Tag Archives: Tank

Restaurant Review: Orphanage cocktail emporium key to class, quirkiness, and social responsibility!

The most unusual name for a classy cocktail bar must be that of newly opened Orphanage on Bree Street, which is on the corner with Orphan Street, a street name I had not noticed previously. I was impressed with its elegant and classy interior, unusual cocktails and other drinks, and interesting value for money food.

As I was driving to the Labia cinema last Saturday, I drove past the former Rhubarb Room space, and saw the new brown painted exterior, with candle-holders outside attracting one’s attention.  With the front door open, one could also see a massive chandelier, which runs along the length of the room.  I stopped to take a quick interior photograph, and returned after the movie, when the venue had filled up a little more, its first day of opening to the public and also the birthday of Johnny Friedman, the owner of the building and a partner in the business. Manager and co-partner Raymond Endean seemed a bit hesitant about sharing information initially and about letting me have a menu to take along for this story, but mellowed as more guests arrived and all appeared to be running smoothly.

The massive chandelier dominates the interior, almost detracting from the massive wooden bar running along the length of one wall.  On the opposite side are striped couches with coffee tables, creating sections, as well as a collection of high bar tables and stools.  More seating is available in the little courtyard, which one had not noticed before.  In the far end a DJ had set up his equipment, and played mood music, which became progressively louder, but did not overpower the conversation.  He was later joined by saxophonist Jamie Faull, and they performed together.  Jamie plays his sax on Wednesday and Sunday evenings. The staff wear amazing outfits, with waistcoats, black pants, Orphanage aprons with the key logo, and bowler hats, and are all very friendly and eager to serve.  There is low lighting, despite the chandelier, with many candles.  Cleverly the high table tops have been cut out to hold a bucket, into which a candle had been placed.  If one orders sparkling wine or white wines, it becomes an ice bucket, a clever touch, as it is space-efficient too.  A chest of drawers allows one to store one’s left over bottle for a next visit, and hence the key is the symbol printed on the brown serviettes, on the business cards, and is incorporated in the design of the menu too. The decor design was done by Inhouse architects. A large rectangular serviette contains the Inox fork and unbranded knife in a brown sleeve, with the key logo, brought to the table on a silver tray. Everything is printed on brown paper, with the key logo, and even the bill was presented in a brown sleeve. They purposely try to steer away from what everyone else does, wanting to be unique.

The first indication I had that things are different at Orphanage was when the cappuccino was served in a ‘blikbeker’, the sugar sticks being served in a smaller size.  Raymond explained that he managed Asoka Bar for seven years, and Eclipse and Caprice in Camps Bay prior to that.  The idea behind Orphanage is to go back to the time of the Prohibition, to create the feel of a ‘hidden bar’.  In deciding on a name, they were aware of their location on Orphan Street, also the home of the St Paul’s Church across the road.  A dreadful influenza epidemic swept through the region in the early 1900’s, leaving many children in the Cape orphaned.  Children would come to the church for food, giving the street its name, and Reverend Sidney Warren Lavis helped set up the first ‘orphanage for boys’ in Cape Town in 1919, called the St Francis Childrens’ Home, in Athlone. The placemat proudly shares: “ORPHANAGE are very proud supporters of the St Francis Children’s home that we derive our quirky name & rich heritage from.. because this type of tomfoolery has a social conscience too”. R15 of the ‘More Tea Vicar?’ drink of Finlandia vanilla, rooibos syrup, cranberry, and lemon, which costs R55, is donated directly to the St Francis Children’s Home. In December and January R 10 will be added to every bill, to donate to the St Francis orphanage.  The Rector of St Paul’s blessed Orphanage on its first day of opening. Raymond said that they understand that the name is controversial, as showed when we Tweeted about it.

The drinks list has a number of Orphanage branded wines, and Raymond told me that sommelier and consultant Kent Scheermeyer is helping them to source two red and two white wines, as well as a sparkling wine.  He wasn’t sure where they were coming from, but the Pinot Noir will be from De Grendel, and Mullineux will supply a red blend.  The cocktail list was compiled from a study of bar trends and 200 cocktails were evaluated. Most have a quirky name, and are served in quirky ‘vessels’ too, such as a fine Victorian tea cup.  A cucumber Martini is served with a cucumber sandwich on the side.  Interesting is that a drink is named after the police commissioner in the Western Cape, Hilton Hendricks, who arrived for the birthday party too, with his bodyguards, who (surprisingly) were very hesitant to share his first name.  Moët & Chandon costs R800, Ruinart R1000, Dom Pérignon R1800, and Krug R3600.  &Union beers, Grolsch, Peroni, and some commercial beers are available.  More than twenty cocktails, with interesting names, many related to the name of the establishment (e.g. ‘Innocent Orphan Annie’) cost between R35 and R65.

The menu will be changed every three months or so, and is restricted to only ten items at the moment. It is the domain of Chef André Hendricks, with consultant chef Mac Mulholland, who has worked with HQ, Asoka and Tank.  A kingklip carpaccio (‘Fishy on my Dishy’ – photograph right) sounded unusual, and was exceptional, drizzled with lemon and olive oil (R50).  I was less impressed with ‘Rabbit Food’, with too much rocket, and little asparagus and aged pecorino (R45). Other tapas options are Cauli-fritters (R40), ‘Crayfish Signature’ (R95), ‘Milanese Chick Chick’ (R65), ‘Octopus Crunch’ (R55), and ‘Little Lamb Buns’ (R60).  One senses that the team had great fun in coming up with the names.  One can also order platters of mezze or charcuterie (R95 each), and cheeses (R75), olives, nuts and truffle chips, or a dessert (at R35 each) of ‘pineapple thins’ or ‘Molten Coco Loaf’, which turned out to be a lovely chocolate fondant served with vanilla ice cream. The dessert and the salad were served in bowls set inside wooden blocks, again an interesting and unusual presentation.

Raymond said that they are almost purposely ‘anti-marketing’, wanting to grow their business on the basis of word-of-mouth, on the strength of their service, which was friendly and kind. I was lucky that charming and passionate co-owner Katie Friedman was at Orphanage too, and that she spent time with me to give me more background to the establishment. She has worked in marketing film production companies in the USA, and her business card describes her as the ‘House Marketeer’. She emphasised how blessed they are to have St Paul’s as their neighbours, and that they can contribute to the work that they do for the St Francis orphanage.

Orphanage cocktail emporium is a definite must-see and try, and a convenient stop before and after a night out, with ample parking at night.  It is a classy place to visit, fun and quirky, and having a drink there has a social benefit too.

POSTSCRIPT 5/4: A lovely 26°C evening, at the start of the Easter weekend, was a good opportunity to go back to Orphanage.  I couldn’t believe that it was jam packed outside, and some customers said they had come because of this review.  Co-owner Katie Friedman came to chat and thank me for the review, and told me that next summer they will do breakfast (with porridge options) and lunch too. She also said that they will be open every night of the week now. I tried their crayfish buns.

POSTSCRIPT 18/4: Talk about customer service.  On a last visit I asked if Orphanage had Bailey’s or Cape Velvet, and they told they only had Amarula.  When I went back to re-photograph the kingklip carpaccio in better light tonight, Raymond proudly showed me the Bailey’s they now stock!

Orphanage cocktail emporium, 227 Bree Street, corner Orphan Street, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 424-2004. www.TheOrphanage.co.za Twitter:@OrphanageClub  Monday – Sunday 17h00 – 2h00, Fridays from 15h00.

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

Restaurant Review: Genki Sushi and Japanese Tapas Bar may serve best sushi in the Cape!

If one walks past Genki in the courtyard of the De Wet Centre in Stellenbosch, one could be likely to dismiss it, from its exterior, given that there are a number of other restaurants that spill out onto the courtyard, and may look more attractive options.  It was seeing Jenny Kavarana, a food lover, eating there recently, and receiving a recommendation from Mike Ratcliffe of Warwick via Twitter, that I had to go and try it last week.   When I saw Chef Christoph Dehosse sitting at the counter for lunch last Saturday, and he told me that Genki is his favourite restaurant (other than his Restaurant Christophe of course), I knew it was a special place. 

The focus at Genki is purely on the food, and first prize is to have the ‘master’, Arata Koga, prepare the food  when going to Genki.   Chef Arata was the master sushi chef at Tank, when it was in its heyday, and he left Tank about eighteen months ago to open his own restaurant.  There are no tablecloths, no material serviettes, nor cutlery.  Only a cheap paper serviette, cheap chopsticks, and two bottles of Kikkoman soya (one regular, one “Less Sodium”) are on the table.   Tables are white, and the collection of mixed red, white and black chairs around the tables adds a touch of colour outside, and shade is provided by umbrellas and the trees in the courtyard.  Inside, the tables and chairs are black, and can only seat three couples at the three tables, but one can sit at the counter to see Chef Arata prepare the food, and to chat to him in his broken English.  The ceiling is covered with Japanese lanterns.  I was told that “Genki” means energy, or vibe.  

The menu and beverage list has a wooden cover, and is a functional presentation of information about and prices of the Japanese Tapas, Sushi and beverages on offer.   A number of Japanese Tapas options range from R28 (for Edamame – steamed soy beans – and salmon cakes), to R78 for Crispy soft shell crab.   I had the most wonderful deep-fried calamari legs, with a crispy batter and served with a spicy sauce and a ginger soy sauce, both delicious accompaniments, only costing R35 for a generous plateful.  Two Yakitori chicken skewers served with a rich sticky teriyaki sauce cost R 32, which my son enjoyed.  He also ordered Tempura Shitaki, and the batter was very light, allowing the mushroom texture to come through (R28). 

In the ‘Salads and Miso Soup’ section one can order Sashimi salad, Seared Tuna and avacado salad, both costing R58,  and deep-fried calamari leg salad, at R45.  Miso soup costs R45.

I ordered a prawn and avocado handroll (R38), one of my favourite sushi choices, and previously that served by Fu.shi in Plettenberg Bay was my favourite.  Now that Fu.shi has closed down, and I have discovered Genki, I will only be eating sushi at Genki.   Master Arata’s rice is light, not stodgy, and as Chef Christophe said, Genki sets the benchmark for sushi.  Sushi will never taste the same again.  The handroll was crunchy, and was filled with prawns, the thinnest cucumber strips and avocado, as well as mayonnaise.   I was allowed to eat it with cutlery.  California rolls cost R42 for eight pieces, and R32 for a handroll.  Two Oceans roll, which is a mix of tuna and salmon, and containing avocado, costs R48/R38;  Spicy Tuna Roll costs R45/R35; Rainbow Roll, being California Roll inside and having tuna or salmon on top, costs R68; a scary sounding Dragon Roll, with eel, cucumber and avocado, costs R62;  a Genki Crunch Roll consists of salmon, tuna, linefish, cream cheese and avocado tempura, and costs R60 for 6 pieces; and a Spider Roll, consisting of soft shell crab, cucumber, avocado and ponzu (a citrus sauce), costs R65.   “Fashion sandwiches” and Maki rolls are also available.  Ngiri sushi mixed platters range in price from R85 – R123 for about 12 pieces.   One can also order two pieces of sushi, e.g. Torro, being the fatty part of tuna, and costs R38; eel costs R36; prawn R24, just to mention a few of the options.   I ended off my meal with Tempura prawns, covered with the most delicious thick batter I have ever tasted (R48).  Only one dessert is offered – Green Tea ice cream at R32.

“Master” Arata also runs the Genki Academy, at which one can be taught how to make sushi.   One may eat one’s creations after the lesson, and the charge is the cost of the item on the menu.

The winelist is very restricted, with only four brands or fewer per variety.   Simonsig sparkling wine costs R38/R152, and L’Avenir R162.  Warwick Professor Black Sauvignon Blanc costs R162, and Ernst & Co’s an affordable R105.  Only Spier’s Signature is offered for Shiraz, at R97.

I will be back at Genki when I next go to Stellenbosch.  The service from waiter Rudi, who previously worked at Tank,  was professional and friendly, and he willingly went to “Master” Arata to ask him my questions, “Master” Arata and I having a “Lost in Translation” handicap.  The prices are very reasonable.

Genki Sushi and Japanese Tapas Bar, De Wet Centre Courtyard, Church Street, Stellenbosch.  Tel (021) 887-5699.  No website.   Monday – Saturday 11h00 – 15h00, and 17h00 – 22h00.

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

Cape Town and Winelands Restaurant Spring/Summer Specials

For the past six months we have run a Restaurant winter specials list,  many of which were extended until the end of September.

We are delighted that many restaurants in Cape Town and the Winelands have seen the benefit of offering specials, and have decided to continue to do so for summer.   The list follows below, and will be updated continuously:

CAPE TOWN

*   Pure at Hout Bay Manor: 3 course dinner for R200, and R280 with a glass of wine added, summer. Tel (021) 790-0116.

*   Pepenero in Mouille Point : sirloin and chips R 79, seafood platter R 129, 1 kg prawn platter R 99, oysters R 9 each, sushi platter R109.  Half price sushi all day.  Summer. Tel (021) 439-9027

*  Sinn’s Restaurant at Wembley Square:  lunch (6 options) at R 50.  3-course dinner at R 150, Autumn. Tel (021) 465-0967

*   Theo’s on Beach Road, Mouille Point: oysters R 6 each, 1 kg prawns R 99, line fish R79, for lunch and dinner.  300 gram sirloin steak, spatchcock chicken peri peri, 500 gram spare ribs all R 79 for lunch only.  Full sushi platter R99, half platter R50. Summer. Tel (021) 439-3494.

*   Sevruga in the V&A Waterfront: half price sushi Monday – Saturday 12 – 6 pm; 25 % off sushi Sunday 12 – 2pm, 50 % off 2 – 6 pm.  Summer.  Tel (021) 421-5134

*   1800 Degrees in the Cape Royale Luxury Hotel, Main Road, Green Point: 100g sirloin + 100g rump + 100g rib eye, and sauce = R99.  Until end March. Tel (021) 430-0506  

*   Myoga at Vineyard Hotel, Newlands: 6 course dinner, with 5 choices per course, for R 195, Mondays – Saturdays, continues throughout summer Tel (021) 657-4545

*   Beluga, The Foundry, Green Point: 1 kg Prawns R 99; 50 % off sushi and cocktails all day Sunday, and from 12h00 – 19h00 weekdays. Mondays – Saturdays. Summer Tel (021) 418-2948.

*   221 Waterfront:  3-course meal and live music R135 on Wednesdays.  Dine & Cruise package: 1,5 hour cruise, 2 glasses sparkling wine, 3-course meal R 370; Lunch & Cruise package: 1 hour cruise and meal R210.  Until 30 April. Tel (021) 418-3633

*   Jakes in the Village/on Summerley, in Tokai and Kenilworth, respectively: 25 % off all dishes but must have a main course as a minimum, 5 – 7 pm only, 25 % off flatbreads on Mondays; Free Peroni, glass of wine or coffee for lunch; every 6th lunch free on Loyalty Card.  Mondays – Saturdays, Summer. Tel (021) 701 3272

*  The Lookout Deck, Hout Bay:  1 kg for prawns R 99, pay for 12 oysters and get 18, until end March. Tel (021) 790-0900

*   La Mouette, Regent Road, Sea Point: Autumn Tasting Menu dinner 6 courses R 240 for 2 persons, Tuesday – Sunday lunch and dinner.  Tel (021) 433-0856

*   Bertha’s in Simonstown: 1 kg mussels, 1 kg Queen prawns or 1 kg mini seafood platter cost R 99 each, R11 for Peroni linked to seafood platter.  Calamari, mussel, chips, BBQ chicken and wing platter R99. Summer. Tel (021) 786-2138

Pepperclub Luxury Hotel & Spa: 6 oysters and a glass of bubbly R60, Fridays from 16h00, with jazz. Current.

*   Aubergine:  2-course lunch R184,  3-course lunch R235, Wednesdays – Fridays, Summer.  Tel (021) 465-4909

*   Balducci’s: All pizzas (except Flaming Prawns) R49, 26-piece Platinum Sushi Plate for R99, Burgers from R55.  Monday – Sunday, 12h00 – 18h00, indefinite.  Tel (021) 421-6002

*   Ferryman’s Tavern, V&A Waterfront: Combo-specials R100 (linefish + calamari), R85 (sirloin + calamari), R99 (pork rib + chicken wings), Mussel hotpot R75, chocolate mudpie R26.   Summer.  Tel (021) 419-7748

*   Hildebrand: 2 courses R 99, 3 courses R 130;  Summer. Tel (021) 425-3385

*   Chenin Restaurant and Bar: 200g Sirloin steak R65, Cape Malay prawn curry R70, Moussaka R60 + glass of wine. From 5 May, for Autumn. Tel 021 425-2200

*   Leaf Restaurant and Bar: 51 % off sushi from 11h00 – 19h00, and all day on Sunday; 12 prawn platter R89, Dimsum 30 % off. 50 % off cocktails all day Sunday.  Summer. Tel (021) 418-4500

*   Blowfish in Blouberg:  R49 lunch specials, e.g. chicken schnitzel, 12-piece sushi, 6 oysters,  hake and chips.  Current  Tel (021) 556-5464

*   Cafe Chic:  Six Moroccan tapas for R 70.  2 course meal R 100, 3 course meal R 120. Until 15 April.  Tel (021) 465-7218 

*   OYO at V&A Hotel : 500g crayfish special R185. Summer. Tel (021) 419-6677

*   Vanilla, Cape Quarter:  1/2 price sushi 12h00 – 18h00,  half-price cocktails. Summer. Tel (021) 421-1391

*    Adega, Sea Point: 1 kg King Prawns R119.  Summer. Tel (021) 434-3029

*   Knife restaurant, Century City:  Bagel R35; Salad R45; Rib, meatball, chicken wing and chip platter R60, all specials include a beer/glass of wine/colddrink and coffee.  Lunch special, 12h00 – 15h00, Mondays – Fridays. Summer. Tel (021) 551-5000

*   St Elmo’s, Kloof Str, Gardens: Cheese-filled crust slices R17,90, until 17h00 daily;  2 large regular pizzas R99,90 daily all hours; 2 pizzas R79,90 Tuesdays all hours. Dipping strips – two for R99,90.  Individual small pizza + Coke R29,90 Monday – Friday,  until 16h00 daily.  Summer. Tel (021) 422-2261

*   Saul’s Sushi @ Vegas, Sea Point: Eat as much sushi as you like = R120 – Mondays and Tuesdays; 30 piece sushi platter R99 – Wednesdays and Thursdays; Oriental Buffet = R79 – Fridays and Saturdays; two for the price of one – Sundays.  Current.  Tel 087 151 4595

*    Bhandaris Indian Restaurant: Buffet R99 Wednesday dinner and Sunday lunch and dinner. Two main meals for R99 on Mondays. 30 % off for pensioners on Tuesdays. Until 30 April.  Tel (021) 702-2975/Tel (021) 782-1525.

*    Zorba’s, Lagoon Beach Hotel, Milnerton: Starter and main course R100 on Monday nights.  Summer.  Tel (021) 528-2093

*    San Marco, V&A Waterfront:   3 course meal plus Peroni or glass of wine and tea/coffee R99.   Until 15 December, 15 January – 31 March.   Tel (021) 418-5434

*   Trees Restaurant, Townhouse Hotel, Cape Town:  2 course dinner R95, 3 courses R130.  Summer. Tel (021) 465-7050

*   Down South Food Bar, 267 Long Street: Rib & Prawn Platter including a side and sauces R75, until end February.  Tel (021) 422-1155. 

*   Mainland China Restaurant, 111 Main Road, Claremont: Seafood Buffet R89, Saturdays 18h30 – 21h00; Buffet R 49;  50 % sushi discount Tuesday – Sunday.    Tel (021) 674-2654

*   Il Cappero, Barrack Street: “Eat as much as you can” lunch buffet R75, Monday – Friday. Summer. Tel 461-3168

*   Cape Town Fish Market:  Sirloin and Calamari Surf and Turf R64,65; Surf and Turf Supreme, with 8 prawns, R99,95.  Until 2 May. Calamari duo and 300ml soda R68,95, only at V&A Waterfront, until 15 April.  Tel (021) 418-5977

*   Trinity, Bennett Street:  “All you can eat” Dim Sum R135. Two-for-one burgers Wednesdays. Pizza R50 until 7 pm daily.   “All you can eat” ribs Mondays R99.   Tel (021) 418-0624

*   French Toast, Bree Street: Bruschetta tapas free; Sauvignon.com R 20 per glass.  Monday – Saturdays 5 – 7 pm. Tel (021) 422-3839.

*   Cru Café Restaurant & Wine Bar, Cape Quarter: Scrambled egg and salmon breakfast for 2 plus bottomless cup of coffee R 78, Weekdays; 2 gourmet burgers with onion rings, French fries and Stella Artois beer R120 weekday lunch; Two pastas and two glasses of wine R99.  Sunday – Tuesday evenings.  Comfort food (Bobotie or Bredie) for two for R 119, including 2 glasses of wine, Wednesday and Thursday evenings. T-bone steak (350g) for two at R150, Friday and Saturday evenings. Until September. Tel (021) 418-6334

*   Krugmann’s Grill, V&A Waterfront: Beef ribs 500 gram BBQ-basted beef ribs and starch R75, Wednesdays only  Tel (021) 418-9393

*   The Square, Vineyard Hotel, Newlands:  ‘Tastes of 2011’ focuses on different theme every month, from April – September.  April theme is ‘Best of British’, with British menu change weekly,  2 courses R 140 or 3 courses R 170.  Dinner only, Monday – Sunday.  Tel ()21) 657-4500

*   Dunes, Hout Bay : Sunday brunch with smoked salmon, oysters and cooked breakfast R 100. Tel (021) 790-1876

*   Sinn’s Restaurant, Wembley Square: Lunch R 50 (choice of six options); 3-course dinner plus glass of wine R 150. Autumn  Tel (021) 465-0967

*   Café Nood, Claremont: Pizza and glass of wine or a Peroni at R45 via Dealio. Current. Tel (021) 671-4475

*   Arnold’s on Kloof, 60 Kloof Street, Gardens: Jack Black stew (type of stew changes throughout winter)for two plus bottle of Altydgedacht R99.  Tel (021) 424-4344. Throughout winter.

*   Five Flies, Keerom Street: 350g steak plus glass of wine R110. 15 April – 15 May.  Tel (021) 424-4442

*   Balducci’s, V&A Waterfront: Alfresco Lunch specials – soup and salad R89, fish R89, calamari R89, seafood platter for two R245, Steak Roll and chips R85, Steak and chips R99, Burgers from R55 – R75, Glass of wine R27, bottle R99.  daily 12h00 – 16h00. Tel (021) 421-6002

*   Harbour House, Kalk Bay: 2-courses R140, 3-courses R160.  May.  Tel (021)  788-4133

*   Live Bait, Kalk Bay: Prawns and stir fry Asian noodle salad R 60. Sunday – Thursday evenings in May.  Tel (021) 788-5755

*   Polana, Kalk Bay: Steak, chips and mushroom sauce, R50, Sunday – Wednesday dinner April;  Half free-range flame-grilled chicken R50, Sunday – Thursday dinner and Saturday lunch, May.  Tel (021) 788-7162

*   Massimo’s Pizza Club, Hout Bay: “Order any 2 adult take away (pizza, pasta salad)” to a minimum value of R100, and get an &Union beer, Darling Brew beer or a 500ml bottle of Bob’s Your Uncle wine for free, all day Wednesdays and Thursdays, Fridays until 17h00. Current  Tel 073 390 1373.  

WINELANDS

*   Allee Bleue, outside Franschhoek: choice of three 250g steaks at R 115, including a glass of estate wine, current.  Lunch until 7 pm, Sunday – Thursday. Sunday Spit Braai with live music R175. Summer  Tel (021) 874-1021

*   Olivello, Klapmuts, outside Stellenbosch: 2-course meal R 115, 3-course meal R 135 plus glass of wine.  Summer.  Tel (021) 875-5443

*   Ryan’s Kitchen at Rusthof, Franschhoek : 3-course dinner R 195; 6 course Taste of Africa dinner R295.  Autumn. Tel (021) 876-4598.  

*   Restaurant Christophe, Stellenbosch: business lunch – 2 courses R130, 3 courses R 150, Tuesday – Friday, served within one hour, all year.  Tel (021) 886-8763

*   Allora in Franschhoek: mini-seafood platter R100, gorgonzola rump steak R95, marinated venison R95; 3-course Sunday lunch R99.  Summer.  Tel (021) 876-4375. 

*   L’ermitage, Franschhoek: 3 course lunch and glass of wine R 140. Current. Tel (021) 876-9200

*   Laborie Restaurant in Paarl: 3 courses plus a glass of wine R145, until April

*   The Restaurant @ Clos Malverne: 4 course Food and Wine pairing menu R148, includes four courses and four wines.   Tuesday – Sundays.

*   96 Winery Road, Stellenbosch: Free main course for May birthday boys and girls, to celebrate the restaurant’s 15th birthday.  Tel (021 842-2020

*   Dornier Bodega, Stellenbosch: Meat-free Mondays, Comfort Tuesdays, Pasta Wednesdays, Soup Thursdays, Fish Fridays, R79, lunch, May – September, Tel (021) 880-0557

*   Towerbosch Restaurant, Knorhoek Wine Estate, Stellenbosch: Soup & Bredie Menu with soup and bredie R90, Wednesdays – Saturdays; Asado Argentian-style braai on Sundays R165.  May – August.  Tel (021) 865-2958

*   Season in Hermanus: Sunday roast R 65 – R75, 3-course Sunday lunch R 110.  Summer. Tel (028) 316-2854

*   Mediterrea in Hermanus: 3 course meal R 195, Monday – Thursday dinners and Sunday lunches, current   Tel (028) 313-1685

*   The Class Room Restaurant, Hermanus: 3 course meal plus amuse bouche, palate cleanser, coffee and friandises R 165.  6 – 30 April.  Tel (028) 316-3582

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

Copyright: Whale Cottage Portfolio

Restaurant Review: Reuben’s at the One&Only Cape Town is a-maze-ing!

Let me admit at the outset that I was sceptical as we set off to our dinner on Saturday evening at the new Reuben’s at the One&Only Cape Town, which opened last Wednesday.  I need not have been.  I was overwhelmed by how outstanding the food and service was, with fair prices for the food, but with generally more expensive dishes than those at Reuben’s in Franschhoek, and with very high prices for mostly exceptional wines.  Reuben’s at the One&Only Cape Town is a ‘grown-up’ and sophisticated Reuben’s, the best Reuben’s by far!

I have never written a review about Reuben’s Restaurant, despite it having been my favourite ever since I stumbled upon it in June 2004, when it first opened in Franschhoek.  Immediately I felt it was a restaurant for me, and it became my favourite, and we recommended it passionately to our Whale Cottage Franschhoek guests.  The initial service levels, which made Reuben’s the top of the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurants as well as Reuben Riffel the Top Chef six months after opening, could not be maintained, and gradually the service levels dropped, starting with the telephonic bookings, down to rude service from the then-sommelier/manager.

A review of the new Reuben’s needs to trace back the history of its opening at the One&Only Cape Town.  It is well-known that Gordon Ramsay’s maze opened at the hotel in April 2009, and that the contract with the restaurant was abruptly cancelled by the hotel at the end of July.  Reuben Riffel was tipped to open in Ramsay’s place, but Reuben denied this to us and to the media.   Clare McKeon-McLoughlin of Spill Blog confidently predicted Reuben’s appointment, even though Reuben had not yet made a final decision nor signed the contract.  We were told that her disclosure caused mayhem in the hotel, as staff at the hotel did not know about the appointment, and that the then Hotel PRO Etienne de Villiers’ supposed “endorsement” of the apppointment in the Spill blog post was untruthful, and may have led to his recent departure from the hotel.   It would appear that an Irish maze staff member, who has since returned to London, was the mole, spilling the beans to Spill.   In less than a month after the announcement of Reuben’s appointment, the restaurant has opened its doors at the One&Only Cape Town, and is confidently trading.   In terms of this controversy, Reuben says he prefers to stay out of it and remain in the kitchen!

When I made the booking on the morning of our dinner, the restaurant answered as “Restaurant at One&Only”, the interim name that the restaurant had before Reuben’s opened.   We were allowed to park in the basement of the hotel, and there is no charge.  When we walked into the restaurant, we could not help but feel that we were in maze.  I was looking for the Brasserie that Reuben had been quoted to be opening at the One&Only Cape Town, but we could not see it.  The same horrid carpet and massive orange lampshades are still there.   The furniture has not changed, although the table tops have been varnished and the Reuben’s name engraved into them.  Other than branding on the chic black and burgundy staff aprons, on the lift list, and on the menu, there is no Reuben’s branding outside or inside the restaurant.  Surprisingly, the orange/brown colouring of the maze interior matches Reuben’s rust brown colour scheme almost perfectly.   We were critical of the maze interior when we went there soon after its opening last year.  Reuben says that the interior will be amended in three stages, with the tables completed, and bistro boards with specials going up shortly.   The interior decorator that Reuben’s has used in Franschhoek and Robertson will be coming this week to see how she can soften the harsh hotel interior.

The maze and Reuben’s marriage will take some time to gel to the benefit of the new restaurant.   From maze the restaurant has inherited the decor, all the waitrons (there was no shortage of staff on the floor), managers and also kitchen staff, the outstanding sommelier Andre Bekker and his Diamond award-wining Diner’s Club Restaurant Winelist, a wine library of over 700 wines, the choice of three breads baked by the kitchen, and the waitron service standards that have been set in the past, being much higher than those of Reuben’s in Franschhoek.   From Reuben’s comes the menu, the little coarse salt pots on the tables, a far more informal style of dress (the ties of the managers have come off), a more relaxed interaction with customers, something that was not encouraged at maze, as well as new serving dishes and some cutlery.  The One&Only staff were trained by Reuben’s wife Maryke about their service standard, the menu and the food.  The staff have tasted the dishes, and are still doing so as Reuben fine-tunes the menu for the official 1 October start.   The winelist and the menu are miles apart, and need to find each other, the former being very expensive and also out of character with the Brasserie feel which Reuben’s wants to create, and with the winelists in Franschhoek and in Robertson.

The exact relationship between Reuben Riffel and the One&Only Cape Town is unclear, but the hotel employs and pays the Reuben’s kitchen and waitron staff.   The brief was for Reuben to get the best kitchen staff possible.  This reduces the risk for Reuben, and means that he is compensated for his brand name and for his time through a share of the turnover.   Having a room at the hotel is a fringe benefit the Reuben’s Franschhoek staff are enjoying when they come through to town.  The arrangement with the hotel has allowed Reuben to appoint Camil Haas, previous owner of Bouillabaisse in Franschhoek and Green Point and of Camil’s in Green Point, to substitute for him at the One&Only Cape Town and in Franschhoek from October, giving each of these two Reuben’s a heavyweight chef every day.   In addition, Maritz Jacobs, previously of Le Quartier Français and 15 on Orange hotel, is the new Head Chef at the One&Only Cape Town, meeting Reuben’s requirement for a young and energetic chef.  The Pastry Chef is René Smit.  Reuben is called the Concept Chef on the menu, as he is on the Reuben’s menus in Franschhoek and in Robertson.  Samantha Housden from Tank will be joining as the Restaurant Manager on 1 October.  Reuben recently bought out his Boekenhoutskloof partners Tim Rands and Marc Kent, who helped him set up the business six years ago.  He says this gives him new flexibility to make decisions more quickly, and to steer his business where he wants it to go.

The menu is A3 in size, and has the same format as that in Franschhoek and Robertson.  It is neatly divided into a Starters, Main Courses and Desserts section, as well as a mini Vegetarian menu of Starters and Main Courses, a Fish and Seafood section, as well as Side Orders.   In future it will also carry the names of the special suppliers of fine organic produce that Reuben’s will be sourcing.   The menu content in terms of dishes offered is vastly different at the new Reuben’s, compared to the Franschhoek branch.  The menu is being fine-tuned in the next 10 days before the official opening, and has already seen changes in the first four days of its operation.

A small bowl of olives was brought to the table, as was three types of bread: a baguette, tomato bread and black olive bread.   Butter was on the table, as was a bottle of Willowcreek olive oil.  I ordered Asparagus with a hollandaise and orange reduction (R60) as a starter from the Vegetarian section, which was topped with the most wonderful micro-herbs, being miniature coriander, basil and rocket, and adding the most wonderful taste to this dish, beautifully presented on a glass dish.   Other starters are oysters at R25 each, pickled veal tongue (R60), chilli salted baby squid and shredded duck salad at R70 each, salmon tartar and cured venison at R75 each, mussels (R80), and a white asparagus and langoustine salad (R110).

My main course was the most wonderful kingklip (R140) – a good portion of firm fish, served with the unusual combination of avocado, on a bed of mash (I chose it to be plain, but the menu specified it to be tumeric mash), and with crunchy Chinese cabbage, a mint salsa and coconut cream.   The same micro-herbs served as garnish for the dish, and again added a unique taste to round off the dish, the best kingklip I have ever eaten.  My only criticism was that a serrated knife instead of a fish knife was served.  My colleague had Karoo lamb curry (R135), served in a bowl, with sambals (yoghurt and pineapple, and chopped tomato and cucumber) and basmati rice in a tiny iron pot, presented on a separate dish.    She loved the genuine Cape Malay taste of it, and picked up garlic and ginger notes, as well as jeera, cardamom and barishap spices in her lamb stew, with dhania leaves on top.  She called it “hemelse kos”, it tasted so good!   Other Main Course options are lamb rack (R175); ostrich fillet, 180 g beef fillet and a 450 g rib-eye steak at R 170 each; quail saltimbocca (R130); 240g sirloin and pork belly at R125 each; veal tripe (R120); and Reuben’s faithful wonderful calf’s liver at R115.  Other Fish options were yellowtail (R110) and Tandoori spiced prawns (R170).   Side orders cost R 35, but all main courses come with a starch and a vegetable.

For dessert my colleague had Muskadel crème with poached hanepoot grapes, ginger crumble and raspberry ice cream, in a glass bowl and served on a slate plate.  Slate is used extensively at Jordan’s Restaurant with George Jardine, and to a lesser extent at Jardine’s.  My dessert was a fascinating Lemon and olive oil custard, to which was added cocoa crumble, a half-round thin slice of chocolate as well as Swiss chocolate mousse, finished off with edible gold paper which I thought the kitchen had forgotten to take off!   Desserts cost R65, expensive I felt, but the portions were generous.  Other desserts are a seasonal fruit compote, Amarula scented malva pudding, Tequila sundae, and a bitter chocolate fondant, the latter costing R80.  I felt, on the basis of two desserts, that the desserts needed more work.  My cappuccino did not arrive at the same time as the dessert, as requested, and was not very foamy.  It was immediately replaced with one in a bigger cup size, and was very foamy.  Petit fours were brought to the table after the dessert plates were cleared, also on a slate plate.

The sommelier Andre has been at the hotel almost since it opened, and he says that the winelist has not changed much from its impressive start.   They have added wines bought at the Nederburg and CWG auctions, as well as garagiste and boutique winery brands.   Some international wine prices have been reduced over time, and some local wine prices have increased.   The 37-page winelist will be changed, the lengthy introduction to the South African wine industry to be removed.  I disliked the division of the wines by region, and then by varietal on the maze winelist, but this will not change.  It means that if one likes drinking a Shiraz, for example, one has to check through every region’s Shirazes to check which one to order.  It could take one  a whole evening to wade through the many wines on offer, including 50 wines-by-the-glass, 32 champagnes, and 18 MCC sparkling wines, as well as wines imported from France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, the USA, and Australia.   I did not like the file/folder look of the winelist, and do not remember it looking like this at maze.   Its practicality in updating vintages and prices is an obvious advantage.  The yellowish cover of the wine list does not match the Reuben’s colour scheme.   Wines-by-the-glass can be served in 50ml, 150ml and 250 ml quantities, making the expensive wines a little more affordable by reducing the quantity one drinks!  Wine flights in three’s are also available, by region or by varietal.   I chose a glass of 2006 Glen Carlou Shiraz, which cost R 72 for a 150ml glassful – 50ml cost R24, and 250ml R120.   The 2005 Luddite Shiraz prices were R37/R112/R187 per glass.  The 2007 Brampton cost R9/R28/R47.  Migliarina Shiraz 2006 cost R17/R52/R87.  A glass of 150ml of bubbly cost R260 for Ayala ‘Rose’ Majeur, R200 for Billecart Salmon Brut, R98 for Graham Beck Rosé, R49 for Graham Beck Brut, and R44 for Villiera.   It is clear that the wine prices are exceptionally high.  Andre spoilt me with a complimentary glass of dessert wine.

We felt privileged that Reuben came out of the kitchen to sit and chat with us.  He intends to come out of the kitchen a lot more in future, and having chefs working for him will allow him to do this.  Starters will be prepared behind the counters inside the restaurant in future, to allow diners to connect with the food preparation and the kitchen staff too.   Reuben is working on creating synergy in the menus for his three Reuben’s, yet having unique items on each menu that reflect what customers like in each area.  At the One&Only Cape Town the calf’s liver is extremely popular, he says, as is his Veal tripe (‘Pens en Pootjies’).   We were struck by Reuben’s humility and quiet confidence that he has made the right decision by opening his latest Reuben’s at the One&Only Cape Town.  He recognises that service levels can improve in Franschhoek, and he sees a benefit of exchanging his staff between the two locations, so that the One&Only Cape Town service standards can become those of the Franschhoek staff too.    There will be no launch function, Reuben preferring to quietly open and delivering on the expectations of a more demanding Cape Town as well as international clientele.   Reuben’s staff also prepare the hotel breakfasts.

We will recommend Reuben’s at the One&Only to our Whale Cottage Camps Bay guests with confidence, and we will return.

Reuben’s at the One&Only Cape Town, One&Only Cape Town, V&A Waterfront.  Tel (021) 431-5888. www.reubens.co.za (The new restaurant is not yet listed on the Reuben’s website, nor on the One&Only Cape Town website).  Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Monday – Sunday.

POSTSCRIPT 20/9: Samantha Housden’s restaurant experience includes launching London’s Level 7 Café at the Tate Modern Gallery and managing the Eyre Brother’s restaurant owned by the godfather of gastro-pub cuisine David Eyre.  She started Cilantro in Hout Bay, having been its chef too.  She has left Tank to join Reuben’s at the One&Only Cape Town.

POSTSCRIPT 25/9: We returned for dinner a week later, and met the new Restaurant Manager Samantha Housden for the first time.   She came to check on our table regularly, as did Marcus, an interim manager.  Due to a strong attempt to upsell us by a waiter, we asked for waiter Victor, who had served us the previous week, and his service was as good as ever.   The recognition by the staff from our visit a week ago was impressive – from the hostess as we arrived (I had used my son’s name for the booking this time), to the sommelier Andre and the waiter Victor remembering specific requests and likes from a week ago – in line with Reuben’s Franschhoek.   Disappointingly the food was not as good as it was a week ago – the kingklip was undercooked and did not have the lovely microherbs (but a generous portion was brought to the table when I asked about them) and the sirloin had lots of sinews.   Reuben was in the kitchen, and spontaneously came to say hello.  I was delighted to hear that sommelier Andre has heeded our feedback, and will revise the winelist, to arrange it by varietals, and to mention the regions, which will make wine selection much easier in future. 

POSTSCRIPT 14/1:   I arrived in good spirits, and was shocked at the disappointing food quality and service.   Although the telephonist tried to put through my call three times, so that I could check if I could still get a table at 22h00, no one in the restaurant answered the phone.  I decided to arrive anyway.   I was warmly received by the hostess, and discovered immediately that Manager Samantha Housden is no longer at Reuben’s.  The evening shifts were getting to her, I was told.  Kagiso Mmebe is the new Manager, and started three weeks ago, having been a lecturer in Restaurant Practice at the University of Johannesburg.  A sweet waitress Unite took my order efficiently, and that is where her service support ended.  She brought butter and olives, but never came with the bread.  I had to ask a manager for it.  It was explained to me that Unite is a runner, being trained up to be a waitress, but she wears the same colour shirt as do the waiters, so one cannot identify her lesser skills.  She is meant to work under the guidance of a waiter, but this did not happen.   I ordered the baby chicken main course (R135), which was not cooked properly, even after sending it back once.   My choice of carrots with vanilla and honey as the side-dish was an excellent one.   The wild mushroom sauce tasted strongly of an Oxo stock cube, with not a piece of mushroom to be seen.  The sauce was taken away, and mushrooms added.  I had to ask for a finger bowl.  The wine steward Tinashe Nyamudoka was wonderful, just taking my wine order and pouring the Glen Carlou Shiraz 2004 at the table, as requested.   The frozen espresso cake with a berry coulis and an odd-looking meringue was excellent (R65).   Assistant Manager Marcus Isaacs kindly took the chicken off the bill.  It was disconcerting to hear from the staff that Reuben Riffel has barely been seen at the restaurant in the past two weeks, although Marcus disagreed.   Camil Haas is not at Reuben’s One&Only at all anymore.  There is no sign of any further decor changes, after the curtains were opened.  The new summer menu, launched last week, has very understated Reuben’s branding, and does not look like a Reuben’s menu anymore, and there is no listing of the names of the chefs on it anymore – not even Reuben’s name is mentioned!  Chef Aviv Liebenberg from Reuben’s Franschhoek (and previously Robertson) has been moved to Cape Town, working with Chef Maritz.   I could not help but be concerned as to where Reuben’s in the One&Only Cape Town is heading – it certainly is no longer a-maze-ing!

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

Restaurant Review: Cru Cafe’ wine bar creates terroir in Cape Quarter

Cru Cafe’ is the first restaurant to have opened in the new extension to the Cape Quarter, and is a wine bar serving meals, rather than a restaurant that has a winelist!   With more than 120 wines and 20 wines-by-the-glass on its extensive winelist, handpicked by its director Elsie Pells, a Cape Wine Master, it makes a serious statement about its commitment to wine.  A wine shop forms part of the restaurant.   The restaurant space is their “terroir”, says Elsie.

Elsie Pells is charming, and a first meeting at the Portofino launch forms the foundation for a chat when she sits down at the table, and tells us about the wines and the restaurant.  She has a strong hand on the wine and food serving.   Previously with NMK Premium Global, she now works as a wine consultant, sourcing wines, designing wine lists, and is soon to jet off to Prague, where she will help a local importer select the best South African wines to import.   She explains that Cru Cafe’ has selected twelve wine partners, who will provide wines to Cru Cafe’ for the next year, in return for more than one variety of the estate being carried, and these include Delheim, Boekenhoutskloof, Meerlust, Laibach, Joubert Tradouw, Kaapzicht, Paul Cluver, Graham Beck, Klein Constantia and Cederberg.  She is proud to have selected a number of Platter 5-star wines on the winelist, before Platters announced its  2010 5-star list.

White wines range from R 80 for the Vergelegen Vin de Florence to R 460 for a Sterhuis Astra Sauvignon Blanc/Chardonnay.   The red wines range from R 90 for the Delheim Cabernet Shiraz to R 580 for the Kanonkop Paul Sauer.   Boekenhoutskloof’s 2006 Syrah costs R 480, and the Meerluct Rubicon 2004 costs R 490.

Elsie explains that in wine, “cru” is usually linked to “grand”, meaning ‘great growth’, and this is what Cru Cafe’ hopes to achieve: serving high quality food, wines and offering quality service.  

The chef Wesley Petterson is from the Twelve Apostles Hotel and Vineyard Hotel, and Elsie is clear that only lunches and dinners will be served, to match their wines.   Breakfasts are to be eaten at other restaurants in the Cape Quarter, she says.  The menu has a smallish selection of about 6 starters, salads, mains and desserts each, as well as about ten tasty-sounding tapas choices. 

The most more-ish homemade cheese sticks are served prior to the meal coming to the table.  The steak was good and the dried seaweed on the steak was a reminder of steaks enjoyed at Tank across the road many moons ago.   The Delheim Shiraz by the glass was excellent.   The waitron service still needs some help, especially on the wine side.

A most annoying discovery was an automatic addition of 10 % “commission” to the bill.   The manager graciously took it off the bill.   The service is not yet at the level to deserve a 10 % tip.  Tips should be a discretionary payment by the diner anyway.

Tom and Jacques Castelein are the owners of the restaurant, which has a name-sake in Chicago, and they previously owned Tasca de Belem in the V & A Waterfront.

Cru Cafe’ is in the Cape Quarter extension at 27 Somerset Road, De Waterkant, tel 021 418 6293, www.thecrucafe.com.  Parking is available in the building, and is currently free of charge.

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

New restaurant openings give hope

A number of new restaurants have opened recently in Cape Town, and this is a positive sign that restaurateurs see an end to the credit crunch and are positive about the future.

New restaurants, as featured on the Eat Out website, include Bravado, an Italian restaurant in the previous Melissa’s in Green Point; an Indian restaurant Bhandaris in Tokai; the bistro Cafe Sociale in Woodstock; a fusion restaurant Cheyne’s in the City Bowl; and Kassia and Figg, a deli and health shop in Kalk Bay. 

In the Helshoogte Pass between Stellenbosch and Franschhoek the chic Delaire Graff Estate restaurant has opened with chef Christian Campbell at the helm.   It promises to offer fine-dining at its best, and will be an interesting counterpoint to Tokara directly across the road.

In Knysna the new DISH restaurant, with beautiful interior decor, has opened in The Rex Hotel.   The chef was previously with Tank in Cape Town.

Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com

Restaurants bounce back

FEDHASA Cape, the hospitality association, appears to focus on the restaurants closing down on Cape Town, as opposed to saluting the new restaurants opening in these most difficult times.   One of the new restaurants to open is The Quarter, the gourmet bunny-chow restaurant of Bruce Robertson, the previous owner of The Showroom, which closed in April.
 
FEDHASA has publicly listed restaurants that have not closed down when they went into liquidation, over-dramatising the severity of the effect of the recession on restaurants – Summerville in Camps Bay is one such example, which is alive and well and living!  
 
Despite the recession, the hospitality industry has a lot to be grateful for – bookings are still rolling in for the summer months ahead, for World Cup 2010, and for the two British and Irish Lions’ rugby matches to be played in Cape Town on 13 and 23 June, ensuring that Cape Town will be full around these dates.
 
The restaurant industry has had it good for many years, and the number of new restaurants opening up is testimony to the fact that they have received good support from Capetonians.   Those restaurants that are arrogant, that do not deliver good service, and that do not understand that value for money is key for customers, will feel the economic pinch.   Cape Town has a seasonality problem, and guest houses led the way many years ago in reducing their rates by up to 50 % in the winter months.   For the first time ever, restaurants are offering excellent winter specials.   An e-mail doing the rounds lists 30 restaurants with winter specials.   These include specials at Aubergine, Beluga, Bungalow, Cafe Caprice, Catharina’s, Five Flies, Myoga, Sinns, Pepenero, Tank, The Food Barn, The Kove, Tuscany Beach, Buitenverwachting, Constantia Uitsig, Cuvee, La Colombe, Terroir, Cape Colony and Salt.
 
Statements made by Rey Franco of FEDHASA are publicity opportunities for the four restaurants that he is the commercial manager of, rather than in providing a balanced view of the whole hospitality industry.  They also do not offer advice as to how businesses in the hospitality industry can stay alive in this recession.