Tag Archives: The River Cafe

Restaurant Review: The doors of Open Door at Constantia Uitsig (almost) always open!

Open Door Kitchen and Bar Whale CottageYesterday was only the second day of Open Door being open on Constantia Uitsig, but it felt as if it had always been there, with everything running smoothly.  Open Door is the third restaurant of co-owners Neil Grant and Barry Engelbrecht, alongside Burrata and Bocca, and serves country fare.

Previously the home to The River Café on the wine estate, with a tasting room on the side which has moved across the driveway, the space of Open Door is large, being able to seat 250 patrons at full capacity, in different sections. One enters around the corner, and no longer at the former tasting room entrance. The main restaurant room is spacious, with a gas fireplace to come at the one end, and an open kitchen on the other end, with the bar close to the kitchen section, opposite of which is Neil’s precious wine collection, looking smaller than that of Burrata, but is not, Continue reading →

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

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

Restaurant Openings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*   TRUTH Coffee has opened on Buitenkant Street

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

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

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

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

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

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

*   Coopmanshuijs in Stellenbosch is opening a restaurant.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*   Make Sushi Bar has opened in Sea Point

*   Thai Café is opening on Plein Street, Stellenbosch

*   Simply Asia has opened in Paarl

*   Restaurant @ Zomerlust has opened in Paarl

*    Christina’s has opened at Van Loveren in Robertson

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

*   Moksh Authentic Indian Cuisine restaurant has opened in Paarl

*   Vino’s has opened in Wellington

*   Alfama’s has opened on Waterkant Street

*   Taj Mahal has opened in Sea Point

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

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

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

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

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

*   Cattle Baron has opened in Hermanus.

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

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

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

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

*   Cattle Baron is to open at Pontac Manor in Paarl

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

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

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

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

*   Buitenverwachting has opened a Coffee Shop and Roastery

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

*   Rock Sushi Thai has opened in Meadowridge

*   Jimmy Jimanos sports bar is opening on Long Street

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

*   The Coffee Bloc has opened at Buitenverwachting

*   The Salzburger Grill has opened in Sea Point

Restaurant Closures

*   Sabarosa in Bakoven has closed down.

* Sunbird Bistro in Camps Bay has closed down

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

*   Paparazzi has closed down on St George’s Mall

*   Wicked Treats in Franschhoek has closed down.

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

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

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

*   Sinnfull has closed down in Sea Point and Camps Bay

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

Restaurant staff/venue changes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*   GOLD Restaurant has moved into the Trinity building

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*   Noop restaurant in Paarl has new owners

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Restaurant breaks

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

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

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

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

Cape Town and Winelands Restaurant openings: De Grendel, Vovo Telo, Orinoco. Lots of winter restaurant closures!

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

Restaurant Openings

*    De Grendel wine estate has opened De Grendel Restaurant, with Chef Ian Bergh and owner Jonathan Davies (photograph left)

*   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

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

*   A new Vida é Caffe has opened on Prestwich Street, and a new branch is to open on Maindean Place in Claremont, and one in the new Wembley Square 2 development in July.  Two more branches are planned for Mauritius, it is said.

*   Madame’s on Napier has opened in De Waterkant

*   Hussar Grill is to open at Steenberg

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

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

*   The Fez has reopened as a nightclub on Friday, to be called Sideshow

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

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

*   Josephine’s Cookhouse has opened in Newlands, belonging to the Societi Bistro owners

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

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

*    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

*    Planet Green Salad Bar has opened on Kloof Street

*    Liam Tomlin Food Studio and Store at Leopard’s Leap in Franschhoek is opening a Deli in September

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*   Stables at Vergelegen Bistro has opened as a lunch restaurant in Somerset West.  Its Lady Phillips Restaurant is being given a make-over by Christo Barnard, and will open in June with a new name called The Vergelegen Restaurant.

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

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

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

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

*   Cassis Paris Salon de thé has opened in the Gardens’ Centre, on the first level.

*  Melissa’s has opened at Somerset Mall in Somerset West

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

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

*   Giorgio Nava is said to be re-opening his Down South Food Bar, previously on Long Street, in the Riverside Centre in Rondebosch

*   Tamboers Winkel has opened on De Lorentz Street, just off Kloof Street, Gardens/Tamboerskloof *   Ou Meul Bakery from Riviersonderend is said to be opening a bakery in Long Street

*   Deluxe Coffeeworks is opening a roastery to service all its outlets, at the previous German Club and Roodehek Restaurant.

* The Deli on the Square is to open at Frater Square in Paarl in July.

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

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

Restaurant Closures

*   Valora on Loop Street has closed down

* Vanilla in the Cape Quarter has closed down.

*   Toro Wine and Aperitif Bar in De Waterkant has closed down

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

*   Sapphire has closed down in Camps Bay

*   Caveau at Josephine’s Mill has closed

down and the Bree Street venue is up for rent

*   High Level Restaurant in Bo-Kaap has closed down

*   Caveau on Bree Street and Gourmet Burger on Shortmarket Street, belonging to the same owners, have been closed down by their bank.

*   Sabarosa in Bakoven has closed down.

Restaurant staff/venue changes

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

Table Thirteen has reduced in size in Green Point and will open in Paarden Eiland later this year. *   Chef Fred Faucheux is the new Executive Chef at Nobu.

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

*  MasterChef SA finalist Guy Clark, who was eliminated in episode 9, has started as a chef at the Madame Zingara restaurant group, at Café Mozart and the Bombay Bicycle Club.

*   Rotisserie 360° on Bree Street has changed its name to Café Frank

*   Salt Deli has changed its name to Salt Café

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

*   Chef Darren Badenhorst is the new Executive Chef at Grande Provence. Chef Darren Roberts has left for a new appointment in the Seychelles.

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

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

*   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.

*    Reuben’s, which was said to be moving its Franschhoek branch, appears to be staying at his existing venue, despite having bought another restaurant venue off the main road close to Place Vendome.  He is also thought to open a restaurant in his home on Akademie Street.

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

*   Sommelier Josephine Gutentoft has left Grande Roche, and starts at Makaron at Majeka House in July, F&B Manager Chretien Ploum having left

*   The Reserve will change its name to Reserve Brasserie next month. Seelan Sundoo, ex Grand Café Camps Bay and ex La Perla, is the new chef.

*   Haiku does not enforce the minimum 4 star order requirement in winter.

*   Café Dijon is closing its restaurant on Plein Street in Stellenbosch later in June, and re-opening in the Rockwell Centre in Green Point, Cape Town, where Camil Haas once had his Bouillabaisse restaurant.

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

*   Miss K Food closed down in Green Point, now ex-owner Kerstin going on a well-deserved break after 5 years. The new owner Maurizio Porro, with his chef Ernesto, has kept the staff and furniture of Miss K, and most of her menu initially. By September they will have transformed themselves into an Italian fine-dining restaurant to be called Guilia’s Food Café Restaurant, and will be open from 8h00, as well as for dinner.

*   Rob and Nicky Hahn have left Proviant in Paarl, and now run eat @ Simonsvlei on the Old Paarl Road

*   Karl Lambour is the new General Manager of Grande Provence.

*   Virgil Kahn is the new head chef at Indochine at Delaire Graff

*   La Motte is said to be working on a relaunch of a restaurant it owns in Somerset West.

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

*   Chef Marco, who opened Rocca at Dieu Donné in Franschhoek, has returned to Durban.

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

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.

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

*   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

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

*   Makaron Restaurant at Majeka House will be closed until 2 July

*   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 June – 6 July, 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

*   Pure Restaurant at Hout Bay Manor will be closed from 23 June – 3 August

* L’Apero at the Grand Daddy Hotel is closed for repairs until 17 June

*   Charly’s Bakery closes between 23 June and 16 July.

*  Kitima is re-opening from its winter break on 17 July

*   Terroir, Kleine Zalze: Closed from 25 June – 9 July. Open for dinner only 10 – 13 July. Open for lunch and dinner 14 July. Open for lunch 15 July.

*   Pane e Vino is closing from 1 – 31 July

*   Bistro 1682 at Steenberg is closed from 1 – 26 July.

*   The Kitchen at Maison is closed until 3 August

*   De Oude Bank Bakkerij will be closed from 8 – 16 July

*   Massimo’s Pizza Club is closing from 23 – 31 July

*   Rust en Vrede is closed from 8 July – 6 August

*   Tokara is closed between 9 – 16 July

*   Reuben’s Franschhoek is closed from 16 July – 1 August

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

Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club spoilt at Steenberg and Bistro Sixteen82 in September

The members of the Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club have been very fortunate to have been wined and dined in the past eighteen months of the Club’s existence.  This month is no different, and our visist to Steenberg Vineyards, and to their Bistro Sixteen82, is likely to be a very popular event.   The meeting will feature two speakers, being Anetha Homan, Sales and Marketing Manager of Steenberg Vineyards, and Chef Brad Ball of Bistro Sixteen82.

Anetha Homan has been the Sales and Marketing Manager of Steenberg Vineyards for the past four years, and worked at Constantia Uitsig for eight years prior to that. She graduated with a BA Communications at the University of Stellenbosch.  Steenberg’s winemaker is JD Pretorius.  Steenberg is committed to Social Media, having the Totally Stoned Steenberg Blog, which includes wine news and news about its restaurant Bistro Sixteen82.  Anetha says that Social Media allows Steenberg to communicate with its customers in an informal way, and it allows the wine estate to receive feedback from their customers too.

Chef Brad Ball is destined for great things, and deserves to be in the Eat Out Top 20 restaurant list, and is a strong contender for the newly created Bistro category.  Chef Brad comes from a foodie family, in that his mom managed a catering company.   It was a heavenly Tuna Nicoise that inspired him to apply for his first position as chef, and he was appointed at Simon’s Table in Simonstown 14 years ago.  Two years later he went to London, where he worked with Chef Patron Rowley Leigh, known as the father of modern British cuisine, at Kensington Place. It is here that his love for Bistro-style food was born.  On his return to Cape Town he worked as Head Chef at Olympia Café and Deli, followed by the Post House Hotel & Restaurant in Greyton, Pastis Brasserie in Constantia, and at The River Café.  He started his own catering consultancy before he joined Steenberg Vineyards to open the new restaurant Bistro Sixteen82.  Chef Brad believes in ‘simple is better’, and ‘local is lekker’.   He is inspired by Japanese cuisine and Provencal food. He puts his heart and soul into whatever he does, delivering passion and pizzaz in the food that he serves.  Bistro Sixteen82 is probably best known for its Friday Steenburger, and Beef Tataki.

The Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club was formed to reflect the tremendous growth in and power of food and wine blogs in forming opinion about food, restaurants and wines.  Most bloggers do not have any formal training in blogging, and learnt from others.   The Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club aims to foster this informal training, and to serve as a social media networking opportunity.

Anetha and Chef Brad will talk for about half an hour each about the Steenberg Blog, and what they have learnt about blogging.  The Club will give fledgling as well as experienced bloggers the opportunity to learn from each other and to share their knowledge with others.  Attendees can ask questions, and get to know fellow bloggers.  The Club meetings are informal and fun. Anetha Homan will lead bloggers through a tasting of the Steenberg wines, while snacks will be prepared by Chef Brad.

Future Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meetings have been organised as follows:

*   19 October:   Roger and Dawn Jorgensen of Jorgensen’s Distillery, and Anthony Gird and Michael de Klerk of Honest Chocolate, with a chocolate and potstill brandy tasting, at Haas Coffee on Rose Street.

*   12 November: Visit to new Leopard’s Leap tasting room and cookery school in Franschhoek

Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club, Wednesday 21 September, 6 – 8 pm: Steenberg Vineyards, Steenberg, Cape Town. Bookings can be made by e-mailing Chris at whalecot@iafrica.com. The cost of attendance is R100.  Twitter: @FoodWineBlogClu  Facebook: click here.

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

Restaurant Review: Caffe Milano Pasticceria & Bar è deliziosa e amichevole!

My first encounter with Caffe Milano Pasticceria & Bar on Kloof Street, next door to ex hot-spot Manna, for lunch last week made me undecided as to how I felt about it, something that doesn’t happen very often.   A return visit for breakfast on Saturday morning made me a firm supporter, enjoying the good food, the good service, and extreme friendliness.

I could not help but compare the new restaurant, the fifth that restaurant mogul Giogio Nava has opened in Cape Town (his other restaurants are 95 Keerom Street, Carne, Down South Food Bar, and Mozzarella Bar, and he is soon to open an events and entertainment venue in the old Art Deco Land Bank building in Queen Victoria Street) with Cassis Paris’ Salon de Thé in Newlands.  Both restaurants focus on the patisserie side of their outlets, and both produce beautiful pastries.  While they are freshly baked on the Caffe Milano premises from about 2h00 every morning, the Cassis Paris delicacies are baked at a central factory in Montague Gardens.  The product display at Cassis Paris is more attractive, in that it has a larger pastry range, and they are neatly displayed in rows in the display cabinets, while those at Caffe Milano are placed on platters inside the display cabinet.   As I went to eat after lunchtime, a number of the Caffe Milano pastries on the platters had been sold, and were not replenished, probably waiting for the fresh load to be baked the following day.   Caffe Milano’s pastry display is inside the restaurant, whereas it is in a neighbouring shop at Cassis Paris, with no direct client connection.   The service is definitely far better at Caffe Milano, and the food, based only on two items at each, definitely was better at Caffe Milano.   Brand focus is far better at Cassis Paris.  Cassis Paris has a marketing edge on Caffe Milano, in that it started brand building three years ago.

While I was well looked after by the waitress Zoe, I felt something was missing in the restaurant, especially given the rave reviews I had read by blogging colleagues.  There is no music.  There is perhaps too much open space inside the two restaurant sections, which does not create cohesion.   The tables have wooden tops and with the wooden chairs they did not give me the feeling of the latest elegant Milanese design  (Nava’s partner in the Mozzarella Bar, Matteo Amatruda, owns a+1 in The Foundry, an interior design shop specialising in Italian furniture and lighting, and I did not see his decor hand at Caffe Milano).  The walls are painted a boring beige, and the staff tops are beige and branded, matched with brown aprons, a not very modern colour combination. Downlighters and ordinary looking round lamp shades light up the bar section and display cabinet area.   I loved the large LavAzza wall poster (on the right), and would have liked to see more of this theme inside the restaurant – unfortunately the poster is hidden from the view of most clients sitting in the entrance section of the restaurant.  I loved the cake displays in the windows.  The menu (with winelist) looks boring and old-fashioned with little brown illustrations of food items subtly printed on it, which initially made me think that it had coffee stains on it.   It also looks cheap, just being an A3 page which looks heavily used, given that the restaurant has only been open for a month.  A white paper serviette is on the side plate and the knife and fork are pedestrian.  The teaspoon is Italian designed, and looks far better quality.  Zoe brought Morgenster olive oil and balsamic vinegar to the table, the latter bottle having only a last drop in it.  A Robertson’s pepper grinder is on the table, as is an ordinary salt cellar.

Nava arrived and was active behind the counter for a while, but never appears to connect with his customers.  Vanessa Quellec is the co-owner of Caffe Milano, and the pastry chef, having previously worked at The Roundhouse.   She has worked in top restaurants in New York, and went to Germany and Italy before opening the restaurant, to learn more about bread baking.  She had left for the day, I was told, as she works with the baking staff in the early hours of the morning.  The chef in the kitchen is Brendon Stein, previously having worked at the River Café at Constantia Uitsig. The manager is Charlene van Heerden, and she was very helpful in proactively opening the pastry display cabinet, so that its glass door would not reflect in my photograph.

Breakfast is served until midday, and offers five options: Kloof Street Breakfast (bacon and eggs) at R45; Eggs Benedict R52, scrambled eggs cost R45, and R55 with bacon, and R 65 if served with salmon; French Toast made from cinnamon and pecan brioche costs R58, and a Muesli Mix with fruit and yoghurt R 55.  Breakfast pastries such as croissants filled with almonds, chocolate, apricot jam, or cream, or served plain, cannoncino, bombolone as well as sticky buns, range in price between R10 – R18.  “Filled” croissants can also be ordered, with mozzarella, parma ham or smoked Norwegian trout on them, costing R30 – R42.   The LavAzza cappuccino is excellent, and costs R15 (Nava discounts it to R10 at his Mozzarella Bar down the road).   I loved the neat LavAzza sugar sachet holder, which I have not seen elsewhere.

Lunch is served between midday and 16h00, a decent time range, and a bowl of toasted thin slices of some of the Caffe Milano breads is brought to the table.  Only eleven lunch items are available, of which five are salads (avocado, smoked mozzarella, roasted chicken, calamari, and caprese), quite expensive at R 60 – R75. I ordered the La Tartare di Mazo (R70), being ‘hand chopped raw prime fillet dressed with Morgenster olive oil, onion, egg, capers and parsley’, and served with three slices of toast, a perfect accompaniment to the tartare, one of the best I have tasted, less fine than that which one can buy at Raith Gourmet.   The presentation was rounded off by three half slices of lemon, each of these having a tiny amount of chopped onions, washed and chopped capers, and chopped parsley.   When I did not recognise the dried and chopped capers, Zoe brought before and after capers to the table, to explain how they get to look so brown when washed, dried and chopped up.   Parma ham and melon costs R95, smoked yellow fin tuna carpaccio R80, Norwegian salmon R85, beef carpaccio R70 and lasagne pasta, spinach and ricotta costs R65.  There is only one ‘Dolci’ item on the menu, which is the Il Fondente “95”, from Nava’s 95 Keerom Street restaurant, which he also serves at the Mozzarella Bar.   I suspect that most patrons will make their way to the display cabinet, and will chose a dessert from it, the selection including cannoncino (R10); mini apple tarts, lemon tarts, Sacher Torte, Coconut Daquoise, and Portuguese custard tarts costing R15, and lots more.   I had a berry pannacotta, which was served in a beautiful glass, and I savoured its creaminess, whilst chatting to an American visitor sitting at a table across from me.  

Cap Classiques on offer are Villiera (R40/R160), Graham Beck Brut (R45/R210), Graham Beck Brut Rosé (R50/R230), Steenberg Brut 1682 (R280) and Krone Borealis Brut Rosé (R270).   Taittinger Brut costs R720, and Billecart Salmon Brut Rosé R950.  No Shiraz is on the winelist, and generally the winelist is weighted to white wines.  Wines by the glass include Graham Beck Rail Road Red (R28/R110), Villiera Cabernet Sauvignon (R35/R110), Dombeya Merlot (R48/R190), Felicite Pinot Noir (R41/R165), Kleine Zalze Sauvignon Blanc (R30/R120), Graham Beck Chardonnay (R45/R180), and Kloof Street Chenin Blanc (R28/R110).

One can go home with pastries and artisanal breads under one’s arm, as well as with a beautiful LavAzza cappuccino machine, ranging in price between R2800 – R 3300, depending on the colour scheme of the machine.  LavAzza coffee pods can also be bought.

I had mixed feelings about my first visit to Caffe Milano, relative to the hype I had read, and saw no bar counter, as promised in the name of the restaurant.   Perhaps the marriage between the restaurant and the pasticceria is not there yet.  There is nothing on the menu to encourage one to peek at the pastry display cabinet, especially when one does not see it in the side room, and it would be nice to have the names of these items listed on the menu too, to see them as dessert options, and also to get to know their Italian names with English descriptions.   Given Nava’s restaurant experience, I think the restaurant can stretch itself with a greater variety of Italian dishes over time, only two dishes on the lunch menu being cooked, and I have read that it may open for dinner in future.  The pastries are good value, especially given their quality, but I felt that the lunch portion of steak tartare was expensive relative to the amount that was served.  The food quality is excellent. The main attraction is the pastry section, and perhaps it could do with being fuller for most of the day, with pastry plates refilled, and more neatly presented, as per Cassis Paris.   I will be back, and my next visit will be for breakfast.   Parking is a challenge however, the popularity of Caffe Milano making it hard to find somewhere close by to park.

I had written the above (with the exception of the first paragraph) after my first visit for lunch, and my return visit clarified some things, and changed my mind about Caffe Milano completely.  First, it was buzzing on Saturday morning, and I was lucky enough to get the last table, as well as to find a (creative) parking spot close by, so great is their popularity.   Charlene, the Manager, welcomed me back like an old friend, and the waitress Zoe took over some of the service at my table too.  The pastry display cabinet was fully packed, and all the trays were filled.  The service was fast and efficient, despite the restaurant being so full.  The scrambled egg (R48) I ordered was the most delicious and the most yellow I have ever eaten, served with lovely toasted rye bread.  When I commented on the colour of the eggs, Charlene brought me an information booklet from Spier BD (for Biodiversity) Farm, whch is their supplier of eggs, chicken and beef.  I was fascinated to read their claims that ‘pasture-fed’ animals are “freer than the free ranging” animals and birds, and therefore implies healthier to eat.  The chickens, for example, spend 21 days on the pasture in ‘predator-proof houses’.    They lay their eggs in ‘eggmobiles”.  The pastures have 19 varieties of grasses and legumes, the brochure explains, and the farming is biodynamic.  “The chickens are treated as animals, and not as production widgets”, it continues.  Slaughtering is done by hand, it says, as ‘humanely as possible’.  The chickens are not injected with brine, up to 25 % being allowed in South Africa. 

The co-owner Giorgio Nava looked very cheffy in his white chef top, and was behind the counter the whole time that I was there.  The biggest delight of all was Vanessa Quellec coming to say hello.  She is very friendly and welcoming, and I loved her two pigtails, making her very down to earth.  She kept checking that everything was in order, and showed me her new bread ‘baby’, a baguette epi (right), which she had baked for the first time that morning.   She also compiled a list of her bread styles for me, which is not in the menu.  On weekends she has a greater variety of breads available, and it includes the epi, milk bread rolls and sugar milk bread, in addition to the weekday range of ciabatta, baguettes, 60 % as well 100% rye sourdough, focaccia with sea salt and rosemary, and bialy.   Vanessa comes from Minnesota originally, and worked in some hotshot New York restaurants, where she met PJ Vadis, the chef at The Roundhouse.  He suggested that she work for Markus Farbinger at Il de Pain in Knysna, who is internationally known as one of the best bread bakers and pastry makers in the world, having worked in New York too, including at Le Cirque.   Vanessa spent a year in Knysna, and says that Farbinger has changed breadmaking in South Africa (one of his other proteges is Fritz Schoon at De Oude Bank Bakkerij in Stellenbosch).  Through her friendship with Vadis, she worked at The Roundhouse as pastry chef, until the opportunity arose to start Caffe Milano with Nava.   While she waited for the restaurant to be ready for opening, she spent time at a sourdough bread and at a roll factory in Germany, and also at a bread factory in Italy, such is the love for her craft.  She told me that she only uses the best ingredients, and recently introduced Valrhona chocolate from France to South Africa, using it for all her chocolate requirements, and also selling it in slabs.

Vanessa also told me that the menu will evolve, and this week the first additions to the menu will be introduced.   They will focus on creating greater synergy between the pastry and bread side of the business, and the restaurant side, through the menu.   Vanessa confirmed that opening in the evenings is on the cards, but not in the immediate future, as she wants her staff to be perfectly trained first.  I thought they were doing very well for having only been open for a month.

I have found a delightfully friendly new breakfast, lunch and coffee break venue in Cape Town, with relatively easy parking (except on Saturday mornings).  I will certainly be back. 

POSTSCRIPT 13/3: I went back to Caffe Milano today, and enjoyed the most beautiful Eggs Benedict.  I asked to have the bacon excluded, and Charlene spontaneously offered me avocado and mushrooms to replace it.   The restaurant was so full, that I had to wait for a table.  It had a wonderful buzz.

POSTSCRIPT 27/4: Vanessa Quellec leaves Caffe Milano in July, and is heading for Valrhona in France, where she will undergo training in the use of their chocolates.  She plans to return to Cape Town as a representative of the company.  Giorgio Nava will bring in an Italian pastry chef.

POSTSCRIPT 26/9:  The Weekend Argus reports that Caffe Milano will open for dinner from November.

Caffe Milano Pasticceria & Bar, 153 Kloof Street, Gardens, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 426-5566.  www.caffemilano.co.za (The website is still under construction). Tuesday – Sunday 7h00 – 17h00.

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