Tag Archives: Test Kitchen

Eat Out Top 10 restaurants: how much does a Tasting Menu meal cost, booking lead time?

EatOutIs it true that an Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant nod is a licence to print money? It certainly seems so, especially the nearer the restaurant is to the top of the list, and if the length of time to get a booking is a measure!

Calling today, we checked the prices of the Tasting Menus (three of the Top 10 Restaurants do not offer Tasting Menus), calculated the average cost per course, and checked the first available table dates. Continue reading →

Many new Summer Restaurant openings in Cape Town and Winelands!

imageA spate of new restaurant openings is coinciding with the start of the Summer season. Restaurateur Michael Townsend of the Harbour House Group continues unabated in opening new restaurants, achieving a total of 18 or more by December! We update information about newly opened and closed restaurants continuously.

Restaurant Openings Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 25 April

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*  The United Arab Emirates publication The National praises the culinary climax of the Cape (‘South Africa: cape of good grub‘), with its ‘laughable’ prices of tasting menus and meals at some of our top restaurants in Cape Town and the Winelands, including The Test Kitchen, The Pot Luck Club, Delaire Graff (they mistakenly refer to Indochine as ‘Asiate‘) Tokara, The Tasting Room, Bread & Wine, Pierneef à La Motte, and The Greenhouse!

*   South African wines will be available to taste, at no charge, at the Asheville Wine Market in North Carolina. Wines offered are Ken Forrester Petit Chenin Blanc 2013, Sutherland Chardonnay 2010, Indaba Mosaic Red 2013, and Kanonkop Kadette 2011.

*   Horst Frehse has been promoted to Executive Director of the Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa, with his role as Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 7/8 December

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*  Thirteen venues linked to the late Nelson Mandela  in Johannesburg and Pretoria are paying homage to the great leader.  They include his house in Alexandra; his house in Soweto; Nelson Mandela Bridge; the Nelson Mandela statue in Nelson Mandela Square; the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory; Liliesleaf Farm; Constitution Hill; the Apartheid Museum; Freedom Park in Pretoria; the Union Buildings; the Workers’ Museum; the Palace of Justice in Church Square, and Chancellor House.

*   The Sydney Morning Herald lists 20 reasons to visit Cape Town today, clearly out of date as it recommends seeing whales from land (they have left for the Antarctic already), and there is no reference to Nelson Mandela’s passing!  It oddly refers to the longest wine route in the world between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth (the latter city is not associated with wines), and referring to indigenous fynbos as ‘native flowers’ is a ‘lost in translation’ reference!   It does highlight Clifton and Camps Bay as top beaches. The writer received information from SA Tourism, which makes the incorrect information unforgivable.

*   In the twenty years since the late Mr Mandela’s release and subsequent Presidency of the country tourist arrivals grew by 10 million!

*   Announced prior to the passing of Madiba, SAA and SA Tourism shared plans to tie in with the release of the movie ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom‘ in the United Kingdom, to promote our country as a tourism destination.

*   An American publication recommends three South African wines out of Continue reading →

V&A Market on the Wharf opens at the V&A Waterfront!

The long awaited V&A Market on the Wharf has opened in the historic building near the V&A Hotel in the V&A Waterfront, which once housed Planet Hollywood, David Kramer’s Theatre, and Musica, with more than fifty vendors displaying their food and beverage offerings. It is Cape Town’s first permanent market, operating from Wednesdays to Sundays, from 9h30 – 19h30.

Owned by Greg Anderson, or ‘Bubbles’ as Vaughn Johnson informed me, who took over the management of the Market when the previous operators pulled out, the Market offers a kosher deli, fresh seafood, meat, fruit and vegetables, baked ware and delicacies.  Greg impressed with his passion, and kindly offered me a V&A Market on the Wharf branded shopping bag, to ‘hide’ my Woolworths bag!  Greg is proud of the large number of new business owners that have joined as vendors, very few having been seen at any other markets in Cape Town.  V&A Waterfront tenants Vaughn Johnson and Ian Halfon had come to have a look, and we had coffee and tea together.

A last-minute building regulation hitch saw the opening of the Market delayed by two days to last Friday. The space is large, one main hall with an upstairs section housing the craft beer bar and seating for Continue reading →

Franschhoek chefs up their gourmet game, learn Nordic cuisine at world’s No 1 Restaurant Noma!

Franschhoek is upping its gourmet game, with two local chefs having spent some weeks at Noma in Copenhagen, the number one restaurant on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list and bearing a 2-Michelin star rating since 2008, in the past three months. Both Chef Shaun Schoeman from Fyndraai Restaurant at Solms-Delta and Chef Chris Erasmus from Pierneef à La Motte returned inspired and have fine-tuned their menus and cooking to incorporate Nordic cuisine into their local gourmet offering.

The restaurant’s philosophy is on the homepage of its website:

“In an effort to shape our way of cooking, we look to our landscape and delve into our ingredients and culture,
hoping to rediscover our history and shape our future
.”

Chef Chris Erasmus, Pierneef à La Motte

Yesterday I met with Chef Chris Erasmus, a week after his return from Noma, at which he had spent close to a month.  I asked him why he had taken the time to leave his post as Executive Chef, and start from scratch at Noma. Chef Chris said he wanted to study how Chef René Redzepi had taken a restaurant which had been laughed at initially for focusing on Nordic cooking, initially not very exciting and then synonymous with ‘whale blubber and fish eyes’ (like Bobotie would be for South African cuisine, he said), and taking it to the number one restaurant in the world, and having kept it there for three years running.  What Chef Chris does at Pierneef à La Motte, in foraging from nature, and in cooking what one has, is reflected at Noma too. Chef Chris has Daniel Kruger growing a range of unusual herbs, vegetables, and edible flowers for him at La Motte,  with only one of 13 items in the salad farm grown, and the balance foraged,  while Noma is supplied by specialist producers.

Chef Chris was impressed by the systems of the restaurants, each person working for the restaurant knowing what is going on.  A meeting is called by the Restaurant Manager prior to service, in which they discuss any specific dietary requirements of guests, so that the chefs are prepared for this upfront, and not told about them when the guests arrive.  The Restaurant Manager, from Australia, is in the running for a Restaurant Manager of the Year Award in Denmark. Chris said that his knowledge is amazing, having spent so much time with the chefs to get to know the dishes that he can cook them himself. There are 45 kitchen chefs, with another 25 volunteers unpaid and just there to learn more from this leading restaurant.  Only two of the chefs are Danish, the others coming from the USA, Australia, Germany, and Mexico in the main.  The rules are strict, and one is expected to follow them 100%.  A mistake made a second time will lead one to be told to leave. Staff are treated politely, even though Chef René can lose his cool on occasion. No dishes are allowed to be photographed or distributed via Social Media by staff or volunteers.

There are three kitchen sections that the volunteers go through, starting with the Preparation Kitchen, foraging produce, and getting them ready. Chef Chris spent less than a week here.  The second level was the Hot Kitchen, dealing with the restaurant service, and here Chef Chris gave more than expected, already coming to work at 5h00 in the morning (instead of 9h00), and usually getting home to the hostel he was staying at at 2h00 instead of the usual 23h00.  This allowed him to work with the other chefs and learn from them, and to show them how eager he was to learn, so that he could move through the three kitchens.  The third kitchen is the experimental Test Kitchen, which has two scientists and a chef, creating new dishes. Lactic acid fermentation is the foundation of many of the new dishes, a natural process bringing out the Umami in food, eradicating the need to add salt or sugar to food.  There is no salt on the restaurant tables, nor is it added to food.  The maximum sugar content of any dish is 12%. They make their own Miso paste too, taking a few months, ant purée, fermented crickets, and more. Chef Chris shared that he tasted bee larva, having a very rich creamy wax taste.

Chef René greets each guest as they arrive at his restaurant. He works seven days a week, even though the restaurant is closed on Sundays and Mondays. Chef Chris came to work on Mondays, again to learn as much as possible.  Noma has an excellent Head Chef and Sous Chefs, on whom Chef René can rely while he is busy with the guests, and spends time in the Test Kitchen. The chefs serve the guests.  Waiters cannot work at Noma if they have not studied to be a waiter for three years at a local college.  The role of the waiters is to explain the dishes to the guests. Guests are served 16 ‘snacks’ as a start to the Tasting Menu in rapid succession over 12 minutes, literally a mouthful each. This is followed by four courses, the size of our starters, being a vegetable dish, a meat dish, a fish dish, and a dessert, at a cost of about R2250. The restaurant is flexible in what they serve, to allow for dietary requirements. The Test Kitchen’s role is to add new dishes to the menu, and Chef Chris saw five new dishes being developed in the time that he was there. One of the dishes developed while Chef Chris was in the Test Kitchen was ‘Lacto Plum and Forever Beets’, served with lemon verbena and fennel soup, the beetroot being roasted for three hours, and its leathery skin then peeled off, the inside tasting like liquorice.

To learn from each other, especially the visiting chefs, they have Saturday night ‘Projects’ after service, in the early Sunday morning hours, presenting their own dishes, which are evaluated by the fellow chefs and the scientists.  Chef Chris missed the opportunity to present a dish.

Chef Chris has been inspired by his experience at Noma, and changes are already being made to his current menu.  He has added Lacto-fermented Porcini broth to his menu, inspired by Noma, made by adding salt to the mushrooms and vacuum-packing them, until they ferment at ambient room temperature. This creates enzymes which break down the bad bacteria, bringing out the natural savoury flavour.  The summer menu will be much lighter, with far more foraged herbs and flowers, and some unique vegetables grown for him by Daniel.  Artichokes, peas, and broadbeans are at their best right now, and Chef Chris showed me the some of his vegetables and herbs, which had been picked for him at 10h00 yesterday morning.  They are only using Raspberry Vinegar now, instead of vinaigrettes.  He will focus on only using vegetables and herbs from the La Motte garden.

Chef Chris has invited Chef René to visit (he was in Cape Town for what seemed literally a flying visit in February when he addressed the ‘Design Indaba’).  He was inspired by his experience, and it is visible in his big smile, and new passion for his craft. While others may not have had such a good time, he said that ‘you get out what you put in’. He lost 15 kg in the time, just working and sleeping for a short while.  He can’t wait to go back in a winter time, to see how they use all the preserved foods they prepare in the summer months, such as pickled rosebuds, and fermented plums. Having had to start at the bottom at Noma, he has a better understanding of his staff, yet expects ‘150%’ of them, Chef Chris said.  One of his American co-volunteers at Noma started at The Test Kitchen in Cape Town this week.

Chef Chris’ Noma experience, coupled with the fantastic vegetable and herb garden on the farm, are sure to earn Pierneef à La Motte an Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Award in November!

Chef Shaun Schoeman, Fyndraai, Solms-Delta

In June, Chef Shaun Schoeman of Solms-Delta’s Fyndraai Restaurant spent two weeks working in one of the kitchens at Noma.  Chef Shaun’s feedback was that the simplicity of Noma’s menu, which lists items like ‘pike perch and cabbage’‘cooked fava beans and beach herbs’ and ‘the hen and the egg,’ belies its sophisticated appeal, as evidenced by the backlog of keen diners waiting for bookings. Noma is known for its contemporary reinterpretation of Nordic cuisine. This includes a return to the traditional methods of pickling, curing, smoking, and fermenting as well as the integration of many indigenous herbs and plants. Redzepi himself has worked with the world’s best, having spent time at both El Bulli in Spain (when it was the world’s number one restaurant), and the French Laundry in California’s Napa Valley.

“There are many similarities between the kinds of indigenous elements we use here at Fyndraai and what chef Redzepi has become known for in his cuisine,” said Shaun, who felt that he could only benefit from doing a stint at the world-famous Noma. After his acceptance as a stagier, he packed his bags and flew to Copenhagen, where he joined a production kitchen staffed by over 50 chefs from around the world, all there to learn the philosophy and techniques of this influential chef. “Everyone who works at Noma, no matter what their experience, starts in the production kitchen,” explained Shaun, where the standards for preparation and hygiene are exacting and the hours extremely long, with shifts of up to 14 hours. Only after three months will Chef Redzepi consider moving a stagier into the main service kitchen.  Every morning, a group of the production kitchen chefs go out to the nearby seaside to forage for fresh wild herbs and leaves, like nettles, wild rocket, sea coral, and wild garlic. Upon their return, they set to work on their pickings, cutting leaves into uniform sizes, all done on a tray kept over ice. “Temperature is extremely important as the herbs must be kept cold, but never below the temperature of the fridge.”

For a Franschhoek-born and bred native, it was an amazing experience for Shaun. He was overwhelmed by the incredible fresh fish and seafood that came through the production kitchen daily, including live crabs and luscious sea scallops still in their shells. All vegetables were organic and specially grown for the restaurant. A great example of Noma’s high standards was the daily sorting of fresh green peas into varying sizes!  But aside from the differences in product and handling, when it came to the indigenous plants themselves, Shaun found that they were not dramatically different from the plants he relies on at Fyndraai, which are grown in the estate’s Dik Delta Garden. “We have many versions of the same plants, the major difference being that the Scandinavian herbs have more subtlety. South African indigenous herbs are sharper, which means that you really need the knowledge and training to harness their flavour without overpowering dishes.” Shaun returned from Copenhagen infused with energy and appreciation for the wide variety of herbs he has at his discretion, which collectively he refers to as “my baby.” He uses only indigenous herbs grown on site, so management of ingredients is crucial. That said, he feels he has a great deal of flexibility – one of the perks of a kitchen garden – and is always able to find a pleasing substitute if one herb is temporarily depleted.  The ingredient he’s most crazy about is citrus buchu, which he says is the most fantastic herb he’s ever worked with. “It’s got a sexy, citrus flavour that really lifts everything it touches. It works equally well with savoury dishes or desserts, and can be used in anything from infusions to a flavouring in bread rolls.”

He’s also extremely partial to spekboom, a small-leaved succulent also known as ‘elephant bush’, which is very versatile. At Fyndraai, it receives various treatments, from a quick stir-fry to lightly-dressed salad greens, and from pickling to its use as an ingredient in a cold cucumber soup. In its pickled form, it’s one in a range of signature Dik Delta products Shaun has recently started producing and selling on the farm. Some of the others are lemon and wild rosemary chutney, lemon and gemoedsrus (fortified Shiraz) marmalade, and wild herb rubs. Customers love taking these products, which they cannot find elsewhere, home to their own kitchens to experiment with.  “The indigenous herbs play sometimes starring, and more often supporting roles in the food we create at Fyndraai, depending on the nature and flavour of the plants themselves,” Shaun said.  The key is quantity, and knowing how much to add to a dish, and when to add it. Sometimes they are added directly to dishes, at other times infused into sauces, used to create syrups which provide complementary flavours to a dish and even as flavourings in ice cream!  The plants are propagated at Dik Delta, the large ‘kitchen garden’ on the wine estate. The two-hectare veld garden is overseen by a team of trained Solms-Delta residents. It yields crops of dynamic herbs, many of which were on the verge of extinction before the birth of this valuable culinary-bio project.

Today, the garden is the restaurant’s source for everything from wild asparagus to spekboom to makatan, an indigenous melon which Shaun cooks into one of the Dik Delta preserves. The garden is in full spring flower, with sunny yellow patches of honeybush, which flowers will be picked and dried for honeybush tea, and the dark mauve flowers of the Bobbejaantjies (little baboons) or Babiana. While this striking flower is most often used as an ornamental plant, it has a highly nutritious bulb or corm that can be eaten raw or cooked; it tastes a little like a potato and can be used as a vegetable in stews or in salads. Since Fyndraai opened four years ago, cooking with these plants has been an ongoing learning process for Shaun as well as his staff, all of whom were initially kitchen novices. This had many advantages, because they had no preconceived notions or bad habits to break. He is extremely proud of his kitchen crew, who handle the complex menu and its preparations with confidence and expertise.

Pierneef à La Motte, La Motte, R45, Franschhoek.  Tel (021) 876-8000.  www.la-motte.com Twitter: @Pierneeflamotte

Fyndraai, Solms-Delta, Delta Road, off R45, Franschhoek. Tel (021) 874-3937.  www.solms-delta.co.za Twitter: @Solms_Delta

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

Hot new Cape restaurants opening: Burrata, Orphanage, Bruce’s Boat House, and more!

Our list of latest restaurant openings and closures fortunately lists more openings than closures, and will be updated continuously, as we receive information.

Cape Town

*   Neil Grant, ex-sommelier of Rust en Vrede, has opened Burrata, a new restaurant in the Old Biscuit Mill.  They will introduce a new 3-course food and wine pairing menu at the end of April.

*   Luke Dale-Roberts, Eat Out Top Chef, 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 in June

*   Chef Bruce Robertson (ex-The Showroom) has opened Bruce’s Boat House for lunches, in Scarborough

*   La Belle Café & Bakery has opened in the Alphen Boutique Hotel.

*   5 Rooms Restaurant has opened at the Alphen Boutique Hotel

*   Sabrina’s, which opened about two months ago where Depasco was, at the corner of Kloof and Long Street, has also closed down

*   Chef Craig Paterson has started as Executive Chef at Dash (Queen Victoria Hotel), the V&A Hotel, and Dock House

*   Mitico has opened a pizzeria and ’spaghetteria’ on Kloof Street, where St Elmo’s used to be (son of the original Luigi from Hout Bay)

*   Don Pedro’s in Woodstock has re-opened, under Madame Zingara management

*   Myög has opened as a frozen yoghurt outlet, at 103 Kloof Street

*   Thai Café has opened in the old Cape Quarter

*   On a Roll has opened in Mowbray as a gourmet hot dog restaurant

*   The Dog’s Bollocks has opened as a burger pop-up restaurant

*   Jackal & Hide has opened on Kloof Street

*   Graham Beck’s Gorgeous bubbly bar has opened at Catharina’s at Steenberg.

*   Col’Cacchio is opening new outlets in Claremont and Westlake

*   Dale Thebus is the new chef at Salt restaurant at the Ambassador Hotel.

*   A new Vida é Caffe is opening on Prestwich Street

*   A  cupcake shop is said to be opening on Ebenezer Street, next to T & Co/Table 13, in Green Point

*   Il Cappero is moving from Barrack Street to Fairway Street in Camps Bay, opening on 2 June.

*   Saints on 84 Kloof has opened on Kloof Street

*   Sushibox has opened at Newlands Village

*   Richard’s Supper Stage & Bistro has opened on Main/Glengariff Roads in Sea Point, as a dinner theatre (from May), and Bistro restaurant, owned by Richard Loring and Roland Seidel

*   ‘I my Laundry restaurant has opened on Buitengracht Street

*   West Street Café has opened in the new Woodstock Foundry, owned by Chef Alan West

*   Orphanage has opened as a cocktail and tapas emporium on Bree Street

*   Valora on Loop Street has closed down

*   ACT Restaurant and Play Bar at the Baxter Theatre closed down

*   Philip Arno Botes is the new Chef at Pure Restaurant at Hout Bay Manor.

*   Maz Sushi has closed down on Main Road Sea Point

*   Planet Green Salad Bar has opened on Kloof Street

*   Vanilla in the Cape Quarter has closed down.

*   Madame’s on Napier has opened in De Waterkant

*   Moyo is to open where the Paulaner Braühaus was in the V & A Waterfront.

*   Sinn has closed down its Deli at Wembley Square

*   Table Thirteen is closing down in Green Point and moving to Paarden Eiland at the end of May

*   Slug & Lettuce has opened on Kloof Street, where Mason was.

*   Pizza Vezuvio has opened in the Tygervalley Waterfront

*   Bistrot Milano has opened on Blaauwberg Road, Table View

*   Forneria Italia has opened in the Bayside Centre, Table View

*   Maharajah is selling food at the Baxter Theatre on a take-away basis prior to shows.

*   Hussar Grill is to open at Steenberg

*   Chef Fred Faucheux is the new Executive Chef at Nobu.

*   Cassis is opening a new Salon de Thé in the Gardens Centre in May

*   De Grendel has opened De Grendel Restaurant, with Chef Ian Bergh and owner Jonathan Davies

*   Toro Wine and Aperitif Bar has closed down

*   Piroschka’s Kitchen has moved from Bree Street to Waterkant Street, De Waterkant.

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

*   The Fez is reopening as a nightclub on Friday, to be called Sideshow

*  MasterChef SA finalist Guy Clark, who was eliminated in episode 9, has started as a chef at the Madame Zingara restaurant group next week.

*   Josephine’s Cookhouse is to open in Newlands, where Caveau at Josephine’s Mill used to be, belonging to Societi Bistro owner

*   A new Vida e Caffe is to open on Maindean Place in Claremont.

*   Vovo Teli has opened in the V&A Waterfront, in half of the original Vaughn Johnson shop. They have branches in Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg already.  The name is Portuguese, and means ‘grandfather’s place’.

*   Orinoco has opened on Bree Street, serving Mexican and Venezualean food

*   Rotisserie 360° has changed its name to Café Frank

*   Gesellig on Regent Road in Sea Point is standing empty, closed down or undergoing a major renovation

*   Sapphire has closed down in Camps Bay

*   A new McDonalds is opening in the Sanlam Centre

*   Salt Deli has chanegd its name to Salt Café

*   Keenwa has opened the P.I.S.C.O Bar above its restaurants, open Thursdays – Saturdays from 5 pm

*   Characters has opened on Roeland Street

*   TRUTH Coffee has opened on Buitenkant Street

*   The V&A 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.

Franschhoek

*   Leopard’s Leap has opened its Tasting room and Liam Tomlin Food Studio and Store outside Franschhoek, and the new Deli will open at the end of June

*    Reuben’s, which was said to be opening a Franschhoek branch in a building off the main road, when his Huguenot Road branch lease expires this year, appears to now be looking for an alternative restaurant venue on the main road, as the building purchase close to Place Vendome appears to have fallen through.

*   Donovan Dreyer is the new Restaurant Manager of Indochine at Delaire Graff.

*   Cheyne Morrisby is the new chef at the Franschhoek Kitchen at Holden Manz

*   Chef Vanie Padayachee has joined Le Quartier Français

*   Chef Darren Roberts is leaving Grande Provence for a new appointment in the Seychelles at the end of April.  Chef Darren Badenhorst steps into his shoes.

*   Alton van Biljon has been appointed as Restaurant Manager at Haute Cabriere.

*  Wicked Treat has opened.

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

*   Deluxe Coffeeworks has opened, where the Reuben’s Deli used to be.

*   The bubbly Inge Hoffman has left Leopard’s Leap, and is the new Brand Manager for Boekenhoutskloof

*   Ryan’s Kitchen is now offering cooking classes on Friday mornings, starting on 1 June

*   Okamai Japanese restaurant has opened at Glenwood wine estate

*   Chef Shaun Schoeman of Fyndraai Restaurant at Solms Delta has the amazing honour to be working at Noma in Copenhagen for two weeks in July.  He also shared that Fyndraai 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.

*  Taste South Africa, belonging to Cybercellar, has closed down in The Yard off the main road. They have Tweeted that they are looking for new premises.

Stellenbosch

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

*   Dorpstraat Deli has opened, where Cupcake used to be.

*   De Oude Bank Bakkerij has opened a bar, serving Bartinney wines, and craft beers.

* David Higgs has resigned as Executive Chef from Radisson Blu Gautrain in Johannesburg (previously with Rust en Vrede).  He starts at The Saxon in Johannesburg in May.

*   Slug & Lettuce is to open where Beads is on Church Street

*   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 in June, with a new name called The Vergelegen Restaurant.

*   Warwick wine estate’s new chef is Dane Newton (ex-Chamonix, Cascade Manor).

*   Chef Bjorn Dingemans is to open up The Millhouse Kitchen restaurant on Lourensford wine estate in July

*   Chris Olivier has opened SimpliciTea Deli in Somerset West

*   Chef Jonathan Heath has left Indochine, and will be opening a restaurant at Coopmanshuijs on Dorp Street in June.

*   A new Hussar Grill is said to be opening in Stellenbosch

Wellington

*   Chef Johan van Schalkwyk has left the Stone Kitchen at Dunstone Winery.  He opens his own restaurant Twist Some More in Wellington in July.

Hermanus/Overberg

*   Rivendell Estate and Bistro has opened as a restaurant and winetasting venue on the road between Hermanus and the N2, near the Kleinmond turn-off.

*  Grilleri (ex-Mediterrea) has closed down, and Chef Shane (ex-La Vierge) is now heading the re-named La Pentola restaurant.

Riebeek Kasteel

*   Mama Cucina has opened

Robertson

*   Emile Fortuin has been appointed as Executive Chef at Reuben’s Robertson

Garden Route

*   Katarina’s has opened at the Kurland Hotel.

Restaurant breaks

*   La Colombe is closing for renovations from 17 May – 16 June.

*   Constantia Uitsig is taking a winter break from 25 June – 24 July.

*   The River Café is closing for a winter break from 13 August – 4 September.

*   Tokara closes for a winter break from 22 April, re-opens on 4 May

*   Nguni in Plettenberg Bay closes from 1 May – 31 July

*   The Foodbarn will be closed for renovations on 7 and 8 May

*   Bientang’s Cave in Hermanus is closed for renovations until 21 June.

*   The Kove in Camps Bay will be closed from 1 May – 30 August

*   The Test Kitchen will be closed from 13 – 28 May

*    Burgundy in Hermanus will be closed for dinners until 17 June

*   Makaron Restaurant at Majeka House will be closed in June

*   Olivello at Marianne Estate will be closed from 30 July – 21 August

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

*   Pierneef a La Motte will be closed from 18 June – 13 July.

*   The main Delaire Graff restaurant closes from 3 -24 June, but Indochine continues to trade.

*   Blues will be closed from 1 – 30 June

*   Waterkloof in Somerset West is closing for all June.

*   The Franschhoek Kitchen at Holden Manz is closed for all of June

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

2011 Eat Out DStv Food Network Restaurant Awards: a prediction!

On Sunday the long-awaited Eat Out DStv Food Network Restaurant Awards will be presented at the Bay Hotel’s Rotunda in the presence of 360 chefs and restaurant lovers. This year sees a number of changes in the Awards, with the Top 10 name having fallen away as a generic title, due to the introduction of additional categories which have been judged, and the controversial sole judging of the winning restaurants in each category by Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly.

As we have done before, we predict the following restaurants to make the Top 10 Restaurant list, based on write-ups we have seen, our own experience, and patron talk.  No offence is intended to the chefs we have not included.  The list is not intended as a ranking.  Not knowing the Johannesburg, Pretoria and KwaZulu-Natal restaurants, we are guessing those:

*   We have previously predicted that Chef Richard Carstens at Tokara will be Top Chef/Best Restaurant, for his creativity in food preparation and presentation, for continuously re-inventing himself and his dishes, for his quest to learn new things, and for the amazing El Bulli tribute dinner he prepared on 30 July.  The restaurant has just been selected by the Great Wine Capitals Global Network as the best Winelands restaurant in the country.

*   The Test Kitchen‘s Luke Dale-Roberts is most foodies’ prediction for Top Chef, and he does feature often in TASTE, the magazine that Mrs Donnelly is Food Editor of.  She told me recently that Woolworths chose Luke for a Christmas range, and that is why he receives so much coverage.

*   The Greenhouse at Cellars Hohenhort Hotel, with Chef Peter Tempelhoff, who has just been honoured as Relais & Chateaux Grand Chef, the first in Cape Town, and only the third in South Africa.

*    Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine is a stalwart, and while its restaurant building is not the greatest and grandest, George gets on with what he is excellent at, without any PR hype

*   The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Francais with Chef Margot Janse cannot be excluded from the list, for its listing as the only South African restaurant on the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

*   DW Eleven-13 with Chef Marthinus Ferreira in Johannesburg was a Top 10 restaurant last year. The only criticism I have seen about this restaurant is its location.

*  Hartford House in KwaZulu-Natal, with Chef Jackie Cameron, regularly on the Eat Out Top 10 restaurant list, the best that this province has to offer.

*   Chef Bertus Basson of Overture is another chef who reinvents himself and his food, and gets on with what he does well.  No PR hype.

*   Pierneef à La Motte with Chef Chris Erasmus has all the elements to make Top 10, but recently the food and service quality has started to slip.  The estate has been selected as top South African wine estate in the Great Wine Capitals Global Network.  Excellence drives everything that this estate does.

*   Babel is extremely trendy right now, and I hear lots of ooo’s and aaa’s about it, and is heavily booked, but it has only been open for lunch in its first year of operation.  Chef Darren Roberts of Grande Provence is a chef who gets on with things, quietly and creatively, and would be a more deserved Top 10 restaurant, this restaurant making the Top 10 every second year to date.

Other Top 20 Restaurant Finalists are Planet Restaurant, La Colombe, Nobu, Babel, Bosman’s, The Round House, Azure, Terroir, Roots in Johannesburg, and Restaurant Maison in Pretoria.

For the first time, Eat Out has introduced new Restaurant Award categories.  The Best Steakhouse Award could go to one of 29 steakhouses listed by Eat Out, and this may be where Johannesburg could have a winner, known to have a selection of good steakhouses, and making up almost half the Eat Out Steakhouse list.  In the Cape, Carne, Belthazar, and HQ are some of the steakhouses which feature on the list.

There are 18 finalists for the Boschendal Style Award, and this may be a little bit of a consolation prize for not making Top 10, and also gives newer restaurants which have not been open for a full year a chance at winning something.  The nominees for this category include Hemelhuijs, The Saxon, The Test Kitchen (an odd choice), Planet Restaurant, Thomas Maxwell Bistro in Johannesburg, Woodlands Eatery, Pierneef à La Motte, Kream, Makaron (at Majeka House, a consultancy client of Mrs Donnelly), Babel, Overture, The Grand Café and Beach (very odd!!), Rust en Vrede, Central One Restaurant (in the hotel at which David Higgs is the chef now), Dear Me Foodworld, Craft Trattoria, Pure, and Indochine.  If Babel falls out of the Top 10, it may win this award.

The Best Bistro Award finalist list has 43 nominees, and feels a little like a listing of every other restaurant which did not make the Top 10 finalist list.  Odd is how broad the ‘Bistro’ name has been stretched to include some restaurant nominees!  Bistro Sixteen82 should win this award, but stiff competition could come from Bizerca Bistro, Ryan’s Kitchen, Cuvee@Simonsig, The Common Room at Le Quartier Français, The Foodbarn, Dear Me, Franschhoek Kitchen, and Bread & Wine. Odd is to see Reubens Franschhoek on the list, which has continuous negative feedback.

I have not seen the Best Italian Restaurant nominee list, but Giorgio Nava’s PR machine has announced that 95 Keerom Street is one of the nominees.  He is a likely winner, embodying ‘Italianess’, but without charm!  The Best Asian Restaurant and Best Country-Style Restaurant nominee lists have also not been seen, and Mrs Donnelly did not wish to release the nominee lists.

Interesting is how the Eat Out Awards dinner has grown to 360 attendees.  If one calculates that each of the Top 20 Restaurant finalists will take a table, that leaves another 160 seats, not all filled yet, judging by e-mail reminders about the event.  With so many finalists and nominees, there will be many disappointed empty-handed chefs and restaurant owners on Sunday evening!

POSTSCRIPT 17/11: This Eat Out article has an interesting analysis of past Top 10 Restaurant/Chef winners, and some demographic break-downs of chefs as well.

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