This was supposed to be a special night out; a night where my partner and I thanked someone very dear to us. I especially chose Wijnhuis Wine Bar & Grill in Newlands because being pricier than its neighbours, I was hoping for that little something more than your average suburban outing. Other than it’s to-die-for chocolate mousse with amaretto cream (simply exquisite!), I left the restaurant feeling lacklustre and rather disappointed with my choice. The service experienced, certainly did not equate to the cost of the dinner.
Wijnhuis sells itself as a place where local wine is celebrated in airy modern bar/restaurant with Italian-influenced food and artisan beer.
I guess a good place to start would be the wine. I cannot fault this restaurant on its wine list – extensive and creative, with a selection of 20 bottles that you can drink by the glass or carafe. This is certainly not a place where you need to bring your own bottle. We tried the Iona Chardonnay 2014, Rijks Shiraz 2010 and Hartenberg Cab/Shiraz 2012 – all absolutely delicious. However, I have issue with the way the wine was served to us.
We were a table of three, two glasses were brought to us and then we waited for over 10 minutes for the last glass…this meant we had to wait over 10 minutes to toast the guest of honour who we were thanking. The reason for the delay, according to our waitress, was that on a Monday evening, they were out of wine carafes. Yes, they were out of wine carafes. The waitress eventually solved the problem, perhaps due to my now visible irritation, by pouring the wine into two glasses. Clearly wine carafes are hard to come by at the Wijnhuis. Although this wait irritated me, what I found even worse, was that the special wine we had ordered by the glass was not poured in front of us. Quelle horreure!
Eating out is theatre! At a place that sells itself as an establishment that celebrates wine – how could the waitress not show off the wine we were ordering? Unfortunately, the service did not really improve after this.
Shame, maybe I am being a bit harsh, our waitress was clearly new. I must compliment her on her enthusiasm and friendliness but for a restaurant with prices of that of the Wijnhuis, I expect the wait staff to not only know the menu, their descriptions of the specials should make me salivate, and most importantly, they ought to be trained. When I asked about the specials, the waitress told me to go look at the blackboard, which I must add, required me to stand up and walk to it. I then had to return to the table and share the specials with my partner and guest. And of course, when the food arrived, we didn’t have the necessary cutlery. It is this utter lack of attention to detail that really undermined the entire experience.
Let me now turn to the food, normally I would start here. The fact that I am ending with it attests to its averageness. Highlights were the chocolate mousse (already mentioned) and the pine nut bresola carpaccio with rocket (starter), and the truffle mayonnaise served with the chips (but then again I love anything truffled-flavour). For mains we tried the grilled calamari, beef ribs and a burger. The food was fine, but certainly not fabulous. Presentation was lacking and my food was not the highest point of the evening. The menu has all the standard fare – steaks, seafood, burgers – really very little of it was inspired.
Would I return to Wijnhuis? Not in a rush, and certainly not for a celebration.
See The Amuse-Bouchesse's rating below:
Wine list: *****