Tag Archives: Oskar Kotze

Are there too many new restaurant openings in Cape Town and Winelands?: November 2017!

The explosion of restaurant openings in Cape Town and the Winelands in the last two months is a concern to many, both as restaurant lovers, in that one cannot keep up, and as restaurant owners, as there is not enough business for everyone.

Last month saw the opening of Seta at Villa 47, Le coin Français by Darren Badenhorst in Franschhoek, The Bistro and Deli at La Paris outside Franschhoek, Chef Duncan Doherty’s Eatery at Colmant in Franschhoek, and Boschendal at Oude Bank in Stellenbosch, amongst others.

We update information about newly opened and closed restaurants continuously, and welcome such news.

Restaurant Openings

#  Villa 47 has relaunched its Stuzzico and Restaurant restaurants, as SETA and Pierino Penati, respectively. The latter restaurant (photograph) has opened in conjunction with Italian Michelin star restaurant owner Chef Theo Penati. Continue reading →

No new restaurants open in Cape Town and Winelands, iconic The Tasting Room closes down in Franschhoek : May 2017!

It would appear that there were no new restaurant openings in Cape Town and the Winelands during April. Iconic restaurant The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français closed it doors at the end of April, after many years of operation under the guidance of Chef Margot Janse.  We update information about newly opened and closed restaurants continuously, and welcome such news.

Restaurant Openings

#  Ben Wei Fusion, Sushi, and Asian has opened in Wembley Square (photograph)

Continue reading →

Restaurants continue to open in Cape Town and Winelands: April 2017!

The Granary Café, The Silo Rooftop, Bosjes Kombuis, The Deck at Hidden Valley, The Chicken Shop, Harrington’s Cocktail Lounge, and Yuzu Kitchen & Bar opened in Cape Town and the Winelands during March. Surprisingly (or not!) both Baked on Long and Baked on Regent Street have closed down, as has Love, Revenge, and Cappuccino closed down! We update information about newly opened and closed restaurants continuously, and welcome such news.

Restaurant Openings

# The Granary Café has opened in The Silo Hotel in the V&A Waterfront (photograph)

#.  The Silo Rooftop is a new rooftop bar and light meal eatery in The Silo Hotel. Continue reading →

Restaurant Openings continue in Cape Town and Winelands: January 2017!

December has seen the opening of new restaurants Marigold, The Stepbrother, The Classic Car Bar, Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia, Thali, La Parada Del Mar in Camps Bay, and more.

We update information about newly opened and closed restaurants continuously, and welcome information.

Restaurant Openings

#   La Parada Del Mar has opened in Camps Bay: http://www.whalecottage.com/blog/cape-town/restaurant-review-la-parada-del-mar-sizzles-in-camps-bay/ Continue reading →

Cape Town and Winelands Restaurant openings continue: December 2016!

the-41-exteriorNovember has seen the opening of new restaurants Spek & Bone by Chef Bertus Basson, Baconville by Richard Bosman, The Vine Bistro at Glenelly, The 41, Sunset Café, Pizza Hut on Kloof Street, Bon Appetit Keam Restaurant, and more.

We update information about newly opened and closed restaurants continuously, and welcome information.

Restaurant Openings

#    The 41 has opened in Camps Bay (photograph) Continue reading →

Beluga blogger ban: ‘Blonde’ legal and service reaction

Yesterday Twitter was a-buzz with the news that Beluga restaurant owner Oskar ‘Blonde’ Kotze had banned blogger Shaun Oakes from his restaurant, because his girlfriend had written to him to share their poor service experience at the restaurant with him. It is rare that one sees such a reaction to an incident on Twitter.  A link was provided in a comment on Oakes’ blog to our Sour Service Award given to Beluga, for similar heavy-handed treatment by Kotze, and had a record of more than 1000 unique views yesterday.  The volume of activity about the Beluga ban was reminiscent of the Portofino owner and customer interaction, which was featured on the 2Oceansvibe website almost two years ago.

In short, the service from the waiter was poor and he was cheeky, the couple complained, received the meal and drinks on the house, and the girlfriend sent an e-mail to Kotze, to which Kotze sent an angry reply, all of which Oakes documented in his blogpost. This was Kotze’s ‘Blonde’ (Oskar loves blonds and ‘Blonde’ is the name of his failed restaurant in Gardens) reply: 

“The fact that you swore at my waiter **** is completely unacceptable – I have convinced him to lay a criminal case against you, and the company will back him all the way – its the year 2011 and no one has the right to speak to people the way you did – even your mail below is degrading and condescending. From my side, I am sorry that I was not here, I would have chased you out of my restaurant if I was. As to your personality, lack of manners and general attitude to life I will refrain from commenting – the fact that you even have the audacity to contact me and threaten me after what you did – seriously, wow, what a joke.  This will be the last communication that you will receive from me – I have asked ***** to provide me with your ID number so that we can use that for the criminal case.  Obviously I never want you to come close to any of my businesses ever again – and if your friends condone the way to deal with people, and you convince them not to come to my restaurants, well then that will also be ok”.

Beluga is completely out of line in its reaction to Oakes and his girlfriend:

*   The restaurant has lost not just one couple as clients, but possibly hundreds too, if the more than hundred comments posted to Oakes’ blogpost is anything to go by, the majority of commenters disparaging the poor service and poor quality food at the restaurant.  Very few positive comments were seen to be in support of Beluga.  Capetonians who had not been to Beluga even wrote that they would not try it out, because of Kotze’s action.

*   There is no legal action that Beluga’s waiter can take against Oakes, as he and his girlfriend have not contravened any law

*   Beluga’s action is illegal relative to the new Consumer Protection Act, which does not allow one to discriminate against customers in any form

*   Beluga’s action goes against all norms of customer service.  Yesterday we wrote about a new initiative of the Department of Tourism to introduce a National Service Excellence standard for the tourism industry, which would include restaurants, and it contained a service standard of : Service: should be friendly, professional, guest focused and driven, and offer an effective service recovery”, none of which is reflected in Kotze’s action!

Oakes could lay a charge against Beluga for discrimination against him as a customer with the National Consumer Commission, as well as the Western Cape Consumer Protector, that is if he would ever want to return to Beluga.  The treatment we received from Kotze, in sending the police to evict me from the restaurant as an invited guest due to giving sister restaurant Sevruga a Sour Service Award, and other feedback I have heard from past staff, makes one wonder why action has not been taken against Beluga and its owner!  The only winner in the Beluga blogger ban is Oakes, whom most other bloggers had not heard of before, but whose blog will have achieved a record number of hits yesterday, and who has become one of the best-known bloggers in Cape Town overnight.

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

Restaurant Review: DISH has dishy food, but service is not!

I had recently been to the Le Franschhoek Hotel, after an absence of more than a year, to try out its Afternoon Tea.  I met Chef Daniel Botha, and was impressed with the menu for DISH, which I asked to see while I was there.  I liked the look of the Chicken liver cognac parfait (R55) so much that I took some with me, and vowed to return for dinner at DISH as soon as I returned to Franschhoek over the Franschhoek Literary Festival weekend.  It was interesting to hear that the restaurant had changed its name from Relais Gourmand, and allegedly faces legal action from Relais & Châteaux, which appears to have trademarked the word “Relais”!

I arrived without making a booking, and the restaurant only had three tables occupied other than mine, out of the 14 in the restaurant – two tables were hotel guests and another was a 10-person party of media from China, hosted by Eben Lassen, GM of the Le Franschhoek Hotel, and Jenny Prinsloo, the CEO of the Franschhoek Wine Valley tourism association.  For the 17 patrons in the restaurant in total, the service from the 4 – 5 waiters and Restaurant Manager Ruaan Spencer should have been far better than that which I experienced on Thursday evening, especially given the fine food that is offered at DISH.

The Customer Services gentleman of the hotel recognised me, and immediately told me that he had passed my feedback form from my Afternoon Tea, where there was a service issue, on to his boss Mr Lassen.  He escorted me inside the restaurant, and asked his colleagues to organise a table for me.  Ruaan brought the menu and winelist, and asked me to choose between still or sparkling bottled water, and I opted for the fresh Franschhoek version, as I always do.  He then told me about two main course specials, but forgot to tell me that they had run out of duck for the main course, which I was told at a later stage by the waitress.  Busi was the waitress that came to my table the most, and we discussed the wines by the glass, a disappointingly small selection, none being a Shiraz.  Busi wanted to please, and said she had an open bottle of Zandvliet Shiraz 2008, from which she could pour a glassful at R40, and I accepted her offer.  She came to the table with a bottle of Nederburg Manor House 2006 Shiraz, telling me that she had discovered that the Zandvliet had run out, and she was therefore offering me the Nederburg in its place, but at R90 a glass!   I felt this to be unfair, and so she kept the charge at the originally promised R40.  The wine was outstanding.  I was not asked if I wanted to order another glassful when I had finished the first! 

The DISH dining room is large, and the tables are far apart from each other, creating a lack of cohesion and atmosphere.  The lighting from the overhead lamps is very low, but there are a number of candelabras which make the room look very romantic.  In the middle of the restaurant was a portable gas ‘fireplace’.  Each table had a tall candlestick on it, but my candle had been exposed to too much sun, and had become bent, and I could not straighten it.  The tables are covered with a table cloth, and material serviettes and Eetrite cutlery is provided.  My table was not laid with sideplates, and none was brought when the rather ordinary looking home-made white and brown bread was brought to the table.   When the food was served, an impressive heavyweight set of Maxwell Williams salt and pepper grinders was brought to the table.  I missed the touch of flowers on the table, or in the restaurant in general, which could come from the hotel grounds that are blessed with flowers.  Decor is bare in this large room, with only one picture of an angel in one lone corner, and a piano, that luckily was not played.  There was no dishy looking food photography or artwork to link to the restaurant name.   Music was typical hotel-like.

There are about ten starters and ten main courses to choose from.  I started with smoked salmon tartar, which was topped with a quail egg, and was served with two minute slices of ‘fennel and orange rye’ – the punctuation in this description led me to expect fennel and I was not sure about the colour of the rye, but I was told that the rye bread was topped with fennel seeds and orange zest.  It was a small portion for R65, not good value, and the strong onion and salmon tartar did not taste as good on the bread when the toast ran out.  The other starter choices include Pernod shellfish bisque and buttered crayfish and prawn tail, Thai chicken noodle soup, Carpaccio of springbok, Caprese salad, and Duck Rillette salad (R85), all costing around R60, with the exception of the duck salad.  For the main course I ordered Green Pea and Fennel Risotto (R95), that was oddly presented on spinach, with a spoonful in the centre of the plate, and another three around this, making the presentation look messy and clumsy.  I wasn’t expecting tomato in the risotto from the menu description, and cooked tomato is one of the food items I do not enjoy eating.  The risotto was topped with two prawns, and I felt it too saucy, and expensive, yet it was filling.   Other main courses include butternut tagliatelle (R95), Glazed Norwegian salmon (R125), Braised lamb shank (R155), Beef fillet stuffed with wild mushroom and camembert (R145), Thai Green chicken and prawn curry (R170), and Glazed Confit duck with Van der Hum jus (R130).  Desserts cost around R55, and one can choose between Hot chocolate fondant with Romanoff parfait and berry compote, Belgian white and dark mousse with Cape Gooseberry compote, Date stuffed poached pear and almond tart served with a Chardonnay wine sauce (but which had run out, I was told), Baked Mascarpone cheesecake, and Cappuccino crusted Amoretti parfait served with Grand Marnier Sabayon and a raspberry and orange salad, which is what I ordered.  I am not sure where the ‘cappuccino’ was in this dessert, and I thought the fruit salad an odd marriage to an otherwise nice dish.  The cappuccino I had with the dessert was made with Avanti coffee, which I had not heard of before, and was served in a cup with a logo that looked suspiciously similar to that of LavAzza.

The focus of the kitchen was to serve the media table of ten, and the Restaurant Manager never came back to the table again, except to wish me ‘Bon Appetit’ when I started eating the main course.  He did not check on the enjoyment of the starter.  He had company, it appeared, and sat himself at a table in the restaurant to chat, rather than focusing on what was happening, or rather not happening, in the restaurant.  At this stage Mr Lassen came over to introduce himself, and he said that he had not been given my Afternoon Tea feedback form.  He asked if all was okay. My feedback must have led him to address the Restaurant Manager, and he was far more attentive thereafter, even spontaneously coming to stabilise my table, but I had not felt it wobbling at all.  Ruaan told me that he grew up in Malmesbury, where his family owned the local Wimpy, and felt that he had experience in the hospitality industry from this.  He went to the UK, where he worked and then studied Tourism at Bournemouth University, he told me, and then returned to work at Beluga, for only six months, due to the poor treatment of the staff by its owner Oskar Kotze.  From there he moved to DISH a year ago.

The light was so low in the restaurant, that I asked the staff to let me photograph the dishes at the serving area.  It was hilarious that the staff let me carry my plates for both the starter and the main course to my table, and I felt like a waiter!  The GM and the Restaurant Manager were in the restaurant all the time, and did not react to this.  The waitress had no idea what the Cappuccino dessert consisted of, and went back to the kitchen twice to check with the chef (unfortunately chef Daniel had the day off) how this dessert was made.   I don’t think she had been asked so many questions before, and said that this dessert was a recent addition to the menu.  

The winelist cover is black leather, and it has no link to the starter/main course and dessert menus in preparation or look.  The winelist is printed on nice silver paper, but the pages are heavily worn.  What I loved about it, but it seemed an odd place to see these, was the old black and white photographs of the hotel, when it was still called the Swiss Farm Excelsior, and I remembered it fondly from many visits there in my childhood.  On the first page of the winelist is a wax seal of the Three Cities hotel group logo, the management company that runs the Le Franschhoek Hotel.  None of the wines have a vintage provided, but the region it comes from is specified, as is the Platter star rating.  The seven wines by the glass are inexpensive, and include Haut Espoir Sauvignon Blanc, Dieu Donné Unwooded Chardonnay and Dieu Donné “Cab/Shiraz” (all three at R25), Beyerskloof Pinotage R32, Pinehurst Cabernet Sauvignon (R36), Pierre Jourdan Brut (R43), and Boschendal Sauvignon Blanc (R45).  It must be noted that the hotel belongs to Mr Maingard, who owns a number of hospitality interests in Franschhoek, including Dieu Donné. Ten champagnes are offered, starting at R340 for Tribaut Brut, up to R3000 for Veuve Cliquot La Grand Dame.  MCC’s start at R170 for Pierre Jourdan Brut, up to R420 for Graham Beck Rosé Brut.  There are about eight wines offered per variety, and the Shiraz selection starts at R125 for Vrede en Lust, up to R290 for Glen Carlou Syrah.

Busi was willing to do what she could for me, but her knowledge about the menu was constrained, and her training poor, as she stretched in front of me regularly to add or remove cutlery, even when I asked her not to.  The final service failure was my request for the bill at the time that my dessert and cappuccino were brought to the table.  I finished both, and it still had not arrived.  My waitress had disappeared from the restaurant, and I asked another waiter to bring it.  The waitress reappeared, left again, and in irritation I got up to look for the bill.  The Restaurant Manager had left, it appeared, and my irritation showed when I waited for the bill at the entrance to the restaurant, the GM coming to see if he could help.  Then the portable credit card machine had to be fetched from somewhere else.  I felt that the waitress was completely out of her depth, and she received no support from her Restaurant Manager.  Mr Lassen did invite me to share a cup of coffee with him when next I am in Franschhoek, and he did offer to comp the meal due to all the service problems, but I refused his latter kind offer.  

I could not help but to compare DISH with Le Bon Vivant in Franschhoek, where both restaurants have quality chefs working hard in creating above average cuisine, but the service from the waiters destroys all this hard work.  It is such a shame, as DISH has good potential.

DISH, Le Franschhoek Hotel, Franschhoek.  Tel (021) 876-8900.  www.lefranschhoek.co.za. (The website is very disppointing in respect of DISH, it mentioning that it has a winelist, but there is no link to it.  There is no mention of the menu at all, and a mix of photographs of the venue and the food at La Verger and DISH restaurants can be seen,  The site is generally out of date, a section referring to events for 2010).  Dinners only, Monday – Sunday.

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

Restaurant Review: Food and prices at Blonde more than a little ….blond!

The Caviar Group (Beluga, Sevruga, Caviar Fine Foods) owner Oskar “Blonde” Kotze has a weakness for blonds, or so his marketing tells us, as most photographs used to market his restaurants feature sexy girls, particularly blond ones.  Blonde, the newest restaurant of the Caviar Group, opened earlier this month as a dinner-only venue on Hatfield Street.   While the female staff are all blond, the male waiters are not, and the food as well as the prices of Blonde leave much to be desired.

If one drives to the restaurant from the Parliament side, one will see an ueber-massive billboard with a ……blond on it, and the name of the restaurant (but only during the day, and not at night, as it is not lit).  If one comes down Hatfield Street from Orange Street, one would not notice the 110 year old Victorian restaurant building, and drive past it.  The red carpet entrance is through stylish glass double doors, down a passage with a massive chandelier.   The white walls are adorned with large murals of ……blonds drinking Moet et Chandon.  The chairs have a black and white floral design, and are very comfortable.   The double story house, home to a number of failed restaurants previously, is divided into a number of small dining rooms, none having more than 3 or 4 tables or so in them, giving one a feeling of being cramped inside the small rooms after a while. 

One is greeted by a hostess (Nikita), who is so new that she does not know where table 301 is, as per the booking sheet.   The service from waitress Karien is professional, but she seemed incredibly nervous, stuttering and shaking.   Three Managers were on duty, and each one of them regularly came to check if all was in order at the table, meaning that up to seven persons ask one the same question in an hour, a nagging irritation.   One receives an A3 menu, with a full page …… blond on the reverse side, and another …… blond at the top of what is called the “Unofficial Menu”.   A “menu explainer” comes to each table, and he explains the menu, making his personal recommendations, not surprisingly for the most expensive items on the menu (the Foie gras balentine and the Roasted foie gras starters, at R 139 and R 129, respectively) and the Truffle-infused fillet as a main course, indicated as being the restaurant’s signature dish, at R 189.

Very nice bread rolls were served, with a complimentary generous platter of little toasted breads, duck liver pate, roast beef, pickled onions, and homemade sweet chilli sauce.   An amuse bouche was then sent to the table, butternut soup served in an espresso cup.

The wine list has about 60 wines, and eleven each are by-the-glass.  For white wines the wine-by-the-glass choice is mainly from Greyling (“The Doppie”, Family Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, “Botterbek”, “Mengelmoes”), all at R 29, up to R 59 for Sterhuis Barrel Select and a Mulderbosch 2006.  Red wines by-the-glass also start at R 29 for Saxenburg and Greyling HMI Collection, up to R 55 for Boschendal 1685, Greyling Family Reserve and Clos Malverne Pinotage Reserve.   Between 5 – 10 options are offered per wine variety, and then an additional heading adds about 20 further options, being more select and more expensive (e.g. the “Special red wines” list includes Vergelegen V 2006 at R 1685, Meerlust Rubicon in various bottle sizes and vintages, and Raats Mr De Compostella 2007 at R 1065).  The “Special white wines” list includes a Vergelegen White 2006 at R 665.  Very few of the wines have vintages provided on the list.  The Graham Beck Merlot was served in an odd glass, very bulbous at the bottom and a very narrow top, almost like a larger wine estate tasting room glass, which does not allow the wine to breath well.

The 40 minute wait for the main course is long, but the restaurant was almost full.  The “truffle-infused fillet”, served with “garlic galette potato, mushroom ragout, bordelaise jus and beef reduction”, was a huge let-down.  Not only was the 220 gram fillet bland, but the truffle infusion could not be detected.  The terrible taste of the potato bake cannot be described in words without making the reader of this review run to the bathroom.  The mushroom ragout was the most tasty element on the plate.   When the complaint was lodged with the Manager, she was very condescending, saying that maybe it just was not to the liking of her patrons.   When this approach to “customer service” was questioned, she apologised, said that she would reprimand the chef, and offered complimentary desserts (a chocolate terrine, and a peach cobbler) and Glen Carlou dessert wine.    It was clear that the Manager does not yet know the Blonde menu, in that she did not know the detail about all the desserts.   A basil sorbet palate cleanser was sent to the table before the desserts were served. 

The menu uses an interesting pricing technique, in that the prices are not written in numbers but in words, making it harder to “see” the R number, perhaps to hide the high Blonde prices!   The Starter choice of ten dishes ranges in price from R 49 (Roast vegetable salad, Baby calamari, or Herb salad) to R 129/R139 for the two foie gras dishes.   Roast tomato tarte tatin, calamari cerviche, duck breast, and onion veloute are other options.   Ten Mains are offered, ranging in price from R 109 (smoked aubergine and goat’s cheese cannelloni) to the beef fillet at R 189.  Other choices are Chicken breast, Smoked springbok, Ostrich, Confit duck roll, Kingklip, Linefish (Cape Salmon), and Beef rib.   A second column offers lighter, smaller and less expensive dishes , under the heading “Simply Blonde” – it is not explained if these are for the ladies?  Nine options include Roasted chicken breast, at R 99; East coast sole and linefish cost R 109; Kingklip, Salmon, Lamb rump and Lamb shank pie cost R119; and Fillet steak and Duck breast cost R 129.  A choice of sides includes an unusual selection of pickled vegetables; beef and poultry reduction; chilli jam, tomato compote, beetroot and onion chutney; and “braised” mixed vegetables, each at R 25.   Last, but not least, the menu makes a recommendation for “Next time at Blonde”, being a “whole roasted fillet steak for two, roasted vegetables, duo of potato, herb salad and a beef reduction.”  No price is provided, and it does not encourage one to order it during one’s current visit to the restaurant.  

Underneath the menu a line is printed : “anything but pepenero” – obviously a private joke, in that it could be a reference to another restaurant group that also has 4 restaurants (Pepenero, The Kove, Zenzero and Paranga – I have been told that there is no love lost between the owners of the two restaurant groups), and that no black pepper (only …… blond pepper, i.e. white peppercorns) is available.   The menu also states that “A discretionary 13 % service charge will be added to your bill.  Please feel free to ask us to remove it if you are not comfortable with this addition”.   The tip was removed before the bill came to the table, due to the problems experienced with the main course. 

The dessert menu is short, offering lemon sabayon tart, creme anglaise soup, and Absolut mango chocolate martini as options in addition to the peach cobbler and chocolate terrine, in a price range of R 49 – R 59.  The Glen Carlou “The Welder” is offered on the Dessert menu at R 59.

The bathroom is very ordinary, with average standard fittings, and feels tiny and cramped.

Blonde, 129 Hatfield Street, Gardens. Tel 021 462 5793.  Tuesdays – Sunday dinners. www.blondedining.co.za (website still under construction!).

POSTSCRIPT: A further sign of the ……blondness of Blonde’s marketing department is an ad with a ……blond in the Business Report of 19 May, which lists the telephone numbers and website addresses of all four the restaurants in the Caviar Group – for Blonde it says “opening soon” and provides the web address, which is still under construction!

POSTSCRIPT 7/2: Blonde is to close down at the end of February, the current concept not having brought in the feet nor revenue, despite heavily discounted prices of its expensive menu and winelist.   This is the e-mail that was sent today:

“Our sexiest socialite Blonde had an amazing summer , met some remarkable people and brought out some incredible dishes. In fact, we’re so happy with our concept kitchen’s wonderful creations, that over winter we’ve decided to send her shopping for even more exciting new ideas!! Sadly, this means we’ll be closing our doors for a while, but don’t despair we’ll be back with a brand new menu concept, served with our signature style and charm. In the meantime, look for your favourite Blonde creations at Beluga and Sevruga, or book Blonde as a private venue for your event, and get a sneak peek at what spring will bring. For her farewell, we are giving you 50% discount on your entire food and drinks bill for the entire month of February. Closing dates: March 2011 – August 2011”

POSTSCRIPT 28/2:  Blonde has closed today, until September.

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