Pot Luck Club brunch

 

This is not a restaurant review. Me telling you that The Pot Luck Club is awesome would be a bit like Barry Ronge telling you to go watch Wolf of Wall Street. (Except that I’m not old, grey and – let’s face it – a little bit fruity.) This post is more to tell you how you should plan your next visit to one of Cape Town’s best.

Two words:

Sunday

brunch.

I’m a bit late to the party when it comes to fully appreciating Sundays. I’m not sure if it’s because I work most Saturdays nowadays, but lately I am very much on board with Sundays. They are my new Fridays. Fact: there is not a nightclub or a bar in Cape Town that can compare to a boozy lunch. And Sundays are the day for these affairs. Up until very recently this would mean The Queen and I heading out to the winelands. Places like Camphors, The Table at De Meye, Overture, Jordan etc. were all ticked off. Bread & Wine was hit. And hit often. La Motte. Maison. Delaire Graff. These are all likely candidates. And – don’t get me wrong – they are all brilliant. But I’m here to tell you that arguably the best venue for a Sunday brunch/lunch is sitting in the heart of Woodstock. Waiting for you. Let me break it down for you: we live in one of the greatest cities in the world. That’s not an overstatement. Cape Town was voted number 1 in a New York Times piece, ”52 Places to go in 2014″. The Guardian also released a list of “International Hotspots” and, again, Cape Town came in at Number 1. Throw in the fact that we are hosting the World Design Capital and we are talking about a world-class city. But maybe that’s another post entirely for another day entirely.

Back to Pot Luck Club. The reason I love going there on a Sunday is because it’s light. The 360 degree views that are so special during dinner at the same venue are – arguably – even cooler at 11am on a Sunday morning. Views of the mountain. Views of the harbour. But, more importantly, views of the actual city. The city we love. It’s gritty and real and brilliant. When you sit in Pot Luck Club during the light of day you can’t help but feel proud to be Capetonian. Anyway, back to the food.

R350 gets you an absolute feast. Seriously. Eggs Arnold Bennett, smoked salmon wrapped around sour cream and served on rye, mushrooms on toast, oysters with perfect seasonings, popcorn milkshakes, Korean BBQ chicken, fish tacos, bowls of churros, smoked beef fillet with cafe au lait sauce. It’s a ton of food. Throw in the fact that for R150 more you get bottomless (yes, bottomless) bubbly and you’ll understand the levels of excitement we’re dealing with here. R500 a head for a meal like this is serious value. Oh, did I mention the DIY Bloody Mary Station? I didn’t? Forgive me. Get your head around a Consol jar packed with your choice of bacon, pepper or jalapeno-infused vodka. Throw in chorizo and huge sticks of celery. Crispy bacon stirrers. Stuffed olives. Sriracha sauce. It’s mental.

Luke Dale-Roberts is the one you’ll see in the magazines, but chef Wesley Randles is very much the man in charge here. He sticks to his guns of walking guests through sweet, salty, sour, bitter and Umami experiences. And he does it so, so well. The food is good but the experience is even better. The ideas are fresh and the service is spot on. Keep this one in mind for your next Sunday treat. Celebrate the city by staying in the city.

Go forth and eat,

Andy

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OZCF

I don’t blog much anymore. It bums me out. One of the reasons for stopping/slowing down was the constant press releases, the constant media events, the constant product drops and the eventual decline in the standard of my own writing. I felt like I was writing for the sake of writing. I promised myself I would quit. And I did. The new site was dedicated to posting about food experiences that actually moved me. Food experiences that were worth sharing. Food experiences that made me smile or made me pause for a second to reflect.

Oranjezicht City Farm is one of those.

I haven’t seen something as cool as that in a long time. Most people know it as a Saturday morning market but the real secret is Wednesday evenings. The place is open to the public from 4pm – 6:30pm and all you need to do is rock up with an empty bag and an open mind. You’ll get led around the place and shown what you can harvest. You’ll even be shown how to do it. (Yup, there’s a way to do it). This week I went to town with Swiss chard, baby spinach, baby marrows, lettuce, radishes, red basil, aubergine and kale. I packed a basket full of the stuff. And the cost? The cost of fresh, seasonal produce pulled from the soil? R70. FOR THE WHOLE BASKET.

Woolworths will never see me again.

The setting for all of this is a bit of a joke too. With views of the sun setting over this incredible city that we call home, even if I wasn’t allowed to take anything home I would recommend a visit.

Go forth and eat,

Andy

 

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BROR Restaurant

 

“Welcome to the brotherhood”.

When a bearded Dane utters these words (as he ties an apron around your waist and hands you a big-ass carving knife), it’s a food memory that you know is going to stick with you. Probably forever.

Add to the surreal setting the fact that David Chang and Chris Ying (Lucky Peach Editor in Chief) are at the table next to you and you might get a feel for what a special night it was. But not without a few nervous moments.

But let’s take a step back. I was hanging out in Copenhagen for the MAD Symposium – arguably the greatest food festival in the world – and I had left the three day affair with a book full of notes and a head full of ideas. The festival itself is ridiculous. It would be too easy to call it inspiring. It was so much more. Held in a circus tent, it is two days packed with some of the biggest names in the food world. Neil Perry, Fergus Henderson, Margot Henderson, Sean Brock, Rene Redzepi, Barbara Lynch, Christian Puglisi, Alain Ducasse, Roy Choi, Dario Cecchini, Alex Atala, David Chang, The Voltaggio brothers. And a whole lot more. The audience? People from all over the world; united with a basic, simple love of food. A common geekiness for food. A need to know more about it and the people behind it. A thirst for more. It is a rock concert for food nerds. It’s electric and contagious and awesome.

The theme for the event was GUTS and you can imagine how various speakers interpreted it. Sure, there were guts – literally cut and displayed on stage. But what struck home for me was to hear these household names talking about courage in their industry. To hear them speak about taking risks and to hear them speak about blazing a new trail for themselves, instead of following the rules. The common theme of self doubt was addressed and the common theme of perseverance seemed to emerge as an answer. In a world where “follow your passion” can be an empty cliche, to hear some of the greatest food minds on the planet echoing exactly that sentiment was comforting.

Anyway, fast forward a few days days and my wife and I were ready for a week of eating and drinking in one of the coolest food cities in the world. She hadn’t been lucky enough to attend the event and – although she wouldn’t admit it – I think she was pretty sick and tired of my gushing, as I tried to explain how great the whole thing is/was. She was just looking for a chilled dinner. Instead, what followed was us arriving to the restaurant and literally bumping into Chang & co. I managed not to go too fan boy. Then we were seated next to their table. And then came the announcement to the restaurant that “a South African butcher is in the house”. That’s when the apron and the knife came out. By now people were beginning to wonder what was going on. People were definitely staring. Chang was staring. And I was sweating bullets.

The wine I was throwing back didn’t help much as my mind started racing. These Danes are fucking crazy. Everyone knows that. The staff in this place look like extras from Vikings. Who knows what they’re going to make me to?! Am I going to have to break down a carcass for the restaurant? Am I going to have to debone something for Chang’s table? Are they going to bring a live pig out here for me to slaughter?

The eventual scenario was tame in comparison. A roasted pig head brought to the table on a wooden board. Just for us. Relief. Then a few more aprons and a second head for Chang’s entourage. I’m not sure if it was the crisis that had been avoided, or the wine eventually doing its job, but that pig head was one of the greatest meals I’ve ever had. It formed part of a tasting menu filled with soul and personality. Blackened catfish. Pike with grilled cucumbers. Chicken wings and kelp. Buttermilk with currants. It was all laughably simple. I don’t remember seeing more than three ingredients on a plate. But every bite was perfectly executed. It was real, tasty food and it was presented with some of the most unusual and interesting wine you can imagine. In fact, the wine is reason enough to visit BROR. Billed as stuff they are “enjoying at the moment”, it is wine that encourages questions and conversation. It is not easy-drinking wine, but it is delicious wine. (Mind you, when the sommelier pulls up a seat and puts his arm around you while he talks about ” the joy of cloudy wine” everything seems to taste better.)

I will eat at BROR if I’m ever lucky enough to be in Copenhagen again. I will visit MAD Symposium if I am ever lucky enough to be in Copenhagen again. I will make sure I am lucky enough to be in Copenhagen again.

Go forth and eat,

Andy

 

 

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Pot Luck Club x Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants

At FFMM we’ve been flattered to have received a few proposals from chefs looking to collaborate with pop-up style restaurants/concepts in our store. Naturally, we’ve been hesitant. Who runs the thing? Who staffs it? Where do we prep? How is point of sale organised? What is a fair split of profits? Blah blah blah. On top of that, we love our brand and are fiercely protective about who we would want to let in our doors. In short, we’ve come up with quite a few reasons NOT to do a pop-up.

But when Luke Dale-Roberts called us up to chat about a joint venture with Pot Luck Club I forgot about technicalities. He described a night of “bohemian madness” with no reservations, no pre-bought tickets and a first-come, first-served menu. Three dishes, 30 kg of meat and some barrel drums full of flames. That’s it.

Wesley Randles will be the man in charge and will be bringing some of his team to help out. With a loose theme of organised chaos expected, Simon Widdison will hopefully be bringing his calming influence to the party, as we hit the street for some fun times. The Baby-faced Dane and The Foodie have come up with some good wine pairings for the night and you can bet your ass we’ll have some cold beer too.

Go forth and eat,

Andy

 

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Chef’s Warehouse is back.

 

I’ve written previously about the first time I met Liam Tomlin and how he scared the shit out of me. Seriously. He was terrifying. A lot has happened since then and – having been through the process of judging the Eat Out Awards together – I’ve got to know the man well. I’ve seen a guy who has strong, simple food philosophies. I’ve seen a guy who appreciates attention to detail and solid service. I’ve seen a guy who hates flowery explanations of food. I’ve seen a guy who expects a high standard when that’s what you’re selling.

Throughout the judging process, I learnt a lot from Liam but most notable was the constant desire for the chefs to strip out all the unnecessary nonsense and keep things simple. I’ve always asked the question why local chefs are obsessed with technique, rather than produce and, in Liam, I found someone who had the same thoughts. Overworked, over-styled food doesn’t blow my hair back and he feels pretty much the same way.

All of this might explain why he has taken the (ballsy) step of opening his new cafe/restaurant/food nirvana on Bree Street. I think he just did it out of necessity. Where else can you go for a plate of roasted bone marrow topped with capers, parsley and nothing else? Where else do you get a jar packed with rabbit rilletes? You want authentic raclette, with the cheese bubbling as it gets brought to the table? This is the place to get it. A craving for Bouillabaisse has got you? Don’t worry. He’s got you covered. Looking for the single, greatest collection of cookbooks in Cape Town? Look no further pal. Throw in the fact that he will soon be slinging Asian street food from a hatch facing Bree Street and we’re looking at one of the coolest things to happen to the Cape Town food scene in a long time.

This is not a post to announce that Liam Tomlin is the best kept secret in South Africa. This is not a post to tell you when he was at Banc in Australia it was voted Restaurant of The Year by the Sydney Morning Herald, as well as receiving three hats (the highest accolade possible). This is not that post. This is a post to tell you that Liam Tomlin and his wife Jan are spearheading a new shop that you need to go to if you love food. This is a post to tell you there is a chef’s chef who is cooking his socks off with a young team.

Chef’s Warehouse is not fine dining. The service is not flawless. But the space is seriously, seriously cool and the kitchen is serving food that tastes good and looks good. They’re also having fun. The best part? I know Liam would say they are nowhere near a finished article. Get there anyway – the Irishman still has a few tricks up his sleeves. Turns out the new kid on the block isn’t that new at all.

Go forth and eat,

Andy

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Cape Craft Beer Fest

 

I’ll be brief. I realise that if you’re reading this right now then you’re one of the sad bastards who (like me) is not yet on holiday. I realise that you’re sitting at your desk trying your best to look busy. I understand. You don’t feel like wading through loads of information. I get it. But surely you don’t mind reading a few details when said information is about beer? And not just beer – but where and how to consume it this weekend. Interested? Thought so.

The Jozi Craft Beer Fest is coming to Cape Town.

A cunning name change (now called the Cape Craft Beer Fest), a rad and unusual venue, some belting music, great chow and suddenly Saturday the 21st of December isn’t looking so bad. Hell, if I was in Plett already I’d drive back here. This one is going to be a really, really good day out.

What can you expect? Farryl Purkiss is not a bad start. Beatenberg too. That’s a decent drinking soundtrack. We (Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants) will be teaming up with the boys from The Southern Smoke to bring you lamb ribs, pulled pork sandwiches and a few other bits and pieces. Cooked in the beast of a smoker (seen above), they’ll be pretty damn good. Trust us. Oh, then there’s the beer. Here’s a list of the types of guys who will be pouring pints.

  • Darling 
  • Jack Black
  • CBC
  • Citizen
  • Everson’s Cider
  • Lakeside
  • Birkenhead
  • Lakeside
  • Triggerfish
  • Boston Breweries

Food. Beer. Music. That’ll do it.

Details:

Venue – The Garage, cnr of Bree and Carisbrook Streets

TIme – 11h00 to 23h00

Cost – R80

Go forth and eat,

Andy

 

 

 

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Publik Wine Bar

 

I met David Cope 6 years ago. We had a coffee and chatted about food and booze for hours. Essentially, we went on a blind date. We set up the meeting because – basically – Cape Town is a tiny city and we kept getting told by people who knew both of us that we could be the same person. We had the same ideas. We wrote the same articles. We went to the same restaurants. We cooked the same food. We drank at the same bars. So we went on a date.

The bromance has been pretty thick since then and we have been trying to collaborate on a project for years. There was talk of a gin joint. There was a TV pilot. (We still think we’re awesome in that by the way). There was craft beer in a can. There was whale sushi. But the timing was never right.

Until now.

As is the case with most good ideas, Publik Wine Bar was conceived halfway through a fair amount of booze. The idea seemed simple. I was opening a butchery with a liquor license. I didn’t want to run a bar. Dave did. Two beers later we had pretty much come up with the concept. A wine bar inside a butchery. That’ll work, won’t it? What if it was a wine bar inside a butchery that concentrates on natural wines. A bar showcasing interesting varietals. A bar championing winemakers who like to do as little to their grapes as possible. A bar for people who love wine but are bored of drinking the same stuff.

And guess what?

We actually did it.

Publik is a place where you come if you want to hang out in a chilled environment, sip some wine, eat some cured meat and basically just hang out for a few hours. It’s a place where you can lean back and take your time. It’s a place where you can learn a thing or two while you discover some new favourites. Or celebrate existing ones. It’s a place where we open magnums on a Monday. For no reason at all. I’m very proud of it.

Dave was quick to snap up Kristian Sorensen (a very smooth, very cool, very knowledgeable, very passionate Dane) to help him steer the ship. I’ve got a feeling they are onto a winner. Find out tonight, as Publik opens its doors. Umm…to the public.

Go forth and eat,

Andy

Publik Wine Bar, 81 Church Street.

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Cape Town wishlist

I’ve learnt a few things over the last few years with my involvement in the food scene in Cape Town. The biggest lesson I’ve learnt is that restaurants are a bit like boats. You want your mates to own them but you don’t want your own. That way you get to go and hang out, eat some awesome food, drink some good booze and then head home while they finish off the 18 hour shift they kicked the day off with.

Let’s be honest; we’ve got most of our bases covered in this city. Because the place is so small, most independent eateries form part of an informal club where everybody supports each other by trying to stick it to the big corporates. As a result, there’s a pretty cool overlap amongst the little guys. But I’m not quite satisfied yet. Sure, I’ve got my bakery. My beer bar. My Mexican hangout. My cocktail spot of choice. I know where to head if I want a burger, or a pizza. But I want more dammit. Here are some things I think the city is crying out for. And here are the people that I wish had the time to open them.

A wine bar. Can someone tell me why Cape Town doesn’t have a proper wine bar? I’m talking about a tiny little corner shop where you can buy delicious AND INTERESTING wines by the glass. Small tumbler glasses being filled with varietals that we don’t see that often. Someone who can actually talk you through them with a bit of knowledge. Maybe some charcuterie boards and good bread. It’s not rocket science. Who should be manning this shop? I’m thinking it’s The Alphabetical boys, David Cope and Si Wibberley. If they’re looking for some help, Harry Reginald would thrive here. Stock check may be a problem though…

A curry and beer house. What do people dig to drink with a good curry? Yup, a good beer. I’m seeing a long bar with a few taps and a small kitchen. With the range of options available locally nowadays, matching beers with different flavour profiles of various curries would be pretty cool. Beer is no longer just beer. A Devil’s Peak Saison and the All Day IPA from Brewers&Union are radically different. They should be treated as such, and showcased. For this little venture, I’d love Pete Goffe-Wood to get stuck in. Sure, he’s a bit busy with little projects like Masterchef SA, but I want a curry dammit. Having tasted one or two of his curries at The Kitchen Cowboys Canteen, he’s the man for this job. Trust me.

BBQ joint. Dudes, I’ve got something to say about this. I know we as South Africans think we know our way around an open flame, but the Americans have taken it to another level. We can braai, sure. But they can cook. If you see what guys like Adam Perry-Lang are doing over there it’s phenomenal. And plenty of other former Michelin-star chefs are packing in their fine-dining kitchens to cook meat on fire. So who is the perfect fit for this locally? Bertus Basson ticks all the boxes for me. Currently one of the head judges on Ultimate Braai Master, he’s the guy who could introduce us to the simple pleasures of smoked brisket, pulled pork sandwiches, through-the-night-ribs, burnt-end baked beans, spatchcock chicken and spicy wings. Shit, how good would that be?

Tapas bar. I can’t figure this one out either. Tapas can be the best form of food around. You buy the best produce you can, you stick literally one or two ingredients on a plate and you create a cool, fun room with plenty of noise. So why is there not an inner-city tapas bar somewhere? The challenge here is on flavour combinations. Sure, you have to be prepared to go the extra mile with sourcing the best produce, but you also need to know what to do with it. If there are only two or three things on a tiny plate there’s nowhere to hide. You also need bloody good bread for a lot of tapas dishes. So…are you thinking what I’m thinking? Yup. Jason Lilley. He’s our guy for this. With a fondness for Spanish flavours, and an even bigger fondness for massive hunks of cured pork, he fits the bill. Very nicely actually.

An oyster shop. Sure, people have tried to open oyster and “champagne” bars in Cape Town before. But where is it written in the Restaurateur Wannabe Handbook that they have to be bright white, with sharp geometric lines and shiny silver fittings? What I’m after is a cool, relaxed room. Oysters don’t have to be pretentious. A long bar with communal seating. Giant zinc baths filled with oysters that are shucked in front of you. A couple of simple dressings and maybe one or two baked versions. Simple stuff. Oh, and of course there’s the option to take a couple of freshly shucked oysters home too. This is my dream, remember? So who is pushing and prepping these beauties in my ideal scenario? Considering a lot of these oysters might be sourced from the West Coast, Kobus Van Der Merwe could be our man for the job. His ability to forage for things like dune spinach might translate into some interesting condiments/toppings/dressings.

Nose-to-tail meat heaven. It’s no secret I love eating the less fancied parts of an animal. Offal is a glorious and misunderstood thing but it needs to be prepared by someone who loves eating it as much as they love cooking it. This place would see items like confit and deep fried pig ears, crispy pig tails, pickled lamb tongue, grilled ox heart etc. For this, we look no further than Chris Erasmus. Having spent some time learning from Fergus Henderson – the Godfather of nose-to-tail – Chris would definitely convert a few skeptics.

A steakhouse. “But Cape Town already has steakhouses!” Relax. I know they do. But what I’m talking about is one serving interesting cuts from grass-fed animals. And literally a menu with a handful of items. Hanger steak. Bone-in ribeye. T bone. Flank. That’s it. Wooden boards with big-ass knives. Cooked by people who know their stuff. And served to you by hot chicks with tattoos. What do you mean that’s off the topic? Head chef at this imaginary establishment? PJ Vadas. Here’s a chef who loves sustainable, ethical meat. It’s not often you find a guy who enjoys serving a giant pork chop as much as dainty tapioca wafers with edible flowers. (I ate both of these items at his restaurant Camphors recently by the way) but in my head he belongs in town serving the best steak in the country.

A Ramen noodle bar. Do I need to go on? Rich, deep flavours with broths so good you don’t know whether to drink them or sprinkle them on newborn babies. And the ramen sitting nice and comfy with beef short rib, chunks of pork or just a big whack of shiitakes and spring onions. WHY IS NO ONE MAKING RAMEN NOODLES IN THIS CITY?! I’m looking at Richard Carstens or Cheyne Morrisby for this one. I haven’t met too many chefs with better understanding(s) of Asian flavours.

The gastropub. Gastropubs in this country are a joke. Forries? No thanks. I want to sit at a place where I can choose from a number of craft beers AND CIDERS, check out a small but well thought out winelist and tuck into things like scotch eggs, fish pie, calamari with aioli made from scratch, pork scratchings, sausages and gravy, fish soup etc. I want a wooden board full of cured meats, pickles and cold pork pies. I want a whole chicken to share with my wife while we drink wine by a fireplace. And that must come with gravy. In other words, I want someone to open a proper pub. One you’d find in the English Countryside. I want Cathy Marston to open this pub. (She once had a spot called The Nose in a previous life but I never got to go there and this is my fantasy food world, so she’s the woman for the job here for sure.)

A waffle house. Can someone just go ahead and open a Milky Lane for adults? Thick waffles with their deep grids loaded with crispy bacon and maple syrup. Rich ice cream maybe. Proper shakes on the side. Who do I have in mind? Well, obviously The Creamery ladies. They are opening a retail store though, so let’s hold thumbs that this might actually be the one item on this list that comes true.

A charcuterie bar. Picture it: a place that has a conveyor belt in the middle of the room. You sit facing it, but – instead of sushi – you get to pick from various cured meats and pickles as they cruise by. So essentially it’s a sushi bar. But meat instead of fish. That’s it really. Step up Neil Jewell or Richard Bosman. Make it happen.

Liam Tomlin’s restaurant. Look, I’ve left this one completey blank because – quite frankly – I don’t care what Liam opens. In a dream world…in my dream world…he has a restaurant. He can serve me whatever he wants.

Cape Town is a pretty special place. We’re spoilt for choice. But imagine a world with all of the above. That’s a world I want to live in. Is there anything I’m forgetting?

Go forth and eat,

Andy

 

 

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