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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Something new for Parktown North

After three years of serving up some of the best wild boar Mac ‘n Cheese in Parktown North, The National has closed its doors. But, not for long.

Chef James Diack is giving his Parktown North speakeasy a face lift, transforming it into a wine and food bar, which will be called Douglas + Hale. “I’m always keeping myself busy, and I am really excited about this new concept for the Johannesburg restaurant scene,” he says.

“I have always had a passion for wine and cocktails – having originally studied viticulture in Stellenbosch.”

The name pays homage to both Diack’s grandfathers – Douglas Diack and Mathew Hale. They’re also James and his brother Nick’s second names.

Douglas + Hale will serve an incredible range of fine wines – by the bottle, but mostly by the glass, all in Riedel Glassware,” says James.

“We’ll also have some absurdly good cocktails made by our in-house mixologist.”

For the food, James is keeping it simple and he’ll keep some of The National’s favourite dishes. “It’s a small, simple eating menu that will keep you interested through the evening,” he explains.

The rustic and relaxed atmosphere is set to become a local must for after work cocktails, pre-meal drinks, or a final night cap before you head home (in an Uber – no drinking and driving allowed!).

Douglas + Hale will open to the public on 25 September 2018. For bookings, contact them on 011 327 3030. Find them at 19 4th Avenue, Parktown North.

There’s a new kid on The Block

You can now fill up on decor, coffee and inspiration at The Block Cafe in Block & Chisel, Diep River, Cape Town.

The cafe was designed by Block & Chisel directors Paul McAdam and Susan McCoubrey to reflect the principles of the Block & Chisel brand – it’s not just easy on the eye, but also easy to live with.  The coffee and toastie emporium is all about good food, prepared simply.

Chef Courtney Ah-Sing has worked tirelessly to create an uncomplicated, delicious menu. “Watching the space and menu grow has been wonderful. I love the freedom and flexibility that comes with offering daily specials. We also make our cakes smaller, so they are elegant and always fresh,” says Courtney.

You’ll find plenty of personal touches in the cafe. It’s what makes it so comfortable and inviting. For instance, they serve a Boetie Bester, which is a blend of strong coffee with a dash of condensed milk and milk foam. It’s a treat their master craftsman Sibley McAdam enjoyed during his school holidays visiting his good friends on their family farm in the Karoo.

“The cafe is all about relaxed enjoyment – it’s meant to be the sort of place you can spend time catching up with friends and really feel like you are at home,” says Susan McAdam. The space is designed to inspire the level of comfort, style and enjoyment that we all strive for in our own homes.

The beautiful oak bar was designed specifically for the space and constructed by Block & Chisel‘s  workshop team in Philippi. A truly commanding feature that shows off delectable goods, while also illustrating fine craftsmanship.

The dining area is a mixture of styles from classic to modern, with all items available to purchase. The cafe therefore serves as a way to “test drive” certain items before you buy them.

“We’re really proud of how the cafe has turned out, and hope that our customers get to enjoy spending time there as much as we have loved creating it,” Managing Director Paul McAdam adds.

Chef David Higgs writes his first cook book

When a chef needs to recover from a stomach operation, the recovery time could either be daunting or rewarding. In Chef David Higgs‘ case, it was definitely rewarding, as that is when it all started. He started to write little stories, took photos and tried to come up with the perfect concept for his book, called Mile 8, which will be available from October.

He has cooked for the likes of Antonio Banderas, Charlize Theron, Chef Ferran Adria, Drew Barrymore, Elton John, Justin Beiber, Lady Gaga, MTN Team Qhubeka during the Tour de France and Nelson Mandela. And now he wrote a book!

I’ve been wanting to write a book for a number of years. About six years ago I ended up in Namibia after a stomach op and it was probably the longest period of time I’ve had to chill and relax. I started writing little stories, taking photos and trying to come up with a concept. I’ve never wanted it to be ‘just another cook book’ – I knew I wanted it to be something unique, beautiful and special to me – first and foremost. When My Kitchen Rules SA first approached me, I got into contact with Tessa Graham – she looked after Jamie Oliver for many years. It was at this time, with Tessa and my business partner, Gary, that I decided to do MKRSA, and I also started talking to Tessa about doing the book.

Why the name, Mile 8?

“For me, Mile 8 is a special marker as it is where I caught my first fish and my food journey began. Originating from the Swakopmund Post Office and running north for 108 miles, Namibia’s coast is dotted with mile markers.”

According to Higgs, the book is a very frank account of essentially his story – beginning in the small, coastal town of Walvis Bay, through the cowboy kitchens of Cape Town in the 90’s, to the heart of South Africa’s lush winelands, and culminating at Marble. 

Elsa Young was the photographer for the book. “… I met Elsa when I moved to Johannesburg from Cape Town. It’s very rare to find a photographer who sees food in the same way as you do. We have the same understanding of what we want the food to look like in an image. She’s terribly talented and she’s a good, honest friend.” 

With fishing being the initial start to Higgs’ cooking career, it’s only natural that he still enjoys it. “Fishing will always be part of my life for a number of reasons. First, it’s the most relaxing thing you can do, especially when you’re not surrounded by people. Generally, up the Namibian West Coast all the miles from Swakopmund there’s just peace and quiet, and the sound of the sea. It’s quite special and pretty much the area where I like to fish. My favourite fishing spot is Paaltjies, heading towards Sandwich Harbour – it reminds me of fishing with my father, although its catch and release now.

Higgs also enjoys cycling to unwind. “I ride mountain bikes and it’s close to my heart.” In fact, “In my dreams I would like to be a professional cyclist (haha).”

Higgs’ favourite dish to make? 

“I love slow cooking dishes like casseroles and stews, and I love cooking on fire. As I say in the book: ‘The first fish out of the water, goes onto the fire.’ It’s still the best way to eat – uncomplicated and with a little salt, pepper and lemon juice. It goes perfectly with an ice-cold beer.

From his book, he would recommend the snoek with the sweet potato and apricot jam, the fish stew and the curry tomato soup.

If he could cook for anyone, it would have been his father. “Sadly, I was never able to cook for him while he was still alive.”

I always wonder where chefs’ preferred culinary destinations are. Higgs says: “I’m a big fan of New York, and I always have been. There is a lot on offer and a lot to see in a small space – you don’t have to travel far and wide to taste different types of cuisine. It’s got a great international offering, even if you are limited for time.”

It’s been quite an emotional experience, and it’s reminded me of so many stories from my childhood, and things I had forgotten about. But it’s lovely to be able to share this with people and tell stories as they are. It’s also great to be able to give everyone a real peak into the ‘behind the scenes’ of a professional kitchen. Some people will relate, and some won’t – but I like it, and so I hope people enjoy it. – Chef David Higgs on writing Mile 8.

Higgs says that Mile 8 is really accessible to everybody. “The important thing about cooking is that you need to experiment, and you need to push yourself. You don’t have to do everything the recipe says – you don’t have to put a lemon gel, you can rather just put a squeeze of lemon. I’m really just trying to show the combination of flavours. I wanted to have something for everyone – chefs, home cooks and even for people that collect beautiful coffee table books – to tell people about Namibia, South Africa, and show them what we’re about.”

The Test Kitchen to ‘wow’ diners with a pop-up restaurant in Mauritius

Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa, Mauritius is excited about their new culinary partnership with The Test Kitchen, an internationally acclaimed fine dining destination based in Cape Town. Set to further cement the resort’s position as Mauritius’ leading dining hotspot, Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa will host The Test Kitchen for six weeks – from 12 April to 26 May 2018 – at the Republik Beach Club & Grill.

Guests will be invited to experience a unique culinary journey curated by The Test Kitchen’s award-winning Chef-Patron, Luke Dale Roberts, during the partnership. Synonymous with the finest, most creative and innovative food in Africa, Roberts will be bringing outstanding gourmet experiences to the shores of Shangri-La’s Le Tousserok Resort & Spa with a tapas menu and a five course menu, of which two variations will be available at different dates. The menus will reflect his journey around the world and will be specially curated to showcase Mauritian spices and flavours at their best. The pristine white beaches of Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa will provide a stunning backdrop for this once in a lifetime experience, which will see Roberts and his stellar team of 17 share their expert techniques and passion for flavour alongside the resort’s chefs. To further heighten this gourmet experience, guests will also be treated to tableside cocktail blending.

Described as a “world class dining destination that is worthy of a flight” by the prestigious JHP Gourmet Guide and awarded both “Best Restaurant in Africa” as well as “22nd Best Restaurant in the World” in the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards in 2016, The Test Kitchen definitely has an international appeal. Diners from across the globe travel to South Africa to experience Chef Luke Dale-Roberts’s unique and innovative culinary journey of 21 courses, presented on a Food Map. This April, for the first time, the restaurant is taking its gastronomic adventure to new heights, by launching its first ever international outpost, The Test Kitchen Mauritius, at Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa. The special collaboration will give food lovers the chance to sample The Test Kitchen’s famed cuisine in paradise – the shores of this iconic Mauritian property.

Opened by award-winning Chef Luke Dale Roberts in 2010, The Test Kitchen consists of a Dark Room and a Light Room, both only open for dinner. Dining at this restaurant is a true culinary journey, commencing in The Dark Room with a snack menu paired with curated cocktails, followed by a 5-course gourmet menu in The Light Room. It is within The Dark Room that guests are presented with a Food Map on a parchment scroll informing them of the culinary treasures they are about to taste, followed by the arrival of the first of five Dark Room dishes. The Light Room is an airier and more formal room with a menu that reflects Chef Luke Dale Roberts’s journey around the world. Signature dishes include the Peruvian ceviche, harking back to the months Roberts spent travelling through South America, as well as a Billionaire’s Shortbread as a nod to the chef’s love of Scotland. To echo The Test Kitchen’s Dark Room and Light Room, guests will start their evening at the Republik Bar area to enjoy the tapas menu with cocktails as associated with the Dark Room. They will then continue their gastronomic journey at the beachfront restaurant, for a five-course gourmet menu in tribute to the iconic restaurant’s Light Room.

In addition to Republik Beach Club & Grill, Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa is also home to six other trendy restaurants and bars with cutting-edge dining concepts, vibrant atmospheres and artistic collaborations. The hotel also boasts two swimming pools, an 18-hole par 72 championship golf course, a kids’ club and CHI, The Spa focusing on indigenous and holistic wellness. The resort features Ilot Mangénie, a private island exclusively accessible to resort’s guests, as well as three iconic beach villas which come replete with dedicated teams of staff.

The Test Kitchen Mauritius experience is priced at MUR 3500 (about R 1250) per person, including the Dark Room’s snack menu of four dishes, served tapas style, and the Light Room’s five-course gourmet menu.

For more information and reservations: Tel: 0800 028 3337, sltr@shangri-la.com.  

www.shangri-la.com/mauritius

The Palace’s Plume Re-imagined

The re-imagining of The Palace’s chic-classic restaurant is now complete. Influenced by the social, café culture of South Africa’s famous cosmopolitan restaurant hubs with the emphasis on the experience, Plume’s new menu invites the exploration of diverse textures and indigenous flavours paired with exciting, proudly South African wines. Created by an award-winning sommelier, Marie Manyoha, and Executive Sous Chef, Robin Brophy, guests experience a tantalising six stage meal – a journey enticing all of the senses. The wines offered for pairing with each stage have been carefully picked by Manyoha to compliment the explosion of textures, flavours and aromas of the food.

The Palace’s F&B Manager, Brandon Govender, says: “We are delighted to introduce the re-imagined Plume, where dining is an experience for the senses, a place to entice your eager palate and indulge your inquisitive mind.”

The Plume Textures menu is a set experience, starting with an Amuse Bouche, fittingly called “Camps Bay Holiday”, comprising beetroot and cream cheese espume, ethically sourced caviar on Mother of Pearl, seawater gel, tomato soil and flavour scallops. For starters there is “Textures Corn Salad”, a delightful surprise consisting of panna cotta dust that has been gellified, popped and grilled.

The first main course is olive poached salmon served with balsamic jelly, salmon confit, pea puree and crisp sweet potato scales. This provides an uplifting prelude to the second main course of succulent ribeye log, potato puree, rainbow root vegetables and Turkish delights.

The invigorating meander of tastes and textures continues with decadent strawberry, mango and salted chocolate, before culminating with port and cheese.

Plume is open on weekends 19h30 for the textures experience, with one sitting per evening starting strictly at 20h00. The first main course is served at 20h30 and the second main course is served at 21h30. The cost is R1250 per person and includes the whole sumptuous food journey.

Venturing to Plume for dinner is also an opportunity to dress accordingly for the experience and to escape your parental duties for one evening. The dress code is smart / elegant and no jeans, sneakers or flip flops are permitted and no children under the age of 12 are allowed.

The reopening of Plume is part of the reinvention of Sun City’s culinary landscape. With over 30 restaurants, Sun City caters to all tastes and has something for everyone. While family restaurant brands are on offer, Sun City has now created several signature restaurants. Among the new or refurbished signature restaurants are the Bocado at the Cascades, Legends at Soho and The Brew Monkey at the Valley of Waves.

For more information about Sun City and all the changes, visit #NewSunCity connect with them on Facebook SunCitySA or follow them on Twitter @SunCityResortSA and Instagram @SunCityResortSA.

Steenberg Merlot for Cooler Climates

Winter is slowly, but surely, creeping up on us. One thing that excites me most about the cooler climate of winter, is red wine. Even better when it’s next to a cozy fireplace!

Steenberg‘s Merlot, with its concentrated berries, savoury notes of dried fynbos, lavender and fresh rosemary might be the ideal fireside comforter on chilly autumn or winter days. Crafted from vines on the cool Steenberg foothills, the fresh and vibrant 2015 vintage is richly rewarding with a mouthful of plum, dark chocolate and black olives.

Winemaker, JD Pretorius, says:

“With the change of seasons from summer into autumn, our food preferences change in turn to warmer, flavoursome and richer dishes. Our Steenberg Merlot is rich in generosity and warmth with a rounded texture which makes it a fantastic food-friendly wine.”

It is made for the long haul, with tannins and acidity in perfect balance and it has the potential to age beautifully for up to 15 years.

The wine is a slam dunk with red meat and Chef Kerry Kilpin of Steenberg’s popular Bistro Sixteen82 recommends a delicious grilled sirloin, drizzled with a whisky and black pepper jus and a green pea and tomato salsa. Get the recipe here…

Visit www.steenbergfarm.com or follow #LiveSteenberg on Twitter (@SteenbergWines) and Facebook (facebook.com/steenbergestate) for more information.