Restaurant review: The magic of making local taste exotic
Greenhouse in Constantia by chef Peter Templehoff
What: Spring lunch tasting menu.
Where: Greenhouse at the Cellars-Honenhort Hotel in Constantia, Cape Town (+27 21 481-1948).
How much: R1,200 for a seven-course meal including wine (R850 excluding wines).
Service: Excellent: unobtrusive and professional. Would I return? Yes, please.
A review on TripAdvisor refers to the Greenhouse menu as having an African theme. It’s mostly correct. Lunch includes waterblommetjie, pap and sustainably sourced fish. The wine we drink is local. The restaurant, elegantly furnished, is in a grand old Cape building at the foot of Table Mountain.
But besides the colloquialisms on the menu, Peter Templehoff food is influenced by his travels to Europe and to Asia. By combining yuzu (a spicey Japanese sauce) and Asian pesto flavours with seaweed from the Cape waters, and locally-raised Jersey cow beef, Peter brings global ideas together without creating any anxiety on the palate.
My friend and I sit at a window table, overlooking a sweeping green lawn. It’s bright outside, with light bouncing off a swimming pool. Inside, it’s calm and quiet. A few more people arrive after we do. Peter tells us later that regulars come from Constantia throughout the season, often filling up the restaurant before tourists at the hotel have a chance to book.
First up is a “snack” of octopus served with seaweed. The plating is exquisite, the tangerine-yellow octopus dish and dark green seaweed are placed on a turquoise blue plate. The food is delicate and delicious. This is followed by a steaming prawn. It arrives on a hot stone under a glass cover. I’m slightly dumbfounded by eating an imported prawn, albeit a delicious one. Farmed sustainably in the clean waters of a New Caledonian lagoon, Peter says these are of some of the best prawns available, if not the best. “They are clean and pure.”
It’s clear Peter thinks deeply about provenance and sustainability. “We are not a completely sustainable restaurant,” he says. But he does try. Although it still relies on cling wrap, the restaurant doesn’t use vacuum pack plastic. It’s off the municipal water grid, using four 1,000-litre reticulation tanks that have been installed on the property. Compostables are sent to the garden.
The beef served is from Jersey cows that are tended to after their milk days are over – the meat is delicious. The fish is sourced locally via the Abalobi app, which facilitates sourcing directly from the fishers. Peter likes to use sea bream because it is particularly sustainable and delicious served fried, steamed, grilled, or raw.
I’m normally not a fan of porridge of any kind. But served after a delicately balanced lunch perfectly paired with a variety of wine, this dessert of white chocolate pap was a good full stop to the meal. Served with guava and raspberry the richness is sliced through by some fruity freshness. In another Tripadvisor review, the SA writer says she loved the menu for the local touches and ingredients, and wrote that many of the local ingredients she hadn’t tried before. For this alone, Peter deserves 10 stars. To book, go here.