Tag Archives: Top 10 restaurant

Corona Virus: Lockdown Journey Journal, Day 78 of Level 1, 7 December 2020.


Monday 7 December 2020, Day 78 of Level 1, Day 257 of Lockdown ūüė∑

Corona Gratitude ūüôŹ

#Grateful for a cool start of the day with a light drizzle turning into a sunny afternoon; for surviving a short restless sleep night; for the luck of seeing a massive pod of dolphins close to Bakoven, taking a quick break in my writing to see it closer up, and for Henry videoing it; for attending a wine tasting at Utopia thisReenen ¬†afternoon; for indulging in a leg wax with Steffanie at the Skin Studio in Sea Point; for a shop at Woolies Sea Point; for a quick walk up a lane to check for litter I was told about; and for being healthy. ūüôŹūüíô Continue reading →

‘A Void in the Landscape’ Art exhibition pops up at Clos Malverne!

Clos Malverne Gordon Froud Whale Cottage PortfolioA pop-up art gallery, curated by the North-West University Gallery in Potchefstroom, has come to Stellenbosch at Clos Malverne in the Devon Valley, with an inaugural exhibition entitled ¬†‘A Void in the Landscape’. ¬†The focus of the exhibition is¬†Nature, we were told at the opening by its winemaker Suzanne¬†Coetzee ten days ago. ¬†The indoor and exterior exhibition runs until January.

The art is displayed both two-dimensionally inside the restaurant overlooking the vineyards and beautiful hills and mountains in the background, as well as three-dimensionally in the garden and the vineyards. ¬†The exhibition was curated by Christina Naurattel Continue reading →

MasterChef SA is a gripping and hot master hit!

I am not a cooking program type at all, and have never watched any MasterChef programme. ¬†Last night I watched the first episode of MasterChef SA, and loved every minute of it. ¬†While there were some irritations, the tension that built up over the hour-long reality programme, the pithy comments from the judges, and the heartfelt emotions with tears and joy reminded me of a mix of ‘Who wants to be a millionaire?’ and ‘Idols’.

Interesting at the outset was the PG13 warning about strong language for the programme, which was not evident in the first episode. ¬†From 4000 hopefuls starting off in Cape Town, Durban, and Johannesburg, fifty out of 120 aspirant amateur chefs received a MasterChef SA apron, to attend the MasterChef SA ‘boot camp’. The judges Pete Goffe-Wood, Bennie Masekwameng and Andrew Atkinson have a combined culinary history of more than 50 years, they said proudly, and individually have cooked for royalty, for Johannesburg’s rich and famous, and have judged and participated in local and international competitions. The difference between a good and a great chef is the burning desire to be the best, the participants were told. ¬†‘Just being good is not going to cut it’, the judges added. Judges are searching for culinary perfection, and told the participants to go if that is not what they will deliver. Participants were told that the judges would be evaluating them on passion, skill, and the perfect flavour. ¬†It was nice to see the multi-cultural and multi-gender mix of participants, even if the judges were all male, one of the first criticisms of the judges’ selection! ¬†The judges appeared stiff initially, almost relying on the judgement of one of the others to be brave enough to say a dish was excellent or really bad, but they grew in confidence throughout the programme, being more bold to go against the majority view of the other judges. ¬† The show was said on Twitter yesterday to have been R500000 over budget in its production.

Time-keeping was tough, each participant having thirty minutes to prepare their dish off-screen, and five minutes to plate it in front of the judges. ¬†Initially the contestant names were seen on the screen, with the name of the dish, but towards the end of the first episode, fewer names were mentioned or depicted. ¬†One could guess that if a profile of the aspirant chef was screened before he or she faced the judges, that the contestant would receive the MasterChef SA apron to get into the ‘bootcamp’.

Successful top 50 amateur chefs included Khayakazi Silingile, who prepared scallops and smoked salmon with an unusual rhubarb tart and orange juice, a colourful presentation. ¬†The judges praised her ‘magical combination’ of ingredients and described her dish as ‘clever’. ¬†Jade was a bundle of charm, energy, and confidence, and her chocolate tartlet with fresh berries and somewhat heat-melted cardamon ice cream won the judges’ approval, in that they said that she knows what she is talking about, that her dish was¬†‘magnificent’, and not¬†‘jaded’! ¬†Callie-Anne was lucky to achieve two Yes votes for her fillet of beef with a mushroom and zucchini ragout, and started crying when she realised that the judges were not all ecstatic about her creation. ¬†Sanjeev appeared over-confident, even singing for the judges, and his ‘lamb party’ curry dish was voted for by two of the judges. ¬†Bongumusa received an apron, as did Sarel Loots. Ilse Fourie received a very strong vote of confidence from all the judges for her tagliatelle and salmon steak with a citrus dressing, for its taste as well as presentation, the judges showering her with accolades: ‘presentation is superb’, ‘tasted absolutely awesome’, ‘brilliant’, ‘you can cook with passion’, and ‘I was mesmerised by it’. ¬†Lwazi’s crusted kingklip and Lungile’s duck burger and apple and plum sauce met the judges’ approval. ¬†Chef Pete loved Deena Naidoo’s butter chicken so much that he took the plate back to his seat to finish off the dish, describing it as ‘moreish’ and ‘creamy’. An unnamed contestant made a sour cherry frangipane tartlet and served it with his home-made ice cream. ¬†The judges could not stop eating it! ¬†An unnamed contestant made ‘pap en vleis’, and was praised for her South African dish of a lamb chop. Luxolo received a sympathy vote from Chef Bennie, rewarding the scullery worker with a Yes vote for the passion in preparing his ‘Fish House’ dish of fish, mussels, and prawns. ¬†He went down on his knees in tears when he received the vote to join the ‘bootcamp’. The judges appeared to drift away from their stated judging criteria in their evaluation of the dishes, not really providing any depth feedback about the dishes in culinary terms. Some of the recipes of the ‘bootcamp’ finalists are on the MasterChef SA website.

Wayde The Fudge Man from Johannesburg was less lucky, his pasta not having been cooked well enough, and was described by the judges as a ‘lump of goo’. A soup was described as a ‘bowl of emptiness’ by Chef Pete. The editors of the first episode were kind in showing very few of the dishes that did not make the grade, with the associated negative judges’ comments. ¬†¬†Interesting is that a contestant posted a complaint on ‘Hello Peter’ about the auditions at Montecasino on 3 December, for his dish being evaluated by one judge only, and no feedback having been given to him at all for it not making the grade. Chef Pete said about himself with a laugh: “It turns out that I’m less empathetic than I thought I was”.

Ads for sponsors Woolworths, Robertsons, Nederburg, Southern Sun, and Hyundai ran throughout the program, the advertising breaks being used to build up the tension about whether a contestant would stay or go. Lacking credibility in its running in the programme was Chef Reuben Riffel’s endorsement of Robertsons Paste, many viewers feeling that he would or should not be using Robertson’s herbs and spices in his restaurants! ¬†Interesting is the pay-off line which Robertson’s was using in its ads during the programme, of ‘Masterclass’, nonsensical in that no contestant was seen to add any Robertson’s products during the show. The word means teaching a group of students, and is mainly used in a music context, and this is not what the programme is about, and therefore does not match the definition of the word. Interesting is that Robertson’s has appointed erstwhile chef Sonia Cabano as its ‘Social Media Manager’, she announced on Twitter a few days ago, and seems technically ill-equipped to deal with the demands of the position, asking for advice on running multi-accounts on Twitter, for example, and who has a reputation for causing trouble with other Tweeters. ¬†She is outspoken about herself (writing about her ‘drunk tweeting’ last week, for example) and others. ¬†One sensed the restraint with which she Tweeted when some Robertson’s Tweets were criticised!

Having visited a Woolworths branch in Sea Point yesterday afternoon, one would have thought that the retail outlet would have prominently advertised its participation in the programme and encouraged viewership via posters or flyers, but there was nothing at all to alert one to the programme or to Woolworths’ sponsorship of it. ¬†The company commissioned Platypus Productions to direct twenty TV commercials to highlight its role as the food sponsor of the show. ¬†Nederburg ran a few ads in the programme, but the setting of its transformed 1000 square meter Johan Graue Auction Hall venue was not visible to viewers. ¬†The wine estate has launched new wines in conjunction with Woolworths, to coincide with MasterChef SA, and has also just announced that it is starting a series of online Winemaster’s Classes, which will be broadcast on www.nederburg.co.za, and viewers can win Le Creuset cookery sets.¬†Interesting is that Spar advertising was allowed in the programme – Chef Pete Tweeted last week that his column in Pick ‘n Pay’s Good Living magazine has been cancelled after many years, due to Woolworths’ involvement in MasterChef SA. ¬†Loreal was a non-food advertiser.

On Twitter the judges were criticised for not looking professional enough, in not wearing chef’s outfits, and looking rather formal with a tie (Chef Andrew), and jacket (Chef Pete). ¬†The judges seemed inconsistent in their evaluation on occasion, either raving about a contestant, or destroying them in their cruel feedback at times. Kenneth Goldstone’s pan-fried kingklip and tarragon and mushroom sauce was highly praised by Chef Andrew, rejected by Chef Bennie, and even though Chef Pete did not seem enthusiastic about the dish, he gave it a Yes. ¬†Not only the contestants were under pressure, but the judges too. ¬†They started shooting on 4 January, and it was a tough 10 week schedule, 12 hours a day, six days a week, necessitating that they move to Paarl for the duration of the shoot, Chef Pete told Eat Out. ¬†Interesting is the fuss that the publication made of Chef Pete yesterday,with an in-depth interview in a special newsletter to co-incide with the start of the MasterChef SA series. ¬†Last year the publication fired Chef Pete as one of its Top 10 Restaurant judges. Chef Pete said that the judges were ‘blown away by the calibre of the contestants’, given that all were amateurs. ¬†He predicted that the top five contestants will enter the culinary industry. ¬† Chef Pete expressed his hope that MasterChef SA will be followed up by a second series.

POSTSCRIPT 21/3: A¬†Kfm 94,5 presenter poorly read an ‘advertorial’ style ad about Chef and Judge Pete Goffe-Wood this afternoon on behalf of M-Net for MasterChef SA, with very out-of-date CV information – e.g. that he is the ‘author’ of the ‘newly launched book ‘Blues – Essence of Cape Town’ (the Blues staff say the book was launched about 5 – 7 years ago), that he is ‘currently involved in developing 95 Keerom Street for Rhodes House’ (the latter building was pulled down years ago, and the restaurant opened years ago), and that he owns Wildwoods (he closed down the Hout Bay restaurant almost a year ago)! ¬†On his Kitchen Cowboys website he advertises his next Kitchen Cowboys course as starting on 23 August 2011! ¬†The radio announcer called him ‘Pete Goffe’, all in all a very poor reflection on M-Net and MasterChef SA, and its judge Pete Goffe-Wood for his very out of date CV information!

POSTSCRIPT 21/3: One wonders why the M-Net publicity department is depicting the three MasterChef SA judges in silly photographs, as the one in this blogpost, as well as the ones in the Sunday Times last weekend, based on the Three Monkeys, using pumpkins to cover their ears, eyes, and mouth, and Chef Pete wearing a pumpkin as a hat! MasterChef SA is a very serious program for its contestants, and one would hope that the chef judges thought so too.  The pohotographs do not do the judges nor the program justice!

POSTSCRIPT 23/3: Sarel Loots Tweeted today that he did make the top 50 ‘bootcamp’ – our apologies for misinterpreting the judges’ sentiments, and we have made the correction.

POSTSCRIPT 23/3: It was just a matter of time before we (unintentionally) irritated Robertsons’ Social Media Manager Sonia Cabano enough with our questions relating to Robertsons’ ‘Masterclass’ advertising positioning in its MasterChef SA TV commercials that she blocked our Twitter account today, unprofessional behaviour on behalf of a client. ¬†One wonders what she is signalling through this action, in wanting to hide something about her client! Being in defensive mode, she has Tweeted in particularly poor English today, using literal translations of Afrikaans words in the wrong context.

MasterChef SA, M-Net, Tuesdays, 19h30 Р20h30.  www.masterchefsa.dstv.com Twitter: @MasterChefSA

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

Restaurant Review: Bosman’s back on Top 10, fired up, much more friendly!

After having been announced as a Top 10 restaurant a month ago, a sojourn in Franschhoek gave me the opportunity to try Bosman’s for lunch on Monday, and to celebrate a special birthday at dinner last night.¬†¬† I was amazed at the radical change in the “personality” of Bosman’s at the Grande Roche Hotel in Paarl, from a restaurant that was stiff and unwelcoming on my last visit, to one that bends over backwards, oozes friendliness, and has made some important changes which clearly are paying off, in that Bosman’s is back on the Eat Out Top 10 restaurant list, after a long absence, and it was the joint winner (with Zachary’s at Pezula) of the Diner’s Club of the Year Winelist Awards.¬†¬† Whilst is offers excellent value for lunch, it probably is the most expensive Cape restaurant for dinner.

The person who is probably most responsible for the changes is the Food & Beverage Manager Alan Bailes, and is now also acting-GM.¬† He impressed when he contacted me after my last visit to Bosman’s, and was non-defensive in his reaction.¬†¬† Bailes is so hands-on that he walks the floor and makes time to chat to the restaurant patrons, something I have never seen of a hotel GM before.¬†¬† He laughed when I said that to him, and he said that he still is the F&B Manager, but even then these are rarely seen inside a restaurant in general.¬†¬† The restaurant’s flexibility is commendable, in that I overheard Bailes telling other guests that the kitchen can prepare anything for them, with 24 hours notice.

Bailes is one of a number of new GM’s at Grande Roche, after Horst Frehse left, and told me that the most important change that they have made was to cancel their Relais & Chateaux accreditation, without dropping their standards, he emphasized.¬†¬†¬† They have¬†chosen to use the marketing power of the Mantis Collection to attract business.¬†¬† The Relais & Chateaux decision came from the unsatisfactory return received for the high cost of the accreditation.¬† Ironically, Horst Frehse was known as “Mr Relais & Chateaux” when he was the (cigar-smoking) GM of the Grande Roche.¬†¬† I wrote about Asara Hotel’s recent Relais & Chateaux accreditation, and that it may be dropping the accreditation, having just obtained it with the help of Frehse, who has left and is heading for the Twelve Apostles Hotel as GM next month.¬†¬† The only local Relais & Chateaux properties are¬†Asara Hotel, Le Quartier Fran√ßais, Cellars Hohenhort, The Marine and The Plettenberg.¬† The focus¬†has also been¬†on making the lunch far more casual, and the prices far more affordable.¬†¬† Whilst the dinner menu is far different to that for lunch, and offers two Tasting menu and a la carte options, the formality has been removed, especially when the restaurant was literally moved outdoors on a lovely 30+C evening.¬†¬†¬† ¬†

The service experienced at both lunch and dinner was outstanding and attentive, Glenroy du Plessis, the Wine Steward who recently was crowned as best in the country by Diner’s Club, and who must be one of the nicest hospitality staff around, spoiling us.¬† Nothing is too much trouble, and he crosses the line between waiter and wine steward.¬†¬† The sommelier Josephine¬†Gutentoft recently moved across to Bosman’s, and while we clashed badly at Reuben’s, she was charm herself last night.¬†¬†¬†Raymond is another manager I know from Reuben’s.¬†¬†¬† Two German staff gave an extra dimension to service quality.¬†¬† Charming Restaurant Manager Alessandro de Laco talks with a heavy Italian accent, but can speak French and German, coming from Switzerland.¬† He and waiter Stefan had come to the Grande Roche earlier this year due to the World Cup.¬†¬† Waitress Loreen had come to the Grande Roche with her boyfriend, who works in the kitchen, and will stay until April.¬† Staff look smart in a white shirt and black tie, and black apron.¬†

There were some rough edges, like Ra-ida getting my booking wrong for the dinner, mixing up the date and the number of persons booked.   I also noticed two broken umbrellas on the lunch terrace, probably due to the wind.   A Manager should have picked this up, given that the Grande Roche is a 5-star hotel.   My pet hate is security and a boom, and while it was perfect for my arrival for lunch, the chap who was on duty in the evening mumbled something about whether we wanted a table for two, but we had made a reservation.  Yet he did not ask for the name.   They are an outsourced service.  

Lunch 3 January

My lunch was extremely relaxed, and was probably made so because of the friendly service by Glenroy and Raymond, who were both on duty, and looked after me, together with German waiter Stefan.  

The outside tables have¬†granite tops, and underplates that have a similar look, but these plates are¬†removed before the food is served, so are purely decorative.¬†¬† Good quality serviettes are on the table, but while mine was clean, it had a stain on it. ¬†An unusually large collection of glasses is on the table, for a¬†lunchtime.¬†¬† The cutlery shows its age, in being heavily used.¬†¬†A waitress brought a lovely cool facecloth to the table, a nice way to cool down¬†on the 30 C Paarl day. ¬†Tokara olive oil was brought to the table with a nicely presented plate of three undescribed bread types – baguette, rye and wholewheat – wrapped in a serviette.¬†¬† The menu is a narrow page, set in a red and black menu holder.¬†¬† I did not see initially that the winelist was on the reverse.¬†¬† As a starter I chose a delicious chilled cucumber soup, with two crispy crumbed prawns (R50).¬† The prawns were brought to the table first, and then a waitress came with a jug of the soup and poured it with far greater style than the asparagus soup I had at the Planet Restaurant at the Mount Nelson recently.¬†¬†¬† Other starter choices are Caesar salad with chicken leg and quail egg;¬† Beef Carpaccio;¬†Salmon Trout;¬†Braised Roma tomatoes and mozzarella, all costing R75.¬† ¬†Mixed baby salad with avocado, goat’s cheese and biltong¬†costs R65; and Asian marinated yellowtail tartare costs R70.

Main courses clearly have been kept as close to R100 as possible, and makes the portions a little smaller, not a bad thing for a lunch, especially when one has more than one course.¬†¬† I ordered the Pan-fried kingklip with pea risotto, beurre noisette foam,¬†and biltong (R95), the biltong not adding anything to the fish dish, and adding a¬†saltiness I would have preferred to do without.¬† The kingklipwas¬† firm and well prepared, and the peas in the risotto gave the dish a colourful touch.¬†¬† A fish knife was served with the dish.¬† Other main courses choices include Seafood Bowl (R115), Pan-fried prawns with seafood ravioli and Bouillabaisse broth (R115); Linguine (R80), Asian stir fried beef fillet (R140); and Free-range chicken breast (R95).¬†¬† Dessert options are “Mohr im Hemd” (rum and raisin ice cream), nougat potato ravioli and Amarula Creme Br√Ľl√©e, costing around R45, and an Exotic Trio at R50,¬†consisting of¬†Creme Br√Ľl√©e, fruit salsa, and passion fruit sorbet.¬†

The lunch winelist is short and sweet!¬† Ten wines-by-the-glass are offered, starting at R40 for Newton Johnson ‘Felicite’ Dry, and peaking at R280 for¬†87ml of NV Laurent Perrier Brut Ros√©.¬†¬† The Migliarina Shiraz seems expensive at R75 a glass.¬†¬† Six white wines can be ordered by the bottle, Maison Single Vineyard Chenin Blanc costing R150, while A.A. Badenhorst’s Family White Blend costs R580.¬†¬† Eight red wines start at R280 for a bottle of Rainbow’s End 2005, up to R650 for a Kanonkop Paul Sauer 2005.

Dinner 5 January

We went to celebrate my son’s birthday today with dinner last night.¬†¬† The table outside was perfect, was laid with a good quality tablecloth, and three sets of knives and forks as well as a¬†spoon.¬† A staff member put the serviettes on our laps, an old-fashioned touch.¬† There were fewer glasses on the table than at lunch.¬†¬† Glenroy brought an ice bucket, and kept it filled up throughout the evening.¬†¬†¬† There are no salt and pepper containers on the table, as Chef Roland feels the kitchen should spice the food correctly.¬† One may request salt and pepper however.

The winelist dominates one’s impressions at Bosman’s, and obviously is the definitive one, judging by its Diner’s Club accolade.¬† It is a weighty document bound in a grey leather cover, and runs to 62 pages and the hotel’s wine collection exceeds 600 labels, Glenroy told us.¬† Unfortunately it uses pages that are hooked in, to give flexibility in terms of availability, but a number of these pages had slipped out, making the winelist look just a little unprofessional, despite its impressive collection.¬†¬† Sommelier Josephine wants to increase this number, by adding smaller producers.¬†¬† Similarly to the Asara winelist (Frehse probably used that of Bosman’s as the benchmark when preparing the Asara one), the Bosman’s winelist provides a history of the winemaking in this country, describes the winegrowing areas, dedicates a section to South African wine awards, and provides a map of the wine regions.¬†¬† I joked and said that it would take me the whole evening to go through the winelist alone, and therefore it was recommended that the wine steward advises one about the wines, which is probably what usually happens.¬†¬† Something I have never seen on a winelist is the name of the winemaker(s).¬†¬† Obviously regions, vintages and descriptions are provided per wine.

The wines-by-the-glass section spans two pages, and four are MCC sparkling wines: Silverthorn Blanc de Blanes Brut (R85), Silverthorn Genie Ros√© (R95), Colmant Reserve Brut (R65) and Graham Beck Bliss Demi Sec (R65).¬†¬† Laurent Perrier can be ordered in a dinky at R280, and Billecart Salmon¬†Ros√© Brut costs R290.¬† Eight white wines are available by the glass, starting at R 48 for AA Badenhorst Family Secateurs as well as Crios Bride Sauvignon Blanc, and peaking at R70 for Scali Blanc.¬†¬† The Ros√© is by Newton Johnson, at R40.¬†¬†¬† Six red wines are available: starting at R70 is the Ataraxia “Serenity” and going up to R185 for a Kanonkop.¬†¬†¬† By the bottle, 25 MCC sparkling wines are offered, starting at R175 for Seidelberg’s Blanc de Blancs Brut at R175, up to R540 for La Motte’s Brut.¬† There are 42 Shiraz wines listed, Veenwouden “Thornhill” the best priced at R260, and Mont Destin’s Destiny the most expensive at R1150.¬†¬†

A cold facecloth was brought to the table, to cool one down and to wipe one’s hands, also an old-fashioned touch, but welcome in the heat.¬†¬† A young waiter came with the bread basket, and offered us a choice of seven breads, the largest choice I have ever seen, and one looked more attractive than the other.¬† Choices include parma ham and garlic, pumpkin seed loaf, tomato rolls, pretzel rolls and a lovely seedloaf.¬†¬† Bosman’s is generous with its bread offering, and the waiter came by at least three times.¬†¬† The bread is served with a collection of three trademark Bosman’s spreads – unsalted butter, lard with garlic and bacon, and cottage cheese with chives.¬† ¬† A gazpacho with white tomato jelly and agar was brought as an amuse bouche, the spicy soup poured out of a jug at the table.¬† It did not impress me, if one takes an amuse bouche to be a small taste of the chef’s skills.

The menu has a welcome by Executive Head Chef Roland Gorgosilich: “We trust you will have a relaxing and enjoyable evening with us”, the new Planet Restaurant also having such a ‘personalised’ signed touch in its menu.¬† Gorgosilich is Austrian, and has a low profile.¬† It is a shame that he does not come out of the kitchen, to chat to the guests.¬†¬†¬†One can enjoy a 9-course European-style tasting menu at R 660 per person, as well as a reduced “Harmony of the South” menu, 4-courses costing R 520, and 5-courses R580.¬† This menu is meant to be a representation of South African cuisine.¬†

For his starter my son had a hot butternut soup (R55) off the a la carte menu, despite the hot evening, which was also poured at the table over three little pieces of braised duck breast.   It was not an exceptional soup, in my opinion.   My foie gras order, billed to be served with Baumkuchentorte, and costing an extravagant R175, was a let down, as the layered cake was barely visible and could not be tasted around the slice of foie gras.   The foie gras itself was wonderful, served with a cherry, and red cabbage puree,  which did not add to the foie grasenjoyment.  Other starter choices include quail (R95); wild mushroom risotto with parma ham, which looked delicious served at neighbouring tables (R75);  poached salmon trout (R105); and poached veal fillet with pan-fried scallops (R155).  

The highlight of the dinner without a doubt was the Fillet Mignon flambee¬†(R200).¬† It is usually prepared at the table inside, but due to the outsideseating, and the fire danger,¬†we went inside to see Alessandro prepare it for us in the dining room, a most dramatic preparation, especially when the Martellbrandy was added.¬† The steak was butter soft.¬†¬† It was served with tagliatelle and mushroom ragout, the most delicious I have had in a¬†long time, simple and focused on providing enjoyment.¬†¬† An excellent serrated steak knife was served for this dish, barely necessary due to the soft steak.¬†¬†¬†Other main course choices include Beef fillet Rossini (R285); springbok loin (R210); vanilla milk poached kingklip (R175); pan-fried hake and crayfish (R225); sole and stuffed calamari (R195) and oddly a tomato consomm√© at R145.¬† What adds class to the dinner at Bosman’s is another old-fashioned touch – presenting the¬†main course dishes¬†with domes, which the waiters all lift simultaneously at the table.¬† The waitress then reminds each diner what he/she has ordered, a nice touch.

For dessert, one is presented with a separate menu, to which is added a number of further beverage options.  Strawberry rhubarb, and an interesting sounding peach lavender soup served with chocolate ganache and peanut croquant cost R65; chocolate fondant costs R75; crepe suzetteR80; and a cheese trolley R150, presumably which can be shared.   I had arranged with Alessandro for a surprise birthday chocolate cake, which was decorated with strawberries on the side, came with a candle, and looked beautiful on a glass plate.   We were not charged for this birthday treat.   I had a good cappuccino.    

The bathroom entrance is attractive and luxurious with a beautiful orchid display.  But when one steps inside, the wooden doors are still there, not in keeping with the quality standards of the hotel.   

Bosman’s is not an everyday dinner venue, but one for a special celebration, given how expensive it is.¬† Yet for lunchtime visits to Paarl it is perfect, as it is affordable and and the food light.¬†¬†¬†I enjoyed both my visits to Bosman’s this week.

POSTSCRIPT 22/7: Being in Paarl, I popped in at Bosman’s for lunch today.¬† Once again, I had a¬†problem with the poor quality of outsourced security staff manning the boom.¬† I was refused entry for lunch at the boom initially, and asked for the phone number, so that I could call.¬† Instead, the security person decided to call¬†the Restaurant Manager himself, and this caused a traffic jam at the boom!¬† I was eventually allowed in and welcomed on arrival, and wondered why this had been necessary in the first place.¬† Thereafter the service was excellent.¬† I was happy to meet the new GM Anja Bosken,¬† She told me that they are working hard¬†at increasing¬†the awareness of the Grande Roche, and went onto Twitter last week.¬†¬† They are also working on being less stiff and more friendly.¬† Seven members of staff were retrenched before her arrival, she said, and some staff members¬†did not renew their fixed-term contracts.¬† Bosman’s is very professional, and I enjoyed a main course of kingklip and prawns, with Mediterranean vegetables and seafood¬†ravioli (R95),¬†followed by Apfelstrudel (R45), prices which are very reasonable for a Top 10 restaurant at a 5-star hotel.¬†Alan Bailes and Alessandro de Laco have left the Grande Roche.

Bosman’s Restaurant, Grande Roche Hotel, Plantasie Street, Paarl.¬† Tel (021)¬†863-5100.¬†www.granderoche.com¬†¬†¬†(The website has an Image Gallery, with few food photographs, and all the menus are listed).¬† Twitter: @Grande_Roche

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