Tag Archives: waverley Hills

Restaurant Review: SeaFood at The Marine very grey, poor seafood, very poor service!

Seafood at The Marine interior Whale Cottage PortfolioAfter seeing a Tweet by The Collection by Liz McGrath Executive Chef Peter Tempelhoff about the new interior of SeaFood at The Marine earlier this week, I decided to lunch there yesterday, being in Hermanus for the day.  It was a most disappointing experience, given the five star and Relais & Chateaux status of the hotel.

The Marine hotel has a long heritage and was bought by Mrs McGrath a number of years ago. and sat on its own on the cliffs overlooking Walker Bay, technically a magnificent location, but little is made of the beautiful view.  A recent flurry of development across the road from the hotel has given it a lift.  Mrs McGrath appears to be like Le Quartier Français owner Susan Huxter who renovates her establishment annually.  Mrs McGrath did the latest interior design of SeaFood at The Marine, her staff told me.  The colour scheme now is grey, with grey chairs, grey tables, and grey Continue reading →

Restaurant Review: Valora brave new city class!

For all the doom and gloom in the hospitality industry at the moment, it is refreshing to discover a new restaurant in the center of town, that has raised the bar with a slick and chic new establishment. Valora Café, Restaurant and Bar opened on Monday, where L’Aperitivo used to be, next door to Skinny Legs & All.  Valora means ‘brave’ in Latin, and is one of a number of exciting city centre restaurants to open in the past few months, which include Roberto’s, Dear Me, and What’s On Eatery.

I had noticed the sudden closure of L’Aperitivo a month ago, often driving down Loop Street.  I stopped to have a chat to Chef Andrew Mendes, while the renovations were taking place.  He told me that the restaurant would open on 1 August, and it did!  L’Aperitivo had a large counter, which took a lot of the relatively small space. The Valora counter is smaller, positioned at the back of the restaurant, and has a far more spacious feel about it.  One part of a wall is rough brick, and the rest of it is painted a light gold yellow, the back wall behind the bar is a deep burgundy, while the other two sides have glass windows, letting the welcome winter sun in on a very chilly day, with snow on Table Mountain.  I liked the interior design, understated, chic, with dark wood-top tables, chairs with a white/silver fabric, and bar chars in a light rose burgundy colour. The bar counter has gold design tiles on it.  The decor reminds one of What’s On Eatery and La Mouette. There is no clutter. The shopfitting and interior design was done by Ricci Cinti, who remembered me as his first boss of many years ago. His partner in Epic Ark designed the logo, which has a similarity to that of the Queen Victoria Hotel, giving it a classy feel.  Outside, modern grey garden couches, with a rope to demarcate the Valora space on the pavement, add further class to the establishment.  The owner wanted to create an interior that was ‘sexy and modern, finer dining, offering value for money’. The floor is a laminate that looks like it is made from old wine barrels.  I found it very hot inside, and the waitress switched off the heaters.

Valora has been opened by Mike Mouneimme, who was the operator of Caprice in Camps Bay for ten years, and is the cousin of Caprice owner David Raad.  The family is Lebanese, and this reflects in the Mediterranean style restaurant, which consists of a collection of Lebanese, Italian and Greek dishes.  Chef Andrew worked at Tuscany Beach for more than three years before joining Valora, and prior to this at the previous Avontuur restaurant in the V&A Waterfront, and at Superior Catering, which did the private catering for the Atlantic Beach Golf Club as well as for Pearl Valley.  He was not given much creative freedom at Tuscany Beach, and he is excited about the freedom to develop the menu. Andrew laughed when he said that the restaurant name comes from the bravery in opening a restaurant in these challenging times, and for the small kitchen space he has to cook in.

The cutlery is smart, being Fortis Hotelware, and I loved the special edition LavAzza Calendar 2011 cups with a gold design on them.  The Fortis salt and pepper containers have a yin/yang design, and a ceramic hurricane candle holder was on the table.  The paper serviettes do not match the interior quality, and Manager Lisa said that she is working on getting these changed to material ones.

The menu/winelist has a golden cover, with the logo, and looks inviting and classy.  Inside the pages are in burgundy.  The menu offers an extensive range of items.  For Brunch one can order a baked bagel with salmon and scrambled egg, French Toast, a health breakfast, or toasted Focaccia, all at about R50.  The salad choice includes Lebanese Tabbouleh and Fattoush salads, as well as Tuna, Greek, chicken, and beef salads, ranging from R58 – R78.   Roast beef, cheese and tomato, and spicy chicken sandwiches made with home-made bread cost about R60.  Eleven mezze choices range in price from R12 – R40, and include Lebanese flat bread, Baba Ganoush, aubergine, and Lebanese Kefta kebabs.  Starters included a beautifully presented Two Tone soup, recommended by Chef Andrew, being a clever design of two soups, presented in a yin yang shape, with a rich dark beef soup sprinkled with biltong powder, and a light truffle cream with a hint of chilli, with two prawns, which was served with toasted brioche, costing R50. I enjoyed the deep fried crispy Patagonian calamari rings served with a separate bowl of lemon butter sauce, slices of lime and a sprig of origanum (R40).  Other starters include snails, spicy chicken livers, and stuffed mushrooms, all costing under R50.  Six main courses include a 350 gram rib eye steak (R135), Turkish spiced fillet (R125), beef ragout (R98), Psarri Plaki line fish (R105), chicken Parmagana (R75), and grilled Patagonia calamari (R70).  Pasta includes wild mushroom, ravioli bolognaise, seafood pasta, and Namibian desert truffles, ranging between R70 – R110. The Valora burger costs R55, and a Prego Roll R75.  Desserts cost R50 and less, and include chocolate baklava, berry panna cotta and chocolate truffles.

A small number of wines is offered, with a selection of cocktails.  Dom Perignon costs R2750, Veuve Cliquot R 750, Moet et Chandon R700, and Boschendal Brut R195. Brampton white (R25) and red (R28) is served by the glass.  White wines are by Lammershoek (R165), Ernst Gouws & Co, South Hill, Rickety Bridge, Seven Steps and Waverley Hills (R95).  Red wines come from the same wineries (R120 – R210), with the exception of Seven Steps, as well as Kanonkop Paul Sauer at R650.  The LavAzza cappuccino costs R17.

I was impressed by the classy feel of Valora, the smooth running of the restaurant on its fifth day, the creativity of Chef Andrew’s menu and food presentation, the wide choice offered, and the reasonable prices.  I was not charged for the Two Tone soup, Chef Andrew saying that he wanted me to try it.  Valora is a perfect spot to pop in before or after a concert or a show.  The service was attentive, and Lisa kindly went to have the menu copied at a nearby shop. Parking is a challenge during the day. The menu and beverage list contains a number of spelling errors. The business cards match the menu in gold and burgundy.  A cool unique touch was the stick of chewing gum which came with the bill, in a deep red wrapper with the Valora logo, although I am not sure if the Valora target market is into chewing gum!  I’ll be back to try more of Chef Andrew’s cooking creativity.

POSTSCRIPT 3/6/12: Valora has closed down.

Valora Café, Restaurant and Bar, Shop 70, corner Loop and Hout Street, Cape Town. Tel (021) 426-1001.  www.valora.co.za (The website is still under construction).  10h00 – 22h00 weekdays, 17h00 – 23h00 on Saturdays.

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

Allora! WineStyle goes Italian and cheesy for Autumn!

I have the highest regard for the new WineStyle magazine, which was launched late last year as a wonderfully impressive coffee-table quality food and wine magazine.  The latest issue has just been sent to subscribers, and once again impressed with its fantastic quality photography and print production.

The theme of the Autumn edition is Italy, and the magazine introduces the theme with a trip to “Under the Tuscan Sun”, a lovely travel report by Karen Wright, with a clarification of the Chianti wines from this region.  I did this journey a few years ago, after I had read the book with the same title by Frances Mayes, travelling to Florence, Sienna, San Gimignano, Montalcino, and Montepulciano, and following in Mayes’ footsteps in Cortona.  Then follows a tasting of affordable Italian wines, none costing more than R100, and included Lamberti Santepeitre Valpolicella Ripasso, Zaccagnini Montepulciano D’Abruzzo, Teresa Rizzi Prosecco Brut, and Medici Sangiovese Rubicone.

The magazine focus then returns back ‘home’, and award-winning wine writer Joanne Gibson focuses on the allowable levels of lead, mercury and even arsenic in South African wine!   She asks why sulphur dioxide must be declared on local wine labels but not the fourteen other ‘restricted substances’ listed in the Liquor Products Act 60 of 1989.   The article describes the effect of sulphites on those with an allergy to it, and Gibson writes that often it is not the allergy to sulphites but rather to wine generally.  She lists low-sulphite wines as including Anura Brut, Krone Borealis Brut, Reyneke Reserve White, Stellar Organic Winery, Villiera Brut Natural Chardonnay, Waverley Hills, and Woolworths Brut Natural and their Chenin Blanc.

The article on cheese and wines, by Diane Heierli, with photography by Christoph Heierli, is good enough to eat.  The photographer impressed in the first edition already.   The article highlights that our local cheeses are excellent, and that we do not have to import them to enjoy good quality cheese.  In fact, a next article highlights six ’boutique cheeseries’, being Dalewood Fromage, Goat Peter Cheesery, Belnori Boutique Cheesery, Foxenburg Estate Cheesery, Hijke Cheese, and Buffalo Ridge. Each of the cheesemakers recommend a suitable wine to pair with one of their cheeses.

From cheese and wine, the magazine moves to mushrooms, the article produced by the Heierlis as well, and providing recipes such as “Moreish mixed mushroom risotto”, “Super simple creamy mushroom sauce”, “Mushroom and pecorino pizza”, a beautiful looking “Spicy Asian enoki broth”, and “Balsamic glazed brown mushroom and steak”.

What seems out of place, relative to the theme, is the last article on the Route 62, although ‘cheese-lovers paradise’ Gay’s Guernsey Dairy in Prince Albert is mentioned.  The cover photograph of the magazine, linked to this article, does not reflect wine or food at all, and I would question if it was the best photograph to use, given the many lovely photographs in the magazine.   Right at the end, the magazine goes back to its Italian beginning, with a recipe for ‘La Limoncello’.

Every week WineStyle  sends a newsletter to its subscribers, to bridge the three month gap between issues.  In this way the brand interest is kept alive, and the editor can provide ongoing food and wine news.  The new newsletter design is perfect, in now creating synergy between the magazine design, and that of the newsletter.   Once again, the concept of WineStyle  being environmentally friendly, in being print-on-demand, and only posted to its subscribers at no charge, is saluted.  It is not commercially available. 

WineStyle has set an incredibly high benchmark in food and wine publishing, with editor Jenny Ratcliffe-Wright at the helm.  The advertisers are demonstrating their support already, being Glen Carlou, Pongracz, Hermanuspietersfontein, Constantia Glen, Highlands Road Estate, Kleine Zalze, Klein Constantia, Bouchard Finlayson, Fleur du Cap, and Paul Cluver, and that is just mentioning the wine advertisers.

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

Franschhoek gets ‘bubbly’ this weekend with Cap Classique & Champagne Festival

The fifth Franschhoek Cap Classique and Champagne Festival started last night, and continues until tomorrow, celebrating the “The Magic of Bubbles”.  Leading local Cap Classiques and imported champagnes will be paired with some of the best restaurants Franschhoek has to offer.

Bubbly brands that will be on show, representing some of South Africa’s 100 or so sparkling wine brands, include Franschhoek’s first and recently-crowned Platter 5-star Blanc de Blancs Brut from Topiary Wines, and Franschhoek ‘colleagues’ Graham Beck, Colmant, Morena from Franschhoek Pass Winery, Allée Bleue, Dieu Donné, Boschendal, La Motte, My Wyn, and Pierre Jourdan.  Other bubbly brands on show are Simonsig,  Steenberg, Villiera, Krone, Avondale, Backsberg, Bon Courage, Bramon, Laborie, L’Avenir, Nitida, Pongracz, Genevieve MCC, Groote Post, Silverthorn, Sterhuis, Van Loveren, Waverley Hills and Weltevrede.  Imported champagne brands include Billecart Salmon, Laurent Perrier, Gosset, Verve Cliquot and Tribaut.

Food can be bought from the following Franschhoek restaurants at the Festival: The Restaurant at Grande Provence, Mange Tout at Mont Rochelle Hotel, La Petite Ferme, The Restaurant at L’ermitage Hotel, Monneaux, Salmon Bar, Dieu Donné, Allée Bleue and the Le Franschhoek Hotel.   The Wild Peacock is selling oysters.

Entertainment will be provided by CODA.  The dress code is “black and white”, with a prize for the best-dressed couple today and tomorrow.

Cap Classique & Champagne Festival, 3 – 5 December, 12h00 – 18h00.  Huguenot Monument, Franschhoek.  Tickets cost R180 and can be bought at www.webtickets.co.za or at the gate.

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