This is by far the best Restaurant week experience I had this Autumn!
Before I made my reservation, this restaurant ticked a lot of my boxes. I had only heard good things about it, it serves fine dining but contemporary food and it is not too far from my house. And yet surprisingly I had never been…
So it was only right, I try it out.
The Conservatory, at the Cellars- Hohenort, located in the valleys of Constantia. Don’t get it confused with the Conservatory in Franschoek.
Findability 8/10– GPS found it without any trouble. The only issue was that Constantia Suburban roads are very dark at night, with minimal lighting and are surrounded by thick trees. Constantia is one of the suburbs that boasts the most expensive estates in South Africa. So i’m sure the lack of road lighting is an intentional choice, not as a result of poor service delivery by the municipality:-)
Anyway, I get there and it’s actually in a hotel, Cellars-Hohenort Hotel. And the restaurant is just a small part of this huge estate with open lawn and plush green grass. Not sure how they’re maintaining this good grass with the drought in Cape Town.
I meet my date, who is on time surprisingly. African time and all…. #Joking, don’t get offended fellow African.
The restaurant is very grand, the reception area separate from the Hotel reception area which gives it more life and purpose. There’s comfy couches you can sit at and wait for your fellow diners while enjoying a glass of wine. I like this!
When we are walked to our table, i feel the warmth of the restaurant yet the decor is simplistic while opulent at the same time. That crisp white linen and good quality table setting that is essential in fine dining for me.
We are seated and given the menus. It’s restaurant week so we get the Restaurant Week set menu and the wine menu. The wine selection is impressive, but we are in the middle of a wine route… Some of the best South African wines, especially whites, in my opinion come from the valleys and the hills of Constantia.
Starters: I go for the ‘Dalewood Boland Cheese souffle served with a freshly shaved Parmesan and cheesy gin sauce’, and my date the same. It just sounds too good and interesting. Cheese and Gin?
And it truly delivered on all the expectations. So rich but still so light and airy. Perfect balance and harmony of flavours. Not sure how I expected the gin cheese sauce to taste like, but I was served perfect. I almost got all my tummy space taken by the starter and left no space for mains and dessert. I seriously couldn’t stop myself, it was that perfect. Definitely belonged to the ‘ Yes, it’s worth every calorie!’ category.
Mains: We make a plan to order different meals this time so we can have a better critique of this restaurant.
I go for a steak- Beef sirloin served with vetkoek, roasted beets, onion and thyme jus. Yes Vetkoek! While my date goes for a line fish of the day served with a crayfish tortellini, pickled cauliflower and bisque espuma.
And, it was good. My steak cooked to perfection, medium rare. Served with a smooth sauce and puree, resulting in a meal with balanced flavours and textures. The addition of a dainty vetkoek makes this dish rather interesting. But I’m still reminiscing about that Cheese souffle.
My date’s fish tastes good as well. Nothing eventful though, I would’ve loved some crunch or acid to balance the flavours better. And you probably never hear this as a complaint, but the fish was too big; too much. The presentation could have been better too, more refined than this.
Then it was time for dessert. We have 3 options but my date goes for a Flexible white chocolate genache with lemon confit and blackberry granite AND i do the Creme Caramel.
Dessert was utterly delicious too. Very sophisticated flavours but playful as well. We even joked about how the blackberry granite looks like ‘isiqeda’- a crushed juice lolly, didnt taste anything close to though.
The ambience, rating at 8/19, was good with other patrons happily chatting away and enjoying their meals. The soft music in the background, soothing to the spirit while food soothes the soul. Live music would’ve definitely sealed the deal.
Service, rating at 10/10, was impeccable and personalised. Couldn’t have asked for any better. So attentive but not clingy, confident and knowledgeable about the restaurant and the menu without coming across as arrogant.
Will I ever go back to this restaurant again? YES, in a heart beat. I really enjoyed every bit of it. Great food, good company!
The waiter especially recommended coming in for lunch with my 5 year old son, how he would enjoy playing outside in the open space and jungle gym made especially for them to feel free and run around with no boundaries or having to interrupt their parents because of boredom.
Overall Rating: 9/10. The only way it could have been a ten, is if they had sushi and oysters on the menu and the prices were a bit friendlier on the pocket.