Tag Archives: Restaurant news

Cape Town and Winelands Restaurant trade slows down at start of winter, yet exciting restaurant news lying ahead!

Winter is on our doorstep, the start of a long difficult trading period for our restaurants, with little news usually of restaurant developments. But not so this year!

The most exciting news of the year is the planned opening in November of the next level restaurant of former Gåte Chefs Rikku O’Donnchü and Warwick King in Cape Town. They are already enticing diners with their SŸN pop-ups. Details below. 

Chef Jan-Hendrik van der Westhuizen has announced the opening of a new KLEINJAN restaurant in the Tswalu Kalahari next year and a JAN Innovation Studio in Cape Town. The Grande Roche is being redone, with new owners, a new restaurant Viande, a new Chef Patron, and a new cocktail bar. Details are below. 

Gigi’s Restaurant has opened in The Gorgeous George Hotel in Cape Town, with Chef Guy Bennet at the helm. 

Restaurant openings

#   Chefs Rikku O’Donnchü and Warwick King have left Gåte Restaurant at Quoin Rock wine estate, creating the SŸN Group, and are to open a new restaurant in the Cape Town city centre in November. 

Rockstar chef team leaves Gåte Restaurant at Quoin Rock wine estate, set to open new doors in Cape Town!

#  Bones Kitchen & Bar has opened in the Palms Design Centre in Woodstock. It is owned and owner-managed by well-seasoned restaurateur Rudi Minnaar.

#  Stargarden Boutique Café has opened in Fish Hoek. 

#. Michael Townsend, founder of the Harbour House Group but no longer with the Group, has opened Cowboys & Cooks Steakhouse & Bar in Sunset Beach. He has also bought Sevruga in the Waterfront. A third restaurant, in Sea Point will open in September 2019. All three restaurants are/will be operated by Cowboys & Cooks CEO Stuart Bailey.

New Cowboys and Cooks restaurant operations and consultancy group starting to cook up a storm!

#  The new Cowboys & Cooks restaurant group is to open a Cowboys and Cooks restaurant in Stellenbosch; The Backyard BBQ in various locations; Cabron Tex Mex restaurants in Durbanville and Stellenbosch, alongside the Bree Street Branch; and Viva Tex Mex in Kenilworth. It has taken over Slug & Lettuce, a Gastropub franchise with six branches, for which a new look and menu will be developed, starting off in Durbanville. 

#  Chef Jenny Morris has opened Yumcious Durbanville.

#  The Skotnes Restaurant has opened at the Norval Foundation, with Executive Chef Phil de Villiers, previously of Primal Eatery. 

#  Paris Café has opened in Green Point.

#  The La Colombe Group has taken over the bar and restaurant at Le Quartier Français in Franschhoek, called Protégé. Stephen Raaff is the Head Chef.

#  Back’s Bar has opened on Main Road in Paarl, where Juno used to be. 

#   Chef Reuben Riffel has opened Reuben’s at The Capital Moloko in Johannesburg, his first Gauteng restaurant. 

#   A new breakfast and lunch eatery Reuben’s & Co Café has opened at Val de Vie, in conjunction with Chefs Reuben Riffel and Richard Carstens. 

Reuben’s & Co Café far more than a Café, the Val De Vie resident dining room!

#  Chef Jarryd has opened So Cal (for South California), a Bar above Charango on Bree Street. 

#  VIXI Social House has opened on the corner of Strand and Bree Street. 

#   Chef Bertus Basson has expanded his restaurant empire, opening Eike by bertusbasson as his  fifth in Stellenbosch. 

#  Bao Down Restaurant has opened in Oranjezicht. 

#   Upper Bloem has opened on Main Road in Green Point, where Maggie’s Café used to be, a joint venture between Chefs Henry Vigar and Andre Hill of La Mouette. 

#    TOSSD Salad Bar has opened on Sloane Square in Gardens, Cape Town. 

#   Chef George Jardine has opened Restaurant Seven with George Jardine in Somerset West.

#   Safari #7 Somali take-away restaurant has opened on Long Street. 

#   No 89 has opened on Bree Street.

#   Sans Ethical Green Grocer Deli has opened in the Artem Centre in Sea Point. 

#   Pauline’s Stand Up Coffee Bar has opened in the Artem Centre in Sea Point. 

#   Victoire Boulangerie, Pâtisserie, and Bistro has opened in Speakers Corner on Church Square, a joint venture between Chef William Galzin of Montpellier and Drikus Hancke of Cape Town, a former Melissa’s franchisee. 

#   Chefs Luke Dale-Roberts and Ryan Cole have opened Salsify @ The Roundhouse in Camps Bay.

#   Crayfish Wharf has opened in Paternoster.

#  Grande Provence in Franschhoek has opened The Bistro as an extension to its Tasting Room.

#   Garden’s Club has opened where Chalk & Cork used to operate on Kloof Street. 

#   The Santé Wellness Retreat & Spa restaurant has opened in Klapmuts, with Executive Chef Terrence Ford. 

#  Osetra has opened in Kalk Bay.

#   The Commissary has opened next door to The Shortmarket Club, with Chef Wesley Randles and Simon Widdison, under the mentorship of Chef Luke Dale-Roberts. It is a no-reservation, back to basics offering. 

#  Seattle Coffee Company has taken over the coffee shop at Exclusive Books in the V&A Waterfront. 

#  Chef Seelan Sundoo has opened Chicha in Sea Point. 

#   The Harbour House Group has bought Mondiall in the V&A Waterfront, and has turned it into a La Parada. 

#  Chef Peter Tempelhoff has opened FYN Restaurant and bar in Speaker’s Corner on Church Square. Jennifer Hugé is the new GM, and Ashley Moss is the Chef, moving across from the Greenhouse. 

FYN Restaurant legal settlement win-win for Chef Peter Tempelhoff and WhaleTales Blog!

#   Bobo’s Brasserie has opened in Mouille Point, where Pepenero used to be. 

#  Roca Café has opened where Melissa’s used to be in Franschhoek, open from midday to 21h00, and serving Tapas. 

#   Chef Chris Erasmus is said to be opening a restaurant at Haut Espoir, with Chef Nick Oosthuizen in the kitchen.

#  Riverine Rabbit has opened where ASH used to operate, by Chef Ash Heeger. 

#  Chef Ciska Rossouw has opened Loaves in Salt River, no longer operating Loaves on Long. 

#   BOCCA has re-opened on Bree Street, with new owners Guido Brambilla and Adnana Blaj

#   Haus & Laib Deli has opened in the former Eurohaus space on Loop Street. 

#  Chef Matt Manning has opened Grub & Vine Restaurant on Bree Street.

#   Anni’s Gourmet Pancakes & Belgian Waffles has opened in Franschhoek.

#   Vadas Smokehouse and Bakery has opened at Spier, taking the place of Hoghouse, which Chef PJ Vadas no longer appears to be associated with. 

#   Syrup Breakfast is opening on Bree Street.

#  The Creamery is to open a branch in Durbanville Village Square. 

#  Macau has opened in the former Savoy Cabbage space. 

#   The Hungry Monk has closed in Greyton and moved to Paternoster. In its place, a Portuguese/Mozambiquen restaurant will open in Greyton. 

#  Bush Café has opened as a safari-style restaurant in Gardens 

#  Charlie Bistro & Bar has opened in Gardens. 

#   Myog frozen yoghurt has opened as a pop-up in Camps Bay.

#  Chef Liam Tomlin has opened Brugarol in Barcelona, with Chef Angelo Duarte Scirocco in the Kitchen. 

#  The Harbour House Group has bought The Lookout Deck and Equinox in Plettenberg Bay. 

#  51 has opened in McGregor.

#  GiGi Restaurant under the helm of Chef Guy Bennett has opened in the Gorgeous George Hotel in the Cape Town city centre. .

#   Wingerd Vista has opened in the space of Dirtopia Restaurant on Delvera Estate outside Stellenbosch, a joint venture of Janine van Zyl of Cold Gold and Vanessa of Die 

#   The Dark Horse Rooftop Bar has opened in Kloof Street. 

#  Bootlegger Café & Grill in Constantia has changed its name to Botanicum Café & Grill, now 50% owned by Bootlegger and 50% by Mark Botes. It opened in March. The website is not yet operational.

#  Jewells is opening at Spice Route, with Neil and Tina Jewell. 

#   Marilyn’s is to open next door to Café Roca Speakeasy in Franschhoek in May, as a champagne and oyster bar, and Sushi restaurant. 

#  The Fat Man Restaurant has opened in Old Road Wine, in Franschhoek. 

#  The Grande Roche Hotel in Paarl has new owners, will expand the size of the former Bosman’s restaurant, will rename the restaurant to Viande, with Chef Patron Pete Goffe-Wood at the helm. 

Grande Roche Hotel wakes up from a long sleep, revitalizes with new owners and consultant chef!

#   Chef Jan-Hendrik van der Westhuizen is to open KLEIN JAN in Tswalu Kalahari, as well as a JAN Food Innovation studio in Cape Town. 

Michelin-star JAN restaurant gets a younger brother, KLEIN JAN to open at Tswalu Kalahari; to open JAN Innovation Studio in Cape Town!

Restaurant closures

#. The Ritz is closed, and with it its Top of The Ritz and CASA restaurants. 

#   Olami on Bree Street has closed down. 

#  The Restaurant at The Nek, with Chef Duncan Laity, has closed, six weeks after opening. No ‘Manley Magic’ could make this restaurant work. 

#  Beleef in Franschhoek has closed down. 

#  Bertus Basson @ Spice Route has closed down outside Paarl. 

#   Primal Eatery has closed down. 

#  The Melting Pot has opened as a pop-up where Marrow used to be on Loop Street. 

#   Thai World has closed down in Harfield Village. 

#   Open Kitchen has closed in McGregor. 

#   The Mess has closed down in The Rockwell. 

#   Delmar has closed down in Camps Bay. 

Chef changes 

#   Chef Evan Coosner has left Open Door/Bocca/Burrata, and is now a consultant chef.

#   Chef Archie MacLean has left Catharina’s and moved to Coco Safar. He has since left Coco Safar, and is said to have joined Café Bon Bon in Franschhoek. 

#   Chef Guy Clark has left Tintswalo, now consulting. 

#   Carmen Rueda is the new Pastry Chef of Coco Safar, formerly from El Bulli and The Fat Duck.

#   Chef Richard Carstens has left Tokara Restaurant, and now is part of a restaurant consultancy with Chef Reuben Riffel, called Riffel Carstens.

#   Carolize Coetzee has been appointed as Executive Chef at Tokara, moving from Dornier wine estate.

#  Christian Hellinger is the new Chef at Holden Manz

#  Chef Sebastian Smith from Nom Nom/Benguela on Main has moved to Pierneef à La Motte. 

#  Chef Matthew Ambruster is the new Head Chef at Hartford House. Former Head Chef Chris Papyannis is to open his own restaurant in Mooi River.

#  Chef Guy Bennet has left Grande Provence and has moved to Gorgeous George Hotel.

#  Nicole Killian is the new Head Chef at Gåte Restaurant at Quoin Rock. 

#   Chef Marvin Robyn is now heading up the kitchen at Grande Provence in Franschhoek. 

#   Chef Peter Tempelhoff is the new Consultant Chef to Ellerman House. 

Chef Peter Tempelhoff marriage to Ellerman House two months after divorce from The Liz McGrath Collection!

#  Chef Peter Tempelhoff has left Greenhouse and the Liz McGrath Collection, to concentrate on his  FYN Restaurant., 

Chef Peter Tempelhoff leaves Greenhouse and The Liz McGrath Collection quietly!

Restaurant changes

#. Culture Club Cheese has changed into Vredehoek Slow Food Club.

Please share news about restaurant openings and closures with me at chrisvonulmenstein@gmail.com

Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein

Celebration: Reaching the milestone of 1000 blogposts!

Today we have reached an exciting milestone on our Whale Cottage Blog, in that this is our 1000th blogpost.  We thank our readers for their support in reading our blog, and for providing feedback, to help us improve as we developed over the almost three years. In numerology, 1000 symbolises multitude and perfection, we have learnt from Google, and we dedicate our next 1000 blogposts to be worthy of this definition.

Highlights have been making the Top 10 on the Most Controversial Blog category of the 2010 SA Blog Awards, achieving a cumulative unique readership of just under half a million in the last 16 months (about 30000 per month on average), and setting up the Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club last year.

So what have we learnt about blogging and our blog in the close to three years:

*   Restaurant news in general, and reviews and special offers specifically have attracted the greatest interest on this blog.   Our most widely read restaurant reviews, since we went onto Google Analytics 16 months ago, are for Tokara DeliCATessen, Sotana by Caveau, Gaaitjie, Pierneef à La Motte, and Duchess on Wisbeach.  It was the enjoyment of writing the review of Portofino restaurant, owned by Cormac Keane, that got us started with reviews, and we have written more than 100 reviews since then.  We have seen negative reaction to some of these, and have been banned from the Caveau group of restaurants (including Sotano), the Caviar group of restaurants (Beluga and Sevruga), Opal Lounge, and Café des Arts as a result.  Restaurants generally are poor at Social Media, and only a handful blog and/or are on Twitter.  This means that a restaurant’s information most often is provided by a blog rather than by the restaurant’s own website, which can be to its advantage or diadvantage, depending on the reviews that are listed on the first page of Google.  Other highly read blogposts are the Winter and Summer Restaurant Specials lists, the Table Mountain vote for the New7Wonders of the World, Prince Albert and Charlene Wittstock’s visit to Fresnaye in January 2009, and the Disney service training programme instituted just days before the World Cup. 

*   Tourism topics have also attracted attention, probably because there are far fewer writers on this topic.

*    Word spreads quickly if a blogpost is controversial, and brings in new readers to the blog.  Despite all allegations to the contrary, we have never written a blogpost to be controversial.  It is the reaction to it by our readers that causes the controversy. 

*   Comments have become harder to manage, and increasingly cowardly commenters write anonymously to slate the writer of the blog or the subject of a blogpost.  If one deletes such comments, one is criticised; if one publishes them, one is equally criticised!

*   While blog readers enjoy honesty, and probably read this blog for it, those that are on the receiving end of it plus their friends do react with venom, rather than using the feedback to improve their service and quality. The nastiness in ‘unSocial Media’, our new name for it, has been shocking, especially in a campaign by David Cope on Twitter, where anything goes!

*   Blogging has become very competitive, as bloggers chase readership, and want to be the first to review a new restaurant.  Achieving a first page Google listing for a restaurant, for example, can attract readership over time to the blog by new users when they Google the name of a restaurant.    

*   Readership is disappointingly low on public holidays and weekends.  Saturdays have the lowest blog reading numbers, dropping by up to half of weekday readership. Our highest readership of this blog was on 16 June 2010, during last year’s World Cup, when a tag for ‘2010’ was widely linked to this blog, attracting 9000 page views on that day alone. 

*   Although most readers are unknown to the writer, one carries a huge responsibility in shaping people’s opinions through what one writes.   We try our best to remain objective in presenting information at all times.  We have been blamed for wishing to destroy restaurants and new initiatives, yet supply news about restaurant openings and specials all the time.  Attempts were made last year by Michael Olivier (Editor of Crush!), David Cope (The Foodie Blogger) and Skye Grove (Cape Town Tourism PR Manager) to have this blog closed down.  We moved our blog hosting to America, to prevent this. 

*   Information as well as images are most likely to bring traffic via Google to the website, followed by Twitter.   Facebook is far less likely to draw traffic.

*   The weekly Sweet & Sour Service are enjoyed by readers, and many readers read the blog on a Friday, to check who has received the Sour Award, and then catch up in reading the blogposts of the pevious week.  The Spar Sweet/Limelight Sour Service Awards attracted an unusually high readership, and still do.

Looking forward, we plan to continue being honest, no matter what the cost.  We will endeavour to remain relevant, and to remain heard in the increasing Social Media ‘noise’, as more and more blogs are started, and existing ones reinvent themselves.   We will try to write shorter blogposts!   We will continue helping others to become better bloggers, and will endeavour to never stop learning from others too.

Thank you 1000 times for your readership and support!

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

Restaurant News: Chef Reuben Riffel cooks up a Cape Town storm in the USA!

Chef Reuben Riffel’s connection with the One&Only Cape Town is putting him, and Cape Town with it, on the world map, and he recently returned from a whirlwind tour of New York, with the compliments of SAA and the One&Only Hotel group. 

He stepped off the aircraft with his Reuben’s Franschhoek chef William Carolissen, and was whisked off to the studios of the Martha Stewart Show  immediately.  Despite her poor performance at the Design Indaba a year ago, Stewart remains an icon of American domesticity, and her show is watched by an audience of about 80000.  Chef Reuben had to prepare South African dishes in front of the camera and studio audience, and had pre-organised which ingredients he would require for it.  He had a time limit of 4 minutes to create Cape Malay pickled fish, and a grilled peri peri beef salad.  The Reuben’s slot ran for 15 minutes and had shots of the One&Only Cape Town too, with Stewart endorsing the hotel by stating that it is her favourite resort in South Africa.  The show will be broadcast on 9 March. 

He was also invited to appear on NBC’s Today Show, with a viewership of 3,3 million on the day of broadcast. Chef Reuben cooked with Today Show personalities Al Roker and Natalie Moralis, and here too he had to prepare two dishes (crisp prawn dumplings with rooibos tea salt, and pan roasted red snapper prepared in a West Coast basting sauce of apricot jam, garlic and soya, served with a salsa of tomato, cucumber, chilli and cilantro) in front of the audience.  

Reuben is no stranger to cooking in front of a camera, making more and more TV appearances, on Pasella in particular, so this stood him in good stead to do our city and country proud.  Chef Reuben said the American TV staff are well organised.   Chef Reuben also prepared food for an One&Only Hotel event for travel agents and tour operators, as well as one for the media (journalists represented the New York Times Style Magazine, Travel+Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, New York Post and Travel Africa.)    

Meeting Chef Reuben and his wife Maryke at Reuben’s at the One & Only Cape Town last week was an opportunity to catch up, and to check whether he is still connected to his restaurant in Cape Town, given my observations after my last visit.  He laughed when we chatted about how incorrect deductions can be made from bits of staff information one receives, and it showed him how important it is for him to communicate with all levels of staff.  Talking of staff, a number of changes have taken place since Reuben’s opened in Cape Town in October:   The Manager Samantha Housden has left, after only a short stint, and has been replaced by Kagiso Mmebe.  In the kitchen Maritz Jacobs has been joined by Aviv Liebenberg, previously at Reuben’s Robertson, and Chef Reuben is encouraging them to visit the Old Biscuit Mill market on Saturdays, so that they can stay in touch with interesting food suppliers, and they come back with fresh products for a new special “Market Day” menu on Saturdays. Reuben’s staff will ‘cross-pollinate’ between Cape Town and Franschhoek, so that they get to experience the other branch.   Camil Haas, who was meant to shadow Chef Reuben in Franschhoek and Cape Town, will be more behind the scenes now, and will manage Chef Reuben’s appearances, and the requirements linked to these, as well as the preparation for outside events. 

Chef Reuben explained why the current menu does not have the chefs’ names on it, and why the Reuben’s branding is so low key, in that the hotel had printed it at a time when the regular Reuben’s printer was closed over the festive season.  The new menu to be launched on 16 February will go back to its “Reuben’s” look, and its content will have a stronger Cape Town focus, with a new dessert for example called ‘Taste of Cape Town’, with small tastes of Hertzoggies, date slices, melktert, rooibos tea ice cream and a coconut koeksister.   In Franschhoek a menu change can be expected at the end of the month, but will have a different focus to the Cape Town one.   A Sunday buffet lunch will be introduced in Cape Town on 27 February, costing R 195.  The Reuben’s Cape Town menu indicates which dishes contain alcohol (for Sol Kerzner, who does not drink alcohol, and for Muslim guests), shellfish, nuts, and pork.

We spoke about the winelist, which I see as overpowering, and not really suiting a Bistro-style restaurant.  Chef Reuben said that Singita is buying up a portion of the wine collection, and he said that they may develop a reduced winelist for Reuben’s.  The One&Only Hotel has influenced the operation of Reuben’s in Cape Town, and has meant more paperwork and adherence to systems, but there are benefits too, such as the international marketing that the hotel group does.  Chef Reuben emphasised that Kerzner does not interfere with his operation of the restaurant. In fact, there is a good relationship between the hotel and the restaurant management, and they meet regularly to address common issues.  Reuben is featured in the international One&Only Hotel newsletter, which was sent out earlier this week.

The decor is evolving, and new multi-coloured glass menu boards have been erected on the columns of the restaurant, to advertise specials.  When I visited last week, a West Coast seafood special was advertised, consisting of a number of dishes.  The boards help the Cape Town branch make spontaneous additions to the menu, without having to reprint it, a greater logistical challenge here than in Franschhoek, Chef Reuben explained. 

A new cookbook is in the pipeline, and will focus on seasons.   It will allow Chef Reuben to continue with the format of his first recipe book, and to reminisce about his childhood in Franschhoek, and his mother’s influence on his cooking.   Richard Carstens is highly praised by Chef Reuben, and he says that Richard “is one of the best” and that “no one can touch him”.

Chef Reuben says there are definitely no further restaurant openings on his agenda, and he is learning to delegate more, to enjoy a more balanced personal and business life.  I left him and Maryke with the feeling that they will make the best of their new relationship with the One&Only Hotel, and that there will be no repeat of Gordon Ramsay’s distant relationship with the ex-maze, the previous restaurant at the One&Only Cape Town, and the resultant demise.

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

Restaurant News: Warwick launches new improved summer picnics

Yesterday Warwick wine estate launched its new Summer picnics, with a number of changes relative to last year.  Earlier this week I was invited to a sneak preview of the changes, and was one of a panel of volunteer blogger tasters (with Nikki Dumas, Lesley Cox, Anel Grobler, Polly Howard, Cathy Marston, Maggie Mostert and Hennie Coetzee) to give feedback about the new picnic.   I was critical of the picnic  on a first visit last year, and was happy to see a number of improvements on my latest visit.

So what has changed?:

1.   There is a new chef in the house!   Mark Springhorn has left Vergelegen in Somerset West, to join Mike Ratcliffe and the Warwick team.  Given that Chef Bruce Robertson, who designed the original gourmet picnic for Warwick, is on tour so frequently, he no longer is the consultant chef.  Chef Mark has built on Bruce’s quirkiness, and added more of a “Spring-feeling” to the picnic.

The quirky picnic “basket”, consisting of a cutting board, a table cloth, a box with the food items, a baguette and the Warwick newspaper, cleverly held together with a handle so that one can carry everything, remains as is.  The packaging containing the food is recyclable.  The bread is certainly better than I remember it, and comes from Sweet in Stellenbosch.  Inside the box is the following:

   *      Duo of cheeses: Simonsberg camembert and 12 month matured cheddar

   *      Charcuterie selection, including salami and coppa ham

   *      Chickpea fritters served with home-made tzatziki – this was the only dish that did not excite me

   *      Home-made rooibos and oak smoked Chilean salmon served with a buttermilk-dill dressing – oh boy, I have never seen such good looking deep-orange salmon cubes (looking like pumpkin), and with the most wonderful smoked taste – the absolute highlight of the picnic.

*        Biltong, mushroom and brandy pate – more brandy and mushroom can now be tasted in this foundation element of the picnic

*        Homemade apple, pear and pecan chutney

*        Tricolour tower of basil pesto, sun dried tomato puree and hummus

*        Honey cashew chicken salad with herb mayonnaise and orange slices – the oranges were a nice colour and taste touch

*        Decadent chocolate brownies topped with white chocolate ganache and onto which was sprinkled cranberries and pistachios, incredibly rich, and looking like an early mini-Christmas cake.

*        A box of Maynards wine gums.

The tasting panel ummmed and ahhhhed, enjoying all the elements.  Chef Mark plans to change an item on the picnic menu every week, testing the customer response and reacting to it as the season goes along.  When one books, special dietary requests will be ascertained.  Vegetarian and kiddies picnic baskets are available too.

2.  The price has stayed the same, costing R 299 for a basket enough for 2 persons.   (One can order an extra baguette)

3.    To address the congestion in collecting the picnic baskets inside the wine tasting building, a new outdoor picnic collection area has been created, which will also be where Jack Black beer can be bought on tap.

4.   To address the issue of staff not checking on guests’ drinks’ requirements well enough in the past, a trolley with “flat tackies” and a bell will be wheeled around the vast Warwick picnic area, containing ice cream, Jack Black beer and Warwick wines. 

5.  “Picnic pods” have been built around the dam, shielded from the South Easter, with tables that have built-in ice buckets to keep the Warwick wines chilled.   They differ in size, and can be booked to accommodate groups of picnickers.

6.   The Warwick vineyards are hidden from the picnic area, but can be seen on a Big Five Safari (showing the five vine types grown on the wine estate).  Grapes have now been planted close to the picnic area, and also at the entrance to Warwick.

7.  A suggestion for Warwick to have a presence on Twitter, in addition to that of Mike Ratcliffe, was implemented the following day (@Warwickchef), demonstrating how responsive Mike and his team are in accepting feedback.

A picnic at Warwick on a gorgeous Winelands summer’s day is an enjoyable family outing, with good food and wine, and lots of safe space for the kids to play on the jungle gym, in the little shallow stream, and to just run around.

POSTSCRIPT 20/5: For winter Warwick has introduced a good value Tapas menu, and I popped in for lunch to try it on my way to Franschhoek today.  There was very little happening there, and therefore it was a surprise to not see anyone in the Tasting Room nor in the next door restaurant/shop/picnic counter.  I called, but no one responded.  Luckily the waitress Vanessa came back inside, and showed me to a table outside – it was such a lovely warm day.  A material serviette and excellent quality St James cutlery is brought to the table, and the lack of a tablecloth is a disappointment therefore.  She brought a blackboard with the Tapas menu to my table, and the handwriting on it did not reflect the stature of this wine estate.  Chef Mark Springhorn was on leave and owner Mike Ratcliffe is travelling overseas, so it was disappointing for me.  I chose the Mixed cold plate (R35), which was only ‘mixed’ because it contained two slices each of cold meat (coppa and salami), two blocks of cheese and a sundried tomato relish.  It was served with a basket of ciabatta bread, which was wonderful.  Other Tapas options are:  cheese soufflé, smoked camembert and chef’s soup, each costing R25; sole paupiettes, and chef’s salad, all costing R35; Venison samoosas and denningvleis each cost R 45.  Sweet treats cost R25, for Persian love cake, and Brownies.  Children are also catered for, with salami pizza, a cupcake that the children can make themselves, and ice cream, at R25 each.  I enjoyed the LavAzza cappuccino.   One can still enjoy picnics at Warwick, but must pre-book them in winter.

Warwick wine estate, R44, between Klapmuts and Stellenbosch.  Tel (021) 884-3144 Twitter: @WarwickChef   www.warwickwine.co.za  On the Stellenbosch Restaurant Route.

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

Restaurant News: Le Quartier Français closes iCi, opens The Common Room

Le Quartier Français has closed its Bistro iCi, which it opened six years ago, and has turned the informal dining room into a new one, called The Common Room, opening four days ago.  The new no-reservations restaurant is a relaxed and informal one, and will serve tapas-style food, described as “food to share”.

“The Common Room, the latest addition to the exceptional Le Quartier Français culinary experience, offers diners a menu packed full of lip smacking delights designed by Margot Janse to serve as snacks or the building blocks of a more substantial meal. Margot, in creating this new experience says “Food is constantly evolving and changing and people enjoy food at different times.  We have created a menu that will encourage people to chill out, taste, share and enjoy good times in great company. Being aware that not every meal has to be a “huge spend” we have kept the prices small and the idea is to share with friends” Fish pops with chakalaka ketchup, bone marrow with salsa verde crust, chocolate and milk ice cream sandwich, are just a few of the WOW-bites on offer”, says the announcement on the Franschhoek Wine Valley and Tourism Association website.

The menu follows below:

cup a  soup          20

avocado / grapefruit / salted macadamia salad         30

little caesar  25

risotto / wild mushrooms / buffalo labne          45

grilled vegetables / aioli           25

chickpeas / chorizo / mint                           20

fried parmesan gnocchi / spiced brinjal / swiss chard  30

chilli mieliemeal & chevre puffs            20

 

free range beef tartar        35

flat koek / lamb frikadelletjies / raita         40

springbok bitterballen / apple mustard           20

neil’s saucisson sec / pickles                           35

duck rillette / crostini / butternut marmalade     35

chicken liver parfait / salted plum / corn bread         30

artichoke flan / broad beans / bacon / broccoli /

pine nut crumble     35

 

big bay oysters / each       15

prawn toast  20

grilled squid / preserved lime / smoked paprika / coriander               30

fish pops / chakalaka ketchup         40

mini salmon cakes / rough tartar sauce                     40

saldanha bay mussels / mcc / five herbs          40

 

from the wood oven

warm roasted olives           25

roasted sweetcorn  / smoked butter                  20

little pan pizza / home made cheese / smoked tomato /

basil    30

dalewood camembert / soldiers       30

butter roasted mozambican prawns / common sprinkle   55

crispy smoked pork riblets  / garlic       55

 

chicken or beef?

whole wood roasted free range chicken / gravy  135

four hundred grams  free range botswana beef fillet / buchu béarnaise                      155 

 

spuds

dauphinoise      25

hand cut chips         20

roast potatoes   20  

smoked mash           25 

 

lipsmackers        

chocolate and milk ice cream sandwich            35

fried custard / vanilla ice cream / salted caramel     30

self saucing white chocolate and granadilla pudding  35

[20 minutes]

sticky bun ice cream / sugared almonds          20

trifle               30 

 

sweety jars

marshmallow           20

nougat           30

brownies       30         

 

“Occupying the space previously used by iCi, Le Quartier Français’s, bistro-style restaurant, The Common Room is poised to become Franschhoek’s favourite foodie hangout; the perfect place to relax and linger with friends over a tasty dish or two, the local grazing ground.   Here guests can meet up for drinks and snacks or pop in, sans reservation, for a scrumptious breakfast, lunch or dinner.  In a truly delightful twist The Common Room has a strict no-reservations policy. This ensures that it is refreshingly first-come first-serve in its attitude towards guests and great cocktails can be enjoyed while waiting for a table”.   A stated rule on the menu is “No reservations, no whining, no swearing”, and the pay-off line for the restaurant is “Local grazing ground”.

“The decor is plush without being overwhelming, and in true Le Quartier Français style it is supremely comfortable.  The Common Room themed elements add depth and humour to the experience.  The Common Room combines the best ingredients, in both its menu and décor, to create another mouthwatering dining experience at Le Quartier Français.”  The decor has been changed, and consists of owner Susan Huxter’s favourite colours, being turquoise, orange and pink.

NOTE: I will not be able to write a review about The Common Room myself, as I have been barred by the owner of Le Quartier Français, Susan Huxter, from all her and related businesses, on the grounds of a harmless remark of feedback made about the declining value for money of the iCi Bistro to one of her staff three years ago.  She admitted in her letter that she was unable to meet my high service standards, and therefore thought it better to ban me from eating and shopping, and from seeing movies, there!  She has employed a bouncer to make sure that I and others on her banned list do not enter her establishment.

The Common Room, Le Quartier Français. Huguenot Road, Franschhoek.  tel (021) 876-2151.  www.lqf.co.za (The Le Quartier Français website surprisingly does not contain any details of The Common Room).   Mondays – Sundays, 7h30 to 22h00. 

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

Restaurant News:Chefs Bertus Basson and Craig Cormack to open Sofia’s at Morgenster

Chef Bertus Basson of Overture and his catering company partner Craig Cormack are to open a new restaurant called Sofia’s at Morgenster, at the wine and olive estate in Somerset West, at the beginning of November.  The restaurant is named after Morgenster owner Giulio Bertrand’s passion for Sophia Loren, choosing to spell her name for the restaurant the Italian way. Photographs of Sophia Loren will adorn the restaurant.

The restaurant will be Bistro-style, with the emphasis on ‘real food’, simpler than at Overture, with only four choices per course, of which two will be Italian, and with good plating.  The menu will change weekly.   Craig will run the restaurant and will work with Bertrand’s wife Mirella in developing true Italian style dishes. Fresh ingredients will come from the farm in part, and Morgenster’s olive oils and wines will be a strong feature.  Affordability will be a focus.  A three-course meal will cost R210. 

Chef Bertus also reports that Overture has launched its first wine, made by Hidden Valley consultant winemaker Louis Nel, a Chenin Blanc called Collaboration.  More varietals are to follow next year.  Collaboration will only be sold at Overture and Sofia’s at Morgenster initially.

Always looking to reinvent himself, Chef Bertus recently visited Australia, and was impressed with the restaurants he ate at, including leading Sydney restaurant Rockpool.   Bertus says that South African food and service standards do not lag far behind those of Australia.   He is very excited about the season lying ahead, despite the tough winter the hospitality industry has gone through.

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

Restaurant News: Update on openings, closures and changes in Cape Town and Winelands

We have been tracking recent restaurant opening, closure, and restaurant and chef change information in Cape Town and in the Winelands on our Winter Restaurant Specials blog post, but have decided to do an update for those not looking for specials necessarily.  

Restaurant openings

*   La Mouette has opened at 78 Regent Road in Sea Point.  

*    Brio is a new jazz restaurant, in half of the ex-Riboville in town (on the Adderley Street side)

*    Van Hunks has opened at 1 Union Street, off Kloof Street in Gardens

*   Cafe Nood has opened in Wilderness Road, Claremont

*    Ryan’s Kitchen has opened at Rusthof guest house in Franschhoek – the chef Ryan Smith is ex-Mont Rochelle. 

*   The House of Meat has opened in the Pepper Club Hotel, corner Long and Bloem Streets, offering a full braai for R 295  

*   Spiros has opened in Hout Bay

*   La Cantina has opened in the Alliance Francaise.

*   The De Leuwen Jagt restaurant on the Seidelberg wine estate outside Paarl has opened The Fabulous Bakery.  

*   Gesellig has opened on the corner of Church and Regent Roads in Sea Point, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.  

*   Indochine has opened at the Delaire Graff wine estate in Stellenbosch. 

*   The Long Table Restaurant and Cafe has opened at Haskell Vineyards in Stellenbosch. 

*   The Wild Peacock Food Emporium has opened in Stellenbosch.  

*   De Oude Bank Bakkerij has opened in Stellenbosch.  

*   Knife Restaurant has opened in the Crystal Towers Hotel & Spa, a sister restaurant to Fork.

*   Sommelier Restaurant has re-opened, after a two-year closure, at Sante Hotel & Wellness Centre

*   Illyria coffee shop has opened in the Eikestad Mall in Stellenbosch

*   Pierneef à  la Motte has opened at La Motte in Franschhoek.

*   The Artisan Cafe has opened inside Table Thirteen in Green Point, with a barista

*   The Fish Shack has opened in The Paddocks, Milnerton

*   Maison in Franschhoek is to open a restaurant

*   Etienne Bonthuys (ex-Tokara) has opened his long-awaited restaurant on Dorp Street, Stellenbosch, called Casparus, in partnership with artist Strijdom van der Merwe.

*   Luke Dale Roberts, award-winning chef whilst at La Colombe (reaching 12th place on Top 50 Restaurants in the World list), has opened The Test Kitchen at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock.

*   Sofia’s at Morgenster has opened.

*   Down South has opened on Long Street 

*   Victoria Eatery has opened in Hermanus.

*   French Toast has opened at 199 Bree Street, a wine and tapas bar

*   DISH has opened at Inn on the Square, Greenmarket Square

*   Babel has opened at Babylonstoren near Klapmuts/Simondium (next to Backsberg)

*   Hemelhuijs has opened at 71 Waterkant Street, for breakfast and lunch

*   Barracudas has opened  with ‘simply sumptious seafood’ served, in Fish Hoek.

*   The Olive Shack at Allora in Franschhoek has opened as a deli, doing olive oil tastings, and serving Breakfast, Greek lunches and picnics

*   Sotano by Caveau has opened in the La Splendida Hotel in Mouille Point

*   Tables restaurant has opened at Nitida wine estate in Durbanville

*   Mozarella Bar has opened on Kloof Street, Gardens

*   Café Benedict has opened on the main road in Franschhoek.

*   Trinity has opened as a ‘super club’ in Bennett Street in Green Point

*   Il Cappero Italian Restaurant has opened in Barrack Street

*   Sugar Hut Club has opened in the old Castle Hotel building on Canterbury Street, next door to Charly’s Bakery

*   Caffé Milano has opened on Kloof Street, Gardens

*   The Stone Kitchen has opened at Dunstone Winery in Wellington

*  The Franschhoek Food Emporium has open in Place Vendome, and is owned by legendary Topsi’s daughter Danielle

*   What’s On Eatery  has opened in Watson Street, between Loop and Bree Street

*   Haas Coffee Collective  has opened on Rose Street in Bo-Kaap

*   Crush coffee shop and bakery has opened in Paarl, owned by Gerard van Staden, previously chef at le Franschhoek Hotel, and later overseer of all restaurants owned by Robert Maingard in Franschhoek.

*   Dear Me Brasserie and Tjing Tjing Bar has opened on Longmarket Street.

*   Quilter & The Workmen is to open in Bree Street in May

*   Act Restaurant and Play Bar  have opened at the Baxter Theatre

*   Le Coq has opened in Franschhoek

*   Dash  has opened in the Queen Victoria Hotel in the Waterfront

*   Café Dijon has opened another branch at Zorgvliet wine estate

*   Harbour House is to open a branch in the V & A Waterfront in September, in the Fisherman’s Choice site, near Sevruga

*   KOS Coffee & Cuisine has opened in The Regency on Regent Road in Sea Point

*   Café Extrablatt opens where shu used to be, next door to Doppio Zero in Green Point, in August

*   Skinny Legs & All That has opened on Loop Street

*   Leopard’s Leap opens its new picnic facility, tasting room and cookery school in October

Restaurant closures

*  Josephine’s Patisserie on Loop Street

*   Ginja on New Church Street

 maze at the One&Only Cape Town 

*   Panarotti’s and Shimmi’s Bar in Hermanus

*   Bouillabaisse in Franschhoek.     

*   Yum in Vredehoek. 

*   Cape Town Fish Market in Camps Bay

*   Vista Mare in Camps Bay

*   La Table de France in Sea Point

*   La Brasserie in Franschhoek

*   shu on Main Road in Green Point

*   Camil’s on Main Road in Green Point

*   Madame Zingara has left Cape Town

*   Fiesta in the Old Cape Quarter

*   Jardine’s Restaurant has closed on Bree Str

*   Liquorice and Lime has closed down on St George’s Mall

*   Cheyne has closed on Bree Street

*   The Kitchen Bar in the Quarters’ Hotel in Hermanus has closed

*   The Bistro in Franschhoek has closed down

*   The Sandbar in Camps Bay has closed down

*   The Blonde building is up for sale, and does not appear to be re-opening in August, as was announced by The Caviar Group, owners of Blonde, two months ago.

*   The Green Dolphin Jazz Club in the V & A Waterfront has closed down

*   Mezzaluna in Loop Street has closed down

*   Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant judge Pete Goffe-Wood’s Wild Woods Restaurant has closed down.

*   Restaurant Christophe closes down in Stellenbosch on 25 June. Chef Christophe Dehosse will be back at Joostenberg from August.

*   Nando’s in Camps Bay has closed down

*   Haute Cabriere under the chef-manship of Matthew Gordon closes on 7 June at the wine tasting venue with the same name in Franschhoek.

Restaurant name-changes/take-overs/chef changes/address changes

*   Leaf Restaurant and Bar has opened where The Showroom/Portofino used to be.  

*   Mason’s Cafe and Grill has opened where Cafe Gainsbourg used to be

*   On Broadway has moved to the New Space Theatre building, and is using the ex-Anytime restaurant space as one of the restaurants its patrons can eat at before the show.

*   Camil Haas, the co-owner of Camil’s in the Cape Royale Luxury Hotel, has left the restaurant (which has since closed down).  He is working for Reuben Riffel at Reuben’s in Franschhoek and at the One&Only Cape Town.  

*   Tank in the old Cape Quarter has changed its name to Aqua.

*   Luke Dale-Roberts is no longer the Executive Chef at La Colombe, but will consult to the restaurant.  

*   Cafe Rouge in Franschhoek has been renamed Chez d’Or.

  Richard Carstens has left Chez d’Or in Franschhoek, and is the Executive Chef and Wilhelm Kuehn the owner of Tokara Restaurant in Stellenbosch

*   Buena Vista Social Club has moved to the top end of Portswood Road in the Waterfront. 

*  Reuben’s at One&Only Cape Town has opened, where maze used to be.

*   Cafe Le Chocolatier has taken over from Cafe Vendome in Place Vendome in Franschhoek.

*   Dutch East has taken over from Burgundy in Franschhoek

*   Cafe des Arts has taken over Topsi’s in Franschhoek.

*    Amazink, ex-Roots, in Khayamandi in Stellenbosch, has opened, with Bertus Basson from Overture an advisor.

*   Chef School owner Kevin Warwick has taken over Kate’s Village in Hermanus, now called The Class Room

*   Da Luigi has opened where Vista Mare was in The Promenade in Camps Bay

*   Satay Bar has opened where Zucca was in Kloof Street

*   Le Quartier Francais has closed its bistro iCi, and opened The Common Room

*   Franko’s Kitchen in Plettenberg Bay has reopened as a sushi restaurant called Kitchen Café

*  Fu.shi in Plettenberg Bay has closed down, and has a new owner and a new name The Terrace

*  The Old Post House in Plettenberg Bay has closed down, but is set to re-open for three months with a new owner

*   Blakes has opened on Buitengracht/New Church Street, where Relish/Ninja used to be, belonging to Rochelle Bushelle, owner of the Opal Lounge, and offering a lounge, bar and dining services

*   Franschhoek Kitchen is the new name of Genot restaurant on the renamed Holden Manz Wine Estate in Franschhoek (previously Klein Genot)

*   Chef Eric Bulpitt has moved to The Roundhouse, due to the closure of Jardine’s

*   Woodlands Eatery is the new name of ex-Yum in Vredehoek, with chef Larry, previously with Emily Moon in Plettenberg Bay

*   ZAR nightclub has opened in the Cape Royale Luxury Hotel, where Camil’s used to be 

*   Marika’s Greek Restaurant from Bakoven has moved to a new venue, at 176 Buitenkant Street, above 7Eleven.

*   The Rhubarb Room moves to 227 Bree Street

*   David Higgs is leaving Rust en Vrede  on 18 June and is moving to Johannesburg.  John Shuttleworth will step into his chef’s shoes.

*   Vanessa Quellec is to leave Caffe Milano  in July

*   Restaurant winter break closures

*   The Mount Nelson’s Cape Colony has re-opened, with a new name, Planet Restaurant, and menu. 

*   Vaudeville has reopened. 

*   Massimo’s Pizza Club in Hout Bay will re-open on 20 April, in their original venue in Hout Bay. 

*   The Salmon Bar in Franschhoek has moved into a new main road outlet in The Yard (part ex-Bouillabaisse and Pam Golding) and has re-opened.

*   Miguel’s in Plettenberg Bay has re-opened in the same location.

*   Rust en Vrede will close from 18 June – 18 July

*   Tokara will clsoe between 2 – 9 May

*   The Test Kitchen will clsoe between 7 – 23 May

NOTE: This information will be updated regularly, as we receive new information.

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