Constantly voted as one of South Africa’s Top 10 restaurants, booking a table at Greenhouse can be a real challenge. Thus make sure to plan well ahead and book your table early. Having made it only onto the waiting list but with no luck to get promoted in the previous two years, I contacted the restaurant by mid-October last year, just in time to secure one of the last tables still available for my end-December visit.
Greenhouse is located at the beautiful Cellars-Hohenort hotel in quaint Constantia Valley, at the eastern slope of Table Mountain, just about twenty minutes from the centre of Cape Town.
The moment you step into the restaurant, the name choice becomes obvious. Large glass walls and a glass ceiling are creating the impression you are sitting right in the midst of the beautiful lush gardens.
The restaurant boasts a minimalist clean design with wooden tables complemented by wood and leather chairs in tones of charcoal and honey. Despite its definite elegance, the restaurant feels totally relaxed, almost casual.
Food at the Greenhouse is inspired by local ingredients and South African history, yet it’s presented in a modern trendsetting style interpreted by executive chef Peter Tempelhoff (one of only two Relais & Chateaux Grand Chefs in South Africa) and head chef Ashley Moss. And it’s not only impeccably delicious food, the way each single course is presented and explained is equally appealing.
Usually Greenhouse offers seasonally changing tasting menus, including its classic ‘African Origins’ menu. It’s a menu that takes you through the various African locations from the coastline into the bushveld and semi desert – a perfect showcase for the many different authentic flavours of this incredible continent. It’s been the one I had in mind when making the booking at Greenhouse.
Upon arriving at the restaurant, however, I learned that in occasion of executive chef Peter Tempelhoff’s tenth anniversary at the helm of the restaurant, Greenhouse offered a ten course set menu only. Aptly called the TEN, this menu was composed of ten of Peter Tempelhoff’s most notable dishes created over his whole time at Greenhouse.
No regrets though, it was indeed an absolute delight.
Kicking off the menu was an old goodie: shellfish on the beach, that was presented with edible sand and sea foam.
The next course, the butchers bird’s pantry, was beautifully presented on the spikes of a bronze tree that contained nibbles of delicious quail tacos and gremolate crusted salmon.
Inspired by the locally well known cape malay cuisine that originates from Asian and African slaves brought to South Africa by the Dutch, the next course was gamefish served with Ethiopian passion berry and nitro labneh, a Middle Eastern cheese. It had an excellent flavour balance and the consistency of the gamefish was exactly what the dish called for.
Next was a terrine of chicken and mushroom that was presented rather plain but really came to life by the combination of Chantilly green beans and a five-spiced pear chutney and a tasty onion brioche.
This was followed by chokka (squid) ‘noodles’ with fig pesto, coconut and ink sauce. An interesting flavour combination but I am not sure if the squid completely convinced me.
Next came boran beef, a special type of cattle that is breed in eastern Africa. It was served with braised kelp, green romesco, beef tendon and sesame and had a very delicate taste.
Perhaps my favourite course of the evening was the braai bokkie, a tasty medium-raw springbok filet with mielie pap, carrots, hibiscus jel and eryingii mushroom. The filet had just the right level of tenderness with a moistness inside that perfectly enhanced its natural flavour.
Rounding of the ten plates menu were three different desserts. First a palate cleanser of cherries and champagne jelly, a refreshing camomile sherbet yoghurt with little cubes of champagne jelly and glazed cherries rounded off with lemon clotted cream.
Then came the ‘camembert’ cheese cake, a delicious fluffy mousse that was presented in the form of a camembert wheel. It was nicely rounded off with roast pineapple ice cream and pine nut biscotti.
And finally, the tree of delights, containing dark chocolate balls and white nougat foundant.
Have you eaten at Greenhouse yet? Let me know what you thought of it.
The Greenhouse at the Cellers-Hohenort Hotel
93 Brommersvlei Road, Constantia, Cape Town
Open Tue to Sat, 6pm – 9.30pm