Tag Archives: S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants

Restaurant Review: Septime understated and hidden in Paris, 50th World’s 50 Best Restaurant, Michelin 1 star!

Yesterday I completed my Gourmet Tour of France, eating at the 50th restaurant on the World’s 50 Best Restaurant list, being Septime in Paris. It has one Michelin star, and has held it for the past four years. Despite being understated and hidden in its location, it offers world-class cuisine served by an enthusiastic team.  Continue reading →

Café Dijon and Ou Meul Bakkery move to Cape Town, and other Spring restaurant news!

Our list of latest restaurant openings and closures lists more openings than closures, and a number of restaurant location changes. This list is updated continuously, as we receive information:

Restaurant Openings

*   Café Dijon has closed its restaurants on Plein Street and at Zorgvliet in Stellenbosch, and has opened in the Rockwell Centre in Green Point, Cape Town, on Napier Street opposite Anatoli’s.

*   Luke Dale-Roberts, Eat Out Top Chef at The Test Kitchen, is to open a real test kitchen, called The Kitchen of Dreams, a private experimental place to develop new recipes, at the Old Biscuit Mill

*  Chef Luke Dale-Roberts is opening a pop-up Pot Luck Club in Swiss ski resort Verbier, at the Hotel Farinet, from 8 December – April, to be run by him, his chef Nicolas Wilkinson, and front of house Selena Afnan-Holmes.

*   Col’Cacchio has opened a new outlets in Westlake, and a new one is coming in Claremont too.

*   A new Vida é Caffe new branches are to open on Maindean Place in Claremont, at the new Wembley Square 2 development, at The Paddocks, and Groote Schuur.  Two more branches are planned for Mauritius.

*    Honest Chocolate is opening a second outlet, a ‘production kitchen’ in the Woodstock Industrial Centre

*   Moyo is to open in November, where the Paulaner Braühaus was in the V & A Waterfront.  It has taken over the tearoom at Kirstenbosch already.

*   TRUTH Coffee has opened on Buitenkant Street

*   FEAST is to open where Franschhoek Food Emporium was, in Place Vendome

*   Deluxe Coffeeworks has opened where Reuben’s Deli used to be in Franschhoek.

*   Okamai Japanese Restaurant has opened at Glenwood wine estate in Franschhoek

*   Cavalli restaurant is said to open on the stud farm on R44, between Stellenbosch and Somerset West, this year or next

*   The Slug & Lettuce has opened where Beads was on Church Street in Stellenbosch

*   Stables at Vergelegen Bistro has opened as a lunch restaurant in Somerset West.  Its Lady Phillips Restaurant is being given a make-over by Christo Barnard, and will open on 1 November with a new name called Camphors at Vergelegen. The new chef will be PJ Vadas, previously of The Roundhouse in Camps Bay.

*   Coopmanshuijs in Stellenbosch is opening a restaurant.

*   Chef Johan van Schalkwyk has left the Stone Kitchen at Dunstone Winery, and has opened his own restaurant Twist Some More in Wellington.

*    Chef Bjorn Dingemans has opened The Millhouse Kitchen restaurant on Lourensford wine estate in Somerset West.

*   Chef Shane Sauvage (ex-La Vierge) has opened La Pentola restaurant in Hermanus.

*   Ali Baba Kebab (renamed from Laila) has opened as a small beef and lamb kebab take-away and sit-down outlet, next door to Codfather in Camps Bay

*   Gibson’s Gourmet Burger and Smoked Ribs has opened as a 70-seater restaurant in the V&A Waterfront, taking part of Belthazar. Owned by the Belthazar/Balducci group.

*   Down South Food Bar, previously on Long Street, is said to re-open in the Riverside Centre in Rondebosch

*   Ou Meul Bakkery from Riviersonderend has opened a bakery and coffee shop in Long Street

*   Deluxe Coffeeworks has opened a roastery and coffee bar at 6 Roodehek Street

*    The Deli @ The Square has opened at Frater Square in Paarl.

*   David Higgs (ex Rust en Vrede) is opening a new 30 seater restaurant in The Saxon in Johannesburg.

*   Big Route Top Gourmet Pizzeria has opened on Main Road, Green Point, next door to Woolworths, serving 52 different pizzas, salads and crêpes.

*   Cousins has opened in the Parliament Hotel, where Il Cappero used to be.

* Aces ‘n’ Spades Bar has opened in ex-Boo Radley on Hout Street

*   No. 6 Restaurant at Welbedacht has opened at Welbedacht/Schalk Burger & Sons wine estate in Wellington, run by the ex-owners of Oude Wellington

*   Café Dulce is to open a new branch in Tygervalley Centre

*   Gourmetboerie is to open at the bottom end of Kloof Street, where Depasco used to be, in October.

*   Kushi Indian Restaurant has opened a branch on Main Road in Sea Point

*   Time & Place Restaurant and Bar has opened on the corner of Wale and Buitengracht Street

*   Make Sushi Bar has opened in Sea Point

*   Thai Café is opening on Plein Street, Stellenbosch

*   Simply Asia has opened in Paarl

*   Restaurant @ Zomerlust has opened in Paarl

*    Christina’s has opened at Van Loveren in Robertson

*   Bellini’s is said to be opening on Greenmarket Square in October

*   Moksh Authentic Indian Cuisine restaurant has opened in Paarl

*   Vino’s has opened in Wellington

*   Alfama’s has opened on Waterkant Street

*   Taj Mahal has opened in Sea Point

*   It’s a House is to open on Jarvis Street in October, as a bar, coffee shop, and design art space.

*   Lion’s Head Bar is to open on Bree Street in October, selling craft beer and food

*   An Indian restaurant is to open in the original Madame Zingara building on Loop Street, by the Madame Zingara Group

*   The Caviar Group is opening three new restaurants in the Gateway Centre in Umhlanga by the end of this year: Beluga, Sevruga, and Osetra

*   A new bar and Café is to open underneath the Cape Royale Luxury Hotel, where Bamboo used to be

*   Cattle Baron has opened in Hermanus.

*   Café Blanc de Noir has opened on Brenaissance wine estate in Stellenbosch

* The Reserve is said to be opening a beach restaurant in the V&A Waterfront.

*   Chef Nic van Wyk, previously with Terroir, is opening a restaurant at Diemersdal in Durbanville during the course of this month.

*   Lizette’s Kitchen has opened in Vöelklip, Hermanus.

*   Cattle Baron is to open at Pontac Manor in Paarl

*   Col’Cacchio is opening in Hermanus at the end of November

*   Merchant Café is opening on Long Street, opposite Merchants on Long, later this month.

* Paulina’s Restaurant is opening at Rickety Bridge in Franschhoek

*   Ocean Jewel Deli opens at Woodstock Junction on 22 October.

*   Buitenverwachting has opened a Coffee Shop and Roastery

* Wakaberry is opening on Kloof Street at the end of October

*   Rock Sushi Thai has opened in Meadowridge

*   Jimmy Jimanos sports bar is opening on Long Street

*   Dolcé Bakery is opening in St John’s Arcade in Sea Point

*   The Coffee Bloc has opened at Buitenverwachting

*   The Salzburger Grill has opened in Sea Point

Restaurant Closures

*   Sabarosa in Bakoven has closed down.

* Sunbird Bistro in Camps Bay has closed down

*   Limoncello in Gardens has closed down, but is continuing with its pop-up restaurant truck

*   Paparazzi has closed down on St George’s Mall

*   Wicked Treats in Franschhoek has closed down.

*   Casa Nostra has closed down in Sea Point, until it finds a new venue.

*   Bistro on Rose in Bo-Kaap has closed down as a restaurant

*   The Kove in Camps Bay has closed down, its space has become part of sister restaurant Zenzero

*   Sinnfull has closed down in Sea Point and Camps Bay

*   Liam Tomlin Food is closing down in Franschhoek at the end of October

Restaurant staff/venue changes

*    Il Cappero has moved from Barrack Street, to Fairway Street in Camps Bay.

*  Table Thirteen has reduced in size in Green Point and will open in Paarden Eiland later this year.

*   The V&A Waterfront Food Court is closed for renovations until November.  A sign outside the construction area lists the following businesses moving into or returning to the area: Primi Express, Anat, Carnival, Nür Halaal, Royal Bavarian Bakery, KFC, Boost Juice, Simply Asia, Steers, Debonairs, Subway, Marcel’s, and Haagan Dazs.  Nando’s is also opening.

*   Fyndraai Restaurant will move to another building on the wine estate in November, and will offer fine dining.  The current restaurant will serve light lunches and picnics.

*   Josephine Gutentoft has moved to Makaron at Majeka House as Restaurant Manager and Sommelier.

*   The Reserve has changed its name to Reserve Brasserie. Seelan Sundoo, ex Grand Café Camps Bay and ex La Perla, is the new consultant chef and GM (Seelan Sundoo has since left, now running the Shimmy Beach Club).

*   Chef Andrew Mendes from ex-Valora is now at Nelson’s Eye restaurant, where they are setting up a lunch section and cocktail bar upstairs.

*   Giulia’s Food Café Restaurant has opened where Miss K was on Main Road, Green Point. Now serve Italian-style lunch and dinner, but have retained some Miss K breakfast and pastry items.

*   Having bought the farm about 18 months ago, Antonij Rupert Wines has taken over the Graham Beck Franschhoek property. They will re-open the tasting room in October, initially offering all its Antonij Rupert, Cape of Good Hope, Terra del Capo, and Protea wines to taste.  They are renovating the manor house, to which the Antonij Rupert and Cape of Good Hope wines will be moved for tasting at a later stage.

*   Orphanage is expanding into a property at its back, opening on Orphan Street, in December, creating a similar second bar downstairs, and opening Orphanage Club upstairs, with 1920’s style music by live performers

*   GOLD Restaurant has moved into the Trinity building

*   Opal Lounge has closed down on Kloof Street, and has moved into Blake’s Bar building, renaming it Dinner at Blake’s. A wine and tapas bar has also been opened, called Bar Rouge.

*   Mano A Mano has opened on Park Street, where Green’s used to be.

*   MondeVino Restaurant at Montecasino in Johannesburg, the MasterChef SA prize for the next two years, is to be renamed Aarya, and is to be run by Chef Deena Naidoo from November onwards.

*   Bizerca has moved into the ex-Gourmet Burger space in Heritage Square on Shortmarket Street.

*    Co-owner Abbi Wallis has taken over the running of The Stone Kitchen at Dunstone Winery in Wellington.

*   Marcelino has left Marcelino’s Bakery, leaving the control with Mr Zerban.  A Zerban’s style restaurant is being added onto the bakery and will open mid-October.  It will change its name to EuroHaus.

*   Chef Chris Erasmus from Pierneef à La Motte is doing a stage with Chef Rene Redzepi at Noma, the number one World’s 50 Best Restaurants, in Copenhagen this month

*   MasterChef SA runner-up Sue-Ann Allen is joining South Africa’s number one Eat Out Top 10 restaurant The Greenhouse as an intern for a month, from 21 August.

*   Vintage India has moved out of the Garden’s Centre to the corner of Hiddingh and Mill Street, around the corner.

*   Nook Eatery in Stellenbosch has been sold, with new owners.

*   Crêpe et Cidre has closed down in Franschhoek.  Gideon’s The Famous Pancake House has opened in its space.

*   Brampton winetasting bar on Church Street, Stellenbosch, is undergoing renovations to treble its current size, planning to reopen in the first week of September.

*   Noop restaurant in Paarl has new owners

*   Buena Vista Social Club has changed its name to Barbosa Social Club

*   Chris Marais is the new chef at Blaauwklippen, previously with The Oyster Box

*   Daniel de Villiers is the new chef at Grand Dedale in Wellington, previously with Delaire Graff

*   Phil Alcock is the new chef at Two Oceans Restaurant at Cape Point, having previously worked at The Cape Grace, The Showroom, maze, and more

*   Albert van der Loo, previously with Le Coq and Dieu Donne restaurants in Franschhoek, is the new Head Chef at Oude Werf Hotel in Stellenbosch.

*   Chef Emile Fortuin, who was at Reuben’s Robertson for a very short time, has left and moved to Tokara

*   Camil and Ingrid Haas (ex Bouillabaisse and Camil’s) have returned to Franschhoek, with the view to get involved in a restaurant

*   Chef Cheyne Morrisby has left The Franschhoek Kitchen at Holden Manz, and has joined the Mantella Group (owners of Blake’s and ex-Opal Lounge). Update: Chef Cheyne has left the Mantella Group, after a very short time.

*   Tiaan van Greunen is the new Executive Chef at Reuben’s at The Robertson Small Hotel, after the departure of Emile Fortuin

*   Alex von Ulmenstein is the new Restaurant Manager at Indochine, at Delaire Graff Estate

*   Manager Raymond Brown has left Reuben’s Franschhoek, and has been replaced by Martell Smith.

*   Zelda Oelofse is the new Manager of Harvest Restaurant at Laborie, having taken over from Yolanda Prinsloo.

*   Maryna Frederiksen is the new Executive Chef at The Franschhoek Kitchen at Holden Manz.

*   The ex-Caveau owners are said to be taking over the running of the Twankey Bar of the Taj hotel.

*   Sand at The Plettenberg hotel has changed its name to Seafood at The Plettenberg.

Restaurant breaks

*   Grande Provence is closing on Sunday evenings until the end of September.

*   Tokara is closing for a Spring break from 24 September – 4 October

*   Planet Restaurant is closed on Sunday evenings until the end of September

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

Restaurant Specials top of Top 10 Whale Cottage Blogposts!

Our Blog is two and  half years old, and we have been dedicated to keeping up our initial goal of writing a blog post a day, with only a few exceptions.  Blog writing is scary initially, as one does not know if anyone, and who, is reading the blog, until one reads comments from readers, if they reveal their real names.

Out of interest, we checked the more than 400000 unique pageviews of our blogposts for the past twelve months via Google Analytics, widely regarded as the most reliable benchmark of readership.  Our Blogposts with the Winter, as well as the Spring and Summer Restaurant Specials, have attracted strong interest, with the remaining Top 10 most read blogposts being a mixed bag, containing four restaurant reviews, indicating that blog readers love reading about restaurants.  We have just launched the Winter 2011 Restaurant Specials list.

The Whale Cottage Blog Top 10 blog post list in the past twelve months is the following:

1.   Winter Restaurant Specials for winter 2010

2.   Table Mountain a nominee for the New7Wonders of the World

3.   Spring and Summer Restaurant Specials : 2010/2011

4.   Prince Albert’s attendance at Charlene Wittstock’s birthday party in Fresnaye in January 2009 – the recent engagement and the forthcoming marriage of the couple keeps pulling traffic to the blog

5.   Restaurant Review of Tokara DeliCATessen (a surprise, but probably due to potential search confusion between the Deli at Tokara, and the Tokara Restaurant.  Ranked third on Google search for this deli).

6.   Restaurant Review: Sotano by Caveau – this blogpost caused a stir, mainly due to the rude response it received on Twitter from one of the Caveau owners

7.   Presentation by Disney before World Cup to frontline hospitality and tourism staff, to enhance service levels – it was a ‘Mickey Mouse’ presentation, of little value, and cost the taxpayer a fortune!

8.   The Stellenbosch Restaurant Route – the popularity of this blogpost, listing the significant restaurants in Stellenbosch, is rewarding, as the Stellenbosch Restaurant Route is something I created on this blog, to honour Stellenbosch now wearing the Gourmet Capital crown.

9.  Restaurant Review: Pierneef à La Motte – this is one of my favourite reviews, and was a pleasure to write from the generous background information I received from Hein Koegelenberg, and in reaction to the amazing food that I have enjoyed there.  Experiencing it for the first time gave me goose bumps, knowing that this will become an Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant for 2011.

10.   Restaurant Review: Gaaitjie Restaurant in Paternoster – our review is regularly read, ranked first on Google for this restaurant. 

In the past month the Top 10 most read Blogposts were as follows:

1.   President of Ferrero Rocher dies in cycling accident in Cape Town – this is not normally a story we would write, but we wanted to correct early headlines that stated that Pietro Ferrero was ‘killed in SA accident’, implying yet another crime statistic, which was completely incorrect.

2.   The Consumer Protection Act, of vital importance to every South African business dealing with the consumer

3.   Departure of Chef David Higgs from Rust en Vrede – probably due to the lack of a statement from Higgs as to why he is leaving and where he is going, this blogpost still attracts regular readership

4.   Cape Town and Winelands Spring and Summer Restaurant Specials for summer 2010/2011

5.   Cape Town to become a 24-hour world class city, detailing plans for various development hubs in Cape Town, including the expansion of the Cape Town International Convention Centre

6.   Restaurant Review: Casparus Restaurant in Stellenbosch (right), an Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant prediction for 2012

7.   Restaurant Review: Dear Me in Shortmarket Street

8.   Tasting Room best restaurant in Africa/Middle East, reflecting the results of the S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants

9.   Restaurant Review: Dash at the Queen Victoria Hotel, an Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Award prediction for 2012

10.   Hotels in Cape Town offer wide range of winter rates, but discriminate against foreigners.

Google Analytics also measures clicks on tags, and the top tags in the past month, which led Google searches to the Whale Cottage Blog, were ‘Charlene Wittstock’ (very high source of traffic), ‘Prince William’, ‘Table Mountain’, ‘Marthinus van Schalkwyk’, ‘El Bulli’, ‘Cape of Good Hope’, ‘Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company;  ‘petrol price’, ‘SA Tourism’, and ‘Hemelhuijs Restaurant’.

We welcome your feedback about our blog, and the stories you would like to read more about.  Thank you to all our readers for your readership, support, suggestions, and comments.  

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

Restaurant Review: Tokara’s creative cuisine chemistry is SA’s El Bulli, Richard Carstens our Ferran Adria!

El Bulli was the world’s top S.Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants  for a number of years, and its chef/owner Ferran Adria has been saluted as one of the world’s most creative chefs, who closed his restaurant near Roses in Spain for a number of months every year, to try out new recipes in Barcelona.  Whilst he will close down his restaurant for an undefined period later this year, he remains a cuisine guru.  For Tokara chef Richard Carstens Adria has been an icon chef, and Chef Richard has been following and has been inspired by Adria since 1999, buying Adria’s recipe books that he publishes annually, yet he has never eaten at El Bulli.  After an invitation to try out Tokara’s new winter menu on Tuesday, I could not help but associate Tokara with El Bulli, and Chef Richard with Ferran Adria, always searching for a higher level of cuisine creativity.

Chef Richard showed me the five volume ‘Modernist Cuisine’, which he bought recently, and is edited by Nathan Myhrvold from America.  This chef was an academic wizard, worked for Stephen Hawking and Microsoft, and moved into cuisine, one of his passions.  The books document the newest ideas and techniques in cuisine, being modern interpretations of classical cuisine.   Chef Richard described the movements in cuisine, from Auguste Escoffier, to Nouvelle Cuisine, to Deconstruction (now renamed Techno-Emotional, Chef Richard told me!) led by Adria, to Modernist Cuisine.  Adria was the first chef to blur the definition between savoury and sweet, by creating savoury ice creams, for example.

Chef Richard has received six Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant awards in his career, whilst he was at Le Provencal (previous name of Grande Provence), Bijoux and Lynton Hall, and may have had more, had he stayed at past restaurants for longer than a year.   He seems really happy and at home at Tokara, having been given the freedom to experiment and create, whilst serving food that the Tokara guests appreciate.   Tokara Restaurant owner Wilhelm Kuhn wrote about Chef Richard: “Richard is a supremely talented chef and a real inspiration to the chefs in the kitchen.  I haven’t met such a nurturing, creative and intelligent chef before.  A lot of things that some chefs have cottoned on to recently, he was doing more than 10 years ago.  He has an encyclopediac knowledge of food, techniques and the industry, local and international.   It was overdue that someone gave him a chance to really show his mettle. I am sure he’ll be as much part of Tokara’s legacy as Etienne Bonthuys before him and winemaker Miles Mossop.”

I visited Tokara just after Kuhn and Carstens took over Tokara in October last year, and it was good to see that there were familiar waiters from then, and from Jardine, which Kuhn closed down in February.  It being a cold wintry day, I was happy to sit at the table close to the massive fireplace.  In the past few months the restaurant has had a make-over in terms of a new carpet, softening the sound in the room and the interior, and the chairs have been upholstered in an attractive blue fabric.  Each of the chairs has the name of a wine cultivar on it, bringing the wine estate into the restaurant.  New lights have been added too.  Wooden tables and chairs fill the restaurant, and I liked the design of the half-round tables placed against the glass doors, seating couples. There is no table cloth, but material serviettes, Eetrite cutlery and good stemware. The Tokara tasting room is in the same building, a large room with a massive fireplace, that was buzzing with tasters.  The cloakrooms are shared with the tasting room, and are a modern combination of stainless steel basins set in wood.

In the tasting room a specially designed William Kentridge drawing for his “The Magic Flute” opera and Tokara wine series hangs over a display of Tokara wines.  In the restaurant a Kentridge tapestry called ‘The Porter and the Bicycle’, inspired by the Second World War and hence the map of Europe forming the background to the tapestry, Manager Johan Terblanche explained, dominates the interior, the only artwork in the main restaurant.  It was specially made for Tokara owner GT Ferreira.   A Jacqueline Crewe-Brown painting is in the second room, and a second is to come.  Art is an important part of Tokara Winery, and they regularly exhibit art made from wine.  An extensive collection of art is displayed in the passages leading to the restaurant and tasting room, and even in the cloakrooms.  At the entrance to the building, a fascinating tree-shaped ‘sculpture’ attracts attention, a modern statement of what is lying inside the building.

Chef Richard came to welcome me at the table, and had prepared a special 10-course menu of small dishes to try, consisting of some of the starters, main courses and desserts on his new winter menu.  He told me that he and his team try to take the menus one step higher.  He invited me to come to the kitchen at any time, to see him and his team prepare the dishes, which offer I took up, and immediately another little dish of smoked salmon ice cream topped with caviar and served with a colourful citrus salsa was made for me to try.  After the restaurant re-opens after a week’s break from 2 – 9 May, a Chef’s Menu will be introduced, consisting of three courses plus an amuse bouche and a palate cleanser, at an excellent price of R 225 (their 8-course degustation menu cost R400 in summer). 

Staff look neat in white shirts and black pants.  They exude efficiency and all are knowledgeable about Chef Richard’s dishes, one needing a good memory to remember all the ingredients that make up his masterpieces.  Even Jaap-Henk Koelewijn, the sommelier, was perfectly at ease in explaining what was in the dishes that he brought to the table, helping the waiter Ivan on occasion.  I made Jaap-Henk’s job difficult, in limiting my wine drinking over lunch, and stating my preference for Shiraz.  He started me off with a Tokara Zondernaam Shiraz 2009,  and told me that the ‘Zondernaam’ will be phased out in future vintages, due to the improved quality of the winemaking, and all wines will be marketed under the Tokara name in future.  The wine was chilled to 16°C, quite cold for a red wine I felt, but Jaap-Henk explained that a colder temperature helps to temper the tannins in a red wine. This was followed up with a Sequillo Shiraz and Grenache blend, made by Eben Sadie.

I started with a beautifully presented and colourful hot butternut soup, thick and creamy, and served in a glass bowl, to which Chef Richard had added a smoked snoek croquette, which gave the soup an unusual distinctive taste. To this he had added shaved almonds and salted apricots, and drizzled it with coriander oil.  On the winter menu this starter costs R60.   This was followed by a calamari risotto, and its lemon velouté came through distinctly  to enhance the calamari.  It costs R65 as a starter, and was decorated with rice crisps and toasted brioche that had been dyed black with squid ink.  A beautiful autumn-inspired dish contained beetroot, and leek which had been dyed a reddish colour using beetroot juice.  It contained a number of interesting ingredients, including a Gewürztraminer-poached pear, gorgonzola balls, a ball each of yellow pepper and beetroot sorbet, pear compressed into small squares, and hazelnut.   This starter costs R65 on the winter menu.  

Another starter dish, costing R75 on the winter menu, was a chicken, crisp pancetta and prawn stack, served with an egg prepared at 62°C to get the white of the egg to set whilst keeping the yolk runny.  It also contained almonds, and was served with a Spanish Sofrito smoked paprika sauce.  This is a cold starter.  So too was the starter of fig, teriyake glazed tofu, goat’s cheese, orange slices, hazelnuts and a tatsoi sauce.  This starter does not appear on the winter menu, but was very popular on the summer menu, Chef Richard said.   A palate cleanser of rose geranium sorbet (surprisingly white but tasting heavenly, more subtle in taste than that at Dash restaurant) and a pickled ginger sorbet (surprisingly pink) was a refreshing break on my culinary journey. 

The first main course was a herb-crusted rainbow trout served on mash and wilted spinach, courgette and pine kernels, with a lovely violet beurre rouge, which costs R120 as a main course on the winter menu.  As the eighth course, I could not finish all of the peppered springbok, which Chef Richard said he sources from Graaff Reinet, and this is one of his best sellers, costing R155.  It was served on parsnip purée, with beetroot and croquettes, decorated with slices of plum, and served with an hibiscus jus.

The desserts were too delicious to refuse, and I had a wonderful strong cappuccino (R20) made from Deluxe coffee with each.  The first dessert had no colour at all other than white, unusual given Chef Richard’s colourful dishes that had preceded the desserts.  It consisted of a refreshing lemon mousse, mascarpone mousse, white chocolate sorbet, pieces of white chocolate and of meringue, and an almond financier, a type of sponge, cut into blocks.  It costs R50 on the winter menu.  The final course was a dessert (R55) made with hazelnut ice cream, pistachio sponge, aerated chocolate, coulant (a mini chocolate fondant), honeycomb and hazelnut streusel.  As if there was not enough food already, the cappuccino was served with a coconut chocolate and two mini-meringues held together with chocolate.   

The winelist and the menu are both presented in beautiful small black leather-covered holders, with the Ferreira family crest on them.  The winelist states that BYO is not allowed.  Cigars and cocktails are offered, as are 100 wines.  Wines by the glass include Colmant Brut (R55/R290), Graham Beck Brut Rosé (R85/R430), Pol Roger Brut (R180/R890), and Sterhuis Blanc de Blanc (R50/R250).  Seven red wines are offered by the glass, ranging from R60 for Hartenberg Merlot 2008 to R125 for Raats Cabernet Franc 2008.  Tokara Zondernaam Cabernet Sauvignon (2008) and Shiraz (2009) cost R35.  Ten white wines by the glass include seven Tokara ones, including Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, ranging in price from R25 – R55. Billecart Salmon Brut Rosé costs R1500, its Elisabeth Salmon 1996 R3000, and its Clos Saint Hilaire 1998 R7000.  Steenberg 1682 Brut costs R290.  Five Shiraz choices are offered, starting at R135 for Tokara Zondernaam 2009, to R1400 for Hartenberg’s Gravel Hill 2005.  French wines dominate the imported wine section, with 38 choices, ranging from R600 for Château Margaux 1996, to R8500 for two wines: Chambertin Armand Rosseau 1995, and Le Musigny Comte George de Vogue 1995.  

The only downside of the lunch was the number of noisy children running around, despite the menu not catering for children at all – half-portions of the linefish of the day and of steak are served with chips for children.   I was impressed with the tolerance and patience shown to the children by the waiters, when stepping into the fireplace, for example.

Chef Richard Carstens is a definite Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant contender for 2011.  He is constantly reinventing himself, not happy to just stay with one cuisine style, but looking to challenge himself and his menu regularly.  He is hungry for new knowledge and inspiration, finding it in music, in fashion, in nature, and in books.  His food is colourful, and incredible attention is paid to creating a dish consisting of a number of unusual elements, many of them having undergone prior work to add to the palette on the plate.  When I first visited the new Tokara in October, Chef Richard sent out a carpaccio as an amuse bouche, and my son and I struggled to identify what it was made from, having quite a wild taste – we could not believe that it was made from watermelon, an idea that he had picked up from Mugaritz, now third ranked on the S.Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants, but that he had executed completely differently.  Chef Richard has a passion for his craft, commendable from a chef who has been around for longer than most in the Cape, and it shows in his creative cuisine.  I felt very privileged to have been invited by him to try his new winter menu.

Tokara Restaurant, Tokara Winery, Helshoogte Pass, Stellenbosch, Tel (021) 885-2550.  www.tokararestaurant.co.za (The website is disappointing for a top restaurant, only containing the address, telephone number, and Facebook and Twitter links.  There is no menu, no winelist nor Image Gallery.  Twitter: @Tokara_  @RichardCarstens. Tuesday – Sunday lunch, Tuesday – Saturday dinner.

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

La Colombe best SA restaurant ever on ‘World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards’

La Colombe in Constantia, Cape Town, has been selected as the 12th best restaurant in the world, in the 2010 ‘S.Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards’, announced in London by Restaurant magazine yesterday.   This is the best performance by a South African restaurant ever in the 8 year history of the Awards, in achieving the highest ranking.   La Colombe was also named the Acqua Panna Best Restaurant in Africa and the Middle East.   La Colombe improved its performance relative to 2009 by an astounding 26 positions, having been a new entrant to the list last year.  La Colombe is also the top restaurant in the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurants list in South Africa.

Le Quartier Francais in Franschhoek, which has previously performed best in South Africa on this restaurant list, was ranked in 31 st position, an improvement of 6 places.   Rust en Vrede outside Stellenbosch was ranked in 74th position.

The Top 50 awards caused some upsets, in that El Bulli, the number one restaurant for 3 years running, dropped to second place, behind Noma in Denmark, and The Fat Duck in the UK dropped by one position as well, to reach 3rd place, despite having to close for a while last year when many of its customers became ill after eating at the restaurant.   No Gordon Ramsay restaurant is on the Top 100 list for the second year running.   The French Laundry has been a highly rated restaurant in the USA, and it dropped 20 positions, into 32nd place.   Other big drops in ranking were experienced by Die Schwarzwaldstube in Germany and St John in the UK.  Fast climbs up the ladder were Daniel in the USA (up by 33 positions), Le Chateaubriand In France, Mathias Dahlgren in Sweden, Quay in Australia, and Iggy’s in Singapore.

The top ten restaurants of the S.Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants are the following:

1.   Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark

2.   El Bulli, outside Roses, Spain

3.   The Fat Duck in Bray, UK (and voted as The Chef’s Choice)

4.   El Celler de Can Roca, in Girona, Spain

5.   Mugaritz in San Sebastian, Spain

6.   Osteria Francescana, in Modena, Italy

7.   Alinea, in Chicago, USA

8.   Daniel, in New York, USA

9.   Arzak in San Sebastian, Spain

10.  Per Se in New York, USA.

The world’s best of the top restaurants are based in the USA (8), France (6), Spain and Italy (with 5 each), and the United Kingdom (4).

The top 50 restaurants in the S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants can be viewed here.

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