Tag Archives: Raith Gourmet

Restaurant Review: Little German left of German Club at Roodehek Restaurant!

I heard earlier this week that the German Club had been given a new lease on life, with a new owner of a renamed Roodehek Restaurant & Bar, and that the Austrian & Swiss Club were invited to join, to create a German-speaking ‘home’ for patrons enjoying German food. What I found was a German/Thai/South African restaurant mix, without focus, stuck in a time-rut.

The building dates back to 1679, having been the Roodehek Homestead, according to an illustration on the menu. The building is not the most attractive in Cape Town, and has no distinctive architectural style.  There is ample parking outside, and a German and South African flag welcome guests, with a Thai Tuk-Tuk parked outside.  I and a bar patron were the only guests in the building over lunch yesterday.  It was a picture perfect day, and Table Mountain formed a beautiful backdrop.  In the ‘Sixties, my Onkel Gustav, whom we visited on holidays at his Camps Bay home, used to bring us here, having been the German Club since 1930, for a second breakfast, after my aunt forced us all to have ‘Trennkost’ for breakfast.  It used to be a special outing then.  My visit yesterday made me remember those breakfasts, and in many respects the building and its interior seem to look exactly as I remember it from that time.   The central restaurant room is very dark, with the bar on one side, without any windows, and the terrace section bringing in some light.   The decoration is tasteless, with grass green walls on one side, contrasted with light green walls on the other side.  Orange overlays are on the white tablecloths, and the chairs have red or green Scottish check upholstery, a complete clash of colours. Paintings decorate the walls, and are for sale.  The most modern aspects of the restaurant were its aluminium sliding windows, and the TV set in the bar!  The crockery is plain white Continental china, the cutlery cheap, the salt and pepper pots are supermarket-quality, but there was a material serviette.  A glass jar of imported German mustard was brought to the table, not likely to be used for the Schnitzel which I had ordered!  The tablecloths were badly ironed.  The table was wobbly, and already had a piece of paper under one of the legs to try to stabilise it.

The owner is Martin Diebold, who took over the management of the restaurant in February.  He started the Rak-Sa Thai restaurant in Durbanville two years ago.  The menu is a strange mixture of German and Thai food (“multicultural cuisine”, says the menu), and the waitress Rowena explained that the owner has a Thai wife. A Thai chef makes the Thai food, and two local chefs make the German dishes. The most German aspect of the restaurant was the German folk music played, which were such classics that they may well have been played in the ‘Sixties too!  The waitress was not immediately to be seen, hidden in the bar area, and she greeted me with a menu, still chewing her lunch!  I asked her what she would recommend from the menu, and she told me that everything is good.

The restaurant and bar is fullest on Friday evenings, especially when the German soccer team plays a match, which is broadcast in the bar, I was told by Rowena.   The menu was a paper one, even though I saw a beautiful leather-cover one when Rowena showed me the dessert selection (oddly not on the paper menu), but two of the six dessert items were scratched out! Rowena explained that they do not show the formal menu, as many of the dishes on it are not available.  The menu offers ‘Today’s Special’ (different to what I saw on a Special’s Board as I came in), with a collection of German dishes (Leberkaese, Kaese-Spaetzle, Eisbeinsuelze, Schnitzel) and a mix of such non-German standards such as burgers and lasagnes, ranging from R38 – R75.  Soups cost about R38, and are Thai (Tom-Yum) or German (Goulash, Linsensuppe, Erbsensuppe).  Four German sausage styles are served with potato salad, at R38.  A 500g T-bone steak costs R99, and sirloin and rib-eye steak R95 each. Eisbein and Sauerkraut costs R89, Schnitzel R62, and Cordon Bleu R69, each of the main courses served with a choice of chips, Bratkartoffel, baked potato, or mash, as well as a side salad of tomato, cucumber, carrot and potato salad, included in the price.  The Thai specials cost between R65 – R95, and one can choose between stir-fried chicken, Thai Green curry with a choice of prawns, chicken, beef or vegetables, and two kingklip dishes, served in Thai sauces, one  chilli, the other a curry one.  The mash was lumpy, and the Schnitzel was a generous thin portion, severely beaten from what I heard from the restaurant. The carrot garnish was made by the Thai chef, Rowena told me.  The salad was freshly made, and the coleslaw excluded, at my request. All desserts cost a mere R28, and the Apfelstrudel served with fresh cream was excellent.  Other options are chocolate mousse, cheesecake, and ice cream with chocolate sauce.

The bill had a farewell greeting in German (‘Auf Wiedersehen’) and in Thai (‘Khob Khun Krap’).  I am not sure if there will be an Auf Wiedersehen, with such a poor old-fashioned interior, even if the food wasn’t bad (except for the lumpy mash).  As a German I cannot see how anyone will come to Roodehek Restaurant, other than to watch German TV, if they can have better quality food and service at Raith Gourmet close by, the mecca of German food in Cape Town, in a more modern environment.

Roodehek Restaurant & Bar, 6 Roodehek Terrace, off Hope Street, Gardens, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 461-8845.  www.roodehekrestaurant.co.za (The website promises that sushi is served, but none was on the menu yesterday.   It also presents a far more extensive menu than the one I was given.) Monday – Saturday, 9h00 until late.

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

Every Sunday is Oktoberfest at Allée Bleue Bavarian Food Festival!

On Sundays Franschhoek wine estate Allée Bleue pays tribute to its owners’ German roots, by hosting a Bavarian Food Festival.  Last Sunday I was invited by Allée Bleue GM Wolfgang Leyrer and PR consultants Ian and Lise Manley to taste the Bavarian delicacies with other bloggers and journalists, an Oktoberfest come early!

One drives towards the bottom end of the estate, past vineyards, oak trees, and the summer picnic area, to where the lunch buffet was set up in the Shiraz Room, which leads to two courtyards.  We were lucky to have excellent weather, and could enjoy the winter sun outside.  On a central table a selection of German cold meats (Aufschnitt) served as a starter,  served on a Bavarian blue and white check tablecloth, with Bierschinken, Cervelatwurst, tomato salad, coleslaw, a radish salad, a potato salad (Kartoffelsalat), gherkins, pickled onions, German sweet mustard, and French Dijon mustard.  A separate table with beautiful breads included Brezel, ryebread, Laugenstangen, Pumpernickel, and dark rolls.   

For the main course, the German staple food sausages, supplied by Raith Gourmet in Cape Town, are served: Weisswurst, Frankfurter, and Nürnberger Bratwurst.  In addition, there was Leberkäse (cooked in a bread pan, with a mix of beef, pork, bacon and onions), Wiener Schnitzel, pork neck roast, rösti and  Sauerkraut.   Not only are Allée Bleue wines for sale by the glass or bottle, but they also offer Paulaner Weissbier and Lager.   For dessert there was fruit salad and fresh cream, Apfelstrudel, pancakes with a rum and raisin sauce, as well as a board with South African cheeses, and an interesting looking Obatzda, a regional speciality I had not eaten previously, a mix of camembert, butter, cream cheese, onions, chives and beer!

German Stimmung was created by accordianist Stanislav Anguelov, and some recorded music.  The new hostess Christiane ensured that all guests were well looked after, and Food & Beverage Manager Desmond Spangenberg, the recipient of three Sweet Service Awards, and his team kept the tables filled with food.  For the children a jumping castle is great fun, and the grounds are safe for children to explore. 

Mr Leyrer showed us the impressive recently renovated Manor House.  An historic house dating back to 1689, it was painstakingly repaired and renovated by Gundel and Emile Sogor with guidance from the South African Heritage Resources Agency.  The interior was designed by the Sogors too, adding a unique mix of modern and historic Cape furniture, with massive armoires in the downstairs rooms.  The Manor House has two suites, a bar, reception rooms and a hi-tech kitchen, and can be used for wedding groups, or for corporate meetings and conferences. Each room and the passages have paintings as well as paint effects done by the Sogors. 

Ein Prosit, ein Prosit, der Gemütlichkeit!  That’s what we experienced at a lovely relaxed and friendly Bavarian Sunday lunch, taking me back to my Heimatland! 

Allée Bleue, R45, Franschhoek.  Tel (021) 874-1886. www.alleebleue.com (The website only has a short description of the Bavarian Food Festival).  Sunday lunch.  At Shiraz Room until September, and outside Kendal Cottage from October.  R145 per person.

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

Restaurant Review: Caffé Hausbrandt, Cape Town’s 4th best TripAdvisor restaurant!!!

When Cape Town was voted as the top city in the world in the Travelers’ Choice Destination Awards by TripAdvisor in April, we wrote about our scepticism about the value of the awards, given that this prestigious rank on TripAdvisor, with millions of reviewers the site brags, has not led to any increase in accommodation enquiries. 

We also wrote about the laughability of any TripAdvisor accolade, knowing how easy it is for accommodation establishments and restaurants to have reviews written by friends and family, a growing criticism that TripAdvisor has tried to address.  The height of absurdity was TripAdvisor’s list of Top 10 restaurants in Cape Town.  My eye caught the name of Caffé Hausbrandt, a restaurant which I had never heard of before, which was number 3 on the TripAdvisor list at that time, and which has now dropped to 4th position, in the Top 10 company of Le Colombe, Opal Lounge, Miller’s Thumb, San Marco in the Waterfront, Constantia Uitsig, Fork, Brio, Savoy Cabbage, and Carne, none of which have ever made the Eat Out  Top 10 Restaurant list, other than La Colombe!

A recent trip to the city centre was a good opportunity to try out this ‘top restaurant’, and I found Caffé Hausbrandt on Greenmarket Square, which opened nine months ago in a space where a competitive coffee shop to Vida e Caffé, owned by Ian Halfon, used to be.  My first impression was one of disbelief, in seeing an information bureau and ice cream/coffee shop rolled into one.  The entrance is dominated visually by the ‘Safari Information Centre’, which belongs to Searl Derman, the owner of Aquilla Game Reserve, sharing the space with Caffe Hausbrandt, but the latter’s branding is barely visible.  The interior looks reasonably smart, but an ice cream chest, a coffee making counter and cash register, a shelf of brochures for Safari, and an upstairs seating area are an odd mix.  Space is very limited inside, and that is why most customers would sit outside to enjoy the sun and the Greenmarket Square buzz.  It is not without its irritation however, with street musicians and pushy salespersons trying to flog their CD’s and other wares. 

The Manager of the outlet is Margot, and I could hear her German accent immediately.  She seemed very defensive, almost irritated, and less than friendly.   Her waiter seemed to have a greater role in attracting tourists into the shop than waitering, proactively enticing them in to try the ice cream, irritating as he was very loud and pushy.  He also was the ice cream dispenser with an attitude, and it was clear that he did not have much knowledge about the ingredients of the ice cream, only reading the labels that the customer can also see!  Margot proudly told me that she had made the Apfelstrudel herself.  When I switched to German, she seemed more friendly, and more ready to answer questions.  Odd was that the cake was served with a standard size knife and fork.

Tables are white with red chairs outside, and an all-weather couch as well.  Each table has a simple Hausbrandt menu and an Aquilla brochure in a holder.  This is clearly a coffee shop aimed at attracting tourists, with the hope that they will make use of the Safari information and booking service too.  The South African Caffe Hausbrandt branches are on Greenmarket Square, on the pedestrian mall on Waterkant Street, and in Melrose Arch in Johannesburg, and are owned by Austrian Gert Uppinger and local Jaco Viljoen. 

The menu is simple – a selection of coffees, muffins (R14,50), croissants (R11,50), chocolate croissants (R14,50), Manner Schnitten (Austrian wafers at R15), waffle and ice cream (R28), and a few cakes served with cream (R25).   Cappuccino costs R16,50, and was served on a smart silver tray, oddly with a small glass of luke-warm water.   The ice creams take center stage, it appears, and seem to be the only reason why customers enter the shop, the Icezeit Gelato flavours changing weekly.   A small cup of ice cream costs R15, and R18 on a cone.  It was delicious, very thick and creamy, and is made at the Waterkant Street location, I was told, surprising given how small it is, really just being a take-away outlet with a few chairs outside, and even smaller than the Greenmarket Square branch. 

Hausbrandt is an Italian brand of coffee established by Austrian Hermann Hausbrandt in Trieste in 1892 it would appear (the website is not very helpful in providing information), and has branches and sells its coffees around the world.  In Cape Town Lufthansa’s call centre now has a Hausbrandt vending machine, and the brand is served at Raith Gourmet shop in Garden Centre (plus its new Constantia shop), and at Andiamo in the Cape Quarter. On TripAdvisor, 14 reviews had earned the Greenmarket Square coffee shop 4th place on TripAdvisor, many reviews being in German, and almost all praised Caffé Hausbrandt for its excellent ice cream!   Most of the reviewers were from overseas, and not locals.

Caffé Hausbrandt, Greenmarket Square and 32 Waterkant Street, Cape Town, and Melrose Arch in Johannesburg.  Tel (021) 422-3308/(021) 421-0901.  www.hausbrandt.co.za.  Twitter: @Hausbrandt1892.   There is no information about the Icezeit Gelato on the local Hausbrandt website.

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

Restaurant Review: Cassis Paris Salon de Thé très délicieux

I have been to Cassis Paris in the Gardens Centre many times, and often had a sit-down quiche at the tables and chairs just outside the shop there.   The sit-down service there has been disappointing, not matching the wonderful products they serve in their Patisserie and Boulangerie.  The owner Patrick Moreau now owns three Cassis Paris outlets, and has just added a good Salon de Thé to his Newlands branch, bringing Paris to Newlands, and matching the quality of his wonderful breads and pastries, with some service deficiencies.

Moreau was born in Brittany, but grew up in Paris.  He met his South African wife on a cruise ship, where both were working, and they worked in Bangkok before Moreau had the yearning to start his own business.  A holiday back ‘home’ in South Africa in 2007 led him to identify a gap in the market for an upmarket French-style patisserie and boulangerie.  He opened in the Gardens Centre, well located next door to Raith Gourmet, three years ago, and in Newlands eighteen months ago.  The Salon and the outlet in Constantia Village were opened in December.  His products inside the display cabinets at the 15 on Orange hotel have been removed.  The business is so successful that Moreau is at his Montague Gardens factory, overseeing the production of the pastries and breads, during the week.  Over weekends he circulates between his outlets.   He told me that Somerset West and Mouille Point are on his wishlist for future outlets.

I was impressed to see Patrick hands-on behind the counter of his Newlands branch, in which the patisserie counter was filled with the most beautiful selection of pastries.   A smaller counter deeper in the shop sells a selection of breads, croissants and brioche.

The Salon de Thé is a smallish space, with white tables and chairs set inside as well as outside, with branded Cassis Paris umbrellas protecting the outside tables against the heat.  My table was wobbly, but the waiter quickly fixed this problem. The colour scheme at Cassis Paris is a most definite purple, and the bench attached to the wall inside the restaurant is purple.  Cutlery is by Fortis, and is obviously shiny new, offered with a purple paper serviette. The menu cover is purple, as is the apron the staff wear over a black shirt and black pants.  The menu is extensive, and is neatly presented in plastic sleeves.   It focuses on the products which Cassis makes, presented in the French style.   French style chanson music was switched on after about an hour of my arrival, and was well matched to the theme.

I love that the Salon serves an all day breakfast, even if their breakfast dishes differ from our usual South African taste.   I had the Cocotte Cassis, served as a one-pot (in a purple Le Creuset mini-pot) breakfast with potato croquettes, tomato, eggs and bacon (R38), served with toast.  It consisted mostly of potato.  Other Light Meals are muesli, yoghurt and fruit (R35); the Le Classique two-egg and bacon breakfasts costs R30; Pain Perdu (French Toast) costs R 22; a Cocotte Paris consists of crème fraîche, camembert, Toulouse sausage, bacon, spinach, onions, croûtons and egg (R45).   The La Complète is a savoury pancake containing Gypsey ham and egg, and costs R40; salads range in price from R 32 – R50; lovely quiches  (spinach and feta, and ham and cheese) cost R26; a Provençale tart costs R28, and sandwiches R25 – R33.  The Viennoisseries section lists about fifteen pastries which are available from the patisserie.  Brioche, croissants, pain au chocolate and apple turnovers can also be ordered.   A full page of the menu is dedicated to twenty-five “Sweets”, including chocolate eclairs (R16) and their popular Concerto (chocolate mousse and chocolate biscuit) costing R26.   My dessert choice was a Tiramisu (R28), served in a plastic cup that looked shabby in that it had a crack in it.  Its content was excellent however, drier than we are used to locally, with not much creaminess.  Imported French teas Mariage Frères are available at R24.   If one would like wine with one’s meal, one can buy it next door at Wine Concepts.

Initially the waiter serving me was attentive, and fetched and carried what I requested, but once I had finished eating, he left me stranded, and I had to ask another waitress to bring a dessert and Illy cappuccino (R14).   Moreau’s wife came to take over the service, and apologised, explaining that my waiter had to take over the coffee-making as the person designated to do this had to have a lunch break!   If one takes any pastries away, they are neatly packed in a purple Cassis Paris box, with branding in gold and a golden board on which the pastry is presented.  The bill says thank you in English and French.

Cassis Paris has a fantastic opportunity to win business from the nearby Melissa’s, which is attracting greater dissatisfaction from its long-standing customers.  However, it needs to improve its service, as this is Melissa’s weakness too.   There is only a service door connecting the shop and the Salon, which could mean that Cassis Paris staff may neglect the clients in the sitdown Salon de Thé.  I walked past Melissa’s to get to my car, and Melissa’s was half full, showing that it had lost some custom to Cassis on that day.  Moreau will have to check on his branches – I was in the Constantia branch yesterday, and was served by a chewing gum chewing staff member, an absolute no-no in the hospitality industry.  Cassis Paris has an opportunity to serve teas and coffees from its Constantia branch on a reduced scale, served with its great pastries, given the poor coffees served by the close-by The Village Beanery.

POSTSCRIPT 3/6/12: Cassis Salon de thé has just opened in Gardens’ Centre, with a superb menu and excellent service.  It is located on the upstairs level, and not next to its shop.  The Vol au vent is excellent value at R48.  All pastries stocked in the shop can be ordered to eat or take-away at the restaurant, but at a surcharge. Opening hours are Monday – Friday 7h30 – 19h00; Saturday 7h30 – 17h30; Sunday 7h30 – 14h30.

Cassis Paris Salon de Thé,  Newlands Village, corner Kildare and Main Road, Newlands.  Tel (021) 671-1305.  French Oven Head Office Tel (021) 552-1305.  www.cassis.co.za. (The website contains a listing of every product sold in the stores, with a description and a good quality photograph of each.  The website does not list the new Constantia store, nor the Salon de Thé).   Monday – Friday 8h00 – 18h00, Saturday 8h00 – 16h00, Sunday 8h00 – 14h00.

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