Venues

The Planet Restaurant at the Mount Nelson

The Planet Restaurant at the Mount Nelson
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Cost
R170 - R200 avg main meal; 5 course dinner R655 (R1155 with wine pairing)
Ambience
Classic elegance
Food
Fine-dining food, Modern, South African, Vegetarian
Payment
Amex, Mastercard, Visa
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Critic's review

Richard Holmes

Food
Executive Chef Rudi Liebenberg may be one of the Cape’s heavyweight chefs, but doesn’t take himself too seriously on the menu. Yes, it’s a fine dining experience through and through, but there’s little kitchen wizardry or gimmicks here. Instead, look forward to well-constructed dishes of classical cuisine, given a local twist. Lamb loin is elegantly plated with an onion purée and a cabbage parcel filled with confit neck (one of the tastiest cuts), while the vegetarian main course certainly impressed this dedicated meat-lover.

Mushroom arancini paired with roasted mushrooms and pokora (fritter) of aubergines was a curious crossover of eastern and western flavours that, surprisingly, works. Another standout is the starter of seared duck breast: paired with prune purée, silky chicken liver parfait and salted pear sorbet, the ‘corn dog’ of confit duck leg on the side adds a playful touch. A serious restaurant that doesn’t take itself too seriously, it's little surprise Planet remains a stalwart of the city’s fine dining scene.

Drinks
A superb wine list arranged by style rather than geography or cultivar. Garagiste, organic and vegan-friendly wines are also offered, and their by-the-glass offering is impressive. Prices are steep across the board.

Service
Top-notch service with all the formality and decorum the space demands, yet with a dose of friendly Cape charm. Excellent wine service to boot.

Ambience
The elegant star-spangled space of towering white pillars lends dinner here a sense of occasion, so feel free to dress up a little. The tinkling pianist can tinkle rather loudly, so try and ask for a table away from the ivories.

And…
For a real splurge, book the Chef’s Table in the heart of the kitchen, and indulge in a five-course degustation. Winter special menus also offer excellent value.

(September 2016)

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  • Eat Out

    Food
    This year found chef Rudi Liebenberg looking at the classics, in a menu titled Old days nowadays. The feeling is of old-school, heritage type hotel dining, featuring classic dishes like seafood cocktail, beef tartare and traditional snails. A standout was the traditional Caesar salad, a crispy and fresh delight with shaved parmesan and an authentic Caesar-dressing. On the mains side of things, the famous Nelly beef en croute still takes pride of place – dive into grilled sirloin smothered in duck liver, served with spinach and mushroom duxelle and wrapped in golden puff pastry. Vegetarians could opt for the roasted brinjal or the decadent gnocchi tossed with exotic mushrooms, truffle oil and slow-cooked egg. Of course there’s also traditional steaks from the grill, like the ribeye with a Bearnaise sauce – although it must be said that the accompanying chips were a bit of a let-down.

    Drinks
    They offer a strong wine list, and of course there is a very wide selection of tipple to order at the stylish Planet bar – ask sommelier Pearl Oliver for some guidance.

    Service
    Service levels may vary, but in general you’ll find good, old-school service from staff that have been here for years. If you’re lucky enough to encounter sommelier Pearl, you’ll be mesmerised by her wine knowledge.

    Ambience
    Stylish and sophisticated, with a striking planetoid theme. The bar is certainly one of Cape Town’s places to see (some celebrities) and be seen.

    And …
    For special occasions, the chef’s table is a great bet.

  • Eat Out

    Food
    This year found chef Rudi Liebenberg looking at the classics, in a menu titled Old days nowadays. The feeling is of old-school, heritage type hotel dining, featuring classic dishes like seafood cocktail, beef tartare and traditional snails. A standout was the traditional Caesar salad, a crispy and fresh delight with shaved parmesan and an authentic Caesar-dressing. On the mains side of things, the famous Nelly beef en croute still takes pride of place – dive into grilled sirloin smothered in duck liver, served with spinach and mushroom duxelle and wrapped in golden puff pastry. Vegetarians could opt for the roasted brinjal or the decadent gnocchi tossed with exotic mushrooms, truffle oil and slow-cooked egg. Of course there’s also traditional steaks from the grill, like the ribeye with a Bearnaise sauce – although it must be said that the accompanying chips were a bit of a let-down.

    Drinks
    They offer a strong wine list, and of course there is a very wide selection of tipple to order at the stylish Planet bar – ask sommelier Pearl Oliver for some guidance.
    Service: Service levels may vary, but in general you’ll find good, old-school service from staff that have been here for years. If you’re lucky enough to encounter sommelier Pearl, you’ll be mesmerised by her wine knowledge.

    Ambience
    Stylish and sophisticated, with a striking planetoid theme. The bar is certainly one of Cape Town’s places to see (some celebrities) and be seen.

    And …
    For special occasions, the chef’s table is a great bet.

    October 2015

  • Eat Out

    Food
    Rudi Liebenberg’s offering just gets better and better every year. Few chefs can match him for commitment to sustainability and sourcing hero local ingredients, and now he’s also showing a very creative, delicious approach to diners’ multitude of dietary requirements, including vegans. Standouts on the menu include a playful Dr Seuss-esque ‘green egg’ – soft-poached egg served on pork belly and chorizo and covered in a bright spinach purée, a smooth and crunchy and moreish delight – and the chef’s signature springbok loin served with a chakalaka croquette. The latter is perfection on a plate: the beautifully pink meat surrounded by little onion ‘cups’ filled with demi-glace. Everything is gorgeously presented yet never finicky, with flawless technique and real flavours remaining a top priority.

    Wine
    Truly an excellent selection, with more than forty wines available by the glass (including a couple of fine MCCs) and a wide range, from high-end farms to smaller, lesser known producers. Allow the personable, approachable sommelier Pearl Oliver to assist if needed – she has some spot-on suggestions.

    Service
    A class act of old-school service from a group of welcoming and knowledgeable yet unobtrusive staff members.

    Ambience
    The décor itself is an experience – it’s a very luxurious, inviting space with a strong planetoid theme. Think star-mapped carpets, glass globes and geometrically arranged furniture. It’s a grand spot to do a bit of celeb spying…

    (August 2014)

  • Chef Rudi Liebenberg creates modern food with roots in the rich heritage of the Cape. Highlights: slow-cooked egg with prosciutto, pea purée and parmesan; kabeljou with squid ink ravioli, chorizo and creamy mussels; savoury goat’s milk cheesecake. Ask the effusive sommelier for his expert advice. The setting is spectacular, with constellations of glass baubles and stars beneath the high domed ceiling. (EO 2014)
  • Food
    Chef Rudi Liebenberg creates modern food with roots in the rich heritage of the Cape, shining the spotlight on the area’s world-class producers. Choose from the à la carte menu, embark on a journey menu for four courses, or opt for the five-course ‘from the earth’ vegan and vegetarian menu. Planet’s seasonal crayfish menu of dishes each paired with chenin blanc is a notable touch. A starter of slow-cooked pasture-reared egg with salty prosciutto, sweetish pea purée and slivers of sharp parmesan is beautifully balanced in taste and texture. The generous portion of farmed kabeljou for mains is laid on striking black squid ink ravioli with punchy chunks of chorizo and mussels in a creamy sauce - deft interplay yet again between textures and flavours. Other options from the à la carte menu include pan-fried trout with gnocchi, Malay chicken with lemon atchar, crowd-pleasing rib-eye with hand-cut fries, and springbok with vegetables and a sweet potato and butternut pave. The main portion of mushroom and brinjal bake with babaganoush seems on the petite side, but perhaps this is because it had to be ordered off the five-course vegetarian menu – there are no meat-free options on the à la carte. For dessert, the lightness of a lemon financier is countered by intensely rich beurre noisette ice cream and almond praline with a cute mini macaroon. A welcome choice for those with a salty tooth is the savoury baked goat’s cheesecake, which is creamy and flavoursome.

    Wine
    An impressive list features extraordinary variety. Two pages of each wine varietal, plus a good selection of blends and bubblies, will leave you with more than a handful of options fighting for favourite. Ask the sommelier for his expert advice.

    Service
    Service is polished, if a little irregular. The effusive sommelier, Carl Haber, is keen to show off his impressive knowledge, but waiters are a little too few and far between on a quiet winter’s evening.

    Ambience
    The setting is truly spectacular and whisks you into another world deep inside the grand old Nellie. Guests are mostly groups of older tourists keen to try some of the best fine dining the city has to offer, as well as hotel guests, with one or two tables of younger couples on a romantic date. Juxtaposed with the peach-coloured colonial charm of the hotel, Planet follows through on its name. A giant chandelier is a constellation of hand-blown glass stars, the carpet has a galaxy of blues and silvers, and glass baubles dangle like planets beneath the high white domed ceiling reminiscent of a planetarium. Glass pane doors open out into garden for summer evenings, but in the depths of winter the vast interior is still cosy and the gas fire flickers companionably.

    And...
    Have a drink beneath the star-lights in the vibey Planet Bar before dinner. (Linda Scarborough, July 2013)

User reviews

  • We did the chefs table lunch with a group of friends and it was one of the best dining experiences i have ever had. The food was amazing. The service top notch and great to have a friendly knowledgeable sommelier to choose some nice wines to go with each course. With each of the courses one of the chefs came to explain the dish and how it was prepared. It was also great to see Rudi and his team in action in the kitchen. Will definately be back!
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  • Our booking was early as the 8 o’clock sitting was full and we were told to be seated by 7 o’clock or our table would be forfeited (I received this info per e-mail confirmation). However, it was good to have an early booking as we could then have better service, as at the Mount Nelson, there was a paucity of staff.

    The table was a solid cherry wood table with white place settings (no table cloth which would hide the solid cherry wood) and plenty of cutlery of various sizes. An interesting array of breads arrived in a long narrow white china dish. Sour dough, a very mild rye and 2 slices of seed loaf.

    Amuse Bouche was then brought to the table – this was a two-some, a small dish filled to overflowing with the freshest crisp miniature vegetables consisting of a teeny orange carrot and one teeny black carrot, a miniature lettuce and asome other unknown vegetables and leaves. This was full of mystery but oh, so fresh and crisp, as if just picked or dug up from a tiny fairy garden of Bonsai. This veggie special surprise was accompanied by an equally small wooden bowl of freshly made guacamole – all of this was exciting stuff was very tasty, but the show–stopper was the 2 small rounded beef carpaccio portions which contained a bit of goat cheese, carrot and topped with watercress and 2 little cracker sandwiches filled with avocado mousse – also served in a long white china dish.

    For my first course, I chose the “Carbonara”: ‘home-made linguine, with a slow cooked pasture reared egg, crispy pancetta and slivers of thinly cut parmesan cheese’ – it was “morish” – I could have had more - another dish of this and cancelled my main course. It was sheer delight with so many flavours and textures. This was served in an enormous wide white china dish with the delightful treat in the middle. The dish was outstanding with the crispy pancetta on top - the crowning glory of the dish.

    My wife had the “Abalimi bezekhaya plate” starter which consisted of a salad of fruit and vegetables which she said was was “OK” – but nothing like mine. I researched Abalimi Bezakhaya and found that it means "farmers of home" and is an urban agriculture and environmental action association operating in the socio-economically neglected townships of Khayelitsha, Nyanga and surrounding areas in the Cape Flats. http://www.capetowngreenmap.co.za/blog/abalimi-bezekhaya

    Her main course of grilled Chalmar beef was served on a hot rock, with green peppercorn sauce in a separate jug and crisp vegetables and chips in a side dish. Chalmar beef is free of artificial growth promotants or antibiotics at time of harvest stress free on the farm. I tried some of the chips and had a bite of the ‘Biefstuk’ which was done to perfection. She didn't use the peppercorn sauce and preferred to eat the beef as it was – a good choice.

    My main course, which I had with a glass of 2011 Morgenhof Cabernet Sauvignon – a very good choice was “mushroom crusted lamb loin, lamb tongue, kofta, sweetbreads with carrot and turnip, parsley butter, salsa verde and pickled kohlrabi”. The plate was a sight to behold, a bright red platter plate with the ingredients of the course beautifully plated in the centre. It was a feast for the eyes. Unfortunately I found it a bit too rich. Anyway I enjoyed the feast for the eyes and the interesting flavours like the salsa verde and pickled kohlrabi were great and refreshing.

    Chocolate sweets were offered after the meal.

    Rated low in hospitality due to average service and unprofessional staff
    Chef was Rudi Liebenberg – a very adventurous chef really pushing culinary boundaries.

    Our bill came to R760,00 with tip for the two of us.
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  • What a lovely experience at Planet Restaurant Mount Nelson, Flavour, texture and presentation of food is excellent. Great service accommodated with the Sommelier. Even if you are a meat lover the Carrot and Butternut Ravioli is a MUST ! The wine and dessert paring compliments each other. This restaurant has amazing standards thanks to Chef Rudi and his team.
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  • We visited the Mount Nelson Hotel Planet Restaurant this past Saturday to celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary. What can I say? Celebrating such a special occasion in such a special place is truly amazing. From the minute you walk into the Hotel Foyer to the minute the concierge closes your valet parked car door behind you and waves goodbye as you leave the service is impeccable! The restaurant personnel are fantastic, friendly courteous and very knowledgeable on the wine selection. Menu items are explained with passion, in detail and with so much enthusiasm you want to eat everything. We were treated to a 4 course meal with a special celebratory surprise slipped in by the chef as a special treat (news travels fast to the kitchen it seems on occasions like these). We got treated to warm freshly baked bread and an unexpected selection of canapés once seated. That set the mood and clearly made us realize this is going to be one food journey we won’t forget soon! Each and every course that followed was nothing short of radiating with passion and skill. The seasoning was perfect, hot food hot, cold food cold and everything exactly where is should be with flavours complimenting each other on each plate. Beautifully presented each time round with a wow factor on each plate that wants you to frame it rather than eat it. You can see hours of skill and labour went onto each dish, perfectly prepared and plated with a special mention to the knife skills of the chefs on perfect Julienne Brunoise and everything else that was rectangular, square or triangular. A special thanks to Chef Jaco who came to check on us before dessert and cheese was served, Emmanuel and Clint Manager and Maitre’d who made us feel like royalty with perfect non intrusive service and with their excellent recommendations all round on our food and wine Voyage! We will be back soon for dinner, the food is so good you can’t wait for a reason to celebrate and deprive yourself of this amazing food experience.

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  • Amazing food. Small portions but very rich and surprisingly filling. Very relaxed atmosphere and service is impeccable.

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  • So there are a few things I need to point out first, I live in Cape Town and my house is about a 10 minute drive from the Mount Nelson yet I still make a point to stay there for a little R&R , mainly on special occasions.

    My parents had taken me to the Nellie on quite a few occasions growing up for a Sunday lunch and then when I was older they would meet me there for a cocktail at the bar. I always loved the hotel, even declared at the age of 8 that I would live there when I grew up, but thought it was expensive and that I would not be able to afford it if my parents weren't treating.

    My husband (he was a boyfriend back then) had recently become a fan of all those cooking shows (think Ramsey, Heston Blumenthal, etc ) and I was subjected to watch all the shows with him. One evening we were watching a episode of Gorden's Ramseys where he talked about the chefs table he had at most of his restaurants and how great it was for the guests to experience a working restaurant. I was immediately inspired and decided that for my husband's 30th birthday I would organise a chef's table experience.

    The next day I started looking at options and found that a chef's table, specially in Cape Town, is a rare find. On a last minute effort I emailed the Mount Nelson and received a prompt response saying that they do in fact have a chef's table and they would be able to create a special evening for the two of us. And this they did.

    They cleared out the normal large table they have and put in a smaller more intimate one and we then had an evening I'll never forget. We had a chef, Colin, dedicated to cooking for only us for the evening along with our own waitron and a somilier for the evening. It was amazing! Think over 11 courses all paired with special wines.

    It was so good that I booked the chef's table for the following month on my dad's birthday and took the whole family. It has since become a tradition. We go to the Planet restaurant on every special occasion (birthdays, anniversaries, celebrations, etc.). We don't only go to the chef's table but also the main restaurant itself which is truly beautiful. The service is not lost and the staff are amazing.

    Generally people think that the Nellie will cost a fortune but it is extremely reasonable. They have an amazing special on Mondays at the moment - R330 per person for 5 courses with wine pairing. I spend more than that at Saints around the corner on burgers and a few cocktails!

    There is no pretension from other guests or staff either which most people oddly assume you would get here.

    We have been going to Planet bar and restaurant now for a few years and have gotten to know the staff quite well. They are an extraordinary group of individuals who take pride in what they do and make you feel welcome every time.

    I've also stayed at the Nellie on a few occasions after my planned dinners, best not to drink and drive even when I live so close, and the rooms are elegant and simply perfect.

    If you are looking for anything special or just want to know you are getting quality and fantastic service - then go to the Nellie, you won't be disappointed.

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  • Great Monday night Winter special at R330 for a 5 course meal paired with wine. Went last night with friends and loved being treated like a celeb with fantastic wines paired with 5-star food.

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  • Delicious food, top-notch service, a convivial atmosphere and great company combined to make a dining experience to remember.

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  • The vegan journey tasting menu is inspired. I had no idea that vegan food could be so delicious! I’ve always been a bit scared to dine in hotel restaurants; but this experience was incredible. The waitress even supplied a little stool for our bags to sit on.

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  • Once in the restaurant, we were pleasantly overwhelmed by the revamp and the modern elegance. Carl the Sommelier an expert in his field and he was spot on with every recommendation for every course we devoured. Perfectly matching some of the finest wines to the food I have had in years. Explaining the intricate delicacies of each meal and glass of wine so passionately you almost want to take him home! The food was nothing other than amazing. Attention to detail in every way – the perfect brunoise, the skill, the time, the effort is so evident that you are almost too scared to eat it. Its real food cooked real good! Freshly baked warm breads are always a pleasant surprise in todays day and age! Our starters was so impressive, we could not think at the time it is not the highlight of the meal but it just got better and better – Sous Vide Egg - Wow, Ceviche of Crayfish and Namibian Crab stunning and so well balanced. The Monk fish special was nothing other than special and again the skill is so evident! My main course of Springbok Loin and Springbok Pie was the pinnacle of my evening with the variation of beautifully cooked rare loin and braised springbok pie. The jus was perfect and the option of adding more as there is a small jug placed on the table is just so refreshing! Dessert – again so beautifully crafted you want to take photos and show all your friends before you have to stop yourself from licking the last bit off the plate! The cheese board – fantastic selection not seen every day and the home made preserves and potted fruits was out of this world. The service was world class on par and in some cases better than some of the Michelin Star establishments in the UK. Handbag stands for the ladies, comfortable chairs all round, Maitre’d with passion and unobtrusive flair, waiters fit to serve a king. Comparing the bill with the experience its the best value for money meal experience I have had in years! Chef Rudi Liebenberg and his highly skilled kitchen and service team is doing a great job and will definitely see us there more frequently. I took a whole pile of business cards and will dish them out like candy to my foodie friends – they just have to go there!
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  • One of the most spectacular meal experiences I have had in years. Attention to detail from the minute your car door gets opened by the concierge to him waving you goodbye a few hours later. Refreshing drinks in the Planet Bar started off the evening.
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  • The Planet Restuarant is top class. Our party included a lacto vegan who was amply catered for and enjoyed all her courses. They have enough different vegan courses to keep us coming back again and again. Our server was incredible. Efficient, unobtrusive, attentive and professional. Complementary Genivieve MCC and handbag stands were a total surprise but very welcome. A little on the expensive side for every day and should be reserved for special occasions, but with the service and food so amazing we will be thinking of occasions that deserve it.
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  • Whatever one might think of the new image and decor of The Planet Restaurant at the Mount Nelson, a visit to it is a must. Assured, professional service and greeting from the team led by Andreas van Breda who has come from Claridges in London, assisted by knowledgeable and personable sommelier Carl Habel, backed up by, I believe, the still underrated Rudi Liebenberg, Executive Chef, and his team in the kitchen, this is a fine restaurant. The menu offers a really tempting array of a la carte options, a tasting menu, a vegan menu and more. Portions are generous and everything tasted was deliciously fresh and flavoursome. Tables set well apart, air conditioning at the right temperature and background music at the level it should be, made one oblivious of the windy conditions outside, and there is no noise factor from the nearby Planet Bar.
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  • We dined at the new Planet Restaurant last Friday. From start to finish, we were completely blown away by the whole experience. A gorgeous Cape Town evening, we enjoyed champagne on the terrace at Planet Bar before taking our seats at the cellar table. We opted for the Journey menu, consisting of 5 courses with wine pairing. The portions were perfect and we left full but happy. The different tastes and techniques used for each dish really did transport us on a culinary journey and the chefs passion and skill for food really shined. Our sommelier, Carl, was incredible and took a normal dining experience to the next level. He took time to explain each wine and how it matched the food, answered all our questions and provided us with much entertainment at our table. Hes a great asset to the Mount Nelson team! All in all, a fabulous evening of food and wine, in a beautiful new venue. This will soon be a culinary hotspot in Cape Town for food lovers and trendy diners!
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  • We celebrated our 44th wedding anniversary last Saturday at The Cape Colony. We have not dined there for a number of years. It was stunning. The service was exemplary, the cuisine exceptional and the experience memorable. They could not do enough to please us. Its not cheap, but you can literally see and feel what you are paying for.
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  • During the past two years I have dined twice at the Cape Colony at the Mount Nelson Hotel, one of the famous and celestially priced Orient-express hotels and sister to The Copacabana Palace in Rio de Janeiro and the Cipriani in Venice. Well, the Nellie must be the poor sister of this illustrious family since on both occasions the dining experience was rather average and the service in no way spectacular. I do so wanted to show the place off to my overseas colleagues but now I shall have to find something else. Any suggestions?
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  • If you are looking for a restaurant with good food and amazing service, dont even think about going. The Food and Beverage manager pretends to be concerned on the phone, but in reality does not seem to care. The ambience was amazing in this restaurant in the true style of old Cape Town, with live music and amazing architecture. Very expensive and totally disappointing.
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  • The live music was charming. We were warmly greeted and seated. We then waited quite a while before our drinks order was taken which was a little irritating. The wine list although vast did not have even one bottle of reasonably priced wine. The food was extremely over priced too compared to some of the other top restaurants in Cape Town. Not to mention the fact that I was only lucky enough to be told my 3rd choice of main course was available (the restaurant was not even all that full). My husband and I decided to not even have an appetizer as our 1st and even 2nd choice was not available. The dessert was ok but also extremely over priced for what it was and we actually didnt even finish ours which is rarely the case. All in all the night wasnt a total disaster but it left no positive impact and we certainly shall not be making another appearance in the near future.
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  • We went to the Cape Colony to celebrate a special occasion. The service was top notch but I wasnt blown away by the food.Classic Caesar salad mainly used the tough, dark green outer leaves of the lettuce and the dressing was over-salty, which when combined with the anchovies, was too much. South Africans do eat a lot of salt and I am up there with them, but I found it overpowering. My main course, the risotto with salmon, was sadly also over-salty, so although the texture was pleasing, it wasnt elevated into an every-mouthful-to-die for experience.My friend had scallops and springbok from the Asian-inspired menu; both looked great and he really enjoyed them.
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  • large restaurant but has a good cozy vibe for winter! The food was exceptional and very knowledgeable staff! well presented and a real treat!
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  • When the least expensive South African wine is a Meerlust Rubicon at R495 there is really no point in talking about the food.
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Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Accommodation
  • Booking required
  • Cocktails
  • Dress code
  • Eat Out reviewed
  • Functions
  • Licensed
  • Parking
  • Wheelchair
  • WiFi

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