Tag Archives: Vovo Telo

Franschhoek Cellar undergoes complete image transformation, pity about design and poor service!

Franschhoek Cellar exterior 2Yesterday I spent the afternoon in Franschhoek, and used the opportunity to visit the completely transformed Franschhoek Cellar, for which re-opening I had received an invitation, but could not attend the Monday evening function last month.  The redesign led to the closure in October and November last year, and the Franschhoek Cellar re-opening in December.  What has emerged is a monster, not suited to brand ‘Franschhoek’ at all!

For the first time I noticed yesterday that one can no longer park in front of the building, an area which was shared with that for The Stall.  There is no entrance into the wine tasting centre off the R45 entrance to Franschhoek anymore.  Instead the walkway to the centre has been turned into a garden, with a rose garden, another with protea varieties, and a fountain wall.  To the left of the building are some unusual looking ‘umbrellas‘, as if they are Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 27/28 October

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Retailers’ service sucks – we may have thought so – but now it’s official, according to the ‘Retail Shopper Survey 2014′, conducted by Why 5 amongst households with a total income of R10000 or more.  More than half of respondents said service is bad; they want shops close by; shopping is a grudge purchase; the majority research offers online;  payment by mobile phone would be supported by one-third of shoppers; loyalty programs are highly popular, 96% of shoppers using them; sales do attract shoppers; shoppers want information via catalogues, newsletters, and e-mails, but in-store radio broadcasts are a waste of time; shoppers feel that shopping malls all look the same.

*   TripAdvisor has launched a new ‘Just for You‘ service, offering ‘tailor-made’ accommodation recommendations based on past searches on their website as well as preferences.  It links with Facebook to gain a better understanding of its customers, to enable better recommendations to be made.

*   The Vineyard Hotel has been recognised by the 2014 Travel + Leisure Global Vision Awards for its promotion of Continue reading →

Cape Town & Winelands Winter Restaurant specials 2014 (and winter closures)!

Restaurant fireplaceThe Winter 2014 specials for more than 90 Cape Town and Winelands restaurants follow below, and are updated continuously. We welcome information about new specials, and the feedback about your meals at these restaurants:

Cape Town

*   Umi in Camps Bay: 3 course set menu R260, 5 courses R360, both include a shared bottle of Warwick First Lady. Order 3 meals off a la carte menu, get the 4th free.  Slow cooked shortrib R110, Karan beef sirloin R95, Japanese beer marinated Karan beef fillet R120, pork belly R90, warm salmon and black bean R120, and fish & fries R85.  Tel (021) 437-1802 (added 10/5/14)

*   Pepenero in Mouille Point : Order 3 meals and get 4th (cheapest) free; Sirloin R89, Rump R89, Lamb cutlets R99, Seafood platter R149, Sushi platter R129, Crayfish tails R169, Veal schnitzel R95, Soup of day R40,  Prawn platter R139, Oxtail R110, and Osso Buco R89.  Half price sushi (selected items) all day. Daily. Tel (021) 439-9027 (updated 10/5/14)

*    5 Rooms, Alphen Boutique Hotel: 2 courses R170; 2 courses with bottle of Warwick First Lady (shared between two) R220; 3 courses R 220; 3 courses plus bottle of Warwick First Lady (shared between two) R 270. Sirloin R95, Baby chicken R95, Braised oxtail R110, Seafood bouillabaisse R135, Grilled Prawn R99, Slow braised lamb shank R115. Tel (021) 795-6313 (updated 10/5/14)

*   Zenzero, Camps Bay:    2 courses R160; 2 courses with bottle of Warwick First Lady (shared between two) R210;  3 courses Continue reading →

Chaotic Cape Town lacks infrastructure for Festive frenzy in Camps Bay!

Camps Bay beach 2Yesterday was the most chaotic day I have seen in Camps Bay in 20 years of living in the suburb.  We know that New Year’s Day is busy, and is a stay-away zone, due to the thousands of Cape Town residents who come from other areas and take ownership of the beach in the suburb, without the City of Cape Town sending any reinforcements to secure the suburb.  What was experienced in Camps Bay yesterday may be the deathknell for tourism in Camps Bay and Cape Town.

We warn our guests to stay away from the Camps Bay beach on 26 December and 1 January, but nothing could have prepared us for yesterday.  One should have known that chaos was coming, when all the restaurants on the street level of the whole beachfront strip, with the exception of health food franchise Kauai, were closed for business!  When I was advising my guests about alternatives of things to do and places to eat, I had to admit to them that most restaurants in Cape Town are closed on New Year’s Day, despite the city teeming with tourists!   I drove down Kloof Street, and was pleasantly surprised that about half the restaurants on this popular restaurant street were open for business, a few proudly Tweeting that they would be open until about 22h00 last night, which is a whole lot better than last year, when only the franchise restaurants were operating.   Manna Epicure, Da Vinci’s, Arnold’s on Kloof, Vovo Telo, Hudson on Kloof, Knead, Mozzarella Bar, and newly opened The Black Sheep are some of the restaurants that were operating, and should be commended for feeding the many tourists in Cape Town.  The restaurants in the city centre were all closed.

In Camps Bay I needed Bay Response at my guest house, but they had to cut short theirCAMPS BAY BEACH 1 JAN 2014 CAPE ARGUS service when they were called to assist Pick ‘n Pay Camps Bay, of which the front door was being broken down by unruly beachgoers!  We heard sirens throughout the day, especially early afternoon, when there was a near-drowning on Camps Bay beach, despite lifeguard services offered.  The beach is just too full, and often inexperienced bathers and unsafe rip tides can lead to loss of life.

I had driven to town for a quick coffee break in the early afternoon, and it took 15 minutes to travel 250 meters from Hussar Grill Continue reading →

Cape Town and Johannesburg have almost equal number of Eat Out Top 500 Restaurants!

Eat Out magazine 2014 Whale Cottage PortfolioAs the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards were held early in November, it was the first time that we did not receive the annual Eat Out magazine at the gala dinner. It was however sent by post, a surprise gift, last week. A real surprise was that Johannesburg (24%) has almost as many Top 500 restaurants as Cape Town (26%) out of the total of 500.

New Media Publishing changed a number of aspects of its judging of the Top 10 Restaurant Awards this year, and this included their magazine as well. Instead of sending a number of freelance evaluators out to find the best restaurants country-wide, and to write a short summary review about them, they sent theireditorial panel‘ of 50 persons a spreadsheet of their restaurant database, requesting them to rate the restaurants they had eaten at in the last six months.  A number of aspects of the restaurants were evaluated, and the scores were added up, from which the top scoring 500 restaurants were selected.  The restaurant summaries in the magazine are based on a summary each restaurant that applied to be on the Top 500 restaurant list had supplied!

Cape Town has 132 ‘top‘ restaurants on the list, which oddly includes Cattle Baron (a steak restaurant chain), Col’Cacchio (a pizza chain), Dias Tavern (!), Hudson’s Burger Joint (a mini hamburger chain), Hussar Grill (a steak house chain), Jason (a bakery), My Basaar (a coffee shop), Reuben’s One & Only (!), Sababa Kitchen & Deli (predominantly take-away, with only a few chairs at the Bree Street branch), and taschas (coffee shop chain), all in the company of Eat Out Top 10 restaurants The Greenhouse and The Test Kitchen.  It is nice to see the relatively new Cheyne’s Continue reading →

FEDHASA Cape understates severity of Cape Restaurant closures!

Rey Franco, FEDHASA Cape chairman of the Restaurant and Catering Industry segment, seems to be out of touch with the segment which he represents, in claiming in Cape Business News that 27 new restaurants opened and only three closed down in the Cape in the past year!  The situation is much worse in terms of restaurant closures, despite far more new restaurant openings.

Our ongoing tracking of restaurant openings shows that new restaurant openings were greater in number than the FEDHASA Cape figure, at 80 openings in the past twelve months, and included Cousins, Thai Café in Stellenbosch and Sea Point, De Oude Meul Bakkerij, Frères Bistro, The Urban Garden, Goloso Deli & Restaurant, Goloso Pizzaria, Bar1, Tamboerswinkel, I ♥ my Laundry, Millhouse KItchen at Lourensford, Reserve Brasserie, The Rotisserie at Leopard’s Leap, Café Blanc de Noir at Brenaissance,  Moyo at the V&A Waterfront, Mischu, Cattle Baron in Paarl, Latitude33, Baked Bistro, Richard’s Supper Stage & Bistro, Deluxe Urban Café, The Eatery at Diemersdal, De Grendel Restaurant, Camphor’s at Vergelegen, Antipasto Bar at Antonij Rupert Wines, Kloof Street House, Orphanage, Peter’s House, Le Venue at JC le Roux, Mitico, Slug & Lettuce on Kloof Street and in Stellenbosch, Ali Baba Kebab in Camps Bay, 5Rooms, La Belle Café & Deli, Big Route Top Gourmet Pizza, Stables at Vergelegen, Vovo Telo, Glashuis at Babylonstoren, Hussar Grill at Steenberg, Dorpstraat Deli, The Boat House, Orinoco, Cassis Paris Salon de Thé, Dog’s Bollocks, Jackal & Hide, Saints on 84 Kloof Street, Sushibox, Mama Cucina in Riebeek Kasteel, Salzburger Grill, The Stall, Shimmy’s Beach Club, The Red Table Restaurant at Nederburg, EuroHaus, Merchant’s Café, Truth on Buitenkant Street, Deluxe Coffeeworks, No 6 Restaurant at Welbedacht, Simply Asia in Paarl, La Pentola in Hermanus, Lizette’s Kitchen in Hermanus, Vino’s in Wellington, Sacred Ground Bakery & Deli in Franschhoek, Col’Cacchio In Hermanus and Westlake, Christina’s at Van Loveren, four Vida e Caffè, Gourmetboerie, Kushi Indian Restaurant, Moksh Authentic Indian Cuisine, Alfama, Paulina’s Restaurant at Rickety Bridge, Wakaberry in Rondebosch and Kloof Street, Okamai at Glenwood, Café Dijon in Green Point, and Deli @ The Square in Paarl.

Restaurant closures were more severe in the past year than reflected (maybe Franco wanted to project a perfect picture of the Cape restaurant industry, or he is that out of touch?), with at least 29 closures as per our count, which included Vanilla, two Café Dijon in Stellenbosch, Sabarosa in Bakoven, Toro Aperitif Bar, Caveau on Bree Street, Gourmet Burger, Limoncello, Casa Nostra, Wicked Treats in Franschhoek, Bistro on Rose, Paparazzi,  Rhapsody’s, Cape Town Fish Market in Somerset West, Josephine’s Cookhouse, Wale Rose Lifestyle, Mason, Café Sofia in Camps Bay (all outlets may have closed down), Gesellig, Beads in Stellenbosch, French Toast Wine Bar & Tapas, ACT Restaurant, The Kove, Planet Green Salad Bar, Freedom Hill, Sapphire, Grilleri in Hermanus, Franschhoek Deli, and Illyria in Stellenbosch.

The article emphasises how tough the restaurant industry is, with rising cost of food, electricity and gas, rental, and staff a major challenge, as is the tightening budgets of restaurant patrons.  The restaurant industry is highly overtraded and fragmented, and Franco says that ‘keeping a restaurant above water (sic) has always been a tough challenge’.  He adds that only a few have a winning ‘recipe of setting, food, social placement and value proposition’.

He noted a trend of restaurants opening at the start of summer, with restaurant closures visible at the start of winter. His statistic of two restaurants opening for every restaurant closure knocks his own restaurant opening and closure statistics mentioned above.  He also has seen an increased demand of catering for children, and a focus on healthy and organic food.  Loyalty programmes work, and refurbishments keep a restaurant interior fresh, he advises.

The larger franchised restaurants have done well in the past year, the Spur Corporation’s sales having increased by 17,5% in the last six months of 2012, whilst the Famous Brands franchises of Steers, Debonairs, Wimpy, Mugg & Bean, and Fishaways jointly increased turnover by 13% last year.  It is the smaller independents that may face another bleak winter to come, starting early this year due to the early Easter, which is synonymous with the end of the summer season.

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

Mezepoli Meze and Wine Bar Sweet and FNB Sour Service Awards!

The Sweet Service Award goes to Mezepoli Meze and Wine Bar in Camps Bay, for hosting the members of the Camps Bay Guest House Association for lunch last week. The restaurant has a sister restaurant at Melrose Arch in Johannesburg, and can seat more than 100 guests. It serves sushi as well as a selection of nearly 100 Mediterranean and Middle East meze dishes, including cheeses, vegetarian mezes, dips, salads, meats, seafoods, and desserts.  The restaurant offers platters for a set price of R135, including salads, haloumi, dips with pita bread, falafel, spanakopita, dolmades, calamari, keftethes, and souvlaki chicken, which we sampled, a very enjoyable meal.

The Sour Service Award goes to FNB, and its poor service in supplying its client, the V&A Waterfront’s newly opened Vovo Telo, with a credit card machine.  Having eaten and shopped at Vovo Telo soon after it opened, it was a surprise to hear that they did not have a credit card machine, which meant that the goods selected had to be returned.  A few days later the situation was the same, so we decided to call on customer Twitter power, Tweeting FNB MD @MichaelJordaan about the problem.  He delegated this to @RBJacobs, who calls himself the ‘FNBGuy’, and he seemed a real go-getter initially, in  terms of his Twitter responses. Every deadline FNB gave Vovo Telo Cape Town in terms of delivery date and time was not met by them, and when they delivered a credit card machine four days after the commencement of the Twitter requests, and two weeks after the outlet opened, it was a fixed line one, and not a portable credit card machine required by restaurants!  Their service levels are unacceptable, and FNB demonstrated that it cannot satisfy basic customer needs on Social Media, not even if Tweets are directed to its MD.

The WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented every Friday on the WhaleTales blog.  Nominations for the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be sent to Chris von Ulmenstein at info@whalecottage.com.   Past winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of this blog, and in the WhaleTales newsletters on the www.whalecottage.com website.

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

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

Restaurant Openings

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

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

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

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

*   Madame’s on Napier has opened in De Waterkant

*   Hussar Grill is to open at Steenberg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*   Characters has opened on Roeland Street

*   TRUTH Coffee has opened on Buitenkant Street

*    Planet Green Salad Bar has opened on Kloof Street

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Restaurant Closures

*   Valora on Loop Street has closed down

* Vanilla in the Cape Quarter has closed down.

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

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

*   Sapphire has closed down in Camps Bay

*   Caveau at Josephine’s Mill has closed

down and the Bree Street venue is up for rent

*   High Level Restaurant in Bo-Kaap has closed down

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

*   Sabarosa in Bakoven has closed down.

Restaurant staff/venue changes

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

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

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

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

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

*   Salt Deli has changed its name to Salt Café

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

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

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

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

*   Chef Shaun Schoeman of Fyndraai Restaurant at Solms Delta has the amazing honour to be working at Noma in Copenhagen for two weeks in July.  He also shared that Fyndraai will move to another building on the wine estate in November, and will offer fine dining.  The current restaurant will serve light lunches and picnics.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Restaurant breaks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*   The main Delaire Graff restaurant closes from 3 June – 6 July, but Indochine continues to trade.

*   Blues will be closed from 1 – 30 June

*   Waterkloof in Somerset West is closing for all June.

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

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

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

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

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

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

*   Pane e Vino is closing from 1 – 31 July

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

*   The Kitchen at Maison is closed until 3 August

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

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

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

*   Tokara is closed between 9 – 16 July

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

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

Restaurant Review: Vovo Telo brings artisanal baking to the V&A Waterfront!

A surprise addition to the V&A Waterfront is Vovo Telo, a small, boutique and petite artisanal bakery and restaurant franchise which opened its first branch in Cape Town at the beginning of this week.  It is homely and welcoming, very un-V&A Waterfront and very un-franchise, and sells a range of excellent artisanal breads, as well as pastries.  The essence of the brand is ‘love, bread, coffee’.

There are five branches in Johannesburg (the one in Parkhurst being the flagship), two in Pretoria, and two in Port Elizabeth.  Mark Burger is the franchisee of the V&A branch, and is already eyeing other locations in Cape Town, Constantia being a potential.  Mark has been in the food franchising business for the past thirty years, having started Skippers Fish & Chips and creating franchise branches, owning Debonairs, Bravo, and Fontana before selling these.  He joined Famous Brands, the company which owns the Steers, Vivo Telo, Debonairs Pizza, Wimpy, Mugg & Bean, House of Coffees, and Tashas chains, and was their New Business Director when it was still called Steers Holdings. He has opened 300 – 400 franchises in the past 20 years, and is likely to be a tough-negotiating V&A Waterfront tenant.  He says that they have become far more flexible already. When he signed the contract, he was not told that the V&A Food Court would be closed until November, inclusive of the seating area outside it, curtailing the traffic to his store.

To keep the business in his ‘bloodline’, he has teamed up with his nephew Jade and his wife Adele. Mark lives in Johannesburg, having a son at school there, but plans to move to Cape Town eventually. The store can seat 75 customers inside the 210 m² and outside, and has a classy yet friendly interior, with chandelier, and Persian carpets. A fun mural above the bread shelves reflects Cape Town, with Table Mountain, at which ‘table’ Queen Victoria is depicted, with a ‘I want my coffee’ tattoo on her arm. The decor is standard across all the Vovo Telo branches, done by Mary from Famous Brands.  The name ‘Vovo Telo’ means ‘grandfather’s place’ in Portuguese, and comes from a holiday the three original owners spent in Madagascar, where they stayed at a Vovo Telo hotel, and saw a local with a baguette on his bicycle, igniting an interest to start a bakery named Vovo Telo in Port Elizabeth.  The three original owners are still very hands-on in and passionate about their business.  During the day one can sit outside in good weather, and the Marimba band performing nearby adds a good vibe.  Tables are a mix of aluminium and wood, and chairs are white moulded plastic.  Vovo Telo branded brown and white sugar sachets, and coarse sea salt and black pepper grinders are on the tables.  The menu design mirrors the fun feel of the website.  Paper serviettes are offered.

Because Vovo Telo is primarily a bakery, customers do not necessarily think that it will be open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as coffee and tea all day, with a selection of good pastries.  I had heard on my first visit that a Master Patissier starts with the group next week, and he will be travelling between the different franchises, to do staff training on pastries, still an area with improvement potential, Mark said honestly.  Part of the interior is the restaurant seating on the mezzanine level, and a few tables downstairs alongside the pastry counter and the massive bread oven.  A small table has pieces of bread which one can sample with Olitalia olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The bread is special in that Eureka stone-ground flour is used, to which is added a special culture which is passed on from store to store.  The bread dough leavens for 14 – 16 hours, to ‘ferment and rise’, I was told, and no preservatives are added.  Dough is hand-rolled, making the baking artisanal.  The baking staff were sent to a Johannesburg branch for training. Everything in the store is made from scratch, even the pasta, which Mark told me is already receiving rave reviews.  Bread styles which are made are Ciabatta (R16), 70% Rye and 30% Italian flour (R22), Sourdough (R20), Cheese Sticks (R15), Olive breadsticks (R18), Panini (R6), Baguette (R11), and Olive Sourdough (R30).  Ready-made sandwiches cost around R29, including salami, Reuben, ham, and Pastrami.

The pastry section displays whole cakes (e.g. orange almond, carrot, chocolate, pecan nut, cheesecake) available by the slice (R18 – R25), as well as pastries such as croissants (R10), berry pin wheel (R18), Pain aux Raisin (R15), Pain au Chocolate (R14), Cheese straws (R18), muffins (R18), apple tart, a delicious strawberry and fresh cream tart, and pear tart at R18.  Coffee is by Ciro, and it is preferred that the cappuccino be served as a flat white (R16), but I was served a perfect dry cappuccino when I asked for it.

The menu is printed in green on cream paper, and states that any changes requested to menu items could lead to an additional 20 minute waiting time.  It also states that all prices include VAT, something one does not see on other restaurant menus.  All food is served on a sheet of branded paper on top of a branded wooden board.  Breakfast is served until 11h30, and free-range eggs are used.  Eggs can be ordered scrambled or poached (R22), with their breads, as well as a number of variations to which are added ham, cheeses, sauces, or boerewors.  Croque Madame (wilted spinach, Gruyere cheese, poached egg, and sourdough bread) costs R52. Toast/croissant and jam and cheese or Nutella costs R 26/25.  For the rest of the day, one can order gourmet sandwiches (R29 – R 39). Pissaladiere, being thin crust pizza bases made from ciabatta dough, range from R59 for Marinated tomatoes, and an olive and bocconcini mozzarella pizza, to R72 (ham and Brie, four cheeses, and Avocado, Gorgonzola, and Salami).  I enjoyed their Classic pizza last night, with crispy Gypsy ham, feta, and avocado after (R69). ‘Handcrafted’ Tagliatella is made daily, and is served with fresh tomatoes (R48), steak (R69), zucchini and pine nuts, smoked salmon (R69), and basil pesto and pine nuts. Salads offered are green, honey mustard chicken, roast vegetables, and a harvest board, peaking at R59. No main course costs more than R82 (fillet steak), and one can also order a lamb burger (R67), salmon trout, and an antipasta platter.

To commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth’s reign this weekend, Vovo Telo is offering an amazing value R14 offer of warm scones with mascarpone cheese, strawberry jam, and Boerenkaas for all of next week, making one ‘good to go for another 60 years!’, says its flyer.  The application for the liquor licence has already been lodged, and is awaited.  A small range of alcoholic beverages will be sold, including &Union beers, five or so boutique wines, and some whiskies.

For being in the V&A Waterfront, the prices of Vovo Telo are exceptionally good. The quality of the breads and the good coffee are a further reason to make a stop at this outlet.  The staff is friendly, and the management is present all the time. The arrival of their credit card machine is eagerly awaited.

Vovo Telo, next to Vaughn Johnson, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town. Tel (021) 418-3750. www.vovotelo.com (Not much information on the website, Cape Town not yet listed). Twitter: @VovoTelo  Monday – Sunday, 7h30 – 21h00.

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