WINTER WARMERS Cape restaurant specials

Concerned about dining out taking its toll on local pockets, KIM MAXWELL discovered that many of the better Cape restaurants are committed to winter specials during World Cup months and beyond. Scroll down for her winter special list - marked with her FLAVOUR faves.

Something similar appeared in Food & Home Entertaining June 2010 issue.


Terroir winter special

We’ve heard talk about inflated accommodation and air ticket prices during June and July 2010, but will local restaurants be following suit? Winter in the Cape has traditionally been a time where high season prices settle and locals are lured out of homes.

It only takes one bad experience for foreigners to leave South Africa with a bad taste in the mouth, if shortsighted restaurateurs target quick profits. A casual survey of Cape restaurants a while back revealed that many couldn’t or wouldn’t commit to price specifics. A few venues considered introducing winter specials only from August 2010. On the whole Cape restaurateurs were cogniscent of the value of local year-round customers, but many were hesitant to fix prices until their suppliers pinned down ingredient costs.

Winter set menu prices can be profitable if chefs supplement ingredients from their gardens with supplies from regional farmers, and embrace cheaper cuts such as pork belly, offal, shanks and short ribs for slow braises and bistro-style stews. At Cape Town’s Wembley Square, Thomas Sinn of Sinn’s found his summer 2010 specials so successful that he rolled out winter specials duplicating 2009 prices.

Michael Broughton of Terroir in Stellenbosch believes winter specials drew the crowds in 2009. Offering 2010 specials only after the World Cup months might alienate local customers, so Terroir’s green season specials started early. Three sought-after dining destinations at Constantia Uitsig also haven’t neglected locals. Winter 2010 specials are running at La Colombe, Constantia Uitsig and River Café.

So will some restaurants still rip us off? Probably, but they should be in the minority. “We might see some restaurants serving food at high season prices instead of lowering prices for winter,” reckons restaurateur Reuben Riffel. He doesn’t anticipate a huge influx of diners in smaller towns such as Robertson and Franschhoek compared with previous years. Riffel has introduced winter specials aimed at locals at his two venues, alongside the a la carte menu.

Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine in Stellenbosch is also running a daily winter special alongside their usual two and three-course option. “Hearing ‘winter special’ seems to have a big effect because people talk about them,” said Jardine. “People who wouldn’t ordinarily go out often do when specials are on.”

Neighbourhood venues keep prices decent all year round so specials aren’t required. Pete Goffe-Wood of Wild Woods in Hout Bay is in that camp, saying the current Cape trend to offer a small, regularly changing menu allows restaurateurs to source less pricy ingredients and maintain profit margins. He warned against short-term price increases. “The World Cup is only for a month and upsetting your local clientele by trying to make a fast buck is shortsighted,” said Goffe-Wood. “For us it’s about locals, whatever the season. The lasting legacy for me at the World Cup is if people see that food and booze is affordable, we’ll get them back next year. If they think it’s expensive, our opportunity to win them over is lost.”

Winter warmer specials:

Catharina’s at Steenberg, Constantia. Two-course lunch including glass of wine at R135pp, three-course lunch including glass of wine at R175pp. Three-course dinner including glass of wine at R195pp (May to end Sept). Tel 021 713-2222,

FLAVOUR FAVE! Constantia Uitsig, Constantia. Three-course lunch including wine carafe at R260pp. Three-course dinner including wine carafe at R290pp (May to end Aug, excl Sun). Tel 021 794 4480,

Cuvée at Simonsig, Stellenbosch. ‘Cuvée goes Cabernet’ two-course lunch or dinner including glass of Cab at R160pp, or three-course lunch or dinner including glass of Cab at R190pp (May to end July). Tel 021 888 4932,

Dornier Bodega, Stellenbosch. Three-course dinner at R220pp, or R250pp including two glasses of wine. Four-course dinner at R275pp, or R325pp including three glasses of wine (May to end July). Tel 021 880 0557,

Hilda’s Kitchen @ Groote Post, Darling: No specials but mains under R100, kids under R50. Tel 022 492 2825,

iCi, Franschhoek. Spend R85 on Sunday supper and watch a movie free. Wednesday night roast chicken, glass of wine and movie at R120pp. Tel 021 876 2151,

FLAVOUR FAVE! Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine, Stellenbosch. Three course lunch at R200pp, Jordan wine pairing on starter and main (May to Aug). Tel 021 881 3612,

FLAVOUR FAVE! La Boheme, Sea Point. Standard throughout year: two courses at R90, three courses at R110pp. Low wine mark-ups. Tel 021 434 8797,

FLAVOUR FAVE! La Colombe, Constantia. Three-course lunch including wine carafe at R280pp.
Five-course dinner with wine pairings at R380pp, only from 7pm to 8.30pm (May to early Aug, excl Sun. End Aug to end Sept). Tel 021 794 2390,

maze by Gordon Ramsay, Cape Town. Standard throughout year: Two-course lunch at R150pp, three course at R200pp (June to September). Tel 021 431 5222.

Mon Plaisir, Franschhoek. Two-course lunch or dinner from ‘Bistrots de France’ menu at R170pp (May to Oct, closed Aug). Tel 021 8762393,

Nobu, Cape Town. Bento Box at R195pp at dinner in Nobu Bar (June to September). Tel 021 431 5111.

FLAVOUR FAVE! Overture at Hidden Valley, Stellenbosch. Four courses at R200pp (R250 incl wine). May to end July, Tues to Fri lunch. Tel 021 880 2721,

Reuben’s, Franschhoek and Reuben’s at the Robertson, Robertson. Three courses at R150pp (June and July). Tel 021 876 3772, or Tel 023 626 7200,

River Café, Constantia. Three-course lunch or dinner including carafe at R195pp, four-course lunch or dinner including carafe at R225pp. On Mon to Thurs one child per dining adult eats free (end May to Oct). Tel 021 794 3010,

Sinn’s, Wembley Square. Two courses including glass of wine at R109pp, three courses including glass of wine at R135pp (May to Sept). Tel 021 465 0967,

The Foodbarn, Noordhoek. Three-course lunch or dinner at R205pp (May to end July). Tel 021 789 1390,

FLAVOUR FAVE! Terroir at Kleine Zalze, Stellenbosch. Two-course lunch or dinner at R165pp, three-course lunch or dinner at R195pp (May to end Sept, excl Sun). Tel 021 880-8167,

FLAVOUR FAVE! Wild Woods, Hout Bay. Standard throughout the year: winter starters and desserts around R40, mains R100pp. Low wine mark-up. Tel 021 791 1166,