Down-to-earth town shows an impressive taste for fine dining

Dining out with Helen Crooks

Review appeared in The Herald, 25 August 2013. 
 
HUMANSDORP. It's a place to go through en route to more glamorous destinations.
 
A rural kind of rough and ready little town, it's hardly the kind of place where you would expect to find a restaurant where crystal chandeliers decorate the ceilings, ornate mirrors decorate the walls and an eclectic mix of tables and chairs await diners.
 
But that's exactly what you will find at Le Chameleon, somewhat hidden away on Humansdorp's Voortrekker Road, blending effortlessly into the background and easily being overlooked by passing motorists.
 
Before even reaching the extensive dining areas, visitors can wander through a large entrance foyer where a selection of jams, preserves, home-made bread rolls and probably the largest Chelsea buns can be purchased.
 
There's also a tasteful gift shop, but the main thing at Le Chameleon is the food and the menu is certainly one to die for.
 
There are cheese platters for two with camembert, brie, cheddar, nuts, preserves and biscuits for R135; a tempting ploughman's lunch with cheddar cheese, gypsy ham, pickled onions and home made bread for R65; interesting sounding bobotie spring rolls, pancakes and chicken and venison pies at between R50 and R55.
 
For heartier appetites there's the Pisces trio of homemade fish cakes, prawns and calamari at R65, oxtail stew R89 and the very tempting beef burgundy at R75.
 
But we were indeed passing through so we opted for items on the lighter side of the menu and, it definitely being soup weather, my lunch partner opted for the soup and sherry combination on the menu for a very reasonable R40.
 
Often being disappointed when requesting quiche, I plumped for the quiche Lorraine at R50.
 
Although being a bread and cheese fan, the earlier mentioned ploughman's lunch kept on calling me.
 
The ambience being both charming and laidback at the same time – single diners were reading books over their lunch and looked completely relaxed.
 
It was easy to sit back and enjoy a pot of tea (for my lunch partner) and orange juice for me.
 
Considering that the restaurant was fairly full, the food was served promptly and proved to be just what the doctor ordered after a morning of sightseeing in nearby Tsitsikamma.
 
The large bowl of bean soup (my lunch partner's favourite) was covered with a lid to keep it piping hot and accompanied by a large fresh bread roll with real butter as well as croutons.
 
"Delicious" was the verdict and, although it was a large and hearty portion, it was polished off with delight.
 
The quiche, which was served with a large side salad attractively topped with a purple nasturtium was one of the best I have had with the gentle custard taste being interspersed with just the right amount of pepper.
 
The dessert menu is small but what was probably the Eton Mess enjoyed by a fellow diner was substantial in proportion and cost just R25. Our bill, with a tip, came to R130.
 
Restaurant visits are unannounced and meals are paid for in full.

Reviews from: www.tripadvisor.com

Le Chameleon Food

“In Humansdorp nogal!”

What a lovely experience, and a real surprise.  The ambience in the restaurant is great, the waitresses serve with old-fashioned charm, the food is delicious and the menu so thoughtful. The shop is a delight. It was a really great stop on that long road to and from Port Elizabeth.

“Excellent ambiance, service and food!!!”

Le Chameleon offers everything from style, gifts, home-made goodies, stylish clothing, the best of the wine cellars and large variety of the best home -made gourmet food. Big value for money!!! Surely we can rate Le Chameleon as one of our top restaurants in the area. Helga the owner an excellent administrator of her business.

“Traditional South African Cuisine”

Brilliant for bredies, oxtail, curries and a huge variety of typical South African fare. Host, Helga, is always seen behind the scenes checking and ensuring smooth running, which really contributes to the high standards and well ,motivated servers who are always smiling and happy. The food options are all excellent and I can guarantee you will not find any restaurant anywhere that can compete with the many salads available, especially the humungous salad Nicoise. The savory cheesecake (quiche) or pancake with stewed fruit compote are examples of unusual options. The lasagne is always great too. We have no hesitation in recommending Le Chameleon as one of the best dining experiences in restaurants you will find in all South Africa. Expect long line ups during holiday periods and even Friday lunch.

“Old World Charm”

This restaurant is warm and cozy with an antique feeling inside. Lots of goodies to buy from cooking books , deli delights , great home roasted coffee , clothing , jewellery , creams and soaps and so much more. If you do go for lunch make sure you have the time to linger longer

a great outing with very good food.

 

Thanks to www.tripadvisor.com for the reviews!

Review by: homemadeheaven.blogspot.com

Grilled Pear Salad with Blue Cheese, Bacon and BruschettaLe Chameleon is only open during the day and not only has a wonderful restaurant, but a gift shop and farm stall where I could have maxed out any credit card! There is not a person in the area who doesn't know this little gem, and even out of season you'll be hard pressed to get a table. They do not take reservations and close at 4pm on week days. The owners are always there, keeping a keen eye on every plate which leaves the kitchen.

I do apologize for the picture quality, but I think the excitement at seeing such a beautiful plate of food was just too much for even my camera to handle!

I ate at Le Chameleon twice, opting twice for a salad - and while this might sound boring, it was everything but, more like a culinary voyage into the heights of heaven. The first salad I had was grilled pear with blue cheese, crispy bacon and bruschetta. My soul shall never know such pleasure on a plate again. That was until the second master piece of grilled halloumi cheese with pine nuts and olives. I still can not decide which was best, but I could write a Mills and Boon novel on the pleasures thereof!

Thanks to homemadeheaven.blogspot.com for your review!

Review by: www.openafrica.org

Le Chameleon Gift Shop

Le Chameleon is a popular South African Daytime Restaurant. It has been labelled as one of the most popular eateries in the Eastern Cape – and the locals say it was awarded the title of “The best coffee shop in the Kouga”. The name 'Le Chameleon' refers to the ever-changing décor in the restaurant cum gift shop, with a tea garden and also a wine section. One section flows into the next as visitors make their way through the business. 

The coffee shop/restaurant offers an interesting menu, not lacking variety, and a long wine list.

Le Chameleon offers a unique experience and is a definite stop for those who pass through Humansdorp.

Thanks to www.openafrica.org for review!

 

Review by: www.humansdorptourism.co.za

Le Chameleon EntranceOver 1,000 square meters of timeless atmosphere awaits at Le Chameleon. If you can make it past the bakery and farm stall of Le Chameleon, you will enter a labyrinth of fine curios and collectables in the Gift Shop section. Be sure to spend quality time in the Wine Room before relaxing in the restaurant that has been catering to locals and visitors for over 12 years. Good Food. Good Wine. Good Company.

Address: 53 Voortrekker Road, Humansdorp.

Tel:  042 291 0262.

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Thanks to www.humansdorptourism.co.za for the review!

Review by: www.safarinow.com

Le Chameleon Interior

Situated on the outskirts of Humandorp, this enchanting gem surprises the palate in every nook and cranny.  Dressed in eclectic charm scattered with mismatched furniture and lit by flirtatious chandeliers reflected in the dramatic Gilt mirrors, Le Chameleon beguiles with charm and temptation. 

Take delight in sweet and savoury dishes boasting generous portions. For brunch, the Le Chameleon omelette tossed and wrapped in bacon, mushrooms, onions and cheese is a must have. For those with a wicked sweet tooth, give into the French toast balanced with green fig preserve, bacon and maple syrup.  

Dine within the magical restaurant or whisk away the senses enchanted by the tea garden; Le Chameleon secures an extensive menu and wine list filled with surprising delights for those who dare to uncover this secret gem. 

Thanks to www.safarinow.com for your review

Review by: www.cooksister.com

GuestbookI have often said to people that one of the characteristics I admire most in somebody is their ability to surprise me, even if I've known them for ages.  It might discovering a clutch of heavy metal CDs in the collection of an old friend with a taste for opera.  It might be a long-term vegetarian friend ordering a bacon sandwich.  Or it might be finding out that a reserved colleague is an excellent salsa dancer.  Few things can please me more, in a world where things are depressingly seldom truly surprising.

Which probably explains my fondness for Le Chameleon - a shop and restaurant situated on the outskirts of Humansdorp in South Africa.   Now Humansdorp is a farming town - in fact, it is the centre of the district's farming and light industry.  And although it has some fine characteristics, such as the beautful trees (planted before the First World War) that line most of its residential streets, it's not where you'd expect to find much by way of restaurants.  If you persevere and go in search of Le Chameleon, you will find it sandwiched between petrol stations and agricultural machinery merchants, with an unprepossessing facade.  But step inside and the surprises begin.

The first area looks like a cross between a farm stall and home-bake shop.  Shelves are lined with local produce and preserves, and a good selection of baked goods including (when we were there) the Biggest Chelsea Buns in Africa.  Step up into the next room, and yo will find yourself in a decor and gift shop that feels like a veritable Alladin's cave.  

Floaty dresses jostle for space alongside sparkly handbags; gilt frames cosy up to rustic wall hangings; and scented candles perfume the air while customers make their choices - or just fondle the merchandise!

Step yet further into the building and you will arrive at the restaurant - an engaging room filled with a charming mix of unmatched furniture, huge gilt mirrors, and whimsical lights, from paper star-shaped to twinkly crystal chandeliers.  Step through the next door and you will find yourself in the tea garden, but we chose to stop under the twinkly chandeliers and check out the menu.

The menu is extensive and covers the full spectrum of breakfast, brunch, lunch and tea options (the salads in particular sounded fantastic).  We had opted for brunch and decided to order a sweet and savoury dish and share both as the portions are very generous.  First up was the Le Chameleon omelette with a bit of everything - bacon, mushrooms, onions and cheese.  The omelette itself had that fantastic light, pillowy consistency that really good omelettes have and mine never quite seem to achieve - maybe it requires separate whipping up of the whites and yolks?? Either way, the omelette was delicious and a very filling brunch option.  But of course we could not leave without sampling something sweet and we had selected the French toast with green fig preserve, bacon and maple syrup. 

This was everything I could possibly want from French toast.  The toast itself was made with slices of baguette and the contrast between sweet figs and savoury bacon was perfect (and besides, I'm a sucker for green fig preserve!).  I also loved the addition of flaked almonds that gave the dish some textural interest.  As you can seem both dishes were beautifully presented, complete with a fresh flower - a feast for the eyes as well as the tongue.  Our bill, together with coffees and excellent fresh fruit juices but excluding service, came to R76.00 (about £6.30).  The restaurant is also fully licensed and has an extensive wine list, so long lunches over a bottle of something bubbly are a distinct possibility :)

If you find yourself in the vicinity of Humansdorp or nearby Jeffrey's Bay or St Francis, do yourself a favour and pop into Le Chameleon for a meal.  It is a little like steppng into the looking glass and into Wonderland - but with  better food!

Open Mon-Fri 08h30-16h00 and Sat 08h30-14h00, closed Sundays, Public Holidays and evenings

Thanks to www.cooksister.com for your review!

Trading Hours

Monday - Friday
8:30 - 16:00 (Kitchen closes at 15:30)
Saturdays
8:30 - 14:00 (Kitchen closes at 13:30)
Closed on Sundays & Public Holidays

Where to find us

  • 53 Voortrekker Road, Humansdorp
    GPS: -34.027 ; 24.779

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