Helena’s Restaurant in Stellenbosch epitomises old-world fine-dining: excellent food and wine and impeccable service in beautiful surrounds.
You could be forgiven for missing this lovely restaurant among the cluster of fine eateries in Stellenbosch, but if you did know about it, you might not be able to forgive yourself. Tucked away within the historic Coopmanhuijs Hotel in Church Street, Helena’s Restaurant is a hidden gem that warrants the drive from Cape Town, and on special occasions, the luxury of at least one night’s stay in the five-star boutique accommodation.
A gracious 18th-century manor house was transformed into the present-day boutique hotel and spa in 2010, with Helena’s as one of the main attractions. Choose a table on the verandah, below the oaks, or in the splendour of the restaurant under the high, yellowwood ceiling.
Heritage food with a contemporary twist
“The familiar made spectacular” is the restaurant’s mission statement, and Helena’s more than lives up to it, offering heritage food with a contemporary twist and a focus on locally sourced ingredients.
The menu has a strong South African flavour, with options such as the rack of Karoo lamb, and the Chalmar beef fillet. Seafood dishes include pan-seared Norwegian salmon, and saffron tagliatelle with pan-fried prawns. Vegetarian-friendly options include spinach and ricotta tagliatelle, and risotto with wild mushrooms. Save room for the restaurant’s range of delightful dessert dishes, like the malva pudding with homemade vanilla ice cream, and the chocolate fondant.
An excellent winelist complements the menu and showcases some of the finest wines in the area. Guests are also welcome to bring their own wine, although there is a corkage fee.
An elegant setting
On the charming Church Street – a vibrant area lined with cafés, art galleries and ancient oak trees – Helena’s Restaurant offers an elegant charm to the busy surroundings. The outdoor verandah is comfortable and romantically lit, providing the perfect vantage point to observe the passers-by and immerse yourself in the old-town atmosphere. You can also sit inside, where an overhanging chandelier and decorative French wallpaper maintain the sophisticated atmosphere.
The service is professional and knowledgeable, and the staff happily guide you through the various dishes and wines on offer.
Helena’s is the kind of place that’ll leave you feeling that your money has been well spent on a meal you won’t soon forget.