It’s an Eat Out week, with the restaurant guide announcing not only its Top 30 Restaurant nominations for 2018, but also celebrating the top Everyday Eateries for the Western Cape, Gauteng, and KwaZulu-Natal. Generally most would find the Eat Out Everyday Eatery choices to be acceptable, but could question why in some categories restaurants were not awarded. Continue reading →
We update information about newly opened and closed restaurants continuously, and welcome such news.
# Roast & Co has opened alongside HQ, in the former Bizerca Bistro space, in Heritage Square (photograph) Continue reading →
I spent eight days in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) last week, in search of the perfect food experience, in a province I had last visited about ten years ago to attend Indaba, and the well-known Midlands area, which I had last visited more than 25 years ago.
The encouragement to visit the province was made more than a year ago by Chef Jackie Cameron, who is the most passionate proudly-KZNer I encountered on my journey, making it her business to support KZN produce, from the Midlands in particular, in using and in marketing it at every opportunity. Jackie has put KZN on the food and restaurant map over the past twelve years that she worked at Hartford House, making the Eat Out Top 10 Continue reading →
MasterChef SA is the talk of the country, and we have another 10 weeks to look forward to in the next month. To spice things up a little, we have launched two competitions, the first being a prediction of who will win MasterChef SA in episode 26.
We are also running a weekly lucky draw for the correct prediction of who our readers think will be booted out of the MasterChef SA every week. For the correct prediction of who will leave MasterChef SA in episode 6 today, Baked Bistro in Bakoven in Camps Bay has generously offered a lunch voucher for two persons for the correct prediction. Continue reading →
One can commend Franschhoek Wine Valley tourism for constantly finding new ways to attract visitors to its gourmet food and wine village. Now it has launched the Franschhoek Artisan Food Route, attracting attention to the diversity of 21 hand-made high quality small quantity food producers in the valley, with more to be added.
The little A5 Franschhoek Wine Valley leaflet about the Franschhoek Artisan Food Route does not do justice to the quality of the food artisans on the Route, and one wonders why they skimped to keep the map so small, when the Wine and Restaurant map is A3 in size! The result is that the detail provided is minimal, just three lines per food artisan, with the exception of La Motte’s entry. The Franschhoek Artisan Food Route will be launched to the media later this week. Many of the food artisans on the Route have operated in the valley for years. Not all the listed artisanal outlets seem true to the definition provided in the Route map: ‘Artisan producers understand and respect the raw materials with which they work. They know where these materials come from and what is particularly good about them’! A number of artisanal producers have been left off the list, Continue reading →
Driving to Hout Bay yesterday, I noticed that a new restaurant Baked Bistro had opened in Bakoven, where Saboroso and Marika’s used to be. It opened six days ago, and is owned by passionate Zahir Mohamed, a young 24 year old who has big plans for his business.
I spent two interesting sessions with Zahir yesterday, returning to eat after having had an iced coffee earlier in the afternoon. Zahir’s presence made a huge difference to my impressions of his Bistro, and the more he told me about his background, the more I realised that this young man will go far. I could not but help think that I was talking to a junior Ravi Naidoo, who has vision and drive to make his new business a success. Zahir grew up in Port Elizabeth with his grandparents, and his grandmother was his cooking inspiration, cooking typical Malay dishes, including prawn, fish (geelbek, hake, and steenbras), and lamb curries, as well as pies, and baked treats such as apple crumble, malva pudding, biscuits, and more. His grandmother instilled a love of food in him, and allowed him to cook at home. His Scottish father owns African Time Catering in the UK, which looks after the catering needs of Manchester United and Manchester City players and its VIP guests, as well as at Wimbledon, and at St Andrews in Scotland. He emphasised that while his father focuses on fine-dining, he prefers ‘rustic’ meals. He has worked for his father, doing basics such as peeling potatoes, which stood him in good stead in a next phase of his life. He followed this with a year at the Meliá Hotels International, working for a year each at a Melia hotel in Italy and in France.
Zahir had a business in Johannesburg, and his young son lives there. He mentioned a number of times that his sole purpose of being and working is to give his boy the very best he can afford. Needing a change of scenery after a bad business deal fell through in Johannesburg, he moved to Cape Town, where he met Misha, ‘the love of my life’. He worked at Brandhouse, and on the Heineken brand specifically, until he gave up his job to follow another dream, which will see him featured on TV later this year. But Baked Bistro has been an idea cooking away over the past four years, and the Bakoven venue specifically, having visited the site on numerous occasions to feel it and fall in love with it, waiting his turn for the space patiently. When the last restaurant closed down, he knew it was time to take it over. He is a very believing and philosophical person, saying that ‘the universe will give me what I need‘. He plans to open other Baked Bistros in Cape Town as well as in Johannesburg, and a Baked cookbook is also on the cards, which will feature recipes for hearty rustic foods to prepare in one’s home, and that are simple and affordable. Damian Cannon is doing the website design, and designed the logo, which contains a spoon and whisk, with the payoff line ‘Home is where the heart is’.
Baked Bistro does not yet have a liquor licence, and is playing it safe in not breaking any laws, and will only serve alcohol once all the paperwork has been approved. He keeps the music volume low, and ensures that there aren’t any noisy customers, to keep on the right side of his neighbours. Zahir wants Baked Bistro to become a ‘neighbourhood shop‘. Cookbook writer Phillippa Cheifitz lives across the road, and has been to Baked Bistro three times in the past five days, Zahir shared proudly. The furniture is black stained wooden tables and benches, matching the rustic menu. Cutlery is by Austwind, serviettes are paper, and salt and pepper grinders are by Natural. Little lanterns are brought to the table when it gets dark.
The menu is very short and sweet at the moment, and will grow as more customers support the Bistro. The choice was between two pizzas (‘The BAKOVEN’ with chicken, caramelized balsamic onions, feta, avocado and mozzarella, costing R75; and a ‘5 Veg Pizza’, costing R65). On Zahir’s recommendation I tried The Misha burger, named after his girlfriend, who loves mushrooms, and the 180 gram burger is served with a mushroom sauce, potato wedges, and a small carrot, lettuce and red pepper salad, and an interesting mint yoghurt dressing. I don’t usually eat burgers, and I found the mushroom sauce too strongly spiced, with an unexpected touch of chilli, which I did not like. The sesame seed roll is self baked. Misha works at Levi, and a second burger is named ‘The LEVI’, a 180 gram burger with red onion compote. Both burgers cost R70. ‘Artisan sandwiches’ cost R40 – R55. The winter menu will contain ‘wholesome winter dishes’. Valentine’s cupcakes looked beautiful, and are made for Baked Bistro by Take the Cake, one of them made with black velvet, and another contained a Lindt ball. My estimation of Baked Bistro rose when I noticed that they serve Terbodore coffee, who have made a special Baked blend for the bistro, consisting of 60% Nigerian, 30% Ethiopian, and 10% Brazilian beans. The breakfast menu will contain interesting dishes such as scrambled eggs and sardines.
New guests are invited to ‘get baked’, and departing ones are sent away with a ‘stay baked’ greeting. Zahir wants Baked Bistro to be a homely, unpretentious home to the locals, without any airs and graces, a place where one can come to play Scrabble, and hold book club meetings. I will return in a few weeks, to get another feel for the food, and additions to the menu.
POSTSCRIPT 23/2: Despite the name of the Bistro, Zahir and I did not talk about the breads that they bake, and which are flying out of his doors. He sells croissants (R11), Sourdough (R21), Kitka on Fridays (R23), Buttermilk bread (R23), and 100% rye (R32).
POSTSCRIPT 9/3: Baked Bistro is proving its sceptics wrong, coining it with a new roadside coffee and croissant service offered on weekday mornings, bringing ready made coffee and croissants on to the parking area outside the restaurant, and offering a drive-by service, selling to hundreds of customers! The new Terbodore umbrellas are attracting attention in Bakoven.
POSTSCRIPT 9/6: Something we have not been able to write about until today is that Baked Bistro owner Zahir Mohamed is a MasterChef SA Season 2 contestant. He features in the Sunday Times today, and will be in the opening 15 minutes of the first program on Tuesday 11 June at 19h30, filmed during the Auditions.
POSTSCRIPT 21/6: Zahir Mohamed fell out of the MasterChef SA Season 2 Bootcamp Top 50, let down by his potato peeling skills! He has received incredible airtime from M-Net, so much so that we thought he had won! He is very philosophical about his journey, as he knew he had Baked Bistro waiting for him, for which the lease commenced on 1 February, which meant that he would have had to pay rent while he was at Nederburg, had he made it into the Top 16. He has received further coverage after falling out of the show, in The Times earlier this week, having found a ‘different recipe for success’, the headline says. The article states that he plans two more Baked Bistros in Cape Town, and that a book ‘The Baked Way of Life’ is on the cards. He is on a high, receiving a lot of customer and media interest.
Baked Bistro, Victoria Road, Bakoven, Camps Bay, Cape Town. Tel 079 268 9821. www.bakedbistro.co.za (under construction). Twitter: @BakedBistro Tuesday – Friday Breakfast and Lunch, Saturdays and Sundays Lunch. Closes 17h00 daily. Free wifi. Loyalty Card to be introduced.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Last night I tried the dinner at The Kitchen at boutique winery Maison outside Franschhoek, which now is open for dinner on Friday and Saturday evenings. I was privileged to try the new Maison Methodé Cap Classique Blanc de Blanc 2009, which was released last week, and which has been added to its portfolio of Chardonnay 2011, Viognier 2011, Blanc de Noir 2012, Chenin Blanc 2011, Shiraz 2010, Cape Ruby, and Straw Wine 2011.
Winemaker Antwan Bondesio patiently waited for the first sparkling wine to be made by Maison to be on the lees for 36 months, to bring out the best in the MCC, while owner Chris Weylandt would have loved to have released it sooner than that. Only 1100 bottles have been released, each hand numbered (I had a glass of bottle number 123!), and each is hand labelled and branded. The design of the label is minimalistic, being typographical only. The back label informed that there has been zero dosage, and therefore the sparkling wine is ‘clean, pure, and naked‘! It contains 12% alcohol, and sulphites, the label informs. The winelist prices the MCC at R265, and is only available by the bottle. Antwan has worked in California and Marlborough (New Zealand), as well as at Kaapzicht and at Spier.
It was a picture perfect evening for an outside dinner, both on the terrace, and on the long tables on the lawns, and a large group of Whale Cottage Franschhoek guests had been booked to have dinner there. The families had brought their children, and they enjoyed the safety of the property, the lit fires, the lanterns all over the property, the cocoon hanging chair, and the roosters, giving the children more than enough to do while their parents enjoyed their dinner. I have been to The Kitchen on numerous occasion for lunch, but last night the lit candles and lanterns gave the restaurant a magical and romantic atmosphere, from the time one enters the building.
On Friday and Saturday evenings the normal à la carte menu is available, which is used for lunches as well. On the first Friday of every month Chef Arno Janse van Rensburg improvises, and offers his unique three-course menu for R250. I jokingly said to Manager Julian Smith that they should do a braai, having big containers with fire, and he said that Chef Arno is considering doing a speciality braai on some of the first Friday of the month dinners. I enjoyed the kingklip, beautifully prepared, firm, and not spoilt by any sauces or toppings as had been my last piece of kingklip at Nederburg’s The Red Table! It was served with carrot mustard purée, chive croquettes, marrow, beans, and sake jus. The kingklip was on a specials board, which has a number of starter and main course items for every meal, and changes regularly, while the menu stays the same for about a quarter. Currently the menu includes baby squid, tempura prawn, and smoked bone marrow starters in the range of R 65 – R85, while the main course options include forest mushroom tagliatelle, confit duck leg, Karoo rack of lamb, linefish of the day, and Shanghai pork belly, costing between R120 – R135.
For dessert the Valrhona Nyangbo (from Ghana) chocolate, peanut butter, and meringue rum cheesecake, served with anglaise ice cream and espresso gelée, was a treat, being quite a formal and serious dessert for a restaurant which is more inclined to informal cuisine. Other dessert options are a green tea parfait, and a tonka bean créme with gooseberry sorbet, costing between R55 – R65, and a local cheese platter at R95. I finished off the evening with an iced coffee made with a special Terbodore blend, the best I have ever had.
I had a fantastic evening, enjoying the ambiance, knowing half the guests, and meeting interesting table neighbours, one couple attending a wedding in Franschhoek, and the other couple being Canadian/Germans, who have fallen in love with Franschhoek during their holiday. The food was superb, as was the new MCC. Julian refused to accept payment, laughingly saying it was my ‘commission’ for bringing so much business to the restaurant.
The Kitchen, Maison, R45, Franschhoek. Tel (021) 876-2116. www.maisonestate.co.za Twitter: @MaisonEstate Tuesday – Sunday lunch, Friday and Saturday dinner.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
I had not been to Fyndraai at Solms-Delta for a while, and an invitation to join a Franschhoek friend in celebrating her birthday was an excellent way to try out the new winter menu of Chef Shaun Schoeman. Exciting news is that the restaurant is raising its bar, with a location move on the wine estate and opening for evening fine dining from November.
The Fyndraai winelist and menu are impressive in their design – they are large (A3) with black and white covers with beautiful photography, and a mix of colour and black and white photographs inside. Immediately the menu gives the restaurant a classy image. The positioning of Fyndraai serving ‘food of origin’ is proudly placed on the menu and winelist covers, and refers to its focus on local South African food, the only restaurant with such a specific focus in Franschhoek.
Chef Shaun Schoeman came to say hello, despite a photo shoot taking place, and we laughed at his response when my friend asked him if he would become the next Chef Reuben (Riffel) of Franschhoek, when he told us about the restaurant move and opening in the evenings, and wanting to compete with the best restaurants in Franschhoek. His spontaneous reply was: ‘No, I will never use Robertsons’, without him knowing what we have written about Chef Reuben’s endorsement of Robertsons! The restaurant is to move to the building in the Oesfees section of the wine estate, and is set to open on 18 November. The most interesting news for the restaurant is that Chef Shaun will be spending two weeks at the end of this month at Noma in Copenhagen, the number one World’s 50 Best Restaurants for the third year running, a tremendous honour. It is a restaurant at which Solms-Delta co-owner Professor Mark Solms, who recently won an international award in New York for his contribution to psychoanalysis, has eaten a number of times.
We were offered ‘roosterbrood’ with wild garlic and farm butter whilst studying the menu. My friend enjoyed her Kingklip topped with ‘suurlemoen pelargonium‘ crust, served with a crushed potato and crab meat salad, drizzled with a slow roasted tomato and olive dressing (R98). The Karoo Lamb Wellington was delicious, served with a mushroom and asparagus sauté, steamed spinach, and a wild herb sauce to which the Solms-Delta Africana flagship wine had been added, excellent value at R98. The dish was one of two options on a specials board. Every dish on the menu has an Afrikaans word or more, emphasising the South Africanness of the menu. Solms-Delta has been clever in giving its wines predominantly Afrikaans names. Starters cost about R45, and include pan-fried pickled ox tongue, bobotie springrolls, West Coast mussels cooked in a Cape Malay ‘tamatie bredie’, and baked Camembert salad with a ‘pers vye salsa‘. Scallops cost R78. The Fyndraai tapas platter sounds delicious, a selection including ‘bloukaas tert’, ‘boerewors’ roll, olives, ‘bokkom‘ salad, a vegetable pancake, ‘droëwors’, and biltong, served with ‘blatjang‘ (R98). Main courses start at R92 for a wild mushroom and ‘knoffel’ risotto, and the ‘bokmelkkaas’ wrap is under R100 too. Other options are grilled calamari (R119), free range chicken and tiger prawn masala (R122), ‘Wilde roosmaryn’ crusted Karoo lamb rack (R132), ‘Wildsbok-skenkel’ (R127), and grilled beef rib-eye steak (R142). Desserts range in price from R39 – R48, and each sounded delicious: ‘yskas tert’ with a ‘koeksister’ and melon ice cream; ‘heuningbos’ cheesecake; ‘Rooibos’ panna cotta; cocoa coupe with mango, Amarula and strawberry ice cream; and the most delicious and refreshing orange blossom flavoured crème brûlée, served with chilled fruit stew, and a lemon and rose petal sorbet. Cappuccino was served in a Terbodore branded cup, an excellent coffee brand roasted outside Franschhoek. Picnics cost R145 per head, and are a collection of local treats, including a shared bottle of Solms-Delta Lekkerwijn. Half a page of the menu is a glossary of culinary terms, each of the Afrikaans terms translated for non-local visitors.
Only Solms-Delta wines can be ordered, at very reasonable prices. White wines range from R25 per glass/R75 per bottle for the Solms-Astor Vastrap 2011 to R43 per glass/R130 for a 500 ml bottle of Solms-Delta Koloni 2010. Red wines range from R25/R75 for Solms-Astor Langarm 2011 to R74/R220 for Solms-Delta Africana 2010. The Solms-Delta Lekkerwijn 2010 Rosé costs R28/R82. Under the heading ‘Innovative’, three wines are listed: Solms-Astor Cape Jazz Shiraz NV (R26/R78); Solms-Delta Gemoedsrus 2010, a port-style wine (R40/R240); and Dik Delta! Karri 2010, a Khoe fermented honey beverage (R26/R78).
The excellent quality of the food served at Fyndraai and its presentation in the menu unfortunately is not matched by the table settings – a blue plastic placemat, a paper serviette, no table cloth, and ordinary cutlery – but once the restaurant moves into the fine dining arena this may improve. The service was very friendly, with a collection of staff coming to check on our well-being. The working visit to Noma by Chef Shaun, and the growth of the restaurant into a fine-dining one, will make this a restaurant to watch for the 2013 Eat Out Top 10 restaurant awards.
Fyndraai Restaurant, Solms-Delta, R45, Franschhoek. Tel (021) 874-3937. www.solms-delta.co.za Twitter: @Solms_Delta Monday – Sunday Lunch. Dogs allowed.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage