Travel Concepts team overwhelmed by ‘The Greenhouse Effect’: Fine Dining at South Africa’s top restaurant

“The Greenhouse Restaurant recently scooped up the 2011 Eat Out and DSTV Food Network award not only as ‘Restaurant of the Year’ but also as the ‘No 1 Restaurant in South Africa’. It has become the favourite subject of food writers, local leisure seekers, international travelers and, auspiciously, the Travel Concepts team alike.”

“The Greenhouse Restaurant recently scooped up the 2011 Eat Out and DSTV Food Network award not only as ‘Restaurant of the Year’ but also as the ‘No 1 Restaurant in South Africa’. It has become the favourite subject of food writers, local leisure seekers, international travelers and, auspiciously, the Travel Concepts team alike.”

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Regular readers of our blog will know that the Travel Concepts team consists of real foodies.  No surprise then that when we were invited to try The Greenhouse Restaurant at the 5-Star Cellars-Hohenort Hotel, we literally jumped at the chance.

The Greenhouse recently scooped up the 2011 Eat Out and DSTV Food Network award not only as ‘Restaurant of the Year’ but also as the ‘No 1 Restaurant in South Africa’.   Set in the historic Hohenort building and looking onto verdant gardens, it has become the favourite subject of food writers, local leisure seekers, international travelers and, auspiciously, the Travel Concepts team alike.

Perched on the breathtaking slopes of Table Mountain, the owner-managed Cellars Hotel is located in the historical Constantia Valley, adjacent to the world famous Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and minutes away from the Constantia Wine Route.  Conveniently, it is also a short drive away from no fewer than 11 world class golf courses.  The hotel forms part of The Collection by Liz McGrath which boasts first class, luxury accommodation at three of the Western Cape’s top establishments; the other two being The Marine in Hermanus and The Plettenberg in Plettenberg Bay.

Fine food is one of the cornerstones of The Collection’s ethos and, through her passion, proprietor Liz McGrath has ensured that The Greenhouse is today as iconic as its resplendent hotel setting. It expertly showcases Cape Town’s first Grand Chef Peter Tempelhoff’s acclaimed conceptual approach to cuisine.  Says The Greenhouse team: “The tasting menus are inspired by the imagination, a place where anything is possible. The cuisine deconstructs and reinvents past classics, resulting in dishes that surprise and leave a lasting impression.”  Travel Concepts Group CEO, Richard Holt, couldn’t agree more and fittingly calls it “art”.  “It was simply a fantastic overall experience within a stylish, intimate surrounding.”

With the emphasis placed on local produce and flavours, the tasting menu – paired with superb wines from the surrounding wine regions – will impress even the most seasoned diners.  The restaurant seats only 45 guests, which ensures that each patron experiences a personalised fine-dining affair. “It showcases the finest of South Africa,” reads the Rossouw’s Restaurants review, while Eat Out has the following to say: “The tasting menu consists of four courses, which could feature the local buffalo mozzarella with avocado mouse and the intense flavour of dehydrated tomatoes and olives, followed by Malay-scented seafood risotto with abalone. The main course to go for is the delicious, slow-cooked Karan beef fillet with red onion marmalade.  Finish off the meal with a flaming Grand Marnier soufflé.”

Travel Concepts MD, Mandi Johnson-Aliverti, has an exceptionally difficult to please Italian husband… She regales: “We subscribe to the Slow Food movement and were so impressed that I can confidently say The Greenhouse and The Test Kitchen will, from now on, be mentioned in the same sentence!”  Mandi’s personal favourite was the Cape Malay spiced lobster bisque served in an egg shell, and the ‘Foie Gras-nola’ – seared foie gras, honey-nut granola, parsnip, onion marmalade, and Asian plum sauce.

But what about the ambiance and service, you may ask?  “The staff were excellent, friendly, knowledgeable – and not overbearing,” Richard confirms before Group MD and Founder of the Concepts Collection, Christina Holt, enthusiastically interjects: “As an interior design addict I just love the fusion of chic ‘conservatory style’ décor (yes, you feel like being in your wealthy British aunt’s country retreat) and unforgettable cuisine to match.  I find myself talking about the simple yet sophisticated atmosphere and culinary showstoppers even to my friends and family in Europe – and will make each one’s upcoming visit to South Africa a reason to go back”.  Eat Out adds to this ambient praise: “A superbly light and airy room, with that sought-after (but rarely achieved) indoor-outdoor feeling.”

The Travel Concepts team would like to extend a heartfelt, super-satisfied thank you to Tony Romer-Lee, CEO of The Liz McGrath Collection, who afforded us this glorious, gastronomic feast.   We have a lot more to say (don’t even get us started on the scrumptious baby macaroons!) but leave it to our readers to also share in the experiences of other patrons.  Visit Tripadvisor for further mouth-watering accounts from across the globe on this food connoisseur’s haven.

Images supplied by The Collection.