Reasons to eat at Bistrot Bizerca this Summer

Location
Moving from Jetty street last year to Bree street (or Heritage Square) was possibly the best thing that the restaurant could have done. It’s across the road from my office and a mere km or 2 down the hill from my house. Happiness!

In all seriousness though, the current location makes it a dream for any city dweller or tourist looking for a place that offers quality cuisine in a casual but modern and stylish setting.

If you’re familiar with the general parking situation in Cape Town’s CBD, you’ll know it can often be a soul-destroying nightmare. Luckily though, there is a large parking lot just across the road from Bizerca which makes choosing it as a dining spot just that much more appealing (I loathe searching for parking so this is a big plus for me!)

Can we just take a moment to look at this courtyard?! I’m not going to say anything more other than – it’s utterly charming and definitely a space in which you’re going to want to eat al fresco this season.

Bistrot Bizerca  -  Courtyard - 3

Concise menu
Laurent’s menu doesn’t resemble something from a David Foster Wallace novel. It has enough options to make you feel like you have a wide choice but few enough so as not to overwhelm you in any way. Although signatures like the Norwegian salmon salad, Chalmar beef fillet and Granny Smith apple sorbet with Calvados, will stay put, the new summer menu brings with it a refreshing and “lighter” element. My favourite dish being the duo of gazpacho with broad bean pesto bruschetta. I’m generally quite averse to gazpacho due to the texture but Bizerca’s version is as smooth as silk and served perfectly chilled.

Pork belly fan? You will love the pork belly salad. It comes with beetroot, apple, labneh and a Cabernet Sauvignon vinaigrette. If you’re sensitive to sugar like myself, you may find this dish weighing heavily on the sweeter side of things.

Meat eaters will go mad for the duo of lamb with aubergine fritters and a sweet potato and papaya salsa. An interesting combination but one that’s incredibly tasty – with the fritter batter being delicately crispy and crunchy on the outside – giving way to a rich and creamy aubergine centre. Next time I go, I may even have to order a side dish of these because they are just so moreish!

I haven’t had the pleasure (yet!) of experiencing the apple sorbet with Calvados, but it’s definitely on my bucket list for next time!

Bistrot Bizerca summer menu

Gazpacho, pork belly salad, lamb and apple sorbet.

Wine
Bistrot Bizerca has a carefully selected wine list made up of a few international wines as well as those hailing from our own back yard. I believe that a restaurant in Cape Town with a poor wine list is inexcusable. We live in the Cape for crying out loud! Did I mention that wine is also offered by the carafe? I LOVE having my wine presented in a carafe. It just feels so… French!

Any occasion will do
Whether it’s a Birthday celebration, a family reunion, a romantic date night with your special someone or a formal (and informal!) business lunch, Bistrot Bizerca has that certain vibe and energy that seamlessly “fits” the situation that you’re in.

 It’s season, so don’t leave it too late to make a reservation!

Contact Bistrot Bizerca

Heritage Square, 98 Shortmarket Street, Cape Town.

Tel:  +27 (21) 423 8888.

Email: bizerca@mweb.co.za

Twitter: @BIZERCAbistro


Celebrations at EatOut Awards 2013

 

It’s Monday and I’m exhausted. This weekend was really one for the books!

My beautiful BFF tied the knot on Saturday in the beautiful town of Tulbagh and then preceded to walk away with her first EatOut Award last night.

I am beyond proud of you, Van! Not only do you and Ilze run an amazing restaurant… you kick ass while doing it!

Ness

 

“no one has ever achieved anything from the smallest to the greatest unless the dream was dreamed first.” – Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Van_DearMe

 


The Pool Room in pictures

The Pool Room, Oak Valley

 

The Pool Room, Oak Valley

The Pool Room, Oak Valley Long-weekend 042

The Pool Room, Oak Valley

The Pool Room, Oak Valley

The Pool Room, Oak Valley

The Pool Room, Oak Valley

The Pool Room, Oak Valley

The Pool Room, Oak Valley

The Pool Room, Oak Valley

The Pool Room, Oak ValleyThe Pool Room, Oak Valley

The Pool Room, Oak Valley

The Pool Room, Oak Valley

The Pool Room, Oak Valley

The Pool Room at Oak Valley

Tel: 021 859 4111
Email: mail@oak-valley.co.za
Website: http://www.oakvalley.co.za/the-pool-room

Hours of operation:
Lunch Wednesday-Sunday 12:00 – 15:30
Dinner Fri 18:30 – 22:00
Closed: 15 June-15 August

Wine Tasting & Deli – Open 7 days a week


Café Blanc de Noir at Brenaissance

The feeling never gets old; shutting down my laptop, hopping in the car and swopping the busy streets of Cape Town for a more relaxed, tranquil environment like the Stellenbosch winelands.

I arrive at Devon Valley’s latest restaurant addition, Café Blanc de Noir – situated on Brenaissance Wine Estate. The restaurant has only been open a few days and already the pace appears to be picking up. I’m scheduled to meet the owner, Hayley Breytenbach, for a chat about her and her husband’s new venture.

It’s a humid, hot day with temperatures soaring above the 30’s and a nasty bout of traffic on the N2 ensures that I’m dishonourably late. My angst soon subsides as I step into the black and white themed café. Greeting me are happy smiles, heady smells and the pleasant feeling of realising I’ve just uncovered a restaurant gem. Before I know it, I have a chilled glass of white wine in my hand. The Lady H Sauvignon Blanc. It’s fruity, fresh and lively and brings me right into the moment. I let out a heavy internal sigh. This is how Summer should be spent.

Gorgeous wine

Hayley comes over to introduce herself and it doesn’t take long for me to see that her passion for the Brenaissance brand runs deep. After she and her husband, Tom, acquired the farm, the pair were married on the estate (which houses a wedding venue, five-star accommodation, and is home to a Boran cattle stud).

As I take in the surroundings – a combination of rustic chic and urban cool, Hayley explains that the café came about organically. “It was supposed to be a tasting room”, she says smiling, but after experiencing her fair share of those, the couple decided to be different and offer something that’s an expression of who they are and what they enjoy as individuals; a place that serves the kind of food and drink that they both relish, in a setting that’s relaxed yet aesthetically inspired.

café blanc de noir

“We aren’t trying to be anything that we’re not”, emphasizes Tom. I don’t need convincing, as it’s clear that the establishment already holds his and Hayley’s bold stamp. Personal touches come in the form of framed photographs on the walls – some of the couple during happy times, and others of the prized cattle stud. Another element that completes the mix is a developing art collection which is already taking shape at the cafe’s entrance where a large sculpture of a fist (inspired by the Brenaissance coat of arms), welcomes visitors.

cafe blanc de noir

After I’ve finished my glass of wine, Hayley brings me some homemade cordial to try. Rose geranium berry bliss and a lemon, lime and mint crush are the two options and I’m immediately struck by how refreshing and delicious they both are. “It’s the best thirst-quencher”, Hayley says. I cannot disagree. Especially when presented in old-school, sturdy glass bottles with cute straws.

My experience reaches a new level when I am asked what I’d like to eat, and even though the menu is focused and small (lunch includes 5 pizza options, 1 sandwich, 4 salads and a meze platter), choices are still difficult. Pizzas are their speciality and so I go for the Cajun Chicken – chorizo, red onion, mushrooms, mixed greens and chilli-infused olive oil (R75). There’s the option to have it “hole-some” – where the centre is removed and replaced with a fresh green salad. “Our pizzas have the thinnest bases you’ll see,” Hayley quips, “and we make them in a rectangular shape”. The slogan? We don’t cut corners. I just love the wit.

pizza

‘Hole-some’ pizza

I later learn that there’s another thing that sets these crispy, cheesy flatbreads apart. They are served with no utensils. It takes a second or two for my mind to process this information and then I realise that this forms part of the Café Blanc de Noir experience. “We recommend that you pick up and eat the pizza with your left hand, and fold it like a calzone, leaving the right hand free to hold your wine glass”.

Why has no-one ever told me this???!!! Genius.

After giving the technique a go, I definitely get the feeling that I’ve been accepted into the Café Blanc de Noir ‘circle of trust’. Just as my buttons are about to pop, Hayley asks, “Now, how about some dessert?” I’m sure she has no idea that dessert is my absolute weakness, but she’s about to find out.

Today’s menu features homemade carrot cake, and being a fan…I don’t decline the offer. The cake, which comes from an old family recipe, is topped with a sweet and tangy cream cheese icing that clings to the cake fork, making it impossible not to lick off.

As if things at this point couldn’t get any better, a cup of freshly made Tribe coffee garnished with a small chocolate-filled wafer biscuit, makes its way to the table. I’m once again reminded of Hayley and Tom’s fervent attention to detail.

“It’s part of our personalities”, Hayley says. “There are no grey areas” (hense the name, Café Blanc de Noir).

Cafe-Blanc-de-Noir

 

cafe blanc de noir

 

Cafe-Blanc-de-Noir

Cafe-Blanc-de-Noir 085

Cafe blanc de no

Contact:

For more information on Café Blanc de Noir, including the menu, prices, and trading hours head to the website. Otherwise Like the Brenaissance Facebook page for regular updates and follow them on Twitter @BrenaissanceSA

Disclaimer: My lunch at Cafe Blanc de Noir was complimentary but all views are my own.


Gourmet Boerie opens in Kloof Street

The moment we’ve been waiting for! Cape Town’s first restaurant dedicated to the iconic boerewors roll.

This is extremely cool. Not because I particularly love boerewors rolls (although I will admit to wolfing down 2 in succession after a long sweaty race). I’m excited about this because it relieves us all a bit from the density of burger joints. Not that there’s much of a difference in ingredients. But it’s nice to have some variety, don’t you think? Plus, boeries are SO South African and after listening to B.O’s speech on Wednesday, I think this is a great step in getting our own patriotic fire burning more boldly. Amandla! (…too much?)

I took a much-needed lunch break with Shaina yesterday and trekked from Adderley to Kloof Street envisaging soft rolls filled with juicy, meaty, tasty sausages and beautiful toppings. What do you think we got when we walked into Gourmet Boerie? Just that.

Gourmet Boerie, Kloof Street, Cape Town

The menu format is very user-friendly.

Step 1. Choose your meat (they have the option of traditional, lamb, beef, chicken or ostrich)

Step 2. Choose your roll (white, wholegrain,rye)

Step 3. Choose your “flavour” (basically the toppings)

Step 4. Order your sides (shoestring chips, wedges, tempura battered onion rings, coleslaw, garden salad or sweet potato chips)

Gourmet Boerie, Kloof street

There are also vegetarian boeries; ‘The Herbiwors” (gotta love it!) – filled with tzatziki, grated carrot, cucumber, diced tomato, mixed sprouts, fresh mint with baby spinach (R50) and the “Veggie Vibe” – crunchy veggie balls with tomato, cucumber, carrot, red onion and cos lettuce served with basil pesto mayo (R40).

Then there’s also a variety of salads if you aren’t really into boeries. No-one’s judging. Promise!

The space is refreshing, open and airy with long benches dominating the floor, creating a sort of ‘communal’ dining atmosphere. Location is a big factor for any food service establishment and Gourmet Boerie has hit the jack pot if you ask me. It’s situated on the corner of Kloof and Buitensingel so LOADS of foot traffic mean it’s a great place for luring people inside. You can’t really go wrong with Kloof Street though, can you?

Gourmet Boerie

If you’re not hungry but need somewhere to meet for after-work drinks, I suspect Gourmet Boerie will be a safe bet. They have a bar that runs the length of the restaurant stocked with a decent selection of of beverages ranging from Craft beer, wine, bubbly,ciders and spritzers and not to mention the soon-to-be-famous, R10 coffee.

Gourmet Boerie, Kloof Street

They also have one or two TV screens that appear to be locked on sports channels. I guess that shouldn’t be a surprise though. Blow me down with a feather if this place isn’t packed to the rafters for the next 3 Saturdays. We’re South Africa. We love our sport and we love our boeries. Simple.

Gourmet Boerie, Kloof Street

Why I give it a thumbs up:

  • They offer free WiFi
  • They are active on social media
  • It’s an easy and fuss-free experience (although I suspect if you’re driving there, parking will be a slight nightmare)
  • They cater for vegetarians and have a nice Kiddies special for R25
  • Their coffee is R10 – all day
  • I can walk there from home and work

What I think could be improved:

  • level of service at the table when seated (although I’m confident that it will get better as the restaurant gets into its own “rhythm”).
  • The restrooms – there’s only one toilet per gender and is situated very much in the back-of-house, which could be off-putting for some.
Gourmet Boerie, Kloof Street, Cape Town

The “Mexicano” with tomato salsa, sour cream, guacamole, jalapeno chilli and coriander.

Gourmet Boerie, Kloof Street, Cape Town

Service with a smile always gets a tick in my book!

Gourmet Boerie

Like their Facebook page or follow them @GourmetBoerie

or just head straight there:

Buitenkloof Studios
Corner of Buitensingel and Kloof Street

Update – 14 Nov 2012: Gourmet Boerie have since modified its menu (see Facebook page) to include shoestring fries with all boerie rolls. Added value. We like!


Spice Route Restaurant

As I mentioned last week, I had the opportunity to have lunch at Spice Route Restaurant just outside Paarl. It was one those those days that poured with rain, leaving the thought of straying too far from a cosy bed, rather dismal. But it was worth the drive out there and I rolled back to Cape Town with a stomach so full that I had visions of myself popping open like the guy in Monty Python. Not pretty.

Moving on…

Interior

The biggest surprise upon arriving at the restaurant was to find that the manager is a girl who I used to work with. We haven’t seen one another for well over 2 years so it was really nice to catch up (she recently got engaged, so of course there were loads of details to be shared!).

Myself and Pippa were (obviously) so well-looked after and even though it was bucketing down outside, we quickly warmed ourselves up with a bottle of robust Spice Route Shiraz. We do love our red, Pips and I 😉

Spice Route range of wines on offer.

Check out my review over on Food24.


My first meal at Massimo’s Pizza Club

All pics taken on smartphone

News update:  As of Sunday 8 July, I am no longer a Massimo’s Pizza Club virgin. I don’t why it’s taken me so long to eat at this extremely popular Cape Town restaurant but it’s happened and as they say, ‘there’s no going back’.

You mention the phrase best pizza in Cape Town and automatically people almost start chanting, Massimo’s, Massimo’s!

I guess I was interested to find out what was so great about the place so when I was asked if I wanted to join a group of friends there for Sunday lunch, I thought it best to accept the invitation.  I’m so glad I did!

The atmosphere
Being a typical Cape Town winter day – i.e damp, wet and cold, anywhere with a fire place is going to lift the spirits. I was pleased to see that Massimo’s had two. One normal fire place and a fire in the pizza oven (duh!), which is built into the wall of the open dining area. The warm ‘n cosy factor was definitely playing its part well.

The décor is simple and homey with raw brick walls covered in old photographs of the Italian owner’s family.  One thing that stood out to me from the get-go was that Massimo’s is more than just a business. The husband and wife team that own the restaurant are very hands-on and make sure that guests are truly looked after.

The service
I was really impressed with our waitress who was knowledgeable about what was on offer and happily made adjustments to our menu requests. (Half way through our meal, she even put on a little ‘show’ for everyone by belting out a song with one of the other waitresses. Harmonising nogal!)

The food
This almost deserves a whole post of its own but we’ll see how this goes…

Firstly Massimo is 100% Italian (He has the accent to match) and so the food is, not surprisingly, WAY above any average ‘authentic Italian’ trattoria you’re likely to come across in SA. What do I mean by that? Well the ingredients speak for themselves and each dish is simple. No fussy over-complicated flavours and poncy plating. Just fresh, seasonal produce heightened to gastronomic perfection. (I can totally see why his wife married him!)

What we ate
In the spirit of all things Italian, we decided to go all out on the Sputini menu (little snacks) and ordered the following:
Pepite mixed fried polenta & parmesan bites, dusted with truffle salt
Polpettine (Italian meatballs) with spicy tomato sauce
Fonduta (melted cacio & mozzarella cheeses, with chorizo, roasted garlic & focaccia)
Fried mozzarella bites  with spicy tomato sauce
Roasted peppers with Bagna Cauda (garlic, anchovies & butter sauce)

They were all incredibly tasty and together with my chilled glass of Prosecco, they went down a treat.

Pizza’s
You can’t go to Massimo’s and not order pizza. That would be pointless and to be honest, a waste of a drive in my opinion. If you’re a table of 6 or more, you can partake in the “Italian Feast” which offers a selection of salads and starters as well as, wait for it… unlimited pizza! (Oh my gosh, seriously why I have never been here before?!!)

We thought long and hard about it (no exaggeration. We really did) and came to the conclusion that we would share 2 pizza’s between us and go half-half on the toppings (which enabled us to taste 4 different pizza’s). Of course I was totally down with this idea because I love being able to taste small portions of different things throughout my meal.

This is what we had:
Capra-  tomato, fresh goats cheese, salsa verde  (*contains anchovies). This came highly recommended by our friend Andy who I think dines at Massimo’s pretty frequently.
Montagna – garlic butter, cacio cheese, Black forest ham, mushrooms
Chorizo tomato, mozzarella, spicy sausage, olives
Parma ham special– artichokes, Parma ham, mushrooms and artichoke cream

I was rather full after this but not ‘oh-my-word-I-can’t breathe’ full that usually hits me after chowing pizza. There was definitely room for dessert!

Dessert
Our table opted to carry through the ‘sharing’ theme which saw us ordering Tiramisu, crème brûlée, and rich and warm bread and butter pudding with a side of creamy custard. Some decided to enjoy it with a hot Irish coffee but not being such a fan, I went with a straight Americano. A complimentary plate arrived complete with Massimo’s homemade chocolate liqueur in little chocolate cups. Adorable and delicious!

The highlight
When our bill arrived, instead of little packaged mints, the waitress appeared with spoons on a tray which held a very strong-looking golden yellow liquid. She explained that it contained 96% alcohol and in it were sugar cubes. We all know that sugar is hydroscopic… yip, sure you can tell where this is going.

She extracted the sugar cubes from the alcohol and placed them onto the spoons and began flambéeing the sugar. What a fun sight! And definitely a unique element to the end of any dining experience.

I can’t wait to go back!!

Follow Massimo on Twitter @pizzaclub_hb for daily updates! Just a warning:  His tweets aren’t for the empty-stomached!!!!