The Liz McGrath consists of three hotels: The Marine in Hermanus, The Cellars-Hohenort in Cape Town and The Plettenberg in...Plettenberg Bay. They have recently brought in Peter Tempelhoff as group executive chef and he has redone the menus of the hotel's restaurants. On Saturday night I celebrated a special occasion by taking The Dragon to The Greenhouse which is at The Cellars Hohenort. Shall we..?
Firstly, I would highly recommend arriving for any booking early to take a walk around the hotel's gardens, and quietly laugh at how ridiculously beautiful this city we call home actually is. As well as the beautiful flowers you can stop and appreciate the vegetable garden. There is something awesome and comforting knowing that ingredients you see on a menu were picked a few metres away.
After we had perved Mother Nature for about half an hour we took a seat in the hotel's bar, Martini. The decor is a lot funkier than you would expect - oversized lamps, quirky wallpaper, polka-dot-prints on upholstered wing-back chairs etc - and it reminded me a lot of Planet Bar at The Mount Nelson. (Remember that place? Friday nights there were mental at one stage.) I had a dirty Martini which was superb and was more-than-impressed with the "canapes" that were offered. White tomato soup, crumbed goat's cheese and the smallest chicken kebabs I have ever seen. Honestly, making them must have been a job reserved for a special kind of asshole. Someone who had pissed the head chef off badly.
I had a quick look at the menu but already knew what I was there for. With another mountain run with The Gym Nazi that morning under my belt I wasn't settling for anything less than the 7 course tasting menu. And yes, I was going to pair it with wine. The pain in my legs every time I stood up told me I had earned it. Now, I could go on and on and on and on about the food but I will try and keep it quick. I will say, however, that the entire experience (and the food in particular) was way more impressive than my visit to Roots. (here)
So what did we eat and drink? Let's have a look:
- Carpaccio of tuna and perlemoen with pickled radish, wasabi, soya caviar and yuzu marinade. Served with 2005 Klein Constantia estate brut mcc. What a start! The dish was delicate and elegant, qualities that were both exaggerated by the presentation on a solid slab of glass.
- Terrine of South African game. Served with 2000 Nederburg auction reserve special late harvest. Probably my favourite dish. A generous portion complimented by the sweetness of baby beetroot and carrots. The wine pairing worried me when I saw it but it worked out brilliantly.
- Cape Malay langoustine & pork belly. Served with 2005 Klein Constantia riesling. The only disappointment of the evening. It looked great, but the pork was over-seasoned and dry. The langoustine was good but not amazing.
- Rooibos espresso granite. As far as palette cleansers go, this is one of the most memorable I have had. Like...ever. A great change from sorbet.
- Beef fillet with seared foie gras, celeriac and local mushrooms. Served with 2007 Herold pinot noir. I remember the menu saying something about "pinotage pearls" with this dish. They were rich, caviar-sized balls and were phenomenal. I have never seen them before and I loved them. A really nice touch. The fillet was slightly tougher than I expected, but the flavour was better than most so I was happy. It was my first encounter with Herold and I really enjoyed it. Apparently the farm is somewhere near George?
- The next dish came from a cheese trolley which was wheeled to our table. Adding a bit of theatre, our waitress sliced the various cheeses and presented them with figs and walnuts. I can't even pretend to remember all the varieties but there were about 8, including blue cheese, goat's cheese, parmesan, red sage and camembert. The portions they gave us were fu*king massive and I didn't even finish half of it. I enjoyed every bite though.
- The finale arrived in the form of a chocolate gateaux with espresso syrup and mint jelly. The wine was their own...a 2007 vin de hohenort. The gateaux was moist and rich and the wine impressed me.
The meal was R550/head including wine. Without the wine it's R350/head. With the quality of ingredients, and the style of food, with this setting, I reckon that's bloody good value. For birthdays, anniversaries, dinners-with-the-boss, or if you just feel like a good spoil this is the place. I am a fan.
Visit them at The Cellars-Hohenort Hotel in Brommersvlei Road, or call them on (021) 794 2137.
P.S. I forgot to mention the service which was top-drawer. True, I probably should have worked that into the article instead of tacking it on the end but...well...I didn't.