Tag Archives: Pilsner Urquell

Restaurant Review: Extra cool, cheap, cosmopolitan Café Extrablatt

The first Café Extrablatt in South Africa and only the second outlet in Africa, on Main Road in Green Point, one of a collection of 55 franchise outlets in Germany, Austria, Turkey and Morocco, opened at the beginning of the month. It offers a wide variety of breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes and drinks, from early morning to late night, at the most reasonable prices.

Heading up the Café Extrablatt Cape Town is Guido Dierschke, a friendly proud company representative, who has worked for the company for seven or more years, in stores, in the head office management, and opening new stores.  The first Café Extrablatt was opened in Emsdetten near Münster by Christoph Wefers with his brother Richard.   The name relates to the Extra edition of newspapers, and a collection of Sunday newspapers was available when I visited.  Magazines will be added too.  The pay-off line ‘Das gewisse Extra’ (that certain extra) represents the restaurant’s ability to offer a special dish, and to have a special place in the restaurant for its customers, Guido said.  In Germany there is an Italian style restaurant chain Scoozi and a Starbucks-style Voyton coffee take-away chain in the company collection, but these are not on the cards locally until the Café Extrablatt is running smoothly.

Being a franchise store, the interior decor reflects that of the German outlets.  A lot of natural colours and materials are used, including leather for the chairs and couches, wood and marble for the tables, and the original wooden floors of the building have been retained to give it character.  Woodbenders was used to make the furniture, and the colour palette includes leathers in orange, burgundy, green, brown and beige. Different table and seating styles are spread around the restaurant, upstairs and downstairs, to make seating sections, in which one can choose to sit, and to prevent the space from appearing as large as it is. In total the restaurant can seat 300 customers over the two levels (upstairs is for smokers), and there is seating outside on the street level and upstairs terraces too. There is a fireplace upstairs, each level having a large bar counter.  The light fittings are unique to the franchise, and were made in Germany, being two styles. Downstairs in the bar area is a massive lamp made from copper pipes.  On the other side of the restaurant and upstairs are ‘Tortenlampen’, designed to look like two-tier cakes.  Wall lamps, with a grass look to them, are also uniquely made in Germany for the franchise outlets.  There is a TV screen for matches downstairs.  The location for events in the Cape Town Stadium is ideal, being across the road, and the Coldplay concert saw their first full-house. Staff wear black pants, the female waitresses white T-shirts and the males black ones, with a white apron. Cutlery is by Fortis Hotelware, cute mini salt and pepper pots are brought to the table, as are unbranded olive oil and balsamic vinegar holders, with paper serviettes.

Ryan Seale is the chef, having worked at events contract companies in the UK (Lord’s cricket ground, West Ham football ground), at Singita, and for a contract company doing the catering for the World Cup last year.  His menu is largely that of the franchise, but with some additional dishes. All items on the menu are available throughout the day and night, with extremely long opening hours.  A ‘German Corner’ pays tribute to the German heritage of the company, offering chicken schnitzel (excellent portion of two pieces, which I ordered with potato salad, but is listed to be served with a salad or chips, at an unbelievably low price of R35,95) and veal schnitzel at R49,95, Currywurst at R49,95, and Viennas and potato salad (made using Guido’s mother’s recipe, with apples and gherkins) at R35,95.  A Breakfast Buffet with continental breakfast items, cooked breakfast as well as salads is offered at R79,95 from 8h00 – 12h00 on weekdays, and at R99,95 from 8h00 – 14h00 on weekends and public holidays.  Individual breakfast items are also available, ranging from R32,95 for scrambled eggs to R45,95 for fried eggs, bacon and sausage.  Many of the menu items offer a base item, with prices listed for additional extras and toppings.  Bruschetta costs R 22,95 – R32,95, with tuna, ham and cheese options. Baked potato with sour cream costs R17,95, and chilli con carne, tuna mayonnaise, and salmon can be ordered as extra toppings. Pita breads with fillings cost around R40. There is meat (R45,95) and vegetarian (R39,95) lasagne, and Pick & Dips cost R11,95 – R29,95 for spring rolls, chicken strips, risotto balls and calamari.  Burgers cost R39,95 – R49,95. Pizzas range from R35,95 – R67,95, and salads start at R27,95, peaking at R48,95.

Desserts are limited to Apfelstrudel at R29,95, and New York New York cheesecake from Chez Chez off Kloof Street, at R35.  They also stock Eiszeit ice creams, and I had a wonderful strawberry sauce made by Chef Ryan with a yoghurt sorbet (R19 for one scoop). I had wanted to order the Apfelstrudel, but Chef Ryan came to the table, asking me not to, as he is only making his own from this week onwards. The cappuccino costs R16, and the coffee is by Hausbrandt. Asara wines (Ebony, Ivory, Fusion, Sauvignon Blanc and Rosé) are offered by carafe (R32 – R38) or bottle (R90 – R120). Pierre Jourdan sparkling wine is offered by the glass (R32) or bottle (R155), as are Graham Beck (R195), Pongrácz (R175), and Veuve Clicquot (R550).  Most beers cost R18, but Heineken costs R20, and beer on tap from Paulaner, Castle and Pilsner Urquell is available too. Cocktails and ‘mocktails’ are also offered.

With ample parking across the road, the excellent opening hours, the diverse menu offering, the value for money, and good location, Café Extrablatt is certain to do well.

Café Extrablatt, 79 Main Road, Green Point, Cape Town.  Tel 087 6250 463.  www.cafe-extrablatt.co.za, www.cafe-extrablatt.com. Sunday – Thursday 7h00 – midnight, Fridays and Saturdays 7h00 – 2h00.

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

Beer and food pairings new trend, and it’s healthy too!

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the Toffie Food Festival, held at the City Hall last month and sponsored by South African Breweries, was the Food and Beer Pairing workshop, presented by SAB’s Trade Brewer Denis da Silva and Kitchen Cowboys Chef Pete Goffe-Wood.  It demonstrated that many of our perceptions about beer drinking in general, and about specific brands of beers, are shaped by societal norms and packaging, and that beer pairs perfectly with food.

In notes that we were given, it was stated that one needs to know how a beer is made when deciding on a food pairing, in that a beer’s flavour comes from the ‘cooking process’ during the malting phase, when barley converts to malt. The flavours this creates is similar to the flavours created by cooking food.  We were given the following Food and Beer pairing tips:

*   Beer and food flavours should be compatible, and have some elements in common. The herby bitterness of hops is well matched to lightly spiced food

*   Beer strength should be matched with food strength.  As with wines, light foods should be paired with lighter beers, while full-bodied beers should be matched with more strongly flavoured foods

*   In wine terms, a lager is white wine and an ale a red wine.  Hoppy beers can play the role of an acidic wine in pairing consideration.

*   In deciding on the food pairing, beers’ sweetness, bitterness, carbonation, heat, and richness should be considered

*   The more hop bitterness the beer has, the more the food needs to be lively and hearty to hold its own

*  The food and beer combination does not only have to be complimentary – contrasting flavours work well too

*   More fully flavoured foods can be paired with beers with a higher alcohol content.

We were given suggestions for some food and beer pairings, to embody these pairing principles: green salad and vinaigrette with hoppy Brown Ale, roast beef and gravy with Scottish ale, Chicken Kiev and Pilsner Urquell, oysters and Castle Milk Stout, tuna and olives with Peroni Nastro Azzuro, black tiger prawns and scallops with Grolsch, and an interesting sounding pairing of chocolate and Castle Milk Stout.

The difference between beer types was explained, lagers made by fermenting yeast which is subjected to cold maturation. Taking longer to ferment than ales, lagers are cleaner, less sweet, more rounded, have a less complex flavour, less fruit aroma, and usually have grass on the nose.   They are clear and light in colour. Ales are fermented at a warm temperature, with a short maturation period. They have complex flavours, and a more pronounced fruity aroma and palate.  They are served at room temperature, and have a lower carbon dioxide content.  Pilsners, originating from Pilsen in the Czech Republic, are gold in colour and clear, and have a bitter taste and hop aroma.  Stouts are almost black in colour, with a roasted taste, coming from roasting the malt, making them flavourful and given them a strong hop character.  SAB makes its beers from water, yeast, hops, malted barley, and maize, making them nutritional too, in containing vitamins, potassium, soluble fibre, with little sodium, reducing cholesterol, and slowing down digestion.  Beer has no additives, unlike wines.

In taking us through the beer and food pairing, Denis said that a beer should be evaluated as one does a wine, but with additional aspects, looking at its colour, clarity, foam, sound of the bubbles, aroma on the nose, and taste.  We tasted a ceviche of line fish with fennel, chilli and avocado, prepared by Chef Pete, paired with Castle Lite.  Containing only 4 – 5 % alcohol, it allows one to drink more beer than wine when one eats.   A spiced black urid lentil bunny chow was paired with Carling Black Label, a lager containing 5,5 % alcohol, and with a banana nose, slightly sweeter, not so hoppy, and often chosen as a favourite in blind tastings by women, Denis said, despite its masculine marketing focus.

Toulouse sausage and bacon, served with lentils and a mustard sauce, was paired with Pilsner Urquell.  Denis told us that Urquell was the first clear beer made, being more golden in colour, and being quieter on the ear in containing less carbon dioxide, and undergoing ‘triple decoction’, the name for the caramelisation process.  It has toffee, honey, citrus and spicy aromas.  They use the very aromatic saaz hop.  It is a serious beer, good to pair with goulash and steak tartare.  The Czechs are the largest beer drinking nation, Denis said. I enjoyed the pairing of Chef Pete’s delicious sticky toffee pudding (the only toffee we had at the Toffie Food Festival!) with Castle Milk Stout, called that due to its addition of lactose.  This beer has caramel, milk, molasses, and butterscotch on the nose, with a hoppy, malty and burnt taste.

The health benefits alone would be a good justification to drink a lot more beer, and the workshop proved how well different beers can be paired with a variety of foods.

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

Pub Review: Watching the World Cup at Foresters Arms

Foresters Arms, or Forries as it is commonly known, is a Newlands landmark, having been built as an inn in 1880, as a halfway station between Cape Town and Simonstown.  With its English Tudor style building, I chose it as the pub to watch the England versus Slovenia match.  

I had not been to Forries since an Ikeys/Maties Intervarsity rugby match about 35 years ago, and it felt as if the interior of the pub had not changed one bit since then!   It comes across as a goldmine, into which no money has been re-invested for years, at least not as far as its decor goes.   Its wagon-wheel lamps, black and white photographs of the original inn, its wooden benches and tables, set up school-wise so that one sees the backs of the persons in front of one, and old-fashioned menu design all date the pub.  I was disappointed with the lack of “gees’ of the predominantly England supporters, even though the pub had lots of flags up outside the building, the staff wore soccer shirts (the only pub visited that showed its World Cup spirit in this way), and England was winning. 

In addition to the very extensive menu, a reduced World Cup laminated menu is presented.  The reduced menu offers 200 gram baskets of crumbed mushrooms for R 47, and barbeque ribs for R 43, and a 250 gram basket of peri-peri chicken wings for R 40.  A 250 gram “super rump” steak sounds good value at R 78, while three wrap choices cost around R 60.  A Moroccan chicken salad costs R 58.  I saw some patrons order chips, probably the most popular item on the menu, which cost R 17/R34.

The main menu, whilst offering varied choices, almost seems overdone, especially as I hardly saw anyone eating during or before the match.   It offers every possible food type, starting with breakfast options ranging from R 28 – R 49; eight starters range from R 35 – R 58, and include chicken livers, mussels, springbok carpaccio; all steaks are 250 gram, and the most expensive is the fillet steak at R 135, not inexpensive at that price.   Salads range in price from R58 – R 65, and it is surprising there is such a choice available, given that most patrons I saw were male.   Fourteen pizza options are offered, the most expensive being a Figaro Pizza (bacon, blue cheese, and figs).  I had the pizza with a mushroom, asparagus and avocado topping, and was extremely disappointed – I could not taste the asparagus, yet tasted something in a sauce, covered in cheese.  It tasted most unappetising, and was not attractive either, yet cost R 68.   Fish and chips cost R 60.  Schnitzel, chilli steak and steak rolls are also available.  As if this is not enough choice, they have a section called “A la carte” – was the rest of the menu not that already? – with a mix-match of Gourmet Karoo Lamb Burger (R65), calamari strips, tiger prawns (8 for R 135), steak and kidney pie, chicken pie, mussels, gammon steak, green chicken curry and pork ribs.  A carvery at R 95 is another option, but is only served on Sundays and public holidays.  The manager told me that the steak and kidney pie, the Forries pizza and their burgers are by far the most popular menu items.

The winelist is introduced as follows: “The wines we have selected have also been accredited by the Platter Wine Guide”.  One cannot imagine anyone drinking other than beer at Forries, but they do sell some very inexpensive wines by the glass (R18 for Robertson Chapel white and rose), Savanha Chardonnay costs R 22,  and Spier Cabernet Sauvignon and Barista cost R 35 each.  John B wines cost R23.   But Forries also stocks Moet et Chandon at R 700; Simonsig and Graham Beck sparkling wine at around R 200; Spier Private Cellar shiraz costs R 230.  Corkage is charged at R 30.

“Forries offers the largest selection of draught beer in the Cape”, according to the winelist, and its 500ml Amstel and Windhoek cost R20,50; Castle costs R18,50; Hansa R18; Mitchels R20; Peroni R22,50; Pilsner Urquell R24,50; and Guinness R25,50 – these prices are very good value compared to bottled beers served at other pubs.   The quantity of beer is not specified nor requested when ordering, and I was only told afterwards that a 330ml size was available for all the draught beers.

It is hard to imagine what attracts clients to Forries, other than the tradition of going there from varsity days, good parking availability, and its good value and range of draught beer.  It cannot be the food (the worst of all the pubs to date) nor the decor.   I rated it luke-warm on World Cup “gees”, and nothing would drag me back to Forries again.

Foresters Arms, 57 Newlands Avenue, Newlands.  Tel 021 689-5949.  No website, but www.forries.co.za will go live in “about a month”!

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

Pub Review: Watching the World Cup at Salt Vodka and Champagne Bar

An important match like England versus Algeria deserved a better pub visit than the one to Caprice earlier in the day.   Salt Vodka and Champagne Bar, which opened about 3 weeks ago, and has taken four months longer than planned to open, met the brief.

If I had not known about it having opened, having been told about it by Newmark Hotels’ PR consultant Ian Manley, I would not have gone, as there is no signage outside.   I first tried to enter via Salt Deli, but the entrance is separate, so I entered via an outside side passage.  It is not clear that one must go up the steps, as there is no further signage down the passage, and the initial steps are dangerous, first down a tile step, and then up wooden steps. 

It was a surprise to enter a large bar area, sparsely furnished.   The amazing and charming Manager Aleks Kopertowska came to me and greeted me by name and with a handshake, having taken my reservation earlier in the day.  She did tell me later on that she remembered me from the time that she worked in Franschhoek four years ago.

She seated me with an American brother and sister, who are travelling in South Africa, and Botswana and Kenya thereafter, and were staying at the Ambassador Hotel across the road.   They bravely watched the soccer with me.   Aleks explained that there had been a problem with the ordered furniture, and the lovely white leather chairs appear to be temporary.  We had a very artistic, but very low, table made from white-painted wooden logs bound together, so Aleks organised that a table from the Deli be brought to us, which made eating and writing far more comfortable.   The decor has grey tones in the ceiling, a rich wooden floor, a long bar counter with modern black leather and chrome bar stools, and a large flatscreen TV which is visible to all in the Bar.   There was only one soccer touch in the Bar, but impressed with its stylishness – two beaded soccer ball-shaped holders for the orchids. 

Aleks’ service did not stop.  She offered to show me the special Champagne Room, a beautiful display of chilled bubbly brands, especially the creative Veuve Cliquot display container in orange, which can serve as a ice-bucket at the same time.   She showed me the terrace, which has attractive grey outdoor furniture, modern but classic in design, and in summer one can predict that it will be one of the coolest places on the Atlantic Seaboard.  One can see the sea from it.

Aleks was honest in admitting that the food served at the Salt Vodka Bar currently is from Salt Deli downstairs, as Chef Jacques de Jager is still working on the menu.  Also, the full complement of 15 champagnes and 15 local sparkling wines to be offered by the glass are not yet all on the menu, that I had read about. The Salt Vodka Bar beverage list is beautifully bound in a black leather cover, and reflects the look of the Salt restaurant in the Ambassador Hotel.  The Salt Deli menu is a poor quality photocopy with the Breakfast options (clearly not applicable), and the Light Meals listed.   There are 13 options for the latter, ranging from the soup of the day (a delicious thick butternut soup, with a swirl of cream and sprinkled with bacon and decorated with fresh basil, served with toasted rye bread and butter, excellent value at R35), some salads (R30 for the garden salad), sandwiches, lasagne (R50) and Chicken Supreme (R85).  The butternut soup was so delicious that I asked for a take-away portion for my son working at the Stadium that evening.   Aleks came back to report that I had been served the last portion, but given that I would be at the Salt Vodka Bar until the match finished, she had asked Salt restaurant across the road to make another portion – a continuation of her excellent and attentive service (if only there was more like this in Cape Town!)

The Beverage List offers fifteen vodkas, many costing R 19, and the most expensive is Wyborowa Exquisite, at R38.   The heading “Champagnes” is used for both “South African” and “French” bubbly sub-headings, with five locals (Moreson R50, and Graham Beck Blanc de Blanc and its Brut Rose both costing R95 a glassful, prices on the high side) and eight imported ones (Guy Charbaut Millesime costs R160 per glass, and Veuve Cliquot costs R360 per glass).  The list of wines-by-the-glass is very limited, with just one per variety in general, and not all varieties represented – Bosman’s Rose costs R31, Sauvignon Blanc Waterford Pecan Stream and Springfield Life from Stone cost R33 and R50, respectively, and Waterford Chardonnay costs R63.  The Springfield “whole berry” Cabernet Sauvignon costs R63, a Vriesenhof Enthopio at R55, and Diemersfontein Carpe Diem pinotage (R65) disappointingly are the only three red wines by the glass.    Windhoek Lager and Castle cost R 17;  Millers, Peroni, and Amstel cost R 19; Heineken and Pilsner Urquell cost R22; Savanna costs R21; and Hunter’s Dry R19.  The Americans and I were offered a complimentary glass of chocolate martini, another Aleks touch.

Would I go back to watch another match?  Probably not, as there was little World Cup atmosphere and support.  The Danish team girlfriends, who were staying at the Ambassador Hotel, took over most of the Bar initially, and were not interested in watching at all, talking and blocking the screen. Then some dubious looking ladies (of the night?) came in, and had a loud chat with the two barmen, who talked back at the top of their voices, not caring about us watching the match – I was surprised that Aleks did not address this with her staff.  The barman was more considerate when using the cappuccino machine, compared to his Harvey’s Bar colleague two days earlier, in making less noise on it.   Salt Vodka Bar seems unfinished in terms of its temporary furniture, lack of signage, and lack of menu, probably hastily opened due to the World Cup.   The service is outstanding. 

Salt Vodka and Champagne Bar, above Salt Deli, 34 Victoria Road, Bantry Bay.  Tel 076 728 7487 (Aleks’ cell, no dedicated line upstairs yet). www.saltrestaurant.co.za (website is for the main restaurant in the Ambassador Hotel only – no information about Salt Deli and Salt Vodka Bar on the website).  Closes at midnight on all nights, except Thursday and Friday evenings, when it closes at 2h00.

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