On a slightly windy and very hot Stellenbosch day at the start of the University year, we decided to venture into town for some lunch. After checking out various options and realising how busy all the restaurants were, we opted for Helena’s Restaurant in Dorp Street. Despite some unexpected load shedding (basically an electricity outage for non-South Africans!) we were seated straight away at a lovely table outside facing onto Dorp Street. Helena’s Restaurant is the restaurant attached to and serving Coopmanhuijs, which is a small boutique hotel and spa popular with foreign travellers.
The outside area soon filled up with more hungry pundits and we could hear a variety of languages being spoken. Service was swift and very attentive with tap water offered straight away and our drinks order taken at the same time. Helena’s has different lunch and dinner menus, with the dinner menu containing slightly more upmarket options, or what I like to call ‘fancy’ food. The lunch menu is fairly basic and therefore more accessible, which is why we chose to try this restaurant during lunchtime. The wine list seems quite extensive though I am no expert yet on all the wine options available in South Africa. Along with our drinks came a basket of bread with some homemade hummus and butter, which I really enjoyed!
Brian opted for the sirloin steak and I ordered the lamb burger. We sat back with our wine and beer and made some serious work of relaxing on the ‘stoep’ while watching the world pass by. People watching in Stellenbosch is always good, but even more so at the start of term when there’s a lot of new kids out exploring the town and finding their feet. Our meals swiftly arrived and proved very nice, though not particularly mind blowing – then again, it was only steak and a burger so it would take something VERY special to make it mind blowing! The meals were presented very well and looked very appetising. Brian’s steak was slightly cold and I suspect it may have been sitting on the side waiting for my burger to be cooked. Both meals were served with a small side salad and potato wedges and I particularly enjoyed the wedges (being the potato lover that I am)!
Service throughout the meal was good and consistent, and it was no different when it came to paying the bill. Halfway through our meal the manager also came over the check whether we were enjoying our food which was a nice touch. I’d definitely go back to Helena’s for dinner at some point and would happily recommend the restaurant to others.
Ambience – 4/5
Service – 5/5
Food – 3/5 – Nothing THAT special