The Commissary – Exciting, no nonsense dining in CT

The Commissary is a new, exciting approach to pared down, no nonsense, dinner-only dining. It’s under the care of rock star restaurant duo, Chef Wesley Randles and Simon Widdison, and under the mentorship of Luke Dale Roberts, set to shift Cape Town’s cuisine scene.

As if The Test Kitchen, The Pot Luck Club and The Shortmarket Club aren’t enough to keep Luke Dale Roberts and his highly competent crews on their toes, the opening of another cutting edge eatery is sure to set both local and international food wires alight. The Commissary opens its doors on November 1st and is a new pared down, food market-esque concept that The Shortmarket Club Chef and co-founders Wesley Randles and Simon Widdison and their team will head up six evenings a week.

A commissary is a basic provisions store which you’ll find in the army, hospitals and prisons – and while we definitely won’t be serving prison fare, we’re taking things back to basics in a big way with our new dining venture”, says Wesley.

“I’ve had the idea in my head for a while – a space where people can come and enjoy seriously approachable, affordable food with big, unapologetic flavours”, says Wesley, who together with front-of-house talent Simon Widdison has made a name for The Shortmarket Club in just two years of operation.

The Commissary will be under the same roof as its sibling inner-city eatery.

I wanted to create something that really epitomises getting back to basics – it’s a no reservations restaurant, there’ll be communal tables in an open plan space, there’ll be music playing and a busy atmosphere. We’ll be serving food on eco-friendly, disposable plates and the most basic cutlery – it’s a cool, no frills atmosphere with small plate, flavourful food taking centre-stage”, he says.

The news of The Commissary comes in days after the announcement that another new concept fine dining destination, care of the growing Dale Roberts restaurant empire opens this October. Salsify, at historical landmark The Roundhouse in Camps Bay, will open with Chef Ryan Cole at the helm and promises to be a boundary-pushing, sensory fine dining experience.

As with Salsify, The Commissary venture is a partnership with multi award winning Chef Luke Dale Roberts acting as mentor and advisory partner and with Wesley, Simon and their team operating the rest of the business.

Over the years I’ve realised that one of the things that really motivates me is helping team members reach their potential and find their own way – getting to play a part in that journey is so exciting.” Wesley came to me with the idea a while ago and I loved it – it’s a back-to-basics approach to food which really resonates with me and everything I love about food and I couldn’t think of anyone more driven and committed than Wesley to make it work”, says Luke of his 29-year-old mentee.

With space for just 45 diners at a time and a busy, convivial atmosphere, The Commissary aspires to hit a gap in the ever changing Cape Town restaurant market. It’s a fast-paced eatery perfect for 21st century diners with things to do and places to be. The design of the space by the business’ design director, Sandalene Dale Roberts, taps into this busy atmosphere too.

I wanted to really ramp up the space with colour, it’s the kind of concept that allows for it. Food markets have taken the world by storm and we also wanted to reflect that style of dining and entertainment – you’ll find communal tables with built-in lazy Susans and I’ve also designed chairs that have been printed with pattern and colour”, says Sandalene. She explains that the look and feel of The Commissary doesn’t reflect a specific look and feel: “We’re wanting to encompass a mood we’re seeing everywhere where quirky, interesting details are partnered with great food”.

Expect a small-plate menu, big and bold flavours and a street food influence. Attention to detail, the use of the very best ingredients and a focus on flavour first remain cornerstones for this eatery. “Everything else that’s added is a layer”, says Wesley. The wine list will also be small and carefully crafted.

For local foodies, this concept is a thrilling one and there’s no doubt that getting a spot in this cutting edge new dining destination is going to be a hot seat indeed.

 

88 Shortmarket Street

Dinner, Monday to Saturday from 5PM to 10:30PM.

(27) (21) 422 2902 / info@theshortmarketclub.co.za

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New Summer Dishes at Grande Provence

Chef Guy Bennett of The Restaurant, a landmark Franschhoek eatery at Grande Provence, has tweaked his summer dishes with his signature modern South African flair by introducing a couple of new, seasonal flavours and lighter textures.

Unfettered by the notion of a fixed restaurant menu, Chef Guy champions an ever evolving and dynamic menu, allowing for new creations to make their appearance.

“We change our dishes constantly, incorporating new ingredients and produce that become available as the seasons change,” says Chef Guy.

His passion for local produce is evident in his new starter of Gin and Citrus cured Franschhoek Trout, adorned with a Fresh Salad of Pak Choi, Radish and Sour Cream. His new Yellow Fin Tuna starter has a flavourful oriental twist of Tataki, Daikon, barbecued Jalapeňo and Avocado Cream.

For his main course, Chef Guy has introduced a new Cured Duck Leg Confit served with Sweet Potato Dumplings, Saltana and Chinese Cabbage, and a refreshing Apple Chutney to lift the flavours.

His chosen addition to the summer dessert line-up is a dreamy, light Valrhona Éclair and Macadamia Crumble served with a dollop of Rooibos Ice Cream.

reservations@grandeprovence.co.za

 

Image credit: Supplied

TOKARA’s Rare Plant Sale

Experience TOKARA in all its natural splendour when this acclaimed wine and olive estate opens its extensive private gardens to the public for the annual Rare Plant Sale on Saturday, 20 October.

This popular event is a spring highlight for plant lovers. From indigenous offerings such as fynbos and proteas to the more exotic, the wide variety of plants will appeal to all tastes. In addition to the wide variety of plants, there will also be tea and other refreshments for sale. TOKARA will definitely also be well represented with their elegant wines and award winning extra virgin olive oils.

Meander through the indigenous, exotic and vegetable gardens, explore the woodland walks and discover the untold works of art spotted throughout the farm. The colossal landmark, the Angus Taylor Dionysus sculpture, commissioned by owners GT and Anne-Marie Ferreira proudly stands against an impressive Simonsberg backdrop.

The Rare Plant Sale starts at 09h00 with tickets (R50) that will be available at the gate. Children aged under 10 can enter for free. The TOKARA Tasting Lounge, restaurants and Delicatessen will be open as usual on the Saturday.

For more information, email pieterdiener@gmail.com.

 

Image credit: Supplied

Contemporary Dining at Idiom

With two years trading under its belt, the Idiom Restaurant & Tasting Centre has fast become a must-visit destination for those seeking a vineyard setting with 180 degree panoramic views of both sea and mountain with spectacular cuisine and a wide range of top wines to match.

Situated near Sir Lowry’s Pass, Idiom is one of the southern-most vineyards in the Stellenbosch appellation with a positioning on the upper slopes of the Helderberg Basin. The elevated vantage point offers a unique coastal perspective of the full profile of the Cape Peninsula across False Bay whilst having the green, windswept vineyards and rugged, fynbos-covered mountainside as a backdrop to this unique Cape Winelands’ destination.

The restaurant space acts as a space from where the beautiful landscape can be observed in its different moods. The interior design is reserved in its almost Scandinavian simplicity, offering a calming, sheltered place to taste Idiom’s superb range of wines and enjoy a leisurely afternoon with friends and family. The dining experience continues to ensure that clients get a wonderful balance of flavours, with visual presentation showcasing the impeccable technique and the young talent being developed in the kitchen.

“Our focus is on contemporary cuisine bringing to life a fusion of our family’s Italian heritage as well as modern flavours and textures of the­ Cape. We have seventeen different grapes varieties from all over the world planted at Idiom, giving us plenty of scope for inspiration”, notes Roberto Bottega, who has headed up the project of developing the signature Idiom Tasting Centre. “Over the last two years, we have been working to establish the identity and desired direction of our Restaurant and Tasting Centre. Our main trading window is lunch, to take advantage of the views. Our primary goal is to create a top class food offering to match the scenery and complement and showcase our Idiom wines. We offer a Contemporary Dining experience, which is a 2- and 3-course seasonal menu, with a recommended wine pairing for each dish. We want customers to have a memorable visit to Idiom.”

“Each Idiom wine has its own unique character and flavour profile and we actively try and express those characters in the culinary offering, often using the colour spectrum as a guide,” adds Bottega. “Our current team in the kitchen, under the leadership of Calum Anderson, has a good understanding of this concept. The cured trout starter paired with Idiom Viognier and the lamb ragu paccheri paired with Idiom Zinfandel are two of my current favourites on our chef’s new menu.”

Guests can also request older vintages from Idiom’s library and enjoy wines at close to cellar door prices – an added benefit compared to dining at other top end establishments.

The owners

The Idiom project is run by the Bottega Family. Family patriarch, Alberto, was born in Italy and immigrated to the Cape in the 1950s. After a successful career upcountry in computer programming, banking and finance, he returned to Cape Town to retire to the Cape Winelands. In 1999 the first vines were planted from scratch on his Da Capo Vineyards farm and the first commercial vintage of Idiom was made in 2004.

Alberto’ son, Roberto, joined Idiom after 12 years of trading financial markets in London and Johannesburg. He has spearheaded the development of the Tasting Centre and manages global sales for Bottega Family Wines. He has developed a passion for Italian wines and is also the co-founder of a specialist wine import and distribution project called Vinotria, which he manages together with Pedro Estrada Belli. Vinotria’s portfolio includes wines from internationally acclaimed wineries such as Donnafugata in Sicily, Ornellaia in Tuscany, and Livio Felluga in Friuli, to name a few.

The Chef

Calum Anderson is an established head chef with 17 years’ experience of working in top-end restaurants, hotels and game lodges in South Africa, England and Australia. He has worked at leading hotels including The Cape Grace and Singita. During his career he has worked under some extremely gifted chefs including Gareth Collins, Giles Thompson, Chris Galvin, Peter Gordan, Bruce Robertson, Charles Le Febvre and Reuben Riffel. As a chef, Anderson has cooked for celebrities including Ellen DeGeneres, the British royal family, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Clinton, Sheikha Al Mayassa of Qatar, Brad Pitt, Andrea Bocelli, Michel Roux Snr, Fran Drescher and William Shatner.

Anderson’s food philosophy is to ensure the integrity of the elements is upheld, that dishes are full of flavour, interesting and unusual.

“Visually, dishes should be natural and beautiful to the eye but not overly complicated as I believe this is my expression of how I see and feel about food.”

He is assisted at Idiom by talented sous chefs Donovan Christian and Bronwyn Solomon, who also heads up the pastry section.

Explore Italy at Idiom

Besides the contemporary dining offering at Idiom, there are other simpler Italian-inspired options to enjoy. Antipasto platters, with a selection of freshly sliced Italian cold meats such as prosciutto and salami, as well as cheese boards, with Italian and local soft and hard cheeses, are popular choices. The regional Italian pizza menu combines light thin crust bases with carefully chosen toppings using ingredients that transmit the tastes of the different regions of Italy.

“The regional pizzas are the first step to creating a dedicated Italian food offering, which in time, may require its own separate space,” says Bottega. “Regional Italian pastas are also being added to complement the pizzas. We are planning a rotating regional Italian degustation menu in order to showcase the fantastic regional wines we import with appropriate food. Italian wines are designed for food, and we hope to have this concept ready for the end of the year.”

Idiom is one of the leading producers of Italian varietal wines in South Africa, so it makes perfect sense for us to expand and take ownership of the Italian wine space in the country,” continues Bottega. “Visitors can taste Idiom’s locally produced Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese, Barbera, Nebbiolo and Primitivo (Zinfandel) wines at the wine bar or in the restaurant. We supply a number of leading Italian restaurants with both our locally made Idiom and imported Vinotria portfolio of Italian wines. Having access to the imported wines as reference points has been very important. Firstly, we have learnt a tremendous amount about the wines of Italy, and it has allowed us to monitor the progress, quality and style of the Italian varietal wines we produce locally, and to better understand the potential of our Cape terroir,” adds Bottega.

Did you know?

Idiom – currently the VIP Winelands Lunch Choice of local operator, Cape Town Helicopters – is now accessible by helicopter for those who want to take a spectacular trip to the Cape Winelands along the coast. The 4-hour VIP aerial adventure and Winelands Culinary experience departs from the Waterfront and takes in parts of the Cape Peninsula before arriving at Idiom.

http://idiom.co.za/

Staycation – Ways to be a tourist in your own town

Feeling like you never get to go away on a special holiday? You don’t need to travel far to do some sightseeing, relax, and get an exhilarating feel of adventure. Here’s how to be a tourist in your hometown and see your city with new eyes:

Show foreigners around

Take foreigners around your area – be it friends from another part of the country, family or an exchange student from Finland. Think of places that are usually branded as “too touristy” and try to enjoy the experience just as much as your guests do.

Take a bus tour

Do you know the history behind the buildings seen in your hometown? Do you understand how and why your city was founded?

Take a bus tour that is usually meant for tourists to gain some local history knowledge. Engage yourself with the tourists on the bus to see what they find interesting – you might be fascinated about a few things you forgot your city has to offer. City Sightseeing‘s hop-on hop-off bus includes all major Cape Town, Jo’burg and Soweto tourist attractions.

Stay in a hotel or guesthouse

To set yourself in a mood for exploring and travelling, book into your town’s favourite hotel or guesthouse. Jo’burgers can indulge in a staycation at the Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa, which should tick all the boxes. (See our recent post about their bubbly bar here). Being away from home for the evening will add to the touristy feeling you’re after.

The Fairlawns Treehouse Studio

Schedule time for those “one day” places

We all have places that we pass regularly in our town or city that we plan on visiting one day. It will never happen if you don’t actually decide on a date to go. While busy, look at recommendations and tourist brochures of activities in your area and create a schedule of the things you want to do.

Go on a taste adventure at the most touristy restaurant in town

Go to the most touristy restaurant in town and eat the meals they specialise in. Look at coffee shops and restaurants you usually don’t go to and try various cuisines. Stepping out of your comfort zone when it comes to restaurants, is exhilarating and refreshing. If staying in Pretoria, why not visit the Monument Restaurant and experience authentic Afrikaner food.

Cheer on a local sports team

To get a feel for the spirit in your city, go to a stadium near you and watch a sports game with passionate locals and tourists.

Do something that only your city can offer

Most towns and cities are well known for an outdoor adventure like no other. Go out and explore your town’s most fun activity. If you’re from Cape Town, head to Table Mountain and experience the Aerial Cableway.

Glide into vacation-mode

When leaving the office for your staycation, leave all your worries behind and settle in for your well-deserved holiday. Put on some music, open a bottle of wine, relax and get ready for your holiday at home.

Written by: Katrien Nel

Images: Supplied

TAU makes luxury safaris affordable

Spring 2018 at Tau Game Lodge in the Madikwe Game Reserve makes for a revitalizing 5-star safari, complete with invigorating Tau Spa Oasis treatments to complement the superb Big (and small) Five, game viewing and delicious food.

Image by: Tilly Dix

Watching the wildlife meet at a large waterhole from the safety of your private room deck or the lodge’s hospitality and pool decks adds further excitement to an unforgettable safari.

The lodge is enclosed within the Madikwe Game Reserve, resulting in humans being subtly fenced in while game, including several crocodiles, roam free. Smaller game, such as the protected African wild dog, is flourishing in the Madikwe Game Reserve, while inquisitive squirrels and cheeky vervet monkeys forage for snacks around the lodge. Not to mention the constant nest-building of the bright yellow weaver birds around the lodge’s decks.

“Ah, we did not want to leave – my camera worked overtime – we made precious memories.”

October rates start from R 4 354.00 per person sharing per night and all packages include the following:

  • 3 meals per day, including tea and coffee
  • 2 game drives per day, including refreshments on game drives
  • Use TAUSPRING18 when making a reservation.

Park entrance fees (R 180.00 per person per night) are excluded from the package rates. So are are tourism levies (R 100.00 per person per night), airstrip fees (R 60.00 per person on landing), beverages ordered at the bar, telephone and internet usage, laundry, spa facilities, curios and other extras. A compulsory rhino conservation fee of R 150.00 per adult per night and R 75.00 per child per night (2 – 12 years) is applicable to assist the reserve in its anti-poaching efforts.

Image by: Tilly Dix

Early morning safaris are spectacular, offering magical light for photography, with a pitstop for Amarula coffee and delicious buttermilk rusks overlooking the verdant bush, whilst game rangers keep a vigilant eye on game and predators. They have respect for the bush by allowing the creatures of the wild their space. Afternoon game drives include dazzling African sunsets with decadent sundowners before returning to the lodge for a convivial dinner with guests and rangers conversing about their safari sightings of the day.

Dinner is hosted in the boma, restaurant or dining deck – depending on the weather – always presenting a surprise element for guests.

The tranquillity of the African bush, notwithstanding the protestations of a coot protecting its young from an over-zealous young crocodile, or the greeting ritual of elephant nearby, make for an unforgettable stay at TAU – place of the lion.

The TAU Cubz Club, TAU Spa Oasis and Tau Conference Centre make this an ideal malaria-free destination for romantic, family, leisure or corporate safaris.

www.taugamelodge.co.za