A couple of weeks ago a few of my fellow foodies and I seated ourselves around a table in The Conservatory at The Cellars-Hohenort, ready to try their fresh new spring menu. The weather was playing along nicely and from my seat by the window I could enjoy a canopy-view of the garden below, looking down at the rose-lined walkways, the sloping lawns and the leaves ruffling in a light breeze. If you’re going to avoid office admin this is a pretty sweet way to do it.
The new menu has quite a different flavour compared to previous years, while keeping a couple of crowd favourites to avoid a revolution – no way they were taking off that Cheese Soufflé! Overall though they have aimed to create a menu packed with healthier options that allow you to enjoy fine dining without all the guilt.
Chef Peter Tempelhoff took up the challenge to create dishes that were nutritious, without compromising on the experience. I was really excited when I first heard about this new movement, especially since the combined gastronomic skills of Tempelhoff and chefs Delia Harbottle, Ashley Moss was bound to deliver delicious results. So now you have sections on the menu like Fermentos, celebrating the healthy impact of lactobacillus found in fermented foods, as well as their Freshly Sprouted section with a selection of salads. Overall the menu has a nice variety of dishes even dieticians would approve of, all showing off ethically sourced ingredients.
We tried a tapas-size selection of various dishes from the new menu. We kicked off with a few rounds from their Starters section, paired with options from the Flora, Fermentos and Freshly Sprouted dishes. The first round included Hummus & Lavash Bread served with a chickpea salsa, paprika and coriander. This was served next to some artisan ham with capers, olive oil and fresh ciabatta, and on the side we had queen olives as well as some really delicious Miso Mushrooms. I loved the back-to-basics approach of these dishes, celebrating the quality of the produce with classic flavour combinations and perfect execution.
I loved the back-to-basics approach of these dishes, celebrating the quality of the produce with classic flavour combinations and perfect execution
While the larger part of the menu features heart-loving dishes, you also have a few guilty pleasures. The next round brought us their famous cheese soufflé, which they’ve changed up by using the locally produced Dalewood Boland cheese instead of imported products. Round of applause, please! This is served with a cheesy gin sauce that is poured over at the table, which soaks into the light and fluffy soufflé underneath. Pure decadence.
We also tried a portion of their sticky asian buffalo wings, which was one of my favourites from the day. The wings were succulent, sweet and sticky with fresh hits from chilli, cucumber, spring onion and the Char sui sauce.
Another naughty treat is their crispy fried calamari which is served with a smoked paprika aioli, chorizo crumble and a fresh squeeze of lemon. Smoked paprika is pretty much one of the best inventions man has ever come up with so I’ll love it on anything.
On the healthy side we also had game fish sashimi which is served with vegetable rice paper rolls and a hot sour vinaigrette. Once again the flavours were fresh and bright, and a beautiful compliment to the rich slices of fish.
From here we could each choose a main and upon recommendation from the Cellars team I went for the Indian Ocean Tuna which is served on soba noodles and bok choy with a miso glaze. The flavours were clean and simplisic, and I enjoyed the creamy fish with the nutty noodles and sweet sauce. We were also served a side of spicy kimchi with our mains and I thought this was a delicious compliment. This was my first time tasting kimchi and I am completely hooked. It’s spicy and salty and sour all at once, and I kept going back for another chunk of sticky rice swiped through the fermented veggies.
The other sides included a portion of their seared pak choi with shiitake mushrooms, spring onion, oyster sauce and sesame seeds, another nice combination of Asian flavours that went beautifully with my Tuna main course.
And then for good measure they served up onion rings that were covered in a gorgeous light and fluffy batter, alongside some triple cooked parmesan chips served with umami ketchup and rosemary salt. Life is all about balance, after all.
At this point we all felt we had gotten in a good amount of omegas, probiotics, fiber and vitamins, so naturally we had to end off with a sweet treat. Okay I know that’s not how it works but how do you say no to strawberry mille-feuille with fudged white chocolate mousse, matcha ice cream and fresh strawberries? You don’t. You say yes please. And if someone is pouring a glass of the Vin de Hohenort dessert wine you simply smile politely and know that life is good.
In all seriousness though I really enjoyed the desserts, and I thought the portion sizes were perfect. It allows you to enjoy something sweet without overindulging. The mille-feuille was light and fresh, and a brilliant option for the warmer months. Another dish that caught my attention was the Crème Caramel, which rested in a dark, sweet sauce, with a crispy tuille spread like a flame on the side of the plate. Beautiful.
If you are looking for a spot to enjoy some fine dining and a gorgeous setting, go give this new menu a try. I recommend you get a group of friends together and order a couple of dishes from each section to share in a tapas style. That’s really the only way to avoid serious order envy.
You can download the new menu over here.