As you walk into Helena’s Restaurant, located in the magnificent 5-star Coopmanhuijs Boutique Hotel & Spa at 33 Church Street, you start to suspect that you are in for a sublime evening.
Coopmanhuijs was built by Albertus Bartholomeus Coopman in 1713 as one of the first grand residences in the historic heart of Stellenbosch and was proclaimed a National Monument in 1978.
Owners André and Helena Pieterse celebrated the grand opening of Helena’s Restaurant a year after opening the Hotel in 2010. Helena, a “natural” at interior design, did a splendid job of decorating the Hotel and the Restaurant.
Three areas within the Hotel offer a choice of where to enjoy fine dining and attentive service at Helena’s: The spectacular main dining-room is tastefully appointed with richly embossed French wallpaper and a high yellowwood ceiling. The conservatoire with hand-hewn poplar wood chairs, artisanal tiling and a unique glass roof with adjustable louvres has a particularly pleasant ambiance. The al fresco front porch is where romantic lighting, large gas burners and furry blankets keep you well and cozy on cool winter nights as you review the parade passing on Church Street.
On being shown to your table, staff with real smiles share their knowledge of a menu that reflects Helena’s and the chef’s creations. Offering unpretentious heritage food with a contemporary twist, the focus is on locally-sourced, fresh ingredients. Vegan options are available.
Oust the chill with steaming hot three bean and roasted red pepper and tomato soup with Chalmar Beef fillet strips from the superb starter options. The mezze platter has likewise become a famous favourite and should not be missed. Moving on to the mains, seafood fans might opt for the prawn Caesar salad with baby gem lettuce, capers, pancetta, prawn aïoli, steamed prawns, hen’s egg and Grana Padano shavings; or pan-seared Norwegian salmon, tomato and red pepper quinoa and steamed prawns. Meat lovers will do very well with the braised shoulder of Certified Karoo Lamb with cumin-infused lamb gravy.
Presented on a menu all their own, delectable desserts include Pavlova with homemade Amarula ice cream, New York style cheesecake with cherry coulis, and dark chocolate fondant with honeycomb.
Should dinner and conversation run past your bedtime, take a room at the Hotel and enjoy a sumptuous buffet breakfast the next morning – poolside – followed by a spa treatment!