Where to stay in Franschhoek, South Africa: Mont Rochelle

The heaven that is Mont Rochelle

Franschhoek is one of those places I keep going back to. I simply have to. This small town deep in the Winelands of the Cape, just about an hour from central Cape Town, is known as the food capital of South Africa. For good reason – there are certainly more restaurants than you can possibly eat in on one visit (or even several!). And there’s even more wine to taste. A serious gourmet heaven in the most beautiful of surrounds.

Today we’re heading for the paradise that is Mont Rochelle. This intimate 26-room hotel is part of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Limited Edition Collection. It’s set in expansive grounds just outside the centre of town with fabulous views across the vines and valleys towards the majesty of the distant mountains.

Mont Rochelle: hotel

The beautifully stylish hotel awaits, across the vines

Here’s what I loved about it.

The welcome and the service

You’ve barely stepped foot out of your car when you’re enveloped in the warmth of Mont Rochelle. Peter is waiting to enthusiastically welcome you and before you know it you’re on the verandah taking in the breathtaking view with a glass of bubbles in your hand! I certainly felt instantly at home.

All the staff are friendly, helpful and knowledgable without being intrusive. Some of the best service I’ve ever encountered makes Mont Rochelle an even more enjoyable experience.

The beautiful suites

Having finished our bubbles, we were escorted to our Cap Classique Suite in the Vineyard Wing. And some suite it turned out to be, too! An enormous bedroom, ensuite bathroom with spacious shower and deeply inviting bath and large lounge area with inclusive mini bar make up the interior. It’s certainly breathtaking.

Mont Rochelle: bedroom

A hotel room that’s the ultimate in comfort

Mont Rochelle: lounge

And then there’s the elegant, spacious lounge

Gotta love an expansive bathroom. Unfortunately due to the dreadful drought so I didn’t have the chance to luxuriate in this mega-bath. Think it’s worth going back for that alone. Not that I need an excuse.

Mont Rochelle: bathroom

Being clean and fresh has never been so stylish

And then you go outside. The double verandah leads to a private, heated plunge pool and looks out across rich green vineyards and valleys towards the towering mountains in the distance. This is the sort of place you’re never going to want to leave. Like ever.

Mont Rochelle: verandah

Looking back over our private plunge pool to our double verandah

Mont Rochelle: hanging chair

Terry chills out on the hanging chair

Mont Rochelle give all guests a signature duck, so cute. Here are mine chilling by my plunge pool.

Mont Rochelle: pool

Little Mont Rochelle ducks chill too, by the pool

Beds are turned down and scattered with rose petals while you’re out exploring the delights of Franschhoek.

Mont Rochelle: petals

Petals, robes and slippers ready for you after dinner

The pools

The main pool has even more spectacular mountain and valley views. It’s heated and lined with plenty of comfy loungers with a bar at one end for a reviving poolside cocktail or a glass of the local wine. The perfect place to soak up the sun and relaxation in luxury.

Mont Rochelle: pool

The perfect pool complete with sun loungers

Our suite also had its own heated plunge pool, twinkling invitingly in the sun with more fabulous vineyard and mountain views.

Mont Rochelle: room view

Chill out overlooking the private pool towards the valley

The stunning design and art

As well as being set in fabulously beautiful natural surroundings, Mont Rochelle is stylish and packed with quirky art. And there are plenty of surprises in store with myriad nooks and crannies to explore. Like this beautiful fountain.

Mont Rochelle: fountain

The picturesque fountain and beautiful valley views

And the Mont Rochelle rhino looking majestically across the valley.

Mont Rochelle: rhino

Love the Mont Rochelle rhino hiding in the garden

And also the clambering goats in the restaurant. I really wanted to take one home.

Mont Rochelle: goats

Quirky goat statues grace the restaurant

Mont Rochelle: Miko

Miko is stylish and unique in its design

The feast at breakfast time

Start off your day with a wonderful selection of tropical fruit, pastries, cereals and other cold delights. Passion fruit is my favourite and these were real beauties.

Mont Rochelle: breakfast fruit

Perfect passion fruit tops the tower of fruit

Before moving on to ponder the delightful cooked options on offer. A full English is always hard to resist and this was a substantial plate complete with all the favourites.

Mont Rochelle: full English

Starting the day with a tasty full English breakfast

I treated myself to a twice baked cheese souffle with mushroom sauce, crisp bacon and creamed spinach. What an indulgent start to the day.

Mont Rochelle: souffle

Souffle for breakfast, the ultimate morning indulgence

Beautiful Franschhoek town

As hard as it is to tear yourself away from the luxuries of Mont Rochelle, Franschhoek also has a lot to offer. The best way to explore the picture perfect town and taste the incredible range of local wine is on the legendary Wine Tram. You can read all about my hedonistic day of wine tasting here.

And finally, explore the lovely, individual shops, stop for a coffee at Sacred Ground (my favourite name for a coffee shop), and certainly try out one (or some) of the amazing, high quality restaurants. I’d particularly recommend Marigold in the main street for fabulous Indian cuisine. You can read about our dinner at Marigold here.

Of course in a foodie heaven like Franschhoek there are always new restaurants opening. So there’s just the excuse I need for another visit. Bring it on!

Mont Rochelle is at Dassenberg Road, Franschhoek, 7960, South Africa.

My favourite restaurants in Cape Town in 2018

Where to eat in Cape Town

I’m fortunate to be able to spend time in beautiful Cape Town every year. There I take up the challenge of keeping up with the ever-growing and changing restaurant scene. There’s a lot of good food to be had in the Mother City and for someone from London it’s mainly amazing value.

A good starting point for the somewhat mind-boggling task of choosing where to eat is to resort to a list. One of the most well-known is the Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards – and this is a list bound to cause plenty of discussion (like any ratings list). I strongly disagree with two of the restaurants listed in their top-10. I’ve eaten at both and absolutely wouldn’t go back. My feeling is one shouldn’t be there at all and the other should be ranked lower. But hey, food is an incredibly subjective thing and everyone’s looking for something different.

I couldn’t resist coming up with my own list…which I’m calling My favourite restaurants in Cape Town. And it’s based on my experiences of eating there in 2018. The restaurants are certainly not all gourmet, exclusive or expensive, but are places I find myself returning to regularly and enjoying fabulous dishes every time. They’re in no particular order as where I’d go also depends on my mood and what sort of food I feel like…I’m saying is these are all good, so try them all – if you can.

Chef’s Warehouse at Beau Constantia

Chef’s Warehouse is the brainchild of genius chef Liam Tomlin, his original eatery sits on Cape Town’s buzzy Bree Street. Set at the top of the Constantia Valley with stunning views over vineyards and forests to the sea, this fabulous addition to the city’s restaurantland offers a range of amazing dishes in their Tapas for Two.

There are no difficult menu decisions to make here – you get everything to share. Eight dishes altogether which are served in groups of two or three in three batches – so kind of like three courses.

The menu changes regularly dependent on ingredients available and every dish is incredible, well, every mouthful is incredible. The great local ingredients are used to prepare truly international dishes. And everything looks so beautiful too. The kind of restaurant I dream about going back to as often as possible.

The cold seared tuna was served on Moroccan-spiced aubergine with fresh milk curd and toasted cashews.

Beau Constantia: tuna

The fabulous seared tuna with Moroccan flavours

The risottos at Beau Constantia are possibly the best I’ve ever had. This vibrant green creation is parsley risotto made with smoked bone marrow, salted lemon and pecan nut salsa and a red wine reduction. So good you’re seriously tempted to lick the dish.

Beau Constantia: parsley risotto

Vibrant parsley risotto with great depth of flavour

The Vietnamese BBQ beef came with herbs, toasted rice and a zesty Vietnamese dressing. Having recently visited Vietnam I can tell you the flavours of the country were captured perfectly in this dish. See what I mean about the international creations!

Beau Constantia: Beef

Vietnamese BBQ beef with the freshest of flavours

And this could be the pork belly dish of the year…it’s a staple on most Cape Town menus..today’s offering stood out as some spectacular belly! Slow roasted and served with an apricot and miso tart, cashew nut milk and garlic and thyme oil. Wow! Chef’s Warehouse at Beau Constantia rocks!

Beau Constantia: pork belly

The incredible pork belly with a taste of Asia

Chef’s Warehouse at Beau Constantia is at 1043 Constantia Main Road, Glen Alpine, Constantia. 

Thali

Liam Tomlin is also behind Thali. In fact these two new restaurants opened within two days of each other. No pressure, then.

Thali operates on the same Tapas for Two principle – but this time the flavours are all Indian. As Indian food is one of our favourites, we were always going to like Thali…but we really loved it! Platters of exotic concoctions arrive one after the other and tantalise your taste buds. There’s a good hit of spice, lots of lovely condiments (I do love a condiment) and so many cleverly conceived dishes.

The delicious tandoori cauliflower was served with cumin cauliflower puree (yum, yum), and a cashew and coconut salad. The tray also came with creamy dhal, soft fresh bread and a range of condiments.

Thali: cauliflower

The tastiest of cauliflower dishes a variety of sauces

The Mappa duck curry with spiced mango chutney was nothing short of sublime. Melt-in-the-mouth duck (do you know how difficult that is to create) and the silkiest of spicy sauce.

Thali: duck curry

The luscious duck curry in a silkily rich sauce

The attention to detail makes for a superb combination of flavours and textures and there are plenty of bowls of delight, including this fabulous spiced tomato salsa.

Thali: salsa

Deliciously spicy salsa adds zest to the dishes

Thali is at 3 Park Road, Gardens.

La Parada

From India to Spain on Bree Street (there are now three La Parada’s but this is the one where my heart lies!). La Parada is probably my favourite lunchtime spot in Cape Town. Plates of tapas and a bottle of chilled rose on the pavement is my idea of heaven. I adore Spanish food, and it’s very authentic here.

Their patatas bravas, which is dusted with paprika to add a touch of spice, may be our favourite in the world. May have to try out a few more plates before I write that in stone, though.

La Parada: patatas bravas

Crispy and soft patatas bravas dusted with paprika

The chef has captured the perfection of Spanish dishes, using great ingredients to create simple plates of food that are mouthwateringly yum. Like this one – garlic mushrooms, poached egg, truffle oil, parmesan and toasted bread – pretty standard fare but when put together you can’t believe the deliciousness. I can’t stop myself from ordering this every time I go to La Parada. Their croquetas are also amazing.

La Parada: mushrooms

Earthy mushrooms and perfectly soft egg

La Parada  is at 107 Bree Street. 

Bistro Sixteen82

Back into the winelands to Steenberg Golf Estate and Vineyards and Bistro Sixteen82 where chef Kerry Kilpin has been serving up tasty bistro-style dishes and tapas using fresh, seasonal ingredients. Kerry has a passion for Asian food which is reflected in many of the menu’s offerings.

Like this fabulous bowl of West Coast mussels in their spiced, aromatic broth.

Sixteen82: mussels

Plump and juicy mussels Asian style

Tapas is served from 5pm to 8pm, perfect for an early light dinner. I loved the pickled fish tacos – crispy with lovely Malay flavours, a great fusion of South Africa and Mexico.

Sixteen82: fish tacos

Delightfully crisp, spiced fish tacos

Bistro Sixteen82 is at Steenberg Vineyards, Steenberg Road

Aubergine

Aubergine is a true doyen of Cape Town’s restaurantland (can a restaurant be a doyen?? Anyway you get my meaning). It’s owned by German chef Harald Bresselschmidt and opened in 1996. Set in a beautiful, historic building with plenty of nooks and crannies, there’s a cosy courtyard with views of majestic Table Mountain and always an incredibly warm welcome. The menu is extensive and the dishes are very creative with a strong South African influence.

The pretty-as-a-picture blesbok medallions came with tortellini, walnut foam and black trumpet dust. A blesbok is a type of antelope so you get the classic richness and depths of flavour of a venison dish combined with the freshness of the accompaniments.

Aubergine: blesbok

An exotic plate of beautiful blesbok

As well as the standard menu there’s always a special three-course one, too, you have to be on top decision-making form. I chose from this one on my last visit and had this spectacular pork dish – pork in three textures combining belly, pickled loin, black pudding and fried polenta.

Aubergine: Pork

A dish that’s heaven for pork lovers

Aubergine is at 39 Barnet Street, Gardens.

A Tavola

A Tavola is on the other side of the mountain in Cape Town’s southern suburbs. It’s in a somewhat underwhelming setting opposite a hospital alongside an office block and library, but don’t let that put you off. Consistently serving up fabulous Italian dishes, the establishment is loved by locals who keep it constantly busy.

The specials menu changes regularly which often causes disappointment if your favourite isn’t on there, though of course it does motivate you to try something different. There’s tasty antipasti, a marvellous pasta selection, great seafood, steaks and so much more.

I’m always delighted when the veal tonnata is on the menu. One of my all-time favourite dishes, it’s a weird-sounding combination of thinly sliced rare veal served with a tuna sauce topped with capers. Doesn’t sound great but I really can’t tell you how splendid it tastes.

A Tavola: vitello tonata

Creamy vitello tonata, one of my all-time favourites

The Tuscan veal stew, served with fresh tagliatelle, is another specials favourite. The rich aromas reach your nose before the dish – which is the ultimate in satisfying Italian cuisine. And their zucchini fritti are quite simply heavenly.

A Tavola: Tuscan veal stew

Tuscan veal stew to dream about

A Tavola is at Library Square, Wilderness Road, Claremont.

The Food Barn

This chilled out, friendly restaurant with extraordinary food has been here ever since I started visiting the fairest Cape of them all. Chef Franck Dangereux has created a little piece of heaven in sleepy Noordhoek where you can have a wonderful fine dining experience without any formality or pomposity. His food is always delightful, indeed the whole day is delightful, as we start by taking the road over magnificent Chapman’s Peak to get there. There aren’t many drives like this in the world and arriving is just as exciting as you know you’re in for a feast.

Great local ingredients are again brought to the fore like in this beautifully rich bouillabaisse packed with mussels and line fish.

Food Barn: Bouillabaisse

The tastiest of bouillabaisse packed with fresh seafood

Frank is also famous for his beautiful prawn dish, lovely local fish, innovative salads and perfectly cooked rack of lamb.

Food Barn: lamb

Perfectly pink rack of lamb

The Foodbarn is at Noordhoek Farm Village, Corner Village Lane and Noordhoek Main Road, Noordhoek.

Sundoo

Now we’re heading to the Atlantic Seaboard, where I spend a lot of time in the buzz that is Sea Point. There’s a great vibe in this cosmopolitan part of the city and plenty of places to soak it up. Just down the road from our apartment is Sundoo. A fabulous Indian tapas bar where you can absorb the action in one of Sea Point’s main roads and get your spice fix. It’s the baby of renowned chef Seelan Sundoo whose roots are in Kerala – known as “The Land of Spices”. (Note: I am heading to Kerala later this year! How exciting is that?)

Every time it’s a trio of lamb rotis to start us off. Delightful buttery mini breads are topped with a wonderfully tender and tasty lamb curry that creates what’s like a party on your palate.

Sundoo: trio of roti

Little bundles of spice and deliciousness

There are a range of small dishes to share which are all wonderful. And there’s also a selection of curries which you can choose in small (starter size) or large (main course size) portions. Now that’s a good idea. We love the Pondicherry kingklip which is served in a fresh tomato, garlic, spring onion, coriander and tamarind sauce. Kingklip is a local white fish with a beautiful sweetness and the perfect texture for a curry concoction.

Sundoo: kingklip

Sweet tasty fish in a richly rounded sauce

Sundoo is at 77 Regent Road, Sea Point.

South China Dim Sum Bar

I love a dim sum or two and this unpretentious (well, basic) little restaurant in Long Street in the heart of the City Bowl serves up some of the best I’ve ever had. You sit on crates and eat off paper plates and it’s one of the nicest lunches you’ll have. All dim sum are freshly made and they are amazing value.

Dim Sum

Delightful lamb potstickers served with spicy yogurt

Dim Sum

Chicken wontons with spicy szechuan

South China Dim Sum Bar is at 289 Long Street, Cape Town.

So there you have it, my favourite eating places with some mouth-watering pictures.

And finally, here’s some more…

La Perla – a Sea Point legend overlooking the promenade and the sea that serves great pasta dishes, amazing veal and carpaccio. A great place to people watch and inhale that wonderful Sea Point feeling.

Osteria Tarantino – tiny family-fun Italian on the slopes of the De Waterkant. Amazing fresh pasta dishes and the friendliest of welcomes.

Duchess of Wisbeach – you can’t beat the Duchess for a fun night among Sea Point’s glitterati. Try their truffled macaroni cheese or deconstructed prawn cocktail and party on until late.

The Greenhouse – fabulous fine dining under the guidance of Peter Tempelhoff in a stunning setting at the Cellars-Hohenort Hotel in Constantia.

Harbour House, Kalk Bay – designed in stunning beach-house style of blues and whites it’s right on the ocean and serves the tastiest of seafood and fish.

Reuben’s in The One and Only – an elegant, special-occasion sort of place in a fabulous hotel with friendly service and creative dishes with distinct South African flavours.

Bihari – another Indian favourite, this time in the Southern Suburbs offering a range of great traditional dishes and the freshest of buttery naan.

Tao Yuang – this Chinese restaurant on Beach Road in Sea Point does the most amazing sizzling kingklip and fabulous special fried rice. It’s perfect for an early dinner in their little garden.

Do you have a favourite restaurant in Cape Town that I’ve missed? I’d love to hear about it (and try it, naturally!) so do get in touch and let me know. Or do you strongly disagree with some of my choices…I’m up for a discussion any time!

Our return to Thali: we couldn’t resist

I don’t often blog twice about the same restaurant in the same year and this is the second time I’ve done it this year – we’re heading back to Thali. And it’s no coincidence that it’s two restaurants from the same group.

Chef Liam Tomlin is behind both Thali and the Chef’s Warehouse in Beau Constantia (my other double blog). You can read about my previous lunches at Thali and Beau Constantia times two!

As well as great food, it’s a great concept. A set menu of dishes to share that are served as four courses for a set price. No menu indecision to cope with and no food envy, just loads of delicious flavours to savour.

And I find the food of Thali so inspiring that I think I produced some of my best food pics ever. Enjoy the extravaganza.

What’s on the menu

This crispy spinach bhaji came topped with two spicy sauces. Spinach has never tasted this good (and I love spinach).

Thali: Spinach bhaji

Deep fried spinach bhaji, mint and coriander dressing, date and tamarind

The next course was a delightful mix of vegetarian offerings served with the softest of paratha. The extravaganza of cauliflower was incredible – tandoori cauliflower served with cumin cauliflower puree and cashew and coconut salad. Who knew you should tandoor cauliflower? You really should!

Thali: Dhal, Paratha and cauliflower

The platter also included the wonderfully creamy and satisfying smoked tadka dhal, perfect for a bit of paratha dipping.

Thali: tadka dhal

Close up on the smoked tadka dhal

Thali: Cauliflower

What a delicious cauliflower collection

Tandoori chicken skewers were served with tomato chill jam and cucumber coriander raita. Triple yum. I do love the individual mini tandoor ovens that are delivered to your table.

Thali: Tandoori chicken

Tandoori chicken skewers served in your own mini tandoor oven

Next course was the two fishy plates. The fried fish tacos added a lovely fresh, crispy element and some beautifully zest flavours

Thali: fish tacos

Zesty fried fish tacos

Fresh line fish was served with delectable Cape Malay dressing, a coriander emulsion and saffron pickled onion. Such a fabulous combination of tastes and textures, I could so easily demolish a whole main course of this all by myself.

Thali: Line fish

Delicate line fish with Cape Malay flavors

The final course – and it’s curry time. Mappa duck curry with spiced mango chutney, Phatch Shoran seafood curry, warm buttery naan, perfectly cooked rice and a fragrant tomato salsa.

Thali: Curries

Two of the most delicious curries ever

I tend to avoid duck curries most of the time as it can be a somewhat chewy experience. Tonight’s dish gets my award for best duck curry ever. The flavours were so incredible and I can’t remember ever eating such tender duck.

Thali: duck

The tenderest of duck in a gorgeous sauce

The seafood curry was deliciously creamy with just the right hit of spice. A mix of mussels, prawns and line fish – heaven in a bowl.

Thali: Seafood curry

The delightfully delicious seafood curry

Thali: Rice

Even the rice is delectable at Thali

Thali: chilli jam

The glistening chilli jam

Thali: Raita

A bowl of cooling raita

Thali: salsa

A bowl of vibrant, zesty salsa

Thali is at 3 Park Road, Gardens, Cape Town.

Today’s price point

Tapas for two at Thali is R700 (41 pounds at today’s exchange rate). For two, not each. Really great value as the portions are ample and you won’t get a better Indian meal around here. Seriously.

Early tapas at Bistro Sixteen82 at Steenberg

Today I’m transporting you back to beautiful Cape Town and one of our favourite eateries – Bistro Sixteen82, set on the Steenberg Golf and Wine estate.

Talented chef Kerry Kilpin serves up wonderful seasonal dishes with simply the best sauces (she’s a bit of a sauce Queen, I reckon). There’s a distinct Asian influence (she’s inspired by the food of Thailand), as well as some interesting local touches. Oh and our latest discovery is that you can go there early evening for their special tapas selection. It had to be done – it’s tapas time!

What’s on the menu

How we loved these crispy tacos filled with pickled fish in a Malay-style sauce. Little morsels of heavenly crunch.

Bistro Sixteen82: tacos

Amazing crispy pickled fish tacos

The beef and Manchego croquette was luscious – richly meaty and comfortingly cheesy with a lovely crisp shell.

Bistro Sixteen82: croquette

The perfectly crisp, meat croquette

The West Coast mussels are served in a creamy Asian-style sauce. One of the many bowls of mussels I devoured in this year’s Cape Town sojourn and one of the best. I would eat these on every visit to Sixteen82 without doubt.

Bistro Sixteen82: mussels

Beautifully creamy fresh mussels

And then there was this melt-in-the-mouth mound of sticky ginger and chili beef. Topped with a surprise – some crunchy creamy coleslaw, it made for a satisfying plate.

Sixteen82: sticky ginger and chili beef

The comforting sight of sticky ginger and chili beef

And how’s this for a vibrantly beautiful plate? A broccoli, beetroot and slow-roast tomato salad with a sprinkling of sesame seeds and fresh coriander and a zest dressing. Tastes as good as it looks.

Bistro Sixteen82: beetroot salad

The vibrant reds of beetroot and tomato salad

We loved Steenberg’s wine offering this year. Particular favourites are the Klein Steenberg Sauvignon Blanc, the Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon blend and their top-of-the-range Nebbiolo. My only negative about Sixteen82 is that they put way too much mark-up on the wine in the restaurant. It’s hard to stomach when it’s been made on the estate and you can buy it next door in the shop for a fraction of the price. Having queried this we were told that the Wine Estate and the restaurant are separate entities. And no you can’t take it through with you. So all we could do was get over it if we wanted to enjoy the delicious food. Which we have!

Today’s price point

Our five dishes today cost us R354 which is about £21 at today’s exchange rate.

Bistro Sixteen82 is on Steenberg Golf and Wine Estate in Cape Town.

It is open for lunch every day and for tapas early evening from 1700 to 2000h.

Tasty platters and stunning views at Constantia Glen

Today we’re headed into the mountainous land of forests and vineyards that is beautiful Constantia for lunch at Constantia Glen.

This beautiful vineyard sits just below Constantia Nek nestling in the valley with a mountain backdrop and vines as far as the eye can see. Constantia is the oldest wine producing region in South Africa, they started here in 1685. So they’ve had some practice – and you can tell. Constantia Glen’s wine is nothing short of spectacular.

They produce only four wines – two whites and two reds – and they’re all wonderful though our favourite is the Constantia Glen Three – a classic Constantia/Bourdeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. It’s just heavenly – even more so if you’re sitting at Constantia Glen sipping on it. Settled with our joyous glassfuls, it was time for lunch.

What’s on the menu

It’s a simple menu with a selection of tasty platters, pizzas, a soup dish and a couple of salads to choose from. The classic charcuterie and cheese offering dishes up a fine mix of tastiness.

Constantia: platter

The tasty meat and cheese platter

Today’s soup was a rich and satisfying goulash given a local touch by being served in a potjie – a round, last iron three-legged pot that’s usually used for cooking over a fire.

Constantia Glen: goulash

The rich goulash in a traditional potjie

My South African platter came loaded with all sorts of delish local delicacies like biltong, bobotie, smoked snoek pate and a beautiful loaf of pot bread.

Constantia Glen: platter

A platter of local specialities

Thinly sliced exotic ostrich bresaola was served topped with parmesan, rocket and olive oil.

Constantia Glen: bresaola

Beautifully vibrant bresaola

Constantia Glen is one of those places you simply can’t resist taking a pano on your phone. Here it is in all its lush greenness.

Constantia Glen: views

Panoramic views taken on pano

Constantia Glen: view

The stunning green and blue landscape

Constantia Glen is at in the Constantia Valley just below Constantia Nek.

 

 

 

Phenomenal food at The Greenhouse in Constantia

I do love a list. Especially a top-10 restaurants list. Oh, the arguments it can cause as everyone fiercely fights for a place for their favourite. It also makes for a brilliant goal – to try out every one on the list. A mission I have chosen to accept.

Luckily on the Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards list of top-10 restaurants in South Africa for 2017, nine of them are in Cape Town and the surrounds. Making my mission easy to complete.

So today we’re heading to The Greenhouse at The Cellars-Hohenhort, to give it its full title. Its home is in a beautiful five-star hotel set in nine acres of stunning gardens in the historic Constantia Valley. And it sits proudly at number five in South Africa on the Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards 2017.

The intriguing menu is conceived by Executive Chef Peter Templehoff and Head Chef Ashley Moss. They are committed to using local ingredients which makes for some interesting dishes. At today’s lunch we went for the three-course option. But of course – as you’d expect in a high end establishment like this – the three-course option is not three courses. Because there are pre-starters (three of them) and a bread course. And wonderful they were too – a fabulous way to start before you have your starters!

First up were little crispy parcels of cauliflower in a Cape Malay sauce. Great crunch, amazing flavours – and they look beautiful, too.

The Greenhouse: Pre starter

A crunchy base for the cauliflower in Cape Malay sauce

The biltong bitterballen were a revelation. Crisp on the outside, lovely and creamy inside with a good biltong hit. Biltong is a type of dried, cured meat that originated in Southern Africa – great use of one of my favourite ingredients.

Greenhouse: bilton bitterballen

Savoury and creamy biltong bitterballen

Deep-fried herby leaves were served topped with a tasty black garlic sauce.

The Greenhouse: Pre starter

Crunchy leaves and savoury delight

And then there was the bread course – yes, it’s officially a course these days – and so it should be, a real bread extravaganza. Three types of bread served with ceremony – and with three types of butter. Wow!

The Greenhouse: Pre starter

An extravaganza of bread three ways

The Greenhouse: butter

And of course an extravaganza of butter, too

Our butter was given a little bit of extra attention in the form of a grating of ancient volcanic salt. Seriously! There was garlic, spring onion and salted butter to sample.

The Greenhouse: butter

Salt is grated over at the table

Pre-starters consumed with sighs of joy we then all gasped with happiness when the starters were delivered. Ostrich tartare was served with salt baked celeriac, a truffled quails egg, kombu pickled vegetables and Cape mushrooms.

One of the most delightful presentations ever – it arrived nestling in the bottom of an ostrich egg which was nestling on top of a nest – complete with feathers. And what stunning tastes. My favourite bit was the fact that some of the egg yolk had been removed and replaced with truffle cream giving a surprisingly different flavour and texture. An amazingly clever mix of flavours and textures to tantalise the taste buds.

The Greenhouse: ostrich tartare

Ostrich tartare nestles in an ostrich egg

The Greenhouse: ostrich tartare

An overhead of the delightful tartare

On to mains. The local Cape fish (Kingklip) was served with langoustines, a Chinese noodle bean, miso onion, soba noodles and a crustacean emulsion. Beautifully cooked kingklip – possibly my favourite fish anyway – sweet, juicy langoustines and a wonderfully delicate sauce.

The Greenhouse: kingklip and langoustine

Beautifully flaky kingklip and sweet langoustines

The other mains choice was Braai Bokkie which was served with coffee carrots, lacquered onion, mushrooms and sweetbread. The springbok was coated with ground coffee before it was grilled to a succulent state of rareness.

The Greenhouse: springbok

Wonderfully tender and tasty springbok

Today was one of the rare days I ate dessert – obviously I had to as it was included! I opted for the Mpumalanga mango, Ethiopian passion berry, coconut ice cream and granadilla curd. All my favourite flavours dished up on a single plate. How perfect is that?

The Greenhouse: pudding

A wonderful mix of tropical flavours

The other pudding option was cleverly designed to look like a cheeseboard. But it didn’t taste like one! Camembert cheese cake was served with pineapple compote and pine nut biscotti. The cheese cake looked like such a perfect round of Camembert it certainly sent confusing signals to the brain. Genius!

Greenhouse: cheese cake

Is it a cheeseboard? Or is it a cake?

Phew! What a selection of delights. And of course it wasn’t over yet. A delightful tray of sweet treats to finish off a wonderful feast – mini custardy tarts and chocolate and passion fruit truffles.

Greenhouse: chocolates

Sweeties to complete the feast

This is certainly a wonderful voyage of flavours and clever ideas all well executed. The ambience is a touch formal which fits with the class and standards of both the restaurant and the hotel. Another one ticked off the list and well-deserved of its high ranking.

I’ve had a brilliant restaurant journey this year in Cape Town and I’m mulling over my own top-10. So watch this space.

Today’s price point

A meal at The Greenhouse is a real special occasion sort of thing, which does also mean that it is on the expensive side of Cape Town choices. Having said that it’s good value  – it would certainly punish your wallet a lot more for this calibre of food in London.

We had the official three-course menu which was actually eight dishes. And sensational they all were, too.

With one pre-lunch drink each and two bottles of wine between six our bill came to R1,000 each (approximately £58 at today’s exchange rate).

The Greenhouse is in the Cellars Hohenhort Hotel, 93 Brommersvlei Road, Constantia, Cape Town.