Tag Archives: wireless internet

Restaurant Review: Mozzarella Bar serves mainly … mozzarella!

I have had my moments with Giorgio Nava, but must salute his bravery in zealously opening restaurants in Cape Town, in addition to the two established restaurants 95 Keerom Street and Carne.   Last month he opened Down South on Long Street and the Mozzarella Bar on Kloof Street, and on Saturday Café Milano opened, higher up on Kloof Street.  The Mozzarella Bar is run by charming Italians, and all its dishes, except the bakery items and desserts, contain a soft creamy mozzarella, offering good value for money.

Co-owner and interior designer, and friend of Nava, Matteo Amatruda, explained that Nava is trying to educate Capetonians about true Italian cuisine, and each of his restaurants, with the exception of Down South, focuses on a specific Italian aspect.  Café Milano, for example, will focus on baking, and bakes the bread and makes the croissants for the Mozzarella Bar. Nava runs between all his properties, we were told, and we saw this, as he popped in as we were about to leave, having been there earlier in the morning already.

The manager Simone explained that special equipment was brought out from Italy Continue reading →

Restaurant Review: Café Benedict exudes Franschhoek friendliness (with a touch of Durban)!

I have mixed feelings about some Franschhoek restaurants, but I have no hesitation in recommending the newly opened Café Benedict, which opened a few days ago in the new Franschhoek Centre on the main road.  The highlight was the friendly and refreshing chef and manager Llewellyn Lambert, and the excellent value for money offered.

Lambert has only been in Franschhoek for two weeks, having been handpicked by Robert Maingard, the developer of the Franschhoek Centre and owner of Café Benedict.  Lambert previously worked at Quarters in Durban, and brings a refreshing approach to pricing and services offered – the slices of cake cost R15, for example, an unbelievable price.  He stated that he will be charging reasonable Durban prices!   Lambert intends offering his clients a bottomless cup of coffee, and wireless internet will be set up soon, a free service for his clients.   I loved his view on customers, and his role being that of a “tour guide taking you on a food tour”.   Long-term customer relationship building is Lambert’s policy.   As I sat down, he came to say hello, and brought a selection of magazines to the table. 

The restaurant is spacious, with high-gloss black-and-white floor tiles, and attractive white tables and chairs set up inside and outside.   Cutlery is elegant, with paper serviettes offered. 

I ordered a foamy cappuccino (R18), and got more than I expected, it being made with LavAzza coffee, served with a finger biscuit, and perfectly made.   I had a Duck Pancake for lunch, a crispy Peking duck styled pancake containing Asian greens, Asian style pickled carrots, mange-tout, and served with a cranberry jus (R55). 

Breakfast is served all day, and includes Chef’s Eggs Benedict (R30); omelette – R15 for the basic omelette, and R20 extra for added smoked salmon, parma ham or bacon, and R15 extra for vegetarian fillings; “Get up & go breakfast” (a single fried egg, bacon and toast), at R25; full English breakfast (R55); and a health breakfast (R30).   “Teatime treats” include savoury muffins and cakes of the day (when I was there they offered a choice of chocolate and almond torte, a blueberry cheese cake, and lemon meringue).  Desserts cost around R40, and include pecan pie, crème brûlèe and chocolate brownies.  Salads cost between R45 (marinated chickpea salad) and R60 for a seafood salad with prawns, calamari and fennel; a beef burger costs R60; pesto penne with chicken costs R70; ciabatta with chicken R55; and bruschetta with roasted vegetables R45.  All cakes, muffins and other treats as well as the bread used in the restaurant are made by Llewellyn and his staff, as is the ice cream.

A wineshop carrying 75 wine varieties will open next door to Café Benedict, and patrons of the restaurant will be able to buy a bottle of wine next door, and then drink it at the restaurant, until it receives its liquor licence next year. The winelist that Lambert has selected is proudly-Franschhoek, and most wines will cost under R150 per bottle.  The housewine will be by Dieu Donné, the Franschhoek wine estate owned by Mr Maingard. 

I felt warmly received by a manager I had not previously met, was impressed by his attitude to customer care, and look forward to my next visit to Café Benedict when next I am in Franschhoek.

Café Benedict, Franschhoek Centre, 23 Huguenot Street, Franschhoek.  Website under construction.   Monday – Sunday, 8h00 – 18h00.

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

Pub Review: Watching the World Cup at &Union Beer Salon and Charcuterie

&Union Beer Salon and Charcuterie is a very trendy pub that is one of the favourite haunts of bloggers Dax of Relax-with-Dax, The Foodie and JamieWho, and they give its beer brands regular coverage via Twitter,  so much so that I had to try it out – the first time about a month ago – and then I went back for the Brazil versus Portugal match last week. 

To review &Union one needs to know that the owners were the founder owners of Vida e Caffe (Brad Armitage and Rui Esteves), who broke away to create &Union.  &Union does not give one a Vida franchise feel at all – exactly the opposite is true, and it is commendable that the owners could start and maintain a business so radically different to what they did before.  Also, untypically for Vida e Caffe, &Union has no visible exterior branding on Bree Street, but those that love the brand and share the passion, know where it is!

&Union is not a traditional pub – one sits outside on wooden tables and benches in summer, and for the World Cup a Moroccan style tent has been erected to cover all Cape Town winter weather options, with heaters if it gets cold.  The tent has three strips of material on it, which are linked to a painting near the entrance, all related to the Puma Africa Unity Kit.   It would be lost to most present, unless they had been invited to the launch of the new Puma beer a few days before.

We arrived just before the match starting time, and there was only a little bench available to sit on, a little removed from all the other benches, and without a table.  I was impressed with Simon Wibberley, the Operations Manager, who seemed to know everyone coming into &Union, hugging and kissing (the ladies at least), and the guys all seemed to be friends.   Simon stood near the entrance, and kept an eye on things continuously – no sitting back and having a beer and watch the soccer for him.   It became so full that he eventually locked the gate, yet it did not feel crowded.  The only problem was a lack of seating for everyone.

The beer list is an unusual brown A3 recycled sheet which shows its seven beers and tells the &Union story.  The owners wanted to develop beer brands that are authentic, truthful and honest, and that stand for quality, heritage, tradition and taste.  This led them to find “some of Europe’s oldest family-run breweries in search of artisan-produced beers that we are not only proud to produce for our customers but love to drink ourselves.  We don’t believe we can single-handedly change the world of beer as it exists but with a little raw passion, blind optimism and reckless resolve, we can perhaps make a difference”, the beer list says.

This mission for &Union has led to the development of “luxury beers, handcrafted by our artisans from the finest natural ingredients.  Our pils and amber ale are brewed using only 100% barley malt, yeast, hops, and water”.  The beer is brewed for up to 8 weeks.  The Pils and Amber are unpasteurised, the beer list says, to allow a “fuller, richer taste”.   The passion comes from “Eating. Drinking. Living. That’s what we love. Pairing real beer with real food…”.  This passion is lived in a small selection of food options, the seven beer choices, and, surprisingly, wines.

The beer list has a prominent packshot of each beer sold, and as an infrequent beer drinker and having been ignorant about the brand, the seven beer names meant nothing to me at all.  The beer list is there to help, with better-than-wine descriptions of each:

*   Unity Lager was developed for Puma’s “African Unity Kit” football campaign.  It is “medium-bodied”, “silky smooth”, “malty”, “hints of apple and honey”, and has a “bittersweet floral finish”.  It costs R40 for 500ml

*   Brewers &Union Unfiltered Lager is “unfiltered, unpasteurized”, “bursting with flavour”.  Cost is R 40 for 500ml

*   Steph Weiss is a wheat beer, “delicate, smooth and creamy”, “aromas of vanilla and clove”. Cost is R 40 for 500ml

*   Berne Unfiltered Amber is German-style, “buttery”, “toasty, bready malts”, “hints of caramel and toffee”.  It costs R 40 for 500ml

*   Brewers &Union Dark Lager is “beautifully hopped”, “dark roasted malt flavor” (sic). Cost is R 40 for 500 ml

*   Touro Tripel Blond has a “creamy palate”, “fruity spicy malt flavour” It costs R 125 for 750ml

*   Touro Tripel Amber has a “honeyed-amber malt aroma”, “hints of vanilla and caramel”.  Cost is R 125 for 750ml

The menu is short and sweet: eight food options- a biltong bowl (tasted a bit vinegary) at R25; pate – made from charcuterie off-cuts and a bit too coarse for my taste – at R35;  grilled weisswurst with mustard was excellent – at R60;  Prego rolls cost R 60, available in beef and pork; the Charcuterie Board costs R65, and consists of coppa, parma ham and felino sausage; the “grilled juicy saucisson” board  – a North African sausage made with 16 spices – costs R60;   a 3-cheese board costs R65; and the salmon carpaccio board R75.  Three “sweets” are offered, almond croissants (R15), Italian chocolate liqueur (made by Massimo from Hout Bay Pizza Club) at R20, and an espresso chocolate at R25.  &Union also serves organic coffee.  One can also have an early breakfast at &Union.

Two white and two red wines are served by the glass: Haut Espoir Sauvignon Blanc (R35) and Tamboerskloof Viognier (R40), and Landskroon and Boer & Brit ‘The General’ red blends, both costing R 40.  Ten wines by the bottle start at R 130 for the Haut Espoir, and The Hedonist is the most expensive at R 210.  I loved the name of the sparkling wine brand – Suikerbossie ‘Ek wil jou he’, made in Kimberley, a surprise wine region.

&Union is a refreshingly (pardon the pun) different ‘beer salon”.  It cares about beer, food and its clients.   It knows how to build relationships with its customers.   It is not pushy nor hard-sell, maybe a little too laid back on the service, but regulars go inside and order what they want, not waiting to be served.  The soccer did not have much “gees”, despite there being so many soccer fans.   It is trendy, and no doubt will grow into an eatery and beer salon that will set new standards in responsible eating and drinking in Cape Town.   The only dissonance for me is that wines are served (with some unfortunate typos in the wine list), given its name and beer focus.   The challenge for the owners will be to keep it small and personal, the opposite to what they achieved with Vida e Caffe.

&Union Beer Salon and Chacuterie, 110 Bree Street. Tel 021 422-2770. www.brewersandunion.com. Twitter @andUnion. Blog: www.andunion.blogspot.com  Free wireless internet.  

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