Tag Archives: Waterkloof Restaurant

Waterkloof wine estate and restaurant: in perfect biodynamic balance!

Last week Anel Grobler of Spit of Swallow and I were ‘paired’ for a visit to Waterkloof wine estate in Somerset West, a change from the blogger group invitations normally extended.  It meant that I could get to know her a little better, and that we received personal and dedicated attention.  I was impressed by the biodynamic farming on the wine estate, and by Chef Gregory Czarnecki’s cuisine.

We savoured a glass of Sauvignon Blanc 2009 on arrival, chatting about Chef Gregory’s background before marrying a local lass, and how happy he is at Waterkloof, coming from the Michelin 3-star Lucas Carton restaurant in France.  He is French, with Polish roots. We expressed our surprise about the Eat Out Top 20 list exclusion of the restaurant,  and he said that they were disappointed, as they work hard to up their game, and treat every customer with passion, not only the Eat Out judge. Most important is that what they do is consistent. He is a perfectionist, and did not even allow himself time off for his honeymoon, to make sure he is in the kitchen every day.  His kitchen is proudly local, and they do not import any products. Increasingly they are sourcing from the Waterkloof farm, and herb (including the scarce tarragon) and vegetable planting has started. Trout comes from Lourensford close by, fish from the West Coast, kabeljou specifically from a sustainable farm in Port Elizabeth, and the farm supplies eggs, chickens and lamb too.  They want to become as self-sustainable as possible.

The farm drive in farm manager Christiaan Loots’ bakkie was impressive, and his passion for what he does, and for applying the principles of sustainability (an earthworm farm is being created, and he reuses everything on the farm, with little thrown away), shows. He is going in the opposite direction to most other wine farmers, looking to sell his mechanical equipment to be able to buy more horses, not only to do the work but also to use the dung for compost, which benefits his land and the vines.  ‘Nature does the stuff for us’, he said. The farm is 120 hectares in size, of which just less than half is under vines.  They apply organic farming principles, not spraying for weeds, just keeping them under control, as they add silicon and nitrogen to the soil. They don’t add fertiliser, only adding compost, their seven horses and more than 80 Dorper sheep assisting with this, and all kitchen scraps are composted as well. They have just bought the next door farm, so that they can grow feed for the horses, rather than buying it in, which means that the bottom section of the road will be tarred.  The farm planted 20 hectare in 1995, but Christiaan started in 2005, and has more than doubled this.  He is a trained viticulturist, and taught himself the principles of biodynamic farming, with the encouragement of owner Paul Boutinot.  It takes three years to be certified Biodynamic, and this is what Christiaan is working on.  Not using tractors anymore, the vines can be planted closer together, giving more yield.  More than 30 hens run around in the vineyards, eating bugs, and laying eggs in a special egg truck. Only fynbos is planted in the garden, and they have 111 species on the farm.  Christiaan has two cows, which he uses to make ‘cow dung tea’ to compost his vineyards.

I have seen Anel at many a function, and know her as a fun no-nonsense person, with a love for laughter and wines, and very successful at what she does with Spit or Swallow, together with her partner Jan. She told me a little more about herself – she is a Libra, typically undecided, says she is a hippy at heart, loves animals, was born in Kroonstad, lived in Grootfontein and Pretoria, until her parents moved to Betty’s Bay.  She studied clothing production management at the Cape Technikon, and worked in clothing manufacture for ten years, before leaving because she felt that she was in a rut.  She enjoyed drinking wines when she came to the Cape on holiday. She started Tweeting, and created Spit or Swallow and Wine Times too.

The backdrop to our table was majestic. Our meal started with Chef Gregory personally taking our order. An amuse bouche of biltong and miso soil, pomegranate and yoghurt mousse, beetroot smear and buchu meringue was served, with the Waterkloof Circle of Life White 2010.  Paul Boutinot came to say hello, and told us that biodynamic farming is good for the environment, but even better for improving the quality of wine.  It makes the vineyards more resistant to diseases, and takes farming back to its original roots of more than 70 years ago.  He said that the Waterkloof wines reflect what is in the vineyards.  He chose the farm as it is the site to make the ideal wine, where nature is in ‘perfect balance’.  They have 113 days from flower to picking, the average being 80 days, he told us.  Boutinot has an agency in the UK which distributes Italian, French and South African wines.

Anel and I chose different dishes, so that we could share the look and taste of each dish.  Plating is a strength of Chef Gregory.  I started with a Camembert Crème Brûlée,  rich and creamy, with the most beautiful celery shavings, curried walnut, and Granny Smith and celery sorbet (R55).  Anel enjoyed her Smoked farm egg and parma ham starter (R50).  With the Magaliesburg duck breast was served puy lentils, a terrine of confit leg with foie gras and rhubarb, and carrot and tarragon puree (R150), and the dish was paired with Circumstance Syrah 2008.  Anel chose Monkfish and crispy prawn (R155), a very attractive dish.  Deconstructed orange parfait and citrus shortbread was served as a pre-dessert, my dessert choice being a strawberry and hibiscus comsommé, with fromage blanc and cucumber sorbet, while Anel ordered the cream of Ivoire white chocolate served with matcha tea and black sesame (all desserts cost R60).

A 6-course Degustation Menu is excellent value at R385, and if wines are added to each course the cost is R490.

I had been impressed with Chef Gregory’s plating of the dish he prepared earlier this year at the Grande Provence Big 5 Multiple Sclerosis charity lunch, and he demonstrated this strength again at our lunch. He and his team of ten create cuisine masterpieces, and the restaurant deserves to be on the Eat Out Top 10 list. Its increasing self-sustainability, the biodynamic farming methods, and organic wines make this a wine estate that is in perfect balance.  Last week Waterkloof was recognised by the Great Wine Capitals Global Network as the top South African wine estate in the Architecture and Landscape category.

Waterkloof Restaurant, Sir Lowry Village Road, Somerset West.  Tel (021) 858-1292.      www.waterkloofwines.co.za Twitter:@WaterkloofWines Lunch Monday – Sunday, Dinner Monday – Saturday.

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

Restaurants with Christmas and New Year celebration sparkle in Cape Town and Winelands

The Festive Season is upon us.  We have received information about the following Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve packages offered by restaurants in Cape Town and in the Winelands, which we will update as we receive new information:

Christmas Eve dinner

*   Oasis Restaurant, Mount Nelson Hotel:   Christmas Eve buffet and jazz R 495, and R195 for children under 12 years.  Tel (021) 483-1000

*   La Vierge, Hermanus:  3-course meal R450. Tel (028) 313-2007

*   Tides Restaurant at Bay Hotel, Camps Bay : 4-course dinner and complimentary cocktail R 250.  Tel (021) 430-4444

*   33 Dine, Stellenbosch:   3-course dinner R 350.   Tel (021) 881-3792

*   Brio 1893, Adderley Street, Cape Town – eggnog on arrival, 3 courses R400.  Tel (021) 422-0654

*   Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine, Stellenbosch: glass of bubbly, canapés, and 6-course dinner R 500 without wine, R800 with wine.   Tel (021) 881-3441

Christmas Day lunch

*  Grande Provence, Franschhoek:  3-course Christmas lunch plus complimentary drink R 690 Tel (021) 876-8600

*   Oasis Restaurant at Mount Nelson Hotel: Christmas lunch buffet with jazz R 695, and R220 for children under 12 years.  Tel (021) 483-1000

*   Bistro Sixteen82 at Steenberg wine estate, Constantia:   5-course lunch R 425. Tel (021) 713 2211

*   Haute Cabriere, Franschhoek: 5 courses R 480.  tel (021) 876-3688

*   La Vierge, Hermanus:  3 course meal R 450. Tel (028) 313-2007

*   1800 Degree Grill Room, Cape Royale Luxury Hotel, Green Point: “world-class” 3-course lunch R450. Tel (021) 430-0500

*   Chenin Restaurant Wine Bar, Old Cape Quarter:  3 course lunch and glass of bubbly R300.  Tel (021) 425-2200

*   Tides Restaurant, Bay Hotel, Camps Bay:  Complimentary cocktail, Buffet and Bottle of wine, entertainment R 575

Allee Bleue, Franschhoek:   5-course lunch R250.  Tel (021) 874-1886

*   Five Flies, Keerom Street, Cape Town:  3-course lunch R275. Tel (021) 424-4442 

*   33 Dine, Stellenbosch:   3-course lunch R 399.  Tel (021) 881-3792

*   Bread & Wine, Franschhoek: lunch R385. Tel (21) 876-3692

*   Guinea Fowl Restaurant @ Saxenburg: 3 course meal R275.  Tel (021) 906-0489

*   La Mouette, Sea Point: 4 course lunch R350

*   Café Bon Bon, Franschhoek: canape, starter, buffet, desserts R475 and half price per child under 12 years

*   Rickety Bridge, Franschhoek: 3 course lunch R 295, R150 per child under 12.  Tel 083 377 4103

*   Blowfish, Blouberg: eggnogg on arrival, 4 course lunch R295. Tel (21) 556-5464

*   Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine, Stellenbosch:  4 course lunch R395. Tel (021) 881-3441

*   Olivello, Stellenbosch: Christmas lunch R 295/R175 per child.  tel (021) 875-5443

New Years’ Eve

*   Waterkloof Restaurant at Waterkloof wine estate, Somerset West:  R 450 for 4 courses, without wine, R590 with 4 glasses of wine added. Tel (021) 858-1292

*   Grande Provence, Franschhoek: 5-course New Year’s Eve dinner plus welcome drink and countdown Champagne R1490.  tel (021) 876-8600.

*   Oasis Restaurant at Mount Nelson Hotel:   New Year’s Eve Buffet and jazz R 350, and R 195 per child under 12 years.

*   Bhandaris Indian Restaurant: 3 course New Year dinner and dance R250. Tel (021) 702-2975

*   Pigalle, Green Point: 1920’s Spectacular 5-course dinner and band, R 1250.  Tel (021) 421-4848

*   Haute Cabriere, Franschhoek:  6 course meal R 550. Tel (021) 876-3688

*   Cafe Chic, Gardens, Cape Town:   5-course dinner, free glass of red or white wine, and DJ.  R 350. Tel (021) 465-7218.

*   Gold Restaurant, Gold Museum, Strand Street, Cape Town: 14 course dinner, welcome drink plus bubbly at midnight, live entertainment, marimba band R 600 + 10 % service fee.  Tel (021) 421-4653

*   1800 Degree Grill Room, Main Road, Green Point: 4 -course dinner R 450; or 4-course dinner and access to Sky Bar New Year’s party R750.  Tel (021) 430-0500.

*   Chenin Restaurant Wine Bar, Old Cape Quarter: 4 course meal, glass of bubbly and DJ R 500.  Tel (021) 425-2200 

  Reuben’s Franschhoek:  6-course meal, and glass of sparkling wine on arrival, entertainment R 1200. Tel (021) 876-3772

*   Pierneef à La Motte, La Motte, Franschhoek:  5-course meal without wine R 650, with wine R950.  Tel (021) 876-8000

*   Five Flies, Keerom Street:  4-course dinner and glass of Pierre “Jordan” (sic) sparkling wine, DJ, R 800  Tel (021) 424-4442

*   Vanilla Restaurant, Cape Quarter:   3-course meal and glass of sparkling wine R595.  Tel (021) 421-1391

*   Tuscany Beach Restaurant, Camps Bay:   3-course meal R895.  tel (021) 438-1213

*   33 Dine, Stellenbosch: glass of sparkling wine on arrival, 3 courses R 299. Tel (021) 881-3792

*   221 Waterfront, V&A Waterfront; 5 course meal, DJ, glass of bubbly R 1450.  Tel (021) 418-3633

*   Brio 1893, Adderley Street, Cape Town: 3 course meal, band, oysters, caviar and bubbly R 1400. Tel (021) 422-0654

*   Paranga, Camps Bay: 5 courses, R 1200

*   Pepenero, Mouille Point:  4 courses and glass of bubbly  R600

*   La Mouette, Sea Point:  arrival cocktail, glass of midnight bubbly, 8 course meal R 650.

*   Boo Radley, city centre:  4 course dinner and party R 450 Tel (021) 424-3040

*   The Kove, Camps Bay:  5 courses R 1000.  

*   Monneaux, Franschhoek: 7 courses and drink and glass of bubbly R 695.  Tel (021) 876-3386

*   Rickety Bridge, Franschhoek: 4 course dinner R395. Tel 083 377 4103

*   Hussar Grill, Camps Bay Drive, Camps Bay: “Dinner and Dancing” R395 + 10 % service charge, no corkage.  tel (021) 438-0151.

*   Blowfish, Blouberg:   3 courses, including a Buffet, an oyster and a glass of bubbly, R 495 Tel (021) 556-5464

*   Beluga, Green Point:   5 course meal, cocktails R 900.   Tel (021) 418-2948

*   Blonde, Gardens:  5 course meal, bubbly, R900. Tel (021) 462-5793

*   Allesverloren, Riebeeck Kasteel: 3 course dinner and Masked Ball R 195. Tel 073 017 4402

*   Marika’s, Bakoven, Camps Bay:  Black and White theme party.  5-course dinner R 220.  tel (021) 438-2727.

*   Twankey Bar, Taj Hotel: cocktails, open bar for selected drinks, canapés and tapas, shooters, bubbly R750.   Tel (021) 819-2000

*   Myoga, Vineyard Hotel, Newlands: 9 course dinner R 985.  Tel (021) 657-4545

*   Vaudeville:  3 course meal, 2 bottles of spirits and mixers, minimum table of 8, R2200 per person. Tel (021) 419-7000

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

Eat Out 2010 Top 10 Restaurant Award winners: a prediction

Predicting the Top 20 shortlist for the 2010 Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards was relatively easy.  Predicting the Top 10 winners out of this list, which Eat Out will announce at its gala dinner tomorrow evening, is much harder.  Here is our predicted list of Top 10, in no particular order, and admittedly uncertain about the non-Cape Town restaurants.  We have analysed JP Rossouw’s list of 23 three-star Rossouw’s Restaurants (the highest rating he awards), to help us make the prediction.  See more about Rossouw’s list below. 

*   Rust en Vrede – as written before, I boldly predict this will be the number one restaurant on the Top 10 list.  David Higgs is doing excellent work, without any fanfare, and he made top 100 of S. Pellegrino Top 50 Restaurants in the World list earlier this year.  He was also recognised as joint winner as the best vineyard restaurant by the Great Wine Capitals of the World.  An absolute professional. (On Rossouw’s Restaurants’ 3-star list, and Rossouw has awarded the restaurant his one and only Platinum Award, motivated as follows: “consistently deliver an exceptional dining experience in all respects”).

*   Jardine – cooking at the gala dinner, and this is a sure predictor.  Chef Eric Bulpitt has returned from 6 weeks of working in the Noma kitchen, the number 1 of the Top 50 Restaurants in the World, at no compensation, demonstrating Eric’s dedication to and passion for his craft.  (Surprisingly, not on Rossouw’s Restaurants’ 3-star list!).

*   Jordan’s Restaurant with George Jardine – the interior decor (or lack of) may leave a lot to be desired, but George Jardine is a dedicated chef, and has won many a Top 10 Eat Out award whilst at Jardine (On Rossouw’s Restaurants’ 3-star list).

*   Overture – Chef Bertus Basson has been on the Top 10 list for two years running, and re-invents his restaurant continuously.  Stunning location on Hidden Valley estate. (On Rossouw’s Restaurants’ 3-star list).

*   The Green House – Chef Peter Tempelhoff has been a past winner, both for this Cellars Hohenhort hotel restaurant as well as for Grande Provence in Franschhoek. (On Rossouw’s Restaurants’ 3-star list).

*   The Tasting Room – Chef Margot Janse.  Not liked by all, and very expensive, but probably the most-crowned restaurant in the history of the Top 10 Restaurant Awards (Back on Rossouws’ Restaurants’ 3-star list, after falling off it in the 2010 edition).

*   Restaurant Christophe – Chef Christophe Dehosse is the most charming French restaurateur, serving excellent foie gras and other French-style food.  (Not on Rossouw’s Restaurants’ 3-star list, despite Rossouw first highlighting Dehosse’s talents whilst he was at Joostenberg). 

*   Mosaic– chef Chantel Dartnall from Pretoria is cooking at the Awards dinner, and made the number 2 slot last year.  (Not on Rossouw’s Restaurants’ 3-star list)

*   The Roundhouse – on the Top 10 list last year, and chef PJ Vadas cooking for the Awards Gala dinner (On Rossouw’s Restaurants’ 3-star list).

*   La Colombe – this is a difficult one.  Luke Dale-Roberts has led this restaurant to the top of the Eat Out list two years running, and was recognised internationally in reaching 12th position on the Top 50 Restaurants in the World list.   Dale-Roberts is a consultant chef to La Colombe now, and has opened his own new restaurant The Test Kitchen.  I predict that he will be acknowledged for his excellent performance this year, but will not be awarded the number one position due to his reduced La Colombe involvement.  His recent whirlwind visit to The Fat Duck and El Bulli, both on the S. Pellegrino Top 50 Restaurants in the World list, just after he opened The Test Kitchen, is a reflection of his dedication to improving himself even further.

The other restaurants on the Eat Out Top 10 shortlist are:  Reuben’s Franschhoek, Aubergine, Terroir, and Zachary’s, all of which have also made Rossouw’s Restaurants’ 3-star list.    Bosman’s, DW Eleven-13, Linger Longer, Roots, Waterkloof Restaurant and Hartford House are also top 20 finalists, but do not appear on Rossouw’s Restaurants’ 3-star list. 

Rossouws’ Restaurants 2011 3-star restaurant list is as follows: Assaggi, Butcher Shop and Grill, Mastrantonio, The Grillhouse, Thomas Maxwell Bistro, all in Johannesburg; Ritrovo in Pretoria; 95 Keerom, Aubergine, Bizerca Bistro, La Colombe, Magica Roma, The Greenhouse, The Roundhouse, and Nobu in Cape Town; Jordan with George Jardine, Rust en Vrede, Overture, Terroir, Reuben’s Franschhoek, Tasting Room in Stellenbosch/Franschhoek; Zachary’s and Ile de Pain in Knysna; and Marianna’s in Stanford.  Rossouw defines a 3-star restaurant as one that “shines in its price point and offers a truly special food experience…. it’s the all-round feeling of pleasure that’s created by a lovely space, warm hospitality, good service, and crackerjack food.  Track record is also important : three star restaurants should consistently deliver on their promise”.  No doubt his inclusion of Magica Roma will have critics sniggering again, the response to the same inclusion in 2008.

The Eat Out 2010 Awards Gala evening at the Westin Grand hotel will be a wonderfully festive one, no matter what the outcome of the Top 10 list will be.  No doubt it will be controversial, but not anything as controversial as the results were in 2009!

POSTSCRIPT 28/12: I was surprised to see an Erratum slip fall out of Rossouw’s Restaurants when I paged through it at Exclusive Books yesterday.   It concerns the 3-star Restaurant list, Rossouw’s highest accolade.  In the book Glen Carlou was incorrectly added to the 3-star list, and Magica Roma was left out, the note states.   This is a very poor reflection on Rossouw’s editing and production skills.

POSTSCRIPT 15/4:  It has been announced that David Higgs has resigned, and will leave Rust en Vrede mid-June.

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