A record 111 South African wines received a coveted 2018 Platter’s Guide five-star rating at the Awards ceremony held at the Table Bay Hotel tonight. Raats Family Wines was named as the 2018 Winery of the Year. Continue reading →
# La Mouette, Sea Point: 6-course dinner R645. Tel (021) 433-0856
# La Colombe, Constantia: Dinner R1350. Tel (021) 795-0125. Continue reading →
Poor New Media Publishing. They are bravely trying to fix the image of what was once their prestigious restaurant awards, given the radical decision two years ago to cut the committee which helped editor Abigail Donnelly judge our top restaurants, and has commendably embarked on a journey to engage with the industry to hear its feedback and suggestions. Now its judge for the 2012 Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant awards, the UK blogger Bruce Palling, is posting a blow by blow review of each restaurant he was sent to by Mrs Donnelly, for evaluation as a Top 20 restaurant. Not even Mrs Donnelly has sat with the Eat Out Top 20 Restaurant Awards shortlist chefs, to pass on feedback to them.
To save face from the judging debacle of 2011, when Mrs Donnelly chose to fire her judging committee of many years, and appoint herself as the sole judge, New Media Publishing decided that they needed an international judge to give the publication credibility for the 2012 awards. Whoever at New Media Publishing chose to appoint Bruce Palling should be fired, for his vindictive and unprofessional utterings whilst he was in our country as their guest, and currently, seeming to take great joy in slating almost everything about our restaurant and wine industry after having been in our country for a Continue reading →
* Café Dijon has closed its restaurants on Plein Street and at Zorgvliet in Stellenbosch, and has opened in the Rockwell Centre in Green Point, Cape Town, on Napier Street opposite Anatoli’s.
* Luke Dale-Roberts, Eat Out Top Chef at The Test Kitchen, 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
* Chef Luke Dale-Roberts is opening a pop-up Pot Luck Club in Swiss ski resort Verbier, at the Hotel Farinet, from 8 December – April, to be run by him, his chef Nicolas Wilkinson, and front of house Selena Afnan-Holmes.
* Col’Cacchio has opened a new outlets in Westlake, and a new one is coming in Claremont too.
* A new Vida é Caffe new branches are to open on Maindean Place in Claremont, at the new Wembley Square 2 development, at The Paddocks, and Groote Schuur. Two more branches are planned for Mauritius.
* Honest Chocolate is opening a second outlet, a ‘production kitchen’ in the Woodstock Industrial Centre
* Moyo is to open in November, where the Paulaner Braühaus was in the V & A Waterfront. It has taken over the tearoom at Kirstenbosch already.
* TRUTH Coffee has opened on Buitenkant Street
* 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
* The Slug & Lettuce has opened 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 on 1 November with a new name called Camphors at Vergelegen. The new chef will be PJ Vadas, previously of The Roundhouse in Camps Bay.
* Coopmanshuijs in Stellenbosch is opening a restaurant.
* 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 has opened The Millhouse Kitchen restaurant on Lourensford wine estate in Somerset West.
* Chef Shane Sauvage (ex-La Vierge) has opened La Pentola restaurant in Hermanus.
* 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 Belthazar. Owned by the Belthazar/Balducci group.
* Down South Food Bar, previously on Long Street, is said to re-open in the Riverside Centre in Rondebosch
* Ou Meul Bakkery from Riviersonderend has opened a bakery and coffee shop in Long Street
* Deluxe Coffeeworks has opened a roastery and coffee bar at 6 Roodehek Street
* The Deli @ The Square has opened at Frater Square in Paarl.
* 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.
* Cousins has opened in the Parliament Hotel, where Il Cappero used to be.
* Aces ‘n’ Spades Bar has opened in ex-Boo Radley on Hout Street
* No. 6 Restaurant at Welbedacht has opened at Welbedacht/Schalk Burger & Sons wine estate in Wellington, run by the ex-owners of Oude Wellington
* Café Dulce is to open a new branch in Tygervalley Centre
* Gourmetboerie is to open at the bottom end of Kloof Street, where Depasco used to be, in October.
* Kushi Indian Restaurant has opened a branch on Main Road in Sea Point
* Time & Place Restaurant and Bar has opened on the corner of Wale and Buitengracht Street
* Make Sushi Bar has opened in Sea Point
* Thai Café is opening on Plein Street, Stellenbosch
* Simply Asia has opened in Paarl
* Restaurant @ Zomerlust has opened in Paarl
* Christina’s has opened at Van Loveren in Robertson
* Bellini’s is said to be opening on Greenmarket Square in October
* Moksh Authentic Indian Cuisine restaurant has opened in Paarl
* Vino’s has opened in Wellington
* Alfama’s has opened on Waterkant Street
* Taj Mahal has opened in Sea Point
* It’s a House is to open on Jarvis Street in October, as a bar, coffee shop, and design art space.
* Lion’s Head Bar is to open on Bree Street in October, selling craft beer and food
* An Indian restaurant is to open in the original Madame Zingara building on Loop Street, by the Madame Zingara Group
* The Caviar Group is opening three new restaurants in the Gateway Centre in Umhlanga by the end of this year: Beluga, Sevruga, and Osetra
* A new bar and Café is to open underneath the Cape Royale Luxury Hotel, where Bamboo used to be
* Cattle Baron has opened in Hermanus.
* Café Blanc de Noir has opened on Brenaissance wine estate in Stellenbosch
* The Reserve is said to be opening a beach restaurant in the V&A Waterfront.
* Chef Nic van Wyk, previously with Terroir, is opening a restaurant at Diemersdal in Durbanville during the course of this month.
* Lizette’s Kitchen has opened in Vöelklip, Hermanus.
* Cattle Baron is to open at Pontac Manor in Paarl
* Col’Cacchio is opening in Hermanus at the end of November
* Merchant Café is opening on Long Street, opposite Merchants on Long, later this month.
* Paulina’s Restaurant is opening at Rickety Bridge in Franschhoek
* Ocean Jewel Deli opens at Woodstock Junction on 22 October.
* Buitenverwachting has opened a Coffee Shop and Roastery
* Wakaberry is opening on Kloof Street at the end of October
* Rock Sushi Thai has opened in Meadowridge
* Jimmy Jimanos sports bar is opening on Long Street
* Dolcé Bakery is opening in St John’s Arcade in Sea Point
* The Coffee Bloc has opened at Buitenverwachting
* The Salzburger Grill has opened in Sea Point
* Sabarosa in Bakoven has closed down.
* Sunbird Bistro in Camps Bay has closed down
* Limoncello in Gardens has closed down, but is continuing with its pop-up restaurant truck
* Paparazzi has closed down on St George’s Mall
* Wicked Treats in Franschhoek has closed down.
* Casa Nostra has closed down in Sea Point, until it finds a new venue.
* Bistro on Rose in Bo-Kaap has closed down as a restaurant
* The Kove in Camps Bay has closed down, its space has become part of sister restaurant Zenzero
* Sinnfull has closed down in Sea Point and Camps Bay
* Liam Tomlin Food is closing down in Franschhoek at the end of October
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.
* 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.
* Fyndraai Restaurant 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.
* Josephine Gutentoft has moved to Makaron at Majeka House as Restaurant Manager and Sommelier.
* The Reserve has changed its name to Reserve Brasserie. Seelan Sundoo, ex Grand Café Camps Bay and ex La Perla, is the new consultant chef and GM (Seelan Sundoo has since left, now running the Shimmy Beach Club).
* Chef Andrew Mendes from ex-Valora is now at Nelson’s Eye restaurant, where they are setting up a lunch section and cocktail bar upstairs.
* Giulia’s Food Café Restaurant has opened where Miss K was on Main Road, Green Point. Now serve Italian-style lunch and dinner, but have retained some Miss K breakfast and pastry items.
* 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.
* 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
* GOLD Restaurant has moved into the Trinity building
* Opal Lounge has closed down on Kloof Street, and has moved into Blake’s Bar building, renaming it Dinner at Blake’s. A wine and tapas bar has also been opened, called Bar Rouge.
* Mano A Mano has opened on Park Street, where Green’s used to be.
* MondeVino Restaurant at Montecasino in Johannesburg, the MasterChef SA prize for the next two years, is to be renamed Aarya, and is to be run by Chef Deena Naidoo from November onwards.
* Bizerca has moved into the ex-Gourmet Burger space in Heritage Square on Shortmarket Street.
* Co-owner Abbi Wallis has taken over the running of The Stone Kitchen at Dunstone Winery in Wellington.
* Marcelino has left Marcelino’s Bakery, leaving the control with Mr Zerban. A Zerban’s style restaurant is being added onto the bakery and will open mid-October. It will change its name to EuroHaus.
* Chef Chris Erasmus from Pierneef à La Motte is doing a stage with Chef Rene Redzepi at Noma, the number one World’s 50 Best Restaurants, in Copenhagen this month
* MasterChef SA runner-up Sue-Ann Allen is joining South Africa’s number one Eat Out Top 10 restaurant The Greenhouse as an intern for a month, from 21 August.
* Vintage India has moved out of the Garden’s Centre to the corner of Hiddingh and Mill Street, around the corner.
* Nook Eatery in Stellenbosch has been sold, with new owners.
* Crêpe et Cidre has closed down in Franschhoek. Gideon’s The Famous Pancake House has opened in its space.
* Brampton winetasting bar on Church Street, Stellenbosch, is undergoing renovations to treble its current size, planning to reopen in the first week of September.
* Noop restaurant in Paarl has new owners
* Buena Vista Social Club has changed its name to Barbosa Social Club
* Chris Marais is the new chef at Blaauwklippen, previously with The Oyster Box
* Daniel de Villiers is the new chef at Grand Dedale in Wellington, previously with Delaire Graff
* Phil Alcock is the new chef at Two Oceans Restaurant at Cape Point, having previously worked at The Cape Grace, The Showroom, maze, and more
* Albert van der Loo, previously with Le Coq and Dieu Donne restaurants in Franschhoek, is the new Head Chef at Oude Werf Hotel in Stellenbosch.
* Chef Emile Fortuin, who was at Reuben’s Robertson for a very short time, has left and moved to Tokara
* Camil and Ingrid Haas (ex Bouillabaisse and Camil’s) have returned to Franschhoek, with the view to get involved in a restaurant
* Chef Cheyne Morrisby has left The Franschhoek Kitchen at Holden Manz, and has joined the Mantella Group (owners of Blake’s and ex-Opal Lounge). Update: Chef Cheyne has left the Mantella Group, after a very short time.
* Tiaan van Greunen is the new Executive Chef at Reuben’s at The Robertson Small Hotel, after the departure of Emile Fortuin
* Alex von Ulmenstein is the new Restaurant Manager at Indochine, at Delaire Graff Estate
* Manager Raymond Brown has left Reuben’s Franschhoek, and has been replaced by Martell Smith.
* Zelda Oelofse is the new Manager of Harvest Restaurant at Laborie, having taken over from Yolanda Prinsloo.
* Maryna Frederiksen is the new Executive Chef at The Franschhoek Kitchen at Holden Manz.
* The ex-Caveau owners are said to be taking over the running of the Twankey Bar of the Taj hotel.
* Sand at The Plettenberg hotel has changed its name to Seafood at The Plettenberg.
* Grande Provence is closing on Sunday evenings until the end of September.
* Tokara is closing for a Spring break from 24 September – 4 October
* Planet Restaurant is closed on Sunday evenings until the end of September
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage
New Eat Out judge, blogger Bruce Palling from the UK, has arrived in Cape Town to assist Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant and associated awards organiser Abigail Donnelly in selecting the top ten restaurants in the country and in ranking them. He has barely set foot in the country, never having been here before, and he has attracted controversy already!
Palling is a rude Tweeter, and on Twitter yesterday afternoon he announced his arrival, having been to Clarke’s second hand bookshop on Long Street, and in having eaten springbok for lunch, commenting on its bland taste: “Cape Town on a glorious sunny Spring day – and my first experience of Springbok – surprisingly mild…was expecting more depth of flavour.. “. A chef retaliated immediately: “It’s not stag steaks stored in the deepfreezer for 3 years wrapped in wellington boots, boet”. Palling also Tweeted a comment which was criticised for its implied racism, by labelling a fellow guest on skin colour at the restaurant: “Black guest excusing lateness@Cape Town restaurant: “Sorry but had to take taxi because my Ferrari cant make it over bumps at entrance here”. For that Tweet he was admonished too, including by Über-Tweeter Jane-Anne Hobbs.
Palling, who is being accommodated at the Taj hotel, will be visiting the Top 20 restaurant list, unless Ms Donnelly has already cut that list down to her Top 10, and he will assist her in ranking the list, and in choosing the winners in the categories introduced last year: Boschendal Style Award, Best Italian, Best Asian, Best Bistro, Best Steakhouse, and Best Country Style restaurant. This is our prediction of where Palling can be expected to eat in potential 2012 Eat Out Top 10 restaurants in the next few days in the Western Cape (we have excluded Grande Provence, The Roundhouse, and Nobu due to chef changes, and other deserving restaurants at which the chefs have been at the restaurants for less than a year):
* The Test Kitchen
* The Greenhouse
* Planet Restaurant
* Makaron Restaurant
* Delaire Graff
* Pierneef à La Motte
* Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine
* La Colombe
* Rust en Vrede
* The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français
From Palling’s blogposts, of which variations are published in the Europe edition of the Wall Street Journal occasionally, one has learnt the following about his eating and drinking tastes:
1. Local is lekker: he wants to eat ‘native produce’ rather than it being imported (e.g. ‘wallaby’ in Australia!)
2. He is fond of wine, and it should be local and single varietal, and not blended
3. His benchmark is Michelin-ism
4. He is quick to describe food as ‘bland’
5. He has a ‘boredom with egg-dominated dishes’
6. He loves ‘Nordic’ (especially Swedish) cuisine
7. He scoffs at molecular gastronomy, which he calls ‘pretend food’, and likes to be able to identify produce on a plate ‘rather than look at an inanimate mixture of textures and smears’
8. He ‘cherishes food which exudes strong, not to say, disgusting odours’.
It will be interesting to see if Palling’s assistance to Ms Donnelly will make any difference to the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards results. Palling has already shown that he is a difficult and opinionated writer and judge, and a rude Tweeter.
POSTSCRIPT 5/9: Eat Out has just announced that it is hosting a weekend of food celebration from 23 – 25 November, with international chefs in attendance too: This is from their website:
“On Friday 23 November, there will be an exclusive dinner with Massimo Bottura, chef at Osteria Francescana, number 5 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, the prestigious annual awards sponsored by S. Pellegrino and Aqua Panna.
On Saturday 24 November, for the first time ever, we’ll be hosting an Eat Out Conference at The Westin Cape Town on Cape Town’s foreshore. Speakers at the inspiring, interactive day include top international chef Massimo Bottura; Bruce Palling (Wall Street Journal critic, World’s 50 Best Restaurants judge, blogger and Eat Out 2012 judge); and British food designer Andrew Stellitano (check out his incredible food landscapes, sculptural pancakes and edible Louis Vuitton handbagshere). Local speakers include reigning Chef of the Year, Luke Dale-Roberts, and prominent members of the local food and restaurant community, who’ll join a panel discussion led by Eat Out editor and judge, Abigail Donnelly.
On Sunday, the winners of the 2012 Eat Out DStv Food Network Restaurant Awards will be announced at a glittering awards ceremony in the Grand Ballroom at The Westin Cape Town. A four-course meal will be prepared by top chefs, and the new Top 10 will be announced, along with the winners of the awards for best steakhouse, bistro, Asian, country-style and Italian restaurant, along with the Boschendal Style Award“.
POSTSCRIPT 9/9: Bruce Palling has been eating his way around the Cape, and the only clues that he is leaving is that he has eaten Springbok on more than one occasion, and he is Tweeting photographs of the wines he has drunk with his meals, which must be very frustrating for him, as he is a keen food photographer, but that would give the judging away! His wine choice over the past five days has included Zorgvliet Cabernet Sauvignon (vintage not mentioned), Raats Cabernet Franc 2008, Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir 2010, Raats Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Paul Cluver 7 Flags Pinot Noir 2008, and Luddite Shiraz 2006. He is seeking wines with less than 14% alcohol content, to suit his wife’s requirement, and has been asking for advice on Twitter, a sad reflection on the restaurants at which he has eaten not being able to advise him! He has taken back his criticism of springbok in his Tweet on his arrival (see above), and Tweeted on Friday: “Take back Springbok being boring/bland – had 2 non sous vide versions which lean + voluptuous helped along by Raats Cabernet Franc 08”. No local chefs, with the exception of Oliver Cattermole, who is not in the running for the Eat Out Top 10 Awards as he has not been at Dish at Le Franschhoek for a full year, have interacted with Palling on Twitter. Chefs Peter Tempelhoff (Greenhouse), Jackie Cameron (Hartford House), Gregory Czarnecki (Waterkloof), Margot Janse (The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français), Scot Kirton (La Colombe), Tanja Kruger (Makaron), Eric Bulpitt (The Roundhouse), Marthinus Ferreira (DW Eleven – 13), and Tokara Restaurant are all following Palling on Twitter, perhaps hoping for a clue or two. Further disparaging Tweets in reaction to our Palling blogposts have been posted by Palling, one of which was (unprofessionally) ReTweeted by Le Quartier Français’ The Tasting Room owner Susan Huxter).
POSTSCRIPT 12/9: Le Quartier Français’ The Tasting Room and McGrath Hotels’ The Greenhouse must be concerned about Bruce Palling’s attack on ‘Relais Chateau‘ (sic) on Twitter today, both hotel groups belonging to Relais & Châteaux.
POSTSCRIPT 13/9: One hopes that Bruce Palling’s restaurant judging is better than his a-palling spelling and photography. This was his Tweet from Biesmiellah last night: “Taking a break at Biedmiellah (sic) – Babotie (sic) and Denning Vleis (sic)”. Poor quality writing, especially from a ‘journalist’!
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
It is very bold to close down two restaurants in Stellenbosch, and to start from scratch in Cape Town. This is what Sarah and Dup du Plessis have done, moving their two Café Dijon restaurants on Plein Street and at Zorgvliet in Stellenbosch into a most beautifully decorated space in the Rockwell Centre on Napier Street in Green Point, serving excellent Bistro food, one of the best French style restaurants in Cape Town.
When I first heard that Café Dijon was moving into the Rockwell Centre, my heart sank for the new venture, thinking that they were taking the space of Camil Haas’ Bouillabaisse, which closed down two years ago. But the Rockwell Hotel that operates from the building has made that space its bar, and created a small restaurant in the ex-Crepe Suzette space.
Café Dijon is in a space that once was a decor shop, facing Anatoli’s. Using In House designer Lawrence Holmes, the restaurant sports three ‘palm tree’ wood-cladded pillars, which not only add a most stunning decor imprint, but also hold downlighters, having a functional role too. The original marble topped bar counter was transported across from the Plein Street branch, as were the bistro-style tables and chairs. In raised sections near the stackable sliding doors new tables have been added, made from beautiful wood with an extra black section added, to make it look like slate. Here the bistro chairs have red striped or black and white check upholstery. A couch with blue and white striped upholstery provides seating for the tables in the lower section. The tables are allowed to show off their beauty and not hidden by a table cloth, but material serviettes and St Tropez cutlery add quality. Cape Herb & Spice Atlantic Sea Salt and Extra Bold Pepper grinders are on each table. Laminated floors look like they are made from wine vats, with names of wine varieties. At the entrance is a wooden structure, partly a ‘canopy’ containing downlighters, as well as a section in which wines can be stored, similar to the racking used to make champagne. Near the bar small white and black floor tiles give an aged Bistro effect. Bunches of San Pellegrino bottles with LED bulbs also create lighting, as do wine bottle-shaped lights hanging over the bar counter. Interesting is a wall with names, which the designers created to honour some of the special people in Dup and Sarah’s life, with some French names added, e.g. Le Roux, Olivier, Du Buisson, and Mouton, to suit the theme of the restaurant. The wall even contains the Zondernaam name, a brand name which Tokara owner GT Ferreira had to kill because it became more popular than its first brand, Dup told me. The walls have a green paint effect. Black canopies with the Café Dijon branding are due to be erected on the two sides of the restaurant. I loved the big black table outside, which has been built around a tree.
The owners of Café Dijon are not French at all, but locals. Johan (’Dup’) du Plessis grew up in the Banhoek valley, and his wife Sarah comes from Somerset West. Sarah trained at Silwood Kitchen and then worked in Monaco for Sir David Brown of Aston Martin fame. Dup grew up in a household in ‘which real men don’t cook’, but he did learn to, and they met at Deltacrest outside Franschhoek. When it burnt down, they decided to open a ‘Thirties style bistro in Stellenbosch, opposite the Town Hall, offering classic French dishes and comfort food, which suited the design of the venue perfectly. Sarah and Dup started Café Dijon four years ago, and chose a cat for their logo, many Bistro’s having an animal name, explained Sarah. In Stellenbosch an edict had banned cats in restaurants in the 1950’s, and Rose Jordaan’s grandmother had a black cat statue erected in front of the Stellenbosch library. They live outside Franschhoek, and both are in the restaurant, Sarah looking after the kitchen until after lunch, while Dup stays on until they close in the evening. Dup had a visitor when I ate there on Thursday, while Sarah was an excellent hostess, checking on her customers regularly.
A blackboard at the door advertised the specials: Angus beef burger R50; seared tuna with basil pesto R120; and the cheese of the day being Dalewood Brie at R60. The menu is printed on cream paper, and one is advised that food allergies should be shared with the waiter, as many dishes contain shellfish, garlic, dairy, or nuts, something one rarely sees on menus of late. Dup is very proud of the Toulouse sausage which they make themselves from pork shoulder, nutmeg, garlic, and white wine, and he insisted that I try it as a starter. Amazingly, Sarah remembered how much I had enjoyed their duck liver paté at their Zorgvliet restaurant more than a year ago, and sent out a taster of it with home-baked ciabatta. The sausage has a very mild taste, in contrast to the strong bite of the Dijon mustard. The sausage dish is usually a Bistro main course, two sausages served with pommes frites, a tomato and onion salad, and Dijon mustard, costing R70. The paté is part of a charcuterie platter, served with parma ham and Felino salami, costing R65. Other starters range from R55 – R 70, including steak tartare, calamari, trout, tomato tart, and marrow bones. Seven salad options include roasted beetroot, a classic Caesar, poached egg and bacon lardons, pear and Parma ham, grilled steak and rocket, and smoked duck breast, none costing more than R75.
Fish dishes are restricted to squid linguine (R75), and steamed West Coast mussels served with a white wine garlic, cream, and parsley sauce (R95). For the main course I ordered from the Bistro section, being pork belly with pommes purée, puy lentils, a pork croquette, an apple and grain mustard jus, and pea shoots (R115), which I had not seen for some time. The Bistro section also offers French onion soup, snails Bordelaise and chicken melanzane (R52 – R76 price range). Duck a L’Orange, served with confit duck leg, cabbage, bacon lardons, and an orange and Van der Hum sauce, sounds delicious, and good value at R120. A number of steak options are also offered, ranging from R115 for 200g Angus beef to R130 for fillet. One can order sauces, vegetables, and salads as extras.
Desserts are very inexpensive at R35, and include Crème Brûlée, caramelised lemon tart, strawberry meringue (Eton Mess style), and chocolate profiteroles with caramel cream. I had a baked apple tartlet with almonds and honey, with a LavAzza cappuccino. The cheese of the week costs R60.
The winelist offers three or four options per varietal, and it is disappointing that vintages are not specified on the paper winelist, which can easily be updated should the vintages run out. Moët et Chandon NV and Veuve Clicquot cost around R550, while Pongracz, Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel, and Graham Beck Brut cost R175. Four Shiraz options are offered, ranging from Thelema’s Elgin Sutherland at R150, to Rust en Vrede at R375. The winelist is dominated by Stellenbosch wines.
Café Dijon will become a welcome stop not only for lunch and dinner, but also in-between meals for a coffee, drinks, and tapas outside, which will be introduced shortly. Ample parking is available underneath the building, on the opposite side. The service from Eric was very good, and there was not one sign that this restaurant had only been open for one week when I ate there. The prices are very reasonable, and Dup and Sarah are hands-on, a definite plus.
POSTSCRIPT 5/9: I popped in for a coffee and a Strawberry Meringue after a concert this evening, and was delighted that the restaurant was so busy. Yet a party of four left angry, saying that the food order was not brought to the table correctly, and that they had been overcharged. The owners had left early, the manager had the night off, and the chef had turned ill, leaving the busy restaurant in the hands of a junior team. This is the second angry complaint we have received in the past week, in both instances the owners not being there. Best is to check if one or both owners will be there when booking.
Café Dijon, Rockwell Centre, Napier Street, Green Point. Tel (021) 418-3910. www.cafedijon.co.za Twitter: @CafeDijonCT Tuesday – Sunday lunch, Tuesday – Saturday dinner.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Even though it shouldn’t have been a surprise, it was a most impressive visit to the new wine tasting center at Babylonstoren, not only offering a tasting of its own four wines, but also offering for sale two wines from each of the wine estates surrounding the Simonsberg, as well as gorgeous produce in its cheesery, bakery, and charcuterie, which opened two months ago.
One enters the tasting centre, housed in the original smithery and stable on the farm, which has been beautifully restored by owner Karen Roos and her GM Terry de Waal, to keep the building as authentic as possible. Flooring which looks weathered and as if it has been there for ever, comes from the old Dietman piano factory in Wellington. The walls are part raw brick and part plastered and painted. As Ms Roos has shown on the estate, she is a ‘less is more’ decorator, giving the tasting room a spacious feel, with only a central table displaying the Babylonstoren wines and one other Simonsberg wine, as well as a cheese of the day to taste. A small wooden table with a bench on one side is the only seating in the room, beautifully ‘decorated’ with a box of just picked and washed vegetables, including carrots and purple potatoes. From the central room the cheesery and charcuterie are on the right, behind modern glass doors, and the bakery is to the left.
Koos Bekker, husband of Ms Roos, has a passion for the terroir of the Simonsberg, and came up with the idea of a ‘home’ on his wine estate for the wines produced at the wine estates on the ‘inner circle’ surrounding the mountain. When Babel restaurant opened on the wine estate over a year ago, it served wines from the neighbouring wine farms when it had not yet made its own wine, a commendable service. A ‘map’ showing the ‘Simonsberg Wine Route’ is painted onto a tile collage on the wall, showing where each of the 27 wine estates, being Vuurberg, Zorgvliet, Thelema, Tokara, Neil Ellis, Rustenburg, Glenelly, Morgenhof, Remhoogte, Quion Rock, Knorhoek, Muratie, Delheim, Uitkyk, Kanonkop, Natte Valleij, Marianne, Mt Vernon, Anura, Glen Carlou, Neil Joubert, Backsberg, Noble Hill, Rupert & Rothschild, Vrede & Lust, Plaisir de Merle, and Babylonstoren, is located. A shelving unit stores the wines of the other Simonsberg estates, and as they are lying, it is difficult to see the estate names. Each is price marked, and sold at the cellar door price of each wine estate. Because the ‘Simonsberg Wine Route’ is not a formal one, there are no maps, no price list, nor information about any of the wines, including the Babylonstoren ones, a surprise, given the marketing and advertising background of Mr Bekker (Y&R, M-Net/Multichoice/MWeb, Naspers). None of the four Babylonstoren wines have their 2011 vintage indicated on their bottles, and the staff could not explain this unusual strategy. They called winemaker Charl Coetzee to come over for a chat, and he seemed to think it odd that I was asking questions about this, only mentioning that they were matured in tanks (with the exception of 20% of the Viognier, which was matured in barrel). He was generally cagey about providing information about the Shiraz, Viognier, Mourvèdre Rosé, and Chenin Blanc. He explained that there is no price list, as the two wines sold per Simonsberg wine estate will change over time, depending on their customers’ interest in them. He referred to the launch of their flagship Chardonnay and Shiraz in September, and these will have the vintages on them, having been matured in barrels. He was previously at Clos Malverne and Kaapzicht, and has been at Babylonstoren for about eighteen months. He said that he personally loves Pinotage, but this grape variety is not grown on the estate. Grapes were on the farm when it was bought by the Bekkers, and the vines are 14 years old. This is the first winemaking on the farm. The wine side is so new to the wine estate that it is not even on their website yet, he said. In the upstairs section there is a private winetasting and wine storage area, with minimal decor.
Having got stuck on the wine information, Karen ‘Bread’ Pretorius came to my rescue before the winemaker could be found, and she was extremely friendly and informative. She is in charge of the tasting centre, and also doubles up as the baker, having previously worked in the Babel kitchen. The breads baked vary every day, cost R25 each, and include baguettes; a 50% Rye, with Rooibos and raisins; and a tomato relish on a white loaf. All are baked with Eureka stoneground flour in their wood-fired oven, which looks like it has been there for ever. Karen is not formally trained in breadmaking, she said honestly, learning through ‘trial and error’, and ‘stealing with my eyes’, describing herself as a passionate breadmaker. She was the Head Chef at Umami in Stellenbosch previously, and praised Maranda Engelbrecht for what she has learnt at Babel. The Charcuterie is a large room, and its painting of a duck, bull’s head, and a pig onto the white brick wall, which is visible from the tasting room, reminds one of the bull painted on the Babel restaurant wall. The meats are supplied by Jason Lucas’ Jamon from Prince Albert, who also was the thatcher of the building roof. They sell pre-packed portions of Black Forest, Parma ham, Pancetta, and Coppa hams, salami, Kalbsleberwurst, and biltong. The cheeses come from nearby Dalewood predominantly, but also from Kleinrivier and Nuwehoogte. The cheeses are displayed in fridges, and also in the airconditioned cheese room, which opens into the charcuterie. Karen told me that they have a close relationship with their suppliers, all having passion for their products in common with Babylonstoren, being chemical-free, MSG-free, and healthier.
Babylonstoren is bound to come up with further surprises in future. A Loyalty Card is in the pipeline. A visit to see their extensive vegetable and fruit garden, to eat at Babel restaurant or at the Babel Tea House, to try their wines in the winetasting centre, and shopping at their bakery, charcuterie, and cheesery is highly recommended. As the tasting centre is only two months old, there were some information deficiencies amongst the staff, which Karen will fix through training. A coffee machine may be in the pipeline for the tasting centre too, as Babel does not serve coffees only, and the Babel Tea House is a long walk away.
Babylonstoren Tasting Centre, Bakery, Charcuterie, and Cheesery, R45, Franschhoek. Tel (021) 863-3852. www.babylonstoren.com Twitter: @Babylonstoren. Cellar Tour 12h00 Wednesday – Sunday, must be booked ahead as they only take 12 – 15 persons, R100. 10h00 – 16h00 for tasting centre. R10 per person entry fee to the wine estate.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
It would appear as if the world-wide recession has only hit South Africa, and the Cape in particular, now and with a severe bang. There is almost daily news of restaurant closures, three alone in the past three days, sad given how much the restaurants have invested in building a brand name and a regular following for their businesses.
The more than 100 restaurants in Cape Town and in the Winelands that are offering such generous Winter specials must be commended, and we will do our best to make their specials known to as many persons as possible. We encourage our readers to do the same, to prevent any further closures.
The following restaurants have closed down in the past few months, and these may not be the only ones as the winter takes its toll:
* Liquorice and Lime has closed down on St George’s Mall
* Cheyne has closed on Bree Street
* The Kitchen Bar in the Quarters’ Hotel in Hermanus has closed
* The Bistro in Franschhoek has closed down
* The Sandbar in Camps Bay has closed down
* The Blonde building is up for sale, and does not appear to be re-opening in August, as was announced by The Caviar Group, owners of Blonde
* The Green Dolphin Jazz Club in the V & A Waterfront has closed down
* Mezzaluna in Loop Street has closed down
* Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant judge Pete Goffe-Wood’s Wild Woods Restaurant has closed down.
* Restaurant Christophe closed down in Stellenbosch on 25 June. Eat Out Top 20 Chef Christophe Dehosse will be back at Joostenberg from August.
* Nando’s in Camps Bay has closed down
* Haute Cabriere, under the chefmanship of Matthew Gordon, closed on 7 June at the wine tasting venue with the same name in Franschhoek. See below for re-opening.
* Karma closed down in Camps Bay
* Hermanos in Hermanus has closed down
* Fizz Affair Champagne and Wine Bar has closed down in Franschhoek
* Doppio Zero in Green Point has closed down
* Nzolo Brand Café has closed down in Church Street
* L’Aperitivo has closed down. See below for Valora.
* On Broadway’s in-house restaurant has closed down. Re-opened as Roberto’s on 7 July – see below.
* Doppio Zero Claremont has closed down
* Brio 1893 is closing down on 12 August
* Chenin has closed in the old Cape Quarter
* Cafe Max has closed down in De Waterkant
* Bella Lucia has closed down in Wynberg
* Iconic restaurant Linger Longer has closed down in Johannesburg after the death of chef Walter Ulz, 2010 Eat Out Lannice Snyman Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.
* Postocini Express has closed on Greenmarket Square
* De Huguenot Restaurant, only having open for six months, closes at the end of October. The Harry Q bar will continue operating, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. The De Huguenot Estate will concentrate on weddings and events.
* Wildflour has closed down on Regent Road in Sea Point.
* The Olive Shack in Franschhoek has closed its restaurant operation, and will only operate as a shop selling olive-related products.
* 221 Waterfront has closed down in the V&A Waterfront
* What’s On Eatery in Watson Street has closed down
But all is not doom and gloom, and the restaurateurs that are opening restaurants in these difficult times must be congratulated and wished well. These restaurants opened their doors this year :
* Etienne Bonthuys (ex-Tokara) has opened his long-awaited restaurant on Dorp Street, Stellenbosch, called Casparus, in partnership with artist Strijdom van der Merwe (left).
* DISH has opened at Inn on the Square, Greenmarket Square
* The Olive Shack at Allora in Franschhoek has opened as a deli, doing olive oil tastings, and serving Breakfast, Greek lunches and picnics
* Tables restaurant has opened at Nitida wine estate in Durbanville
* Mozzarella Bar has opened on Kloof Street, Gardens
* Café Benedict has opened on the main road in Franschhoek.
* Trinity has opened as a ‘super club’ in Bennett Street in Green Point
* Il Cappero Italian Restaurant* has opened in Barrack Street
* Caffé Milano* has opened on Kloof Street, Gardens
* The Stone Kitchen has opened at Dunstone Winery in Wellington
* The Franschhoek Food Emporium has open in Place Vendome, and is owned by legendary Topsi Venter’s daughter Danielle
* What’s On Eatery* has opened in Watson Street, between Loop and Bree Street
* Haas Coffee Collective has opened on Rose Street in Bo-Kaap
* Dear Me Brasserie and Tjing Tjing Bar has opened on Longmarket Street (right).
* Act Restaurant and Play Bar have opened at the Baxter Theatre
* Le Coq has opened in Franschhoek
* Dash has opened in the Queen Victoria Hotel in the Waterfront
* Café Dijon has opened another branch at Zorgvliet wine estate
* Harbour House has opened a branch in the V & A Waterfront, where Fisherman’s Choice was
* KOS Coffee & Cuisine has opened in The Regency on Regent Road in Sea Point
* Café Extrablatt has opened where shu used to be, in Green Point
* Skinny Legs & All has opened on Loop Street
* Leopard’s Leap will open its picnic facility, tasting room and cookery school outside Franschhoek in November/December
* De Huguenot Estate has opened The Marianne, Harry Q Bar and Fraiche, with ex-Hunter’s Country Lodge chef Tanya Kruger in the kitchen. (The De Huguenot restaurant closes at the end of October – see in closures above, and Fraiche Deli will no longer open).
* Cicciobella Pizzeria has opened in Hout Bay
* Takumi has opened, with Chef Papa San the Sushi Master
* Sunbird Bistro has opened in the ex-Sandbar space on Victoria Road in Camps Bay, with Lana Doyle as chef and Pamela Trevelyan as Manager. Smart blue/white interior. Serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, cocktails and tapas.
* The Grand Camps Bay will be operated by the ex-Sandbar for Breakfast and lunch. The Grand takes over from 4 pm.
* Mezepoli from Johannesburg is opening in the Nando’s space in Camps Bay on 20 October
* Saboroso has opened in Bakoven, where Marika’s used to operate
* Café Le Chocolatier has opened a chocolate manufacturing and demo outlet Le Chocolatier Factory, next to its restaurant, in Franschhoek, utilising Lindt equipment and chocolate
* Haute Cabriere Cellar Restaurant has re-opened, with new chef Ryan Shell.
* Cavallo restaurant is said to open on the stud farm on R44, between Stellenbosch and Somerset West, in 2012 or 2013
* Roberto’s has opened underneath On Broadway, owned by Chef Roberto de Carvalho, ex-chef at the Twelve Apostles Hotel and the One & Only Cape Town
* Luigi’s is opening in Paarl where Ciao Bella used to be
* Our Place is opening in Durbanville where Avocado used to be
* Friends Café has opened at 44 Belvedere Street, Claremont. Tel (021) 674-5510
* Valora has opened where L’Aperitivo was, on Loop Street
* Rococoa has opened in The Palms Decor and Lifestyle Centre in Woodstock
* Luke Dale-Roberts (The Test Kitchen) is opening another restaurant in Wynberg, said to be where Bella Lucia is – this report, initially announced on the Spill blog, has been denied by Luke Dale-Roberts
* Reuben’s is opening another Franschhoek branch off the main road, and will run it concurrently until its main road branch lease expires next year.
* Toro has opened in the old Cape Quarter, near the back entrance of Andiamo, as a Wine/Aperitivo Bar, with an ex-Overture chef
* Goloso Italian Deli and Wine Bar has opened on Regent Road in Sea Point, next door to Wildflour.
* Franschhoek Famous Pancake House, with owner Gideon, has opened as a take-away pancake outlet, in Mont View Centre, next to the gym, in Fabriek Street, Franschhoek.
* Cafeteria has opened in De Waterkant, initially selling wraps, sandwiches, coffee, and beautiful pastries, cakes and macaroons by Martin Senekal as take-aways, and planning to expand into a sit-down coffee shop in October.
* A late night dinner and dance restaurant will open in the ex-Brio space in October, with a chef from St Tropez, and a DJ from Cannes
* LM Grills has opened in Onrus, outside Hermanus, previous owners of restaurants with same name in Johannesburg and Mocambique
* Chez Chez has opened as an Espresso and Cheesecake Bar (serving 13 different cheesecakes), 3 De Lorentz Street, Tamboerskloof.
* Bistro on Rose has opened at 35 Rose Street
* The Slug & Lettuce has opened on Long Street
* Rhapsody’s franchise restaurant, mainly in Pretoria, is to open next door to Café Extrablatt in Green Point, where Doppio Zero used to be
* Wale Rose Lifestyle has opened in Bo-Kaap, on the corner of Wale and Rose Street, serving Cape Malay as well as ‘cosmopolitan food’.
* Andy Fenner (JamieWho?) and friends are opening Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants on Kloof Street, opposite McDonald’s, in December
* The Kitchen at Maison opens on Maison wine estate in Franschhoek on 16 November, with Chef Arno Janse van Rensburg (ex-Ginja, ex-Myoga), and Manager Julian Smith (ex-Grande Provence, ex-Waterkloof, ex-Pierneef a La Motte)
* McDonald’s is opening a ‘concept store’ in the V&A Waterfront, where 221 Waterfront used to be
* Batho’s Place African Restaurant has opened in the township in Franschhoek. 082 090 8660
* Liam Tomlim’s Cookery School opens at Leopard’s Leap at the end of November, next door to La Motte in Franschhoek, also serving picnics.
* F.east Indian Restaurant has opened corner Long and Bloem Streets, in Cape Town
* Chef Jacques de Jager, has left Salt Restaurant, after about 18 months
* Restaurant Manager Darren Morgan has left Dash Restaurant, and is now at the One&Only Cape Town
* Food & Beverage Manager of Dock House, Queen Victoria Hotel and V&A Hotel, Alton van Biljon, has left
* Chef Lucas Carstens has left Reuben’s at One&Only Cape Town, and joined Cuvée Restaurant, at Simonsig wine estate
* Blues in Camps Bay is reducing the size of its restaurant, and re-opens as Blues Beach House on 14 October
* Chef Leigh Trout has left Mange Tout at the Mont Rochelle Hotel, and has bought Bird Café and Gourmet Eatery on Bree Street, with Kevin Mink. They re-opened on 1 September with an amended interior and a new menu.
* Ex-Hermanos chef/owner Wayne Spencer is now at Burgundy in Hermanus
* Carl Habel, Sommelier of The Mount Nelson Hotel, has been appointed Restaurant Manager of Planet Restaurant too
* Peaches and Cream on the Main Road in Paarl has been taken over by Anica Bester
* Mediterrea in Hermanus has changed its name to Grilleri
* Patron Chef Stefan Louw has taken over the running of Heaven on Newton Johnson wine estate in the Hemel en Aarde wine valley.
* The Black Pearl is the new name of the Tapas, Restaurant and Cocktail Bar, with new owners, of the ex-Seven Sins on Kloof Street.
* Chef Oliver Cattermole has left Dash restaurant at the Queen Victoria Hotel, and joined What’s On Eatery on 1 October.
* Cocoa Oola has opened on Kloof Street, where Oishii used to be
* Chef Anri Diener has left Majeka House, and Chef Tanja Kruger from De Huguenot Restaurant takes over her position
* Chef Daniel Botha has left Le Franschhoek Hotel, and starts at Salt Restaurant on 1 November
* Chef Oliver Cattermole, previously with Dash and What’s On Eatery, has started as Executive Chef at Le Franschhoek Hotel on 7 November.
* Chef Matthew Gordon in Franschhoek is opening a new restaurant in Paarl
* Dieu Donné in Franschhoek has leased its restaurant to Martin and Marco from Durban, and they have renamed it La Rocca. Chef Jo van Staden has returned to Durban with her husband, Chef Gerard van Staden, who has returned to the Beverley Hills Hotel.
* Chef Chris Smit of Café BonBon has resigned
* Chef Christo Pretorius, previously of De Huguenot, has started at 1800 Restaurant at the Cape Royale Luxury Hotel
* Sommelier Neil Grant of Rust en Vrede has resigned, leaves at the end of November, and is said to open a new restaurant in the Old Biscuit Mill
The following restaurants are taking a winter break:
* La Colombe: 30 May – 20 June
* River Café: 10 – 30 August
* Constantia Uitsig: 4 – 26 July
* The Grand Café Camps Bay: June and July
* Pure Restaurant: 1 – 31 July
* Terroir: 1 – 11 July
* Grande Provence: 18 – 31 July
* Pierneef à La Motte: 15 June – 15 July
* French Connection: 30 May – 20 June
* Freedom Hill: July and August
* Overture: July
* Waterkloof: 27 June – 20 July
* French Toast Wine & Tapas Bar 18 – 24 July
* Tasting Room and Common Room at Le Quartier Francais closed until 31 July
* The Olive Shack at Allora in Franschhoek is closed until the end of September
* Tokara Restaurant: closed 8 – 22 August
* Blues in Camps Bay is closing for a month from 22 August – 2 October, for renovations to reduce the size of the restaurant
* Allée Bleue will not be serving lunch on Mondays and Tuesdays during September.
* The Kove in Camps Bay is closed until mid-September for renovations
* Laborie Restaurant in Paarl is closed for renovations until end October.
POSTSCRIPT 28/7: Pete Goffe-Wood, ex-owner of Wild Woods in Hout Bay, has written a frank article on Food24 about why he recently closed his restaurant. He blames Capetonians for not supporting restaurants in winter months, which means that they have to cover costs out of savings created in summer, to keep the business afloat in winter (this is a general Cape winter scenario for all businesses in the tourism industry – if one does not know about this, one should not be in the business in the first place!). He writes that Johannesburg restaurants do not suffer this seasonality. The recent 2-week summery spell proved what an important role the weather plays – business was booming for restaurants and accommodation as Capetonians left their homes, went out, and spent money, a welcome cash injection in these difficult times. The Bastille Festival in Franschhoek had record attendance during this period.
Restaurant Specials cause cost undercutting, which attracts business and provides cashflow, but does not help the industry, he writes. If specials weren’t offered, one probably would have seen a far greater number of restaurants closing down. They are hugely popular, and on this blog the Restaurant Specials listings are the most popular of all blogposts. He also blames restaurant owners, often chefs, for being too ’emotional’ about their businesses, and for not seeing the signs of tough times early enough, which may call for closing one’s restaurant. Clearly opening any business at the moment is high risk, and for a hospitality business the risk is even higher. Goffe-Wood also lashes out at the recent Weekend Argus article about Restaurant Closures, using names from this blogpost. As much as he blames journalist Helen Bamford for getting her facts wrong, he does too, in calling her Linda! Describing a non-renewal of a restaurant lease as not being a restaurant closure or failure is very debatable – if things were going well, leases would have been renewed, especially for a restaurant like Haute Cabriere, where Chef Matthew Gordon had operated for 16 years!
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage