When I composed the fine dining restaurants to visit in Cape Town in 2019 list a few weeks ago, I tried to single out restaurants that have been at the top of their game for a while. Those game-changers that are consistently good, consistently highly-rated, and consistently in the news. Rightfully so. This last week I got to visit one of the restaurants on my list: Greenhouse at The Cellars-Hohenort.
I’ve been to The Cellars-Hohenort before for a very delicious High Tea, but have never visited Greenhouse, though I certainly knew much about it and the appointment of new Head Chef Farrel Hirsch in November last year. And so, needless to say, I was beyond excited. So was my sister, Sabine, who joined me for the adventure, but unfortunately got stuck at work so I had a good half hour on my own before she joined me for lunch. I was glad, though, as this meant I could take a tour around the ever-beautiful property, enjoy the luscious green garden, and breathe in that supreme sense of relaxation one can only find away from the hustle and bustle of the inner city that I call home.
Welcome to Greenhouse
Once Sabine arrived, we were shown to our table in this 45-seater restaurant. True to its name, the restaurant has the full greenhouse effect with glass walls and ceiling, but thankfully they had blinds for the top to keep out the harsh African sun. During the dinner service, the blinds are opened and diners can look out at the stars and the moon. I would have loved that experience – how romantic – but unfortunately the quality of review photos comes first and I opted for lunch so I could share my dishes with all of you.
This will be another long one – I blame the gazillion courses – so buckle up for a culinary ride, and let’s get started!
The Greenhouse Feast
Starting with Snacks
To begin, our wonderful waiter Vincent brought us the Greenhouse Snacks. The course name certainly doesn’t do it justice and I’d say this course should be renamed the Greenhouse Feast. In a nutshell, the snacks were a selection of canapés. We had yellowtail, bao duck, flash-fried dune spinach with a horseradish and daikon radish dip, and a selection of breads and butter. In the latter category, there was the ciabatta, served with marble salt butter, the brioche with a roasted onion dip, and the sweet corn muffin with popcorn butter.
As to be expected, each little canapé was divine. The yellowtail was soft and juicy, the bao duck incredibly flavoursome, the dune spinach crunchy and yet not oily at all, and the breads and butter divine. If I didn’t have the menu in front of me and saw how many more courses were to come, I would have finished all of the bread. But I knew I had to pace myself – and thankfully I did!
Blue Prawn & Game Fish
Up next was the steamed blue prawn and game fish dish. The blue prawns arrived first, raw, on a hot stone in a cauldron. They were steamed at the table, turning pink and curling up right in front of us. Then, the prawns were placed on to the plating dish, together with raw tuna and a seaweed and quinoa salad, and topped with a grapefruit and soya dressing.
I love prawns, always have, but have never before eaten a single prawn so delicious. Sabine was talking to me at that point and I held up my hand for her to be quiet (so rude, I’m sorry) coz I needed a moment to close my eyes and disappear into the flavour sensation that was racing through my system. Honestly, without a doubt, one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten. Ever.
The rest of the dish, of course, was also divine. The tuna was cut quite thick, which I loved, and the salad broke the texture of the raw fish quite well. But while still delicious, everything paled in comparison to the prawn. I wish I had more.
After my little excursion to seventh heaven, we moved on to the next dish. This was a caramel-smoked duck with liver mousse, hibiscus beets, and a hazelnut and nasturtium crumble. Presentation-wise, this dish was certainly the one most Instagrammable (code: most beautiful). And, thankfully, it was equally top notch flavour-wise. While I enjoyed all of the dishes at Greenhouse, I do think the prawn dish and this smoked duck dish were my absolute favourite.
The last of our starters was up next. This was the cape octopus with samphire, sour fig, and ink yuzu sauce. I still need to get used to eating octopus tentacles and I know many people who won’t eat them simply due to the visual. Luckily, I’ve become quite good at ignoring that part and can enjoy food purely for its flavour, so this isn’t really a problem for me anymore. (Though it certainly used to be.) This dish was also lovely. The octopus is first steamed and then grilled, which adds that beautiful smokey flavour that I’ve come to love. (If I remember correctly, I had this at Primal Eatery for the first time about a year ago.)
Jersey Beef & Seabass
This concluded our starters experience, and we moved on to mains. There were two options available – the beef and the fish – and we had one each. The free range jersey beef was served with tsukudani shiitake, lacquered onion, Asian pesto, and land seaweed. The local Cape fish (seabass) was served with scallops, wild rice risotto, pea puree, and a garlic sake sauce.
Sabine’s beef dish was served medium-rare and was a little too rare for us when eaten alone, but perfect when mixed with the rest of the dish. My seabass was divine. I never usually go for the seafood dish (I don’t know why because I love seafood; think I just love meat more), but I’m glad I did in this case – it was perfect. I do think it was the scallops that sold me initially. Everyone who reads my reviews regularly knows that I have a slight love affair with scallops My only sorrow is that they’re not more readily available in South Africa.
Both portions were also pretty large – the seabass especially so – and especially considering this is being served after a tiny universe of starter options.
The Wine Pairing(s)
I’ll take a moment here to add in that all dishes were paired with a local boutique wine, expertly explained by wine master Ashley. I certainly can’t handle six glasses of wine, so I only had a sip of each, but they were all delightful. Some of the wines on offer included the Force Majeure Chenin Blanc, Intellego Pink Moustache, Rocking Horse White Blend, Joostenberg Cabernet Sauvignon, Julien Schaarl Chardonnay, and the Waterford Heatherleigh. The Greenhouse Snacks were served with a glass of L’Ormarins Brut.
PB & J with Milk
The last dish of the day was dessert: PB & J with a glass of milk. But this was very much the Greenhouse take on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with milk, and we were served a peanut parfait & peanut crisp with a fresh cherry compote (divine!), paired with milk ice cream. I’ll confess, I’m not a big peanut butter fan (sacrilege, I know), but this dessert was divine. The cherry compote was my favourite – I love cherries! And the milk ice cream was the coolest thing! Literally and figuratively.
We thought we were done. But there were still chocolate tapas to be served: A caramel sponge with coffee mousse and vodka waffle, a lime gel and margarita mousse, and a dark chocolate truffle with klipdrift and coke and rocksalt candy. Together with this, Sabine had a flat white, while I enjoyed a chamomile tea. The chocolates were lovely, but my favourite was definitely the caramel sponge.
Greenhouse Restaurant Happiness
I left my four-hour lunch feeling a little overstuffed but completely happy! Thankfully, though, The Cellars-Hohenort has those amazing gardens, so Sabine and I took a nice leisurely walk around before heading back into the city.
Dining at Greenhouse Restaurant isn’t your everyday lunch experience. At a cost of R900 per person for the menu and R1300 per person with wine pairing, this is a dining experience that you truly want to make the most of. Save it for a special occasion, splurge if you feel you need it, but enjoy it. It’ll be worth it. And you’ll think back to the experience again and again, just as I’m doing and will continue to do.
Note: the menu changes up regularly but I have no doubt that everything you’d have here will be wonderful!
Visit Greenhouse Restaurant
See below for all info on the Greenhouse Restaurant.
Address: The Cellars-Hohenort, 93 Brommersvlei Road, Constantia
Call: +27 21 795 6226
Article Date: February 2019
All information correct at time of publication. We do not accept any liability caused by errors, including, but not limited to, changes in price, menu, opening times, address, or other contact details.
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