Hello, my name is Crystal and I suffer from severe food envy. You know the drill; you visit a restaurant with a group of people and then, when your food arrives, you spend the whole meal longingly looking over at your neighbour’s plate wishing they’d offer to swap meals with you. Of course, they never do (so inconsiderate) and so you’re forced to just sit there and deal with regret. It happens to me more often than I care to mention which is why I love family-style eating or sharing meals – everything gets placed in the middle of the table, allowing you to nibble on a little bit of everything. There’s no “this is my food” nonsense and most importantly no food envy. One spot that is doing tapas-inspired eats and treats very well this summer is The Conservatory at The Cellars-Hohenort in Constantia. The Cape Town eatery just launched their summer menu and there’s no doubt in my mind that with this delightfully fresh new offering they’ll become your new go-to spot for lazy Sunday lunches with friends and family.
One of the great things about The Conservatory is that they try to incorporate fresh produce picked from the hotel’s gardens as often possible. The things you find on your plate are locally sourced and oh-so-fresh and there’s no doubt that you can taste the difference. The starters options (which are prepared to be shared) are, of course, my favourite part of the new menu and offers hungry diners plenty to explore flavour wise. If you’re looking to share a few bites and nibbles over a few glasses of wine then the starters menu is just the place to look. The portion sizes are generous and can easily be used to make up a full family-style lunch. I got to try a few things from the starter menu and absolutely loved the Hummus with Lavash Bread (R45), Sticky Asian Buffalo wings (R90), Crispy Fried Calamari (R115), and the Dalewood Boland Cheese Soufflé (R75).
Seasoned with paprika and coriander, the Hummus is some of the best you will ever taste and paired with the delightfully light and fluffy Lavash Bread, is beyond morish. The Buffalo wings are beautifully sweet and if it weren’t for the other food coming out I would have finished the entire bowl on my own. Of course, you can’t talk about The Conservatory without mentioning the legendary Cheese Soufflé. This is one dish that makes it onto the menu time and time again and for good reason. This time around they’ve switched it up by making the souffle with the Dalewood Boland cheese – a slightly milder cheese with a savoury and slightly sweet flavour. If you love cheese as much as I do then you will be obsessed with this cheesy delight. But, I must warn you, there’s a good chance that this dish will creep into your dreams and night. It’s incredibly rich but is more than worth the calories.
To bulk up your meal you can always add a few things from the Freshly Sprouted (salad), Fauna (sides), Local Cultures (cheese & preserves) and Fermentos menus. For something a little bit different look to the Fermentos menu which offers a variety of fermented dishes Saurerkraut (R35), Miso Mushrooms (R45), and Wasabi-pickled Daikon (R35). These can be enjoyed alongside any dish on the starters or mains menu and are a great way to add a new flavour dimension to your meal. I would highly recommend the Miso Mushrooms and the spicy Kimchi.
Of course, if you’re really hungry, the menu also offers delicious main course options. Tuck into delights like Springbok on the Braai (served with grilled skilpadtjies – R150), 200g Free Range Beef Burgers with all the trimmings (R135), and Roast Baby Chicken R145). I opted to go for the Grilled Indian Ocean Tuna (R206) which was the perfect option after our starters feast. Served on a bed of chilled soba noodles with bok choy and a miso glaze this dish is beautifully light and refreshing. I would definitely recommend it as the number one choice on a hot summer’s day and for those who love Asian flavours. Once again food envy came into play for me during the mains portion of the meal and I can also tell you that the Grilled Beef Ribeye (R220), served with bone marrow on the side, looks like a winner of note. I won’t lie, there were a few moments during lunch where I was tempted to grab my neighbour’s bone marrow and run into the garden with it, but alas, sanity prevailed.
As for dessert, there are plenty of sweet treats to choose from on the dessert menu including Dark Chocolate Tart (R75), Cape Brandy Pudding R65), and Strawberry Mille-Feuille (R70). I tried the Strawberry Mille-Feuille and loved the bitter-sweet flavour combination of the fudged white chocolate mousse with the strawberries and Matcha tea ice cream. This dessert is definitely a winner if you don’t have a massive sweet tooth as the Matcha really helps to balance out the decadent Mille-Feuille.
The Conservatory at The Cellars-Hohenort is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner. For more information and for bookings visit The Collection by Liz McGrath website.