The new words on serious diners lips are ‘Gåte’ and ‘Quoin Rock’, both not having been heard of by most, but already associated with superlative dining, on a wine estate tucked away outside Stellenbosch where no expense had been spared to create eating and drinking experiences to take one’s breath away! This is what we experienced when invited to eat at Chef Rikku O’Donnchü’s Gåte restaurant on Friday evening. I was still pinching myself over the weekend as to whether this was real, or just a dream. I invited my friend Stuart Bailey to share this experience with me. Continue reading →
On Tuesday evening I had the honour of experiencing Rare Grill, which was named 2017 The Wolftrap Steakhouse Championship winner, the first time in the five year history of the Championships that a Cape Town steakhouse has won the award. What makes this Award so amazing is that the Rare Grill only opened in Kenilworth nine months ago, and only seats 26 patrons! Continue reading →
Den Anker invited me to try its new Winter special, an unusual pairing of two food dishes with two Belgian beers, from a selection of three options. The invitation arrived in a very creative package, filled with the Belgian beers the dishes were paired with, marked with the hashtag #PerfectPair, and was personally delivered by Chef Doekle Vlietman. Continue reading →
On Friday I was honored to have been invited to lunch with our country’s Chenin Blanc king Ken Forrester, at 96 Winery Road restaurant, which he co-owns with his brother Allan, to celebrate the restaurant’s 20th anniversary today. Being his sole guest made the invitation even more special. Continue reading →
Last week I ate lunch at Mondiall twice. The first was a family lunch, and the second was an invitation to try the new Winter Menu at Mondiall and to meet new Chef Riaan Burger, who has been at the restaurant for six weeks. The experiences were chalk and cheese. Mondiall has been repositioned as a French Brasserie, serving ‘refined comfort food’, rather than as an around-the-world restaurant when it opened.
The family lunch followed the scattering of the ashes of our late mother, which we had done in Table Bay on the yacht IQ, which moors outside Mondiall. I was very disappointed with the lunch, which was a special group menu, a reduced version of former Chef Peter Tempelhoff’s menu. Chef Riaan was not working on the Freedom Day public holiday, owner Patrick Symington was not there, and Reservation Manager Mandy Smith whom I had dealt with in making the booking and discussing the menu, was not there either. The let-down was the waitress, and poor communication between Mandy and the Manager Franco. The food quality was not as expected either. I admire Patrick for proactively sending a sms to ask how the lunch went, and I told him about my disappointment. What was amazing was the glazed pork belly, offered as a Tapas dish, served with crackling, and a honey soy glaze. This dish remains on the new menu. Continue reading →
The Kitchen and Tasting Room at Maison has been operating for almost three years, and during its recent two month winter break, a number of changes were made to the interior, to the menu, with further changes on the way.
Ten days ago I visited Maison after a long absence, mostly due to the winter closure, and my less frequent visits to Franschhoek in the winter months. In walking to The Kitchen and Tasting Room at Maison it was a delight to see that the uncomfortable stony entrance walkway has been replaced with very comfortable walkable wooden decking. Tables and chairs have been set up on the front lawn, to allow for overflow of unbooked guests. Inside, the ceiling near the pass has been redone with wooden cladding, as has a wall alongside the fireplace. New lamps have been hung, looking like seahorses to me. Lamps have been erected above the pass, with shelving above it, and the pass exterior has been wood-clad as well.
The biggest change is that a Deli is to be introduced in the winetasting section, on the right as one enters the building, with a bar counter, at which one will be able to taste six to eight Maison wines (the number is still to be finalised), each paired with two tapas-like bites reflecting some of the dishes which Chef Arno Continue reading →
On Thursday I met writer and recent Winelands resident David Bullard, Shan Pascall from Oneiric Wines, and Sophia Hawkins of Vilafonte for lunch at Wild Peacock Food Emporium in Stellenbosch, after we had connected at the pop-up lunch by Chef Bertus Basson at Oneiric Wines last Sunday. I met new Wild Peacock Chef Andrew Jordaan, and we were told by co-owner Andrew Baker that they supply all 2013/2014 Top 20 shortlisted Eat Out restaurants on their wholesale side, run by Sue Baker with son Ross. Wild Peacock is synonymous with oysters, and other ‘fine delicacies’ served by our country’s leading restaurants, the wholesale operation having opened more than 20 years ago.
Andrew said that the space of their deli and The Larder restaurant had seen a number of different retail outlets previously, and none had been successful due to the lack of parking. He and Sue had the vision for the deli, which was initially managed by their daughter Sarah, who now focuses on the company’s artisanal cheese selection. Parking has been addressed, and from next week onwards there will be parking marshalls operating outside their door, ensuring a regular replacement of shoppers, now able to pop into the Emporium, and to have a bite to eat and a glass of wine to drink. The deli has grown to become the 2013 Eat Out (previously run by former sister publication Eat In) Produce Awards Best Food Outlet in the South of South Africa!
Andrew created the wine section of the Emporium, and its offering has won a Diners Club Diamond Award as well as Best Small Wine List Award. Andrew runs The Wine Worx in his day job, selling, marketing, and distributing a range of wines of 21 boutique wineries. He is also a keen winemaker, having made a house Pinot Noir, which we enjoyed with our lunch. We were told by the waiter Danny that Andrew uses the cellar at Fryer’s Cove on the West Continue reading →
Whilst in Stellenbosch yesterday, I popped in at the new Schoon De Companje, the expanded De Oude Bank Bakkerij which opened three years ago and which is now a collection of mini artisanal ‘shops’ under one roof, whilst retaining its cosy restaurant section at the back of the restaurant.
The entrance is now on the corner of Bird and Church Street, where the Dylan Lewis art studio used to be, and opens into the market style space, with different section, each branded separately, most on a Dutch theme. A mat on the floor says ‘Die Kaap is weer Hollands’, reflecting the Schoon family’s Dutch roots. One of the staff told us proudly said that owner Fritz Schoon’s mother Jenny had planned the old-world character wood-dominant interior, and has done an excellent job, not being an interior designer. Design quirks attract attention, like a picture of Jan van Riebeeck in the upstairs seating area. The menu introduces the thinking behind De Companje: ‘Schoon means beautiful in Dutch. It is a fitting description for what we do here, the way we do it, where we are and our opinion of you, the people we do it for. De Companje is a collaboration of artisans in the Continue reading →
It was a surprise to see that Antonij Rupert Wines (correctly speaking Antonij Rupert Wyne, as per the gates, there not being an English translation) has started operating from its new tasting room in the previous Graham Beck Wines premises outside Franschhoek, and an even bigger surprise was to discover the Antipasto Bar, which opened five days ago.
More than a year ago Johan Rupert, owner of the neighbouring Antonij Rupert Wines, bought the Franschhoek Graham Beck property, and moved into the property mid-year. On the surface little has changed, but the tasting room has been moved upstairs to the light and spacious landing, and the Antipasto Bar has been created downstairs where the tasting room was. The security guard at the boom is much stricter than the Graham Beck Wines one used to be, and initially did not want to allow me to enter at 16h35, because they close at 17h00! I promised to not do a tasting, and on that basis I was allowed in. It was a surprise to meet Gidi Caetano there, as the Hospitality Manager, having left French Toast about six months ago, to help set things up. She was previously the manager of Salt Restaurant.
The Antipasto Bar seats about 35, and faces the tanks through a glass window. It looks cosy with neutral decor greys and browns making the space look sophisticated. The Chef is HW Pieterse, who moved across when Café Dijon closed its restaurants in Stellenbosch, and was at Delaire Graff and the Grande Roche before. The menu has a small selection of dishes, but this list will grow, Gidi assured me. Three different olives, in three different marinades, cost R30; Artichokes marinated in thyme, lemon and olive oil cost R48; Caprese salad costs R60; Parma ham and melon costs R50; a selection of Italian cured meats costs R55; a platter with four Italian cheeses and fig preserve costs R75; artisanal bread is R20; a mixed antipasto platter R50/R85; and Biscotti costs R25. I ordered the Franschhoek smoked salmon trout bruschetta, which was served with crème fraiche. lemon, and pink peppercorns (R60). The restaurant will be sourcing supplies from the new L’Omarins (belongs to Johan Rupert too) organic herb and vegetable garden, and in future they will serve carpaccio from their own Wagyu cattle. Marinated white anchovies will be added to the menu in future. All dishes are offered with the L’Omarins olive oil, which won Silver in the recent Olive Oil awards, and the Terra del Capo olive oil range, which is still made for them by Willowcreek. They bake their own breads, and marinade their own olives. A new dessert special which is not yet on the menu, is Burrata, honey and strawberry, drizzled with balsamic, costing R35.
With one’s meal one can enjoy a glass or bottle of wine, very reasonably priced at mainly cellar door prices, at R13 – R21 per glass/R41 – R80 per bottle for the Protea range, R17 – 28/R59 – R115 for the Terra del Capo range, R17 – R43/R85 – R190 for the Cape of Good Hope range; and R30/R125 for the Antonij Rupert Optima.
The Tasting room opened three weeks ago, and the staff manning it looked professional, with white shirts, black pants and black aprons. The 2013 Platter’s Guide is on the tasting counter. The tasting offering is unusual, one tasting a choice of flights: Protea whites (Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Chenin Blanc 2011, and Chardonnay 2010) for R10; Protea reds (Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Merlot 2011, Shiraz 2011, and Reserve 2011) for R15; The ‘TDC’, which is the Terra del Capo range (Pinot Grigio 2011, Sangiovese 2009, Arne 2008) for R15; ‘The Blends’ are Protea Reserve 2011, Terra del Capo Arne 2008, and Antonij Rupert Optima 2008 at R20; ‘The Unusual’ is a collection of Terra del Capo Pinot Grigio 2011, Sangiovese 2009, Cape of Good Hope Semillon 2010, and Pinotage 2008, at R30; The Cape of Good Hope whites (Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Chenin Blanc 2010, Semillon 2010, and Chardonnay 2010 at R30; ‘Merry Merlot’ comes from the Protea 2011, Cape of Good Hope 2008, and Antonij Rupert 2007 ranges, at R40; and the Antonij Rupert range, being Optima 2008, Merlot 2007, and Shiraz 2007, at R60. Some typos are unforgivable on this list.
Gidi shared that they are keeping the opening low key until they have completed setting up the late Mr Beck’s manor house, in which tastings of the Antonij Rupert and Cape of Good Hope wines will be done from the end of January onwards, ‘paired’ with High Tea. The idea is to offer a ‘whole day package’ to visitors, Gidi said.
Antipasto Bar, Antonij Rupert Wines, R45, Franschhoek. Tel (021) 874-9004. www.rupertwines.com (Restaurant website under construction). No Social Media. Monday – Sunday 10h00 – 17h00.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage