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“Lovely views, but terrible service”

The Restaurant at Newton Johnson
Ranked #33 of 120 Restaurants in Hermanus
Certificate of Excellence
Cuisines: Contemporary
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Scenic view
Dining options: Reservations
Description: The Restaurant at Newton Johnson is an artisanal restaurant. We pride ourselves in sourcing great ingredients that stand out above the rest. Nose to tail and root to seed cooking is at the forefront of our cuisine.
Reviewed December 30, 2013

We'd booked about two weeks in advance and were really looking forward to the restaurant, as we had been there before on a wine tasting and really enjoyed it. We had driven from Noordhoek for two hours out of town to be at the restaurant. For our booking we had asked for a window table for a party of 12, but instead were put in front of a passage facing the toilets and the entrance of the restaurant.

When we enquired about it, we were met with arrogance and disdain by the manageress Celeste, which served to spoil our meal. If they had admitted that there was a mistake, we would have just got on with it, but we received a host of different stories and a general attitude of "shut up and sit down and enjoy yourself (sir)". I later saw her gesticulating in quite an animated manner, obviously trying to make a point.

My wife also commented that when we had phoned ahead to add two places (for very young children), Celeste the manageress had seemed irritated with her. Huh? My brothers had also tried to order a snack beforehand (they had arrived early) and they were told they "had to wait until the others to arrive".

When everyone arrived and we were ready to do an order, we were then left in disbelief when told by the waiter that "the kitchen was not allowed to take our order because we were late" (We had arrived 15 mins late due to roadworks). My mother said she felt insulted, and commented that she has "never been punished before by a restaurant for arriving late". The food was delivered on good time and was not bad, although difficult to enjoy given the circumstances. The ice-cream for the deserts was melted.

A major problem with the area is that it is very windy, so for most of the seasonal year, you are unable to sit outside and really enjoy the position.

A disappointing experience, and a great pity because it is a beautiful farm, with great views which the Newton-Johnson family have bought a great amount of effort into. Why are the staff of the day spoiling it? We did not feel special, we did not enjoy ourselves. We wanted to eat and get out of there. I would unfortunately not recommend this restaurant to anyone and would caution those interested to see other options. I don't think we'll be back.

We had lunch at Creation Wines, just 5 mins away, the weekend before and found the experience a contrast. Really good service and attitude. Time to train the management, build the right culture, and hire the right people with the right personalities for the service industry.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
3  Thank MatthewBuckland
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Eric B, Owner at The Restaurant at Newton Johnson, responded to this reviewResponded January 2, 2014

Based on this over exaggerated review, the owners and management have responded as follows:

*The reservation was initially for 8 OR 9 guests, and when contacted by the General Manager on the morning of their reservation, the guest only then notified the restaurant that their reservation had now been increased to 10 guests.
*This was confirmed by the General Manager and the guest was notified that it might be a squeeze around the table, but that they would gladly accommodate the additional guests.
*Children were not mentioned when making the reservation, nor when confirming, but nonetheless, they also require a seat and a table. Both of which the restaurant was short of, as it was fully booked.
*4 of the guests arrived on time for this reservation and ordered a "snack" in the form of 2 sides of fries. The waiter relayed to them that our service style is to wait until all guests are seated before serving food, but could he bring them bread instead. They were abrupt in their response, pointing out that they had driven for 2 hours and were hungry. Regardless of the serving standards of the establishment, the Chef allowed the fries to be served.
*15 minutes after the reserved time, an additional 2 guests arrived and went directly to the tasting room for wine tasting. It was during this time that a guest met with the restaurant manager Chris at the front desk to complain that he had not received a window table.
*An apology was issued by the restaurant manager, and the guest was informed that no tables can be guaranteed, nor are requests taken.
*The guest was apologised to by the General Manager as well, having noticed that the guest was visibly upset whilst speaking with the manager.
*He was notified that unfortunately, they were unable to give him another table, as they did not have another table big enough, or along the window available.
*The guest was handled with the utmost respect and politeness, the General Manager even assured the guest that if they all took their seats, they would be delivered an unforgettable dining experience.
*The guest seemed to accept the apology and explanation as he responded that it was fine and then walked away.
*By 13h30 all the guests had arrived and were seated, an hour after their reserved time.
*We are a very small establishment and stagger the bookings accordingly to ensure a good dinning experience for every guest, with all the guests on the table in discussion only taking their seats an hour late, we explained that they would have to wait before ordering as the kitchen was handling its maximum capacity, they did not seem to want to understand. Under no circumstances were they punished for being late, nor was it so said.
*Their order was however taken within 15 minutes of notifying them of the delay and their food was served timeously and elegantly. The restaurant manager enquired several times during their meal if everything was alright, to which it was responded yes they were happy.
*As our ice cream is homemade and not frozen rock solid, it does melt a lot quicker, but it was delivered to the table as soon as it was handed over by the kitchen. The restaurant manager delivered it personally. It must have been enjoyed as a second order for the ice cream was placed.

The owners, managers and staff take the utmost care in ensuring all guests have a wonderful experience, and we are extremely disappointed in this bad review blaming the entire experience on the establishment, with the guest failing to mention their lateness and abruptness with management and staff, from the beginning.

It is impossible to please everyone all the time and that was very clear from the moment we started communication with the guests.

We appreciate constructive criticism and feedback of all natures, but feel the need to highlight certain issues that could have passed pleasantly.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a ReviewReviews (226)
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206 - 210 of 226 reviews

Reviewed December 25, 2013

Best dinning in the valley and I been everywhere and many times.....slow braised Ox tongue , sirloin steak , sounds boring, but what's on the plate is a dimension hard to beat anywhere in SA....well done to all taking part in this great success! 5*
The only minus, there is no veranda! Therefor the valleys best wines..... A must in the Hemel en Aarde valley...

1  Thank Thomas S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 20, 2013

We learned that the restaurant changed chefs three months ago, so we decided to give it a try. The service was absolutely stunning: from beginning to end we were treated like superstars - it is clear people that really like working there. The food was delicious: we had the three course menu, I would recommend to take the salmon, hake and cheese selection. The only downside was the unsophisticated interiour, giving it a canteen like atmosphere. Nevertheless, do yourself a favour and visit the restaurant before the public discovers this great place.

Thank Tine G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 19, 2013

I have had the good fortune to eat at The Restaurant @ NJ a few times now and am always amazed at the beautiful presentation of the food, the clean elegant flavours and exciting textures. Truly a sensual delight and the new benchmark for quality food in Hermanus.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank Dean0_noir
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 10, 2013

A perfect night with an amazing view of the sunset over the bay. Food was great and service without fault. Even bought some art work that was on the wall.

2  Thank anthony c
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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