October 20, 2021

From Greenhouse to function house

FROM GREENHOUSE TO FUNCTION HOUSE

The Liz McGrath Collection have announced the closure of three-plated Greenhouse Restaurant at the Cellars-Hohenort Hotel, making way for what will now be a beautiful space for indoor and outdoor events. It is also the opportunity for newly-appointed executive chef of the hotel, Tronette Dippenaar, to rise to the challenge.

It was a younger, but equally exuberant, enthusiastic Tronette Dippenaar who I met at the Marine Hotel six years ago. Our discussion centred on the importance of sourcing the freshest, local ingredients. Her ethos and commitment remain. Her infectious passion has been transferred from oceanside to the leafy, garden setting of The Cellars-Hohenort in Constantia. Both part of the Liz McGrath Collection, it has been a seamless yet exciting and forward move for this chef. “This was an easy decision, made in a heartbeat. It happened quickly,” she says with a broad smile.

IN THE SHADE OF THE CAMPHORS

The Conservatory menu may look simple and classic, yet it is carefully considered. There is a focus on light and uncomplicated dishes, traditional favourites with a contemporary twist. The joy is that you may choose to enjoy the cuisine in the main dining section that embraces the Camphor trees and historical garden vista, the breakfast room or on the outdoor terrace. 

PRIDE OF CONSTANTIA

At a recent unveiling of the Summer menu, Tronette kicked off with an amuse bouche that immediately cemented her in my heart as a chef leading the way – her dainty, delectable beetroot macaron created a lasting impression. She displayed the entire menu of dishes on a long table for us to drool over before taking our seats and choosing from the menu. I started with the crispy tempura prawns on a hot vermicelli salad with a peanut-and-chilli jam. It was paired with Steenberg Semillon 2020. Knowledgeable and gracious sommelier Marlvin assured us that the Constantia Valley wines take pride of place on the menu. The Elgin free-range chicken breast with a carrot-and-cashew puree, young leeks, garden peas and a sherry jus was flavour-filled. My lunch companions raved about the smoked tomato risotto. By the end of the lunch, now best friends, we gleefully shared the red velvet and Amarula gateaux, the lightest coconut panna cotta with lime and ginger, and the apple tarte tatin. Equally luscious and an excellent indication that Tronette and her team have a light hand when it comes to pastries and sweets. Watch out for her sugar-free high tea in November.

BEYOND OUR BORDERS

There is no doubt that Tronette will take The Cellars-Hohenort into its next chapter with aplomb, as the curtain draws at Greenhouse. Here many a great chef has created legendary footprints. Since the inception of the Plate Rating we have seen the impressive talents of chefs Peter Tempelhoff, who has elevated FYN to 92nd place in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, and is wowing guests at Beyond. Lastly Farrel Hirsch, who worked with Pete before taking the helm, is off to Ireland. We wish him well in his new adventure.  

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