The invitation was enticing: join Chenin Blanc king Ken Forrester at The Westin on the 19th floor, to hear about his Dirty Little Secret, and it is no wonder that they had a full house, with trade representatives as well as writers attending! Continue reading →
Tag Archives: The Westin
New Restaurant openings in Cape Town and Winelands continue!
Even though we are halfway through the summer season, new restaurants continue to open, and more are planned before summer ends. This list of restaurant openings and closings and restaurant staff movements is updated continuously, as we receive new information:
* Michael Townsend (who owns the Harbour House emporium, with La Parada, Lucky Fish, and Harbour House restaurants) has opened Tiger’s Milk in Muizenberg (photograph). The Lucky Fish on Long Street will be transformed into Tiger’s Milk.
* Kokkedoor judge and Chef Nic van Wyk and Roxy Laker have opened bistro 13 at Stellenbosch Vineyards (Welmoed)
* Idiom Wines is said to be opening a restaurant.
* The Butcher Shop & Grill has opened next to Sotano in Mouille Point. Continue reading →
Bree Street: Cape Town’s favourite restaurant street!
Slowly but surely Bree Street in the Cape Town city centre has become the most talked about restaurant street, with ten new restaurants having opened in the past twelve months, and more are to come.
We have compiled a list of the 26 restaurants on Bree Street below. While Kloof Street has about ten restaurants more, the Bree Street restaurants generally are of a higher standard, with only one franchised restaurant outlet on Bree Street, unlike Kloof Street. We have started our Bree Street restaurant list from the Table Mountain side, moving down towards the harbour, the FNB building being the bottom boundary: Continue reading →
Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa High Tea goes pink for Women’s Month!
I am a fan of High Teas, and was delighted to receive an invitation from the Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa communications agency FIVESTAR PR to try out their new Pink High Tea, which celebrates Women’s Month in August, and Breast Cancer Awareness month in September.
I invited my friend Whitney to join me, having recently joined me for the Alphen Hotel’s 5Rooms’ new Afternoon Tea, which we experienced as being very disappointing. The first thing that impresses at the Twelve Apostles is the friendliness of the staff, from the time one enters the front door. The High Tea was served in the Leopard Bar, and we were lucky that the sun had come out at the time we were there, giving us a lovely view of Lion’s Head. Phumlela looked after us perfectly, bringing more tea and cappuccino, and topping up our water. The second impressive aspect is the time which management and the staff make to chat and to obtain feedback. First to greet us was Assistant Food & Beverage Manager Dominic Berenato, who has moved across from The Westin, and who was very friendly and helpful in finding us the perfect table. Next to pop by was Jill Wagner, who is in charge of Sales & Marketing for the Red Carnation hotels in our country, including The Oyster Box and Bushman’s Kloof Wilderness Reserve. Then GM Michael Nel came to greet us, clearly enjoying his new role at the hotel.
Phumlela talked us through the Pink High Tea. She told us that it costs R160 per person, and it includes Continue reading →
Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards 2012: No new top restaurants, foreign judge slated!
No restaurants which opened in South Africa from 2010 onwards (with the exception of The Test Kitchen) were judged to be good enough to make the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards 2012, held at the The Westin hotel last night. As predicted, Chef Luke Dale-Roberts’ The Test Kitchen was named the number one restaurant on the Top 10 list, while Margot Janse of The Tasting Room was named Chef of the Year. The Best Service Award went to Rust en Vrede. Stellenbosch now is the Gourmet Capital of South Africa, with four Top 10 restaurants, followed by Cape Town with three, and one each in Franschhoek, Johannesburg, and the Natal Midlands. The biggest surprise of the evening was the ‘slap’ Chef George Jardine of Jordan Restaurant, making third place on the Top 10 list, gave Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly (wearing Gavin Rajah) from the stage, criticising the use of an imported judge for the Awards, clearly referring to the controversial role Bruce Palling played in the Awards. A number of other controversial aspects once again clouded the Awards evening.
Lets start with Mr Palling. The relationship between New Media Publishing and its ex-judge went sour after the judging, when New Media Publishing was said by Palling on Twitter to not want to offer him a ticket to Cape Town to attend the Awards last night. Continue reading →
Eat Out Conference 2012 links the heritage and future of food!
The inaugural Eat Out Conference, held at the The Westin hotel on the eve of the Eat Out DStv Food Network Top 10 Awards with a disappointing attendance of fewer than 100 delegates, was an interesting journey of food through its South African history beginning in 1652, culminating in the climax of the inspirational talk by Chef Massimo Bottura of fifth ranked Osteria Francescana on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.
Chef Luke Dale-Roberts of The Test Kitchen, most likely to be crowned our country’s best Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant and Chef this evening, was meant to speak about ‘Food for thought, thought for food’, admitting that he is more comfortable cooking than he is at admin and public speaking. He was inspired by the recent gathering of 200 international chefs organised by Alain Ducasse, at which it was emphasised: “I am a chef, it’s what I am, it’s what I make”. He said a chef would die if he/she were to stop evolving. Every day inspires him, he said, as well as the seasons, and their change. Chef Luke showed a number of videos, made by Dreamcatcher Productions, of the making of his ‘thematic food’, being as funky, beautiful, and vibey as his dishes, including ‘Sea’ (oysters on salt), ‘The Farm’, ‘The Forest’, ‘The Test Kitchen Egg‘ with foie gras in its middle, the more recent ‘Walk through citrus groves’ (which included a three citrus sorbet, and Campari and orange jelly), and ‘Red Cabbage Coral’, served in different styles, being raw, powdered, cooked, and as a jelly. While Chef Luke did not address the theme of his talk, being more self-promotion focused, he earned the respect of the audience through the quality of his videos, and the beautiful dishes that he presented.
The presentation by UK food designer Andrew Stellitano and photographer Dominic Davies of sonnets on strands of pasta, laser cut biscuits, and more, went over the heads of most of the audience, especially the part entitled ‘Sensory experiences of the Cape’, via James Wannerton, who suffers from synaethesia, a condition in which two of the five senses are dissonant. Fun was his taste association, via Google Maps, of Table Mountain with pear drops, the Epping Market with chocolate digestives, and Paarl with ‘Gobstoppers’, all of which we were given to taste.
Margot Janse, Chef of The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français for the past 17 years, has a record number of ten Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant awards, more than any of the other 18 chefs she is competing against tonight. Africa is Chef Margot’s inspiration. She has lived in Africa for 23 years, coming to South Africa from Lusaka, and down to the Cape at the time at which Mr Mandela had just been released. This opened up a whole new world for culinary South Africa, the rest of world starting to fall in love with our country again, she said. More was better in the ‘Nineties, quantity was synonymous with quality then! She remembered braais, chutney, mampoer, witblits, South African generosity, her favourite gem squash, cheddar and gouda cheeses, milk in plastic sachets, and learnt that meat does not have to come in styrofoam trays. Her love for food became an obsession and then her career. She travels a lot, cooking in many countries. Her creations all have a South African stamp, and could include baobab, buchu, and chakalaka, these ingredients making us special. She is proud of where her supplies come from, having walked where the cattle graze, and sees where the vegetables grow. She shared how Farmer Angus makes a plan, and walked the extra mile for her, getting the cheeks cut out of lamb skulls. Integrity and honesty are the lessons she has learnt from Africa. She cooks what is grown here, and now. She learnt to fight for good service, for her staff, was known to be difficult, and is no longer banned from suppliers for standing her man.
She discussed the contradiction of focusing on the perfect carrot, when there are so many people in our country going hungry. Guests want to contribute, and give something back. With a fundraiser in Holland she raised R1 million, and can feed 750 children in Franschhoek, proudly showing this scheme to her guests. She has learnt ‘Ons maak ‘n plan’, that everything is possible in Africa. She uses local ingredients like sorghum, kapokbos, num-nums, sour figs, and a salt from a sacred place which is 200 years old, in the Mopani district. The Tasting Room only serves local wines, mainly from Franschhoek. She was asked how she has stayed at the restaurant for so long, and explained that she stays enthused through sourcing, and constantly evolving her restaurant. This winter they changed the interior of the restaurant, done by her brother, who was inspired by her food, removing all unnecessary and ‘intimidating factors’, such as table cloths, candles, and bread. The tables have been made from wood from the trees which were removed when the Berg River dam was built. She concluded with a plea: “Let’s celebrate this incredible land”! One reaction to her moving talk was from the audience: “I came about food and I was inspired to be a South African”.
Hetta Van Deventer-Terblanche, Culinary Consultant at La Motte, used research about Cape food in compiling a cookbook ‘Cape Winelands Cuisine’. Her talk was entitled ‘South African Storytelling on a plate‘. She related that she had grown up in a traditional town, with the belief that South Africa does not have a distinctive cuisine, with only a small repertoire, and that South Africans love meat (Braai, biltong, boerewors, potjiekos), and that vegetables are less important (‘Rys, vleis en aartappels‘). After 1994 the world opened up to South Africa. Guests asked where they could eat South African food, and they wanted South African cuisine defined. She said that she started researching South African food long before it became trendy. She described the recipes of the first settlers from different countries as ‘culinary treasures’. Founder Jan van Riebeek loved gardening, being ‘passionate and obsessed‘ about it, and experimented with the new plants he brought here, laying the foundation of South African herbs and spices. His fruits at the Company Gardens were described as being larger than everywhere else in world. There was an abundance of fruit, vegetables and nuts, which were not just harvested for ‘mooigoed’! French Huguenots added the heritage of offal and macaroons, for example. Rice was planted in the Cape, Lady Anne Barnard preferring it to imported rice. Roses were used for rose water seasoning, as were dried mushrooms, and crushed crayfish tail shells. Our forbears used natural flavourants naturally 300 years ago – ‘how new is our old, how old is our new‘, she asked. She said that we have lost such a lot, and that we need to find our past again. Dr Hettie Claasens did a lot of original research, being her inspiration, documented in her book ‘Die Geskiedenis van Boerekos’. Recipes are handed from mothers to daughters, and therefore are secret, and many are lost, as mothers are not teaching their daughters any more. Pierneef à La Motte Chef Chris Erasmus was praised, making magic on a plate. ‘Find your own food stories’, she concluded.
Catering by The Westin hotel was excellent, from the morning tea treats, to the lunch buffet, especially its ‘dessert’ Sweet Treat buffet of Smarties, jelly tots, macaroons, and chocolates, and cappuccino requests were actioned with speed and friendliness.
Chef Massimo Bottura of 3 Michelin star Osteria Francescana described Modena and surrounds as the ‘motor and food valley’, including Lamborghini and Bughatti, as well as Parmigiano-Reggiano, proscuitto, and balsamic vinegar. Chef Massimo entitled his talk ‘Come to Italy with Me’, also the name of one of his menu options, sharing how excited he was about his first visit to Africa. At his restaurant he asks guests to leave behind their preconceptions of Italian food, and to rediscover Italian flavours with him. He shared Chef Luke’s philosophy of being a chef, saying: “Do what I want to do, with passion. Look deep in your heart. Get the best from the past and bring it into the future”. All chefs must have an identity, he said, knowing who they are and where they come from. He said he could not achieve what he has without the support of a great team. Chef Massimo’s dish of five different styles of Parmigiano-Reggiano was named Italy’s Dish of the Decade 2001 – 2011. He described how he and his team ‘break down old forms, into a puzzle, and recreate them into new forms, using new technology and techniques‘. Chef Massimo brought his love for art into his talk, and explained how he recreated traditional recipes ‘through Picasso’s eyes’, creating ‘Cubist paintings’. Asked how the recession affects his business, he explained that it has hit Italy badly, but that they have faith in their new Prime Minister. His business, with only 25 seats, has not felt its effect, but one must work hard, keep one’s feet on the ground, be humble, and fight to beat the crisis! Chef Massimo described how they tried to perfect the Umami of a broth, adding pigeon, veal, beef, capers, chicken, eel, but it was the Parmigiano-Reggiano that gave the soup the perfect Umami! He advised that one must step back 10 meters, to see better into the future. One must combine history, art, food, and the social aspects to be successful. He mentioned his Tagliatelle Ragu as one of his trademark dishes, one which made the locals in his area attract them to his restaurant. He concluded, emphasising again that one must never forget where one comes from.
I had asked the question about the recession, and was delighted that Chef Massimo’s American wife Lara Gilmore came over to say hello, filling in some information gaps. Lara said that she met Chef Massimo in New York 19 years ago, and moved to Modena with him a year later. She explained the slide of the lemon and the light bulb, saying it represented that even the simplest ingredient can become special, depending on how you use it. She told me the lovely story of how Chef Massimo had been asked to design a menu for Christmas and New Year for a cruise liner. An earthquake in May caused tremendous damage and hardship for the people of Emilia Romagna, so Chef Massimo designed the menu utilising large numbers of ingredients from this region, to build up its economy again. She shared that the restaurant has three menus, one with 6-courses of Traditional dishes at €100, the Classics menu with his best dishes over the years at €140 for 8 courses, and the 12-course Sensations ‘Come to Italy with Me’ menu at €180. The dessert list has two sections, she explained, five being ‘savoury sweet’, and another five ‘sweet sweet’. The quirky names of the dishes impress, for example ‘Oops, I dropped the lemon tart’! While they worked hard to achieve three Michelin stars, it is even harder to maintain them, Lara shared, but it has allowed them to be more daring and avant garde. They have recently finished redoing the restaurant and the kitchen.
The Conference ended off with a panel discussion led by Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly, and was disappointing, with a mismatched panel of Chef Reuben Riffel, Chef Giorgio Nava, The Local Grill owner Steven Maresch, and Food Network owner representative Nick Thorogood. Grass-fed beef (‘Field to fork’) was highlighted as being healthier, and more sustainable, although it was clear that the steakhouse was ordering grain-fed meat. Even Chef Reuben said he had to order both kinds, as his customers did not relate to the grass-fed steak. Nick fed back that the trend in London is that the source of each ingredient is specified on the menu. South America will be the ‘next big name in cuisine’ , the influence on world cuisine coming from the forthcoming Olympics and World Cup soccer. Chef Reuben tried hard to argue that he is in touch with his restaurants, despite being a ‘celebrity chef’ now, but a question from the audience sounded as if it was addressed to him directly, making a passionate plea for absent chefs to be at their restaurants! TV cooking shows are popular, for entertainment and the inspiration. No-shows are a problem, but most restaurants do not ask for credit card details, with the exception of The Tasting Room. Bank chargebacks could mean that the guests dispute the payments and receive the money back anyway. Chef Jenny Morris suggested that the restaurant industry stand together and formulate a policy on booking deposits. The role of food critics was discussed just as it was time to close the discussion. While bloggers were criticised for not being knowledgeable and wielding considerable power, the unanimous view was that blogposts about restaurants must be honest and constructive, to ensure the integrity of one’s blog.
Despite the excellent content of the Eat Out Conference, bar one session, it was poorly attended. As the Conference is likely to become an annual event, New Media Publishing may need to consider a Sunday or Monday for it, to attract a far larger attendance by chefs, only a handful being in attendance. Important too would be to focus on who the Conference is aimed at – at Foodies, writing about Food and Restaurants, or at Chefs, or a combination of the two. Very few chefs attended, and one suspects that had most of those who attended not been speakers, there would have been barely any in the audience, a full-day Saturday conference in November probably poorly suited to busy restaurant kitchens. Perhaps the cost of R1000 was a deterrent too. Such a Conference would be better suited to the quiet winter period. Sadly, there was little interaction between the food writers and the few chefs, partly caused by the lack of name tags.
POSTSCRIPT 26/11: Last night I saw Massimo Bottura and his wife Lara at the Eat Out Awards dinner, and we chatted, especially about her most unusual choker made from a very special wine cork, encased in sterling silver at the ends.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant 2012 Awards: some predictions!
We have predicted the Eat Out Top restaurants in the past few years, and this year we are presenting three Eat Out Top 10 list options, based on Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly’s potential approaches to selecting the award-winning restaurants, which she had rubber-stamped by now ex-judge UK blogger Bruce Palling!
The judging criteria are clearly specified on the Eat Out website: the restaurant must have operated for 12 full months (this is why The Pot Luck Club had to be dropped off the Top 20 list!), and the same chef must have run the kitchen for the period; the owners and the chef should show an absolute passion for their business; they should be dedicated to uplifting the industry (an odd criterion, not being clear if this is meant to be staff upliftment, or sharing with chef colleagues?); chefs should care about sourcing quality produce; and consistency and excellence must shine through every aspect of the business. The judging score is out of 100, of which 70% goes to Food, its website says, but the figures don’t add up, in that 15 points go to menu composition and seasonality (defined as ‘choice, cooking techniques, dietary requirements, local ingredients, choice of fish, out-of-season ingredients‘), 15 points go to presentation (defined as ‘visual appeal, fits description, use of plate, garnishes’), and 25 points go to taste (defined as execution of dish, balanced, flavours complimentary, texture’), totalling 55 out of 70. The missing 15 points are not clarified, but some must be the non-food aspects, as they add up to 100! In addition, wine is evaluated out of 10 points (defined as ‘choice, other beverages offered, staff knowledge, pairing and value for money‘), Value for money scores out of 5, Service is evaluated out of 20 (defined as ‘reservation, arrival, staff attitude and knowledge, specials, wine matching, dietary requirements, extra mile, billing’), and ambiance is scored out of 10 (defined as ‘comfort level, cleanliness, cutlery, music and bathrooms‘).
To recap, the following Top 19 Restaurants are in the running for the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant list:
Cape Town: Bistrot Bizerca, The Greenhouse, La Colombe, Planet Restaurant, The Roundhouse, The Test Kitchen
Stellenbosch: Delaire Graff, Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine, Makaron Restaurant, Overture, Rust en Vrede, Terroir, Tokara
Franschhoek: Babel, Pierneef à La Motte, The Tasting Room
Other: DW Eleven-13, Hartford House, Restaurant Mosaic
We called our first Top 10 Restaurant list the Taste Monitor, doing a count of the number of times a Top 19 Eat Out restaurant has been featured in Taste magazine this year, of which Mrs Donnelly is the Food editor, to show which chefs she is partial to. It is no surprise that Chef Luke Dale-Roberts wins, having been featured in every issue, and he would be the only restaurant on the Top 10 list on this basis, all other Top 19 restaurant contenders having only been featured once or twice, if at all, in the past year. Advertising for La Motte, Delaire Graff, and Makaron restaurants has appeared in the magazine this year, as well as a promotion for Delaire Graff.
Another criterion would be the Trend to Foraging, Ethical sourcing, and Vegetable and Herb Gardening, and the following restaurants would feature on this list, in no particular order, based on our knowledge and what the restaurant websites claim: Pierneef à La Motte, Delaire Graff, Overture, Babel, The Tasting Room, The Greenhouse, Planet Restaurant, Makaron, and Hartford House.
To compile the Top 10 Restaurant List, we have had to put ourselves into Mrs Donnelly’s shoes: she will have chosen her favourites and those that she has had links to, having shown her bias in judging restaurants this year and last year. The hardest part is to decide which of her existing Top 10 favourites will have to fall off the existing Top 10 list to make way for others. No offence is meant by any exclusions, and is purely based on speculation:
* The Test Kitchen – there is no doubt that The Test Kitchen will be named Top Restaurant and Luke Dale-Roberts as Top Chef, on the basis of the monthly shoot at his restaurant for Taste magazine alone. 74th position on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Speaker at Eat Out Conference. Restaurant booked up to 3 months ahead. Oddly described as serving Tapas by Eat Out, maybe confusing it with The Pot Luck Club?
* Pierneef à La Motte – Chef Chris Erasmus showed that he strives for excellence in spending one month working at Noma, the world’s best restaurant, has the most fabulous vegetable and herb garden filled with unusual vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers, collegially sharing the produce with other restaurants in Franschhoek and Stellenbosch, has excellent wines on its winelist, and proudly focuses on local cuisine. Superb interior, reasonable value. Culinary Manager Hetta Van Deventer-Terblanche is speaking at the Eat Out Conference, and La Motte has advertised in Taste magazine. Service deficiencies would lose the restaurant some points.
* Makaron Restaurant – Chef Tanja Kruger is a member of the SA Culinary Olympic Team, spent a month working at Michelin-star L’Apèrge restaurant in Paris this year, has a vegetable and herb garden at Majeka House, and sources meat from Farmer Angus at Spier. Mrs Donnelly was a consultant to the restaurant, designing its first menu last year, and named the restaurant the inaugural winner of the Boschendal Style Award 2011, making it a model Eat Out restaurant! Sommelier Josephine Gutentoft adds to the quality offering. Good ambiance. Placed advertisement in Taste magazine this year.
* Babel at Babylonstoren – Consultant Maranda Engelbrecht has created a restaurant that is booked out two months in advance, and has created a most unusual food concept of same-colour salads, consisting of fruit, vegetables and herbs, grown in their enormous French-inspired garden. Chef Simone Rossouw worked at a Dutch restaurant for a while earlier this year. Owner Karen Roos has impeccable decor taste, very less-is-more. First wine vintage launched, and very Proudly Simonsberg wines. Good value, service strained when busy.
* Tokara – Chef Richard Carstens deserved a Top 10 place last year, but was shockingly left off the list, perhaps because there was a fear that he would not last at the restaurant. He has proven Mrs Donnelly very wrong. One of our most creative chefs, and constantly reinventing himself and his team. Seasonal focus. Exceptional presentation. Very professional service, with sommelier service. Winner of best Winelands Restaurant in Great Wine Capitals Global Network awards second year running.
* The Greenhouse – Chef Peter Tempelhoff is understated and low key, just getting on with what he does best. Own vegetable garden on the hotel estate, knowledgeable about wines, Chef Peter making wines with Adam Mason. One of only two Relais & Châteaux Grand Chefs in South Africa, awarded to Chef Peter earlier this year. Named Top Eat Out Restaurant last year. Service can be arrogant. Fun interpretation of restaurant name in dishes. Expensive. Sommelier service. Innovative 7-course Dom Perignon Tasting Menu introduced today.
* La Colombe – Chef Scot Kirton worked with Chef Luke Dale-Roberts, and has proven that he can do it with his own team too. Best winelist and sommelier in the country in Diner’s Club Winelist Awards this year.
* DW Eleven-13 – we know that Bruce Palling flew to Johannesburg to judge the restaurant.
* Delaire Graff – Chef Christiaan Campbell has strong ethical food principles, sources from Farmer Angus, his own vegetable garden, as well as from La Motte, seasonal menus, good plating, exceptional setting with its view on to the Simonsberg, outstanding service, exceptional decor with artworks by top local artists, very expensive. Placed advertisement and ran promotion in Taste magazine this year.
* The Tasting Room – Best placed South African restaurant on The World’s 50 Best Restaurant list, even though it slipped badly to 57th position this year, Chef Margot Janse sourcing herbs and vegetables from the La Motte garden, and meats from Farmer Angus at Spier. Very expensive. Service and wine list is criticised. New decor by Chef Margot’s brother. Speaker at Eat Out Conference. Loses points for banning customers.
We have excluded Bistrot Bizerca because of its move to new premises while the 2012 Eat Out edition was being printed; Terroir, Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine, and Rust en Vrede for being under the radar; The Roundhouse, for Chef PJ Vadas leaving during the course of the year, which should have disqualified the restaurant from being on the Top 20 list; Hartford House and Restaurant Mosaic, for judge Bruce Palling not having visited, as far as we can tell from his Tweets; Planet Restaurant, for not yet shaking off its hotel connection and what that entails, despite Chef Rudi’s impressive sourcing of produce and their excellent sommelier; and Overture, whose Chef Bertus Basson may have been burning the candle at both ends this year with his Amazink, Die Wors-Rol, The Ultimate Braaimaster, and consulting contracts.
We look forward to the Eat Out DStv Food Network Top 10 Restaurant Awards, to be held at The Westin hotel on Sunday evening.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Original Rickety Bridge owner’s spirit lives on at Paulina’s restaurant!
Paulina de Villiers was the first woman farm owner in the Winelands, now called Rickety Bridge, having received the farm in 1797. The wine estate has named its premium wines and its new Bistro restaurant after this feisty lady, whose spirit is said to still be felt in her vineyards!
We experienced the Paulina’s Reserve wines on Saturday, visiting Rickety Bridge on the new Franschhoek Wine Tram, and having been brought to their wine tasting centre with their Dodge converted into a vehicle with seating to transport the Wine Tram visitors from the train track. We were invited by Sales Manager and Restaurant Director Jacqui Rabe for lunch on Sunday, to experience the new Paulina’s restaurant.
We sat on the terrace, under Rickety Bridge branded umbrellas, and the area filled up quickly, showing how popular the restaurant has become since it opened officially three weeks ago. Even winemaker Wynand Grobler, also a Director of the restaurant, came for lunch with a group of his friends. The slatted tables and chairs are wooden, with no table cloth or place mat. Each table has a wooden salt and pepper grinder, with paper serviettes. We met the new Manager Joanna Hurlston, and the new Chef Melissa Bruyns, who has previously worked at The Westin hotel, and Haute Cabriere. Chef Melissa sources produce locally, and has a vegetable garden on the farm, from which she harvests carrots, herbs, and baby marrow, and will be speaking to Daniel Kruger about sourcing some of his herbs and vegetables from La Motte’s herb and vegetable garden too.
The menu is printed on strong A3 recycled board, and has the winelist on the reverse side. A blackboard announces the weekly special, which was delicious marinated char-grilled artichoke hearts on Sunday. In the starter section, each item comes as a half and full portion, in a tpas style, and are meant to be shared for the table. The main courses and desserts are offered in one size only. Each item on the menu has a suggested pairing with one of the Rickety Bridge wines. The menu will change regularly, to tie in with seasonal produce changes.
Jackie ordered the artichoke special; a variety of tempura vegetables served with three dipping sauces (R38/75), the pairing suggestion being Paulina’s Reserve Semillon; and Seafood Risotto served with braised fennel and topped with Café de Paris butter and pecorino (R45/R88), best paired with the Paulina’s Reserve Sauvignon Blanc. Guy shared a taste of his delicious Crayfish Bisque deglazed with Rickety Bridge Chenin Blanc (R50). Other starter options, available in half and full portions, are Caeser salad (R36/R72), cute-looking Franschhoek salmon trout fish cake burgers served on a beetroot roll and topped with lemon aioli (R43/R85), Saldanha mussels (R50/R95), and a leek and asparagus flan drizzled with chive oil and greens (R40/R83). We shared our main courses too, being the crispy pork belly with fried greens, wasabi mash, and sweet chilli and ginger sauce (R112), which was paired with Rickety Bridge The Foundation Stone; the most tender Karoo lamb chops with creamed potato, wilted baby spinach and Rickety Bridge Merlot jus (R135), paired with Rickety Bridge Merlot; and Grilled Baby Calamari served with chourizo, rocket, roasted cherry tomatoes, and coriander dressing (R87), paired with Paulina’s Reserve Chenin Blanc. Other main courses include 250g grilled Chalmar rib eye steak (R125), Grilled line fish (R108), and linguini (R75). Sauces cost R30, and side orders R15 – R25. Guy and I shared the Tasting trio of chocolate desserts, consisting of a dark chocolate brownie, milk chocolate tart, white chocolate mousse, served with chocolate ice cream (R40), accompanied by a LavAzza cappuccino. Other dessert options are a trio of baked puddings, a trio of tarts, and a seasonal fruit platter, all costing R40.
The winelist offers Rickety Bridge and Paulina’s wines, with a R20 mark-up only relative to the cellar door pricing. In 1996 Rickety Bridge launched its Paulina Reserve range, and it is 30% wooded, we were told. Most wines are available by the glass and bottle. The Rickety Bridge Brut Rosé costs R38/R135, the Rosé R20/59, and the Sauvignin Blanc, Chenin Blanc, and range from just over R20 per glass to R70 – R80. The Rickety Bridge Semillon, and Paulina’s Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, and Semillon range in price from R75 – R110 per bottle. Rickety Bridge Merlot, Shiraz, PInotage, and Foundation Stone range from R30 to R145. The Bridge costs R395, and Paulina’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon R 200.
It was a lovely afternoon lunch, allowing me to get Jackie and the wine estate better, and seeing staff who had previously worked at other restaurants before again. The service was good, and the prices at Paulina’s are very reasonable, and the portions generous, making it a definite to return to.
POSTSCRIPT 5/12: The restaurant has provided details of its dinners starting tomorrow. The 4-course Tasting Dinner Menu costs R 280/R360, the 6-course R 380/R500 (the second price includes wines).
Paulina’s, Rickety Bridge, R45, Franschhoek. Tel (021) 876-2129 www.ricketybridge.co.za Twitter: @PaulinasRB Monday – Sunday lunch. Dinners will be served on Thursday, Fridays, and Saturdays from 6 December.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Eat Out Judge Bruce Palling embarrasses New Media Publishing and Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards!
New Media Publishing must be regretting its decision to have appointed Bruce Palling, controversial Eat Out judge and UK food blogger, to co-judge the Top 19 (originally Top 20) Finalist Restaurants with its editor Abigail Donnelly this year, to improve her credibility after a number of controversial Awards were made by her in her capacity as sole judge last year. Yesterday a Tweet from Bruce Palling announced that he will not be attending the Eat Out Gala Restaurant Awards Dinner at The Westin hotel on 25 November.
From the outset the expectation was that Bruce Palling would attend the Eat Out Gala Restaurant Awards Dinner, and one wonders why the details about the class of flight and his involvement on the night of the awards ceremony had been left to a mere three weeks before the event. Palling had promised the staff at Belthazar that he would come back to eat at the restaurant on his return to Cape Town at the end of November, so it had certainly been discussed, and a contract signed, one would assume.
Yesterday Palling’s Tweet attracted attention: “Sorry to announce that will not be attending Eat Out Awards ceremony – due to “unforeseen circumstances” New Media won’t provide me a ticket”. New Media Publishing did not Tweet or e-mail a response. We wrote to Bridget McCarney, MD of New Media Publishing, and called Mango, its PR agency. Ms McCarney responded last night, indicating that pushy Palling had insisted on a first class ticket from London to Cape Town (costs can vary between about R49000 for a BA or Virgin ticket to R67000 for Emirates, while an economy class ticket would cost about R11000), and that he would not accept an economy class ticket nor a video broadcast with him from London! She wrote as follows:
“Thanks for your email.
We were looking at whether there were more cost efficient ways of doing this rather than a business class ticket for Bruce to attend the awards. The idea was that we would have a video insert of Bruce talking about the awards or a direct live link.
Bruce declined to do the video and didn’t want to fly economy for such a short trip which of course we completely understand.
So yes, I can confirm that Bruce won’t be attending the awards at this stage
Trust that answers your question
All the best
The Eat Out DStv Food Network Restaurant Awards 2012 have been marred with controversy, not only because of the appointment of Palling, who only very occasionally has articles published in the Wall Street Journal European edition, and now hidden by a paywall, and whom no one had heard of locally nor in the UK, yet Mrs Donnelly sung his praises and overstated his credentials for her own benefit; for Palling’s embarrassing Tweets slating springbok and politically incorrect references to the race of customers of a restaurant; for his rude and disparaging Tweets about our blogposts about his time in Cape Town and the Winelands, which New Media Publishing refused to take action against; for Palling’s unfair criticism of Belthazar on his last night in Cape Town; for the embarrassing selection of The Pot Luck Club as a Top 20 Restaurant Finalist, when both Mrs Donnelly and Chef Luke Dale-Roberts knew that the restaurant had not been open for a full year, and which judging criterion was not picked up by Palling, which led to the elimination of the restaurant from the Top 20 Finalist list of honour; and now the spat with Palling, which he undiplomatically Tweeted to embarrass his hosts!
Once again we say that Eat Out Editor Abigail Donnelly has served her time, and her bias for and against some of our country’s top restaurants two years running means that she no longer has the credibility to be in charge of the Eat Out DStv Food Network Restaurant Awards!
POSTSCRIPT 6/11: Bruce Palling has responded (surprisingly gently, other than referring to me as a ‘slug‘, and claiming to be the subject with Eat Out of some sort of conspiracy by ourselves) to this blogpost on Twitter, denying the allegation that he demanded a Business Class ticket, as indicated by New Media Publishing: ‘@Gabbles17 Love the idea of me being the embarrassment! Certainly never ‘demanded’ or even mention 1st class fare – beyond that silence’. He also referred to recent surgery, and that he therefore cannot travel ‘steerage with two day turnaround’. He must have removed a disparaging Tweet, as he apologised to @LawHollander :“Well, I went to your country and loved the food – I apologise for earlier Tweet”, but that Tweet is no longer in Palling’s timeline.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Eat Out Top 20 Restaurant Finalist List: Stellenbosch and Cape Town tie for Gourmet Capital!
Eat Out has just announced its Finalist Top 20 Restaurant list, from which the Top 10 Eat Out DStv Food Network Restaurant Award winners will be chosen. Seven each of the twenty finalist restaurants are from Stellenbosch and Cape Town, three are from Franschhoek, one is from Johannesburg, one is from KwaZulu-Natal, and one from Pretoria. Bruce Palling, UK food blogger and new right-hand judge to Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly, has just returned to London after a 14 day and 25 lunch and dinner ‘feasting and tasting’ trip to South Africa, mainly spent in the Cape.
We congratulate the following Top 20 finalists:
The Pot Luck Club (subsequently withdrawn)
The Test Kitchen
Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine
Rust en Vrede
Pierneef à La Motte
The Tasting Room
Our prediction of the Western Cape Finalists did not include Bizerca (odd selection as the restaurant is moving to a new venue next month) and The Pot Luck Club (the tapas restaurant of Luke Dale-Roberts)! The Roundhouse is a surprise entry to the list, as its Chef PJ Vadas left in March, and it is a shame that the creativity of Chef Gregory Czarnecki at Waterkloof has once again not been recognised. For the second year running Chef Reuben Riffel has not made the Top 20 list, his Robertsons and Rama endorsement no doubt costing him a standing in this list! The Top 20 list is very predictable this year.
The Top 10 Eat Out Restaurant Award winners will be announced at a gala dinner at The Westin hotel on 25 November.
POSTSCRIPT 18/9: In speaking to restaurateurs today after the Top 20 Restaurant Awards Finalist List was announced, the following criticism about the list has been expressed:
* The Pot Luck Club only opened in December 2011, and therefore it has not been open for a full twelve months, as the rules state. We all know that Mrs Donnelly has a very soft spot for Chef Luke Dale-Roberts, but the same rules must apply to all.
* Grande Provence Chef Darren Badenhorst worked alongside Chef Darren Roberts for more than a year, as did Chef Eric Bulpitt at The Roundhouse work alongside Chef PJ Vadas before he left. Grande Provence was not evaluated for the Top 20 list, while The Roundhouse was! Last year Rust en Vrede had to sit out a year, when David Higgs left, even though Chef John Shuttleworth had worked alongside Chef David for more than a year. This highlights how inconsistent the application of the rules is.
* Eat Out Judge Bruce Palling flew to Johannesburg to have lunch at DW Eleven-13 on Saturday, but does not appear to have made it to Restaurant Mosaic in Pretoria or to Hartford House in KwaZulu-Natal.
POSTSCRIPT 19/9: It is ironic, if not shocking, that Mr Palling’s presence in the Top 20 Restaurant Award Finalist evaluation did not safeguard Mrs Donnelly from falling into the same trap of her bias in including The Pot Luck Club, which has not been operating for a full year. It appears that Chef Luke Dale-Roberts has withdrawn The Pot Luck Club from the Awards today, and we salute him for doing the right thing. However Eat Out should never have selected the restaurant in the first place! This is how Eat Out subsequently announced the withdrawal of The Pot Luck Club from the Top 20 list, stating that they will not replace the restaurant with another: ‘Our original communication listed The Pot Luck Club as one of the nominees. However, on discussion with chef Luke Dale-Roberts, we discovered the restaurant only opened in December 2011, and not in November 2011. (One month short of the cut-off.) Therefore, as per our judging criteria, The Pot Luck Club is not eligible for the awards this year. Luke fully supports our decision and we wish him all the best with the restaurant for 2013!’
POSTSCRIPT 3/10: I met Werner Hayward, Brand Manager at New Media Publishing, at The Christian Eedes Chardonnay Report presentation yesterday, and we discussed the infamous new UK Eat Out Top 10 Restaurants judge Bruce Palling, and how he did not prevent the embarrassing error of including The Pot Luck Club into the Top 20 Finalist Restaurant List. He admitted that this had been a ‘stupid mistake’ by his company!
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage