Our next nominee for the 2015 Boschendal Style Award is oh-so-chic Hemelhuijs in Cape Town. With décor that evolves with the seasons, this urban bistro offers a quiet breakaway from the bustling city, and, as its name suggests, a heavenly house for the senses. Here’s why Hemelhuijs deserves its nomination.
The culinary and creative mastermind behind the café, Jacques Erasmus, opened Hemelhuijs in 2010. Centrally located on the Fan Walk to Greenpoint Stadium, the elegant space turns breakfast or lunchtime dining into a tranquil, whimsical experience for city-dwellers and office workers.
The walls of Hemelhuijs are painted a warm, river-clay terracotta, harmonising with understated embellishments of blues and white on the surfaces.
Mounds of quinces and other seasonal fruit are artfully displayed – to admire and to eat. A feature-wall of burnt orange showcases an array of gold-labelled brown laboratory bottles filled with flavour compounds developed by Jacques. While these glass flasks form part of the decoration, they are also available to purchase as part of the Hemelhuijs collection.
Inspired by Victorian botanists who collected and preserved a diverse selection of flora, Jacques has recently introduced botanicals to the décor. A wall that visually celebrates local South African vegetation is a calming and captivating addition to the space. Delicate leaves and flowers have been collected, prepared and pressed on acid-free paper or pure linen into frames, each piece a natural work of art.
Through taste and sight, Jacques captures the fleeting moments of beauty that develop with every season.
The country-style fare honours simple flavours and seasonal ingredients with an underlying theme of humble beginnings. The ever-changing menu might include comforting offerings of sweet sago melkkos, beef-and-cabbage frikadelle with tomato relish, and handmade potato gnocchi, served on a bed of roasted aubergine and pear purée with a rich black truffle cream.