ‘sandwich’ was a roll, and was rather tough, filled with the ham and cheese, and wrapped in branded paper, with the perspex cutlery tied to it with a serviette.  I took my roll home with me, and only had the salad, spontaneously booking for lunch at Babel restaurant.  I am not sure how one would eat the ‘sandwich’ without having a plate, the wooden box in which it was served possibly serving this purpose. Chef Simone Rossouw confirmed that the cakes and cupcakes are made for them by Kelly in Franschhoek, who transforms the produce they have in abundance into cake.  I took a chocolate cupcake (R25) home with me, and it was wrapped in the branded paper, with six cherries giving it a beautiful finishing touch. Slices of cake cost R45, and the selection includes lemon meringue, carrot cake and chocolate cake.  Cappuccino costs R18; red, yellow or green juices cost R20, homemade iced tea R25; homemade ginger beer R16 and lemonade R20; Marriage Freres teas cost R30.

Service is slow, but Babylonstoren is not the place to go to if one is in a hurry, and the service should improve as the Tea House settles in.  Neither the blackboard nor the staff explain clearly how the sandwiches work, and what the prices are.   One needs a hat and comfortable shoes.  I was disappointed that they buy in the cakes, and do not make them on the farm. But the overall delight of walking through the gardens, of getting an opportunity to experience a taste of Babylonstoren without pre-booking Babel Restaurant, and of seeing style personified makes the food disappointment secondary.

Babel Tea House, Babylonstoren. R45 to Franschhoek, next to Backsberg. Tel (021) 863-3852. www.babylonstoren.com Twitter:@Babylonstoren.  Wednesday – Sunday. 10h00 – 16h00. No reservation required.  R10 entrance fee to the estate.

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

Restaurant Review: One&Only Cape Town now best Cape Afternoon Tea

I have been writing about Afternoon/High Teas, and have previously visited  the One&Only Cape Town for its Afternoon Tea.  It was a week-day visit, and at that time they served the High Tea on a cake stand on week days, and a buffet on weekends.   On reading our review, the hotel immediately altered the Afternoon Tea offering to a buffet one on all days of the week, and comparing it to the Mount Nelson Afternoon Tea, that which is served at the One&Only Cape Town now is by far the best of those that I have tried (Grande Provence, Bosman’s at Grande Roche, Mount Nelson Hotel, the Le Franschhoek Hotel, and the Cape Grace Hotel).

The opportunity to re-try the Afternoon Tea came from an invitation from the One&Only Cape Town via Ian Manley, the PR consultant to the hotel.  Our visit yesterday was the second to the hotel, having stayed over two years ago just after the hotel opened.  I have the highest regard for One&Only owner Sol Kerzner, and even travelled to Mauritius, to try out Le Touesrok (which had just been sold by Kerzner) and St Geran.  We were accommodated on The Island, and felt as if we were right back in Mauritius, surrounded by water and palm trees.  The 73 sq m room was massive, and my son and I each had a queen-size bed.  The bathroom was open-plan to the bedroom, and the shower room has two shower options.   There is no shortage of space.  Lauren was very efficient in welcoming us back, her clever computer ‘remembering’ our previous stay, and even Gerhard Erasmus, the Executive Assistant Manager, and the Food & Beverage Manager, welcomed us back, a very nice touch.   Lauren gave us a heated welcome cloth on arrival, and showed us all the facilities in the room, and told us that the internet service is free of charge, a commendable facility not offered by most hotels (Taj Cape Town charges R230 per 24 hour usage, for example!).  The room offers a pillow and scent menu, which one’s room butler will organise.  A massage by Rochelle at the Spa was a special treat.

The Afternoon Tea buffet is laid out in the Vista Bar and lounge, and looked beautiful in its layout, around a very large bouquet of proteas.   The savoury items are on one table, and include white and brown bread egg mayonnaise, cucumber and salmon sandwiches, as well as heated small green pea, vegetable, mushroom, and salmon quiches.   The sweet treat range consists of 22 items, some duplicated on the table, and all beautifully presented.  Hayley, Demi Chef de Partie, and her Sous Chef colleague Garth, brought new items to the table continuously, so that one never got the feeling that it had all been eaten, or that something would run out, as one does at the Mount Nelson Hotel.  

The sweet treat presentation was designed by pastry Chef Rene Simatos, and I loved her cleverness in displaying some items in glass jars, on top of related items.  So, for example, pistachio nougat was presented on pistachio nuts, chocolate biscuits were presented on coffee beans, canelles were on dried apricots, fruit scones were on a mix of dried apricots and cranberries, the Lindt chocolate chip cookies on almonds, koeksisters looked interesting on cinnamon sticks, almond biscotti on blue and silver nicolleta, and amaretti were displayed on cranberries.   Other sweet items are baked vanilla cheesecake, fruit bretonne, caramel and gold leaf éclairs, dark chocolate cupcakes, marble cake, banana loaf, macaroons in two flavours, tiramisu and buttermilk pannacotta in glass containers, for which a spoon was brought immediately, dark chocolate savarin, opera slices, peanut cookies, French style marshmallow knots, cherry-flavoured Pavlova meringues, and One&Only cookies, an absolute feast.  A group of 24 celebrated a kitchen tea with the Afternoon Tea.  Bagged tea and coffee is included for free in the Afternoon Tea, which costs R145.   The Food & Beverage Manager Nick Patmore said that at the end of the month the hotel will add a Lindt chocolate fondue, at a surcharge to the Afternoon Tea price.

If one wants to order special teas, there is a selection of 36 loose-leaf teas from Nigiro, the Origin coffee company, and these were brought to the table by Terence in a box detailing each of the teas, which come from China, Taiwan, Brazil, India, Kenya, Japan, Middle East, and Sri Lanka.  South African teas offered are Rooibos, African Sun, Blood Orange, Orange and Spices, and Strawberry and Vanilla, ranging in cost from R16 – R50.  The tea is brought to the table in a Bodum tea pot, and an hour glass is brought to the table, to measure a 3-minute infusion, allowing for the perfect brewing of the tea.

The service by Thabisa was excellent, checking on us continuously, removing used plates, bringing spoons and water when required, and having a lovely smile throughout. Hayley too was most helpful in explaining all the Afternoon Tea buffet items, as these are not labelled on the table nor listed in the Vista Bar menu. 

The Afternoon Tea at the One&Only Cape Town is excellent, professionally managed, outstanding quality, with good service, and one feels that it is presented with pride and care.  It is vastly improved on what I experienced two months ago, and certainly is the best on Cape Town, and is cheaper than that at the Mount Nelson Hotel.

POSTSCRIPT 11/5:  The Lindt Chocolate Fondue commences on 4 June, and will only be served on weekends. It costs R145 for two. 

Vista Bar, One&Only Cape Town, V&A Waterfront.  Tel (021) 431-5888. www.oneandonlycapetown.com  Monday – Sunday, 14h30 – 17h30.

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

Restaurant Review: Mount Nelson Afternoon Tea offers variety, but poor execution and expensive!

Having written reviews about the Afternoon/High Teas at Grande ProvenceGrande Roche, and the One & Only, I went to the Mount Nelson Hotel, which has long been the benchmark for Afternoon Tea in Cape Town, on Tuesday afternoon.

The Tea menu provides the history of the Afternoon Tea, the Duchess of Bedford inviting her friends for ‘discreet conversation and a mid-afternoon pick-me-up of tea and sandwiches’ in the 19th century.  Over time her soirees became so popular that it became fashionable for high society around the world to host such tea parties.  It appears that the Mount Nelson Hotel, which is over hundred years old, has been serving the Afternoon Tea since its opening, changing from a tiered stand to the buffet in 1990, I was told.

One has to pre-book the Afternoon Tea at the Mount Nelson Hotel, and it is so popular that I could only get a booking for five days later.  The lady taking the booking asked if I had any special dietary requirements, which seemed somewhat of a contradiction, given the content of the Afternoon Tea.  When I asked her to clarify, she wanted to check for gluten-free, diabetic and other requirements.  I asked her what is served for the diabetic option, but she could not tell me.  I booked it anyway, out of interest.

I arrived at about 15h15, and the Afternoon Tea had been going for 45 minutes.  I was ticked off the list on arrival, and nothing further was said by the young person managing the Afternoon Tea.  The lounge was almost full with Afternoon Tea guests, and I was shown three seating options – inside the lounge, in an in-between section, and outside.  The seating inside is the nicest, and I had a most comfortable couch and two chairs all to myself.  The coffee table was of a good height to allow one to eat at it comfortably.  The serviette was a good quality material one, and the cutlery looked heavily used.

The Afternoon Tea is laid out on a central table in the open lounge, with a tall flower arrangement in the centre, and it was clear that most guests had already ‘grabbed’ their share of the treats, leaving most platters untidy looking and less than full.  There is no list available of all the options one can choose to eat, and the young manager made a plan to get the Tea menu photocopied, which has a general listing of the categories of items one can expect, but this menu is not presented to the Afternoon Tea guests spontaneously, and only if one is ordering tea.  Something else that was odd is that there is no description of what each item is, except for the four cakes presented in the center of the table, each of which had a name made from chocolate.  So, for example, there are four different types of sandwiches, but they are not described.  Only when the staff from the kitchen replenish the trays, does one get an opportunity to ask them what is inside each of the savoury items, the sweet treats being self evident.   The young manager said that until about two years, each item of the Afternoon Tea was marked, and he did not know why this had changed.   Strangely, there are only side-plates on a trolley alongside the Afternoon Tea table, and there is no indication that the staff will bring a serviette to the table one is sitting at.  I managed to call a waiter, and ordered a cappuccino, and later a second one, and I was surprised to not have been charged for either, being included in the hefty R165 charge.

I started at the savoury end of the table, and these items in general seemed very boring in their presentation, in fact it is a general complaint about the Nellie’s Afternoon Tea .  I felt that the Afternoon Tea was a placement of numerous trays of items on the table, without any care to present it in an attractive manner, and to ensure that the trays remained filled, and that accompaniment containers were refilled.  The Afternoon Tea appears to lack a champion, and the young manager did not appear to check on this at all.    The tongs one must use to lift an item from the tray onto the plate are uncomfortable to hold and use, and some items I picked up fell onto the table as a result, adding to the untidy look of the table. 

The savoury items include smoked lamb focaccia with babaganoush; the to-die-for mushroom empanadas, which were cold when I had the first one, and nice and hot when I had the second (they are more-ish!); the salmon, cucumber, egg mayonnaise, and rare roast beef finger sandwiches are each made with brown and white bread, terribly unhealthy, but wholewheat bread probably would be very un-British!; a mini chicken burger had barely any chicken on it, and tasted strongly of the relish on it; the salmon crepe roulades looked attractive, the only savoury dish with colour appeal; the courgette fritters would have tasted better warm, but there is no warming facility on the table; a tiny butternut sage and pine-nut savoury muffin with sage sour cream; spinach croissant quiche; olive crostini; and sundried tomato grissini.

Having tried the savoury items, it was time to check with the young manager about the Diabetec platter that was meant to have been prepared.  He kept his cool when I asked him, saying that they had wanted to wait for me to finish my savoury selection, and that my waiter should have told me this (there was no one checking on this, however, as it was far too busy in the lounge, and the list that the young manager was working from also did not have this requirement specified).   Soon a young chef came from the kitchen with a platter, and I asked her to explain what was on it: a berry smoothie made with Bulgarian yoghurt; cheese cake; fudge and toffee (!!); cranberry, pistachio, honey and almond balls (!!); chocolate torte (!!); and fruit items.   When she talked about the fudge and toffee, torte and honey,  I asked her if she was sure that this was the Diabetec platter.  Surprised, she said that it was the Gluten-free platter, and then returned from the kitchen with a much less attractive looking Diabetec platter, now consisting of the same berry smoothie; two fruit skewers; cranberry and pistachio balls drizzled with honey (!!); dates and dried fruit; three eclairs with whipped cream (when questioning this, I was told that the no sugar had been added to the whipped cream)!!; as well as a massive pear tart in phyllo pastry.  I thought that the generous presence of honey and cream, as well as of the phyllo pastry, to be odd on a platter for a diabetic!  Surprisingly no teaspoon is available for the smoothie, similar to what I experienced at the One&Only Cape Town Afternoon Tea.

The sweet treats include slices of three tea loaves; eight different petit fours; mini éclairs; scones served plain and with raisins; freshly cut green melon; chocolate and fudge; and accompaniments included whipped as well as pouring cream, lemon curd, coulis, butter, and strawberry jam, which had run out.  The sweet treat slices were set up in rows, and were repeated to make the trays look fuller. 

The piano was played in the lounge when I arrived, but mercifully finished soon thereafter.  An hour later the piano player went back to tickle to keys.  A wide selection of Teas, as well as coffees and hot chocolate, is available.  The tea selection is “presented in collaboration with Nigiro, Cape Town’s celebrated tea specialist and purveyors of some of the world’s finest leaf teas”.  One can order Green Tea, eight Black Tea options, Rooibos, and Chamomile tea.  There is also White Tea, Oolong Teas, and Fruit Infusion Teas.  In addition, there is a selection of four ‘Chinese Artistic Show Teas’ (Blooming Lotus, Princess Flower, Seven Angels and Swimming Marigolds) available, and costs R50 per pot, but is excluded from the Afternoon Tea package.  I was astounded to see Morning Tea charged at R105, consisting of a beverage only, it would appear, with no savoury or sweet items indicated on the Tea Menu as being served with the tea.

I was very disappointed with the Mount Nelson Afternoon Tea, feeling it to be a ‘mass feeding frenzy’, as guests tried to get their R165-worth; it is the most expensive of all Afternoon Teas in the Cape; for the five-star status of the hotel, and its leadership in High Teas, the Afternoon Tea is unimaginative, the hotel trying to present as many items as possible, rather than focusing on fewer and better quality ones (Executive Chef Rudi Liebenberg does not get involved in the Afternoon Tea, it being the responsibility of Chef Cecile, I was told); it appeared functional, without style and class that is normally associated with the hotel and with this tea custom; it was poorly managed in terms of the table replenishment, as well as the execution of the special dietary requirement orders – I question whether the second platter would be suitable for a diabetic, and whether the Hotel understands the requirements of a diabetic; and the buffet style presentation makes the Afternoon Tea feel less special and less celebratory, compared to serving it in a tiered stand.  The inclusion of all (unlimited) tea and coffee, even cappuccino, is a plus. There is a broader selection of savoury treats than at any of the other High Teas that I have tried, but they are not exciting. The tea menu listing of what is to be expected for the Afternoon Tea exaggerates the offering, a  number of the listed items not presented. Last but not least, no one can reasonably eat savoury and sweet treats to the value of R165, even if they are at Mount Nelson Hotel prices! 

Mount Nelson Afternoon Tea, Mount Nelson Hotel, Upper Orange Street, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 483-1000 www.mountnelson.co.za  Monday – Sunday 14h30 – 17h30.

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