Entries tagged with “Paul Kovensky”.


On Saturday I was one of six hundred invited guests attending the double launch of the newest additions to The Kove Collection’s 15 establishments, most located in Camps Bay, Bilboa restaurant and Chinchilla Rooftop Café & Bar, both with a spectacular view over the Camps Bay Beach.  (more…)

I had not been to Camps Bay, other than to drive through it on my way to and back from dancing at Constantia Nek on Sunday evenings, in many months. As the weather forecast for yesterday showed that it would be the warmest day for Spring/Summer to date, I drove to Camps Bay on a 30C day, to update my restaurant information for the suburb. (more…)

I admire Paul Kovensky and his Kove Collection, for his energy in continuously opening new restaurants, his Lily’s in Mouille Point being the newest to open, a mere ten days ago. I have heard about a new one he is working on in the V&A Waterfront, where the Classic Car Bar pop-up restaurant is currently.  (more…)

imageOn Thursday evening The Alphen hotel hosted hundreds of Constantia and Cape Town VIPs, to present its transformed blanko restaurant, previously 5Rooms, which was the name of the restaurant when the hotel was first taken over by the Kove Collection five years ago. (more…)

World Class Brent Perremore Whale CottageIn a tough three day challenge, with seven top bar tenders from around the country vying for the title of Diageo Reserve WORLD CLASS National Final, held at The Marly and its Umi restaurant in Camps Bay earlier this week, Brent Perremore of Orphanage Cocktail Emporium was named South Africa’s best Mixologist.  He will represent our country against 49 other mixologists in the Diageo Reserve World Class Global Final in Scotland and in London later this month, with literary-themed cocktail challenges.

Brett said about winning the South African title: ‘Winning the opportunity to compete in the Global Final is a great honour. WORLD CLASS is about elevating the standard of mixology across the world, and I am very excited to represent South Africa in London and Scotland’.   The two runners-up were Haroon Haffajee from Harry’s Cocktail Bar in Durban, and Marson Strydom from Buena Vista Social Café in Somerset West.  Other finalists were Jeff Lopes of The Michelangelo Hotel, Johannesburg’s best barman; Simphiwe Ngcobo, also of The Michelangelo Hotel; Assaf Yechiel, also from World Class 7 finalists Whale CottageOrphanage Cocktail Emporium; and Steven Saunders from The Oyster Box. The finalists were judged on the flavour balance and taste of their cocktails, aromatics, expression of the base spirit, overall presentation, brand and category knowledge, entertainment value, originality, and interaction with the judges. 

The judges that evaluated the performance of the finalist bar tenders were Chef and MasterChef SA World Class Pete Goffe-Wood Whale Cottagejudge Pete Goffe-Wood, 2012 Global World Class Champion Tim Philip, 2013 South African World Class National winner Nick Koumbarakis (also from Orphanage Cocktail Emporium), Travis Kuhn from Pure Bar Studios, and Tim Etherington-Judge, Diageo Reserve Brand Ambassador for Africa and Global Ambassador for Bulleit Bourbon.   (more…)

The hospitality industry was shocked to hear last year that the Alphen Hotel had closed down, after the Three Cities Group had relinquished its contract in operating the hotel. Unknown to most was that Paul Kovensky, owner of Camps Bay restaurants such as The Kove, Zenzero, Pepenero, Bungalow, and Paranga had taken a 30 year lease on the hotel, and was furiously renovating and transforming the then 3-star hotel into a five-star boutique hotel six months later, creating an interior that according to its room book is a ‘little eccentric, somewhat bohemian, rather eclectic and causally elegant and definitely sensual’. The Alphen opened in December last year, and has already been named one of only two South African Hip 100 Conde Nast hotels in the world!

The Alphen once was part of Groot Constantia, converted from a farm to an estate over the years, the first building having been established in 1773.   It was taken over by the Cloete family 150 years ago, and declared a national monument in 1973.  Wine was made and sent to the kings in England and France, The Alphen being the first wine producer, its sweet wine being particularly well-known.  Over the years the estate hosted a number of names from the history books, including Mark Twain, Captain Cook, Cecil John Rhodes, Lord Charles Somerset, George Bernhard Shaw, Jan Smuts, Dr James Barry, royalty, and ambassadors, most of the visitors having been captured in portraits.  I was taken around the estate by The Alphen GM Robert van Gent (ex Cullinan Hotel consultant, ex-Hollow Hotel, ex-Euro Disney), and he shared the passion for ‘his’ hotel. He said that Lord Charles Somerset was said to have pistol duels on the garden alongside the hotel. Dr Barry was the first medical doctor to conduct a Caesarean section, and was discovered to be a woman on ‘his’ death, women not being allowed to practice as medical practitioners at that time. In 1962 Sandy Bairnsfather-Cloete inherited the land, and opened The Alphen hotel.  The Alphen has ‘inherited’ 300 paintings of the Cloete family, and these have been rehung and grouped into themes, and ‘married’ with paintings specially commissioned by a British artist, for a more modern touch.

In planning the renovations of the buildings on the estate, the very strict requirements of The Heritage Council had to be considered.  Mr Kovensky wanted to create something unusual and unique, and Stefan Antoni was appointed to tackle the refurbishment of the 21 rooms of the hotel, as well as create two restaurants and conference rooms.  The designers looked to marry the historial heritage of the building with modernity, in its lighting, furniture, fabrics, paint and fabric colours, textures, and artwork, its room book commenting: ‘not your typical 5-star hotel, a modern and playful twist has been added to the décor and design while preserving traditional and exceptional, age old hospitality’. In their design, they looked at respecting the heritage framework, but also wanted to add ‘provocation, contemporary glamour and surreal fantasy’.

The hotel reception is in a small area, unlike the vast reception areas of many hotels, and here the classic and modern contrast is evident already, with gilded guest chairs and artwork frames, and modern artwork, and leather office chairs for the staff.  The porter Green showed me the room, switching on the TV to find the soccer, and explaining that the mini bar was empty, and that one can order drinks from a list.  It appears that guests have abused the ‘honesty bar’.  Now the mini bar contents can be tailor-made to suit each guest, said Mr van Gent. The room opens onto a little courtyard, with big windows, a king size bed, a white leather couch, a red velvet upholstered chair, a historic writing desk, a modern-to-look-old unit containing the mini bar, a dressing table, a massive dress mirror, a large old wooden wardrobe, and large bedside units, with lots of gilded touches introduced in the feet of the couches, the frames of the artwork and mirror, the structure of the room lamp, and gold curtains. Modern touches are the underfloor heating (which kept the room comfortably warm on a chilly night, without the need for airconditioning, even though it is provided), a LavAzza coffee machine, the flat screen TV, a Samsung DVD player with speakers, and an iPod docking station.  A ‘cheeky’ chair, resembling the shape of a women’s figure, is in most rooms, in red or white.  The bathrooms are modern, with black wall tiling, white bathroom fittings, silver taps, white floor tiles, silver heated towel rails, and black and white bathroom amenities by Charlotte Rhys, with a massive old-fashioned style gilded mirror to link the bathroom to the bedroom decor.  All rooms have his and her basins, and a bath and shower.  Some of the larger rooms even have ‘his’ and ‘her’ bathrooms.  Mr van Gent explained that they have renamed their room types, in keeping with their ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking.  For the turn down a bath robe and slippers were laid out on the bed, with a massive brightly coloured macaroon from the hotel’s La Belle Café and Bakery.

The estate has different buildings, the original Manor House, now housing the 5Rooms restaurant, Reception, and conference rooms having been the home of the oldest Cloete son.  Daughters and young children were housed in The Dower House, and some of the lower doorways reflect this. The Mill House has rooms too. The entry level room type is called ‘Cool Suite’, at the winter room rate of R2000. As the rooms get bigger, and if they open to the garden, their room type names and rates change to ‘Amazing Suite’, ‘Stunning Suite‘, and the honeymoon suite ‘Magic Suite’, which will have a private outside jacuzzi and daybed.  Children 4 years and younger stay for free, and 5 – 16 year olds pay R500 per bed brought into the larger rooms.

Breakfast is served at La Belle Café and Bakery, and one can choose to have a health or English breakfast, Eggs Benedict, flapjacks, Churros, fresh fruit, and the Alphen Breakfast, with fruit, pastries and eggs, presented on branded wooden boards. Breakfast ends at 11h45, a treat for hard workers and late sleepers.  Coffee is by LavAzza.  One can buy delectable pastries, slices of cake, cupcake, and freshly-baked breads at La Belle too, and they are very busy for lunches and early dinners, closing at 21h00. They have become the taste of the Constantia and other Cape Town residents, making booking a necessity.  Dinner is also served at 5Rooms restaurant.  The hotel also sports the The Rose Bar, a popular meeting place with a gorgeous garden view, and is heat-protected in winter. A spa is being set up and a consultant has been appointed for it.  Treatments can also be done in guest rooms. As it will open onto the lawn, they will offer their guests Pilates, Tai Chi, and yoga outside. Wi-Fi is complimentary, room service is 24 hour, and a safe is provided.

The Dovecot is a beautiful building in the far corner of the lawns, and in it is the power house, and the Cloete family ashes.  There is a little family chapel behind it.  The old Watermill is to be reinstated near the Rose Bar. Weddings are hosted on the lawns, and special marquees are erected.  The brides come down the original steps of the Manor House, more than 200 years old, which are not allowed to be fixed and not even the grasses growing in them are allowed to be removed.   Close by is the slave bell.

This area smells beautifully of the lavender planted there. The hotel sports its own herb garden, from which the two restaurant chefs pick their daily kitchen requirements. The original cellar is let out as offices, with auctioneer Stephan Welz using one of the buildings for storage.  Robert proudly spoke about the ‘Little 15′ they have on the estate, and the squirrels jumping around in the old oak trees are definitely his favourite.  At The Alphen one feels that one is far from the city, and cannot hear the motorway not too far away.  Music is piped throughout the estate, and is light lounge music, adding a modern contrast to the historical structures on the estate.

Despite being in Cape Town, staying at The Alphen was a lovely break away, as good as a holiday.  One does not need to leave the estate at all, there being more than enough to do and eat and drink, and entertain one’s friends.

Disclosure: I was a guest of The Alphen Hotel for one night.  Service feedback was provided to the management.

The Alphen, The Alphen Estate, Alphen Drive, Constantia. Tel (021) 795-6300     www.alphen.co.za Twitter@TheAlphen. Monday – Sunday. La Belle Cafe and Bakery 7h00 – 21h00. 5Rooms dinners every day and Sunday lunch.  The Rose Bar open from 16h00 – 23h00 on weekdays, and 12h00 – 23h00 on weekends.

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

It was a shock to the hospitality industry to hear last year that the Alphen Hotel had closed down in Constantia, one of Cape Town’s oldest hotels, and even more so that restaurateur Paul Kovensky had taken over the property and had created a magical transformation of a historical building, re-opening the hotel in December with two new restaurants. La Belle Café and Bakery serves a beautiful selection of pastries, and has become a popular meeting place for breakfast, lunch, and drinks in the Southern Suburbs.

One can see the popularity of the rejuvenated Alphen Hotel from the mass of cars on the grounds, something one never saw before.  The original entrance has been closed, to create more parking.  I asked a staff member where La Belle was, as there is no branding visible for the restaurants, and he pointed me to ‘La Bella’, not knowing its correct name.  The staff are all new, and have no knowledge of the history of the building, and what the La Belle room was used for before.   It is a large room seating 60 inside, with an open thatched roof giving it the look and feel of a barn, dominated by a display counter almost the length of the room, containing the most beautiful selection of pastries, the breads being less easy to see in the shelving behind the counter.  There are individual tables inside, and one long shared table, which appeared to become the waiting table, with everyone wanting to sit outside on the beautiful day yesterday. There are few decor touches inside, with two large mirrors on one wall, and a beautifully written blackboard, with the bread range (R15 – R25), milkshakes (R30), and hot chocolates (R20 – R30).  There are delectable looking cheese cakes, chocolate tortes, coconut layer cakes, orange vanilla sponge cakes, carrot cakes, and smaller summer fruit tarts, passion fruit meringue tarts, blueberry pies, macaroons, chocolate cupcakes, berry frangipane, red velvet cupcakes, and nut tarts, displayed with potted herbs.  The small tarts are larger than one normally sees, and cost about R30. One cannot buy a cake without pre-ordering.  Pastry Chef Inge le Roux studied at the SA Chef’s Academy, and has worked at the Table Bay Hotel, Singita, 15 on Orange, and The Round House. Charl Coetzee is the La Belle chef. Cappuccino is by LavAzza.

Despite the many staff, wearing a white T-shirt and La Belle branded apron, service was slow in bringing the menu when I arrived, and bringing out the main course I had ordered.  Different persons came to check about ordering, so there is no ownership of a table or customer.  I moved to an outside table, and the tables and chairs look more old-fashioned outside, with a blue-white striped fabric for the chair cushions, possibly more suited in colour to one of Kovensky’s seaside restaurants in Camps Bay, given the dominant green and white of the hotel.  Seating is provided for 80 outside.  The tables have Himalayan Rock Salt and Mixed Pepepr grinders on the table, and a glass vase with a pin cushion protea in it.  There are no table cloths, but a material serviette and cutlery by Eetrite.

The menu looks like that of The Grand, an A5 tabloid size printed on newsprint, in green, with its positioning of ‘Light, Fresh & Tasty’ on the opening page.  The menu is clearly divided into sections, with a small selection of items for each.  Breakfast is served until 11h45, but the menu does not state this.   The Breakfast section offers the largest variety, ranging from a simple croissant with cheese and preserves (R35) to the ‘Five Star Breakfast with a Glass of Champagne’, consisting of poached eggs, Scottish salmon, buckwheat blinis, a tomato coriander salsa, and a glass of Veuve Clicquot, at a whopping R250, easily Cape Town’s most expensive Breakfast!  I was told by the PR and Marketing Manager Heidi Prinsloo that the Eggs Benedict are really good, served with ham or salmon, and a toasted English muffin (R70).  One can also order Churros, flapjacks, ‘Ricotta hotcakes’, French Toast, a fruit platter, and ‘The Alphen Breakfast’ (R130), consisting of pastries, blueberry pancakes, fruit, yoghurt, and a cooked breakfast.

Salads range from R70 – R90, and the more unusual ones are Spring Pea & Plum, and Chermoula Tuna.  On a choice of ‘artisan breads’ (baguette, ciabatta, sourdough, rye), sandwiches are served, including pastrami and mustard, chicken & Brie, ‘Smokey Sirloin’, and roast chicken with mustard and mayonnaise, costing R 60 – R90. The Light Meals section offers a charcuterie platter for two at R130, a cheese board with preserves for R80; six oysters served with an apple, beetroot and ‘Champagne Salsa’ for R80; braised lamb pie; fish cakes; and grilled asparagus with poached egg (R85).  Main courses include the La Belle Beef Burger, with avocado, and a Porcini Sauce, at R80; a chickpea burger; a very tasty mustard and herb roast chicken (R85) served with olive oil mash and a green bean salad – the salad was misleadingly named, being mainly rocket decorating the edge of the plate and about 4 green beans, but the chicken was a generous portion, the mustard adding an interesting taste to it; tuna steak (R110); beer battered kingklip (R120), fillet steak (R140); Sirloin Forester (R115), and Meatballs & Tagliatelle (R85).  Extra sides can be ordered at R20. No desserts are listed on the menu, but one is probably encouraged to order a pastry.  The names of the large range of pastry items are not listed. Interesting sounding Raw Juices (about R30) and Smoothies (R40) are offered.  Nine teas cost R20. A selection of cocktails is served. Veuve Clicquot costs R170 per glass and R850 per bottle, while Graham Beck Brut is offered at R220 and their Rosé at R490, not being available by the glass.  Pongrácz Brut costs R40/R200 and its Rosé R50/R240.  A small selection of Constantia wines is offered, as is a Red and a White wine section, without vintages mentioned.  Kevin Arnold Shiraz costs R85/R320, and Haute Cabrière Chardonnay/Pinot Noir R45/R170.

Heidi showed me the new sister evening dining restaurant, rather oddly named but literally 5 Rooms Restaurant, connected with a bar room, seating 100 guests inside, and a further 80 outside.  It is beautifully decorated with red and blue velvet chairs, and all the original paintings of the hotel.   I was assured by Heidi that despite its beautiful decor, that it is not a fine dining restaurant.  Fernando Roman is the chef.

The Alphen Hotel has been beautifully transformed by Antoni Associates design interiors, and each space has a unique design, giving it modernity within an historic framework.  La Belle has clearly made its mark in Constantia already, judging by how full it was yesterday. Prices are reasonable, with a good variety of items and prices to choose from.   La Belle is Simone Kovensky’s project, and she has done a great job in getting the restaurant running smoothly since its opening two months ago.  A kitchen staff shortage appears to be a problem, however, given the slow arrival of the food.  The waiters were very friendly, as was Amber, the hostess.

La Belle Café and Bakery, Alphen Hotel, Alphen Drive, Constantia.   Tel (021) 795-6336.  www.alphen.co.za Monday – Sunday 7h00 – 18h30. Opening until 22h00 from 12 March onwards, with a dinner menu.

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

Our blog has been running a Restaurant Winter Specials list for the past few months, with more than 100 restaurant offers attempting to attract locals into restaurants in Cape Town and the Winelands towns, in what is traditionally a poor time for the hospitality trade.  The winter special of The Kove in Camps Bay only is good value relative to what the restaurant normally charges for its dishes, and does not compare favourably to many of the restaurant specials offered.

The Kove is part of a quartet of restaurants owned by Paul Kovensky (the surname being the inspiration for the naming of The Kove, no doubt), three of them being almost next door to each other in The Promenade building in Camps Bay (The Kove, Zenzero and Paranga).  Pepenero is located in Mouille Point.   The latter restaurant occupies a large space, and clearly was not able to attract enough custom to fill the space, and since last year has attracted food bargain hunters by offering specials.  The Kove is the only other restaurant in the Kovensky Quartet to be offering winter specials this year.

When we entered the restaurant on Saturday evening, after having left the over-heated and over-priced Zenzero next door, we were offered a table closest to the fireplace, which we declined, not without some attitude from the Manager Bevan (the type that knows better than you do where you would like to sit).   The first thing I noticed was the tattoos on Bevan’s arms (I am sorry, but it is the most off-putting thing, something that I experienced at Leaf Restaurant recently as well).   Waiter Casper presented himself soon thereafter, and gave me one of those looks that declares attitude without saying it.  By “mistake”, waiter Richard also presented his services to our table, and he was genuinely nice and we requested that he be our waiter, and he did a great job in looking after us with what seemed like genuine interest.  

The restaurant has a raised back section, with different chairs compared to the street level section, in which the chairs look like lawn furniture, in smart white and silver frames, with white or green chairbacks (the same grass green as at Leaf Restaurant), with green blankets over the chairs, should one still be cold inside the warm interior.  The lighting is dimmed to very low, making it difficult to read the menu.  We had flashes of white light from the World Cup TV above us, when it changed its picture!   Music was vibey, from an iPod playlist, along the lines of the Gotan Project.   Riedel glasses are on the table, and good quality linen and cutlery is used.  A faux library on both sides of the restaurant is meant to add a homely touch, I assume.  The ceiling of the street level section of the restaurant is adorned with a mock grapevine in autumn colours, and there are plastic marigolds on the table.

The menu for the Winter Specials covers two pages almost hidden at the back of the menu, and one is not told about them spontaneously (as at Five Flies and 1800 Restaurant at the Cape Royale).  One has a number of choices of specials, making it feel like one is really getting a good deal, but the Specials prices are average compared to other Cape Town restaurants.  First, one has the option of a two-course special, consisting only of a starter and a main course, and a glass of wine, at R 120.   The problem starts with the wine.   Why would a reputable restaurant offer an unlabelled unidentified white and red wine as part of the special?  It cheapens the Winter Special immediately.  They must have paid next to nothing for it, if they have to hide the wines’ origins.   Starter choices are mussels, Prawns 3 Ways, calamari, chicken livers and a house salad.   My partner had the prawns, brought to the table with a finger bowl, and the “3 ways” are 2 minute prawns each served with mustard and brandy, garlic and ginger, and orange and cumin.  It was a struggle to get them out of their shells.  The main course choices are fresh line fish, sirloin steak, baby chicken, beef burger and pork ribs.  The portion sizes are not indicated, and a starch is served with these.   (On the a la carte menu, one has to pay extra for starches, sauces and salads).   The steak was served medium rare, as ordered, but was not as tender as my partner would have liked it to be, with a tendon running through it, showing that a cheaper cut of meat had been used.   A good spicy and creamy Pepper Sauce was served with the steak.  No desserts are offered as part of this special.   Two small slices of older white bread were served, which I did not even bother to try.  To do the mathematics on the special: normal price for 1/2 prawn portion R45 + sirloin steak R85 + sauce R 20 + mash R20 = R170 (Special price charged plus glass of unidentified wine R120) – however, paying R125 for the 200 – 250 gram sirloin, mash and sauce on the a la carte menu is excessive anyway. 

In addition to the two-course special, one can order oysters at R 9 each, 1 kg of prawns or Karoo lamb chops at R99, fish and chips at R79, 400 gram ribs at R75, and a seafood platter at R129.  On the surface these prices are not bad at all, until you realise that these are standard prices elsewhere, and more expensive than some of the other specials offered elsewhere at the moment (e.g. a 6-course dinner for R150 at Myoga and at La Mouette).  I had the lamb chops, three served on a large plate with the mash served lukewarm after the meat was brought to the table, in a side dish. The steak knife provided was super in getting to the bone.  I loved the ‘braai’ taste of the chops, which Richard told us came from the special basting sauce.  I would have liked to have a finger bowl.   The chops were ordered medium, but the meat closest to the bone was raw.  Ten cocktails are part of the specials list, at R25 each, but we were given the cocktails menu (with peeling plastic cover), showing a Mojito at R40, and were not told about the specials.  As part of the Winter Special, The Kove also serves “tappas” between 3 – 7 pm, and two cost R 45 and three cost R60.  One has a choice of twelve, including hake goujons, pop-corn prawns, deep-fried halloumi, teriyaki salmon and stuffed jalapeno poppers.

The a la carte menu has starters ranging from R 50 for a mussel pot, seafood chowder, goat’s cheese tartlet and buffalo wings, to R 90 for 12 of the prawn 3-ways (having seen them on the special, and being seawater prawns, this is hugely expensive for what one gets), and salads cost R 40 – R 75.  A wide selection of steaks (fillet, sirloin, entrecote, chateaubriand), each in two weight options, is offered, a 250 g sirloin costing R85 and a 500g Chateaubriand costing R200.  Unspecified Venison costs R120 for 250g, as does baby chicken.  Starches are extra at R 20 each, as are a selection of five sauces, also at R 20 each.  A Braai section offers a 1,2kg fillet to share at R395, “kreef” at R 195, ribs, an identified skewer and fish.  A number of seafood options are available, a seafood platter costing R295, calamari costs R80, and baby kingklip R130.

For dessert we shared an odd item on the a la carte dessert menu, being waffles with syrup and cream, perfectly executed, at R 45. Other desserts include apple crumble, and pecan nut pie, costing between R35 – R45.  The Cappuccino was made with LavAzza coffee, but was thin and not the best I have had. 

The wines-by-the-glass at The Kove are very expensive, being based on three glasses out of a bottle.  The difference in price between the cheapest shiraz (Spier 2009) at R 30 and the next up at R95 per glass of Kevin Arnold made me choose the former, a grave mistake, in that it was so bad that I could not finish it.   I asked for the wine to be poured at the table, but the manager was about to refuse this, when he changed his mind.  I wondered what I would have been served (perhaps the same unlabelled wine for the special?).   No vintages are specified on the winelist, nor are the wine varietals or brands described.  The 15-page beverage list is Fleur du Cap-branded throughout, on every page, even though only two of their wines are offered out of the more than 100 wines on the winelist (and typed as “Fleur de Cap”!). 

The winelist is introduced with notes on “Matching wine with your food”, highlighting the essence of “paring” being “seeking to achieve a balance in your personal tastes”.   It indicates which wine types (e.g. “high acid wine”) go with which food types, and lists white wines with high acid as including Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, and sparkling wines; and red wines with high acid level Pinot Noir, Sangiovese and Gamay. The effect of adding salt to the taste of the wine was an eye-opener, in that it reduces the astringency of wines.   Riedel gets a half page punt and branding, and the benefits of decanting wine is highlighted (although not practised, in that it may have made the young Spier more palatable). 

Fifteen champagnes are offered, ranging from R1 000 for Laurent Perrier Brut Rose and Louis Roderer Brut, to R6000 for Dom Perignon Rose’.  One can order seven of these by the glass, starting at R 140 for the Moet et Chandon Brut Imperial to R 220 for Veuve Cliquot Vintage. Only five Methode Cap Classiques are offered, two Graham Beck and Pongracz each, and Boschendal, ranging from R180 – R320. The Graham Becks are served by the glass too.     A large selection of Chardonnays is offered, dominated by Hamilton Russell (R420), with Muratie Isabella at entry level (R175), and Sauvignon Blancs (between R180- R250).  Fewer red wine choices are offered by varietal – the Shiraz category costs from R200 – R280, but has the Spier at R130.  Four Organic wines (Avondale Chenin Blanc,  Reyneke Reserve white, Waverley Hills Cabernet Sauvignon and Stellar Merlot), and two Kosher wines made by Backsberg, are also available.

Bevan came to the table, to give us our Loyalty Card, and annoyed me when he told me that it is only for South Africans.  10 % of the value of one’s meal is added as points to one’s Loyalty Card ‘account’, redeemable at any time on presentation of the card.  This would bring value to dining at The Kove, but problems with the system in the past two years has made me sceptical about the accuracy of their record keeping, as they claim to have lost details of our guests having eaten there in the past, and therefore the redeemability of the points.

The Kove is one of the few places that has served a good steak in Camps Bay in the past, but the winter special does not reflect this quality.  It is expensive if one orders off the a la carte menu, and its “winter specials” are only specially priced relative to the normal high prices the Kovensky Quartet charges, and seem to be poorer quality cuts, with unacceptably poor quality wine, thus not making The Kove value for money.

The Kove, Shop 2A, The Promenade, Victoria Road, Camps Bay.  Tel (021) 438-0012.                  www.thekove.co.za (full menu and winelist featured).

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

Three new restaurants have opened in Camps Bay on trendy Victoria Road, opposite the beachfront, thereby bringing the number of restaurants in Camps Bay to close to 30.

The three new restaurants have just opened in the space of the erstwhile Caltex petrol station: The Kove, Bungalow and Gateway to India.

The Kove and Bungalow are owned by the same owner (Paul Kovensky) as Paranga in Camps Bay, just a hop away, and Pepenero in Mouille Point.  

The rather oddly-named The Kove is “a traditional grill house”, according to its advertorial in the Cape Times.   “Combining old-school classics with new-age cuisine, this beach grill offers upmarket dining for discerning patrons”, its PR blurb continues.   Its interior has a red and white rose and ivy design on the ceiling, intended to create an “Alice in Wonderland” effect.   It sports a sommelier and an “award-winning wine list”, the latter being a claim it cannot make as the restaurant only opened this month.

Bungalow is described as a “cutting-edge, contemporary cafe”, with “cutting-edge molecular gastronomy”, its advertorial claims.    Chef Gabriel le Roux has international experience, including at Michelin-star restaurants, and he creates unusual dishes with unique flavour combinations.  “LIme airs, citric atoms, foams and liquid nitrogen are all an integral part of his culinary creations.”

Christian Barnard, a partner with Kovensky in Paranga, does not seem to be involved in the new ventures at all.  

Gateway to India has opened its doors in the past two days, and is a sister restaurant to a same-name Indian restaurant in Umhlanga Rocks.    Its luxury chandeliers attract attention from the beachfront, but may be over the top for an Indian restaurant, and for a restaurant in general in the time of the global credit crunch.

The Grand Cafe in Camps Bay, a little further down on Victoria Road, is fully booked every night, even though it has only been open for two months.  On Monday night John Cleese was dining there, as well as a very very important VIP, who had 5 bodyguards protecting him and his fellow diners sitting outside on the terrace.    Staff were not allowed to reveal more than his first name “Paul”.