Restaurant Review: Hazendal Avant-Garde The Russian Tea Ceremony a South African inspired High Tea with a Russian flavour!



Two weeks ago I needed to drop off a prize to Hazendal Executive Chef Michelle Theron, one of the 2021 Top 10 Women Chefs of the Cape. My road trip partner was Gary Peterson.

A mere 36 minute trip from Camps Bay via the R300 led us to a gem of more than a wine estate, not having visited it before. It contrasts the 300 plus year history with modernity through the use of glass structures.

It has an antique motor museum displaying Rolls Royces in the main, five restaurants, a Marvol art gallery, a digital children’s entertainment centre called Wonderdal, an 18-hole par-3 golf course and Golf Academy, a stage built on a pond, picnics on the lawn, wine tastings, a Jazz Club, and the Homestead exclusive use accommodation facility. It has the most amazing bathrooms I have ever experienced.

Hazendal has the following five restaurants : Avant-Garde (in which the Russian Tea Ceremony is offered, a South African High Tea with a Russian flavour), the Pivnushka Beer Garden, Babushka’s Deli, the Hazendal Food Truck, and the Glasshouse. Chef Michelle Theron heads up the kitchens feeding all five these restaurants, pardon the pun.

Chef Michélle has been at Hazendal Wine Estate for the past four years, serving a taste of Russia inspired by South African ingredients. Her passion for cooking was ignited at an early age around the family’s kitchen table. Following the completion of her chef’s qualification in Stellenbosch, she gained experience at leading restaurants in Cape Town and the Winelands. Additionally, her travels abroad and experience gained at Michelin star establishments in Europe added to her ability to express traditional flavors in a modern and on-trend execution.

Very spontaneously Gary and I booked the Russian Tea Ceremony, for which we saw a sign, and in the 45 minutes which the Kitchen needed to set up, Guest Relations Manager Willem van der Merwe told us about the 322 year history of the wine estate and took us on a mini tour, showing us the Homestead, Babushka’s Deli, and the pond with a centre stage.

Willem shared some of the history of the estate and its Hazenvondel, Van As and Bosman past owners with us, it having been allocated to the first owner by Simon van dear Stel. Russian Dr Mark Voloshin bought the estate in 1994. A two year renovation led to the heritage-modern wine estate it is today.  The estate was originally on one of only four routes out of Cape Town. The current owner’s dream is to preserve the estate’s heritage whilst adding modernity, innovation, and Russian cultural touches to it.

At the start of the Russian Tea Ceremony, Joseph greeted us in Russian, with ‘Dobra Pazhalovat’, and explained the origin of the Samovar, designed by Tsar Peter the Great and inspired by the Dutch copper kettle, warming the water in a tea pot on top of the Samovar, and with a tap to allow one to add more water if the tea is too strong. It is electrically powered.  The Tsar Tea Blend is by TWG, unique to Hazendal, and is strong and smoky in taste.

The Russian Tea Ceremony is a taste of Russian culture,  a treasured household ritual in Russia. Imported Russian Dulevo porcelain is used for the ceremony, as are the samovars, and the strawberry jam imported. I loved seeing the  good German WMF cutlery.

Sugar is not offered but little bowls of strawberry jam are offered to sweeten the tea. We loved dipping the crisp Baranki tea biscuits (made with butter, vanilla, eggs, and flour) into the jam, the round (shaped like the sun, signalling prosperity) biscuits strung around the Samovar, one breaking them off.

We received a platter of five savory and five sweet items, beautifully presented and each explained to us, and we were to eat them in the clockwise order on the plate

#.  Salad Olivier: potato salad, peas, smoked chicken, Mayo, pickle

#.  Blinchik Crêpe with cream cheese, mushroom, mini onion rings, and herb filling

#.  Blini/Oladyi Crumpet with smoked salmon trout, dill and sour cream

#.  Beef Piroshok, a pastry with braised beef, spinach and cheese

#.  Spinach Piroshok, a pastry filled with creamed spinach and feta cheese

#.  Medovik honey cake

#. Sharlotka Apple sponge cake

#.  Zephyr fruit meringue

#.  Pryanik ginger cookie

#.  Vatrushka Sweet Cheese tart with buttermilk, sugar and topped with strawberries, blueberries, and pear, finished off with good leaf, and encased with white chocolate. Pastry Chef Corien Hattingh came to our table to explain this tart and its preparation to us.


The explanation added to the excitement of experiencing something very special, but we were only allowed to have our tea poured at the end of the explanation.  It would have been nice to enjoy it during the Russian Tea Ceremony story.

Booking 24 hours in advance is requested. It is well worth a visit. Cost is R395 per person. Vegetarian, Vegan, and Gluten-free options are available too, also at R395.  A Kids Option is available at R255.

To add to the Russian experience of the Tea Ceremony, one is encouraged to try the Kremlin experience, which comes with Hazedal’s 23.5 MCC (R55/R235) and Beluga caviar (SQ).

Hazendal is a place to watch, Willem telling us that a 34-room hotel is to be built.

Avant-Garde Restaurant, Hazendal Wine Estate, Bottelary Road, Stellenbosch. Tel. 021 903-5034 @hazendal_estate


Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein, My Cape Town Guide/Mein Kapstadt Guide Instagram: @Chrissy_Ulmenstein @MyCapeTownGuide

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