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Hemelhuijs

Hemelhuijs
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Cost
R100 avg main meal
Ambience
Classic elegance
Food
Bistro fare, Country-style fare, Modern, South African
Payment
Mastercard, Visa

Critic's review

Raphaella Frame-Tolmie

Food
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.

Drinks
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.

Service
The first-rate service belies the relaxed experience. Waiters are professional and friendly.

Ambience
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.

And…
Hemelhuijs recently opened a concept store for beautiful homeware in Parkhurst in Johannesburg called Basalt.

(September 2016)

Eat Out reviewers dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Click here to read our editorial policy.

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  • Ishay Govender-Ypma

    Food
    Located under the pedestrian fan-walk bridge in the Waterkant area, an unlikely location such a gorgeous little space, Hemelhuijs (heavenly house) has been going strong since 2010, and does so by maintaining two important elements – Chef/designer Jacques Erasmus’ love of modern, rich and interesting design, and his lyrical ode to the Afrikaner food of his childhood. You’re likely to find bottles of jams and preserves similar to grandmother’s stacked next to installation art pieces and bespoke crockery with eye-watering price tags. Jacques is also known for the fact that he is constantly reinventing the style of the interior and the menu. This makes it a very popular choice for a weekday lunch or Saturday brunch. A feast for the senses, the food served here embodies the best ingredients and traditional recipes that have been freshened up for the modern palate. Warming marrowbone soups in winter and zingy salads such as shaved coleslaw with prawns, golden sultanas, chilli and fresh ginger make the perfect starters. Choosing between the mains (which tend to be large), is tough. You might consider farm-style beef frikadelle with mashed Sandveld potatoes and tomato relish. You may fall for the French toast with Pecorino, prickly pear syrup and bacon, or perhaps stick to a large salad in order to leave space for some of the delectable cakes or puddings. While you contemplate the choice, browse the racks for gifts to take home. Just remember, no photos allowed, but rest assured that the sumptuousness of the food will burn itself into the memory. No Instagram image needed.

    Drinks
    Delectable fresh-pressed juices, or handcrafted cocktails (enjoy the likes of blood orange and Prosecco) will pair well with lunch.

    Service
    Always efficient. Staff are switched on, helpful and knowledgeable.

    Ambience
    Small but very stylish, it’s popular with the editors of design magazines and the ladies who lunch.

    And …
    Take note of their signature mosbolletjie bread which arrives at the start of the meal (though slices have become very slim) and the beautiful crockery and lighting that make very special gifts.

  • Greg Landman

    Food 
    This is bistro food that reflects the seasons as they change. The fare is down to earth and satisfying, but the dishes are presented with a flourish, gorgeously plated, ready to be photographed — and eaten.

    Delicious odours emanate from chef Jacques Erasmus’s kitchen, signalling delights to come. Knockout breakfasts are served all day, things like a perfectly poached egg on the crispiest rösti with crème fraîche, poached farm eggs with artichoke hearts and hollandaise, and soft mieliepap with orange blossom honey.

    Lunch blends effortlessly into breakfast with superb seared tuna in a saffron, citrus and white wine dressing with broad beans and tomato, served on a plate with matte white finish and glazed in 24 carat gold – a sensational experience. Try the beef “frikkadelle” wrapped farm-style in cabbage, served with truffled white vegetable mash and tomato butter, and artfully plated on an antique reproduction of a Dutch porcelain plate which looks as if it has been recovered from a shipwreck – very theatrical. The ginger and Szechuan pepper baby calamari with an apple, turnip, and cabbage salad and miso mayonnaise is filling and delicious. For puds, try one of the delicious cakes of the day, either baked cheese, apple or strawberries or any other fruit which is in season.

    Drinks 
    It’s a small but very good list, obviously carefully selected, including delicious wooded chenins by the glass or bottle called Anna De Koning from Fizantekraal, Die Marta from Hermanuspietersfontein, and the fabulous Springfield Wild Yeast Chardonnay.

    Service 
    Professional and knowledgeable, from a friendly and smartly dressed crew.

    Ambience 
    This has got to be one of the most tasteful settings in town. It is, however, not intimidating, with no pretension to being chic or fashionable in any way. Fresh flowers, including an impressive potted orchid, dominate the room, with an antique Boule chest topped with fresh quinces, telling the world “we’ve got it, and we know it” – in the nicest possible way. Note that the eatery is located on the fan walk so there is not adjacent parking; find a spot in Bree street and just hop over.

    And... 
    The gorgeous crockery you eat on – all part of Erasmus’ growing range – are for sale, as well as an innovative range of beautifully bottled flavour essences you will just have to have.

    (July 2014)

  • Chef-patron Jacques Erasmus’s inspiring food reflects world travels, nostalgia, seasonality and daring. Try salt and Szechuan pepper calamari with citrus-ginger salad; baked salmon with white choc butter and daikon; and lemon, barley and bone marrow soup. The space changes with the seasons – you must see it to believe it. (EO mag 2014)
  • Food
    Chef proprietor Jacques Erasmus has been inspiring city dwellers and visitors alike at his remarkable city restaurant. The food reflects so much: world travels; nostalgia of his Afrikaans heritage; deep belief in seasonality; fresh ingredients and unusual combinations that work. This sees realisation in the form of dishes such as salt and szechuan pepper calamari with citrus and ginger salad or baked Scottish salmon with sesame, white chocolate butter and daikon. Classic heritage dishes such as beef frikkadelle with mashed sandveld potatoes or cinnamon dumplings with custard are favourites; while the delicious comfort offered by lemon, barley and bone marrow soup or roast duck with plum and brie with home-baked bread have few equals.

    Wine
    There’s a tiny wine list, but the selection, all available by the glass, packs a punch. Think Springfield Wild Yeast Chardonnay and Meerlust Rubicon – all big hitters that go so well with food. If you’re not in a mood for wine, the freshly squeezed juices are invigorating. Served in an individual carafe, they make the most of what’s in season: carrot, pear, pineapple and ginger goes down particularly nicely.

    Service
    From the friendly voice on the phone taking bookings to welcoming professionalism and personable interaction at the table, the service here is spot on. The handful of waiters is well versed in the sometimes complex dishes and make recommendations with ease.

    Ambience
    The décor in this small yet airy space changes with the seasons; midwinter sees muted deep grey walls covered with the prettiest pressed and framed flowers adorning the walls. Sleek and linear chairs and tables add an oriental aesthetic, while the trademark mounted antelope head adorned with broken crockery is still a quirky sight to behold.

    And...
    You can buy some exquisite crockery, yummy homemade dulce de leche and imported vanilla beans to take home. (Lisa van Aswegen, September 2013)

User reviews

  • If you're not a morning person like myself this is the perfect all day breakfast spot to start off a beautiful day in the Centre of Capetown city. This modern botanist themed cafè makes the most refreshing fresh fruit juices and offers an interesting choice of flavorsome, healthy meals. I thoroughly enjoyed the potato rossti breakfast with salmon and avo, my two absolute favs!
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  • What an incredible spot! I breakfasted on glorious toasted brioche spread with whipped feta cheese, thin slivers of pear and piled high with Prosciutto and rocket. It was an inspired breakfast - in fact, all of their breakfasts look inspired. I'll be back for the artichokes, poached eggs and Hollandaise, too. The interior is beautiful and moody - all glass and steel and dark green - and a vast vase of magnolia leaves. Even the cups - charcoal mugs that love to be held - are lovely. There are also some outside tables on the fanwalk - wonderful on sunny mornings. I wish they were open on Saturdays! Service was friendly and pretty swift.

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  • That place was heavenly. The best Tuna i have ever had
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  • "We dream, we cook, we travel, we eat well and invite you to join us...." and oh boy everyone should accept this exceptional invitation. What a magnificent gem in the CBD of Cape Town. Excellent service, exquisite ambience, and most importantly divine divine food. Keep the Alchemy going!
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  • Ever since it opened back in October 2010, Hemelhuijs has been a restaurant of many faces. Now, as the seasons change, artist and chef Jacques Erasmus has transformed the Cape Town eatery (a finalist for Eat Out's Boschendal Style Award) once again.
    For winter, the walls adopted burnt orange tones and became displays for rows upon rows of brown "Flavour Intense" laboratory bottles. Erasmus developed these compounds - with enticing names like black dukkah and Kashmiri chai - during his alchemist's quest for the perfect blend of scent and taste. And, like his opulent Gold Collection of handmade crockery and tableware, they're for sale in case you'd like to tickle your senses at home.
    Much like the modern space itself, the menu changes with the seasons but maintains its elegant simplicity. And even though all the food and drinks fit onto a single page, the range of dishes makes it clear that Hemelhuijs is best experienced over several visits at different times of the day, all the while dreaming of what you'll discover next.
    For breakfast, you could opt for freshly (and loudly) squeezed juice served in a vase. I enjoyed the kick of the apple, celery, and ginger while my friend liked the balance of the apple, beetroot, and orange. To eat, you could go for something simple like soft mieliepap with orange blossom honey or something indulgent like breakfast beer waffles with homemade Genoa figs.
    For brunch, try a smoothie (quince, honey, and yoghurt or banana with bergamot lemon and coconut milk) with an open sandwich on lightly toasted bread. My friend, bless his vegan heart, opted for the Moroccan humus with onion marmalade and avocado, although I was more than happy to have a bite (or three) to taste why he couldn't get enough.
    For lunch, as you sip on cool cocktails like pink gin with ruby grapefruit and tonic or delicate quince with Prosecco, I'd recommend one of the many winter salads. I especially enjoyed the slow-roasted duck with young beetroot, winter fruit, and sesame nougatine, while my friend was crazy about his shaved red cabbage with orange and medjool dates.
    If you're having your salad as a starter rather than a full meal, there are several other options to savour. And while I was a bit disappointed that the pan-fried veal wasn't available on the afternoon we were there, the quince cotignac and chestnut rolled free range chicken was a good second choice.
    For dessert (assuming you have time before they close or space after your meal), go for something warm like 70% dark couverture hot chocolate or tonka bean white hot chocolate with whiskey. You could also do as I did and have one of the pastries or cakes to go. Such buttery bliss is best enjoyed at your leisure (and best kept a secret from your personal trainer).
    It's hard to do justice in describing flavours that are so unique. And so perhaps the best option is to arrive when it opens and spend the day to experience it for yourself. When the food's this good, you might as well make a meal of it!
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  • I have been to Hemelhuijs on several occasions and have always thoroughly enjoyed the food - that's why I have gone back.
    However, my last exprience there left me a trifle flat. The chicken that I ordered was so overcooked and dry that I could not even eat it. I was given a free dessert to make up for my disappointment, but I'm afraid this only added to it. The lovely looking pie was completely stale. Fortunately, my guest really enjoyed his meal and it did look a lot better than mine. I will go back but I will just be careful what I order.
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  • Was reminded today how rare it is to find a restaurant that manages to surprise one with unique food that is both superbly flavoursome and beautifully presented, a feast for the eyes and palate! The attentive and professional service was a bonus. Thank you Hemelhuijs for a great lunch.
    Susi Koch
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  • Wonderful combinations of ingredients producing superb flavors. We enjoyed a wonderful lunch, inspired duck salad this time, and will be back soonest.
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  • This is one of the best places to eat in Cape Town - I only wish they did dinner!!
    Every time I go there it makes me think which I love - food should not just be about consumption.
    The favours and the combinations of flavour are clever without being too clever and they allow the authentic flavours of the produce shine through.
    The service is completely professional and caring.
    Try it - honestly you will love it.
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  • Very pricey for a breakfast spot but lovely presentation. Enjoyed my scrambled eggs with coconut toast but my husband was appalled at how tiny the eggs benedict rosti portion was. Service was ok but a bit lack-lustre. Worth it for a once off visit but won't be a regular spot.
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  • Hemehuijs is stylish with great decor, food and friendly service. However, where do art and food need to perhaps be defined. The on-table so-called 'charcoal salt' (or similar) looked interesting, however gave one sooty fingers, and not much flavour. Perhaps a return to the real thing!

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  • While the food is rather tasty and the atmosphere is rather quaint, the restaurant and service (and price) is a bit too precious.

    When, at breakfast, I told the supercilious waiter that I don't have a fondness for salmon or bacon with my scrambled eggs and rather asked for grilled tomato, the waiter looked absolutely gobsmacked and replied "Oh no, we don't do grilled tomato" as if that kind of taste palate was way too common and downmarket for such a quasi-sophisticated establishment. He further looked horrified when I asked for tomato sauce, and replied they don't "do" tomato sauce.

    I don't really "do" intolerant restaurants myself.

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  • When you eat out in Cape Town regularly, it bacomes a bit familiar - many of the menus look the same. Hemelhuijs is something completely different. A short and regularly changing menu keeps things interesting. The food is non-fussy and fresh. I can't wait to visit them again.

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  • Beautiful menu , but very pricey to be a weekly hang out.

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  • Top 10? Avocado and wall colour have gone sour. What a pity!

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  • Nice decor, feels friendly, a little empty, food tastes good. But so little to eat for the money spent! We left hungry after tiny (but tasty, yes) poached egg and a salmon avocado sandwich. Tea was nice, but the cuppa afterwards not up to standard. Wont return.
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  • I had an amazing brunch at this restaurant. Its beautiful inside and this just adds to the great experience.
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  • We just had the most delicous meal at Hemelhuijs. The apricot and marzipan chicken was out of this world. Can definetly recommend this as a top city lunch spot!
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  • Had the poached eggs with artichoke hearts - was amazing. Lovely space and good coffee. My new favourite breakfast spot.
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  • Absolutely superb! Food and vibe are excellent. Just what one needs for a break-away from the office. Try it out!
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  • Perfectly poached eggs, sublime hollandaise, a wonderful experience from start to finish.
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Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Booking required
  • Cocktails
  • Food
  • Functions
  • Licensed
  • Lunch
  • Parking
  • Serves food
  • Smoking
  • Takeaways
  • Wheelchair
  • WiFi

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