Tag Archives: Rockwell Centre

Restaurants opening up a storm!

Following on from the restaurant opening news posted on the WhaleTales blog less than a week ago, more restaurant opening (and temporary closing) news has reached WhaleTales.

Reuben Riffel, who opened a small 30-seater restaurant in Robertson last month, has two new babies up his sleeve – he and his wife Maryke are expecting the birth of their first child in the next week.  He is also planning his next restaurant opening, in the old Pippin farmstall building at the entrance to Franschhoek, alongside the Franschhoek Cellars, focusing on steaks.    Reuben’s has a new attractively designed menu, in A3 size, listing his starters (expensive in ranging from R 58 – R 75), mains ranging from R 89 – R 145, and desserts expensive in ranging between R 50 – R 70.   Interestingly,  his new menu has a listing of the who’s who cooking in the kitchen, with Reuben listed as the “Concept chef”, and his executive chef as William Carolissen, his commis chefs as Luzette Riffel and Lizel Blanckenberg, and his pastry chef as Corien Hattingh.   Unfortunately this can only mean that Reuben will be less likely to be in the kitchen himself.    The duck liver starter especially, but also the calf’s liver main course, were excellent last night, and the service good.   The only complaint was that a vintage of Lynx wine by the glass stated on the winelist was no longer available, and the waiter did not inform the customers about this.  He was ready to pour a younger vintage without communication.

Adrian Buchanan, who was the chef at Monneaux restaurant at the Franschhoek Country House for many years, has recently opened a restaurant with two partners at Freedom Hill Country Restaurant on the road between Paarl and Franschhoek, near the Wemmershoek Dam.

In Franschhoek Allee Bleue will be a space to watch, with ambitious plans for two further restaurants to open on the estate in the summer, in addition to its Bistro.  The estate has re-opened for weekend dinners and brunches.  It has also just introduced picnics 7 days a week, at R 145 per head, with delicacies such as avocado ritz, snoek pate, roast beef, and chocolate mousse.   

The Bombay Bicycle Club, which has a namesake in London, but is no relation, opened recently where Amigos used to be at the top of Kloof Street in the City Bowl, and Richard Griffin, previous owner of the liquidated Madame Zingara, is one of the partners.  The opening and his involvement have been very low key.   The restaurant is booked out up to 3 weeks ahead over weekends, yet has received less than favourable feedback on restaurant review websites.

Chenin has opened as a restaurant and a wine bar where The Nose Bar used to be in the Cape Quarter, with chef Daniel Heyns, previously with Zevenwacht and ZeroNineThreeTwo, reports EatOut.

In Sea Point, two restaurants have opened: La Boheme on Main Road, and Duchess of Wisbeach, on Wisbeach Road.  Reviews will be posted on the WhaleTales blog shortly.

Not much is known yet about the projects that chef Bruce Robertson is consulting on, but they are said to be a new restaurant each in Woodstock and in Franschhoek. 

Just six days ago, WhaleTales wrote how the financial shenanigans of Conrad Gallagher had affected the business of Bouillabaisse and Crepe Suzette in the Rockwell Center in De Waterkant.   Its unfortunate location, in being hidden from view from Somerset Road, and the demise of the promised epicurean food market in the Centre, severly impacted on the business of the two restaurants, with the Main Ingredient newsletter just 2 weeks ago writing a denial by Bouillabaisse that it was closing down in Cape Town.  Today the restaurant sent an e-mail to its database, to say that both restaurants have closed in Cape Town, and are relocating to an undisclosed address in Cape Town, re-opening in November.  The Bouillabaisse website also carries the news, and the restaurants’ telephone rings through to a Telkom answering service.

Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com

Restaurant openings bright light in gloomy recession

Restaurant closures seem to have ground to a halt, the last being the final liquidation of celebrity chef Conrad Gallagher’s Geisha Wok in the Cape Royale Luxury Hotel, and his Sundance coffee shops.   His departure from Cape Town and his shady business dealings have also influenced the operation of Crepe Suzette and Bouillabaisse in the Rockwell Centre in De Waterkant, which opened on the basis of Gallagher setting up an Epicurean Food Market on the ground floor, around the two new restaurants.   This deal fell flat earlier this year already, just as the restaurants were moving into the building.

Last month Reuben Riffel opened his second Reuben’s restaurant, in the new Small Hotel in Robertson.   Nook is the cutest ‘cosy eatery that specialises in homemade pastries, cakes, sandwiches and a wide variety of daily specials’,  that also opened last month in Stellenbosch’s Van Reyneveld Street, where the Greek Kitchen used to be.  The owners Luke and Jessica are young, and this is their first restaurant venture.  They are refreshing in the way they connect with their clients, and understand customer relationships. 

Last week Portofino opened where the Showroom used to be in De Waterkant, by fun and hands-on owner Cormac Keane with chef Stephen Kruger, previously working with Richard Carstens, in the kitchen.   See the review on this blog.

Yesterday the 12th branch of Doppio Zero opened on Somerset Road, Green Point, in a lovely renovated Victorian building with modern lighting, and is fantastically positioned opposite the Green Point stadium. Doppio Zero is a franchise operation, which has an impressive website that is upfront about what the company stands for.  Its promise is “to consistently deliver beyond your expectations”.   The company’s vision is to be a “leader in our industry and in the market in which we trade, and to imprint the Doppio experience in the culture of our guests.”   Its mission is to ensure that guest satisfaction is “number 1”, to offer staff growth opportunities, to offer uncompromising best quality food, service and people, to develop lasting relationships with guests, to continuously improve, and to make a “fair profit.”   Its values are passion and enthusiasm, integrity and honesty, an unconditional commitment to the brand, and individual responsibility and accountability.  These are strong words, and one hopes that the company can keep its promises, especially as they are stated so publicly.

Bruce Robertson’s Showroom Cafe and The Quarter on Long Street are doing well, and he was bubbling last week about four restaurant openings he is consulting on, all scheduled for October.   October also sees the opening of Vanilla, owned by the Newhouse father and son duo from Tuscany Beach in Camps Bay, in the new Cape Quarter building on Somerset Road.   Cru Cafe will also open in the center.

Kathy and Gary Jordan from Jordan Wines in Stellenbosch will also open a restaurant for light lunches in October, on their wine estate, reports The Sunday Independent.   Critically, they comment:”Too many people chase Michelin stars, but I am not a fan of that system.  To win those stars, you have to throw away your food from one sitting, and start again in the evening.  To me, it is just a waste.  It adds a huge cost to the restaurant bill.  Almost all the food rejected is still perfectly good.  I can’t stand seeing food wasted.”  Their restaurant will “offer simple, well-cooked, wholesome food”.  The Jordans are co-owners of the High Timber restaurant in London, with Neleen Strauss, and “a significant percentage” of the 40 000 wines in the restaurant are Jordan wines. 

The Waterkloof wine estate in Somerset West, which belongs to one of the largest wine importers in the UK, Paul Boutinot, and who calls himself the “Custodian” of the wine estate, according to its website, will open its restaurant in November, with chef Gregory Czarnecki in the kitchen and Julian Smith from Grande Provence managing the restaurant.  Czarnecki was previously at The BIg Easy in Stellenbosch, the restaurant belonging to Johan Rupert and Ernie Els, amongst others, and left when he was expected to cook hamburgers, it is said.    He worked with 3*** Michelin chef Alain Senderens at Lucas Carton.   Waterkloof’s website states that it makes ‘slow wines’, with fermentation taking place between one to eleven months instead of the usual 20 days, and it would be excellent if its new restaurant embodies “slow food”.

Little has been said or written about maze and Nobu locally lately, and one wonders what the effect of the poor reviews Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants in the UK got in the 2010 edition of The Harden’s restaurant guide will be on the local restaurant in the OneandOnly Cape Town hotel.  According to a report in the Daily Mail, the guide has placed four of Ramsays’ restaurants on the “10 most disappointing restaurants” list.    Three of the restaurants also featured on the ‘most overpriced’ list.  The author of the guide, Richard Harden, said of maze and of Ramsay that it is suffering from “imperial over-reach” and feels that ‘it has deep-seated problems’.   Harden continues about Ramsay: “He wants to be an international film star and be accorded Beckham levels of international fame yet he wants to run this internationally recognised group of restaurants.”   Ramsay’s profits fell by 90 %, according to the report, in the last year, and received negative feedback when it was discovered that some of his restaurants serve mass-produced food, prepared off-site and delivered to the restaurants.

Word about Stellenbosch town is that Etienne Bonthuys will not be at Tokara restaurant in the Helshoogte Pass for much longer.   He is opening up a new restaurant in Stellenbosch later this year, it is rumoured. No doubt Tokara owner GT Ferriera will look for a heavyweight chef to counteract the competition from Delaire Graff across the road.

A late-comer to social media marketing is Le Quartier Francais, which announced with fanfare that it was starting a blog at the beginning of this month.  It has only posted two posts, of which one has already been removed again.   Perhaps the owner does not know that a blog needs a dedicated commitment to regular posting to be credible and to help with search engine optimisation.

Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com