Before we spill the organic beans on the food served at Hidden Leaf, a quaint little restaurant in Woodstock, let’s set the scene. Hidden Leaf is tucked away on the first floor of a gracious Victorian building (whose entrance is on Roodebloem Road), up a beautifully restored wooden staircase. It’s co-owned by Bianca Bezuidenhout and Warren Booysen, with Bianca our hostess on the day we ate there.
Light and bright and homely
She gives us a warm and vivacious welcome and shows us to our table in the corner, all draped in cobalt blue. Here, a fabulous window view of Table Mountain and a cute display of potted plants vie for attention. It’s a light and bright space that feels like someone’s home. The two rooms are filled with wooden tables and chairs – lots of plants and fresh flowers thrown into the mix – all looking unassumingly hip, complete with a vintage bar where barman Itai Makoni prepares drinks.
Carnivores are welcome, too
I started my meal with a Heartbeet: a juice consisting of beetroot, orange, carrot and ginger, topped with a sweet slice of orange that I ate immediately, skin and all. Catering as much for carnivores as vegans, Hidden Leaf’s menu changes often, as only fresh and available ingredients are used. But, you can almost always bank on the beef and vegan burgers with truffle fries; the hand-made ravioli (with free-range chicken or a vegan option); and the poached salmon on red and white quinoa, with dill cream and a cress granish.
Our enthusiastic waitress, Marinette Claassen, explains the day’s offering so well, not once glancing at the blackboard for backup, that we are just about ready to taste everything. Still trying to not fall off the Banting wagon, I opt for the beef burger, without a bun, ignoring that crunchy truffle fries will accompany it. My date chooses the house salad, but adds last minute that she wants to try the “Smokey Joe” chilli. It’s a whiskey oak-barrelled, smoked jalapeño, authentically made without electricity. Things are starting to heat up…
The salad – greens, tomato, cucumber, shredded purple cabbage, julienne carrots, olives, feta, toasted seeds and topped with rocket and coriander – turns out to be enormous but, she leaves not one little leaf. As for the chilli, it pleases her into pop-eyed silence followed by a happy, if teary, smile.
My burger looks fantastic, never mind being bunless. The juicy free-range patty is topped with smoked filone (smoked mozzarella), crispy bacon, and avocado, salad greens, shredded cabbage, julienne carrots, caramelised onion, pickles and tomato confit. I eat it all, and the truffle fries.
Instead of dessert, we order cappuccinos. But I hear they serve delicious homemade melktert, and grilled peaches with a vegan chocolate pot and toasted almonds, which is usually on the menu. Next time…
Bianca tells us the best time for one of their famous cocktails is early evening (but as it’s lunch time, we decline). We’re told the Ponyo is legendary – a rose and elder flower extract that’s shaken up with grapefruit, lime and gin. As the glow of the late afternoon sun lightens up the old bar, and the beautiful mountain views peep through the windows, I’m wondering if I should order one of those Ponyo cocktails after all…
Contact 021 447 4868, firstname.lastname@example.org
Opening hours Tuesday – Saturday, 11:30am – 11pm
Location Hidden Leaf, 77 Roodebloem Road, Woodstock