The Greenhouse heads into Winter 2019 retaining its evergreen appeal with a menu comprising tempting seasonal additions courtesy of new head chef Farrel Hirsch. From April 2019 onwards, patrons can embark on either a full tasting Journey or a less extensive Discovery experience. Both menus are as inventive as ever, and enhanced by exemplary service, stimulating presentation, plating akin to artistry, and an incredible array of flavours.
Earlier in his career, Hirsch served as Sous Chef at Greenhouse before moving on to roles as Head Chef on North Island in the Seychelles and at the Four Seasons in Johannesburg. He returns to his former kitchen with fervour, his consummate skill borne out in the newly conceived seasonal offering.
“With our winter experience, the aim is to continue the Greenhouse’s sterling reputation for sourcing unusual, meaningful ingredients and lending them an extraordinary treatment,” Hirsch comments.
The nine-course tasting Journey comprises a duet of conceptual canapes, a trio of intriguing starters, a single main followed by a traditional palate cleanser, and two desserts. Both vegetarian and vegan options are available. You can elect to pair either tasting menu with specially selected wines.
Almost every course has a willfully South African element that pays homage to its culinary context. Guests will delight in the gourmet mielie pap that is served with Springbok. There’s minutely grated boerenkaas from a local cheesery in the delicate cheese-and-tomato “sandwich” that is really an airy, wafer-thin canape. The dark chocolate truffles are crafted from Klippies & Coke. A local MCC Brut dazzles in the granita – a traditional palate cleanser made in a decidedly avant garde manner right at your table, by whipping liquid nitrogen into a syrup of lavender blossoms and bubbly. Sour fig accompanies the Cape octopus. And so on…
Then there’s a dish particularly associated with the Greenhouse, titled “the butcher bird’s pantry”, which continues the amplification of the local. A unique presentation device hammered out of copper and made to resemble an Acacia thorn bush upon which a “butcher bird” or Fiscal Shrike would stock its insect kills, is used to “spear” a selection of morsels. Greenhouse has retained this unconventional plating on the Winter menu, peppering the “thorns” with quail tacos and truffle-stuffed quail eggs dusted with pastry.
The reinvented Greenhouse staples continue the restaurant’s sublime marriage of the delicious and the extraordinary, while the new additions do not fail to delight. Highlights of the new Winter offering include an inspired pork Confit that melds French cooking techniques with Asian tasting notes. The tender XO pork belly has an aromatic walnut and ginger glaze and is served alongside a silkily textured, slow-poached egg cooked carefully at 62 degrees, and slivers of braised shitake mushrooms. Theatricality enters the arena in the form of the ponzu sauce, which is gently warmed over a burner at table. A gold-leafed, translucent disk of tomato gel dissolves into the sauce before it is poured over the pork to finish the dish.
To soak up the remaining flavourful sauce, bao buns are steamed and served in a bamboo basket and left till last. These bread bites imaginatively function as a type of hand-held ramen and boast a superbly dense texture that harks after ujeke (African steamed pot bread), in a typically Greenhouse nod to all that is local.
Joining the XO pork as a newcomer, is the winsomely irreverent pb & j dessert. Tiny elder flowers dot the surface of a peanut brittle round that encases a frozen peanut butter mousse resting on a tart berry compote. It comes with a “glass of milk” – a shot of milky ice topped with foam. This sweet surrender is a master of irony while simultaneously elevating its mundane origins. Like everything else on the Winter menu, it provides both visual delight and stimulation to the palate, making it easy to understand why Greenhouse is the recipient of so much praise in the fine dining category.
This modern South African dining experience is currently ranked 6th in the country and boasts a decade’s worth of Eat Out Top 10 placements and a plethora of other acknowledgements. Booking ahead is essential, via https://www.greenhouserestaurant.co.za/reservations/.
Dinner is served Tuesday to Saturday from 18h00 to 21h00, and lunch is served on Fridays and Saturdays only, from 12h00 – 14h00. The full Journey is R1300 per person, with Greenhouse wine pairing at an additional R700 per person. The reduced Discovery menu is R900 per person, with wine pairing at additional R500 per person.