Tag Archives: Trevor Jordaan

What’s On at What’s On Eatery? A new chef, a new menu to come!

The most exciting restaurant news in Cape Town must be the move of Chef Oliver Cattermole of Dash Restaurant at the new Queen Victoria Hotel, to What’s On Eatery at the end of this month, the ideal marriage of superb host Trevor Jordaan with a superb chef.  The restaurant will be serving food with ‘simplistic elegance’, in a homely and hearty environment, and is set to become even more popular than it already is.

Chef Oliver attracted my attention with his most beautiful ‘Alice in Wonderland’ vegetable garden he created with the beef fillet and mash dish at Dash.  Oliver is a quiet man who is passionate about what he creates, and told me about his plans for What’s On Eatery when we met with Trevor yesterday.  He wants to position What’s On as a small neighbourhood eatery, and is looking forward to lifting What’s On to new heights. He will serve simple food, cooked impeccably, and beautifully presented.  His menu is likely to change monthly, and some of the starters include Prawn cocktail, Roast beef salad, Caprese salad, Mussels with cider (his personal favorite), and Oysters with seaweed.  Mains are likely to include Linefish of the day, Monkfish Masala, Breast of lamb, and Pork belly with apple puree, crackling and black pudding soil.  On the Dessert menu could appear delectable items such as Lemon tart (using the Le Gavroche recipe but with an Oliver twist), Chocolate marquise, a Chocolate plate using chocolate by CocoaFair, and Elderflower berries and custard.  The lunch menu will be lighter, with platters of charcuterie, fish, and cheese, as well as soups and gourmet ciabattas.  Starters will range from R35 – R65, main courses from R95 – R165, and desserts around R40 – R45. Gorgeous sorbet palate cleansers will be served.

Chef Oliver grew up in Durbanville, and worked on weekends for George Jardine at the Cellars Hohenhort hotel whilst he was still at school.  He did a kitchen internship with Matthew Gordon at Haute Cabriére Cellar Restaurant for 2,5 years, and worked alongside Scott Kirton, the La Colombe chef.  Chef Oliver left for the UK, and worked at 2-Michelin star restaurant Le Gavroche, in which kitchen Michel Roux jnr reigned. He said it was tough working in a French kitchen, without being able to speak French, but it did give him a good grounding.  The rule of the chef was ‘my way or no way’!  This kitchen influenced Chef Oliver the most, and he owns ten Roux cookery books, and makes his jus and sauces the Roux way.  In this kitchen they do things the old-fashioned way, and here Oliver learnt discipline, punctuality, time-keeping, and being organised, in a kitchen that was run with ‘military precision’. Here he worked with Phil Carmichael, ex-Maze chef at the One&Only Cape Town.  He moved to The Ivy, one of London’s top restaurants with 400 covers, of which Giles Conran once said: “The most fashionable piece of furniture in London is a table at The Ivy”, and worked there for three years.  This restaurant sees VIP’s such as Tony Blair, Tom Cruise, Julia Roberts, the Beckhams, John Travolta, and Elton John eat good British food here regularly. It is one of the ultimate places to be seen, and serves the ‘best of British’ food, Chef Oliver said.  Even Gordon Ramsay used to eat at The Ivy every Friday evening, having beef tartar, and fish and chips. Oliver worked here as Chef de Partie, and was responsible for the vegetables, one of the hardest sections of this kitchen, the menu offering 37 side dishes.

Novelli’s at The London Capital Club, with Jean Christophe, for whom George Jardine worked, was Chef Oliver’s next employer.  This one-Michelin star restaurant serves refined food with clean and sharp lines in its presentation. Foraging was a trademark of this restaurant.  When most of his colleagues left, Chef Oliver left too, working on a Silverseas cruise liner for six months.  Then he spent 2,5 years at Cannizaro House, which was awarded three rosettes by the UK AA Guide, first as Sous Chef and then as Senior Sous Chef.  Foraging here too was important, and ’boutique’ ingredients were sourced in the preparation of modern British food.  A snowed-in Christmas last year made him decide to return to his home city, and he was offered a job by Newmark Hotels, first at their V&A Hotel, and then at the Queen Victoria Hotel, where he and the team of chefs designed the exciting Dash menu.  Chef Oliver says his job as Chef de Cuisine at Dash has broadened his horizons and pushed his culinary boundaries. Chef Oliver is the son of Nigel Cattermole, a co-founder and partner in Siris Vintners, owner of Wines @ the Mill, and lecturer at Varsity College.

Owner Trevor Jordaan is planning a number of changes to coincide with Chef Oliver’s arrival: the downstairs room will be set up as upstairs, with highback chairs, and some other decor upgrades; the counter will be set up as a bar, and bar snacks will be served, such as home-made biltong; a new awning and signage is planned; Chef Oliver will come out of the kitchen after the service;  the opening hours will change to 9h30 – late, without closing in the late afternoon, Monday – Friday, and on Saturday evenings.

POSTSCRIPT 4/10: I have not wanted to eat at What’s On Eatery until new Chef Oliver has settled in, but could not help ordering the new starter Durbanville Asparagus with coddled hen’s egg and soldiers this afternoon, when stopping by for a coffee, excellent value at R45, and beautifully presented.  I met the new sous chef Wesley, who also worked at Dash, and previously at Jardine.

POSTSCRIPT 31/10: Sadly and unexpectedly What’s On Eatery closed down today.

What’s On Eatery, 6 Watson Street, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 422-5652.  www.whatsoneatery.co.za.  Twitter: @Whatsoneatery

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

Cape Town City Centre Restaurant Route: a collection of gems!

Whilst I dislike going into the city centre during the day, due to the irritating parking guards, I am pulled to the city centre more and more due to the ever-growing collection of good restaurants and coffee shops.  This blogpost is a summary of some of Cape Town’s inner-city highlights:

*   Hemelhuijs– owned by interior and restaurant consultant Jacques Erasmus, previously from Manna.  Emphasis is on freshness. Creative unusual menu.  Breakfast and lunch served.  Monday – Friday 8h00 – 15h00.  Saturday 9h00 – 15h00. Open for dinner on Wednesday evenings.  71 Waterkant Street. Tel (021) 418-2042.

*   Dear Me Foodworld – a hot new addition, with a Francois du Plessis decor emphasis on green (both interior colour and herbs grown from the ceiling, see photograph above) and health, with most dishes offered as lactose-free and/or sugar-free alternatives.  Menu changes daily.  Great creative chef Vanessa Marx. Monday – Friday 7h00 – 15h00.   Open for dinner on Thursday evenings.  165 Longmarket Street.  Tel (021) 422-4920.

*   Tjing Tjing Bar– when Dear Me Foodworld closes late afternoon, its upstairs Ting Tjing Bar opens, serving tapas, changes regularly. 165 Longmarket Street. Tuesday – Saturday from 16h00 until late.  Tel (021) 422-4920.

*   Escape Caffe– one of the hottest coffee shops in the city centre, featured in the media for its lemon cheese cake.  Owner Lameen Abdul-Malik has a Nobel Peace Prize for his joint efforts to ensure the safest possible use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes. Serves organic blend artisanal coffee from Espresso Lab.   Monday – Friday 7h00 – 16h00.  Saturday 9h00 – 12h00.  130 Bree Street.  Tel (021) 422-1325.

*   What’s On Eatery– probably the restaurant with the friendliest owner (Trevor Jordaan) in town, serves Breakfast and Lunch on weekdays from 7h30 – 16h00, and Dinner from Tuesday – Saturday.  Coffee by Origin.  Excellent value.  Exciting news is the appointment of Chef Oliver Cattermole from 1 October.  6 Watson Street.  Tel (021) 422-5652 CLOSED DOWN 2011

*   Rhubarb Room– coffee shop inside decor shop, previously in Bo-Kaap.  Serve cakes, coffee (by Deluxe), soup, quiches, and salads.  High tea offered for baby showers, kitchen teas and birthdays.    Monday – Friday 9h00 – 17h00.  Saturday 9h00 – 13h00.  227 Bree Street. Tel (021) 424-2004. CLOSED DOWN 2011

*   Valora– stylish new restaurant, bar and café.  Try Chef Andrew’s Two Tone soup. Extensive menu choice, includes tapas.  LavAzza coffee.  Great for late snack and drink. Monday – Friday 7h00 – 22h00, Saturday 17h00 – 23h00.  Corner Loop and Hout Street.  Tel (021) 426-1001.  CLOSED DOWN 2012

*   Skinny Legs & All – interior decorated with paintings from co-owner João Ferreira art gallery.  Emphasis on freshly made food.  Advised by Brad Ball of Bistro 1682. Run by sweet pair of twins Jamie and Jessie.   Monday – Friday 7h00 – 16h00. Saturday 8h30 – 14h00. 70 Loop Street.  Tel (021) 423-5403.

*   Roberto’s Signature Restaurant – expect interesting things to come from Roberto de Carvalho, leader of the SA chefs team in Culinary Olympics, and ex-chef at Twelve Apostles Hotel.  Simple food, mainly in Portuguese style.  Excellent Tiramisu. Located below On Broadway, so very busy between 7 – 8 pm to cater for the theatre crowd.  Tuesday – Sunday 12h00 – 15h30, 18h00 – 23h30.  44 Long Street.   Tel (021) 424-1195. CLOSED DOWN 2013

*   6 Spin Street – unusual restaurant setting inside the IDASA book shop.  Well-known for its cheese soufflé and duck.  Monday – Friday Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner from 8h30.  Saturday dinner only.  6 Spin Street.  Tel (021) 461-0666.

*   French Toast – focus on its large range of wines by the glass offered, but interesting tapas offering.  Monday – Saturday 12h00 – 23h00. 199 Bree Street   Tel (021) 422-3839.  CLOSED DOWN 2012, BUT RE-OPENED AS THE ODYSSEY IN 2013

*   Jason’s Bakery– recently opened where Jardine’s used to be, owned by Jason of ex-Jardine’s Bakery.  Bakery and Café. Sandwiches, breakfast, soul food, and vegetarian.  Monday – Friday 7h00 – 15h30. Saturday 8h00 – 14h00.  185 Bree Street.  Tel (021) 424-5644.

*   Haas Coffee – increasingly popular city hot-spot without any parking guards, and usually a parking spot available close by.  Friendly and welcoming, and part of Haas Collective decor and art.  Cakes, tarts and food menu, including cooked breakfasts.   67 Rose Street. Monday – Sunday.  Tel (021) 422-2239.

*   Piroschka’s Kitchen – Hungarian Flammkuchen with Gluehwein on cold days. Monday – Friday 11h00 – 19h00.  106 Bree Street. Tel 083 327 3203 CLOSED DOWN, NOW ONLY AT MARKETS

*   Bread, Milk and Honey – busy breakfast and lunch spot, for take-aways or sit-down.  10 Spin Street.  Monday – Friday 6h30 – 16h00.  Tel (021) 461-8425.

Il Cappero – hard-working Sicilian chef and charming husband Aldo in front-of-house.  Not-so-usual Italian and Sicilian specialities.  Monday – Friday lunch.  Monday – Saturday dinner. 3 Barrack Street.  Tel (021) 461-3168.  MOVED TO CAMPS BAY

*   Charly’s Bakeryfamous for its cake creations and cheeky cupcakes, one can also sit down for coffee, cake, pies and cupcakes.  Ample parking, no parking guards.  38 Canterbury Street.  Monday –  Saturday. Tel (021) 461-5181.

Maria’s Owners Kate and Cleon Romano are charming hosts, and the restaurant has a lovely buzz, and many tapas-like Greek dishes as well as mains.  Monday – Saturday lunch and dinner. Great lunch spot after City Bowl Market. To open for Sunday lunch soon.  Dunkley Square, 31 Barnett Street, Hatfield.  Tel (021)  461-3333.

*   Bird Café and Gourmet Eatery – Quirky milk-crate seating, decor change has opened up the kitchen, great quality food, friendly service.  New owners Keith Mink, and Leigh Trout (ex-chef at Mange Tout, Mont Rochelle Hotel in Franschhoek), opened on 1 September. 127 Bree Street.  Tel (021) 426-2534.

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

Batonage bloggers bubble at Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club!

The July Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting, held at What’s On Eatery on Wednesday, was a bubbly affair, with Batonage bloggers Maggie Mostert and Hennie Coetzee sharing their passion for the good things in life, being eating out and drinking wine, and then blogging about it. Siris Vintners kept things bubbly too, by taking the bloggers through a tasting of five Moreson sparkling wines.  It was the first Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting to be sold-out the day before the event.

Batonage is made up of two very passionate foodies and wine lovers, says its Blog introduction:  “Together we decided to create a record of our adventures in food and wine, something we indulge in almost daily.  We are avid wine hunters, always on the lookout for something new and unique to talk, write and spread the word about.  When it comes to food we consider ourselves adventurous eaters, scavenging the latest food and wine pairing at the best eateries, but equally happy to indulge in uncomplicated fare at our local bistro.  The focus will be on visiting wine farms and restaurants, both old and new, and telling you dear reader, of our experiences there.   Every attempt will be made to make the information relevant and we might even make you smile once in a while”.

What makes Hennie and Maggie interesting and unique is that their day job is far removed from their food and wine blogging, and that they write about both wine and food on the same Blog.  Hennie developed a love for wine whilst studying at Stellenbosch University, moving from financial management to wine sales, and ultimately, as sommelier at Singita, a leader in the accommodation industry. To become a sommelier, one must drink a lot of wine, he said, and he completed courses at the Cape Wine Academy.  While he learnt a lot about excellence in food, wine and service, the hospitality hours were not for him, so he has returned to the financial industry.  Maggie studied Accounting at the University of Stellenbosch, worked as a waitress at the Spur in Stellenbosch and did her articles, before setting up her own practice.  Her past experience as a waitress and her accountant’s perspective gives her a unique evaluation of restaurants and wineries. She advised bloggers to be honest ‘nicely’, and to write what they would be prepared to tell someone to their face.  Photographs and writing should not be ‘ho hum’, and one must spellcheck. She advised newer bloggers to attend functions, to eat out and drink a cross-spectrum of wine, and to discover new things.  Hennie advocated the drinking of sparkling wine on more than just special occasions, and even Champagne, when the occasion calls for it. 

Terence van der Walt is a wine merchant at Siris Vintners, a company established by Nigel Cattermole, and Willeen and Philip Burdell.   Terence took the bloggers through the Môreson MCC tasting.  Môreson was established in 1986, and first wines were bottled in 1994.   Clayton Reabow was appointed the winemaker in 2007, after studying at Stellenbosch University, and working at Grande Provence, Distell, Laroche L’Avenir, Vrede & Lust, Chateau de Fleur du Bouard, and in Zell.  We started with Miss Molly 100 % Chardonnay MCC Non Vintage, named after the Weimeraner at Môreson, and captures her personality and passion for life.  The wine label has braille on it, saying “I’m delicious”, and a portion of the sales is donated to the Guide Dog Association.    Solitaire MCC Non Vintage is a new release, with 24 month maturation.  Its palate is a fine mousse with well-balanced acidity complimented by biscuit and marzipan aromas.  Gala MCC Non Vintage has a balanced fruit-forward palate with good structured acidity, made from Pinotage (70%) and Chenin Blanc (30%) grapes, has a sweeter taste, and has matured for 24 months.  The One is Môreson’s first Vintage (2007) MCC made from Pinot Noir (60%) and Chardonnay (40%),  matured for 36 months in bottle, and described as ‘extra brut’.  It can only be bought from the farm, at R160 a bottle.  Pink MCC Non Vintage has strawberries and cream aroma and palate, is made 100% from Pinotage, and was matured for 12 months.

To demonstrate the principles of food and wine pairing, Maggie and Hennie had asked Trevor Jordaan of What’s On Eatery to prepare snacks that would pair well, and some that did not pair at all.   Hennie told us that food and wine pairing is not an exact science, but one’s evaluation of it is a subjective opinion.  It helps to know the acidity of the wine, and that of food, when deciding on a good pairing match.  He explained that sparkling wine is segmented into Brut (very dry), Sec (dry), Demi-sec (semi-sweet) and Doux (sweet).  The acidity in a sparkling wine prevents it from having too sweet a taste, Hennie said.  Some would advocate pairing an acidic dish with a bitter wine, or vice versa, but Hennie disagreed with this approach.   Neither of the two should dominate, and we smiled when Hennie said that food is masculine and wine is feminine. The Tempura prawns on avocado and papaya salsa, and smoked salmon and cream cheese wrap paired well with the Môreson MCC Miss Molly, good value in only costing around R25 a glass in restaurants.  The truffle infused cream on parmesan tuille was not regarded as a good pairing, the parmesan being too dominant.

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.  Each of the two bloggers talk for about half an hour about their blog, and what they have learnt about blogging.  The Club gives 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.

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

   *   17 August:  Nikki Dumas of Swirl Blog, and Matt Allison of I’m no Jamie Oliver Blog, Den Anker venue, Jordan wines

   *   21 September:  Chef Brad Ball of Bistro 1682, and wine speaker from Steenberg, at Steenberg

   *   19 October:   Roger and Dawn Jorgensen of Jorgensen’s Distillery and 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   

Wines are brought along by the wine blogging speaker.  Snacks are served by the restaurant. 

Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club. Bookings can be made by e-mailing Chris at whalecot@iafrica.com.  The cost of attendance is R100. 

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com.  Twitter:@WhaleCottage  Food and Wine Bloggers Club on Facebook 

Restaurant Review: Dinner at Queen Victoria Hotel’s Dash is dashing!

I was invited to try out the 34-seater Dash restaurant in the Queen Victoria Hotel, which only opened in the Waterfront on Saturday, last night.   Chef Steven Tempelton is the leader of a creative team at Dash, whose food not only was visually appealing, but excellent too, and was responsible for a most dashing dinner.  Dash is one of the best fine-dining restaurants in Cape Town, and an Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant coontender for 2012.

The 35-bedroom Queen Victoria Hotel, previously the V&A Waterfront company head office, cost R53 million to transform into 5-star luxury, and the interior decor was done by master ‘craftsman’ Francois du Plessis, who has also just done Dear Me restaurant.  Cleverly, Newmark Hotels MD Neil Markovitz has arranged for the nearby Everard Read gallery to hang some if its artists’ works in the hotel, benefiting both parties. Dash has been honoured by a dominant work by Beezy Bailey.  The work is called “The Storm has passed”, and reflects the style of food created at Dash.  The back of the painting has a poem by Bailey:  “As the storm cleared/The dove escaped the cat’s claws/While the blueberry elephants passed by./As God’s tears hit the sky,/they turned into flowers”.

I was welcomed on arrival in the lobby, in which the 30-year old bonsai imported from China holds centre court, by Food & Beverage Manager Alton van Biljon, whom I had already seen in action last week, when I popped in for a tour around the hotel, led by Markovitz and the hotel’s PR consultant Ian Manley.  Alton has always been a most charming host when he worked at Balducci in the past four years, and has impressed with his knowledge of and passion for wine.  He started his career in retail. He moved into hospitality, and worked at Belthazar and Poplars before managing Balducci.

Chef Stephen Templeton grew up in Somerset West, and has been the Executive Chef at Sun City and the Mount Nelson Hotel.  He also was head of a team of 47 chefs at Harrods, the largest Food & Beverage operation in Europe, he said.  After a four year period in running Four Oaks guest house and restaurant in Montagu, he had an opportunity to sell it, and move back to Cape Town. It was in this time that he was approached by Newmark Hotels to become Group Chef, mainly responsible for their restaurants at the V&A Hotel, Dock House and Queen Victoria Hotel, all in the V&A.  Chef Stephen says that he was hands-on in the development of Dash, in sourcing its crockery, cutlery and glassware, in developing a fine winelist, and creating the unique menu.   The name for the restaurant was the result of a five hour brainstorm with the hotel’s executive team, and it was Ronan Jackson from the design agency that suggested the name, after Queen Victoria’s spaniel.  Chef Stephen and Francois du Plessis worked together to create a ‘New York sexy’ interior and menu that complement each other, and Du Plessis has said that it is the first time that his decor has been so well matched by a menu.  Chef Stephen is aiming at presenting ‘sophisticated, stylish, contemporary yet simple food’ at Dash, which he more than achieves.  He wants the food’s personality to shine through, not that of the chef.  Chef Stephen has an interesting team of nine chefs in the kitchen, with an average age of 24 years.   We laughed when we discovered that there is a Chef Jamie and a Chef Oliver in the kitchen.  I met Chef Oliver Cattermole, who created the ‘Alice in Wonderland garden’ of vegetables that is served with the beef fillet.  He worked at one-Michelin-star Novelli, and at The Ivy in London.  All staff have been taught to make coffee, and have tested the menu, to allow everyone to assist guests, as if one were in a guest house and not in a hotel, Chef Stephen said.  The waitress looking after me was Coral, and was honest in saying that she has just finished studying, and that Dash is her first job.  She was sweet, willing to execute every request, but still lacked some knowledge on how the magic is created in the kitchen.  She went to ask the kitchen all my questions. The staff wear a white shirt with the Queen Victoria Hotel logo on it, black pants and a white Dash-branded apron.

The welcome was warm, with Alton taking me through to the lounge, where I was invited to have a drink.  I chose a coffee.  Chef Stephen was happy to hear that I had starved during the day, in anticipation of the dinner.  Vegetable crisps were brought to the table as a snack.  I asked Chef Stephen what would happen if the 34-seater would run out of space in the 35-room hotel, and he assured me that they would pass the business on to the other Newmark Hotel restaurants in the Waterfront. Chef Stephen sees Dash operating in the league of The Roundhouse, The Test Kitchen and Aubergine

The restaurant has a black tile floor, an impressive black marble surround fireplace dividing the lounge/bar area from the restaurant, beautiful silver curtains, and a wonderful view onto Table Mountain.   The Beezy Bailey is the only colour splash in the room.  The tables are black metal, made by ‘in’ designer Gregor Jenkin I was told by Francois du Plessis, with white leather chairs.  There are no table cloths, but a good quality serviette, with very heavy and solid Sambonet cutlery imported from Germany, the first time I have seen this locally.  The glassware is excellent.  There is a little candle, and rather ordinary tiny white salt and pepper cellars, probably superfluous anyway, given the excellent food, not requiring seasoning.  The only criticism I shared with Alton was the music selection, being heavy jazz initially, and sounding hotel-like generally.  I reminded him of the great music one hears at Belthazar and Balducci.  The bar is lit with purple lighting at night, and bounces off the bar chairs, creating an interesting visual affect as one enters the bar area.  The colour of the lighting changes throughout the day.

I chose a starter of confit of crayfish on a cucumber sockle with a coriander and paw paw salad (R145).  The impressive part of its presentation was the paw paw crisp, creating a centerpiece to the starter, and tasting sweet and crispy.  Chef Stephen explained that paw paw is liquidised, then glycerine is added, it is baked for nine hours, and then thin slices are cut to create the crisp.  The cucumber was as fresh as could be, as was the salad, the paw paw in it echoing the crisp.  Sorrel foam completed the presentation.  No sauces got in the way of the natural fresh taste of the elements of the dish. No fish knife was served with this starter.  Other starter choices, ranging in price from R55 – R145, include beetroot cured salmon, oysters served on seaweed, wild mushroom ragoût, Ceasar salad, seared foie gras, and caviar (SQ).  The surprise was the most amazing sorbets that were served, and I was allowed three: I chose the Tomato Granite, to which Coral added vodka; a most refreshing Lime & Lemon; and the most amazing Rose, complete with its own rose petals dipped in egg white and crystallised.  The sorbets cost R25 for a choice of three.

The main course choice of Grilled fillet of beef with herb mash and spinach purée with vegetables and port jus (R140) has created a stir.  This menu description does not do justice to the amazing creation that arrived – three slices of fillet on mash, but it was the presentation of the vegetables that created the ‘wow’ response, dubbed by the staff as the ‘Alice in Wonderland garden’, an amazing symphony of carrot, tomato, mushrooms, orange-coloured mini corn-cob, baby radish, baby aubergine, baby turnip, sheets of cauliflower stalk, and tomadillo (tasting of tomato with the texture of aubergine, looking like a green gooseberry), so beautifully presented.  Chef Oliver called it ‘psychedelic vegetables’, and told me that he sources them from the Magic Man in the Karoo.  Main courses are reasonably priced, some being cheaper than the starters, and range from R95 to R145 for roasted sea bass, lobster tortellini, venison, tomato and beetroot tart, scallops, lamb noisette, and duck confit risotto.  The dessert list consists of four options, ranging from R50 – R70, in addition to a Cape cheeseboard (R115), and I chose the Pimms jelly, mint bavois and strawberry sauce, beautifully presented with a long elegant spoon, and well paired with a glass of Silverthorn The Green Man sparkling wine (made by Steenberg GM John Loubser in his private capacity). Other dessert options are chocolate fondant, coconut panacotta, and liquorice macaroons.  Coral brought a cappuccino made with Origin coffee to have with the dessert, and a sweet touch was a jug of extra froth, showing that Alton must have read a Tweet of mine a few days ago about the extra froth a waiter had brought me at Salt Deli, also a Newmark Hotel property.

Alton indulged my love for Shiraz, and poured a glass of Quoin Rock 2006 (R208 per bottle), with violet notes.  Coral brought tap water with an ice bucket and slices of lemon.  The winelist is impressive, bound in grey leather, with the hotel logo on it.  Champagnes and MCC sparkling wines are at the back of the winelist, normally found at the front.   Each wine variety is described, and the origin and vintage of each wine is presented, as are the tasting notes for each wine, generated from a tasting panel’s evaluation of each of the about 100 wines listed.  This is a future Diner’s Club Diamond Award winelist candidate.  The champagnes start at R 940 for Guy Charbaut Select Brut NV, going up to R3500 for Dom Perignon Vintage. Veuve Cliquot Rosé, Billecart Salmon Brut Reserve, and Pol Roger Brut Reserve are also available.  MCC’s start at R200 for Moreson Solitaire, with High Constantia Clos Andre costing R445.  Shiraz choices start at R 205 for Raka Biography, up to R 1390 for Saxenburg SSS Shiraz 2005. The wine-by-the glass policy is interesting – there are no prices for these, but one can order any wine on the list by the glass, within reason, and then Alton and his staff will try to sell the rest of the bottle to other guests.

If there is one taste at Dash that I will never forget it is that of the Rose sorbet – a taste I have never experienced before.  Dash is excellent, and perfect, and I know that the music selection will be addressed, as will the waiters’ food knowledge evolve.  They are so many items on the menu to return to, to try out.  From photographs of the other menu items it is evident that each dish is a work of art in presentation alone. The kitchen closes at about 22h30, but one can pop in at the 24-hour Dash bar for a drink, a coffee or even a dessert, ordered from the room service menu, after the kitchen has closed.  After being a loyal V&A Waterfront shopper for twenty years, it is refreshing to have such an excellent quality restaurant so close by, yet away from the hustle and bustle of the commercial Waterfront area.  I salute Newmark Hotels’ MD Neil Markovitz and his team in creating such an exceptional restaurant.

POSTSCRIPT 14/4: I went back to Dash for a quick coffee and more sorbet, and to show my colleague the Queen Victoria Hotel and Dash restaurant.  Restaurant Manager Darren looked after us, and organised the extra cappuccino foam on the side, from reading this review.  The hotel is almost booked out with delegates from Brazil attending a Tupperware conference.

POSTSCRIPT 8/5: Staying over at the invitation of the Queen Victoria Hotel presented an opportunity for me to introduce my son to Dash, which he was very impressed by.  Food & Beverage Manager Alton van Biljon was most generous in offering us a bottle of Hartenberg The Stork Shiraz 2005, knowing my love for an old-style shiraz.  The chef sent out two complimentary dishes to those we had ordered: the appetizer was a tomato, basil, and mushroom dust, served on a heavy slate plate, reminding me of the work of Eric Bulpitt, previously of Jardineand now at The Round House.  We both ordered a filling starter of wonderful wild mushroom ragout in puff pastry, served with green beans and bearnaise (R65).  Alex had the beef fillet with the ‘Alice in Wonderland vegetable garden’, while I ordered Springbok loin, carrot purée and turnip gratin (R135).   We shared a trio of Rose, Lemon and lime, and Orange and citrus sorbets (R25).   The chef sent out a complimentary pannacotta and lemon sorbet for usto share.   A wonderful evening, once again with an excellent meal, and charming and highly-impressive service by Alton.

POSTSCRIPT 15/5: I returned to Dash with Carole, my colleague in Hermanus, and we were well looked after by Restaurant Manager Darren and Chef Oliver Cattermole.  I tried the Duck Confit Risotto with citrus and herb potpourri, the potpourri containing tea, dried duck (tasting like biltong) and herbs, and served in a separate bowl, which I sprinkled over the risotto.  Carole had the Beef fillet and the ‘Alice in Wonderland’ vegetable garden.  For dessert we had the Chocolate Fondant, which oozed Valrhona chocolate sauce when we opened it, with orange ice cream, a beautiful presentation.  I had my cappuccino with a jug of extra foam, always a nice touch! It was great to meet One&Only Cape Town Hotel Executive Chef Jason Millar, who was celebrating his anniversary at Dash, and to hear a chef’s reaction to the food of another chef – he was most complimentary.  Chef Oliver Cattermole is the driving force in the Dash kitchen, in my opinion, and has created a vegetable and herb garden on the roof of Newmark Hotels’ V&A Hotel, from which he will harvest for his kitchen in future.  

POSTSCRIPT 25/5: Another lovely lunch with excellent service at Dash today, spoiling my friend Jenny to a birthday lunch.  She was surprised to receive a birthday card from the hotel, and a surprise chocolate fondant dessert with her cappuccino.  Jenny’s Beetroot cured salmon with horseradish apple slaw was beautifully presented.

POSTSCRIPT 1/7: Today I took Trevor Jordaan for a birthday lunch at Dash.  I ordered a Cape Malay butternut velouté, while Trevor had a chicory and pickled pear salad, both beautifully presented.  Happy to hear how well the restaurant is doing, and has appointed an Assistant Manager Andrea.

POSTSCRIPT 3/8: Sadly, Restaurant Manager Darren Morgan left the hotel on Monday.  F&B Manager Alton van Biljon has taken a leave of absence, and his return date is uncertain, if he returns at all.  Andrea confirmed this evening that lunch will not be served at Dash for the time being.

POSTSCRIPT 12/8: I had the Mushroom Ragout again this evening, and the pastry casing was tough, and the size of the dish has definitely shrunk.  No Andreas Shiraz was available, which I had tried at Dash for the first time a month ago, when Michael McKenzie and I popped in. The waiter asked how I enjoyed the dish.  I said I didn’t, due to the shrunk size and tough pastry, to which he confidently retorted that the perfect pastry casing is tough! Chef Jamie was in the kitchen this evening. I shared the problem with Hostess Connie, and she apologised.  The waiter told me that the kitchen was sending out a second Ragout, but Connie arrived with the bill, having taken the Ragout off it, saying that the waiter had told her I didn’t want the replacement Ragout.  I got up and left in disbelief at this comedy of errors, the first evening of serious dissatisfaction at Dash.

POSTSCRIPT 25/9: We had a ‘last supper’ at Dash this evening, one of the last nights that Chef Oliver Cattermole will be in the Queen Victoria Hotel kitchen, before he starts at What’s On Eatery on Saturday.  I chose the Foie gras with apple, excellent, but pricey as a starter at R140.  My son enjoyed his Duck risotto (R125).  The Rose sorbet no longer is dark pink, as photographed above, and doesn’t taste as amazing as I remember it. Service efficient but functional, and the personal touch has gone. Excellent Andreas Shiraz 2008 now my favourite Shiraz.  Sad to see us being only one of two tables.  Despite being told in early days that all wines on the winelist are available by the glass, the limit is that only bottles under R300 may be opened for wines by the glass.

Dash Restaurant, Queen Victoria Hotel, Portswood Close, Portswood Ridge, V&A Waterfront.   Tel (021) 418-1466.   www.queenvictoriahotel.co.za (The Dash menu and winelist are now listed on the website, but the Image Gallery does not contain enough photographs to reflect the amazing creativity of the Dash chefs).

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

Restaurant Review: What’s On Eatery is an elegant and friendly home from home

I had read about What’s On Eatery on Watson Street in the city centre on Twitter, with Hennie Coetzee (@Batonage) and Maggie Mostert (@BlackDelilah) recommending the new restaurant highly.  I was welcomed warmly by co-owner Trever Jordaan from the minute I stepped into the restaurant, and I felt completely at home in the elegant interior that has been created in the double story building that once was Platinum restaurant.  What’s On’s promise is “Food l People l Passion”, with a ‘fusion of family & friends’, and this is what I experienced last Friday evening.  It offers very good value food (the starters and desserts in particular) and wines.

Watson Street connects Bree and Loop Street, one block from Buitensingel Street.  I found parking easily, and a canopy identifies the eatery, and what it stands for.  One enters the attractive light grey Deli and Breakfast space, which doubles up as the bar, with wines stored on shelves, and a glass counter containing salads, pies and sandwiches during the day, with croissants, cakes, pastries, and other sweet bakery treats available too.    Trevor led the way to the restaurant upstairs, and showed me the private dining room, which can be used for functions with up to 10 persons.  The restaurant has ten tables, and the walls are a stronger grey colour.  There are lovely wooden floors, interesting paintings by Joseph Lucaks, beautifully upholstered chairs, and wallpaper on some walls, all creating a warm, homely and elegant space.  One wall has quirky-shaped mirrors on it.   Trevor and his partner clearly have a good decor hand.  The highback chairs are attractive, and reminded me of those at La Mouette – in fact the hearty welcome was reminiscent of La Mouette when it first opened.  The light was soft, created with a mix of candles, lamps and modern downlighters.  The tables have a white table cloth, and the white serviette had a silver pattern running through it.  Glassware is good, the cutlery is by Maxwell Williams, and the food is served on white plates and bowls, some of them not holding the cutlery, in that they slide into the plate, a common restaurant problem.  A Woolworths salt and pepper grinder are on the table, as was a vase with real roses.   What made an impression in being so unusual yet clever was a card with “Thank You” lying on the serviette, continuing as follows: “…for sharing our dream…please spread the news to family & friends and join our facebook group on our website…”.

Trevor is a most amazingly warm person, who clearly loves people and his new restaurant.   He was hands-on throughout the evening, asking for feedback continuously.  He was receptive to hearing my opinion and suggestions, and I was impressed by his positive reception thereof, and his immediate implementation of changes.  He joined Twitter immediately and is planning to start a blog too.   Trevor was previously a guest house owner, and that is probably why we connected so well.   His goal is to make his guests feel at home, as if they are visiting his home, and he wants to get to know his guests better, as he does not want any ‘strangers’ in his home, he said.   Trevor’s partner and co-owner is Chris Mears, but is not involved in the running of the restaurant.   I was served by Nina, previously with Col’Cacchio in town, and she was friendly and looked attractively dressed in a white shirt and black slacks, with a branded apron from Vrede & Lust.  Uri from Jardine, which closed down at the end of February, now works at What’s On.   The chef is Kerin D’Offize, previously with the Foodlovers’ Market in Claremont and Harbour Rock in Hermanus. 

The menu, winelist and bill holders have the same blue-green cover, with branding in white.   The pages are neatly affixed to the cover, but can be easily removed when any pages have to be updated.   Nina brought  a plate of delicious freshly-baked olive bread to the table, which was more-ish.  I ordered the duck liver parfait, served with morello cherry sauce and garlic crostini (R40).  I felt that the garlic and parfait were fighting each other, the garlic being overpowering.   The cherry compote was an unusual but good marriage with the parfait.  Other starter options ranged in price from R35 – R 45, and included braised leek and gorgonzola tartlet, springbok bobotie spring rolls, smoorsnoek and feta crepes, black mussels, and baked camembert fondant.  Unusual is that all salads can be ordered in half-portions too, at R 40 – R60 per half portion, and R60 – R80 for a full portion, probably meant to be shared.   Interesting sounding salads are the rooibos-smoked chicken salad; steamed prawn and baby calamari salad; and biltong, mango and feta garden salad.    I was surprised when a complimentary wild mango, mint, melon and vanilla pod sorbet palate cleanser was served.  I loved the taste combination, and never eat mango usually.

The Beef Wellington main course I ordered had porcini mushrooms, garlic and bacon in the pastry casing, but no chicken liver paté (R135).    It was served in two halves, the fillet perfectly prepared medium rare as ordered, with roasted beetroot ‘chips’, mash and butternut.  It was served with a green peppercorn Bordelaise sauce, which I found too sharp and salty.  Other main course options are oxtail, line fish and calamari, confit of lamb rib, roulade of chicken and spinach, venison fillet, sole, rib eye steak, tiger prawns, ostrich burger, and a grilled wild mushroom risotto, ranging from R 85 – R145.   Side dishes are available at R15 each.  I didn’t have a dessert, but the options are a chocolate and hazelnut fondant, a trio of sorbet, crème brûlee, chocolate truffle and espresso tart, and honey and almond cheesecake served with basil and chilli ice cream, ranging in cost from R40 – R50.  I had a foamy cappucino (R17), made with Tribeca coffee, and I liked Trevor’s description of the foam looking like a meringue!

The winelist is introduced as follows: “This list has been prepared to showcase the very best wines to complement our culinary concept.  We constantly search and hand-pick the perfect selection of wines so that you, as our guest, experience ultimate wine and dining at What’s On”.   The list specifies the regions from which the wines come, but there are no vintages for most of the wines listed.   The wine-by-the-glass choice is restricted to one white and one red, and my recommendation to Trevor was to expand the selection.  I had a generous glass of Vrede & Lust’s Boet Erasmus Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot blend, at R45 a glass/R265 per bottle, and I was allowed to taste the wine first.   I am not one for blends usually, but this was an excellent wine.      The white wine-by-the-glass is Neil Ellis Groenekloof Sauvignon Blanc (R35/R140).   Sparkling wines include Graham Beck Brut MCC (R185) and Boschendal Brut Rosé (R195).  Shiraz options are Brampton (R100), Graham Beck (R135) and Bernard Series Basket Press (R215).  A number of ‘cellar selection’ wines are also available, such as Kanonkop Pinotage 2008 (R440), Rustenberg Peter Barlow 2006 (R565) and Hamilton Russell Chardonnay (R475).  Corkage costs R30.    

Breakfast choices include French Toast; omelets; flapjacks; oats; muesli, fruit and yoghurt; and a cooked breakfast, none of these choices costing more than R32.   Lunch options include a variety of fillings on ciabatta (R39 – R55), salads (R45), beef fillet (R65); prawn, chorizo and saffron risotto (R65); chicken breast (R48); and chicken roulade (R55).

The bill says “Thank you for visiting us at What’s On.  We look forward to have you back ‘home’ soon”.  It is so refreshing to see a restaurant thanking its clients on arrival and on their departure.  I felt at home, and Trevor has found an opportunity to ‘chat’ by e-mail almost every day since I went to What’s On, and he is a strong relationship builder, something many restaurants fail at, taking one’s custom for granted.  As I did for La Mouette when they first opened last May, I spent time with Trevor to run through Social Media Marketing with him subsequent to my dinner.

POSTSCRIPT 19/5: Food bloggers and clients of What’s On Eatery were invited to try out the new winter menu this evening – two courses cost R125, 3 courses R150.  One can also order off the menu, at R 39 for a choice of nine starters (including grilled brown mushrooms – left, stuffed calamari tubes, tempura snoek and prawn); R98 for one of eleven main courses (including Duck la orange – right, Coq au vin, Beef Wellington, Beef fillet, Karoo lamb shank); and R40 for one of five desserts.  The winter menu is good value for money, and the portion sizes are very generous.

POSTSCRIPT 16/9: Exciting news is that Chef Oliver Cattermole from Dash Restaurant at the Queen Victoria Hotel will start as Chef at What’s On Eatery from 1 October.

What’s On Eatery, 6 Watson Street, between Loop and Bree Street, Cape Town.   Tel (021) 422-5652.   www.whatsoneatery.co.za (The homepage on the website has attractive food photographs, which will make one want to come to What’s On Eatery, but these are not carried over to the Image Gallery, which has more photographs of guests than of the food.  The menu is on the website). Twitter @WhatsOnEatery.  Deli open Monday – Friday 7h30 – 16h00.  Restaurant open Tuesday – Saturday evenings.

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