Restaurant Review: There is no cellar at Sotano by Caveau!


Sotano by Caveau Mediterranean restaurant opened officially today in the newly renovated funky La Splendida Hotel on Beach Road in Mouille Point, near the lighthouse.  Its name has caused confusion on Twitter, as it has been referred to both as Sotano (meaning ‘cellar’ in Spanish) and Sontano (the till slip spells it this way).  Given that the name is to link to Caveau (‘cellar’ in French), the spelling must be the former.  However, there is no cellar visible or accessible to patrons at Sotano!

The restaurant is operated by Caveau, a Wine Bar and Deli in Heritage Square on Bree Street, and At the Mill in Newlands.   The owners are the trio of Jean-Yves Muller, Brendon Crew and Marc Langlois.   It is a surprise that Newmark Hotels, who operate the new hotel, has chosen to contract out the running of the restaurant to Caveau, when it has restaurant interests in OYO (in its V&A Hotel) and Salt Restaurant (in its Ambassador Hotel).   Talk on the street is that Caveau has lost its charm and attraction, and lots of its good staff.  

General Manager of the restaurant is Bruce Philemon, who has worked at Buitenverwachting as Restaurant Manager, at Steenberg as Food & Beverage Manager, and as sommelier on cruise ships, he told me.  Chef Philip Myburgh was previously at Caveau, and before that at 48 on Hout Street, which no longer exists.  He was enthusiastic about his focus on ‘authentic Mediteranean’ food that will be served at Sotano, with an emphasis on seafood and shellfish.  

The wooden deck leading to the pavement, covered to protect patrons from the sun and wind (the south-easter can pump in that corner of Cape Town), with wooden chairs and tables locally made from “French wine barrels”, the imprint on each says, is clearly the most popular space on a good summer’s day.  The problem with the outside seating is that non-smokers have to endure the smoking habits of others.  The beauty of the interior design could be lost to those patrons sitting outside, Inhouse Interiors having constructed a fascinating bar in white with coloured bar stools.  The restaurant section caters for a substantial number of patrons inside, on rainy and windy days.   For ambiance, the restaurant could have done with music.

The restaurant opens at 7h00 every morning and will be serving breakfast until 11h00 every morning.  There are eleven breakfast options, and they seem expensive, but the prices can only be judged on portion sizes.   A health breakfast of muesli, yoghurt and honey costs R50; a charcuterie and cheese platter sounds an interesting breakfast option, at R 55; a salmon bagel with chive cream cheese and smoked salmon costs R60; French toast with fruit and mascarpone (R 55); full English breakfast costs R65; Eggs Benedict R60; and omelettes range from R58 – R70.   After 11h00 the blackboards offer snacking, as well as lunch and dinner options, until 23h00 every day of the week.  The staff are neatly dressed in white branded golf shirts and in grey aprons, with either Anthonij Rupert or Paul Cluver branding.

The Mediterranean menu is written onto two blackboards, and the writing is not easy to read for all menu items.   My eye caught the expensive Caprese salad at R 82 immediately, and in general the prices seem on the high side.  Chef Philip explained that the mozzarella has been sourced from an Italian in Cape Town, who makes the mozzarella from cow’s milk, and the full 100g ball is served in the salad.   Greek salad costs R58.  Oysters cost R 18 each.  Vitello tomato costs (R65), Beef carpaccio (R60), Tomato salad (R60), Fish soup (R70) and Gazpacho (R40).   The Gazpacho was spicy, and consisted of raw tomatoes, baguette slices, red and yellow pepper, as well as herbs, red wine vinegar and lemon juice blended together to make a thick refreshing summer’s day soup, a little on the oily side.   Mains range between R98 (chicken supreme) and R125 (for grilled salmon and poached egg), seafood paella and crumbed veal being the only other options.  One can order flat bread at R20, with hummus (R10) or Tzatziki (R8).   An avocado and feta pizza costs R70.   For dessert one can order fresh watermelon, a summertime treat one rarely sees on a menu (R25), as well as nougat glaze (R28) or lemon tart (R30).

Teething problems were the Cappuccino machine not working yesterday (although the hotel has a 70 % occupancy, and has been open since last week, and invitations on Twitter encouraged one to try the restaurant ahead of its official opening), and the toilet paper running out without any spare supplies.  Waiter training was happening in front of patrons.  A group of four next to me wanted to order a bottle of Pierre Jourdan Brut Rosé (R232), but the waiter offered to bring it by the glass, and the manager had to be called for assistance.   The winelist is not yet ready, but information on the winelist will be added to this review after it is finalised tomorrow.

POSTSCRIPT 16/11:  I went back to Sotano by Caveau this evening, to finalise the winelist information for this blogpost.  When I looked for a table on the deck, I was blocked by Caveau/Sotano by Caveau Operations Manager Ross Stillford, who told me that the three owners of Caveau have decided that I am not allowed to eat at Sotano by Caveau, nor at Caveau, ever again because of the review I wrote about Sotano by Caveau.  To add insult to injury, co-owner Brendon Crew Tweeted about this incident, referred to me as a “bitch” in a Tweet, and continued in disparaging and defamatory vein in subsequent Tweets.  Not a good start to a restaurant that has only officially been open for less than 24 hours!

POSTSCRIPT 22/11:  I have managed to obtain details of the Sotano by Caveau winelist.  Seperated into “Bubbles, Whites, Rose, Reds, Desserts”, it details vintages but not region of origin.   Two sparkling wines (Graham Beck Brut – R49/R195 and Pierre Jourdan Brut – R 38/R150) are offered by the glass.  No champagnes are served.   About ten options per variety are offered, and each variety offers wines-by-the-glass.  Sauvignon Blancs range from R28/R110 for Haut Espoir to R51/R205 for the Warwick Professor Black.  I was interested to see the name of a wine (Parlotones Push me to the Floor), a white blend sold at R116, I had not heard of before, and its red blend ‘sister’ Parlotones Giant Mistake.   Shiraz options range from R25/R110 to R620 for De Trafford CWG 1999.  Magnums are available for Vriesenhof Grenache 2007 (R650), Jordan Cobblers Hill 2000 (R1000) and Meerlust Rubicon 2001 (R1250).

POSTSCRIPT 2/12:  Neil Markovitz, the owner of the La Splendida Hotel in which Sotana by Caveau is located, was most apologetic about the Sotano/Brendon Crew incident when I saw him at the Newmark Hotels function two days ago.  

POSTSCRIPT 4/12: Today we went to have breakfast at Caveau, to try out the restaurant, given the many negative comments it attracted to this blog post.  We were served by the charming Lilly, who brought the breakfast board to the table, and took our order of scrambled eggs (R19) and cappuccino.  The prices were most reasonable, and the coffee was served in Origin-branded cups I have not seen anywhere else.   We were shocked at how run-down the place looked on the outside, with paint peeling off the walls, the chairs wobbly, the tables and chairs not having been varnished for ages, and the Vin d’Orrance umbrellas dirty.  It generally smacked of neglect.   Before we could be served our egg orders, we were asked to leave by the Caveau Operations Manager Ross Stillford, but not before we paid for our coffees!      

Sotano by Caveau, 121 Beach Road, Mouille Point, Cape Town.  Tel 0711962660 (website under construction)  Monday – Sunday.   7h00 – 23h00

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio:   Twitter: @WhaleCottage

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64 replies on “Restaurant Review: There is no cellar at Sotano by Caveau!”

  1. […] post: Restaurant Review: There is no cellar at Sotano by Caveau! | Whale … AKPC_IDS += “6858,”;Popularity: unranked […]

  2. I used to be a fairly regular at Caveau, but then things went downhill and I had two poor visits and have not been back in over a year. However, I was there last Thursday and I have to say that the service was much improved from my last experience – it was friendly and very attentive and my kingklip with mussel risotto was very enjoyable. Interesting comment about the caprese-it does seem expensive and will the mozzarella be as good as Wayne’s (‘authentic’) buffalo from Wellington…..guess I shall have to try it!

  3. Thanks for your feedback about Caveau Michael.

    When I go back to Sotano by Caveau for the winelist, I’ll have the Caprese salad, and will report back about the mozzarella.

  4. I won’t be visiting any place operated by Caveau, Caveau should be the flagship restaurant for the group, it is no such thing, the food is awful, service a disaster and it is totally overpriced, now they are going to try and run somewhere else, what a joke. Get one restaurant in order before you take over others.

  5. A little soon for such a scathing article I would think? Aren’t soft openings to the ‘media’ supposed to allow for constructive criticism off the record? It seems a bit tough lambasting some of the few restaurateurs able to keep anything going in Cape Town for longer than a season, on day 1.

  6. umm a restuarant that opens without a website or a winelist…too cocky if you ask me but the lemmings of cape town will go and love it because its the place to be seen….food in caveau used to be very good but no longer, nelands branhc is much better….go to la boheme in seapoint much better, real food and great wine list.

  7. Dear Kirsty

    You are a new reader – welcome to our blog.

    There is nothing ‘scathing’ about the Sotano by Caveau review, and I was not invited to attend any “soft opening” – you must have musunderstood. Andy Fenner (JamieWho?) seems to have a stake in this new venture, and he invited all and sundry via Twitter to try out Sotano by Caveau prior to its official opening yesterday.

    I am not sure about you, but restaurants must practice before they open their doors and not when they open to the public. I would be happy for the Caveau management to use my feedback and to make Sotano by Caveau better – but I am not sure if they can fix the ego and manners of co-owner Brendon Crew, which might chase all potential customers away!

    I would love you to go and eat and drink at Sotano by Caveau, and to send me your feedback, so that I can post it.


  8. Dear Darren and Simon

    Your feedback about Caveau is very similar – clearly a problem there!

    After the treatment I received at Sotano by Caveau this evening, and the rude Tweets by co-owner Brendon Crew, I can see why Sotano by Caveau is likely to go the same way as Caveau. The fact that the Caveau brand name is attached to Sotano by Caveau already means that it is doomed.


  9. WOW ! I just read Mr Crew’s tweets, how professional is that ? If that is how they react to criticism from a blogger ? How do they react to customers who get crap food and service ? You can look at the Eatout reviews for all you need to know about the management, read about how people were treated by the Frenchman at HQ, unbelievable. I will not be going to Sotano, no way jose, these people are arrogant and do not deserve our business.

  10. Disgusting language for a restaurant owner or part owner to use. I will not eat there. Go to La Boheme instead, great value for money and a nice hands on owner (Faisel)

  11. Great PR for the business calling someone a bitch on Twitter. Someone get this guy Crew out quick. Capetonians don’t like such attitude.

  12. Dear David, Saul and Sam

    I love you guys – many thanks for giving Sotano on Caveau co-owner Brendon Crew a piece of your minds.

    I must agree with you about La Boheme Saul – whenever someone talks about Caveau, they mention how great La Boheme is, and what a wonderful business ex-Caveau manager Faisel has built up on Main Road in Sea Point.


  13. Caveau is one of the worst restaurants in Cape Town, dreadful food, outrageous prices and terrible service. They lost every decent staff member they ever had, Faisal the manager, Greg in the bar, all the lovely waitresses gone. All because of the owners, rude and arrogant and treat their staff badly, shame on you. As for the gutter talk from Brendon Crew, he is just showing his true colours, a very silly man to show them so publicly. They will not get any of my hard earned money. As someone else said go to La Boheme in Seapoint = Great food and value for money.

  14. Ha ha, looks like Brendan Crew went to the Cormac Keane school of charm, only difference was Portofino served tasty food and Caveau serves crap food !!

  15. Was that guy drunk when he tweeted or on something else ? great advertising. No thanks, would never go to a restaurant run by such people. How offensive.

  16. Wow, the anti-Caveau comments are rolling in – clearly not many happy Caveau customers out there! Looks like they should have fixed up their Caveau restaurants first before opening another.

    I have not been to Caveau before, but I did eat at Portofino regularly, and loved it there. The owner Cormac was always kind and generous, not anything like I experienced at Sotano by Caveau this evening.

  17. I ate there the other day, let me save you a trip, don’t bother. Food is below average, nothing special and its not worth the money. None of the staff seemed to know what they were doing.

  18. Everyone knows that the owners are rude and pay their staff peanuts, thats why their restaurants are CRAP. Viva La Boheme.

  19. I had the worst meal of my life at HQ, the steak was like shoe leather and without flavour, oily chips and filthy wine glasses. The service was shocking and it was very expensive. We complained to the owner (obnoxious frenchman) who proceeded to abuse us. Our evening was riuned. Never again. Thanks for letting me know they are running Sonato. I will be keeping away from there.

  20. I went onto twitter and read the comments, how very very offensive and tacky, I can’t believe he is the owner of a restaurant and would write such a things. Is he trying to close his restaurant already.

  21. Dear Chris,

    don’t you think it would have been fair to give a restaurant at least some days to get running properly?

    We were there two days ago: food and service was very good. Still no wine list – but they promised to have it ready for the official first open day – which was yesterday.

  22. What a nice classy guy Brendon Crew must be, maybe he should be called Brendon Crass. I used to go to Caveau a few years back reasonably regularly, obviously not regular enough to get any attention from the owners who used to be drinking with their buddies and girls at a big table every day, clicking their fingers at the staff for service, horrrible people. When the food quality started to plummet and the prices kept getting jacked up I stopped going there. I would have tried the new restaurant in Moullie Point but not after reading the comments the management made to you. Do they really think calling a lady a bitch on Twitter will be good for business, how arrogant these people are.

  23. What a pig of a man, what a joke they are taking over another restaurant when they can’t run the one they have already. I would not worry about his tweets, I see he only has 128 people following him ! Not a very interesting person.

  24. Dagmar if a restaurant is open and charging people they should have everything ready. Don’t make excuses for sloppy management and standards. If your not ready don’t open and take peoples money.

  25. In the end it is very difficult to compare judging. For example you can go to a press launch where the owner makes a fuss about the tester and the food and service is perfect – and the same restaurant is below standard for normal guests. best example: Pierneef@La Motte. The blogs were excited – I was shocked about the food and the prices. Compare apples with apples and test every new restaurant in its first week.

  26. just read the tweets by brendon crew, what an idiot, rude and should spend more time on his restaurant empire than slanging personal insults…and please this excuse about giving places time to settle in drives me crazy, if they open and charge normal prices then service should be top, i had the same issue and excuse at Jardines Jordan..well done Chris….ps if you want crab spring rolls made with crab sticks yes crab sticks then go to Caveau

  27. All I can say, is that you can’t please all of the people, all of the time. And with every second person you meet having their own blog, you are bound to get negative ones. Been to Sotano, and the Paella is great! Regarding Caveau,I think the food is great and winelist even better. I have been there many times and its always full. So they dont seem to missing you few that wont go there!

  28. Caveau = crap food crap, service, rip off prices and obnoxious arrogant owners who have zero respect for their customers.

    Sonato = more of the same

    Spend your money elsewhere, La Boheme gets my vote.

  29. If they want soft reviews duirng their teething period while training staff tehn off meals at half price. If I pay full price I want the same food and service on their first and thirtyfirst day in business.

    Our dining club was offered the same excuse by Knife retsuarant which was a total disaster surprisingly as Fork has always been good to me.

  30. Caveau is a rip off, total rip off, very expensive for the rubbish small portions you get and the service is very bad. Stay away from this place.

  31. HQ serves the worst steak in Cape Town !

    Go to La Boheme instead, better prices and service too 🙂

  32. I hate to admit it Chris, but it seems that you had a pretty bad attitude from the start…

    You were confused about the name? Its a new restaurant, it would have been perfectly normal to have just asked and cleared it up. You even moaned about what the weather could possibly be like one day. Since when is Mouille point a bad place to be? You said that the problem with the outside area was that there were smokers? Where should they have seated the smokers? Inside? “The beauty of the interior design could be lost to those patrons sitting outside” No brainer really, you have to sit inside to appreciate the inside interior. The outside view is of the sea……how dare they????

    I think if you had any level of professionalism or respect for restauranteurs who are brave enough to open a restaurant/s (and not just walk around judging them), you would have at least given them five minutes to unlock their doors first.

    You speak so badly about Caveau and you have not even been there? Again, how unprofessional.

    Caveau is one of the longest standing restaurants around and is just about packed each and every night. They must be doing something right?????

    A bunch of friends drove past on the weekend, and when we saw it was open, we popped in knowing that it was part of the Caveau group. We had already eaten, but after having a look at the chalk board menu’s (which are Caveau’s typically presented menus {oh right, forgot you havent actually be there} and just temporary until they have their menus printed. But you probably knew that and forgot to mention that), we decided to try everything as it looked too scrumptious not to. As we suspected, it was out of this world. The flat breads, seafood paella, squid heads and lots more, tempted us to order thirds.

    You right, the coffee machine wasnt hooked up but the owner (not sure which one he was)was warm, friendly and welcoming, apologising and immediately bought us other goodies to make up for it. We were over it in a flash.

    You cant be very networked, because if you were, and had met or knew anyone who knew Brendon Crew, you would know that he is probably one of the most well liked, mannered and genuine people around. Along with the other owners, he is popular and a genuinely respected guy in Cape Town. Everyone knows him!!!!!

    Anway, although I have never commented on your blog, it doesnt mean I dont read them and I have to say that this was not one of the smartest articles you ever wrote. As I say, it sounds like you had a bad attitude before you even got there throwing out remarks about Caveau. Talk is cheap,take a trip there, find out for yourself and then maon and groan. I mean isnt that what your job is?

    I completely understand why Brendan Crew tweeted something about you! If I was a restaurant owner, I would have said the same thing about you. Sorry, but I think you deserved it.

    Sure Sotana is enjoying the free publicity.

    I for one, am looking forward to it being Cape Town’s new hot spot. And am confident that it will.

    Good luck to Sotana!

  33. The most useful observation that “Chris” (whose opinion as a food-blogger we are apparently meant to value, notwithstanding the fact that said food-blogger has never set foot in Caveau, a highly successful restaurant which inter alia has made the top 30 of Conde Naste’s INTERNATIONAL hot-spots and which, remarkably, in the middle of a crunching recession has managed to EXPAND as opposed to closing down like others … wonder how they managed that … could it be because they know what they’re doing and have a vast following of sated and loyal patrons?) makes is that the restaurant’s name has been misspelt on the till slip. Tut-tut. How unforgivable. Even Michelin-starred restaurants have teething problems when they open (wonder if Chris’s expense account has ever allowed her access to one of those…) and quite frankly, anyone busting their gut to be first in the door at a newly opened establishment should do so in full knowledge of this unavoidable truth and should temper their reviews accordingly (and yes, you are expected to pay the bill – do we withhold our taxes on the basis that we only pay them if we’re happy with the job the government is doing?? I think any moderately intelligent adult would recognise that principle, sorry James). As someone who HAS in fact dined in some of the best restaurants in the world and who eagerly and regularly frequents Caveau, I can only surmise that those of you who report on unsatisfactory dining experiences are simply the unfortunate few (who are inevitable – even Michel Roux has had bad reviews…). So, readers of this blog who have not yet teased your palates with Caveau’s culinary delights, I trust your curiosity is sufficiently piqued to do so now – please do, and form your own opinion.

  34. Dear Dagmar

    You raise an interesting question about when it is the right time to review a restaurant – blogging is very competitive these days, and my blogging ‘colleagues’ Andy Fenner (JamieWho? blog) and Clare McKeon/McLoughlin of Spill blog proudly do reviews prior to the opening of restaurants – I have even seen Fenner call his write up about Hemelhuijs a “Restaurant Review”, without even having eaten there, on the strength of attending the launch cocktail party!

    If a restaurant declares itself to be open, and takes my money for the food I ate there, then it can be reviewed, in my book. The “teething problems” were described as such, with the full knowledge that they would be fixed.

    I cannot agree with your comments about Pierneef a La Motte – I did not go to the opening dinners, but I have had nothing but superlative food and service there. The prices are amazingly reasonable.


  35. Dear Heidi

    Thank you for your comments.

    No, I was in good spirits, and there was no “bad attitude” at all.

    Any compliments you pay Brendon Crew are destroyed by his rudeness to me on Twitter – I am surprised that you have not commented on his behaviour, in the interest of professionalism and balance. If you praise Brendon for what he wrote on Twitter, it is a sad reflection on your manners and character too – to get het up about a review? Please! Must have struck a raw nerve somewhere!

    I made no claim to have eaten at Caveau, but have heard from so many other persons whose opinions I respect how bad things are at Caveau, and how they have lost all their good staff. Everyone associates bad Caveau with good La Boheme, and this is a reality.


  36. Dear Kristie

    Yes I am Chris – not sure why the inverted commas?

    I went to Caveau in its early days, and experienced some rudeness from the management, and therefore never bothered to go back! I was not doing reviews at that time.

    I did pay in full for my meal, in case you were suggesting otherwise.

    I think you are able to see from the torrent of comments about Sotano by Caveau, and about Caveau in particular, that many Capetonians have been there, and are not impressed.


  37. ah ha, the caveau pr team (i guess that would consist of david can’t cope) try to repair the damage, bit late now, you can’t erase years of below average and over priced food. caveau is crap : FACT

    you won’t be seeing me anywhere near their new restaurant, it’s not even theirs anyway they are running it for the owner of the hotel.

    calling a woman a bitch on twitter, that would be a pr no no, isn’t that right david ?

  38. Dear Sue

    I agree, it does look like Heidi and Kirstie are from Caveau, singing the praises of Caveau and Brendon Crew.

    David Cope seems to have lost all his PR clients, other than the Chef’s Warehouse and Cookery School – the Sotano by Caveau/Caveau Manager Ross Stillford told me last night that Cope has been fired and no longer does the PR for Caveau, HQ and Gourmet Burger! You could see that from the way he dragged Sotano through the mud on his whale watching Twitter account on Monday.

  39. ha ha, chefs warehouse is a joke, it sells kitchen stuff that you can get at the waterfront for half the price, that and their overpriced cooking courses keeps me away.

  40. Dear Chris

    I have been following your blog for a while and have not posted anything until now. It really seems that you are just out there to destroy people and their businesses, which they have really worked hard at. You did the same with the whole Carne debacle. I would think that blogs like this are there to give constructive crits, in which it gives the restaurant the opportunity to improve. This is just getting personal and extremely immature.So I guess you are going to assume that I am also a Caveau person, and yes I am! I have supported the restaurant for years, especially the Newlands branch. Why, because I have always received great service and delightful food.Believe it or not, some of us out there can decide for ourselves!It is impossible to please everyone and if you don’t like it then don’t go!I actually think that Brendon Crew’s comments were quite funny, you had it coming lady!Not sure that this is true(please correct me if I’m wrong), but were you not publicly slapped recently? You’re talking about proffessionalism, how proffessional is slating a fellow blogger? What did this poor fellow David Cope ever do to you and what does he have to do with the Satano review anyway? So if all the positive feedback comes from “Caveau People”, does that mean that all the negative comes from people with personal vendettas? It should be quite simple: Rate the food, service, ambience and pricing!
    P.s Chris, if you don’t mind me asking, what are your qualifications anyway? Have you ever worked in a restaurant?
    Also, when you review restaurants do you pay for your meal? I’m sure if it was “on the house” your review would have been very different!

  41. Dear Ronel

    Despite your defamatory comment, I will allow it, so that I can correct you immediately. This blog is very far removed from destroying “people and their businesses” – no, dear lady, this blog is to write stories about matters relating to the tourism industry, which includes restaurant reviews. I have paid for the bulk of my meals, and if I was an invited guest, I will declare this in my blog post, as is the correct procedure. You clearly have not read my blog before if you can imply that I would write differently about a restaurant if I did not pay for the meal!

    It is interesting that you should raise the Carne con by Giorgio Nava – his lawyers postured with a legal threat, but in the end they had to concede defeat when the Carne meat supplier admitted to me that not all the meat served at Carne is organic nor comes from Nava’s Karoo farm – I exposed this, and it is good to see that Nava took this dishonest claim off his website and menu when he got caught out. Ronel, you cannot seriously be supporting consumer deceit, and suggest that I should not have exposed Carne for this fraudulent marketing?

    I have not brought David Cope into the Sotano by Caveau review – not sure what you are on about? David Cope is a manipulative, destructive, defamatory and sick individual – I cannot believe that you are so out of touch to not know about his disgusting Twitter campaign! No surprise that his clients are cancelling their contracts with his PR company Established and Partners.

    None of our readers are forced to read this blog if they find it too controversial. As Rich Mulholland said at a bloggers’ event recently, if you want to read boring blogs, you’ll be spoilt for choice!


  42. Hi Chris ,

    Thank you for your comments.

    I am proud to confirm that I am connected to Caveau.

    I am a very loyal customer, and have been for a long time.

    Given your questionable judgements on restaurants (something you are supposedly qualified to do), I would doubt your ability to sit and judge my manners and my character.

  43. Dear Chris, the fact that you have not added my comment. Implies that I have made very valid points, which indeed proves that you are not fair. I suggest that you do add the comment in fairness, because it really looks bad on you if it ends up on another blog!

  44. Wow – happy days on Whalecottage dot com. Here’s my 2 cents worth. I’ve dined at both Caveau Heritage Square and Newlands. At both the service was slow. At both the first 2 wines we ordered were out of stock. At both the waiter had a “I am doing you a favour here” attitude. At both mistakes were made on the bill. At both the food was below average. At both I felt like I overspent for what I received. I only dined at each of them once. We are spoiled for choice in Cape Town for decent restaurants, why would we support places that are crap?

  45. Well said Hennie!

    I know from Twitter that you and Maggie eat (and drink) out in the city centre all the time, so I know that I can value your input and feedback about Caveau.


  46. Dear Sabrina (SD) and Kirstie

    This is my blog. I have given both of you an opportunity to say what you would like to say about me and my Sotano by Caveau blog post.

    When you resort to disparagement of myself and my business, I do not have to accept any defamatory nor disparaging comments – I am receiving more than enough abuse from Xxxxx Xxxx (name removed on request of Hetzner). There are other platforms on which you can deposit your comments.

    Sabrina (SD), I have indeed allowed your comment of blackmail, just for the record!


  47. Chris

    The fact that you have censored Sabrina and my (as well as numerous others, I understand)valid critique of your commentary proves the very point that we were making – you clearly lack the capacity for impartiality.

    Your imagination is also clearly over-active as neither Sabrina nor I have disparaged you or your business, we have merely highlighted how your opinions are misguided.

    You won’t hear from me again and I doubt if you’ll publish this (you clearly lack the nerve), which does not bother me in the slightest – it’s sufficient for me to know that you’ve read this and know that there are people out there who see right through you.

    Happy day!

  48. Dear Kirstie

    Maybe you did not understand my earlier reply to you and to Sabrina that I do not have to accept any abuse and defamation from you. It absolutely does not imply anything beyond that.

    I welcome all constructive criticism, but if you get personal about me or my business, which is not the subject of this review, if I may remind you (it is about Sotano by Caveau), then I will delete your comments! All bloggers have the right to do this.


  49. Chris, I never bother write comments on here, I don’t have time, I don’t always agree with your reviews but with this one you are 100% on the money. I am sick and tired of being ripped off by restaurants, Caveau is one that stands out as particularly bad food and high prices, A Tavalo in Claremont is another, ok food and crazy prices. Caveau used to be great years ago, not any more, bad staff, bad food

    What does Kristie mean by misguided opinion ? Kirstie wake up and Cape Town restaurant owners wake up to the fact that as soon as you open your doors and charge people their hard earned money they are entitled to their opinion about their meal, even more so if the go to the trouble of writing a blog. Deal with it, embrace peoples opinions and improve your restaurants and give people value for money. Stop treating customers as cash machines.

    So Kirstie thinks she has eaten in some of the best restaurants in the world ?? are we supposed to be impressed, you just sound pathetic to me. Calling people bitches ??? Brendan Crew you will never see the colour of my money in any of your restaurants again, you have no class. If I talked about a customer of my business in that way I would be fired. How many years ago did Caveau get in the Conde Naste magazine ?? Still trading on that ?? Pathetic.

    Everyone here talk about La Boeme ? I will try it next !!

  50. I bring bridge groups to Cape Town 4 times a year and I am now worried about booking people into La Splendida. If one of my group complains about their room will they be called names ? I cannot take this risk. This kind of thing is very bad for business.

  51. Dear Karleen

    You raise a point I did not think of in the Sotano/Caveau furore.

    I do know that this matter is being taken so seriously by Newmark Hotels, that its owner Neil Markovitz is talking to Brendon Crew.

  52. @Hennie,

    I tried out Sotano by Caveau yesterday and must agree with everyone of your points. Wines were out of stock, the pathetic menu fell apart 3 times while I was flipping through it. The waiters were slow and disorganized, it took 3 waiters and 10 minutes to get a class of water!

    I had the breaded veal cutlet, on the bone. Asked for medium rare, it was grey throughout, and possibly the toughest veal I’ve ever tasted.

    Sotano should be called out for poor food & service, rather than lash out at reviewers that dare speak the truth!

  53. Thanks for your feedback Steve.

    You ate there a week after Sotano by Caveau opened, and it looks as if the teething problem are now of a different kind. At least they have a menu now, by the sound of it.

  54. I am a regular at Caveau in Newlands. Their staff are gems…very professional outfit and have never had a bad meal.

  55. Dear Chris, I have never eaten at Caveau but I think the new Sotano can only be an improvement on the restaurants who previously occupied the site. And I agree that in all fairness, it is wise to visit at least twice, some weeks apart before writing a review- unless you’re doing it purely for shock-value and to be controversial.

    You seem to have made a lot of enemies in a very short time- Caveau, the Caviar group, Giorgio Nava’s restaurant group- to name just a few. Why?

    You also allow disparaging comments towards many of those associated with these people, while deleting comments towards yourself that is written in the same trait because they are derogatory and defamatory. Examples: Chef’s warehouse, being punished for its association with xxxx xxxx (name removed on Hetzner’s request); Clare McKeon being slandered by a certain “Lolita” in one of your previous posts. Why are there different standards for them than for you?

    I suspect that you may well disallow my questions as well, or at the very least accuse me of being soemone else- (yup, you’ve done this to a couple of your comentators) but do me a favor and think carefully before you do- it would be much nicer for you to engage in a conversation that can potentially keep a reader.

    You see, I’m rather tired of all the irrelevant yipping here. I’m yet to see any proof of the many accusations you have launched , here and elsewhere, and while I think that whalespottersa’s behaviour is an utter disgrace, I’d much rather spend my time reading good foodblogs elsewhere than continue to support a he-said-she-said mudslinging match.

  56. Dear Johan

    I can see that you are not a regular reader of my blog, as your question about the restaurants is answered in today’s blog post about Social Media and Freedom of Speech: Censoring of Comments.

    As to your comment about “slander” in comments on this blog – not on my blog sir!Everything about Clare McKeon and her husband Eamon’s unfortunate brushes with the Irish law is documented via Google. The Chef’s Warehouse appears to be David Cope’s only client, and they should know what a sick person they are using for their PR. Thank you for speaking out about Cope’s disgusting Twitter tirade!


  57. All a little over the top. My wife & I went there on a Sunday afternoon with friends. Admittedly we only tried the tappas with a few bottles of wine. I found the tappas to be very good. The wine list was excellent (a little pricy)and generally the service was good. Also nice was the sand pit for our little one and they were very accomodating with prodiving something off the menu for the kiddies. To say the place looks run down is absolute hogwash. A lot of what I’m reading here smacks of personal issues and if this is the case then I’m sure Mr Crew is a bit pissed off!

  58. Gotta love freedom of speech, why dont people that so stongly disagree with this blog create their own?

    The great thing about a blog is that you can put down your own personal views on the experiances you have had. Either favourable or not. Im sure Caveau and the other one have had some steller reviews. The moment someone has a negative experiance and they write about it, you cant whinge about it. take it on the chin and strive to correct the negativity, which there seems to be a lot of, to be consistantly great.

  59. Well, two years later and Sotano and Caveau are still running. I’ve been to both regularly over the past years and have seen them very full, with long waiting lists etc. It’s seems you were wrong!

    I suppose everyone has their own opinion, but these restaurants seem to be pulling in the pounds.

  60. Thank you for your ‘update’ Sarah Jane.

    I make it a year and 2 months, to be exact. You seem to not have heard that Caveau at the Mill in Newlands closed down in November! Caveau on Bree Street looks deserted whenever I drive past it, which is frequently. Sotano has no Twitter presence anymore amongst Tweeting Cape Town trendsetters.

    I’m not sure what I am ‘wrong’ about, as suggested by you?!


  61. Interesting reviews. I was do excited that I was going to stay at the hotel and be able to frequent the restaurant.

    First impressions driving from Cape Town International, I got lost and the reception was unable to explain. Eventually a diner helped by telling me across the lighthouse. It was 8pm, the place was noisy and run down. I was not impressed. Trying to order room service was another mission, but the Trishan decided to bring tasters of wine and the menu to me, wow what great wine and food! Although a bit pricey. Breakfast is not recommended, but the rest of the menu is no too bad. I have stayed for 7 days and not once was the restaurant overly busy. Service is typical African style, almost non existent.

    Now for the question will I come again? Definitely not. Would I recommend it? You have to try everything once, just maybe it is your scene.

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