Review : Hemelhuijs

I was invited to attend the launch of Hemelhuijs' new winter menu, by the ever lovely Manley Communications. I sadly couldn't attend on either of the "official" days, so I was allowed to visit the restaurant at my leisure when it best suited me.

Hemelhuijs is situated on Waterkant Street in Cape Town - along the "fan walk" to Green Point stadium. With doors opening up onto the red-brick pavement, allowing lunch time customers to catch a little of the rare winter sunshine, I wasn't surprised it was so popular with the local business crowd.
 I arrived at 12h00, so had the restaurant to my self before the lunch time rush entered - and it was lovely. A peaceful oasis in the centre of a bustling city, just the spot to sit, gather your thoughts and have a lunch time treat before heading back to your desk.

A mistake I made early on though, was allowing the staff to suggest a 3 course menu for me. With the most delicious home baked bread to nibble on beforehand (with a sweet, slightly spicy za'atar and olive oil dip) only having a starter would have been more than enough for a lunch time meal.
My starter was a clear choice from the start - a warm salad with roast duck, baby beetroot and walnut praline. Portions are very generous, and I was almost full by the time I'd finished the plate...but with absolutely no regrets. Tender, flavourful shredded duck given sweetness from the crunchy praline and aged balsamic, with earthy beetroot and a little rocket and naartjie, it was a triumph of a dish -apparently it is very popular with customers too, with a version of it featuring on all their menus throughout the year.  
It was then on to mains -I was torn between the macaroni gratin with bacon, borenkaas and apple sauce and the calamari, but as it was such a beautiful sunshine filled day (in July!) and considering the size of the duck salad to start, I decide the calamari would be the wiser choice (but when it next rains, I'm definitely going back for the macaroni).

The calamari was everything it should be - crisp and light on the outside, soft and tender inside the crumb. The lime mayonnaise was the highlight of the dish for me -tangy, sweet and creamy, I could have eaten it by the bucket. The green papaya salad was light and crunchy, with a tangy mustard and ginger dressing.
I tried my best, but could not conquer it - I had to leave some of the salad mountain behind.
I felt like a toddler undeserving of dessert, as I hadn't finished my main. The team at Hemelhuijs had other ideas though, and suggested I take a slice of the spiced date cake home to enjoy at tea time. I had it on my bed, with a cup of Earl Grey tea, and it was heavenly. Filled with chunks of dates, unbelievably moist with a cream cheese icing, it melted in my mouth and was the perfect reminder of my lunch earlier that day.
Thank you to Manley Communications for the invitation, and to Hemelhuijs for hosting me.


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