Entries tagged with “Rui Esteves”.


Every winter is a tough time for the restaurant industry. With the dip in Tourism due to the water shortage, and the early heavy winter rains, the restaurants in Cape Town and the Winelands are feeling the pinch, and many have closed down, even some on the iconic restaurant Bree Street, as well as in the Waterfront!  (more…)

When Jason’s first opened alongside Jardine’s restaurant off Bree Street in Cape Town many years ago, it was a tiny take-away eatery serving breads and sandwiches. Through low-key but continued growth Jason Bakery has established itself as one of our city’s top bakeries, and Jason Lillie as Cape Town’s croissant king!

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Earlier this week Katie and Jonny Friedman invited me to see the expansion of their Orphanage Cocktail Emporium, The Dining Room having opened in an adjacent building three weeks ago.  This is the first step of the expansion, with the Orphanage Club opening later this year.

One can enter The Dining Room directly from around the corner in Orphan Street, or via The Parlour on Bree Street, and down a flight of stairs.  The interior feel in the long rectangular space is similar to that of The Parlour, with blue and white striped upholstery on the couch seating all along the wall, and is dominated by a similar crystal and key chandelier.  The space has been cleverly used, with a bar counter, as well as an open kitchen.

The menu has evolved, and is no longer the sheet of folded brown paper, but a neatly bound menu of cocktails, wines, and food.  The food offering has grown vastly, a number of the original dishes having been retained.  The same menu is offered in the Cocktail Emporium and in The Dining Room, meaning that one can choose to eat in the relatively more quiet The Dining Room, or in the ‘clubby’ Cocktail Emporium.  The prices are good value, with none of the dishes exceeding R135. One of the new dishes is the Brewers & Union Beer Battered Linefish, which a most delicious kingklip covered in a thick tasty batter, wrapped in paper and served with crispy fries (R85).  Rui Esteves, co-owner of the brewery, Tweeted his approval of how his product has been used when he saw our Tweet: ‘Had it last night…it was good’. Katie had the new Sesame Chicken Skewers, a colourful dish (R85). The menu is divided into

*  ‘Sharing Plates’, being starter or tapas styles dishes (R50 – R85), meant to be shared with friends, including Cauli Fritters, cheese poppers, smoked snoek paté, breaded prawns, octopus crunch, spicy fish cakes, mini chicken pitas, and little lamb buns.

*   ‘Light Plates’ are meant to be eaten individually, and range from R40 – R75.  One can choose between Orphanage omelette, Gazpacho, feta and roasted butternut ciabatta or salad, corn and avocado salad, Caesar salad, and Tricolore salad.

*   ‘Main Plates’ range from R55 – R135, and include the signature crayfish on butter buns, chicken Milanese, espetadas, Quesadilla, large lamb bun, spicy meatball subs, large Wiener, Orphanage Risotto made with porcini mushrooms, Arrabiata pasta, Beef fillet Robata served with mustard aioli, springbok carpaccio, cheese slate, charcuterie, and an Orphanage Mezze platter.

*   I chose the Panna Cotta with a berry coulis from the ‘Pudding’ selection, which also offers cheesecake, a sorbet trio, and the popular molten cocoa fondant, all costing R40.  The cappuccino was made perfectly, as per my request.

Kent Scheermeyer has acted as consultant for the Orphanage house wines, the range including Chenin Blanc (R40/R150), Sauvignon Blanc (R42/R160), Chardonnay (R42/R160), Rosé (R46/R180), Red Blend (R46/R180), and Pinot Noir (R50/R195), each wine made by a different winemaker.  The Red Blend, for example, comes from Mullineux Family Wines.  An additional wine, which we enjoyed together, was Thunderchild, made for Die Herberg children’s home in Robertson, of which 5 ha on their property have been planted to vines, with the support of a number of Robertson winemakers. The wine has made by Springfield winemaker Abrie Bruwer, its maiden vintage 2008 now being available.  All the profit of the wine goes to the children’s home.

The Orphanage Club will open when they have received their licence to operate until 4h00, likely to take another six months, Katie said.  She showed me the space upstairs, above The Dining Room, which will have its own bar, and entertainers performing.  It has a terrace, with a good view over Cape Town.  Both the Orphanage Club and The Dining Room can be booked for events.

The Dining Room, Orphanage Cocktail Emporium.  Corner Bree and Orphan Street, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 422-2004. www.theorphanage.co.za Twitter: @OrphanageClub Monday – Saturday.  Occasional opening on Sundays and public holidays.

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

&Union Beer Salon and Charcuterie is a very trendy pub that is one of the favourite haunts of bloggers Dax of Relax-with-Dax, The Foodie and JamieWho, and they give its beer brands regular coverage via Twitter,  so much so that I had to try it out – the first time about a month ago – and then I went back for the Brazil versus Portugal match last week. 

To review &Union one needs to know that the owners were the founder owners of Vida e Caffe (Brad Armitage and Rui Esteves), who broke away to create &Union.  &Union does not give one a Vida franchise feel at all – exactly the opposite is true, and it is commendable that the owners could start and maintain a business so radically different to what they did before.  Also, untypically for Vida e Caffe, &Union has no visible exterior branding on Bree Street, but those that love the brand and share the passion, know where it is!

&Union is not a traditional pub – one sits outside on wooden tables and benches in summer, and for the World Cup a Moroccan style tent has been erected to cover all Cape Town winter weather options, with heaters if it gets cold.  The tent has three strips of material on it, which are linked to a painting near the entrance, all related to the Puma Africa Unity Kit.   It would be lost to most present, unless they had been invited to the launch of the new Puma beer a few days before.

We arrived just before the match starting time, and there was only a little bench available to sit on, a little removed from all the other benches, and without a table.  I was impressed with Simon Wibberley, the Operations Manager, who seemed to know everyone coming into &Union, hugging and kissing (the ladies at least), and the guys all seemed to be friends.   Simon stood near the entrance, and kept an eye on things continuously – no sitting back and having a beer and watch the soccer for him.   It became so full that he eventually locked the gate, yet it did not feel crowded.  The only problem was a lack of seating for everyone.

The beer list is an unusual brown A3 recycled sheet which shows its seven beers and tells the &Union story.  The owners wanted to develop beer brands that are authentic, truthful and honest, and that stand for quality, heritage, tradition and taste.  This led them to find “some of Europe’s oldest family-run breweries in search of artisan-produced beers that we are not only proud to produce for our customers but love to drink ourselves.  We don’t believe we can single-handedly change the world of beer as it exists but with a little raw passion, blind optimism and reckless resolve, we can perhaps make a difference”, the beer list says.

This mission for &Union has led to the development of “luxury beers, handcrafted by our artisans from the finest natural ingredients.  Our pils and amber ale are brewed using only 100% barley malt, yeast, hops, and water”.  The beer is brewed for up to 8 weeks.  The Pils and Amber are unpasteurised, the beer list says, to allow a “fuller, richer taste”.   The passion comes from “Eating. Drinking. Living. That’s what we love. Pairing real beer with real food…”.  This passion is lived in a small selection of food options, the seven beer choices, and, surprisingly, wines.

The beer list has a prominent packshot of each beer sold, and as an infrequent beer drinker and having been ignorant about the brand, the seven beer names meant nothing to me at all.  The beer list is there to help, with better-than-wine descriptions of each:

*   Unity Lager was developed for Puma’s “African Unity Kit” football campaign.  It is “medium-bodied”, “silky smooth”, “malty”, “hints of apple and honey”, and has a “bittersweet floral finish”.  It costs R40 for 500ml

*   Brewers &Union Unfiltered Lager is “unfiltered, unpasteurized”, “bursting with flavour”.  Cost is R 40 for 500ml

*   Steph Weiss is a wheat beer, “delicate, smooth and creamy”, “aromas of vanilla and clove”. Cost is R 40 for 500ml

*   Berne Unfiltered Amber is German-style, “buttery”, “toasty, bready malts”, “hints of caramel and toffee”.  It costs R 40 for 500ml

*   Brewers &Union Dark Lager is “beautifully hopped”, “dark roasted malt flavor” (sic). Cost is R 40 for 500 ml

*   Touro Tripel Blond has a “creamy palate”, “fruity spicy malt flavour” It costs R 125 for 750ml

*   Touro Tripel Amber has a “honeyed-amber malt aroma”, “hints of vanilla and caramel”.  Cost is R 125 for 750ml

The menu is short and sweet: eight food options- a biltong bowl (tasted a bit vinegary) at R25; pate – made from charcuterie off-cuts and a bit too coarse for my taste – at R35;  grilled weisswurst with mustard was excellent – at R60;  Prego rolls cost R 60, available in beef and pork; the Charcuterie Board costs R65, and consists of coppa, parma ham and felino sausage; the “grilled juicy saucisson” board  – a North African sausage made with 16 spices – costs R60;   a 3-cheese board costs R65; and the salmon carpaccio board R75.  Three “sweets” are offered, almond croissants (R15), Italian chocolate liqueur (made by Massimo from Hout Bay Pizza Club) at R20, and an espresso chocolate at R25.  &Union also serves organic coffee.  One can also have an early breakfast at &Union.

Two white and two red wines are served by the glass: Haut Espoir Sauvignon Blanc (R35) and Tamboerskloof Viognier (R40), and Landskroon and Boer & Brit ‘The General’ red blends, both costing R 40.  Ten wines by the bottle start at R 130 for the Haut Espoir, and The Hedonist is the most expensive at R 210.  I loved the name of the sparkling wine brand – Suikerbossie ‘Ek wil jou he’, made in Kimberley, a surprise wine region.

&Union is a refreshingly (pardon the pun) different ‘beer salon”.  It cares about beer, food and its clients.   It knows how to build relationships with its customers.   It is not pushy nor hard-sell, maybe a little too laid back on the service, but regulars go inside and order what they want, not waiting to be served.  The soccer did not have much “gees”, despite there being so many soccer fans.   It is trendy, and no doubt will grow into an eatery and beer salon that will set new standards in responsible eating and drinking in Cape Town.   The only dissonance for me is that wines are served (with some unfortunate typos in the wine list), given its name and beer focus.   The challenge for the owners will be to keep it small and personal, the opposite to what they achieved with Vida e Caffe.

&Union Beer Salon and Chacuterie, 110 Bree Street. Tel 021 422-2770. www.brewersandunion.com. Twitter @andUnion. Blog: www.andunion.blogspot.com  Free wireless internet.  

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