Breakfast is served all day and consists of seasonal poached fruit and mealie meal porridge served with butter and honey. The potato rosti served with poached eggs and Hollandaise is consistently featured on the menu and for good reason – the potato cake is the perfect vessel for soaking up the runny egg yolks and Hollandaise.
The lunch menu is divided into sections of botanical plates – which are different interpretations of carpaccio using fish, meat, veggies and even fruit. The lunch main courses are titled ‘From the sea and land’, which is aptly named to suit the proteins featured on the menu. The signature dish is the slow-cooked frikkadels wrapped in cabbage leaves.
The dessert selection is not featured on the menu, which is odd since there’s so much detail put into the descriptions of the savoury dishes on the menu. I suspect that the chef is not as concerned with desserts as with the other menu items. The dessert selection is displayed in a glass case at the till point and features a seasonal fruit tart as well as a classic milk tart. Other confections include a nutty meringue layered dessert.
The delicious freshly made juices come served in glass carafes. Coffees and teas are served with brown or white sugar cubes, giving you a feeling of old-world sophistication as you stir using a pearl teaspoon. There’s a small selection of 13 local wines on offer, sold by the glass or the bottle. There's also the option to try the house red or white, which are served by the carafe. Cocktails and beers are on offer as well.
The space is an assault on the eyes – in a good way. Every inch of the restaurant, including the ceiling, is all but made for Instagram. Owner Jacques Erasmus takes care in designing and arranging the space to make it visually interesting and changes the décor as per the season. The ceiling is covered in dried hydrangeas and the feature wall is lined with floral prints, forming the backdrop for the homemade preserves on sale. Also on sale is a selection of crockery used at the restaurant.
Service is speedy and efficient.
The menu is beautifully designed and, like the décor, changes with the season. The current theme focuses on nature.
It’s obvious that the quality of the experience is of tantamount importance to chef-proprietor Jacques Erasmus, as his ingredients – everything at Hemelhuijs – is the epitome of freshness and style. With his Northern Cape heritage coming through in elements of many of the dishes – think mosbolletjie brood, and smoor – there is a focus on simplicity, and the menu changes with the seasons. Breakfasts are served all day and many have a home-made appeal, such as the soft mieliepap with Karoo vygie honey and salted butter; or poached farm eggs with artichoke hearts and hollandaise.
Lunch varies from colourful, seasonally-based salads, to more unusual dishes, such as delicate pan-fried veal with crab butter, parmesan, pine nuts and parsley – all served on beautiful crockery without pretence. There is a variety of tarts and cakes on display for tea.
Choose from delicious freshly squeezed juices, or exotic cocktails made using those juices and alcohols infused with botanicals and spices, such as a cassia bark ratafia with soda, bitters and pear juice. For those with a sweet tooth, try the steamed almond milk with thyme-infused honey and white chocolate.
The first-rate service belies the relaxed experience. Waiters are professional and friendly.
Besides being accomplished in the kitchen, Jacques Erasmus has an eye for all things gorgeous, and has curated the space in such a way that feels impeccably stylish, but not stuck up. Heavy linen napery adorns the tables with super fine, lead-free crystal glassware. Gold-plated crockery, along with other lovely objects, are for sale.
Hemelhuijs recently opened a concept store for beautiful homeware in Parkhurst in Johannesburg called Basalt.
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