Tag Archives: Seidelberg

Bertus Basson at Spice Route : a modern South African restaurant!

Bertus Basson at SR Interior doilies Whale CottageI received a personal invitation from Chef Bertus Basson to join him for lunch at his new Bertus Basson at Spice Route restaurant, which opened on the Paarl wine farm 6 weeks ago. He and his charming wife Mareli managed to re-invent the restaurant within five days from taking over the space, modernising it to reflect their promise of ‘A Modern South African Restaurant’, both in terms of its decor and its food offeringBertus Basson at SR Bertus Whale Cottage.

A lot has changed at Spice Route, my last visit having been when Charles Back had taken over the wine estate, previously called Seidelberg, next door to his Fairview.  I didn’t have time to see all the artisan businesses which have opened at Spice Route since Back took over, but they include a Richard Bosman charcuterie outlet, with tastings at R30 (a bit cheeky I thought), a wine tasting centre, and Cape Brewing Co, about which I Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 17 July

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) countries have signed an agreement to create a New Development Bank, reports The New Age. The Bank’s first loans will be made in 2016, from its pooled resources of $50 billion.  South Africa is reported to have contributed R 5 billion to the establishment of the Bank.  In addition, a $100 billion ‘contingency reserves pool‘ will be set up, to safeguard any of the five countries from being hit by ‘an exodus of foreign capital‘.   The Bank headquarters will be in Shanghai, reports Mail & Guardian, while Johannesburg will be the regional centre of the Bank for Africa.

*   SAA has been named Best Airline Africa for the 12th year running, and won the Best Airline Staff Service Africa award for the third time, presented at the Skytrax World Airline Awards in London.  The airlines were evaluated on the basis of customer surveys conducted amongst 18 million travelers.   SAA has a 4-star rating from Skytrax, the only airline in Africa to have achieved the service quality rating.

*  SA Tourism is working on improving Indaba, its Chief Marketing Officer Jan Hutton has said, adding that she is taking Continue reading →

Richard’s Supper Stage & Bistro a welcome new Sea Point entertainment venue

A chance Facebook post about Richard’s Supper Stage & Bistro earlier yesterday took me to the entertainment venue last night, and I was delighted to meet entertainment legend and director/producer Richard Loring, who is the co-owner with Roland Seidel, who had owned Seidelberg wine estate.

A double story venue which previously housed Adega restaurant, next door to the 7-Eleven on Main Road Sea Point, will become a 200-seater ‘Supper Stage’ upstairs, with entry via Glengariff Road (the new striking red and white striped awning is a promise of great things to come).  Richard has redone the paving outside the entrance, and received permission to plant a garden on the pavement, to lift the tone of the neighbourhood.  Even 7-Eleven owner Elia Hadjidakis has promised Richard and Roland that this branch will become their flagship, to match the quality of the new entertainment venue.  Upstairs the massive space will sport Richard’s white piano, and some of the guests will see Robben Island from there. Upstairs too will be Richard’s Bar, which will be decorated with all Richard’s memorabilia spanning the past 50 years, the anniversary being celebrated later this year.  All the walls will be covered with wallpaper of Cape Town images, some of Adderley Street in black and white, and others in colour, such as of Bo-Kaap.  On Main Road a new red canopy with see-through ‘windows’ protected the Bistro deck downstairs from the strong southeaster wind.

Richard’s wife, former model Jeanette Stuart, is in Johannesburg, packing up their house there for the move to Cape Town.  Richard owned a house in Camps Bay for many years, but has now bought a house in Gordon’s Bay. In Johannesburg Richard ran the Sound Stage Theatre and dinner venue for 18 years, having put on 40 productions in this period. After selling the theatre he worked for the 1100-seater Lyric Theatre at Gold Reef City as theatre show consultant before moving to Cape Town in November.

I asked how Richard and Roland had met.  ‘African Footprint’ promoter Wolfgang Bocksch introduced Richard to Roland about eight years ago, and they talked loosely then about doing a theatre in Paarl.  Nothing came of this, but Roland did make an African Footprint wine to be sold at the ‘African Footprint’ shows. After an illness, which necessitated the sale of Seidelberg to Fairview last year, Roland contacted Richard, and they rekindled their idea of a show, choosing Sea Point. Originally the idea was to get Adega to provide the food service, but increasingly Richard and Roland realised that they should be in control of this side of their business too, and appointed Chef Ulli Stamm.  Richard and Roland have developed the story for ‘Kaapse Stories from the Mother City’, with Basil Appollis writing the script for the show.  They are busy casting for the show, which will be specifically aimed at tourists, but also at locals.  The cost of the show and buffet dinner should be around R350.  The show will be a fun mix of dance, humour, pathos, and history, a celebration of what Cape Town is all about, Richard said. Richard sees their venture making a contribution to tourism, in informing tourists about the history of the Cape, in allowing the employment of about 40 staff members to run the operation, and the development of new local entertainment talent.  While we were chatting Richard was keeping an eye on his staff all the time, giving them feedback about do’s and don’ts.

Chef Ulli previously worked at Arnold’s, Papino’s in Hout Bay, and then owned Trattoria Maranello in Camps Bay.  Despite his German background, there are no German dishes in his extensive menu, instead being more focused on Mediterranean cuisine, and specially Italian.  The tables on the deck outside have grey tops, and the chairs are grey plastic.  There are no table cloths but there are material serviettes.  Each table has a red candle in a glass, a salt and pepper grinder, and Willowcreek decorated olive oil and balsamic vinegars jars were brought to the table. Cutlery is ordinary. Small self-baked seed loaf slices were brought to the table. The menu is introduced by Chef Ulli in English, French, and Italian, and he writes: “It has always been my passion to bring the real culinary traditions of the Mediterranean to my table and ‘Richard’s’ is my way of sharing this experience. We proudly use locally raised and organically grown ingredients wherever possible and make sure high quality imports are used wherever necessary. Our menu is designed to encourage you to sample many different items. My team and I are honoured to cook for you and look forward to seeing you again and again and…” . The rules of the house are also listed, children under three years generously eating for free, food tolerance information is welcomed, all dishes are prepared ‘al minuto‘ and can be ordered without chilli. All dishes come with a side of salad or vegetables, and a choice of starch.

Ten starters have a good price range from R26 (foccacia) – R79 (carpaccio of smoked salmon), typical Italian dishes including minestrone, calamari, bruschetta, and antipasto. Six salads range from R45 – R62 (Moroccan lamb), including Caprese and Greek salads. Sandwiches (around R50) and burgers (even a salmon one at R89) are available. Pasta dishes range from R58 (Capellini al salmone) to R89 (prawn risotto). Fish dishes include cod, queen and king prawns, and calamari.  I had a fish dish off the specials board, a kabeljou with plain white rice and the most heavenly caper cream sauce (R108).  Steaks range from R96 – R135, and chicken dishes cost R69 – R88. Thirteen pizza options, made from Eureka Mills stone ground flour, include two Flammkuchen choices, and range from R46 for margherita – R97 for a salmon pizza, ensuring that no one will go hungry at Richard’s. Dessert options are plentiful, and cost R34 – R 49, including a good Tiramisu (R37), gelato, cassata, and Créma Catalana.  Coffee is by Italian Makamba. There is a separate breakfast menu.

The winelist has about three brands per variety, the regions are specified but the vintages are not.  Bollinger Special Cuveé Brut costs R1500, and Moët & Chandon R850. Prosecco Tereza Rizzi (R38/R220) and Maximilian (R240), Krone Borealis (R35/R199), and Pongracz (R194) sparkling wines are offered.  Shiraz options are Excelsior Paddock (R34/R115), Annandale (R440), and Rickety Bridge (R169). Local wines made from Italian grapes Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese, Barbera, and Nebbiolo are on the winelist, as are imported Italian wines, including Brunello (a 2006 at R1350, and a 2004 at R3800).  A wide selection of commercial beers is also available.  I was spoilt by Chef Ulli with a small taste of Limonché, made by local Belgian Jochen Nickmans.

It’s early days for Richard’s Bistro, the menu perhaps being too extensive and unfocused, and the service needing finetuning.  When Richard is there, things will run more smoothly, but no manager seemed to be in charge.  The opening of the new theatre/dinner venue in May is an exciting new tourism attraction for Cape Town, and can be expected to be a slick show.

POSTSCRIPT 31/3: I returned to Richard’s Bistro for breakfast, and had a long chat with co-owner Roland Seidel.  Attractive murals have been added to the walls on the deck downstairs, giving a strong message of the music that will be performed upstairs from May onwards.  The Italian Eggs Benedict cost R47, and included spinach.

POSTSCRIPT 27/7: Chef Ulli Stamm has left Richard’s Supper Stage & Bistro.

Richard’s Supper Stage & Bistro, 229A corner Main and Glengariff Roads, Sea Point.  Tel (021) 434-6738 (Bistro)/(021) 434-4497 (Supper Stage from May). www.richardscapetown.co.za Twitter:@KaapseStories Monday – Sunday 7h00 – 1h00. Free wi-fi.

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

Restaurant Review: Spice Route has spicy interior, food and wines!

Spice Route is the new name of the wine estate previously called Seidelberg, and also is the name of the brand new restaurant on the wine estate, which now belongs to Charles Back of neighbouring Fairview, which he bought from Roland Seidel last year, and re-opened the renovated estate in October.

The first impression is not a good one as one drives to the restaurant and tasting room, as the Cabernet Sauvignon vines have had to be removed due a red ant infection, and new planting will only take place in winter, I was told by the tasting room staff, my first stop at Spice Route.  The staff had no knowledge of the history of the wine range, which was first made for Mr Back by maverick winemaker Eben Sadie.  The tasting room has been renovated, painted white now, with new furniture, and has been brought out onto the terrace and the lawn too, with a lovely view, even onto Table Mountain.  The Spice Route wines were produced in 1997 for the first time.  It was explained that the exceptional Spice Route wine brand, being one of four Fairview brands, was not receiving the attention it deserves, and therefore Mr Back bought the neighbouring farm.  All Spice Route wines are made by winemaker Charl du Plessis on the Swartland farm, the Malabar having its own cellar. The Spice Route wine range consists of Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Viognier, Mourvédre, Pinotage, Shiraz, Chakalaka, Flagship Syrah, and Malabar.  One pays R25 to taste six of the nine Spice Route wines, and can also order an excellent value-for-money Spice Route wine and food pairing at R90, with a taste of all nine wines and three dishes off the restaurant menu: paté, kingklip, and pork belly.

The restaurant too has been extensively renovated, under the guidance of architect Johan Malherbe of Malherbe Rust, and the interior decor has been designed by René de Waal of Experience Makers.  René chose a white interior for the walls, chairs, and tables, and added decor elements from the Middle East and Zanzibar to emphasise the spice link to the restaurant name, through tiles on the floor, lamps, massive jars of spices on the restaurant counter, the chairs, the place mats, works of art on the walls, and wall cornices.  The spice theme also manifests in the cinnamon coloured aprons of the waitron staff.  The menu/winelist cover is brown leather, and each page is Spice Route branded.  Each table (without tablecloth) has a bottle of Fairview olive oil, and a set of Goldcrest coarse salt and black pepper grinders.  Quality material serviettes, Fortis Hotelware cutlery, and good glassware is on the table, including a small Greek style water glass.  There was no music at all, an element which could have enhanced the theme. Outside the furniture is wooden and looks like it was there before, not tying in with the inside decor.  Surprising is that the cloakrooms have not been renovated yet, having been painted in a ghastly pink/red, with wall tiles missing, and having the cheapest toilet roll holders.

Staff are mainly from the previous Seidelberg restaurant, but the Manager Lize Rossouw (studied at the Institute for Culinary Arts and the International Hotel School, and moved across from Fairview) and the Chef Phillip Pretorius (previously at Fairview’s The Goat Shed and Sevruga) are new.  Theo, the waiter who looked after me, worked at Meerendal with David Higgs, at Grande Roche, and at Seidelberg.

Exciting changes are planned, and in future visitors will be encouraged to follow the route at Spice Route, with a micro-brewery planned with Jack Black, and a new chocolate factory to be set up by DV chocolates (from Hermanus) in the manor house in the next two months. The DV chocolates have already been incorporated into the menu.  A grappa distillery is also being considered, and picnics on the lawn outside the manor house are also planned.   An organic vegetable garden is being developed, to supply both the Fairview and Spice Route restaurants, and the School House guest house near the Agter Paarl Road is planned to open as a farm stall, selling its vegetables, chocolates, beer, wine, and more.  The Red Hot Glass glass blowing studio is still there, and appears unchanged.  Wedding bookings are starting to roll in, Lize said.

The menu is not extensive, but interesting, and each menu item has a Spice Route wine recommendation (without the vintage or price indicated). The menu items are not all Mediterranean or Middle Eastern, but contain spices which leave a spicy after-taste. I chose a prawn and paw paw salad (R65) as a starter, which came with  a generous portion of prawns, citrus segments, pineapple, cherry tomatoes, roasted peanuts, green beans, and paw paw, and was served with a lemongrass, coconut, soy, ginger, and peanut oil dressing, a refreshing start to the lunch.  A treat was that Chef Phillip brought the salad to the table, so that we could have a brief chat. The suggested pairing was the Chenin Blanc, but I enjoyed it with a taste of the Shiraz.  Very special too was the duck liver parfait served with an unusual pear and ginger chutney (R56), a lovely marriage, and even more unusual was the presentation of the parfait, being coated in the orange-coloured chakalaka and sesame seeds, making me nervous about it initially, but being absolutely delicious, rich and creamy.  The parfait pairing recommendation was the Mouvèdre, but I had it with a taste of the Flagship Syrah.

Other starters are a ceviche of cured linefish, a spicy duck breast, pork belly with a Madagascar DV chocolate lentil salad, and a Panzanella Bread salad with marinated buffalo mozzarella, ranging in price from R48 to R62.  Six main courses start at R89 for handmade potato gnocchi to R218 for a Roast rib-eye steak on the bone, for two persons to share.  One can also order linefish with tandoori paste; Chalmar beef fillet; venison loin served with a DV chocolate, black currant and chilli jus; and an Indian butter chicken served with espresso foam.  Five desserts cost between R42 – R58, and include a delicious apple tart tatin served with home-made vanilla pod ice cream and an unusual carrot and ginger puree, which I enjoyed with a perfectly made cappuccino, the coffee coming from Beans for Africa in Paarl; DV dark chocolate and fresh chilli Crème Brûlée; white chocolate and rose water mousse served with goat’s chevin; coconut and banana bread; and beetroot panna cotta.

Selfishly I liked that Spice Route has not yet been discovered by the tourists as is the case at Fairview, and does not feel touristy, the service being personalised and efficient. All the plans for the wine estate are likely to fill up the restaurant in future.  I was sceptical about going to Spice Route for lunch, given its past offering, but was impressed with all aspects of it, except for the cloakrooms of course! I will be back to try more of Chef Phillip’s spicy menu and to taste more of the Spice Route wines!

Spice Route restaurant, Spice Route wine estate, Paarl.  Tel (021) 863-5222. www.spiceroute.co.za. Sunday – Thursday 11h00 – 18h00, Friday – Saturday 11h00 – 21h00.

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