I have long wanted to go to Hemelhuijs knowing of the talents of Jacques Erasmus. After all he did the food concept at Restaurant Cuvée at Simonsig, and the playful plate chandeliers at La Motte, his food is the stuff of which legends are made.
This man is a major talent and Hemelhuis is a reflection of the diversity of that talent. He waxes lyrical at the drop of a hat too. Ask about the breakfast bread, is it freshly baked? The poet in him stirs and your reply is “It is at the crack of dawn each day that we add the happiness of bubbling yeast to flour. Strong hands knead soft dough and heirloom bread tins are gently filled to the brim with the day’s manna – in anticipation of the warm oven. The coffee grinder groans with the perfume of coffea rubusta and citrus fruits sacrifice their last moments of wholeness…’ So much more than a poet, he is an artist, a designer, a stylist, a chef, a baker, a curator and creator of all things beautiful and Hemelhuijs is his home from home. It is in this welcoming, beautiful restaurant that serves as a showcase of all that Jacques does so exceptionally well, that you will be able to experience, in some small measure, the passion of a man obsessed with beauty in all its myriads forms.
And he invited me to lunch with him. And what a stunning meal it was – with great service by beautiful young people.
My porcini came with persimmons and feta surprisingly but a perfect match. My bowl of kidneys with the marmite toast soldiers was a triumph aw were the plates of cake and sweet things that followed were enough to keep us there well into the afternoon. All served on his quirky pottery and coffee in stunning black basalt mugs with no handles. The countertop groans under the weight of a truly fabulous selection of cakes, tarts and pies. Large glasses of freshly squeezed citrus are followed by truly fabulous food. White bread and mosbolletjies, baked almost as good as my grandmothers come to the table with a za’ataar and olive oil dip. The menu is small and eclectic, the offering of fresh juices and a small wine list offer sufficient, nay more than sufficient choice for the diner.
To my shame it has been open since October 2010 and this was my first visit.
I will be back and I urge you to go as well. And soon.
Hemelhuijs, located at 71 Waterkant Street, Cape Town, is open from 9am to 4pm from Monday to Friday and from 9am to 3pm on Saturdays. For reservations call 021 418 2042; email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.hemelhuijs.co.za