12 November 2016
20 on 8th Street, Hermanus
In the bad old days (not very long ago) when Hermanus was renowned for lots of very bad food, Lizette’s Kitchen was consistently a beacon of joy: Chef-patron Lizette Crabtree is a charming and gifted presence in the kitchen and front-of-house, producing an accomplished varied and appealing menu with plenty of Asian (Vietnamese) as well as Middle Eastern flare. Our first visit there last year – for a birthday celebration with foodie visitors from Canada – was a revelation and Lizette’s was enthusiastically the first dinner booked this time.
Situated in an historic restored farmhouse at the Voelklip end of town (10 minutes from town centre by car), the restaurant is cosy, inviting and quirkily decorated, with souvenirs of Lizette’s globetrotting life the main theme. The main entrance door opens straight into the restaurant, which occupies the entire ground floor around a large central space with bar, fireplace and television facing a comfy sofa and ottoman for sports viewing days.
Last time, we were seated in a cosy private sunroom alcove to the rear of the space – perfect for a small group celebration. This time, there is a private function occupying most of the restaurant, so non-participating patrons are seated in the area immediately inside the main entrance. And it is cold tonight. And guests keep coming and going. So our table 2 metres from the door keeps getting blasted with cold air – we keep our jackets on and it’s a little uncomfortable.
But the cocktail menu is presented and we all cheer up: Mojitos are fresh and minty (if somewhat under-endowed with alcohol), the Orange Blossom Margarita tangy and warming and the menu is tantalising. Although predominantly Asian-inspired, there really is something for every palate on this casual menu – snacks, salads, burgers and the vast range of flatbreads for which Lizette is justly famous, then the “Signature Collection” of hot-sellers (Moroccan lamb shanks, bamboo steamed fish, pork belly stew) and a full page of her Asian specialities.
We settle on an assortment of dim sum to start: served hot and clearly fresh with dipping sauces. These are slightly chewy – perhaps overly al-dente, and none of us can distinguish which filling is which – nevertheless, tasty and satisfying to four chilly bellies. The beef and chicken curries are fragrant, but lack kick, and requested chillies take so long to come that we do without. The Asian-style mussels are a flavour hit, but looks like it may not be mussel season as they are very small and not very meaty – not necessarily a problem, but something we feel should always be mentioned upon ordering.
In all, we finish a little disappointed this time. There’s no big issue – just doesn’t quite live up to our memory of last year’s exceptional dining experience. Maybe the kitchen was preoccupied with the private function . . . Or maybe we were just cold . . . We’ll definitely be back and I wouldn’t hesitate to pass along the tip – but I’ll be looking for remembered greatness next time.
Bookings recommended – restaurant takes function bookings so can get full.
Telephone: +27 (0) 28 314 0308
Open (reduced hours in winter)
Monday to Friday 09.00 to 22.00
Sunday 09.00 to 21.00