Cape Town - Somehow, I have fallen out of the habit of proper lunch.
It’s often a salad at my desk, or a slice of toast with some fruit on a weekend. My husband - my usual dining partner - and I used to eat out a lot, but parenthood diverted us to late afternoon beers in places with jungle gyms, and somehow the habit stuck.
So, an invitation to review Hemelhuijs in the lower Cape Town CBD offered a chance to reconnect with a former, more languid life.
We packed the teen off to a friend and set off on a drizzly grey Saturday to find food. Hemelhuijs is in Waterkant street, which has been charmingly pedestrianised (though it does mean you will need to find parking in an adjacent street if you are coming by car).
We wandered up Waterkant to the bottom of the Fan Walk bridge, and there on the left was Hemelhuijs. In we went, to green walls and a gorgeous flower arrangement and a paper table cloth (just as well - we do a lot of taste sharing and spills always happen).
We had things to do later that Saturday afternoon, so restricted ourselves to one glass of wine each (Thelema’s Muscat de Frontignan for me - R55 for the glass - and a R55 Hillcrest Atlantic Slopes Sauvignon Blanc for Bob). Those in hand, we surveyed the menu while nibbling on mosbolletjie bread dipped in spicy olive oil with sesame seeds.
The starters looked delicious but the cold grey skies sent us to soup - tomato and celeriac with creme fraiche and muscadel (R65) for me and the bone marrow broth with slow roasted beef , shaved green papaya, bean shoots and soft boiled eggs (R85) for Bob. The soup was very good - thick, sludgy and slightly spicy - and the broth was even better: somehow it was like a Thai tom yum soup with clear meaty depths. Good to the last drop, said Bob.
Our mains were farm style beef and cabbage-frikadelle with tomato butter and creamy mashed potato (R115) and delicate pan fried veal with crab butter, parmesan, pine nuts and parsley (R155). The frikadelle (meatballs) were gorgeous, just what was needed on a cold day. Bob loved the texture of the veal but was a little disconcerted by a slight citrusy tang to the dish.
We were sadly unable to contemplate desserts. Our meals had fortified us for the rest of our busy afternoon in cold Cape Town. We set forth, vowing that languid lunches - preferably at Hemelhuijs -should be on our to-do list for the future.
* Renee Moodie was a guest of Hemelhuijs for the purposes of this review.
Website: www.hemelhuijs.co.za (be warned if you reading this in an office - the website comes with music)
Address: 71 Waterkant Street, Cape Town
Phone: 021 418 2042
Email: [email protected]
HOURS OF SERVICE
Monday to Friday 9am – 4pm; Saturday 9am - 3pm and closed on Sundays.