With an Israeli owner and Brazilian wife, an ex-Chef’s Warehouse chef, winelist and menu input sought from a bevy of Bloggers, and an amazing setting in Sunset Beach in Cape Town, the Bliss Boutique Hotel was a unique venue for a special accommodation experience ten days ago.
We were invited by Panache PR Consultancy Director Katie Leigh Scott to spend the Saturday evening at the Bliss Boutique Hotel, and to assist the hotel in compiling its winelist, and to choose the best dishes for its menu. It is located in a suburb I have never been to, just after Milnerton and before Blouberg, with an iconic view of Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean. Seth Shezi and I arrived at the hotel at the same time, and we both ran upstairs to the top deck to capture the sunset.
We assembled in the combined lounge, dining room, and bar, were offered drinks, and nibbled on biltong, pickled onions, and olives, made at the hotel. I met Brian Winston, the owner, a colorful character involved in property. He is extremely proud of his new hotel, and bent over backwards to please, and came to check on us regularly. His beautiful wife Leidiane (left) is Brazilian, and has a natural hospitality talent. Katie (right) told me that she had helped to source the art work in the hotel, large colorful canvases by Michaela Rinaldi from Hout Bay. Katie had previously worked at Saronsberg, where we had first met, she remembered, and she was inspired and educated there about the value of art, and was introduced to artists, such as the late Paul du Toit, who became a PR client. She has also worked at Vinimark, a wine distributor and marketer.
The event was very informal, and held in their Beach & Bites Restaurant. We were handed a menu compiled by Head Chef Dean Correia (ex Chefs Warehouse), and a list of about 80 wines, which we were asked to evaluate, and then choose our best and worst dishes, best and worst wines, and best food and wine pairing match. We were served by waiters, most of whom had been sourced-in for the event, and the start was a bit shaky, as they did not know the wines nor the dishes, nor the procedure. I shared a table with Seth and his partner David Butlin, and we had a ball together, getting to know each other over the course of the evening, being the last to leave for bed in the early hours of the morning! We were joined by Brett Adam and his Swedish partner Fia Roth, both interesting personalities. Brett is a trained engineer but his passion is cooking and hydroponics. He could be a comedian in a next life too! Our table seemed to be the envy of many others, as we laughed and had so much fun! Meeting new persons, and getting to know Seth (and David) better were the absolute highlight, and David and I had many things in common, such as honesty, and we were not surprised to discover that our birthdays are a day apart!
We were extremely lucky to have attracted Charl Schmidt as our waitron, by far the best of the staff who served us, and he walked the extra mile in finding us special wines. I loved the Cirrus Syrah 2012, and because it was my favorite, he recommended it to others. He seemed to think that I am a wine connoisseur, a sweet touch! Nothing was too much trouble for him. We have not yet received feedback as to which wines will be added to the wine list, from the feedback we provided collectively.
Seth sat directly below a downlighter, and he became my photographer, a talent he has, and his Instagram posts are legendary. He set me up on Instagram during the evening. The dishes which we tasted were served to be shared by the number of persons at each table. We tried the following dishes:
# Beetroot and Deep Fried Goats Cheese Salad – the coloring of this salad was attractive, and was far more impactful for photography.
# Poached Pear and Gorgonzola salad
#. Lamb with Harissa Mash – the lamb was good, but its presentation was not exciting
#. Salmon Carpaccio with Lemon Chili Cucumber, Capers and Dill – this dish was overly spicy due to the chili, and overpowered the salmon. It was the least popular dish.
#. Pepper Crusted Beef ‘Filet’ – tender fillet on small blobs of mash, which could have done with a more exciting presentation.
#. Galito Style Chicken Wings – the owners know the owners of the Galito grilled chicken chain, and had used their sauce to baste the chicken wings. We suggested that another chicken cut be used, as the wings are tedious to cut, with minimal meat on the bones.
# Amarula Crème Brûlée served with a shot of Amarula – the concept of serving Amarula with the dessert was clever, but many thought it was too sweet, and not brûléed enough. Not the best dessert eaten. This was served with a perfectly made dry cappuccino.
The following morning we met in the bar/dining room for breakfast, a generous Buffet of cereals, special yoghurts in a variety of fruit flavours, fruit salad, croissants, more good Häzz cappuccino, and a variety of juices by Sir Juice. Hot breakfasts were served too, and we were encouraged to try the very attractive Israeli shakshuka dish, which is made of tomato, garlic, chili, peppers, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, salt, sugar, and two eggs, and served in a pan. I preferred to order the scrambled egg with avocado, salmon, and Crème Fraîche, for which I could order toasted wholewheat. The view onto Table Mountain from the dining room and bar is exceptional, especially during the day, and the perfect weather made it even more special. I was impressed with the tablecloth and napkins in the dining room, and that we received a printed Bliss Beach & Bites Breakfast menu.
The fact that our table was the last to leave the dining room, at 3h30 the next morning, was a sign of the success of the evening. I met with Katie last week, giving her accommodation-related feedback off the record, which I know she and her clients will heed. The boutique hotel was previously named Porta Amarela, a Portuguese description of the yellow door of the hotel. All the room amenities are still branded in the former name, but I am sure that they will all be replaced with Bliss-branded ones shortly. Chef Dean will grow into his job, it being a new experience for him to serve breakfasts, and to serve so many guests at one time. The bedrooms are well-appointed, with quality fixtures and fittings, in the bathrooms in particular, designed to guarantee the 8-bedroom hotel a five-star rating from the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa. Katie told me that a pop-up art gallery is planned. Despite being a Boutique Hotel, Bliss offers the personal homely touch, such as Brian driving to the shops to find Seth some soya milk for his coffee. Katie and the Winstons were very hospitable and caring hosts, making our stay bliss!
Disclosure: I was particularly spoilt by being offered a transfer from my home to the Bliss Boutique Hotel, and back, a very generous touch organized by Katie.
Bliss Boutique Hotel, 25 Albus Drive, Sunset Beach, Cape Town. Tel (021) 551-2771. www.blissboutiquehotel.co.za Twitter: @Bliss_Hotel Instagram @Bliss.Hotel #BlissTasting Non-hotel guests can eat at the Bliss Beach & Bites restaurant. Monday – Sunday, Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.whalecottage.com/blog Tel 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@WhaleCottage Facebook: click here Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein