Tag Archives: Carlucci’s

New door opens at Pure Good restaurant for eliminated MasterChef SA Finalist Shannon Smuts!

Pure Good interior Whale Cottage PortfolioShannon Smuts from Cape Town was the first MasterChef SA Season 2 Finalist to have been eliminated in a complicated warthog Pressure Test, and the bouncy and bubbly contestant was missed for her quirky interviews in between the cooking action.  Feeling that she had to prove herself, she was motivated to make a dream come true, which was to open her own restaurant Pure Good, which is a mere two weeks old.  True to its name, it is health-orientated, its signage promising ‘healthy food/happy people’.

Shannon is very health conscious, and her first challenge after the MasterChef SA elimination, which was a knock due to the suddenness of it and the ‘demoralising’ immediate departure from the MasterChef SA kitchen without the opportunity to say goodbye to her fellow contestants, was to participate in a half Ironman in East London.  She was working for Associated Magazines at the time, as a graphic designer for Good Housekeeping, and heard that the owner of Carlucci’s was looking to sell all three his local restaurant/delis, one of them being on the ground floor of her employer’s building.  She took over their lease, and bought their equipment, painted the interior white to give it a fresh look after its dreary grey interior, and chose a lime zest colour to reflect that her restaurant is all about freshness and health.  The colour is reflected in the counter, in the table legs and chairs, the waiters’ aprons, and the menu.  A shelf reflects her green theme, in displaying baskets, and gardening boots and tools.  Elsewhere some boots served as ‘vases’ for flowers.  A glass vase near the counter had an unusual display of lilies with lemons.  A fridge displays salads, fruit salad, and other take-away food items, as well as colddrinks and mineral water. Continue reading →

Restaurant Review: Salt Deli: needing more than a pinch of help!

Salt Deli, a sister coffee shop to the Salt restaurant at the Ambassador Hotel on Victoria Road in Bantry Bay, operated on its second day to total shambles, not being able to cope with being full.   It is a bad reflection on the Salt and Ambassador Hotel brands. 

The Deli upset most of its clients who were not served for up to half an hour, and who sat at tables with dirty dishes.  To make a point, two clients got up and played “waiter”, clearing the outside tables.  Other clients went inside to fetch their orders themselves.  Some just left without being served!

When the Assistant Manager came to take the order, she informed us at 12h00 that the deli had run out of food, and that they were only taking beverage orders.   She was able to organise a croissant with cheese and ham, according to the menu, but it came “deconstructed”, without butter, in that one had to make it up oneself (costing R35!).  The cheese slices looked a few days old and dry.   While we were sitting there, we saw the Rosa’s Bakery van doing a delivery, spoiling the illusion that everything is prepared and baked at Salt Restaurant across the road.

A further disappointment was that no cooked breakfasts are served at Salt Deli at all, as they have no proper kitchen, it just being a “satellite kitchen” to the restaurant, the Assistant Manager explained.

For the amount of money that the Ambassador Hotel must have put into the renovation of the Deli, previously Carlucci’s, in appointing Stefan Antoni as the architect and interior design company, it is a shame that they were so badly understaffed and understocked.   The interior design quirks (a pile of wood with a top is the desk, the flooring is made up of a mixture of slate, wood and tile, and the ceiling in part has a wooden crate look) pale into insignificance when one experiences such chaos and poor service.  No management was visible from the Ambassador Hotel, to assist the obviously new staff in coping with the full Deli.

The menu is disappointing, given that Eat Out Top 10 chef Jacques de Jager from Grande Provence will be joining Salt next month.   Breakfast options are yoghurt and berries, bagel and cream cheese (with or without salmon), muffin and preserve, and smoked ham and gouda croissant (as described above).

Salads range from R 45 – R 65, and include nicoise, caesar, caprese, chicken and salmon.   Three types of wraps are offered, as are three types of unexciting sandwiches, three basic pasta dishes, soup (in summer!), a tart, tapas (including oysters, olives, parma ham and melon, smoked salmon) and cheese, meat and Mediterranean platters.  It was good that the planned oyster and champagne bar upstairs has not yet opened, as this would have caused even greater problems.

The management of Salt Deli should close it until they can train their staff properly, can appoint more staff, and have a better supply of ingredients needed to make the dishes they offer on their menu.   The overall experience as well as menu was a disappointment, relative to the pre-opening hype.   One may say that a new restaurant should not be judged in its opening days, but it should not open if it is not ready to do so.  The opening day had been delayed a number of times in the past 2 weeks.

Response from Neil Markovitz, MD of Newmark Hotels, owner of the Ambassador Hotel, and Salt restaurant and deli: “Thanks for the mail yesterday. Clearly a disaster as you have described. I am told that the lunch service went a bit smoother and a complete post mortem of the days disaster was discussed and analysed in full. Opening on boxing day was clearly not the best idea, but then again opening on in December was always going to put us under tremendous pressure.   Absolutely no excuse though and I apologise for the experience. We will get it right.   There is a problem on the that side of the road with extraction at the moment and the hence no cooked breakfast. This is something we are working on but a bigger problem to solve.”

Salt Deli, Victoria Road, Bantry Bay, tel 021 439 7528.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com

Lots of new Cape restaurant openings and re-openings

Cape Town and its surrounding towns are seeing a flood of restaurant openings and relaunches, to such an extent that one wonders how they, and all the existing restaurants, will be full when the Festive Season is over.

New restaurants that have opened recently are the following:

*   Kuzina is a Greek restaurant in the Cape Quarter, which opened last weekend

*   Salt Deli opens later this week, in the space that was Carlucci’s in Bantry Bay, across the road from the Ambassador Hotel and its Salt restaurant.   Its interior is Stefan Antoni designed, with an eclectic flooring mix of slate, wood and tiles, and an eyecatching desk which looks like a pile of wood.  It has a staircase to an upper level, and the deli will serve oysters and bubbly.  

*   Eight has just opened at Spier outside Stellenbosch

*   Waterkloof restaurant opened 2 weeks ago at Waterkloof wine estate in Somerset West – read our review here

*   Vaudeville opened as a supper club in the city center a week ago – its show is outstanding, but it needs work on the menu and food preparation – read our review here

The Grand on the Beach has only recently received its liquor licence, and is fully booked for dinners 2 weeks ahead.  Lunch bookings can be made more quickly.  The newest of the three Grand Cafe’s, it is located on the beach between the Water Club in Granger Bay and the V&A Waterfront.

Truth.coffeecult is a new coffee shop and roastery, and has opened in the hard-to-find Prestwich Memorial center on the corner of Somerset and Buitengracht Streets, owned by David Donde

*   Warwick’s gourmet picnics, designed by chef Bruce Robertson, opened at the beginning of the month on Warwick wine estate outside Stellenbosch

*   Jardine at Jordan opened on the Jordan wine estate outside Stellenbosch at the end of last month

*   Camil’s opened in the Cape Royale Luxury Hotel in Green Point last month – read the review here

*   DeliCATessen has opened at Tokara wine estate in the Helshoogte Pass, and is owned by Tokara owner GT Ferreira’s daughter

*   Cafe Chic is a new French-style restaurant in a beautifully renovated and chic building on Breda Street in Gardens. Read the review here 

*   Bistro 1682 has opened at Steenberg wine estate in Constantia.

Restaurant relaunches include the following:

*   Sapphire is a new bar serving snacks, redecorated and renamed from the previous Baraza, next to Blues in Camps Bay

*   St Yves is the new nightclub in the place of Ignite in Camps Bay, above Pepper Club on the Beach

*   Pepper Club on the Beach is the new restaurant previously called Summerville in Camps Bay, above Paranga.   It is linked to the Pepper Club, a hotel/apartment block opening in the city centre (on Pepper Street) in February. It will offer Pepper Club hotel clients changing rooms, when they return from the Camps Bay beach.  Dinner Dance “in the tradition of grand Old Hollywood” is offered on Friday and Saturday evenings.  The Group Executive Chef is Michelin-starred Carsten Kocke, who has 30 years of experience in Germany.   The menu contains a selection of starters such as Avocado Ritz (R 79) and Lobster Cocktail (R 98); crayfish, prawn and avocado, and Caesar salads; seafood dishes such as salmon, calamari, and prawns; steaks at around R 120 for 200 grams – R 165 for the beef fillet, as well as ostrich game, curry, and duck; pasta dishes ranging from R 70 – R 189; and desserts.  

*   The Raj in Camps Bay has taken over from where the Gateway to India restaurant was in The Promenade in Camps Bay, taking over the furnishings of the restaurant as well.  The Raj has sister restaurants in Johannesburg.

Other restaurant news is the following:

*  Top 10 Eat Out chef Jacques de Jager is moving to Salt restaurant at the Ambassador Hotel in January, leaving Grand Provence just 2 months after winning the Top 10 accolade.  This is the second time that a chef has left Grande Provence soon after winning the Top 10 award – Peter Tempelhoff left even sooner after his win in 2007, joining the McGrath Hotel Collection.

*   Table 13, a lovely breakfast and lunch venue inside the T & Co furniture and deco shop across the road from the Green Point Traffic department, is offering a 3-course dinner and a glass of bubbly for R 170, for the first time, tonight and tomorrow night.  They serve all day breakfasts, and lovely home-made lunches. Tel 021 418-0739

*   Overture has started its Le Piqnique picnics at Hidden Valley wine estate outside Stellenbosch.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com

Credit crunch local bite

Much of what has been heard about the effect of the global credit crunch has related to the United Kingdom and the USA.

When well-known South African brands are affected, the credit crunch is a litle too close to home for comfort.

Madame Zingara and Carlucci’s went into liquidation earlier this year.   Now three Vide e Caffe branches, in St George’s Street, on Greenmarket Square, and in Bayside Mall have closed, despite the company expanding its operation to the United Kingdom in the near future.   The three Vida e Caffee outlets belong to a franchisee who is taking the Vida e Caffe franchisor to court for alleged misrepresentation of the income potential of his three outlets.

A shock discovery earlier this week was to see the poor state of the Orchards farmstall on the N2 highway outside Grabouw.   It has been a landmark on the trip from Cape Town to Hermanus.   Hardly any fruit was displayed, and the few bananas on the shelf were black.   The restaurant service was poor, and on enquiry the customer was told that the farmstall is in liquidation.   It has apparantly just been taken over by a new owner.  A few kilometers further along is an auction sign outside the popular Houw Hoek farmstall,  also on the N2 highway.   The auction will take place later this month.

Wang Thai and Cafe Delmar in Camps Bay have also closed down.

Two estate agencies have closed down and are in liquidation – Churchill Murray closed last month, and O’Shea Properties has just closed down, the latter only having operated for a few months, and was originally Engel & Volkers.