Saturday, July 31, 2010

Is Kream Pretoria's Crèmè de la Crèmè?

On Thursday night I braved the traffic from Jo'burg to Pretoria for a team dinner at the much Talked about Kream. Walking into Kream, Brooklyn Pretoria, I can't believe I'm in Pretoria. Could this little dorpie have matured this much? Oh yes it has!

The decor is modern very clean and minimalistic (silver and white) with great lighting, and I'm led upstairs where half of the party is seated. Drinks orders are placed, the rest of the party arrives, let the games begin.

Now being the planner I am, I knew exactly what I was going to order off the menu. The Foie Gras (Pan seared), Duck Confit and Cherries Jubilee.

The bread rolls are big, portuguese, warm, lovely smothered with butter. Drinks are served, I ordered a mojito charged with appletiser. The host tells us the specials with great enthusiasm and I suspect all that enthusiasm is the reason he's losing his voice.

The service gives an attentive feel but I had to tell the waitress that our table is ready to order our starters, then the specials were told and now we wait for another 10 minutes. So I tell her once again that we're ready to order starters and I'm told she'll get the manager. The manager then arrives to take our order, strange now I have a few trust issues with our waitress.

My Starter is the crushed almond crusted Foie Gras served with gooseberry jam. The foie gras was soft, rich with a somewhat crunchy crust. It was plated with a side of crisps, why crisps I don't know but let's put it down to small town touches. The gooseberry jam had a confyt taste- made me think of my granny.
Other starters ordered were the scallops, avocado crayfish and thai prawn wraps.
Scallops, I'm told were tasty, are served with doorstep slices of brown bread, no not wholewheat brown bread, and a lemon in netting tied with green ribbon. small town touches!

My Main  can you believe it I deviated from plan and went with one of the specials the Beef Saltimbocca which I was told is packed with flavour. It is layers of beef fillet topped with parma ham, basil, melted mozzarella and smothered with a light parmesan cheese sauce.
Note: I asked the manager, that took the order, whether the fillet is made perfectly, which to me means medium to medium-rare, and the manager said yes. And when it arrived, it was far from perfect almost well done. The fillet being the star of the dish, it had already been let down before I even go into the other flavours.
I also asked what it was served with and was told ratatouille, what arrived was roast baby marrows and cherry tomatoes maybe it's ratatouille Pretoria style.

The parma ham was crisp but sparse, one basil leaf per slice of meat, the cheese was a combination of melted mozzarella and gran padano. For me grilled gran padano is a definitiveno no! The best part of the of the entire dish was the basil pesto and the roast tomatoes.

I was more than underwhelmed by the Beef Saltimbocca and would suggest that it is never mentioned as a special. Maybe by small town standards it's special but not by foodie fix standards.
A colleague ordered the Duck Confit and said it's very mediocre home cooking.

Dessert: Cherries Jubilee black cherries flambèd in cherry liqueur served with ice-cream.

So let's do a wrap up of the small town touches:

  • Crisps/ chips served with the Foie Gras, what a paradox.

  • Doorstop slices of brown bread, I would suggested substituting it with toasted slices of speciality bread

  • Brown bread, I know we trying to work on minimising cost but I'd rather have fresh home baked bread (flour, yeast and water) than brown bread

  • Lemon slices in a net served with their seafood. What is that?
Overall great decor shouts high end dining and the ambience is good quite bustling on a busy thursday night. The presentation of the food can be worked on, dishes should be plated clean and balanced.

So word of advice if ever you are in Pretoria ask for the item on the menu that the chef would serve to Nataniel, hopefully you won't be disappointed.

So Kream may be the cream of the crop in Pretoria but alas they will not make it in the big bad Jozi Foodie Fix fine dining world.

Moyo - a Fillet Peppered to Perfection

Well, let me start off by stating upfront that I’m not a food fanatic, on the contrary I have a very “narrow” palate. This does, however, make me very particular about what I enjoy eating and drinking. Steaks, like most red-blooded South Africans, are a particular favourite of mine.

My mandatory trek to Moyo’s (Melrose Arch) was the result of a work dinner. And as work dinners go, this was not what I’ve become accustomed to – our group was rather large and the dinner was actually in Johannesburg (usually out of town on projects) – but I digress, the Moyo’s experience is the reason for my contribution to Thando’s Foodiefix today.

For those of you who live in Johannesburg and the rest of South Africa, you will surely know about the Moyo’s franchise. And like me, you have most likely made your minds up about what to expect from the owners’ attempt at a uniquely African dining experience. But surprises, even pleasant ones still exist in this day and age.
The starters that were ordered, by group consensus, were an assortment of platters (including assorted samoosas, salad platter of couscous salad, Halloumi and olives, an Impi platter of liver pate, biltong and breads), but I chose to skip these and made my way down to their cosy wine cellar.

I and a handful of my colleagues decided to indulge in some wine tasting. There were two wines (one white and one red) made available to us for free tasting. I tucked into the red, a glass of Iano Shiraz (or Syrah as our host insisted); a smooth red, with a touch of pepper to the taste, this definitely set the tone for the night. The wine we chose (I say we, but I do not remember it going to the vote) was a bottle of Thelema cabernet sauvignon, also smooth but the slight lingering sweetness was not my cup of tea. It was quite enjoyable nonetheless
For my main course, I poured through the African inspired zinc-copper covered menu, a bit kitsch if you ask me, and settled on having the 250g fillet steak (also offered in 400g). Now I must be honest, I was waiting with baited breath doubting whether I’d made the right choice because my two previous visits to Moyo left me particularly dissatisfied at the end of my meal. Furthermore, I rarely have praiseworthy steaks outside of a trusted few steak-houses. My meal arrived, served on a shovel-designed platter (handle and all), actually impressive given that the rest of the ambience attempts always fail to impress me.

Fillets, in my opinion are best served medium to medium-rare, and seasoned with black pepper. This particular steak came encrusted with black pepper, with a side of chips and mixed vegetables. On my first bite I immediately regretted not ordering the 400 gram option. The meat was succulent on the inside and had a perfect consistency complimented by the half crushed black pepper corns, awesome! On the outside the meat was not dry either and all these tastes were well accompanied by the sweet mixed vegetables and the chips.

These two sides were decent. The vegetables quite sweet and I must say, very delicious. The chips were not the greatest, however. They bordered on the soggy and the bowl that they were served in did not help matters, it looked like the bowl from a pestle and mortar set for crushing spices, too deep.

- Andile "Stanzo"
So if ever The Meat Co. in Melrose is too full be sure to pop into Moyo for their Fillet and not their traditional Senegalese fair.
Big Thank you to Andile for making my blog more objective.

Moyo's Africa for tourists

I have to admit that sometimes I can't be objective about certain eateries and one such eatery is Moyo. I think I just can't buy into their concept of Modern Sophisticated Africa, as I feel that the food is not for a true African but  for tourists. So why was I at Moyo you ask? Well it was a work team dinner with colleagues from the English, Dutch and German practices and to give them an "African" feel off to Moyo we went. We were seated outside and provided with blankets, wonderful music and of course the Moyo painted face. Up to this point wonderful!

I think my opinion towards Moyo clearly prevents me from ordering correctly or from taking good pictures. I ordered the chicken yassa with couscous which is a Senegalese dish of chicken in an olive, tomato and preserved lemon sauce. It was quite salty and this is a lot coming from me who enjoys the saltiest halloumi I can find.

As you will notice I didn't get the cous cous I ordered instead they chose to give me brown rice.
As you can see it seemed and tasted to me that the chicken was boiled seperately and then thrown into the Yassa sauce just before being plated. It did not taste like the chicken was cooked in the Yassa sauce as this would've added another dimension and depth of flavour to the dish. The green olives where salty and the tomato, lemon sauce would've been tasty if I could get past the salt. Note to Moyo if one of your ingredients is salty 'olives' then becareful with your additional seasoning measures.
Now that I'm done venting, I thought that I should be more objective, so I have invited a guest blogger Andile (Stanzo) to give you his view and a complete picture of the same dinner at Moyo. Read Moyo a Fillet Peppered to Perfection

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Cape Town Calling

I woke this morning craving a croissant not any croissant but a Jardine Bakery croissant. They have by my standards the best croissants in South Africa. Get there early around 07:45/08:00 and you’ll get them fresh and warm out of the oven. They’re light and buttery just as they should be and eating it on a bench on the pavement outside their bakery nook adds to the experience.

That got me thinking of all the places in Cape Town that I would love to have on jozifoodiefix

1. Jardine Bakery

2. La Colombe – I’ve read so many good things about it (courtesy of Abigail’s Diary from Eat Out) I just have to go!

3. Roundhouse – I’ve been there for dinner and that’s when I realised that I prefer Foie Gras pan fried. But would like to try their lunch and less formal offering The rumbullion menu

4. Mr Minato’s – Best sushi in South Africa. Just remember that looks may be deceiving, having a tattoo parlour next door to your restaurant does not provide any indication of quality of food you can expect. It's off long street

If you're in Cape Town let me know what you think. Hopefully I'll make it out there sometime soon.
Jozifoodiefix on location in Cape Town, can't wait!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Foodie Fix this week

This week I'm looking forward to eating outside of my comfort zone.

Tomorrow night I'm off to Moyo's Melrose for a dinner, I consider this out of my comfort zone because i don't rate Moyo and have not been to one in a couple of years.  I guess I just don't buy into the concept and question the authenticity of the cuisine. So hopefully tomorrow it'll surprise or at least I'll leave there with the signature Moyo six dot painted face.

Thursday I'm travelling all the way to Pretoria, to Kream which I have been wanting to go to for a year. I already have what I'm going to order in mind, can you say Foie Gras?!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Bday Brunch at Roots

Thanks to  a wonderful set of ladies, that I have the privilege to call my friends, I spent yesterday morning and the beginning of the afternoon at Roots Forum Homini for brunch.

For those who don't know Roots is ranked number 8 and is only one of two Gauteng restaurants in the 2009 Eat Out's Top 10 Restaurants.

We were scheduled for the 09:30 Brunch sitting and were expected at 09:00 for 09:30. Roots is in the Cradle of Humankind, so it is quite a drive on gravel roads but the view is well worth it. On your drive into the property you'll get to see zebra and some other buck in the bushveld. On arrival I was greeted by a host who escorted me to their lounge and was offered drinks while we wait for the rest of the party to arrive.

We are offered orange juice and bubbly as we're seated in the restaurant. I have to say that their homemade orange juice is fantastic it's a great colour, pulpy (which is the way I like it) and sweet. However they do run out of oranges and then serve you store bought, and no not Woolies bought, which is the exact opposite of the fresh squeezed (it's light, thin and tastes like there's a preservative).

The table is set with white linen and green runners. The food courses are served on crisp white plates of different shapes and sizes.

Saturday July 24th 2010 Brunch Menu:

Poached Winter Fruit with Yoghurt Sabayon
Stewed guava, kiwi and strawberries served with a creamy custard (sabayon) and finished off with flecks of burnt chocolate. I could've done with a little bit more, of the fruity custardy mouthful that was finished off with a burnt chocolate taste, lovely!
Smoked Snoek scrambled eggs on toast with bearnaise sauce
This was the absolute triumph of the Brunch! At first look on the menu it may seem like we were going to be served scrambled kippers on toast. The eggs were soft, lightly scrambled, topped the snoek and the toast with the bearnaise sauce. The soft slightly runny scrambled eggs topped the wonderful shredded snoek, flavoured with the herbed bearnaise sauce on a bit of wholewheat bread. Although the snoek flavour was strong the scramble and bearnaise sauce came through beautifully. Absolutely wonderful combination of flavours and textures.
Mustard Sirloin mange tout, poached eggs & forestiere sauce
They don't ask you how you would like your steak but make it just as I like it, medium to medium rare. Sirloin with wild mushroom (forestiere) sauce, a soft poached egg and crunchy blanched mange tout. The steak was well seasoned although I can't remember any distinct mustard flavour. The mushroom sauce delivered a rich earthy flavour. The combination of the steak, wild mushroom sauce, soft poached egg and crunchy mange tout was sublime although quite a feet to get all on one fork and pop into your mouth without any spills.
Persimmon Soup
The persimmon soup was citrusy and sweet with kiwi balls and what our table decided was cream, we couldn't quite describe what the white garnish was, and served with a sweet bread. I would've preferred the persimmon soup slightly more chilled. 
Pastries croissants, muffins & scones

The pastries were totally misplaced and just didn't match the rest of the brunch. It was almost like an after thought and definitely did not have the touches of an executive chef. The scones had vanilla flavour and specs of vanilla. The mini muffins were maybe banana but I couldn't really say what it was. The croissants were well croissants however they wouldn't sell on a Parisian corner.

The service was not consistent, we were welcomed warmly and the food came in good intervals, however as the morning progressed our waiter became more scarce, which is strange for a place that only had two tables to serve. When the patries arrived we were not offered any coffees or teas and had to ask.

Based on brunch alone I can't say that I felt like it was Top 10 worthy, however the Smoked Snoek dish had glorious touches of Top 10.

I definitely intend going back for a lunch or a dinner to get a true picture of what Chef Philippe can do. If you have the money to spare and looking for a day in greater Joburg with a difference then make a booking and plan a stop at Roots. Be sure to take some great company because my wonderful friends made it a fantastic brunch! Thank you dolls!

Brunch R195 pp. for 5 courses

Monday, July 19, 2010

B-day Dinner with Tasha's part 1

Decided to have my bday dinner with girlfriends at Tasha's. It is tradition to have a ladies only gathering on my bday, which is usually a ladies luncheon/ tea. But this year due to the World Cup fever and lack of planning I decided to have a last minute dinner at Tasha's. Why Tasha's you ask?

I have, and yes I've been quoted on it (Eat Out Best Of Breakfast DigiMag), professed that Tasha's is a great all day eatery if not the best in Johannesburg since they haven't syndicated to Cape Town yet. Yet I haven't eaten there at night. So Tasha's it was and those in the know know that they don't take reservations!

So off I went last Tuesday at 18:00 to reserve my table for 9, yes can you believe the birthday girl was the first to arrive at her own dinner to get a table?! I must love Tasha's *eye roll* Here I am planning my dinner party and menu on the fly.

You would be mistaken to think that the Tuesday after the World Cup final Tasha's Melrose Arch would be empty or even quiet. I had my spot all planned out at the bottom end along the bench because it looks cosy and would photograph well. Turns out all their afterwork and dinner patrons had the same idea. On this Tuesday there were business people, families and couples. So there I sat, waiting and willing the patrons at my planned table to leave. Alas they were not willed away and I had to make do with another table.

I've asked for a set of starters to be served like a tasting menu and brought out when all the guests are seated. I ordered two parma turkish breads which were sliced into nine pieces along with the soup of the day which was minestrone. I ordered three full portions of soup which they divided into 9 bowls. The minestrone did not disappoint refer to soup for all seasons. The turkish flatbread itself was a bit like the outside crust of a ciabatta except there was no soft centre. The Parma topping was wonderfully tasty with a good balance of flavours, cherry mozzarrella balls, salty parma ham, peppery rocket and parmesan shavings topped with a sweet balsamic reduction.

The set of starters were winners for sure especially on a cold winter night but honestly put a slice of cured ham in front of me and I'm sold!

Tashas Melrose Arch
Shop 14, The Piazza, Melrose Arch
011 684 1781
Best for:  My favourite all day eatery! Best for all day eating.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Working with Wombles

Had a work team dinner at Wombles Parktown North, which has been rated as one of the best in Johannesburg.

How do I rate a steakhouse? I decided that my test will not only be the quality of the steak, but the onion rings and the chips as well. I will order a fillet because it's most tender (medium rare), side of chips which I expect to be salty (yes I expect my chips to be pre-salted), crisp and soft centred and onion rings which should be crispy batter laden and sweet.

Off to Wombles we went a team of 10. As you step in, it well is very 'colonial' with the huge chairs, which I must admit are comfortable. The table is impeccable however the water glass is a standard tall glass, but let's not nitpick. The service is fantastic everything you want a good balance of attentiveness while allowing the table conversation to progress without excessive interruption. Once the entire table was seated Yvette the host took us through the specials for the evening.

For starters I ordered the calamari, which was a good size portion for a starter and was made as good as any other restaurant of this calibre.

Other starters ordered by the table included Gypsy Spits (why name it after a body function I have no idea but I guess it appeals to some patrons), it's earthy mushrooms wrapped in crispy salty bacon served in a buttery sauce. Then there was the prawn mushroom cocktail and that received the quote of the night "f*ck this is good!", this one is button mushrooms topped with prawn tails served in a garlic butter sauce Must Love Garlic!

I was not distracted by the specials and stuck to the test!
Ordered fillet medium rare with chips and onion rings. All tables get complimentary vegetables which were peas, roast baby onions and sweet pumpkin. I opted for the peas and roast baby onions. 

I also ordered a side of mushroom sauce which is served in a small aluminium bowl *gasp* and for a place with so much pomp and ceremony the little details really let them down, first the water glass then this bowl.

My steak was prepared to perfection! The chips were as I feared not pre-salted but thick (as they should be at a steakhouse), crispy with soft centre. The onion rings (which aren't in the pic) are enormous crunchy and sweet. So Wombles has passed the test with a 2.5 out of 3, they lost 0.5 for not pre-salting the chips. The peas were a lovely sweet addition but the onion rings could not be beaten by the roast baby onions which to my surprise were not sweet at all.

The team had no complaints with their food although most of us ordered the Fillet. After the meal there was no space for dessert.

If it is steak you're after and want to feel like you're dining with Henry VIII then Wombles is the place for you.
I prefer a restaurant with a more contemporary feel and in the Parktown North, Parkhurst area you're spoiled for choice with Turn 'n Tender and the Local Grill up the road.

On the note of Steak check out the Eat Out Best of Digimag Best of Steak and Burgers

Saturday, July 17, 2010

World Cup month: At Home Eating

So as i sit and write this evening I have the guilt of not having blogged since the World Cup started. The smell of Thai take away I just ate lingers in the room.

What have I been eating this month? At the World Cup matches mostly whatever's served up in the FIFA VIP. Some hotel eating and a few outings here and there, including a work dinner at Wombles. I have also done some at home eating which is my way of saying take aways.

I'll start with my at home eating highlights.

Thai food from Sai Thai Cyrildene Takeaways from Sai Thai has become a weekly Saturday night ritual in my household. This is what was on the menu tonight
  • Spicy mixed seafood has mussels, prawns, calamari and fish. Be warned if you order hot it's HOT with fresh sliced chillies
  • Prawn Phad Thai which was sweet and not overpowered by the eggy bits with crunchy raw bean sprouts provided a great contrast to the spicy seafood. Honestly I still don't really know what tofu tastes like, yes Phad Thai has tofu.
  • Ginger chicken with fungus (mushroom) the menu says fungus I kid you not. It also comes spicy, with chinese mushrooms and is wonderfully salty .
  • Large side of noodles
It all cost R238, now for everything the picture is lacking the food makes up in flavour. If you find yourself driving past Cyrildene "Johanessburg's own Chinatown" do stop at Sai Thai for a takeaway, you won't regret it especially if you like it spicy!

Sushi from Jungle Sushi Bedfordview
On the way home from work one day decided to try Jungle Sushi. My order was three hand rolls, the salmon platter, prawn tempura roll and tuna rainbow roll. This order was not cost effective!

Ordered salmon and prawn hand rolls, which were great and didn't have too much mayonaisse. I do find find that quite a few places overload with the mayonaisse in hand rolls. I was told that you have to eat your handrolls first otherwise the nori becomes tough.

Salmon sashimi and butter fish sashimi, wonderful but for those who don't know butterfish is very a oily fish.

I was a bit sceptical about the Tuna rainbow roll because the colour of the tuna was not what I'm used to. It went down well but don't think I'd order it again.

The prawn tempura roll was something different, and it was very good, actually a bit of a highlight. a great salty crispy contrast to the rice.

My one complaint was the salmon maki, I mean look at it! it was really rice maki with salmon garnish! My other is that their wasabi was a bit mild, but for a takeaway it was a good try, next time I'll work on more cost effective ordering.

What I did see while waiting for my takeaway was a pancake/ flapjack being made in the teppanyaki area. It's made on the grill and when it's just about ready they add ice cream to eat and the plate it, looks sinful! So will be going back to Jungle Sushi to try the teppanyaki.

So for at home eating Sai Thai wins hands done, but then again I like it SPICY!