Portofino review

 

I normally try not to go to restaurants when they have just opened because I like to give them a chance to settle in. Through a strange coincidence of circumstances, I ended up at Portofino (ex Showroom) for dinner the second night they were open. On arrival I started to have regrets as the restaurant was completely empty aside from a table of two. I knew it was empty because it was new not for any other reason, but I wasn’t excited about eating in an empty restaurant. As I was contemplating my options, the owner, Cormac Keane, came over and introduced himself.

He’s a friendly guy and he started enthusiastically telling me about how Portofino came to be. He explained the changes he had made to the space, which was good because it looked pretty  much the same to me. The main changes are the bar, which has been converted from steel and glass to a wooden counter top which breaks the clinical look of the place, the natural material adding some warmth. He has also put curtains up so you can no longer see into the car showroom next door. This is good because the bright lights from the showroom really amplified the clinical feel of the place before. Now the lighting is softer and warmer. The one wall is now covered in mirror, and there is also a large mirror in a space which allows diners upstairs to see what is happening downstairs, providing a connection between what would otherwise be two disconnected spaces. (You can read more about Cormac Keane himself here.)

By the time he had shown me around, my friends had arrived and  Cormac had made me feel welcome enough to want to stay (or at least not want to leave). So the four of us sat at a table and strangely never even noticed that the place was empty. It’s quite small, and just hearing the voices of the staff as they went about their chores made the place seem less empty.

Being the only table did work to our advantage though because Cormac was keen to show off the menu. So we enjoyed tastes of several dishes besides the mains which we ordered.We started with the Bruschetta (R55), there were a selction but we liked the chicken livers one the best. We also shared the antipasti plate for 2 (R85) which had some very good chilli salt calamari, some top quality parma ham and a whole selection of other things like olives, salami, etc. I would like to have tried the carpaccio (R60) but will have to save that for my next visit.

Before our mains arrived, we were treated to little tasters of the broccoli and anchovy pasta (R60) and the pasta with pancetta, peas, asparagus, porcini mushrooms and truffle infusion (70). The first pasta I didn’t enjoy so much, I love anchovies so it sounded appealing but the anchovy flavours were way too subtle and the broccoli florets were so small they couldn’t be tasted either. But the second pasta was amazing, all of the flavours came through and were a winning combination, I recommend this dish strongly. There are a couple of standards on the menu too. like carbonara (R65) and arrabiata (R60).

For mains I had the honey and mustard pork fillet (R90) which I didn’t enjoy that much. The pumpkin and potato mash and green beans it came with were excellent though. To my right someone had the gnocchi (R60) which was excellent. I don’t really like gnocchi but even I thought it was good. The other two at my table both had the veal parcel filled with pesto and buffalo mozzarella and served on a butternut and ricotta stuffed ravioli (R90). This dish was excellent, my second firm recommendation.

They are currently offering the old Showroom wine stock at fire sale prices. I drank a bottle of Hermanuspietersfontein Kleinboet (R150) which was sublime and a steal at that price. The girls shared two bottles of Catherine Marshall sauvignon blanc at R100 a bottle, also a silly price. I don’t know how long these wines will be available for but I would imagine not too long so if I were you I’d get there pronto.

The desserts were the highlight. We were so full by this stage we had no inclination to order desserts but Cormac wanted us to try some so we agreed to have some tasters. We started with a platter of 9 sorbets, which were excellent. Then things went downhill, he brought us another 5 desserts and they were so good that we ate them all except one. We were at the point of exploding. We tried the lemon tart (excellent) and the ricotta and honey tart (not as good), and the deconstructed tiramisu (very excellent and nothing like a traditional tiramisu). We also tried the pistaccio and almond cake (boring),and the panacotta which came with it which was excellent. All the desserts cost R40.

So as you can see, we were spoilt but it was a great way to get to know the menu without having to go several times. Now you know what to order. Go and enjoy (before they run out of the Showroom wines).

Harbour’s Edge, 10 Hospital Street, Greenpoint
Tel: 021 418 4500
www.portofinoct.co.za

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76 Responses

  1. Robert says:

    Not a very good restaurant.
    Food way over priced and food generally not great.

  2. Cormac says:

    Are you retarded Robert or just the cheapest man in Cape Town, when you say we are overpriced are you comparing us to the spaza store near you ??

  3. Dax says:

    Ok, let’s not get too personal.

    Perhaps you’d like to elaborate a bit Robert? At R60 for pastas and R90 for mains, I thought it compared quite favourably with other restaurants.

    As for the quality of the food, I may not have fallen in love with everything but I wasn’t unhappy with anything I tasted and there were certainly some dishes I would return for.

    So I would be interested to hear why you feel the way you do.

  4. John says:

    This is obviously a competitor, Robert have you actually been to the restaurant? I doubt it…

    I have eaten there twice since they opened, the food is priced under any other quality restaurant I know and was excellent on both occasions, the wine deal they are running makes their wine the cheapest in any Cape Town restaurant, so what on earth are you talking about.

    When did you eat there? what did you have? how much was the bill ?
    did you tip ?

    Do tell……

  5. Jeremy says:

    I am also amazed at Robert’s comments. I ate there on Sunday night with a group of 9 people and it was very reasonable, it was actually cheap, our starters were R50 and mains about R70/R80. The food was genuinely the best I have tasted in Cape Town and I have eaten at most places in Cape Town. Our total bill came to around R1700, it was definately under R2000 and we had a fair bit of wine. Most of us had starters, mains and desserts, the desserts were out of this world! The owner was also there and comped us two bottles of grappa. If only more owners appreciated their customers like this.

  6. GinaB says:

    Went to see what all the fuss was about last night, have to agree with the other comments (apart from Robert) Food was superb, had the antipasti plate which was very good, chilli squid was outstanding, then the gnocchi which was so subtly flavoured it melted in my mouth, the knockout is defiantly the chocolate cake, it’s made with Lindt chocolate, it’s amazing. We had a bottle of Luddite shiraz for R300, it was R490 the last time I drank it in a restaurant. Not sure if it was the owner or the manager but he gave us a taster of 9 different homemade sorbets and ice creams, also gave us grappa’s, all complimentary which was cool. Great food, inexpensive.

  7. Charmaine says:

    I went to the restaurant with Dax and had a GREAT meal.
    The staff are super friendly! I LOVED my veal dish – also taste tested everyone’s meals and they were all DELICIOUS!
    Desserts DEFO the main attraction for me!

    I would definitely worth another visit!

  8. Chris says:

    I think Robert is completely out of line, and must be confusing Portofino with another restaurant.

    I went back for the second time today, and had the kingklip – it was excellent. I like what the chef does with the freshest of beans, crispy and crunchy. The Lindt Nemesis mousse cake was delish, and only costs R 40, for a slice, with two ice-cream scoops and two bites of Crunchie.

    Cormac, the owner, sent the squid as a comp, and it was hard to stop nibbling at it.

    I am going back for more!

  9. darren says:

    Looking forward to checking this place out however a few reservations

    The response from The owner calling another guy a retard is not very respectful and puts me off

    Secondly, all that money spent on the restaurant and they dont even have a website, its one page

    and thirdly i read a quote from the owner that they want this place to be the next river cafe (Ruth and Rosie London)

    Maybe the owner will not call me a retard

  10. Christina says:

    I was one of the group of 9 at Portofino’s last Sunday and we all enjoyed an unexpectedly wonderful fine dining experience. Besides the food that’s already been raved about enough (but you can never say enough about that Lindt Nemesis!!), I take my hat off to Cormac and his staff for the excellent service and warm hospitality, considering it’s such a young restaurant.
    I already have a list of things I want to try next time and a favourite or two that’ll be ordered again.

  11. Cormac says:

    Look forward to seeing you soon Darren, I am waiting for our website designer to have her baby before she can finish the website, even I wouldn’t try and hurry that one, the current page is a holding one, we are indeed influenced by the River Cafe in London although we pay homage to them rather than try and emulate them.

  12. Ryan says:

    I must agree with Dax; Robert, if you are going to make comments especially on a forum based service you need to elaborate more with regards to what you didn’t like about the restaurant, perhaps what items on the menu you had etc…
    There is no one forcing you to write a review or post feedback, but it would help the owner and other potential customers if you were a little more clear.

  13. Peter says:

    Avoid at all cost, rude and arrogant owner.

  14. Ronan Donahan says:

    The food sounds truly amazing, but I will absolutely NOT be going to Portofino while it is under Cormac Keane’s management.

    I can deal with food that isn’t out-of-this-world, service that perhaps is a bit rough around the edges, but neither I nor any of my friends will put up with an arrogant, sarcastic, rude manager who makes potential diners feel as if they are intruders in his home, or god forbid, cutting his nap time short. (Shame, the poor baby!)

    If you’re not sure what I’m referring to, check out the email correspondence at http://www.2oceansvibe.com/2009/10/10/portofino-restaurant-attacks-customer/

    A number of rather impolite words (“retard” included) come to mind, which I will not post on the Internet because name-calling is best left to young children (the kind that start whining and crying when their afternoon nap is interrupted).

    I would like to point out that I have NOT met Cormac Keane in person (although many of the other commentators on this page have), and I can honestly believe that he was able to feign the character of a sweet, charming gentleman, but NO gentleman will ever publicly refer to another person as a “retard”, ESPECIALLY in writing, nor interact with a customer in the way Cormac did in the above email correspondence. Oops, Cormac you showed your true colours.

    Having grown up in Ireland (and moving to South Africa in my late 20s), I can firmly attest that Irish sons are not raised to be rude, arrogant or sarcastic, so one has to wonder where Cormac Keane learnt his manners.

    Regards

    Ronan Donahan

  15. JP says:

    I think people are missing the bigger picture, if you take a step back and look at this, it looks suspiciously like a way of raising awareness of a new restaurant. Where is the story, restaurant owner is rude ? I don’t think so. There is more to this. The result is everyone now knows where Portofino is.

  16. jan says:

    Avoid this restaurant at all cost. Indeed check the 2ocensvibe website; unbelievable!!!! Cormac is just another full-on arrogant dickhead.

  17. GR says:

    Cormac is an idiot.

    Avoid this restuarant and his business

  18. Susan says:

    Cormac – you rock
    I will certainly not avoid your restuarant but I will also not mess you around either and why should anyone do that

  19. Cormac says:

    I may be an idiot and all of the above, everyone is entitled to their say, the email was intended to be tongue in cheek and a little cheeky, the nap comment should have made that clear, I thought I might get some milage out of it although I didn’t think it would attract this much attention. I wanted some publicity I guess, I have that now for better or worse. I called the recipient on Friday and he has an open invitation to come and try us anytime. No offence should be taken by anyone.

  20. Bruce says:

    Be interested to know what caused Cormac’s change of heart and made him call the potential client that he REPEATEDLY told ‘not to book at a table’ at his restaurant and to then extend an open invitation.

    Arrogance is unpleasant and certainly won’t entice me to visit an establishment.

    Sounds to me like he’s a Gordon Ramsay style wannabe.

    It’s a shame really, as by all accounts, it has the makings of a good restaurant, but on principle, I won’t be trying it out.

  21. James says:

    at least Gordon Ramsay can back it up? Cormack however is simply just plain rude! I can forgive him for not having experience in the restaurant business as it seems he was too busy leaching off others (You can read more about Cormac Keane himself here.) But the point of whether he is purposefully being rude and obnoxious is an interesting one. I agree that negative publicity creates publicity full stop -whether good or bad- but to say that Cormack has created negative publicity purposefully for this reason alone is going way too far. Cormack is simply not this intelligent. A nice comparison comes to mind, that of the likes of Paris Hilton. Paris didn’t intend to create a ‘sex tape’ so that she could create more publicity, she simply doesn’t have the brain capacity. I know this is starting to get a bit personal, but Cormack doesn’t seem to mind getting personal.. So I think he needs a taste of his own medicine -Here goes- Hi Cormack, I’m another fan of yours! I have not been to your restaurant, nor will I ever. Why you ask? Well I don’t care how low your prices are or how good the food is there are hundreds of restaurants that offer just this, but what differentiates them from one another is how they treat their customers! You however attack people who you barely know, you are extremely rude to potential clients, you kick people out of your restaurants.. The list goes on.. Luckily because of how quickly word spreads around Cape Town (even more so now with the use of blogs, forums or social networks etc) I do not have to experience or find this out for myself first hand and the best part is I will never have too!

    hopefully if I can spread the word as far as possible within the very close-knitted cape town community nor will others have too! I want to end off with a quote from your very own email to a potential customer:

    “ I thought I was quite clear when I asked you not to book a table at my restaurant, obviously not so I will try again, Please do not book a table at my restaurant again.”

    I’m going to be spreading a similar sought of message around town but hopefully people might actually listen the first time so I won’t have to repeat myself.

  22. Nic says:

    Corman… Every negative aspect that comes out of this you deserve. Your the scum of the earth! You deserve nothing less than failure, your attitude since meeting you on day one has been bad, and Karma has finally come around to kick you in the nuts! cheers pal

  23. Michelle says:

    Corman! I for one will definitely drop in when I’m in CT! I will make a point of it.

    Don’t worry about the piss-and-moan-about-everything club members…they deserve to wallow in their self-pity pits of puss.

    Get someone to make more mock-up e-mails (where you are rude to potential customers) and spread the word. Build on the new found reputation and show these retards who is has the real balls!

  24. Chris says:

    wow. people do over react don’t they? Both Cormac and the guys on here losing their cool – its a restaurant. Go. Don’t go. whatever.

    I liked it, I’ll go again. As I just pointed out in the comments on 2oceansvibe – look at Minatos – they’ve been offending customers for years and are always busy. I hope Cormac has a long run. I appreciate he takes his restaurant personally. I just wish more people in town felt this way about business – maybe then Cape Town wouldn’t have such a bad reputation for bad service, indifference to customers etc (and I mean this across the board in all sectors of business, not just hospitality)

  25. Kabo says:

    It seems to me that Cormac is one of those douchey characters with a sense of entitlement. He clearly feels that because he’s rubbed shoulders with the likes of Russian Oligarchs, he can treat ‘lesser’ people with disdain. I see what the people are referring to in terms of it being a PR stunt – and these stunts can be effective. But in the service industry? A reputation for poor service is not something you want, particularly in this climate.

    As for the comparison to Minatos, and Gordon Ramsay etc. It’s one thing having a ‘charsimatic’ or ‘angry’ head chef, quite another to have a deliberately rude owner who treats his CUSTOMERS badly simply because he can’t handle his own emotions. And in terms of changing his tune about the original email in his comments above – it seems very superficial, especially after referring to a patron as a ‘retard’ or ‘cheap.’

    I will certainly never visit his place, and am actively discouraging all of my peers from visiting it either. Who wants to take the risk of being treated like shit or publicly humiliated by some twat who thinks he’s the heat simply because ‘he’s never had to cook for himself’ or because he’s hung out with Abramovich and has a hugely inflated sense of self-importance?

    If people have complaints about the food or wine, or if they have to make last minute cancellations, they generally feel bad about it, but the nature of the service industry should alert managers/owners to these facts, and they can leverage on these emotions by downplaying the inconveniance and making people feel really well looked after and positive about the place. This creates goodwill, the people will spread positive word-of-mouth and will feel compelled to return.

    When great restaurants are being forced to close down, and you get wankers like this who treat customers poorly, it’s really quite ridiculous. I hope to see Karma bite this guy in the ass.

  26. Dee says:

    This is so entertaining, all these personal comments from people who do not actually know each other! I have a reservation at Portofino, and can’t wait to go, to judge the food, service and attitude for myself! One thing I have learn’t is that there are ALWAYS two sides to a story, especially in the restaurant business. There is a lot of comment about how rude the resaurant owner is, customers can be wholly obnoxious as well!

  27. Fritz says:

    @Dee

    I agree with you 100% Dee, there are always two sides to any story. And if you’ve read the email correspondence between Cormac and the potential customer, then you will have already been presented with both sides of the story.

    There’s no hearsay or rumour being thrown around with regards to the email conversation, it’s plain hard fact. You can read what Cormac wrote, and what the customer wrote.

    Cormac was extremely rude and sarcastic to the customer. No wiggle room there, it’s all in black and white.

  28. Justin says:

    About time somebody shook things up! Well done Cormac, can’t wait to try the place out.

  29. GinaB says:

    I thought there was something not quite right about this whole thing. I ate their last night and spoke to Cormac Keane myself, some interesting facts emerged:

    Andrew the guy who received the email was called by the restaurand shortly after the email was going around and before it went on 2 Oceans Vibe, he has apparantly taken no offence and is dining at the Portofino this week.

    The company who did the launch for Portofio asked Cormac Keane to advertise on 2 Oceans Vibe, and said he they would write “lots about them if paid” He told them in an email he didn’t like the site and turned them down, no doubt 2 Oceans Vibe knew about this, does the PR company get a cut on referrals ? I wonder. Might be interesting if someone might start sending this email out ??

    Finally : It is amazing for people who think the email was rude to come on here with offensive comments about someone else, they are on the same level as the person who they thought was rude.

    If anyone cares, the food and staff were lovely and Cormac Keane was one of the most entertaining people I have met in a long time.

  30. Shane says:

    Go Cormac! You can do it!!! RLOL

  31. Guy says:

    It’s worked! As a result of all of this PR [negative or positive- it’s still PR innit?!] ,I WILL BE EATING THERE tonight.
    This is either a cleverly orchestrated PR campaign using the guys from 2oceansvibe.com or Cormac is a maverick and is using the publicity to his advantage…..
    So, I’ll tell you about my evening tomorrow. You can’t get away with being THAT arrogant AND provide crap food and service….Hopefully he’s just arrogant. In my experience, most mavericks are.

  32. Guy says:

    Yip, we had dinner there last night. 27 short-back-and-sides Allan Gray executives were there in full force, having obviously taken up the challenge from their Median competitors.
    The food was fabulous, the service attentive, the Martini cocktails were totally kick-ass and Cormac was/ is – eccentric, friendly, hands-on and very amusing.
    And no – there was and is no link to 2oceansvibe.co.za providing the PR – Cormac tells me that he is revelling in the PR created by the childish antics of those who choose to discredit him…….And, last thing – he believes that Capetonians have very limited senses of humour. Tell me something else I don’t know…..

  33. Eamon Mack says:

    Cormac does what he does – good food at reasonable prices – a rare combination in CTN. At least he is honest.
    The same cannot be said for some of the characters posting comments here.
    Take “Ronan Donahan” for example. Donahan is not a real name, it does not exist in ireland – it’s a make up. The exact same words appears on 2Oceansvibe under the moniker of “Joan”. She/he is not Irish, and is confused about her sexuality. Bit South African I’d say. A cheap fraud with no balls, or would that be ovaries? (metaphorically speaking of course) If you want to comment, comment, but don’t be a spineless coward, whoever you are.
    BTW, I have eaten there. The food, service & host were all great. AND, he’s flogging off the old Showroom wine cellar at half price – serious deals on some great wines!!! Get down there Folks, and don’t mind the begrudgers.

  34. Nicole says:

    Ill be honest, after all this PR – however “bad” it may be, Im pretty keen to go and eat there myself. PR is PR at the end of the day.

  35. Jamie says:

    Portofino is one restaurant I will never eat at. There are plenty of other good restaurants in Cape Town where they won’t treat you like dirt. So as good as Portofino may be the owner is clearly a douchebag. Not for me thanks.

  36. Mandy says:

    “And, last thing – he believes that Capetonians have very limited senses of humour. Tell me something else I don’t know…..”

    Gosh. Thanks for the heads up Guy. All these Capetonians defending him and giving him business and that’s what he thinks of us. Well, I suppose the humourless must still eat and have wallets. Who cares if we can’t appreciate Cormac’s well-developed sense of humour, right?

  37. Joe K says:

    Alot of fairly over-zealous comments here, more tongue-in-cheek from the owner id imagine… Isn’t a bit eccentricity in an owner par for the course these days?!

    Good food and ambiance are the key things for me when dining with my other half. A Sunday evening meal here left me very satisfied. Excellent variety and taste with the starters, Honey and mustard pork fillet complimented these really well. Managed to fit in a chocolate cake aswell! Stuffed! But content, lovely bottle of vino. Classy service, well run and we will return.

  38. kim says:

    Fresh artichokes were sublime…
    Prawn risotto delicious…
    Rizoni outstanding.
    “Controversial” Cormac was actually quite charming (thanks for the complimentary Grappa)and with Linzi(starters and most of the desserts her forte) and Head-chef Steve in the kitchen I will certainly eat there again.

  39. Guy says:

    Cormac Cormac Cormac! We’re being nice dude!
    Did we disturb your afternoon sleep perhaps?
    Or is it perhaps your day off and you’re sipping Caipirinhas amongst the fleshpots of Camps Bay and feeling a bit…..touchy?

  40. Justin says:

    I don’t think that was Cormac…

  41. Guy says:

    Sheesh!!!!!!!
    I flippin hope not…..

  42. Justin says:

    He’s not the sort of guy to repeat himself – see comment on October 11th.

  43. Dax says:

    Hi all

    Thanks for the comments and feedback. This has been quite a hot topic. I’ve stayed out of it for the most part but must just let you know that neither of the ‘touch yourself’ comments were from Cormac.

    Someone else was pretending to be him and I didn’t take the time to check the email and ip of the comment, so apologies to Cormac.

    I have now removed the offending comments.

  44. Benji says:

    THIS COMMENT IS FAKE. THERE IS NO BENJI THAT WORKS AT PORTOFINO. I AM LEAVING THIS COMMENT AS A WARNING BUT FUTURE COMMENTS LIKE THIS WILL BE DELETED AND I WILL HAPPILY PASS THE IP ADDRESS ON TO THE AFFECTED PARTIES AS THIS SORT OF THING IS LIBELOUS. -DAX

    I wrote the last comment ‘touch yourself’ but am not sure who wrote the one before.. Dax I’m not sure why you removed the comment I’m sure Cormac would approve of it? anyway I work for Cormack and he has asked us (being his staff) to write reviews praising Portofino on various sites so I don’t really see what the harm is in impersonating someone else? Also Dax pls could you take the time to check the IP addresses and see if Cormac has written any other comments using another name would be interesting to know!

    Great Blog!
    Benji

  45. Guy says:

    Wow ,that’s pretty sad Benji. I suppose this gives a whole new meaning to the integrity [ or non-integrity] of restaurant review sites, and to blogs in general, for that matter…..

  46. David says:

    that is pretty sad, if it’s true and benji really does work at portofino? i’m guessing if he does he just ‘stopped’ 🙂

  47. Justin says:

    So Benji tells fibs as well as acts the imposter…

  48. Guy says:

    Cormac, get the IP address and sue the MOFO for slander and libel. You’ll win and get a WHOLE BUNCH more PR….

  49. Rocky says:

    Goodness gracious me. Come on folks, lets forget about talking about Cormac for a moment and get to the crux of the matter – Portofino. Being an avid restaurant goer I decided to eat at Portofino last night. Believe me, it wasn’t because of the ‘press’ but because I happened to be visiting in the area. My partner and I were very surprised to find out that Steven Kruger was the chef. So although we were really only aiming for a main course, we ended up having starters as well, with high expectations of what we were about to receive. We know Steven Krugers cooking (well, we thought we did!!). Either when we ate his dishes before they were created by someone else and he was following the recipe or this time they were created by someone else and he is following the recipe. We’re now totally confused. What a shocking meal. My partner had the pumpkin salad with feta etc etc. We sat there in anticipation of a feast for the eyes but what arrived was a mess in a bowl. I asked “where’s the pumpkin. In fact where’s the cheese?”. He started scratching around and found 2 balls and 1 piece of pumpkin. My brioche x4 (who thought up the food titles??) almost broke my teeth. I had to laugh at myself because when the waiter took our order I mentioned that if possible I would like the chicken livers (mentioned in the dish description) done a little more than pink if the chef doesn’t mind. She said that wouldn’t be a problem. What she failed to tell me (and neither did the description) was that it was actually chicken liver pate. OK, whatever!!! So the starter getting a firm 0/10 we now really waited in anticipation for the main courses. I ordered the Lasagna ala Bolognese (normally the case in a lasagna – like I said who thought up the titles). I got a rectangular dish filled with lasagna – like one does in an average pizza joint. Now, you might say, well, that’s what you ordered, not so? Yip, you’re right, but if I wanted a plain bowl of lasagna I would have gone to a pizza joint. And I wish I had. There I would have received lasagna that tasted like a good Italian lasagna dish. This one had not a shred of herbs or garlic. It was sweet, uninspiring and boring. I almost offered my services in the kitchen as I’ve made a more tasty version myself at home. My partner had the pork dish – where was the honey flavours? Maybe in the same place as the pumpkin and feta. We promptly left vowing never to return. What a waste of money. Anyone who enjoyed the food there last night must be so easy to please it beggars belief. What’s happened to you Steven? Who’s ground you down to such a point that you put your name to such food?

  50. George says:

    Its odd how people can have such very different expieriences of a
    restaurant, and amazing how nothing was right from start to finish for
    poor Rocky, everything Rocky ordered was wrong, everything, how about
    that folks, what are the chances of that ? Out of curiousity Rocky did
    you complain about the food on the night in question, if you did what
    was the reaction from the kitchen ? If you didn’t why would you not,
    yet you go to the trouble of writing a full paragraph on here ? Odd.

    I have visited this restaurant several times now and have tasted the
    lasagna, bruschetta’s (quite a common item on Italian menu’s) and also
    the pumpkin salad which I have had on every visit and it is simply the
    best salad I have ever tasted. The food has been divine on each visit,
    Rocky hmmmm ?? something not right here folks.

  51. Chris says:

    Went on Wed eve, total of 22 diners of which we were eight, serious lack of ambience, 2 waiters, no management and no sign of the much publicised Cormac. Service indifferent, apart from the constant re-filling of wine glasses and the offer of another bottle (Only noticed the Special Wines List hidden in some recess on leaving)
    Bruschetta, as Rocky mentions was rock hard and cold ie fridge temp; did complain and sent it back; did not take up the offer of replacement as I didn’t want the others to have to hang around whilst the kitchen did what should have been done in the first place.
    Carpaccio was . . . carpaccio; melanzane..abiding impression of cooked tomato.
    Orange & goat’s cheese salad. . one of the salads had a fair amount of goat’s cheese and four or five olives? the other had a ‘spot the goat’s cheese’ and more than 20 olives.
    Mains were, at best OK, certainly none of us went “Wow”
    All in all the general concensus was. . .Underwhelming . . Don’t bother!

  52. Chris says:

    I am not the same Chris who posted a comment earlier today. I was one of a group of 10 “Brutal Reviewers of Restaurants”, a Facebook group, who went to Portofino on Thursday evening. We each had 3 courses and our group rated each course on a scale of 1 – 10. I have not seen the summary of results yet, but I did not hear one critical comment during our dinner. We all had a good time, and Raymond our waiter and Cormac the owner looked after us excellently. I was introduced to a Reyneke shiraz by Cormac, which was excellent as a wine by the glass.

  53. Cliff says:

    Went to Portofino last night (Sunday 1st Nov) with my wife and daughter. Ordered bruschetta and artichoke special as starters. Both were uninspiring. Chicken livers was smooth pate.Two large artichokes with mayonnaise (boring accompaniment), bland and pasty. My wife ordered the pasta dish with the peas, asparagus, porcini etc, which was decent. My daughter’r ravioli with ricotta and butternut was swamped in a stodgy basil and pine-nut sauce which made the dish rather unappetising. My baby chicken served with rosemary potatoes and greens was good. Small portion but hot, spicy and perefectly cooked. I guess the meal was OK and the prices reasonable, but the overall experience was disappointing. Showroom is a hard act to follow with its unusual dishes, choice of exotic rubs and showy preparation -Portofino lacks the ambience and character of its predecessor

  54. lulu says:

    Publicity stunt or not – Cormac is a lunatic. He treats some people badly and others well in order to create this mixed reaction. In the meantime – the JOKE is on you – cheap entertainment for his twisted mind! We all have choices though, so go to his restaurant, don’t go… just know that this man is dangerous!!!

  55. Cormac says:

    Hi Lulu, are you one of the party of 4 who came to Portofino on Saturday night and were so out your heads and disturbing other diners that the Police had to be called, do you manage a guest in Bantry Bay and you partner works at an Italian coffee shop in town ??

    Are you the same person who apologised for your boyfriends behaviour before you even got to your table ?

    Real classy.

    There was only 4 lunatics in Portofino that night and one of them wasn’t called Cormac

  56. Dax says:

    I returned to Portofino with a table of 15 the other night. Everyone seemed happy with their food and enjoyed the evening. Cormac made us feel very welcome.

    I did notice the prices of the mains have increased. They were mostly around R90 and are now mostly around R105. The pastas don’t appear to have increased in price noticeably and the desserts were R40 and are now R45.

    I had a look through the new wine list and we opted for Diemersdal shiraz at R150 per bottle. Bilton Shiraz at R190 was looking appealing too. Prices go up from there for the reds.

  57. Frank says:

    Cormac must be quite desperate if he need a mineral water to sponsor the shades on the outside are of Portofino… somehow it makes the place look cheap!

  58. Cormac says:

    Hey Frank,

    Valpre will be thrilled you noticed, wait till you see what we are doing for the world cup !!
    We look cheap because we are cheap when you compare our prices to our more expensive neighbours.

    Come in and try our new summer next time your next time your passing.

  59. Frank says:

    Sorry, I only drink tap water, and only eat at ‘real’ italian restaurants.

  60. Cormac says:

    If your that cheap probably best you stay at home.

  61. Kate says:

    I like the umbrella’s, especially with fairy lights on its lovely- and, it’s the perfect place for business meetings. If you want to have good food and actually be able to hear one another at such a reasonable price you won’t be able to find anything better in the city, let alone in the whole of Cape Town.

  62. Kate says:

    PS haven’t had the pleasure or displeasure of meeting you yet Cormac but Greg does an amazing job when you’re not there. A word of advise, grow up and stop responding to these silly comments.

  63. eugene says:

    I just stumbled across this page and thought I might as well read it. My word, this has got to be the only restaurant owner with balls. I love this guy, does he have a place in JHB??? Would love to try it out sometime.

  64. Joel says:

    Went last night, food was good, wine was reasonably priced, but the service was atrocious.

    Half-empty restuarant and our courses took forever. Cormac was rude when we enquired – he apologised and thought that this was the end of it.

    He spent most of the evening outside with a table of regulars and as we were getting up to leave came with an offer of Grappas (assumably on the house).

    Sorry Cormac – too little too late.

    La Boheme, which had better food, comp’ed us our course when it took less time than yours to arrive.

  65. George and Jo says:

    Different strokes for different folks, it shows you how different peoples experiences can be. John Maytham gave Portofino a very good review on his show on Wednesday, as he is a journalist that I trust I decided to visit Portofino last night (I had no idea that they had even opened) We had antipasti plate and mushroom risotto and a prawn risotto to start, main courses were yellow tail, sirloin gnocchi, desserts were the infamous Lindt Nemesis cake and assorted sorbets and ice creams. The food was outstanding, it was better than any meal I can remember having in Cape Town, the Irish owner was there and I was quite impressed to see how hands he on he was, taking orders, clearing dishes from tables and helping his staff. It was one of my most enjoyable dining expeditions in Cape Town and I will return very soon.
    We felt like we were appreciated, the food was prepared from scratch and we were not ripped off. Full marks to the team.

  66. Sally says:

    Maybe the service you get depends on how polite you are, I went to Portofino last night after hearing about it on Cape Talk, it was quite interesting to watch the owner working the room, there was some high profile Captonians there who obviously got plenty of attention, as did most of the other tables including mine, I found the owner gracious and entertaining. What was interesting was the table next to mine had a pair of rather obnoxious people on it who were making the waiters life difficult, the owner ignored this table completely, it was the only table he didn’t talk to while we were there. I was secretly hoping that he would come over and ask the to shut up and get out. I will return, very good food in smart surroundings, the prices were also on the lower end of the scale.

  67. M says:

    I haven’t been to Portofino, but my comments are based on what I’ve read here and elsewhere, and on hearing the owner talk to John Maytham on 567.

    Seems like the owner feels that if he is abused, then he is entitled to abuse back. Those who applaud him, applaud him for standing up for himself, and for making the point that customers are not entitled to abuse staff just because they are paying customers.

    I agree, no-one is entitled to abuse another no matter who is holding the purse strings. If you applaud this owner’s behaviour, you might be standing up for those who are abused, but are you also perhaps condoning abuse? There are other ways of standing up for yourself against abuse — rather than the abused becoming the abuser.

    In a country like ours, which is fraught with abusive behaviour, perhaps it’s time to start supporting only those endeavours that are respectful to all, and take a stand against abuse.

  68. Nicole says:

    the first I heard of Portofino was what I read on 2oceansvibe… “PR might be PR” but ill never step foot in the restaurant, and have passed on the story to many… who are equally disgusted.

  69. Igor says:

    Who cares about Cormac? Just LOOK AT THE BLONDE WITH THE TAPAS TRAY!!! She can serve me anytime, PHWOAAAAARRRRRHHH!

    Ha, ha, I deliberately incensed all you humourlessly PC and sanctimonious Capetonians and having got your attention,my real response follows below.

    So many people with so much time to waste …. I’ve not read all (too boring) but have scrolled through and a quick tally shows that opinion is split about 50-50. So in sum all you readers have collectively achieved precisely zip, which is par for most websites of anonymous opinion. If you’d all just close down Internet Explorer and go back to your work, perhaps you’d make a positive contribution to the nation’s productivity instead of its bloghouse gas emissions (i.e. hot air).

  70. Roger says:

    I have always had great meals and service from Cormac and his team at Portofinos – I do wonder whether those complaining about Cormac’s behaviour have initiated the bad behaviour to begin with. If you treat people like shite (as the Irish would say) then the gloves are off

  71. daz says:

    Dax

    Have you heard Portofino has closed…..no mention on your site.

    Another one bites the dust.

    Read this link, http://www.food24.com/News-and-Guides/Features/Portofino-closes-20100408

    Did he really think it would be easy especially with the atitude , i remember and commented when he called one of your reviewers a retard and said to myself that he would last 6 months, well he proved me wrong and lasted 7 months…

  72. Dax says:

    I did tweet about it earlier today, but didn’t have a chance to get onto the site until now.

    Opening a restaurant in Cape Town is no easy task. Many have tried and failed. We won’t know if Cormack’s unusual approach to winning customers was his downfall or if it was other factors.

    Sadly, Portofino won’t be the last to close its doors.

  73. George says:

    At least they don’t owe money all over town like the previous restaurant that was there. I always enjoyed the food at Portofino and am sad to see it go. There are not so many places in CT that serve great food at reasonable prices like they did.

  74. M says:

    There was an article on this in The Times today (SA’s Rudest Chef Serves Last Meal”). Dax, your blog was quoted!

  75. Rick says:

    This thread is so entertaining and a big lesson to restaurant owners. Treat every customer with respect even if you think they are wrong. Complaints and perception will shut your door.
    I see at least 20 restaurants open and close within 12 months every year in Cape Town.