Tag Archives: Roland Gorgosilich

Restaurant Review: Bosman’s Lunch Special amazing value!

We wrote earlier this year that Bosman’s, and the Grande Roche hotel with it, had shaken off its stiff five star hotel image, and had become friendlier. A return visit to this Eat Out Top 10 restaurant earlier this week, to try the recently introduced Lunch Special, confirmed that this is still the case, and found Bosman’s to be unbelievable value, designed to attract locals back into the Grande Roche, and to change the perception that it is expensive.

New GM Anja Bosken came to greet me, on crutches, due to a recent knee operation, and we discussed the reception I received at the security boom, the lady on duty asking aggressively why I was there (between 1 – 2 pm one would assume it is for lunch) and then said she had to check if she could let me in!   Every time I come to the Grande Roche, there is an issue with the outsourced security.  Ms Bosken had just come out of a security meeting, and as the ‘new broom’, she is trying to make changes one step at a time.   A very friendly new Restaurant Manager is Nazlie Barnard, who ran the Cape Malay restaurant at the Cellars Hohenhort, and Zachary’s at Pezula, and she happened to be in the parking area, greeted me, and welcomed me by my surname.  This was spoilt by the waitress who asked me if I would be eating, after I sat at one of the tables prepared for lunch on the outside terrace, on a gloriously sunny winter’s day!  When I told her that I was just sitting there to look at the view, she accepted my answer, and walked away, without bringing a menu.   I received the nicely presented Grande Roche (no Bosman’s branding) A5 menu with gold ribbon from Nazlie, and the waitress took the marble-look underplate away from the place setting.  It is odd that they do that, as it looks really nice.  A fish knife and a spoon was added for the first course, and the waitress stretched across to put down a fork, despite having enough space to put it down from the left.  A rather ordinary bread plate of small slices of French baguette, ciabatta, rye bread, and a sesame seed roll (I missed a slice of seedloaf) was offered with butter (I miss their choice of three spreads), Tokara olive oil, and WMF salt and pepper grinders.  

In the last month, the new Bosman’s lunch special has been launched, costing an unbelievably low R120 for two courses, and R155 for three.  When paired with wine, the 2-course lunch costs R210, and R290 for the three courses.  What is commendable is that it will continue throughout summer, until April, with the exception of the Christmas – New Year period. For starters, one can choose Asian-flavoured butternut soup and tuna springrolls (paired with 2009 False Bay Chenin Blanc), or a Mediteranean vegetable salad with kabeljou and aceto balsamico (paired with a 2008 Crios Bride Sauvignon Blanc).  For the main course one of the options is Veal Osso Bucco with garlic potato mash and green bean cassoulet (paired with 2005 Rainbow’s End Shiraz). The Seafood tagliatelle was served with kingklip, cob, salmon trout, a prawn, and seafood foam, paired with a 2005 Rijk’s Semillon, the fish types not being specified on the menu, and some were different to what I was told verbally.  Chef Roland Gorgosilich has a good hand with seafood, not over-complicating his fish dishes, but I find his salt hand too heavy, it not being the first time that I have experienced this.  For dessert I chose the Espresso panna cotta, which was served with a berry confit (this is the description on the menu, but I liked the waiter’s wording of it being a ‘fruit ragout’) and shortbread sticks, beautifully presented.  The panna cotta was very firm and creamy, and had a rich strong coffee taste. The wine pairing for this dessert was a 2007 Stellenrust Chenin D’Muscat, of which Sommelier Josephine Gutentoft brought me a glassful, with the compliments of Ms Bosken, to make up for the ‘booming’ reception. The alternative dessert choice was a Banana Chocolate spring roll and chocolate ganache, paired with a 2008 Buitenverwachting 1769 Natural Sweet wine.  I was not asked about coffee after the meal. 

The view from the Grande Roche terrace onto the vineyards surrounding the hotel estate, and the Paarl mountains, is wonderful.  The food is good, except for the saltiness, and the lunch is one of the best value offerings on our Winter Restaurant Specials list.  I have no doubt that Ms Bosken will fix the security boom staff interaction issue, and Nazlie has to sharpen the waiter training.  I will be back to try the other options on the Specials menu, and I am sure that Chef Roland will make changes to it over the next seven months, to keep it fresh.

Bosman’s Restaurant at Grande Roche, Plantasie Street, Paarl.  Tel (021) 863-5100.  www.grandroche.com  (The website does not list the Lunch special, has very few food photographs in its Image Gallery, and does not have photographs of lunching on the terrace).   Twitter: @Grande_Roche

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

Grande Provence touches a nerve with its Multiple Sclerosis charity lunch!

For the past five years, with one exception, I have attended the Grande Provence charity lunch in aid of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, the proceeds of which go to the Society.  The theme of the lunch is Big 5, and everything is done in multiples of five: five courses, prepared by five top chefs, paired with five Grande Provence wines, and five entertainers, creating a most enjoyable afternoon, and generating much needed funding for the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Not cheap at R1100 a ticket, the Grande Provence charity lunch was attended by about a hundred supporters, and raised about R200 000, almost double the amount raised last year.  All services are donated, and the full amount raised is donated to the Society.  In addition to the ticket sales, a raffle raised funds, as did a charity auction, of accommodation, a helicopter flip, a dinner for ten cooked by Grande Provence chef Darren Roberts, and works of art, which raised half the monies, thanks to the amazing auctioneering charm of Ariella Kuper of Auction Alliance. 

Multiple Sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system which destroys the myelin, a ‘rubber coating around the nerves in one’s brain’.  This leaves the nerves exposed, and blocks messages from the brain to parts of the body, creating physical problems, such as an inability to speak properly, to walk, to see, or to remember things.   The Society uses the monies it raises to pay for a part-time social worker, to offer support at the homes of sufferers of this disease, to offer transport services, to train sufferers in coping with their disease, and to offer equipment for rental.

On arrival guests were offered Angels Tears Rosé, and canapés of salmon cones and oysters, prepared by Michel Louws, the chef at Huka Lodge in New Zealand, the sister property of Grande Provence.  Chef Michel arrived in Franschhoek last week, and we attended a dinner on Friday evening as well, prepared by him in its entirety, with a focus on New Zealand cuisine, but more about that below.  The programme was spread out over close to six hours, and a good time was had by all, Master of Ceremonies Ryan O’Connor from Kfm being a charming and funny host, and has donated his services for free for a number of years, and vowed to do so for the rest of his life.  The programme interspersed food courses with the entertainment by five musicians (Darryl Walters, Kari, ex-Madame Zingara and Vaudeville performer Irit Noble, Tony Nelson, and Emil Struwig), and a few speeches.  Non Smit, who runs the Multiple Sclerosis Society, described the disease as invisible, and expressed her gratitude for the support received, and explained how the monies are used.  Shani Marais, wife of Grande Provence winemaker Jaco Marais, whose brainchild the lunch is, is a Multiple Sclerosis sufferer, and works tirelessly to organise the annual charity luncheons.  Motivational speaker Sean Willard spoke on the subject of his book to be published in July, entitled “Have a Life Attack”, and advised all to have “a love attack, a laugh attack and a life attack” regularly!  He said that Shani was a wonderful example of getting up, and not giving up. 

The first course was prepared by Grande Roche Eat Out Top 10 chef Roland Gorgosilich, being a Trio of Ostrich (left), including carpaccio and a mince ball, served with Tandoori, paprika vinaigrette and coriander mayonnaise, and was paired with the Grande Provence Pinot Noir 2009, which I enjoyed so much that I stuck with it for the rest of the lunch.   This was followed by Rainbow Trout gravadlax, presented with watercress, anchovy and smoked beetroot mayonnaise, Buffalo mozzarella, and a dill and lime gel, beautifully presented by Chef Gregory Czarnecki of Waterkloof Estate in Somerset West (right).   This course was paired with Grande Provence Sauvignon Blanc 2010. 

The main course was lamb neck, which had been cured and cooked for 36 hours.  It was prepared by Chef Michel Louws from award-winning Huka Lodge in New Zealand, and he felt that lamb would represent his new home country, using Karoo lamb for the dish.  It was topped with the tiniest croutons and lime peel, which gave the softest lamb a wonderful taste.  The aroma of the lamb could be smelt throughout the room, and was enjoyed to ooos and aaas.  Chef Michel has an interesting Dutch/New Zealand accent, and a most interesting hairstyle – he is bald-headed, but has a cute strand of hair which stands upright with the help of a special wax, he explained to us, saying that when he was at school they didn’t want his hair to be long, while his mother did not want him to shave everything off, so he chose the combination compromise.  Chef Michel trained at Michelin-starred Dutch restaurants Le Cirque, de Librije, Inter Scaldis and Zusje, and then the restaurant at which he was the head chef, ‘t-Veerhuis, was awarded a Michelin star. He joined Huka Lodge two years ago.  His restaurant will not feature on the New Zealand top 10 restaurant list, he said, as the restaurant is mainly for the guests of the Lodge, and a maximum of six outside guests can be considered per meal.  

The 4-course New Zealand dinner prepared by Michel Louws on Friday evening, costing R495 per head, was preceded by canapes, including salmon cones.  Chef Michel served scallops as a starter, one hot and one cold, with lemon, which was paired with Grande Provence Sauvignon Blanc 2010, and an excellent New Zealand Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2005.  Then followed barbecued lobster served with a delicious liquid garlic sauce, paired with Grande Provence Chardonnay 2009 and New Zealand Clearview Reserve Chardonnay 2009.  The main course was the lamb neck as well, served with Grande Provence Shiraz 2007 and New Zealand Craggy Range Block 14 Syrah 2005, and Chef Michel described the Karoo lamb he used for it as ‘bloody awesome’.   Dessert was a ‘deconstructed Snickers’, consisting of malt, caramel, chocolate and peanuts, which was paired with Frangelico.   Chef Michel wants to try the local restaurant highlights, and went to The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français, saying it was ‘worldly’ and he liked that they served local wines. He also went to Pierneef à La Motte, where he had Bokkoms.  In Holland they have a similar dish, made from air-dried herrings.  He wants to get to The Test Kitchen, and we suggested Tokara, given his admiration for Ferran Adria of El Bulli.

The charity lunch dessert was prepared by Rudi Liebenberg and his pastry chef from the Mount Nelson Hotel and their Planet restaurant.  It was a collection of ‘chocolate stuff’, including peanut and chocolate sable, chocolate créme, dark chocolate sorbet, and a thin slab of Valrhona chocolate.  This was paired with Grande Provence Shiraz 2007.   The final course was a cheese plate served on a slate plate, beautifully presented by Chef Darren Roberts of Grande Provence.   It contained a stilton, roasted cashew nuts, preserved fig, olive biscuits, compressed melon goats’ cheese sorbet, balsamic foam, Welsh Rarebit, and a refreshing raspberry aniseed puree, and was paired with Grande Provence Chardonnay 2010.

Grande Provence has re-positioned itself as one of the top restaurants in Franschhoek, with the two excellent top food events it organised over the past weekend.  It was announced by Grande Provence GM Amanda Roberts that they plan to bring out more guest chefs from Australia and Asia.  The collaboration with top local chefs in preparing food for the Multiple Sclerosis Society charity lunch is a great opportunity to see the creativity of the chefs under one roof, so to speak, whilst supporting a worthwhile cause.

Grande Provence, Main Road, Franschhoek.  Tel (021) 876-8600.  www.grandeprovence.co.za

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

Grande Provence brings Michelin star to Franschhoek

Grande Provence  is sharing the star-quality of the chef of its sister property, New Zealand-based Huka Lodge. Chef Michel Louws will be cooking at a special New Zealand-themed dinner on the wine estate in Franschhoek on Friday evening (27 May), and allows local foodlovers to experience the culinary talents of a chef who has worked at a number of Michelin-starred restaurants in Holland.

Born in Holland, and sharpening his chef’s knives at de Librije (3*), Inter Scaldis (2*), Le Cirque (1*) and Zusje (1*), it was his work as Head Chef at ‘t-Veerhuis that earned the restaurant a Michelin star, and made him known “for superb cuisine, originality and a proven passion for creating exceptional dining experiences for those fortunate enough to enjoy his dishes”.  Louws now works at Huka Lodge, which regularly features on top 100 lists for excellent accommodation.

The four-course dinner, with Huka Lodge-style signature dishes, including a scallop starter, a fish dish, lamb neck main course, and a pineapple, mascarpone, coconut and coriander dessert, will be served with both New Zealand and Grande Provence wines, and costs R495 per person.

Michel Louws will also be cooking one of the five courses for the Multiple Sclerosis Society fundraising lunch at Grande Provence on Sunday 29 May, together with a star cast of chefs: Grande Provence chef Darren Roberts, Grande Roche chef Roland Gorgosilich, Waterkloof chef Gregory Czarnecki, and Mount Nelson chef Rudi Liebenberg

Grande Provence, Franschhoek.  27 May.  Tel (021) 876-8600.  www.grandeprovence.co.za

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

Restaurant Review: Dinner at Grande Provence a special treat

I have been to Grande Provence many times, yet have not written a review of their dinner, but have written about their High Tea,  and Chef Darren Roberts’ visit to Hong Kong late last year.   A pre-Valentine’s Day dinner on Sunday evening was a very special treat, not just in terms of the quality of the food served, but also because of the service, the beautiful interior, and extreme friendliness.

It started when Food & Beverage Manager Donovan Dreyer came towards us as we walked to the restaurant from the parking area, to welcome us.   He had called earlier in the day, to confirm the reservation, and had apologised for not being there, as he had the evening off.  He seated us, introduced us to our waitress Shasta, and was most helpful in printing the menu for me.   He then went off, after sending two glasses of sparkling wine to the table, with the compliments of Grande Provence.

Since 2005 Grande Provence (previously belonging to Count Augusta) has belonged to a Dutch consortium called The Huka Retreats, under the management of Alex van Heeren, and they also own Huka Lodge in New Zealand (usually on the Top 100 world accommodation lists) and the privately owned Dolphin Island in Fiji.  The business card describes the positioning of the company to be :”Intimate . Sensual . Elegant”.  Grande Provence supports good causes, and its highlight is the annual fundraising lunch prepared in honour of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, sponsored in its entirety by Grande Provence.  This year it will be held on 29 May, and Grande Provence Chef Darren Roberts, his Huka Lodge counterpart Michel Louws, Rudi Liebenberg of the Mount Nelson Hotel, Gregory Czarnecki of Waterkloof and Roland Gorgosilich of the Grande Roche will each prepare one of the five courses.   I have attended two of these outstanding lunches in the past.

Chef Darren has worked as a Pastry Chef at L’Heiner Konditorei in Vienna, as well as in London, Johannesburg, Melbourne and the Seychelles.  Before joining Grande Provence last year, he worked at Farncourt Hotel, and he has been a restaurant consultant.   He always makes time to come out of his kitchen to say hello.

Similarly to Delaire Graff and Glen Carlou, Grande Provence invests in art and also has an art gallery, with regularly changing exhibitions.   I love the interior decor of Grande Provence, and Virginia Fisher is the decorator to the group of properties, and is based in New Zealand.  The tasting room has a counter made from industrial steel, and the bar chairs are the cleverest I have ever seen on a wine estate, with a tractor seat, surprisingly comfortable to sit on.   In the restaurant, she used industrial steel tables, and blue chairs in the two outside rows, and the finest white leather high-back chairs in the central row.   The restaurant has a fireplace too, and is lit, even on some nights when it does not seem necessary.  The table has linen runners in white with blue stripes, which look a little like fancy drying cloths.  The wooden salt and pepper grinders look ordinary and out of place with the silver theme (same criticism as at Glen Carlou), given the stature of and price one pays for a meal at Grande Provence.  Two sets of cutlery are laid, and the glassware is excellent.  Each table has a silver side table (more attractive than the wooden ‘handbag tables’ at Mange Tout) on which the ice bucket and the water jug go, leaving the table free for the really important reason for being there, being the food!  Staff wear black ‘GP’ branded shirts, and black pants, with a grey apron. I was happy to see that the denim staff clothing has been done away with. 

The menu is in a holder made from the same fine white leather, as is the winelist.   One must have a minimum of three courses, costing R295, four courses cost R380, and five courses R 450.   Once again, a three course meal is more than adequate, as one receives an amuse bouche as well as a palate cleanser too, adding a further two courses.  While the courses listed are identifiable as starters, mains and desserts, one may choose any three on the menu, and in any order, even if one has the dessert first!  Unusual is the bold red note on the menu that one should advise the waitrons if one would like breaks between courses.  We absolutely loved the mini wholewheat loaf that was served in small slices, containing pieces of fruit, and topped with poppy and sesame seeds.    It is sold in the tasting room, and costs R15 a loaf.   An amuse bouche was brought to the table, being a mushroom tart with mushroom puree, similar to a quiche, and placed on top of the most crispy fried parma ham, and hidden under basil leaves when served.  I was impressed with how warm the plates were when they were brought from the kitchen, and I cannot recall when last I experienced a hot plate on my restaurant visits.  My starter of Tempura langoustine tail, blackened corn and tomato was brought to the table in a soup plate, and the sweet-tasting sweetcorn velouté was poured into the plate by a waiter at the table, with much more style than we had experienced at the new Planet Restaurant at the Mount Nelson Hotel.  The tempura batter was very light and not very crispy.   My partner had ordered a Green Pea and Shimeji mushroom ravioli, which he enjoyed, but felt it to be salty.  Other starters are Tom Yum prawn risotto, caramelised eel and foie gras terrine, rillettes of duck, pork and rabbit, quail, Stilton and curried pear tartlet, carpaccio of beetroot, and duck prosciutto.  A palate cleanser of plum sorbet and lemon compote was a surprise course. 

I loved the juicy Tagine of duck, served with green olives, dates, pistachio nuts, sweetcorn polenta and walnut arancini (with a R25 surcharge).   I missed Chef Darren’s colourful plating touch, as the plate only had shades of brown on it.   My partner’s Asian braised pork belly, by contrast, had colour appeal, with oranges creating a colour contrast, and was served with tatsoi, roasted onion infused mashed potato, and a hazelnut and apple crumble.  Further main courses to choose from include Baby chicken, hake, beef fillet with lobster tail, springbok and Karoo lamb neck.  Donovan had told me that the most popular dishes ordered are the Grande Provence Seafood Selection, with his own special XO broth that Chef Darren came back with from Hong Kong last year, and crème brûlée served with a strawberry salsa, and a refreshing strawberry and mint sorbet served on a spoon, which was my dessert choice.  The brûlée was soft and creamy.  My partner chose the Prince Albert Regal cheese, served with brioche and olives.  Other dessert options are chocolate calzone, summer fruit jelly and a chocolate tart.

The winelist has mainly Grande Provence (including Angel Tears) wines, and the wine prices are roughly 50 % of cost of sales, influenced by availability and awards won.   We were impressed with the generous wine quantity poured by the glass.  My reaction to the chilled (17°C) 2007 Shiraz was picked up by the waitress, and she came back with a bottle at room temperature, and allowed me to taste that one as well, and I far preferred the non-chilled glassful.  The paper in the wine list we were given seemed heavily used.   Innovative was the first page listing of all the awards that the Grande Provence wines have won.   Wines by the glass include the Grande Provence Chardonnay (R56/R180), Sauvignon Blanc (R46/R160), Viognier and Chenin Blanc blend (R42/R140), Cabernet Sauvignon  and Shiraz (both R55/R190), Pinot Noir (R60/R230) as well as Angel Tears Sauvignon Blanc (R22/R80), White (R20/R70), Red (R22/R80), Pink (R20/R70) and Blanc de Blanc MCC (R45/R200), very affordable prices.  The Grande Provence, the wine estate’s flagship wine, costs R700.  Pongracz (R185), Pierre Jourdan Belle Rosé (R44/210), Piper Heidsiek (720) and Billecart Salmon Brut Rosé (R1500) are also available.

Donovan proudly told me about the new Rosetta imported coffee range that they will be introducing soon.   Grande Provence guests will be able to order their coffee made from beans of the origin of their choice, much as one can order a type of tea.  Beans will be available from Papua New Guinea, two options from Ethiopia, Panama, Brazil, and Indonesia. The Illy coffees will remain the baseline coffee at Grande Provence.

Grande Provence has been an Eat Out Top 10 restaurant, its previous chefs Peter Tempelhoff and Jacques de Jager having been awarded this accolade.  I am convinced that Chef Darren can achieve the same, and have found him to be one of the most creative platers and food designers, especially as far his desserts go.  I felt disappointed that our dinner did not reflect enough of this talent, which I have seen on so many previous occasions, and I told Chef Darren so when he came to say hello.  Our waitress was good and attentive, but I was annoyed when she interrupted a heated discussion between my partner and I, just to ask our permission to serve the next course, an odd touch, as one is normally in the hands of the chef as far as serving timing goes. A sign of the professionalism of Grande Provence, and of F&B Manager Donovan, was his call the following day, to check if everything had been to our satisfaction, proactively requesting feedback.  It is this care and friendliness that makes me go back to Grande Provence over and over again.

Restaurant at Grande Provence, Main Road/R45, Franschhoek.  Tel (021) 876-8600.  www.grandeprovence.co.za. (The website contains the menu, a profile of Chef Darren, and a description of the restaurant interior.  Disappointingly there is no Image Gallery to display Chef Darren’s beautiful dishes).  Monday – Sunday lunch and dinner.

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