Situated in an historic 1713 building, the recently renovated Coopmanhuijs is a five star boutique hotel and spa in Stellenbosch and it is here that you will find executive chef Nadia Roux at the helm of Helena’s Restaurant. The restaurant is a large dining area, divided into two sections off the main entrance to the hotel. To the left is a bar area, and this is where we started the evening.
The wine list showcases local wines but is over the top expensive in my opinion. Even the per glass option is more expensive that the single malt whiskies. The choice of single malts is small and Dave and Eric both had Laphroaig (R40) and I had a Peat Monster while Bev sipped on a sherry. There is a good choice of Méthode Cap Classiques on the menu and tasting notes are provided for all the wines. While we were having our drinks we were given a small bowl of warm toasted nuts. We chose the Graham Beck Game Reserve Pinotage 2012 (R195) to have with dinner and Eric had a glass of white wine. The wine we chose was light, with berry tones.
The food is locally sourced and showcases the regional Boland cuisine. The tagline to the menu is where the familiar is made spectacular and I must say that this held true for my main course. The average price of a main meal is R155. When we sat down we were brought bread and butter and some hummus that was rich in chickpea flavour. I chose the pulled duck ravioli with toasted sage butter (R60) to start. The duck was very flavoursome but stringy and the starter lacked a sauce which would have added to the flavour of the pasta. For the main course I had the roasted quail stuffed with spinach and toasted pine nuts (R150). My meal was extremely tasty with sweet butternut and iron rich spinach. I was not a huge fan of the fresh peas but the potato dauphinoise was a winner. I did not come across many pine nuts in the stuffing. A cucumber bake was brought to the table as the house speciality. The cucumber was fresh and retained its crunchiness despite being cooked. For dessert I selected the chocolate and beetroot cake with beetroot ice cream (R45) only because I wanted to taste the ice cream. The cake was served with a chocolate sauce that was so smoky I had to scrape it off the cake which was average and slightly dry. The ice cream had a great beetroot tone and something I will try at home.
The service is average and the staff are friendly and polite. The concierge was most helpful in arranging parking for us. I can recommend you arrange parking when you make your booking as the parking situation is dire in the area.
The tables are covered with stunning, thick linen and set with decent cutlery and wine glasses and really good quality salt and pepper grinders. The tea light is not a candle but an actual light which means it does not flicker which suits me perfectly. The chairs are not that comfortable and after a long meal, I was squirming in my chair to try and find a better position to sit in. The plates arrived from the kitchen hot which is an important factor to me when dining out.
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