Food by others

Burgers & Hip Hop. Cape Town.

Burgers & Hip Hop

 

What are you doing this Saturday?

“The wife and I are heading out to the winelands to…”

Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

Wrong answer.

“There’s a really cool bar opening at…”

Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

Wrong answer.

“Netflix and chill on…”

Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

Wrong answer.

Stop being silly now.

What you’re doing this Saturday is coming on down to Shortmarket Street, to eat some burgers and listen to hip hop. Take out your diary, write it in there. Lean back and smile that smug smile. You’re allowed to now. You’ve done well sport.

A simple concept that originally began in Berlin, this festival is pretty basic. It’s very basic, in fact. People dig burgers. People dig hip hop. Let’s combine the two. And so they did. The runaway success in Berlin led to outings in Zurich, Paris and more. And now it’s our turn.

Saturday sees the gorgeous Mother City taking centre stage, with six of our best chefs slinging their own interpretations of the iconic hamburger. Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants is privileged to have been chosen as the exclusive meat supplier for the event, and we’ll be joining an all star cast of sponsors, including Puma, And Union and Red Bull Studios. The event has been pulled together by the good people over at The House of Machines and, true to their nature, they have not gone small. A section of Shortmarket Street will be shut down as a result, with the production being handled by Beanstalk. So expect good things. Expect great things, in fact.

Participating restaurants are:

Jason Bakery

Potluck Club

ASH restaurant

El Burro

Royale Eatery

Beijing Opera

In other words, some of the best young talent we have locally.

I’m not sure if you’re still reading this. Maybe you are. Maybe you stopped at the part when we mentioned burgers and hip hop. Together. In one spot. But know this: tickets are selling fast. They’re R200 and can be bought on Webtickets. Limited tickets will be sold at the door but…come on. You don’t want to take that risk.

Saturday will be a good one. It’ll be a celebration of food and music, for sure. But it’s also a celebration of Cape Town. Once again, we have caught the eye of global cities. Let’s show them what we’ve got.

Go forth and eat,
Andy

Food by others, Ramblings | Comments { 0 }

2015. Best of.

There is a lot to look forward to for 2016. Young, new owners that have bought Woodlands Eatery and will be stamping their own mark on it. Jason and Brigitte Lilley (of Jason Bakery fame) branching out with a second concept store. A new addition to the Shortmarket Street makeover/facelift/upliftment. And yes, naturally, I am pumped about Ash Heeger opening her jam inside our newly-renovated premises. She is a huge talent and we are lucky to have her. Before we get there, I have taken a look back at some stand-outs of 2015. I have limited these to Cape Town (with one exception), mainly because I didn’t really get to the winelands much at all over the past 12 months. And I definitely didn’t get to Jozi. I have ignored fine dining. I did that because…well because I just don’t like it. Have a read. And let’s try and keep the comments section civil…

Best breakthrough restaurant:

Bronze: Sexy Foods

When a butcher votes a vegetarian restaurant as one of his best of the year, you should pay attention. I will admit, I was VERY skeptical about this one. I didn’t like the name (I still don’t) and I wasn’t crazy about the decor. But I was intrigued. Organic vegetables, with an emphasis on sprouts. That’s a punchline, not a business model. Turns out it’s actually a pretty inspirational business model. On my first trip I was greeted with a menu listing ingredients I had mostly never heard of, combined in ways I would definitely not have thought of. But what hit me when I got around to eating was that everything was oddly delicious. Every dish had been skilfully plated and those whacky ingredients had been used sparingly and with excellent balance. There is a remarkable story behind this brand, and its owner, and I encourage you to go in order to hear it. Go with an open mind and be willing to hear things like “we want you to have the patience of a great tree.” They might also tell you to be “a radiant blue monkey”. Do not laugh. Okay, laugh a little. But do not leave. These guys are hippies but they are unashamedly hippies. It’s infectious. A whacky bunch serving nutritious food that just happens to taste sensational, this is undeniably interesting and it deserves to be celebrated for its willingness to be different.

Silver: The General Store.

Fresh ingredients, prepped and cooked on the day? Check. Good coffee? Yessir. (Rosetta). Attention to detail? You bet. Is the owner on site? Of course.  Throw in the fact that after you’ve enjoyed your meal you can leave with anything ranging from placemats to lemonade to a massive frozen lasagne and we are talking about a place worth going to. The General Store wins best brunch but it could easily win best lunch too. Choose from a host of salads, enjoy them in one of the coolest hole-in-the-wall spaces you’re likely to see, or load up a take away container. It’s hard not to compare this style of food to Ottolenghi. So I will. Guys, it’s like Ottolenghi. 

Gold: The Hog House Brewery.

Opening a BBQ-themed restaurant is risky. Doing it in an industrial park is riskier. Doing it in an industrial park in Ndabeni is basically career suicide. Somehow, PJ Vadas has made it work. It might have something to do with the enormous amount of research he did on smoking meat. It might have something to do with the crack squad team he assembled. It might have something to do with the attention to detail within the space. I don’t really care. The end result is a masterclass in unpretentious food, escalated to a level that still feels like an experience. The beer being brewed on site is excellent (the porter being particularly impressive) and this, coupled with the recent addition of Hog House Cafe on Spier’s premises, has catapulted this start-up to a serious player in the space of 12 months.

Honourable mention: Outrage of Modesty

Yeah, I know. It’s not a restaurant. But there is a small amount of food on offer and, well, this is my page so just deal with it. Serving cocktails that are north of R80 was always going to be a push. Doing it through a reservation system was also pretty ballsy. But the same team that brought you The House of Machines has nailed it again. A clean, minimalist bar with absolutely zero branding is the first change you’ll notice. (Actually, you won’t notice; that’s the point). The second thing you might pick up on (or not?) is each cocktail being vague about what spirit is actually in there. That’s not a cagey tactic so that they can sneak some KWV in there while you’re not looking. That’s also deliberate. The idea here is that people just choose flavours they enjoy. Don’t overthink it. Trust the professionals to be the professionals. Trust the fact that the menu has been meticulously developed. Because it has. I love this place for the courage in their actions. Pushing boundaries and forcing people to re-examine their ideas of cocktails and the environment they’re supposed to be drinking them in.

Underrated restaurant of the year: 

Bronze: The Culture Club.

This should ruffle a few feathers. I can almost feel the collective eye roll from here. I mean, The Culture Club? That place that sells cheese? Yes. That place. “But how? They aren’t even a restaurant!” They are, in fact. Considering the process(es) that are involved with cheese making, I feel that a small cafe that proudly puts the end products on a pedestal deserves recognition. On top of making their own, the owners source the best – and I do mean THE BEST – cheese in the country. And some from further afield. If you like produce-driven menus and seasonality you will like this place. If you like fermented foods, you will like this place. It does have toasted cheeses, yes, (and they are magnificent) but it is also a place to enjoy duck rillettes on toast. Or a pulled lamb shoulder mixed into a salad with pomegranates. Or a mac ‘n cheese. Or a pulled pork sandwich.

Silver: A Tavola.

Call me old fashioned, but every now and then there’s something I like about sitting at a table with a white table cloth and a thick red carpet. I like an interesting wine list. I like having internal Goodfellas dialogues. I like attentive, friendly service. And I really like Italian food, done well. This place has all of that. Yes, when you arrive the average age of the room will drop to about 82. Just go with it. You won’t have a view. You won’t have fancy stemware and unusual cocktails. But sometimes you just want to eat a bowl of pasta.

Gold: The Table at de Meye

The fact that this, for me, is the most underrated restaurant in the Cape, is important. Important because it is, in fact, highly rated. Just not highly enough. It should be winning awards every year on platforms with a much bigger audience than this. Owners Luke and Jess are the perfect hosts and form the ultimate partnership, albeit one that is slightly quirky. Their casual approach absolutely adds to the entire experience and I have often described this restaurant as “a place that feels like you are just going to a friend’s house for lunch”. (A friend that can wipe the floor with more “illustrious” chefs.) The Table is more committed to sourcing ethically-reared, seasonal and sustainable produce than any of the more celebrated restaurants on our eating scene and the way Jess cooks and presents the end dish is unique, beautiful and highly memorable. Throw in Luke’s front of house ability and the fact that you literally sit at tables beneath trees on a huge lawn and this is a very special place. The catch? It’s only open on the weekends. Book in advance and take a drive. Eat too much. Drink too much. Lie on the lawn.

Comeback restaurant of the year: 

Clarke’s

A few years ago I Tweeted about the Clarke’s burger. At the time people were calling it the best in town. I ate it. It tasted like a vetkoek. It was so greasy I actually just wanted to go home and take a shower. One or two equally underwhelming meals led me to write this iconic spot off as a food option. I continued to go there, but mainly for the Bloody Mary and the Friday beers. Last year, something happened. Something changed. I braved the burger again and it was brilliant. A new bun, a different grind and an altogether knock out hamburger. I went back for lunch the next day and tried a salad. A beautiful bowl of fresh and balanced ingredients floored me. I was pleasantly surprised and washed it down with some pineapple-infused kefir water, which was another sign of the work being done behind the scenes. Maybe the ultimate tipping point came when my wife and I settled in on a random weekday and decided to try the R10 oysters. Salty, briny, perfectly sized. And tasty. Served straight up with Tabasco, lemon juice and a mignonette, these might be the single greatest food discovery of 2015. I mean, TEN RAND? Are you kidding me? I tried everything at Clarke’s last year. Saturday brunches, Sunday breakfasts, weekday lunches, boozy dinners, quick coffee breaks. They nailed it all. I’m not saying Clarke’s ever became unpopular (it pumps) but it has won me back in a massive way.

Restaurant of The Year:

Bronze: Hallelujah

The lobster rolls are nice. The pickled vegetables are nice. But the duck tacos are better than nice. On a recent visit, where I was introduced to a new dish built around the delicate flavours of angelfish and shaved coconut, I really sat up and took notice. This place is getting more and more ambitious. Pickled octopus is now on there too (served with soba noodles), along with the already popular classics. If you want a place to get some delicious, fun and consistently good food this is it. Choose from a small but well-curated wine list or enjoy it all with an ice cold beer. Hallelujah remains a restaurant that I would gladly go to for an anniversary dinner, a boozy dinner with mates, or to celebrate the big deal you’ve been working on for months. Arrive in slops. Arrive in sneakers. Arrive in a bowtie. They will not care. Long live the flamingo.

(FYI: this is also winner of Best Website by a country mile)

Silver: Pot Luck Club

Two years ago if a friend from out of town was visiting, I would take them to The Pot Luck Club. Today, nothing has changed. I still do. The reasons have changed, however. Slightly. Back then I was going for the “wowness”. The crazy views. The open-plan kitchen. The theatre of certain dishes. The all-out vibe of the place. If I’m honest – and I mean really honest – I think there was a hint of style over substance. The food was good but it wasn’t amazing. Today it is amazing. It is flat-out delicious food which showcases interesting and unusual techniques. I would eat this food in the basement of an office park. In Joburg. Oh, it still has those views by the way. They aren’t going anywhere.

Gold: Chef’s Warehouse

By now, you’re probably halfway through compiling a reply to this post. It could disagree with plenty of things I’ve had to say here. In fact, it should. I accept that. These are just normal opinions from a normal dude. One thing I won’t accept easily is an argument against Chef’s Warehouse cooking the tastiest food in the city. Bite-for-bite, mouthful-for-mouthful I just haven’t found anything better. And if you tell me you have, I’m going to have a hard time accepting that. I’m not the only one either. Ask a decent chef in this town where he/she eats on their day off and 9 out of 10 will say Chef’s Warehouse. There are a lot of cool things happening in 2016 but this tiny restaurant remains the benchmark.

Most influential person of the year:

Luke Dale-Roberts.

Look guys, I’d like to say there’s a new face dominating the scene. There isn’t. Just the same face, kicking arse and constantly reinventing his offerings. Test Kitchen is the best fine dining restaurant in the country. That’s a fact. Pot Luck Club is cooking the best food it ever has. That’s a fact. The new baby, Naturalis, is set to add something different to the stable and breathe some fresh air into The Biscuit Mill. Throw in a pop-up at The Saxon, plans for a Shortmarket Street concept and one or two other projects that are already doing the rounds in the rumour mill and it’s hard to even nominate a local chef with as much pulling power. When Luke talks, people listen.

Chef of the year:

Wes Randles.

I know I said there wasn’t a new face dominating the scene. But there could be. Wes Randles will be in charge of the new Shortmarket project and I expect big things. At Pot Luck Club, Wes has emerged from his mentor’s (fairly daunting) shadow and is cooking his own style of food with so much confidence and authority and technique that it is now a serious restaurant that could draw the crowds even without the jaw-dropping views. With recent Eat Out accolades, Wes has put Pot Luck Club in the same category as the country’s most serious restaurants. And he is done it by not taking things too seriously. The past year saw some obvious growth in the offering at Pot Luck, as well as the guy doing the cooking. He has the momentum and 2016 should be another big year.

That’s it. Some highlights of the past 12 months. I’m sure you have some of your own. Let’s have a chat?

Go forth and eat,

Andy.

 

 

 

 

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The Hog House Brewing Company

Hog House Brewery

“If you build it, he will come.”

This is the voice I hear in my head as I pull up outside a (quite ugly) industrial office park in Ndabeni. We are here looking for The Hog House Brewing Company and there is a definite parallel to The Field Of Dreams, where our hero built a baseball field in order to summon up his beloved team, the White Sox. Today we are The Sox. Except it’s not baseball we are here for. It’s BBQ. And our hero isn’t a corn farmer. He’s a chef.

When PJ Vadas told me he was going to be opening a BBQ / Brewery concept I was stoked. Really stoked. Then he told me the venue. And I was worried. Would people really drive out to the middle of nowhere to eat smoked meat and drink beer? Well, if the first week of this restaurant being open is any indication, then the answer is yes. And they aren’t even licensed yet. (BYOB for now)

Here’s the thing about PJ. He believes his food is excellent. Because it is. And in an age where most restaurants are offering crazy winter specials just to try and get people in the door, he has the belief that he will simply cook food that is so delicious people will make an effort to get there. That’s refreshing. With a pedigree that includes working in some of the world’s greatest kitchens, before running some of ours, he has managed to take his classic training and apply it to the art of BBQ.

“The art of BBQ?”

That’s what I said. BBQ is a highly specific, highly developed skill. As with any other form of cooking, it needs to be learnt. And practiced. And perfected.

At The Hog House, they are pretty close. With a menu built around brisket, you can also take a pick from pulled pork, buttermilk chicken, sausages and various specials (on my visit it was lamb ribs and a loin of pork). The sides are far more than an afterthought, with mac ‘n cheese, kimchi pineapple, coleslaw, bread and butter pickles and even their house-made hot sauce all deserving a mention as well-executed examples. Bar snacks like burnt ends croquettes and wild mushroom arancini are good enough to be dressed up and served as parts of fancier dishes at fancier restaurants. But here, they are served in a bowl. As the star. Take it or leave it. (I took it, by the way). Indeed, with the exception of one hiccup – a bizarre, overly strong cardamom ice cream – the meal was pretty much flawless.

If you’re looking for starched white linen and waiters in waistcoats give this a miss. Here you’ll get knives and forks in a bucket. And metal canteen trays with wax paper. You won’t have someone wiping your crumbs off your table. You’ll do that yourself. With messy, sticky, smoky fingers.

It’s awesome.

As the category of smoked meat and BBQ grows in this country, there is currently one venue and one chef standing head and shoulders above the rest. If we stick with the Field Of Dreams analogy, someone has just hit a home run.

The details: Hog House Brewing Company, 42 Morningside Road, Ndabeni. (021) 810-4545.

Go forth and eat,

Andy

 

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National Braai Day at Weinhaus + Biergarten

 

The bromance continues on Wednesday. To celebrate Braai Day, which (I guess) was borne out of a desire to celebrate Heritage Day, FFMM are teaming up with Weinhaus + Biergarten across the road. As with everything Jason Lilley does, the menu has been scrutinised and I can tell you two things:

1. That dude takes meat seriously.

2. That dude takes his guests seriously.

We were briefed with creating a meat platter and, having presented him with a few options, he had no hesitation in choosing the most expensive one. It’s worth remembering that the end selling price was always going to remain the same so – essentially – all he wanted was the most kick-arse platter we could do. And he kept wanting to add more. Eventually we talked him out of adding a whole beef rib to the platter. (We figure that deserves an event all on its own)

If you like the idea of lighting a fire next week, cracking a few beers and getting some mates over please go ahead. Nothing wrong with that. At all. But if you like the idea of one of the best pound-for-pound cooks I’ve met lighting a fire for you…and you like the idea of his well-drilled staff cracking beers for you…then you know where to go.

A quick note on the meat you’ll be enjoying:

Chicken wings. Our chickens come from one farm near Mossel Bay. They are all reared with compulsory exercise hours and they have no animal by-products in their diet. They are farm chickens, from a farm, delivered by the farmer.

Smoked brisket. Our beef is grass-fed and pasture-reared. We are currently buying Simmentaler beef from a farm in Elgin and a Beef Master/Hereford cross from Natal. Brisket is a fibrous cut from the breastplate and requires a long, slow cooking time. This obviously makes it a popular cut for smoking. The meat will be brined for 3 – 5 days before the smoking process begins.

Boerewors. Come on. We can’t celebrate Braai Day without it. Ours is gluten-free. No cereals, rusk, bulking agents etc. Also, no MSG or other nasty shit. Just meat, spices and fat.

The P.A.C.MAN sausage. Pig and cow. That’s the basis of the second sausage you’ll be eating. Smoked bacon that we grind and add to forequarter mince. Throw in chilli flakes, white pepper and celery seed. Some garlic too. Ka-tang. One ticket to flavour town please.

Doors open at 12. See you there.

Go forth and eat,

Andy

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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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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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