Like Alice’s fall down the rabbit hole, the road to the Greenhouse is a long, leafy and winding one, down the eastern slope of Table Mountain. More importantly, though, it’s a journey marked with great excitement for what lies ahead.
Headed by Executive Chef Peter Tempelhoff (one of two Relais & Châteaux Grand Chefs in South Africa), Greenhouse – located inside Cellars-Hohenort Hotel – needs no introduction. The restaurant is one of the most enduring around and is a permanent fixture on the South African gourmet awards scene. Chef Tempelhoff has perfected the art of using plated masterpieces to tell stories about local produce and provenance.
Greenhouse’s provenance menu weaves a range of narratives through its dishes, playing with ingredients from the surrounding region and abroad. To start, courses include the tasty amuse-bouche set of nibbles – farm vegetables, heirloom aubergine, hakurei turnip, marog, maple-pickled pumpkin and granola – that precede the now-famous (and equally delicious) ‘The Butcher bird’s pantry’. The latter takes the diner through bite-sized savoury delights modelled on the prey of the namesake bird served impaled on a tree-like stand.
Amuse-bouches aside, the first few courses waste no time delivering oodles of theatre. The steamed blue prawn – a dish of game fish, quinoa, seaweed and grapefruit – is served with a raw prawn, which gets steamed tableside, creating a visual sensation and a lingering aroma. The chokka noodles – a dish made up of chokka sliced into thin noodle-like strips – is served with waterblommetjies, sour fig gel and a lacquered squid-ink and yuzu sauce. Not to be forgotten is the caramel smoked duck with truffled liver mousse, hibiscus beets and a cashew-and-nasturtium crumble – a classic successfully jazzed up to effective modern glory.
Leave space for the sweetest ending, as the menu includes not one but two desserts: apple with salted caramel as well as white chocolate pap. The latter – comprising pap with shaved white chocolate, raspberry, pistachio, tarragon and guava – is an elevated and nuanced take on nostalgic South African flavours.
Wine pairing is at the core of the dining experience at Greenhouse. The staff is well-versed, taking turns to present the wines with each dish. While the menu, naturally, celebrates wines from the Constantia wine valley, the extensive menu features wines from far-flung regions too.
An orchestral style of serving. Tables don’t get dedicated waiters, but rather an ensemble of waiters taking turns to bring dishes and explain the paired wines. The staff is full of amusing anecdotes and it keeps the pace of the meal upbeat.
A previous Eat Out Boschendal Style Award winner, Greenhouse is a slick and modern space with a split dining room. The cosier section closer to the kitchen is moodier with black and gold swatches, while the all-glass ‘greenhouse’ section is awash with natural light.
A romantic evening filled with exceptional food, wine, and affable service.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our full editorial policy here.
Kelly Logan Cloete
Outstanding! To celebrate 10 years of the Greenhouse, the menu is made up of the best 10 dishes of the last 10 years. We opted for the Greenhouse wine pairing, and what a fantastic experience it was. The food is superb, and the service fantastic - warm, knowledgeable staff, and Lester the sommelier was a real treat! Yes, it's not an everyday place to go, but worth it for a special occasion.
What an amazing place. Every time when we visit we fall in love again. True its a lot of money but worth every cent. The 11 courses they serve during the evening are all nice and beautiful. For me its a little to much. 4 or 5 courses would be sufficient (bigger portions).
Staff is very friendly and helpful. The whole evening they are looking after you.
What i don't like is the fact that I phoned at the end of the afternoon 18.00 to ask if they had a table. Was difficult and only possible if we arrived at 18.45. During the evening there were 3 tables empty.
So why the rush.
But again we will be back.
The Fay Way
We had the Tasting Menu at The Green House in the Hohenort Hotel. The service was excellent, attentive and not over-bearing. But I do have a gripe with the venue. The chairs we sat on were old and shabby needing re-upholstering. I sank into the seat and felt the wooden frame of the chair.
The Amuse Bouche was the same as we had in the Conservatory Restaurant of the Hohenort -Dle Goat's cheese, creme-puffs, a crunchy biscuit with a sweet filling and miniature dark sandwiches which were crunchy and tasty. The breads were fresh and tasty and a glass of humus and a green and black olive accompanied the breads - it was a nice touch.
I was looking forward to the Wild Arniston Oyster which was the start of the marathon tasting - but was politely informed that this was not available and that we could choose from the other menu either the frozen foie gras or a tomato splendour. We chose one of each. The tomato splendour was an artistic display of modern art twiggy-styling. I could have lived without it!
The next dish redeemed the former disappointment and was delicious and delightful - it was the Game Fish Sashimi, which consisted of prawn & sticky rice salad, pickled ginger, tobiko, white soy & grape gazpacho. Here the Chef really showed his talent and this dish was served in an oblong deep white dish. The green grape gazpacho was poured in after the dish arrived by another waiter and this was as dramatic (the dish suddenly came alive with a blaze of green coloured soup as it was being poured) it was spectacular to see and then to taste. It definitely was the show stopper.
Then came the Hibiscus Glazed Pork Belly which consisted of poached plums, young coconut jellies, tender stem broccoli & toasted sesame seeds. The dish was alright, but again it didn't beat the previous show-stopper, I think.
I then chose the Oven Roasted Imapala Loin & Foie Gras, which was accompanied by cepe mushroom ragout, celeriac mash & port poached figs. The dish was served in a wooden bowl with cut out edges - a nice African Bush touch. The Impala Loin was rare, great tasting tender and succulent. The mushroom ragout was a great accompaniment to this dish and I licked the wooden bowl clean - (could have eaten more - like Oliver "please Sir, I want some more) - but I succumbed to the temptation to ask for another helping and waited for the next nibbling tasting. I ordered a single glass of Eagle's Nest (Little Eagle) red wine blend of Sauvignon Cabernet & Merlot - It was a very good choice with this dish which I sipped away at peacefully.
The Crispy Fried Dusky Kob was a poor choice - I tasted it and it was ok, but dry - looked better than it tasted - I preferred my Impala Loin.
Next came and went in quick succession - the Gin & Tonic apple, cucumber, lime sorbet. It was a nice cool interlude - very thoughtful of the Chef, who seemed to be playing a game with his diners and challenging them to an eating marathon of tastes.
Finally, came the Baobab, Beetroot, Dark Chocolate & Hazelnut - panna cotta, cremeaux, ice-cream, espuma & jelly. This was served in a long glass dish and tasted as good as it looked. The Dark Chocolate was the dab on the plate which had to be scraped off - it tasted good and was a pity to disturb the artist's palette, but it was to be eaten and eaten it was.
Then came little cakes and jellies with the black decaffeinated coffee and Earle Grey tea, which was neatly supplied on a self-contained tray with the cup cover which doubled up as a saucer. The tea was also a surprise as it came in a triangular shaped bag which was unique.
The bill came to R1585,00 including gratuities which I thought was a tad expensive, but this is a 5 star Hotel – and hopefully they’ll take my feedback into consideration and improve the furniture and attend to making the ambiance better and more comfortable for diners with better ventilation.
The Fay Way Team
The whole estate is so well kept and up-market, it was a pleasure to be there. Parking in the grounds was good and we were led to the table in the Conservatory, all glass surrounded by lush plants outside and a huge old tree between the two parts of the restaurant - the restaurant is split in two so as to preserve the tall old tree which has the glassed in restaurant around it. Crisp snow white tablecloths and napkins with easy spacious grass chairs surrounding it greeted us. Someone at the table next to us ordered a cushion and we followed - it made the dining even more pleasurable.
The drinks waiter came swiftly to our table to take the order. The assortment home-made breads that was brought to the table was delicious with a small dish of artichoke and goat's cheese sprinkled with a twist of spring onion.
Starter "Cellars Herb Garden Salad" was divine, consisting of garden herbs, baby leaves, artichokes, sweet tiny baby tomatoes, avocado, in a subtle herb vinaigrette.
Starter "Beetroot & Smoked Chevre" starter, consisting of Peartizer jelly, pecan Waldorf salad, in a grain mustard dressing was ok.
Main course "Roast Rack of Karoo Lamb" with Pommes ecrase, red pepper & tomatoe, saffron aioli and lamb jus. The Lamb chops came beautifully prepared - medium rare as I had asked. It was both succulent and tasty. The saving grace of the dish was the lamb jus which I lapped up with a small crust of the fresh bread and my fingers. There was no salt or pepper on the table (don't know if this was an oversight or done on purpose) but the dishes didn't need any extra flavouring and this would have been an insult to the Chef.
Main course "Corn Fed Baby Chicken Chasseur" - it sounded better than it tasted with its fancy name - It came with potato puree, pearl onions, pork chipolata & mushrooms ragout. The chicken which was so-so - nothing special or out of the ordinary. Also the pork chipolata could have been left out - I think it was just some way to dress up an ordinary plate of chicken to be something else. The Chef should have stuck to the basics in this dish.
The coffee & teas were served with a plate of homemade sweets which were good, especially to my taste was the bitter dark chocolate.
All-in-all it was a pleasant night out. The cellars Hohenoort is always a gracious & fine dining experience.