The Greenhouse has been on our list of places to try for ages. Out of our way, wrong side of the mountain and needing a special occasion. The usual story. A visit from some great London friends and an impending birthday offered the perfect excuses for some decadent dining.
The setting at Cellars Hohenort is stunning. An old mansion turned into a relais & chateaux hotel surrounded by lush manicured gardens and vineyards. The dining room is elegant but not stuffy with well thought through acoustics- something which is surprisingly rare in top restaurants world-wide. Not once did we overhear conversations from other tables. Even in the rare moments when we were quiet. The welcome was formal but not without a sense of humour. We were called two times to confirm our reservation the day before the dinner. On the day itself we were out of cell phone coverage and returned to find yet another message asking us to reconfirm or risk losing our table. (Note that we did respond to the first calls.) So we called them a few times in the hours before dinner to re- and reconfirm as a bit of a joke. Hope the message was passed on.
The options are a six-course, a seafood- and a four-course tasting menu with optional wine pairing. The six-course and seafood menus are set but the four-course menu allows you to select a dish for each course from a list of four. We opted for the four-course menus in order to sample as many of the exquisite-sounding dishes as possible.
We were blown away by the food. In addition to lollipop-shaped goats cheese amuse-bouches, we got tomato essence with lobster and tomato sorbet as hellos from the kitchen. The tomato essence was a killer fresh combination that started the meal on a very high note. There was a lot of competing and high fiveing about who got the best dish in each course. Yes, how old are we you may ask? The winner of the first round was the miso and sesame cured salmon trout with ponzu snow and jalapenos. I am not a huge fan of dramatic presentation shows during dinner but this misty haze brought with it an exceptionally exciting and fresh dish. The fish mosaic and impala carpaccio were also beautifully balanced and presented. Round two was a tie between a perfectly cooked Chinese-style monkfish and an earthy ostrich and langoustine consommé. Round four was won hands down by the butter poached Karan beef, which melted in our mouths. With most fine dining tasting menus I am too full for words at this point in the menu. The dishes at Greenhouse are so fresh, intricately designed and perfectly proportioned that for once I couldn’t wait for my dessert (Could also be the six-month-old baby chimp in my belly ; )). Desserts were exquisite. Each spoonful of my lemon pave revealed a new layer of texture and flavour. The Chimp’s camembert cheesecake (not made of camembert) was fresh and beautifully textured and the fennel pannacotta was refreshing take on this silky classic.
Service was friendly throughout dinner. My only complaint was the rather surprising lack of wine expertise. The waiters didn’t seem to know much about the wine or wine pairing and there was no sommelier to turn to. Instead we were met with a baffled look every time we asked what was being poured into our glasses. As a wine enthusiast, I would also have liked to see some more unusual wines featured on the menu but I do like the idea of focusing on the surrounding Constantia Valley.
All in all this experience was nothing short of spectacular. We would go back in a heartbeat and warmly recommend it to anyone looking for the finest dining that Cape Town has to offer.
PS. In case you were wondering the visiting Londoners won the dish selection competition ; ).
93 Brommersvlei Road,