Greenhouse (Constantia)

Greenhouse (Constantia)
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R1050 avg meal; five-course tasting menu R750 per person (without wine pairing) R1050 (with wine pairing), seven-course set African Origins Menu R1050 per person (without wine pairing) R1450 (with wine pairing); five-course vegetarian tasting menu R520 per person (without wine pairing) R800 per person (with wine pairing), seven-course vegetarian African Origins Menu R700 per person (without wine pairing) R1080 per person (with wine pairing); R4500 per couple for The Virtues of Dom Perigon six-course champagne paired menu
Classic elegance
African, Asian, Fine-dining food, French, Modern, South African, Vegetarian
Amex, Mastercard, Visa

Critic's review

Katharine Jacobs

This is a menu full of drama and detail. There are gels and foams and multiple ingredients on each plate; chef Peter Tempelhoff knows what he’s doing, and each artfully dabbed dot of colour is packed with flavour.

The meal kicks off with a whirlwind of flavours: a tiny cube of mushroom cheesecake gives a heady kick of umami, closely followed by a burst of sweetness from the intense sherry jelly on top of it. Then there’s a crumbed ball of richly meaty oryx on a rough-hewn twig, and a powerful hit of green olives, tempered slightly by passion fruit, all hidden beneath innocent-looking white mozzarella on a miniature spoon. And these are just the appetisers.

Release the Kraken, a dish of octopus and game fish, is plated on a dramatic black smear of ginger-infused squid ink. Frozen yuzu dressing, spooned onto the plate from a tiny pot smoking with dry ice, heaps on yet more drama. It’s the literary-sounding The Duck, the Ostrich and the Big Num-Num which packs the bigger punch in terms of flavour, though. Umami-rich fermented mushrooms perform a sweet-savoury balancing act with sweet fruity raspberry beer and tender duck.

Drama appears again in a ball of dough, which arrives on a block of heated Himalayan sea salt to rise at the table. It grows and mists up its glass cloche before being whisked away and returned, baked, with a masterful cheese course. Composed of Dalewood’s Huguenot cheese treated four ways, the Four Degrees of Cheese is simple but stupendous. First there’s a glorious warm chunk of cheese soufflé in silken cheesy sauce, then a shaving of the six-month matured version of the cheese – all concertinaed like some fancy forest fungi – then a cheese panna cotta, and last of all, an improbably creamy quenelle of Huguenot cheese ice cream, atop a Huguenot crisp. It’s an absolute highlight; a local riff on Italian wizard Massimo Bottura’s five ages and textures of Parmesan.

The palate cleanser is another inspired sweet-salty offering – a custard flavoured with Lay’s chips. Paired with a beer ice cream and crumbs of broken pretzel, it’s something quite magnificent.

In other places, the dishes are more complex: there are seven or eight flavours hiding in each, and finding and identifying them is an intellectual exercise. In a couple of cases, the complexity has one’s mind tripping up, in others, the multitude of flavours work together like an orchestra. An incredibly concentrated dab of lime gel lifts the sweet banana brûlée to another level; a powerful undercurrent of concealed olive transports one back to a first experience of the fruit; and a magnificent kick of sherry sweetens and balances the powerfully savoury mushroom cheesecake.

All in all, it’s an ambitious but rewarding journey.

The well-balanced list shows off meticulously selected bottles arranged by varietal and region, so you're free to try a Swartland white blend or an Elgin chardonnay. There's a good representation of natural, organic and biodynamic wines. Wine pairings are nuanced and, in places, inspired. A tawny port by De Krans is beautiful with the cheese course, and a Liefmans fruit beer turns out to be just the ticket for the duck.

Staff members are eloquent and accommodating, but for the most part their manner is easy – not stiff and stuffy as you might expect from a hotel restaurant.

The grounds of the historic Cellars Hohenort Hotel make for a magnificent location for this greenhouse of sorts. Recent renovations have resulted in a moody, contemporary space inside the restaurant. Charcoal walls, custom-made bare timber tables and stylish leather chairs in brown and cream make the perfect canvas for such nuanced, dramatic food.

Finish with a single-origin coffee tasting, with Ethiopian and Rwandan coffees.

(September 2015)

  • Ambience
  • Service
  • Food
  • Eat Out

    The Greenhouse delivers playful, avant-garde cuisine. Executive chef Peter Tempelhoff incorporates lots of South African flavour and shows a strong focus on sustainable produce. Each course, from the bread upon arrival (still-warm pain au levain with cashew nut butter) to after-dinner petit fours – cocktail-inspired delights like a bloody Mary macaron and mint julep lollipops – shows a playful, imaginative touch. The rest of the stripped-down menu impresses with dishes like a beautifully presented squid terrine with winter melon, chorizo and fresh corn, offering great flavour combinations, while roasted duck breast is topped with exciting companions: num num gel, lichen dust, baby savoy cabbage and wild Cape garlic cream. This restaurant excels with brilliantly combined flavours, textures and colours.

    A well-curated wine list that clearly focuses on the area it serves, presented by the knowledgeable and accommodating sommelier, Michelle Michaels.

    Friendly and welcoming.

    The setting is elegant and classy – an apt backdrop for the ambitious fare.

    (August 2014)

  • The service, attention to detail and highly innovative food by chefs Peter Tempelhoff and Gerald van der Walt will keep you coming back. It’s difficult to pinpoint a favourite amongst the dishes – they are all such interesting explorations of taste and texture exquisitely presented, but highlights include the foie gras peach melba; roast quail and wild mushrooms; sous vide abalone with Knysna oyster, sea lettuce panna cotta and yuzu snow. Vegetarians can rejoice in the tasting menu.
  • Katharine Jacobs

    This is refined, beautiful food. Each aspect of a dish feels carefully considered and impeccably prepared. Chefs Peter Tempelhoff and Gerald van der Walt source their produce lovingly from local producers and the beds at the hotel itself – and it shows.A little garden of baby vegetables, dipped in a delicately flavoured mousse, forms an elegant appetiser with fantastic breads hot from the oven. The sous vide abalone with Knysna oyster is deliciously fresh and comes with a little drama: freezing cold yuzu snow melts to form a dressing. For those in search of meatier sustenance, there is an apple-glazed pork belly with turnip-cabbage slaw, cider jelly and crunchy prawn sheets; and Karoo lamb with barley risotto, malted milk and carrots.For dessert, the miso sticky toffee pudding with poached Peckham pears, Madagascan chocolate brûlée, buttermilk ice cream and crispy milk skin gives diners’ taste buds plenty to think about.The menu changes less frequently than some fine dining establishments – a good thing if you’re worried about your favourites disappearing, but less so if you’re in need of an excuse to return frequently.

    A superb list with sophisticated pairings available.

    Staff are accomplished but warm and not in the least overbearing. Servers adapt well to the needs of your party. This is a smartly run, harmonious operation.

    Situated in the beautiful grounds of The Cellars-Hohenort Hotel, in a handsome colonial building, the restaurant manages to be both beautiful and sophisticated without feeling stuffy or stilted.

    A full vegetarian tasting menu and fish tasting menu will keep vegetarians and pescatarians happy. (August 2013)

User reviews

  • We had the Tasting Menu at The Green House in the Hohenort Hotel. The service was excellent, attentive and not over-bearing. But I do have a gripe with the venue. The chairs we sat on were old and shabby needing re-upholstering. I sank into the seat and felt the wooden frame of the chair.

    The Amuse Bouche was the same as we had in the Conservatory Restaurant of the Hohenort -Dle Goat's cheese, creme-puffs, a crunchy biscuit with a sweet filling and miniature dark sandwiches which were crunchy and tasty. The breads were fresh and tasty and a glass of humus and a green and black olive accompanied the breads - it was a nice touch.

    I was looking forward to the Wild Arniston Oyster which was the start of the marathon tasting - but was politely informed that this was not available and that we could choose from the other menu either the frozen foie gras or a tomato splendour. We chose one of each. The tomato splendour was an artistic display of modern art twiggy-styling. I could have lived without it!

    The next dish redeemed the former disappointment and was delicious and delightful - it was the Game Fish Sashimi, which consisted of prawn & sticky rice salad, pickled ginger, tobiko, white soy & grape gazpacho. Here the Chef really showed his talent and this dish was served in an oblong deep white dish. The green grape gazpacho was poured in after the dish arrived by another waiter and this was as dramatic (the dish suddenly came alive with a blaze of green coloured soup as it was being poured) it was spectacular to see and then to taste. It definitely was the show stopper.

    Then came the Hibiscus Glazed Pork Belly which consisted of poached plums, young coconut jellies, tender stem broccoli & toasted sesame seeds. The dish was alright, but again it didn't beat the previous show-stopper, I think.

    I then chose the Oven Roasted Imapala Loin & Foie Gras, which was accompanied by cepe mushroom ragout, celeriac mash & port poached figs. The dish was served in a wooden bowl with cut out edges - a nice African Bush touch. The Impala Loin was rare, great tasting tender and succulent. The mushroom ragout was a great accompaniment to this dish and I licked the wooden bowl clean - (could have eaten more - like Oliver "please Sir, I want some more) - but I succumbed to the temptation to ask for another helping and waited for the next nibbling tasting. I ordered a single glass of Eagle's Nest (Little Eagle) red wine blend of Sauvignon Cabernet & Merlot - It was a very good choice with this dish which I sipped away at peacefully.

    The Crispy Fried Dusky Kob was a poor choice - I tasted it and it was ok, but dry - looked better than it tasted - I preferred my Impala Loin.

    Next came and went in quick succession - the Gin & Tonic apple, cucumber, lime sorbet. It was a nice cool interlude - very thoughtful of the Chef, who seemed to be playing a game with his diners and challenging them to an eating marathon of tastes.

    Finally, came the Baobab, Beetroot, Dark Chocolate & Hazelnut - panna cotta, cremeaux, ice-cream, espuma & jelly. This was served in a long glass dish and tasted as good as it looked. The Dark Chocolate was the dab on the plate which had to be scraped off - it tasted good and was a pity to disturb the artist's palette, but it was to be eaten and eaten it was.

    Then came little cakes and jellies with the black decaffeinated coffee and Earle Grey tea, which was neatly supplied on a self-contained tray with the cup cover which doubled up as a saucer. The tea was also a surprise as it came in a triangular shaped bag which was unique.

    The bill came to R1585,00 including gratuities which I thought was a tad expensive, but this is a 5 star Hotel – and hopefully they’ll take my feedback into consideration and improve the furniture and attend to making the ambiance better and more comfortable for diners with better ventilation.
    • Ambience
    • Service
    • Food
  • The whole estate is so well kept and up-market, it was a pleasure to be there. Parking in the grounds was good and we were led to the table in the Conservatory, all glass surrounded by lush plants outside and a huge old tree between the two parts of the restaurant - the restaurant is split in two so as to preserve the tall old tree which has the glassed in restaurant around it. Crisp snow white tablecloths and napkins with easy spacious grass chairs surrounding it greeted us. Someone at the table next to us ordered a cushion and we followed - it made the dining even more pleasurable.

    The drinks waiter came swiftly to our table to take the order. The assortment home-made breads that was brought to the table was delicious with a small dish of artichoke and goat's cheese sprinkled with a twist of spring onion.

    Starter "Cellars Herb Garden Salad" was divine, consisting of garden herbs, baby leaves, artichokes, sweet tiny baby tomatoes, avocado, in a subtle herb vinaigrette.
    Starter "Beetroot & Smoked Chevre" starter, consisting of Peartizer jelly, pecan Waldorf salad, in a grain mustard dressing was ok.

    Main course "Roast Rack of Karoo Lamb" with Pommes ecrase, red pepper & tomatoe, saffron aioli and lamb jus. The Lamb chops came beautifully prepared - medium rare as I had asked. It was both succulent and tasty. The saving grace of the dish was the lamb jus which I lapped up with a small crust of the fresh bread and my fingers. There was no salt or pepper on the table (don't know if this was an oversight or done on purpose) but the dishes didn't need any extra flavouring and this would have been an insult to the Chef.
    Main course "Corn Fed Baby Chicken Chasseur" - it sounded better than it tasted with its fancy name - It came with potato puree, pearl onions, pork chipolata & mushrooms ragout. The chicken which was so-so - nothing special or out of the ordinary. Also the pork chipolata could have been left out - I think it was just some way to dress up an ordinary plate of chicken to be something else. The Chef should have stuck to the basics in this dish.

    The coffee & teas were served with a plate of homemade sweets which were good, especially to my taste was the bitter dark chocolate.

    All-in-all it was a pleasant night out. The cellars Hohenoort is always a gracious & fine dining experience.
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  • My partner and I celebrated my birthday there last month. I hope this will be perceived as positive feedback.
    The common thread of my review is about attentiveness to guests.
    The day we arrived was a typical winter's day in Cape Town, wet and cold. We expected a warm welcome at the reception of this regal venue, but it turned out to be a very reserved hostess ushering us to the very quiet and empty bar area to have pre dinner drink - I can't remember if there was any light background music in this area but all I recall at this moment is quietness. This would have been an opportune moment for the hostess to offer us a "welcome port or a sherry" and to inquire if we had been there before or to explain the course of events or to welcome us back. After what felt like 20 minutes or so in the bar area, I decided to claim the hostess's attention (who was in the reception hall) by walking about the bar. We were then ushered into the dining area.
    Your waitrons need to be more attentive to the patrons. We had to wave down or catch the eye of the waiter every time we were done with our various courses. It also irritates patrons when they are served after other patrons who arrived later than them.
    The key is to treat all your patrons like royalty and when the one course is done, collect plates and bring next course immediately. This timing needs to be noted by the waitron, who in turn needs to inform the kitchen. Considering it's a tasting menu, the kitchen should be aware of what needs to be made well in advance so I didn't understand the delay.
    The food was not of a standard I expected from a Top 10 South African restaurant. The difference between the Tasting Room and this establishment are miles apart. Even my experience at the underrated La Mouette in Sea Point, was truly a better experience, food, service and value.
    All in all, an experience I won't repeat any time soon.

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  • I cannot understand why The Greenhouse does not win every award. Sublime food, exquisitely presented. This restaurant is up there with the best in the world.

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  • A sensory explosion. What creativity, that has motivated me to try some of the dishes that were presented. I loved the garden patch dish served at the beginning of the meal consisting of avocado mousse, a layer of edible sand and baby vegetables. Pure artistry! The only let down was the wine pairing and lack of attendence to guests.

    • Ambience
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    • Food


  • Accepts credit cards
  • Accommodation
  • Booking required
  • Cocktails
  • Dress code
  • Functions
  • Halaal friendly
  • Licensed
  • Parking
  • Wheelchair
  • WiFi

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