Last night Eat Out presented its 2016 Western Cape Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Everyday Eatery Award winners, the second year that the awards have been presented provincially (previously presented nationally), and are less controversial than last year, with one exception! Continue reading →
Today the inaugural ‘2016/2017 Gourmet Guide: Top South African Restaurants, their Chefs & Recipes‘ was launched at the Good Food & Wine Show. Twenty one top restaurants were honored with one or two plates, acknowledging them as the best restaurants in our country.
Continue reading →
The first restaurants are sending out their Winter Specials information, summarised below. The list is updated continuously. Please do not copy and paste our list. We welcome information about new specials:
* Umi in Camps Bay: 2 course set menu R200, 3 courses R240. Beef shortrib R120, fish & fries R80, Tataki Beef R75, sweet potato parcels R50, pork belly R130, and sticky chicken wings Tebaski R65. Half price sushi. Cocktails R40 Tel (021) 437-1802 (added 14/5/16) Continue reading →
Today the peak of the Festive Season comes to an end, as visitors from Johannesburg and other parts of the county and the world return home, to start work on Monday. Continue reading →
New Eat Out judge, blogger Bruce Palling from the UK, has arrived in Cape Town to assist Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant and associated awards organiser Abigail Donnelly in selecting the top ten restaurants in the country and in ranking them. He has barely set foot in the country, never having been here before, and he has attracted controversy already!
Palling is a rude Tweeter, and on Twitter yesterday afternoon he announced his arrival, having been to Clarke’s second hand bookshop on Long Street, and in having eaten springbok for lunch, commenting on its bland taste: “Cape Town on a glorious sunny Spring day – and my first experience of Springbok – surprisingly mild…was expecting more depth of flavour.. “. A chef retaliated immediately: “It’s not stag steaks stored in the deepfreezer for 3 years wrapped in wellington boots, boet”. Palling also Tweeted a comment which was criticised for its implied racism, by labelling a fellow guest on skin colour at the restaurant: “Black guest excusing lateness@Cape Town restaurant: “Sorry but had to take taxi because my Ferrari cant make it over bumps at entrance here”. For that Tweet he was admonished too, including by Über-Tweeter Jane-Anne Hobbs.
Palling, who is being accommodated at the Taj hotel, will be visiting the Top 20 restaurant list, unless Ms Donnelly has already cut that list down to her Top 10, and he will assist her in ranking the list, and in choosing the winners in the categories introduced last year: Boschendal Style Award, Best Italian, Best Asian, Best Bistro, Best Steakhouse, and Best Country Style restaurant. This is our prediction of where Palling can be expected to eat in potential 2012 Eat Out Top 10 restaurants in the next few days in the Western Cape (we have excluded Grande Provence, The Roundhouse, and Nobu due to chef changes, and other deserving restaurants at which the chefs have been at the restaurants for less than a year):
* The Test Kitchen
* The Greenhouse
* Planet Restaurant
* Makaron Restaurant
* Delaire Graff
* Pierneef à La Motte
* Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine
* La Colombe
* Rust en Vrede
* The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français
From Palling’s blogposts, of which variations are published in the Europe edition of the Wall Street Journal occasionally, one has learnt the following about his eating and drinking tastes:
1. Local is lekker: he wants to eat ‘native produce’ rather than it being imported (e.g. ‘wallaby’ in Australia!)
2. He is fond of wine, and it should be local and single varietal, and not blended
3. His benchmark is Michelin-ism
4. He is quick to describe food as ‘bland’
5. He has a ‘boredom with egg-dominated dishes’
6. He loves ‘Nordic’ (especially Swedish) cuisine
7. He scoffs at molecular gastronomy, which he calls ‘pretend food’, and likes to be able to identify produce on a plate ‘rather than look at an inanimate mixture of textures and smears’
8. He ‘cherishes food which exudes strong, not to say, disgusting odours’.
It will be interesting to see if Palling’s assistance to Ms Donnelly will make any difference to the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards results. Palling has already shown that he is a difficult and opinionated writer and judge, and a rude Tweeter.
POSTSCRIPT 5/9: Eat Out has just announced that it is hosting a weekend of food celebration from 23 – 25 November, with international chefs in attendance too: This is from their website:
“On Friday 23 November, there will be an exclusive dinner with Massimo Bottura, chef at Osteria Francescana, number 5 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, the prestigious annual awards sponsored by S. Pellegrino and Aqua Panna.
On Saturday 24 November, for the first time ever, we’ll be hosting an Eat Out Conference at The Westin Cape Town on Cape Town’s foreshore. Speakers at the inspiring, interactive day include top international chef Massimo Bottura; Bruce Palling (Wall Street Journal critic, World’s 50 Best Restaurants judge, blogger and Eat Out 2012 judge); and British food designer Andrew Stellitano (check out his incredible food landscapes, sculptural pancakes and edible Louis Vuitton handbagshere). Local speakers include reigning Chef of the Year, Luke Dale-Roberts, and prominent members of the local food and restaurant community, who’ll join a panel discussion led by Eat Out editor and judge, Abigail Donnelly.
On Sunday, the winners of the 2012 Eat Out DStv Food Network Restaurant Awards will be announced at a glittering awards ceremony in the Grand Ballroom at The Westin Cape Town. A four-course meal will be prepared by top chefs, and the new Top 10 will be announced, along with the winners of the awards for best steakhouse, bistro, Asian, country-style and Italian restaurant, along with the Boschendal Style Award“.
POSTSCRIPT 9/9: Bruce Palling has been eating his way around the Cape, and the only clues that he is leaving is that he has eaten Springbok on more than one occasion, and he is Tweeting photographs of the wines he has drunk with his meals, which must be very frustrating for him, as he is a keen food photographer, but that would give the judging away! His wine choice over the past five days has included Zorgvliet Cabernet Sauvignon (vintage not mentioned), Raats Cabernet Franc 2008, Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir 2010, Raats Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Paul Cluver 7 Flags Pinot Noir 2008, and Luddite Shiraz 2006. He is seeking wines with less than 14% alcohol content, to suit his wife’s requirement, and has been asking for advice on Twitter, a sad reflection on the restaurants at which he has eaten not being able to advise him! He has taken back his criticism of springbok in his Tweet on his arrival (see above), and Tweeted on Friday: “Take back Springbok being boring/bland – had 2 non sous vide versions which lean + voluptuous helped along by Raats Cabernet Franc 08”. No local chefs, with the exception of Oliver Cattermole, who is not in the running for the Eat Out Top 10 Awards as he has not been at Dish at Le Franschhoek for a full year, have interacted with Palling on Twitter. Chefs Peter Tempelhoff (Greenhouse), Jackie Cameron (Hartford House), Gregory Czarnecki (Waterkloof), Margot Janse (The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français), Scot Kirton (La Colombe), Tanja Kruger (Makaron), Eric Bulpitt (The Roundhouse), Marthinus Ferreira (DW Eleven – 13), and Tokara Restaurant are all following Palling on Twitter, perhaps hoping for a clue or two. Further disparaging Tweets in reaction to our Palling blogposts have been posted by Palling, one of which was (unprofessionally) ReTweeted by Le Quartier Français’ The Tasting Room owner Susan Huxter).
POSTSCRIPT 12/9: Le Quartier Français’ The Tasting Room and McGrath Hotels’ The Greenhouse must be concerned about Bruce Palling’s attack on ‘Relais Chateau‘ (sic) on Twitter today, both hotel groups belonging to Relais & Châteaux.
POSTSCRIPT 13/9: One hopes that Bruce Palling’s restaurant judging is better than his a-palling spelling and photography. This was his Tweet from Biesmiellah last night: “Taking a break at Biedmiellah (sic) – Babotie (sic) and Denning Vleis (sic)”. Poor quality writing, especially from a ‘journalist’!
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
JP Rossouw’s Restaurant 3-star list is usually published ahead of the Eat Out Restaurant Awards. and helped to serve as a predictor for the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant list. This year it could not be used, as the Eat Out event is taking place a week earlier, and Rossouw Restaurants’ 2012 3-star list was only announced on Twitter for the first time yesterday, on the eve of the 2011 Eat Out DStv Food Network Restaurant Awards, taking place at the Rotunda at the Bay Hotel in Camps Bay this evening.
Interesting firstly is that a Platinum Award for best 3-star restaurant has not been awarded by Rossouw, writing on Twitter that “Rossouw’s 2012 Platinum Award for standout 3 Star not awarded this ed. Changes & notable newcomers not yet achieved a track record” . Yet stalwarts like The Tasting Room, Terroir, Overture have been consistent and around for some time.
Comparing Rossouw’s list of 24 3-star restaurants with the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant finalist shortlist of twenty, the following ten exclusions from Rossouw’s 3-star list are evident: Tokara, Pierneef à La Motte, The Restaurant at Grande Provence, Hartford House, Planet Restaurant, Bosman’s, Azure, Roots, Restaurant Maison, and Babel. The ten restaurants that the lists have in common are Greenhouse, Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine, La Colombe, Nobu, Overture, The Roundhouse, The Tasting Room, Terroir, The Test Kitchen, and DW Eleven-13. Bizarre is that Zachary’s at Pezula is included, in that it only operates two nights a week!
The 24 3-star 2012 Rossouw’s Restaurants are the following:
Western Cape: 95 Keerom Street, Aubergine, Bizerca Bistro, The Common Room, Greenhouse, Ile de Pain, Jordan Restaurant, La Colombe, Mariana’s, Nobu, Overture, Roundhouse, Rust en Vrede, The Tasting Room, Terroir, The Test Kitchen, and Zachary’s.
KwaZulu-Natal: 9th Avenue Bistro
Gauteng: Butcher Shop & Grill, Cube, DW Eleven-13, Grillhouse, Ritrivo, and Thomas Maxwell Bistro.
Interesting is that two chefs have told me that recent reviews by Rossouw of their restaurants have appeared to settle old scores, and that what Rossouw writes in his Business Day reviews often contradicts what he posts about the restaurants on his website or publishes in his book. This is unprofessional behaviour from Rossouw, and may be a reason why his ratings and reviews have little significance.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage
The number of 2012 American Express Platinum Fine Dining Programme restaurants has dropped for the first time in its 14 year history, down from 88 restaurants in 2011 to 78 this year, with twelve of last year’s winners having closed their doors, reports Chef!. This demonstrates the severity of the hospitality crisis.
The dominance of the Western Cape, with 33 of the 78 awards, highlights that the province is the cuisine capital of South Africa. New award entrants are also largely from the Cape, being Nobu, Bistro Sixteen82, Planet Restaurant, Reuben’s at the One&Only, and Pierneef à La Motte, out of eight new entrants. Three re-admissions are The Restaurant at Grande Provence (photograph), Bosman’s at the Grande Roche Hotel, and Saagries in Johannesburg.
Chefs said that the recognition is welcome, in being a member of the fine dining programme, given the difficult time of the year, after a very long and bleak winter. The major criterion for consideration by the Programme organiser Tamsin Snyman, in partnership with restaurant critic Victor Strugo, is accepting payment by American Express, which may have disqualified many other top restaurants (such as Dash, The Test Kitchen, Casparus, Johan’s @ Longridge, Terroir, Waterkloof, Indochine, Tokara, and Delaire Graff) from being eligible for evaluation. The judges evaluated the quality and creativity of the cuisine, the service, the wine list, decor and ambiance, the overall excellence, and acceptance of a booking for a table of four on the same day.
Eight of last year’s Programme restaurants did not make the 2012 list, including Rust en Vrede (probably due to the departure of Chef David Higgs), Haute Cabriére Cellar Restaurant (probably due to the recent change in chef), Emily’s, Myoga, Bizerca and Belthazar. Snyman said that ‘there is an increasing mediocrity on the South African fine dining restaurant scene’, reports Chef! The restaurants that have closed their doors in the past year include Auberge Michel, Linger Longer, Jardine, and Hunter’s Country Restaurant.
The 2102 American Express Platinum Fine Dining Programme restaurants are as follows, according to Business Day:
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage
After writing about the disastrous error-filled and outdated Conde Nast Traveller Guide to Cape Town earlier this week, it was refreshing to see a link on Twitter about the Telegraph Travel’s ‘Cape Town City Break Guide’, written by local travel writer and ‘destination expert’ Pippa de Bruyn (author of a ‘Frommer’s Guide’ to South Africa and to India, and of ‘A Hedonist’s Guide to Cape Town’), resulting in a far more accurate guide for the tourist visiting Cape Town.
The Guide kicks off with the Beauty positioning for Cape Town (the one that Cape Town Tourism has just thrown away by using ‘Inspirational’, as the new positioning for Cape Town, even though it is not unique for Cape Town and has been used by others, including Pick ‘n Pay!), in stating that “Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities in the world”. It is accompanied by a beautiful shot of Clifton, with the Twelve Apostles as backdrop. The reasons for travelling to Cape Town are motivated as its ‘in-your-face beauty’; the pristine white beaches; the proximity of nature; spotting zebra and wildebeest on the slopes of Table Mountain; watching whales breaching in False Bay; being ‘halted by cavorting baboons near Cape Point’; being a contender for World Design Capital 2014 with its art galleries, ‘hip bars’, opera, and design-savvy shops; the unique marriage of Dutch-origin vegetable gardening, winemaking introduced by the French (this fact must be challenged, as it was the Dutch who established the first wine farms), Malay slaves’ spices, and English ‘Georgian mansions and Victorian terraced homes’; its contrasts of pleasure and poverty, of ‘pounding seas and vine-carpeted valleys’, and its award-winning wines and produce offer ‘some of the best (and most affordable) fine dining in the world’.
The ‘Cape Town City Break Guide’ includes the following recommendations:
* travel time is suggested as ‘pretty much any time of the year’, and a warning of wet Julys and Augusts now is inaccurate, given the wonderful non-winter weather experienced in Cape Town during both these months this year!
* misleading is the claim that Cape Town offers the best land-based whale watching in the world – this positioning belongs to Hermanus, and is corrected a few pages further into the guide. Also misleading is the claim that the best ‘summer deals’ are available in October and November – most accommodation establishments have the same rate for the whole summer, and do not drop rates at the start of summer.
* it is up-to-date in that use of the MyCiti Bus is recommended to travel between the airport and the Civic Centre, as well as to the Waterfront. Train travel between Cape Town and Simonstown is not recommended, due to dirty windows and lack of safety, one of the few negatives contained in the Guide. The red City Sightseeing bus is recommended, as are bus tours, taxis, Rikkis, and car hire.
* The ‘Local laws and etiquette’ section does not address either of these two points. Instead, it warns against crime when walking or driving, and recommends that tourists should not ‘flash their wealth’. Potential card-skimming in the Waterfront and at the airport is also a potential danger, travellers to Cape Town are told, not accurate, and unfair to these two Cape Town locations.
* Tourist attractions recommended are Cape Point, driving via the Atlantic Seaboard and Chapman’s Peak; wine-tasting in Constantia; the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens; exploring the city centre on foot, walking from the city centre to Green Point; taking a water taxi from the Convention Centre to the Waterfront; the Footsteps to Freedom Tour; the Company Gardens; the National Gallery; summer concerts at Kirstenbosch; tanning at Clifton beaches; shopping for wines or going on a wine tour; High Tea at the Mount Nelson hotel; going on tours which allow one to meet the ‘other half’ locals; walking through the Waterfront or taking a sunset cruise; the Two Oceans Aquarium; eating fish and chips in Kalk Bay; going up Table Mountain by foot or cable car; day trips to Cape Point, the West Coast National Park to see the spring flowers, and the Winelands (referring to Franschhoek as the now out-of-date ‘Gourmet Capital of the Cape’, by stating that ‘it is the only place where you have award-winning restaurants within walking distance of each other’, not correct either).
* in the ‘Cape Town Hotels’ section, it states disturbingly (and information out of date) that ‘Cape Town isn’t cheap’, and therefore suggests that clients stay in Oranjezicht, Tamboerskloof, Higgovale, and Bo-Kaap (but none of these suburbs have restaurants, something guests would like to walk to by foot from their accommodation), as well as De Waterkant, the V&A Waterfront (probably one of the most expensive accommodation areas!), and ‘Greenpoint’ (sic). Self-catering and ‘B&b’ (sic) accommodation is recommended. Hotels previously reviewed by The Telegraph are listed: the Mount Nelson, Ellerman House, the Cape Grace, Cascades on the Promenade, Four Rosmead, An African Villa, Rouge on Rose, Fritz Hotel, and The Backpack hostel, an interesting mix of hotels, and not all highly-rated in its reviews. No newer ‘World Cup hotels’ are recommended.
* For nightlife, Camps Bay’s Victoria Road, Long Street and Cape Quarter are recommended. Vaudeville is strongly recommended, but has lost a lot of its appeal. Other specific recommendations are Asoka on Kloof Street, Fiction DJ Bar & Lounge, Crew Bar in De Waterkant, Julep off Long Street, and the Bascule bar at the Cape Grace. The list seems out of date, with more trendy night-time spots being popular amongst locals.
* The Restaurant section is most disappointing, given the great accolade given to the Cape Town fine-dining scene early in the guide. Four restaurants only are recommended, and many would disagree that these are Cape Town’s best, or those that tourists should visit: The Roundhouse in Camps Bay, Willoughby & Co in the Waterfront, 95 Keerom Street, and ‘Colcaccio (sic) Camps Bay’! A special note advises ‘gourmet diners’ to check Eat Out and Rossouw’s Restaurants for restaurants close to one’s accommodation. Stellenbosch restaurants Overture, Rust en Vrede and Terroir are recommended, as are Le Quartier and Ryan’s Kitchen in Franschhoek, and La Colombe in Constantia.
* Shopping suggestions include the city centre, Green Point, Woodstock, De Waterkant, and Kloof Street, the latter street not having any particularly special shops. The Neighbourgoods Market in the Old Biscuit Mill is recommended as the ‘best food market in the country’ (locals may disagree, with the squash of undecided shoppers, and increasingly more expensive), and may recommend the City Bowl Market instead). Art galleries are also recommended.
While the Telegraph Travel ‘Cape Town City Break Guide’ is a massive improvement on the Condé Nast Traveller Cape Town guide, even this guide contains unforgivable errors, which a local writer should not be making. One would hope that Cape Town Tourism will get the errors fixed. We also suggest that they recommend the addition of Cape Town’s many special city centre eateries, and that the accommodation list be updated. The exclusion of Robben Island on the attraction list is a deficiency. The delineation between recommendations for things to do in Cape Town is blurred in some instances with recommendations in towns and villages outside Cape Town, which may confuse tourists to the Mother City. Overall, the Guide appears superficial and touristy, and does not reveal all the special gems that Cape Town has to offer.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage
The Sweet Service Award goes to Doppio Zero at Cavendish Square, and to its Manager Bradley, for understanding the power of service recovery. The customer arrived in the midst of a staff shift change, with the staff unattentive to the customers. Coffee had to be ordered three times, and a bill requested three times. Each time, Bradley had to step in for his staff, and he apologised profusely for the poor service experienced. Bradley waived the bill, and invited the customer to come back again to experience the good service of Doppio Zero on another day.
The Sour Service Award goes to the Roundhouse restaurant in Camps Bay. The Cape Argus reports that the restaurant, that has set itself up to become the best restaurant in Africa, has reacted to a customer complaint about a table booked for New Year’s day, with a deposit paid, in the most negative manner. The restaurant claims that the couple was 90 minutes late – the couple claims it was only 10 minutes. A deposit of R 1 200 was paid by the couple for the meal on the special day. Their table was given away, and they were downgraded to a table in a less desirable section of the restaurant, which led the couple to complain to Argus Action. The Roundhouse’s arrogant reaction to the customer complaint is its announcement that it is instituting a customer blacklist for patrons who regularly arrive late, and will refuse bookings from them in future! Roundhouse Partner Paul Rowett says: “We are going to start complaining about guests”. The restaurant is planning to share the “name-and-shame-late-arrival-patron-blacklist” with nine or ten other restaurants, and to make the offending patrons’ names public.
The WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented every Friday on the WhaleTales blog. Nominations for the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be sent to Chris von Ulmenstein at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Despite the depressed economy, the restaurant industry appears to be confident about the future, with a number of new restaurant openings.
The first restaurant to open is the re-awakened Roundhouse in Camps Bay, once the site of one of Cape Town’s finest restaurants. Owner Fasie Malherbe proudly brags that his restaurant will become the best in Africa! He is unashamedly Proudly Capetonian, and states that he only wants locals to support his restaurant – he is not interested in tourists. Also owner of the training company Let’s Sell Lobster, which has just been contracted by Wines of South Africa to train 2010 winestewards to deliver excellent service, Malherbe recently supported his GM’s rudeness, on the basis that his shareholder interests were being protected!
Franschhoek already is the Gourmet Capital of South Africa, with three of the country’s Top Ten restaurants located in this beautiful village. Competition is set to increase, with three new restaurant openings. Richard Carstens is said to be opening on Huguenot Road, not far from the Monument, in a newly renovated Victorian Cottage. Carstens was a Top Ten chef when he headed up Bijoux in Franschhoek about 5 years ago, and continued wearing the Top Ten chef crown when he left Franschhoek for Lynton Hall near Pietermaritzburg. A stint at Manolo in Cape Town followed, but ended before it had really got going. Carstens may not be opening in Franschhoek after all, given an alleged fall-out with landlord Trevor Kirsten.
Bertus Basson is cooking up a storm at his restaurant Overture on the Hidden Valley Estate in Stellenbosch, and will turn up the heat in Franschhoek when he opens his restaurant Genot on Kleingenot in December. Ever evolving Solms Delta is opening its new restaurant Fyndraai in the season. Reubens has undergone a make-over and expansion, and newly married Maryke Riffel is back on the floor, welcoming patrons.
Camps Bay too will see a further four new restaurants opening this season, with the Grill House, an Indian restaurant and a Paranga Bar opening below Blues. The Grand Cafe will open in the Opium location, as a restaurant well-known to the Plettenberg Bay jetset for its simple yet yummy menu and exceptional music. The Grand in Plettenberg Bay was the brainchild of Gail Behr, who has since sold her Grand Cafe and Rooms. The Grand in Camps Bay will also offer accommodation.