The Main Conservatory at De Hoek Country Hotel

  • Phone Number 0145779600
  • Location Off the R563 towards Magaliesburg Village, follow signs to De Hoek Country House, Magaliesburg
  • email celebrate@dehoek.com
  • Website URL http://www.dehoek.com
  • Opening Hours

    Breakfast: Monday to Sunday 7.30am to 10am

    Lunch: Monday to Sunday 12.30pm to 2pm

    Dinner: Monday to Sunday 7pm to 9pm

Cost
5 course Signature dinner R440 per person; 4 course Sunday luncheon at a cost of R375 per person
Ambience
Classic elegance
Food
Contemporary fare, Health food, Modern
Payment
Amex, Diners, Diners Club, Mastercard, Visa
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Critic's review

Food
Perfectly crafted for the diner with a taste for food of a superb quality, the largely classic European-inspired menu at the De Hoek Country Hotel restaurant makes the establishment stand out as one of the finest among the finest. And it’s no wonder, considering Chef Michael Holenstein and his team have consistently worked hard to deliver the superlative gourmet experience that guests have over the years come to expect of the highly regarded dining venue, The Conservatory. The five-course dinner menu changes regularly to ensure that the finest ingredients are served at the best time of the year.

Consistent with seasonal changes, in the colder months, a highly recommended starter would be the rustic yet elegantly presented chicken soup served in a bowl covered with the most deliciously baked and browned golden pastry. On a less cold day, the rocket caesar salad with parmesan, croutons, and camembert might be ideal. A word of caution: while this may be a fine dining establishment, it is South African, and the portions certainly reflect this as you will be hard-pressed not to wish to take a stroll in the immaculate gardens surrounding The Conservatory between each course to try and boost your metabolism so as to not too feel to full for the next generously portioned course.

One of the standout main dishes is the springbok loin, which is probably one of the best you will ever have – it is so tender, succulent and beautifully seasoned and served with vegetables. The steak au poivre, a grilled pepper-crusted rib-eye steak served with red wine butter, and roasted vegetables, is equally satisfying. For dessert, both Holenstein’s signature bread-and-butter pudding and the pineapple carpaccio served with tuile and sorbet are winners. The efficient waitrons and host are always on hand to ensure that guests know exactly which wine to pair with each course to help digestion and enrich the dining experience.

Drinks
The wine list is carefully selected to perfectly enhance and balance each of the courses. While, bringing your own bottle is not permissible, the menu with its wines from some of the best vino-producing cities around the world, including local vineyards, more than meets expectation. Wine is also sold by the glass, ranging from R55 (Cederberg unwooded chenin blanc) to R85 (Donkiesbaai hooijwin). Champagnes are part of the offering, and so are dessert wines.

Service
As booking is highly recommended, the first interaction with The Conservatory staff might be on their website, where friendly reception staff are online to talk to you, asking how they can help you in a live chat box that pops up on the screen before you have even made contact with them. For those who prefer the more traditional way of booking, staff on the phone are equally as efficient, helpful and polite, speedily securing bookings and e-mailing to confirm. While good service at any restaurant is to be expected, there are many fine dining establishments that rely solely on their food to woo their customers, whilst treating them with the utmost contempt. The Conservatory, while still consistently delivering on charming and original food, gladly, does not feel into that trap of complacence as the staff there are particularly remarkably hospitable – from helping guests park, leading them to the restaurant, welcoming them with drinks before seating them, to ensuring the food is delivered perfectly prepared and timeously.

Ambience
The setting is gorgeous, whether you eat indoors or in the garden. While the dining arrangement is quite formal, with no cellphones allowed at the table and most guests seeming to speak in very hushed tones throughout the courses, there is a certain warmth and charm which does not make patrons feel ill at ease. The resulting experience is intimate.

And...
De Hoek Country Hotel is a wonderful place to consider sleeping over in for a romantic weekend ending with a Sunday lunch.

(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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  • Hennie Fisher

    Food
    Starters on any day will include two or three choice options such as turnip and potato soup with sour cream and butter croutons; a salad of warm camembert with macerated strawberries, pistachios and balsamic reduction; handmade tagliolini with ocean fruits in green Thai sauce or olives, capers, garlic, herbs and a fresh tomato sauce. Alternatively, indulge in risotto with Asian mushrooms and Grana Padano shavings, or prawn and crab. Depending on what the chef could source, main courses may be a choice of cob or Dutch-style beef fillet with red wine butter, spinach, and rösti with a brandy sauce; grilled springbok marinated in gin; sautéed chicken supreme with mignonette potatoes, or a rack of lamb with sweet potato and cumin mash. Desserts are classic and generally celebrate what is in season, so in berry season one might enjoy berry jelly with meringue and a berry parfait or berry mille-feuille with berry sauce and granadilla jelly. Other delicious desserts include warm lemon tart with lime sorbet, wafer tuile and macadamia praline or a Cape brandy pudding with vanilla ice cream and butterscotch sauce.

    Drinks
    De Hoek has no formal wine list, instead they encourage their diners to view the selection on display just outside the main dining area. This is a superb collection featuring interesting options such as the Paul Cluver Gewurztraminer; Meerlust Chardonnay; Springfield’s Miss Lucy Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon/Pinot Gris; Hermanuspietersfontein Die Bartho; David Nieuwoudt Ghost Corner; Vondeling Erica Shiraz and Vergelegen Merlot.

    Service
    This lovely location is definitely worth the drive for a special occasion, and attracts a wonderful cross section of the population. Waiters will immediately offer you a welcoming drink upon arrival – choose between a De Hoek refresher of lime, lemonade, soda and ginger beer or a Pink Port with tonic water and Maraschino cherries. Servers are well trained and comfortable in the ritual of serving at table, presenting homemade rolls and peppadew butter with aplomb.

    Ambience
    You may encounter guests playing lawn croquet in front of the main homestead or trying their hands at target practice with a bow and arrow. Diners can opt to eat inside the restaurant, which offers a much more classical formal setting, or under the trees and little gazebos in the beautiful outdoor setting. Crisp white damask over pink toile floor-length tablecloths and quality glassware, crockery and cutlery adorn the tables. The main building manages to combine the feel of a historic Cape homestead, while at the same time conveying something of the Scottish Highlands through its use of sandstone on the exterior of the building. It feels serene and peaceful.

    And…
    This small country inn has grown over the years and now offers accommodation for more than a handful of guests, while still retaining an intimate and personal country house vibe. They have recently added a new restaurant, The Bridge Bistro, taking its name from the bridge one has to cross to get onto the property. The new space is quite modern, contrasting with the rest of De Hoek’s interior. Large floor to ceiling doors open completely to give an amazing view over the rolling field adjoining the field. The new restaurant operates separately from The Conservatory, their existing conference venue, and is a good choice of venue for weddings or other celebrations.

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  • Gwynne Conlyn

    Food
    Serious about food, award-wining executive chef Michael Holenstein concentrates hard on maintaining – and indeed constantly improving – the standards of his à la carte menu. The choices are scrumptious and even include Swiss-inspired homemade chocolates.

    The dishes are classic European but with twists of modernity and nods to Asia. Everything is fresh and done from scratch; for example, brioche and breads are baked onsite.

    Start with the creamy veal risotto and move on to roast free-range duck breast with five-spice rub and a spicy plum sauce. It might be difficult to choose: one of the other main course options is a grilled rib-eye steak with café de Paris butter and merlot sauce. Vegetarian diners should seriously consider the heavenly red onion tart.

    Leave some space for the unforgettable bread-and-butter pudding, consisting of panettone, banana bread and orange teacake instead of the same old stale bread. There’s also the delight in indulging in chocolate truffles with your coffee or tea.

    Drinks
    As is the case with his Bridge Bistro (the other, more informal dining space at the De Hoek hotel) Michael Holenstein handpicks wines to suit each menu. Expect top-drawer local and international choices, including French Champagnes. There is also a cozy residents’ bar that’s ideal for pre-dinner cocktails.

    Service
    The service is friendly, old-school and absolutely dedicated to the cause.

    Ambience
    French doors lead out onto gardens and a pretty pool. Watch the guinea fowl parade up and down the steps.

    And…
    The hotel caters towards a variety of events. Michael could also design a special menu for guests on request. The main hall can be used for private lunch or dinner parties, and the addition of some stylish suites (perfect for small conferences) in no way detracts from the quiet elegance of this country retreat.

    (August 2014)

     

     

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  • A great weekend getaway in a country setting with superb hospitality and classic European cuisine. Sit under the trees in warmer weather. Stand-out dishes: delightful mille feuille of tomato and avo with parmesan wafers; grilled langoustine and scallops with classic butter sauce and courgette timbale; perfect lamb; coriander-crusted salmon and strawberries three ways (jelly, fruit salad and ‘cookies and cream’). (EO mag 2014)
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User reviews

  • No wonder Michael Holenstein continues to rate in SA's Top Ten chefs year in, year out. His food is superb. Beautifully cooked, unpretentious, imaginative and daring. Served by attentive staff in a lovely country setting, you won't find much better fare than this.
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  • I was lucky to have a fabulous day at De Hoek. Mostly, I remember the fabulous high tea, the teeny slices of carrot and chocolate cake, the fresh scones, perfectly cut cucumber sandwiches, and an amazing selection of herbal teas.
    Dinner was pretty good too, a long table in the main dining area, several courses that went from good to fantastic, beautifully paired wine, great service.
    And let me not forget the bar with a bar-tender who remembered exactly what I like to drink.
    Excellent!
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  • Hi, Went there on the 20th Jan 2013. Sorry to say, worst service I really ever experienced. Had a set menu, and some things on menu were conveniently 'forgotten' by staff. Bread basket was not cleared, wine was not topped up, nor our water, could not find a waiter when needed, really really bad. Starter soup was tasteless - except for truffle oil that gave it flavour, mains were disappointing. The card machines did not work. This should be a 2 or 3 star place. Will definitely not be back ever.

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  • Had Sunday lunch at De Hoek yesterday on a beautiful summers day in Magaliesburg. As always the setting of De Hoek nearly makes the entire meal - but then there was the best seafood risotto ever and fantastic rack of lamb and all washed down with wines from a small, but very exclusive and interesting selection. Well done De Hoek - we had a great time and cant wait to go back!
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Facilities

  • Accommodation
  • Alfresco
  • Booking required
  • Breakfast
  • Cocktails
  • Dinner
  • Fireplace
  • Food
  • Functions
  • Hotel
  • Licensed
  • Lunch
  • Parking
  • Serves food
  • Vegetarian
  • WiFi

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