Alexander Forbes Sweet Service and Hillcrest Berry Farm Sour Service Awards


 The Sweet Service Award goes to Alexander Forbes insurance company and its staff member Prosper Nkabinde, for his patient assistance over a six week period in getting a car written off by his company.   The car broke down four months after a major radiator repair paid for by the insurance company, and the cost of the new repair exceeded the value of it. The insurance company paid out the residual value, to go towards the purchase of a replacement car.



The Sour Service Award  goes to Hillcrest Berry Farm, and was nominated by Jacoba Budden:  “My sister invited me for our first (ever) sister’s lunch and since it was one of those perfect warm spring days that exist only in the South African Cape, we decided to go to the Hillcrest Berry Farm. We were both starving and were thrilled when the menu arrived briskly but I thought it looked pretty ambitious for such a small place. We ordered filter coffee and two silver pots arrived immediately – I was impressed at the generosity but the coffee itself could have been fresher and it would have been pleasant  if they’d filtered the coffee since it was, after all, filter coffee; the flavour wasn’t too terrible, though. Luckily we had a lot of catching up to do so we didn’t mind that it took the waitress a full 20 minutes to take our order; Both of us ordered the duo of mini quiches @ R60.00 that, with a side salad and bread, was adequate. The bread arrived quickly. Again we waited almost half an hour and by the time the food arrived, we were ravenous. The waitress was friendly enough and gaily put the food on our table, serving from the right and almost decapitating me in the process but we were so happy to have something to eat that we really couldn’t care about her mistakes. We ate in silence for 5 minutes and then I noticed my sister’s face. Despite the fact that we don’t see one another often, it is in our blood to know and understand one another and I didn’t need telling to see that the pastry was bothering her as well. Look, we were starving and I would have eaten a shoe at that stage so we ate it but by the time we got halfway, we could discuss the pastry. We did agree on one thing, it was burnt. The filling was edible if you take into account there was no blue cheese in the pear quiche and that it consisted mainly of egg custard with grilled pears. Nelle said that her‘s were okay and we both agreed that the salad was delicious and generous as was the bread.  My sister was adamant that she’d never go back again, her food was downright terrible and she found the service horrific. The person at the till couldn’t even speak English” (edited).

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

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6 replies on “Alexander Forbes Sweet Service and Hillcrest Berry Farm Sour Service Awards”

  1. So sorry to hear about Hillcrest. We’ve eaten there on many occasions on our visits from the UK & always had delicious food. Admittedly the service has never been the quickest.

    Everyone has a bad day now & again.

  2. Is this “Sour” reward justified, Chris? You base it on the observations of a single person, without having been there yourself. And at best, the complaints listed seem Mother Grundy-ish. Not being “served from the right.” The person at the till “couldn’t even speak English.”

    It would be wise to remember that you are referring to what is essentially a convenient countryside teaspot, not a Viennese pattiserie or a luxury restaurant. Most of the employees speak fluent Afrikaans, or xhosa- the OTHER two official languags of the Western Cape. Which of these does your complainant, frau Budden, speak?

    As for the quality of the food, or the coffee, did frau Budden complain to anyone or just sit there munching away and muttering under her breath?

    There’s no mention of any of the other excellent produce that Hillcrest stocks- the main reason for the outlet’s existence. The pettiness of this award, along with the surly and aggrieved tone in which it is written, saddens me. It is not “controversial” blogging, but simply in bad taste, and fills me with the same disdain that whalespotter’s actions do.

  3. Thank you for your questions and feedback Johan.

    I have asked the nominee of the Sour Award, Jacoba (she is not a “Frau” by the way!), to respond to your comment. I trust and know Jacoba, and accepted her nomination on this basis.


  4. @ Johan, I actually speak a good many languages and I’ve eaten there often. The food and service has deteriorated to such an extent lately that I was ‘inspired’ to do this review.

    Of course it is a convenient countryside tea-spot and I treated it as such. However, if a convenient countryside tea-spot insists on serving lunch as well, one can surely expect that said lunch isn’t burnt and that one keeps one’s head safely where it belongs. Nobody expected a gourmet meal but we had every right to expect the advertised food. If you offer me X to eat on your menu, I expect X. It’s a as simple as that.

    I tried, in vain, to complain but nobody bothered to come over and give some explanation! When we went to pay, nobody was available – despite my brisk endeavours.

    I didn’t eat the other ‘excellent produce’ to which you refer which is why I didn’t comment on it.

    I like the sour awards because this is the only way that South Africans find out about poor service. South African service is appalling and our restaurants and coffee shops are priced to high heaven.

    It is also a way in which businesses are made aware of their failings and so strive to do better. Most of us take criticism pretty well; however there are a few small-minded (usually guilty) people who are offended … shame.

    Frau Budden

  5. @Jacoba: thank goodness- I do detect a slight sense of humor as well, “Frau” Budden- und es erfreutet mein herz. Your expanded explanation offers a significantly different view of your meal than the one-sided Sour Award above, and lends some credibility to it. I have little qualms with your complaint, but much (and I believe justifiably so) about the way it was presented initally. Yes, when service and quality deteriorates we have a right to complain; but I do not think the way the Sour Award was written achieves much.

    PS: Chris- what would you have me call your friend? Certainly NOT a derogatory “fraulein”?

  6. Hello Johan

    I am sure Jacoba would be happy to be called by her first name, as she is not German.

    The Sour Award nomination was written by Jacoba, I just edited it down somewhat due to its length.

    Viele Gruesse


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