Le Chameleon, Humansdorp

by Jeanne on January 17, 2010

in Restaurants - South Africa

LeChameleonMenu

I 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.

LaChameleonROom

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. 

LaChameleonFood

This was everything I could possibly want fron 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!

Le Chameleon
53 Voortrekker Road
Humansdorp
6300
South Africa
Tel.  +27 (0)42 291 0262
Fax. +27 (0)42 291 0078
e-mail:
rudivw@absamail.co.za

Open Mon-Fri 08h30-16h00 and Sat 08h30-15h00, closed Sundays and evenings

This post is part of a new series for 2010 called Sundays in South Africa.  As the entire football-conscious world knows by now, the FIFA World Cup 2010 will be taking place for the first time ever on African soil – in my home country of South Africa!  I can't tell you how proud this makes me, or how good it is to see that all the stadiums that the naysayers said would never be built on time standing tall and proud and beautiful.  The country is, of course, anticipating a huge surge in visitors and I know that many people will see the cup as a reason to visit a country they have long been meaning to visit, and use the tournament as a jumping-off point for visiting other, non-football South African destinations. With this in mind, as well as my backlog of posts about my South African trips, I will be trying to post a review of somewhere South African, or a South African recipe, every Sunday in the run-up to the tournament.  I can't pretend it is going to be a comprehensive guide to South Africa – but it will certainly be enough to give you some ideas!  Click here for previous posts in the series.

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Rosemary January 18, 2010 at 5:29 am

I would recommend Le Chameleon to anyone who is anywhere within a 100km radius – well worth spending a night in Humansdorp just to eat there! Quality, service and great value for money – uncompromising in every way.

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Firefly January 18, 2010 at 6:57 am

I haven’t been into Le Chameleon for a while. The first time I went into it I couldn’t believe my eyes. Finding such a place in a town like Humansdorp was quite a surprice

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nina January 18, 2010 at 8:53 am

That place is a gem for sure…..

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Sophie January 18, 2010 at 9:08 am

What stunning pictures!!! The food looks so tasty & fab!
MMMMM,…thanks for sharing this!

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bellini valli January 18, 2010 at 11:23 am

Somewhere warm and sunny is on my wish list right now Jeanne…so thanks for the arm chair travel.

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natalian January 18, 2010 at 11:33 am

Our annual holiday down to Jeffery’s Bay is not complete without a meal at Le Chameleon! Yum!

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Ash January 18, 2010 at 12:20 pm

I’ll definitely take note to stop by if we are ever there! By the way, the omelette is a souffle omelette, made, like you thought, by whisking the whites and then folding them into the beaten yolks. You finish the bottom off in the pan but the top requires finishing under a grill and I’ve not been able to do these since in the nice snazzy ovens I’ve had since living in Europe the grill will not work with the oven door open and my pans don’t have heatproof handles. I wish I had an overhead grill like my first stove used to have.

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Jamie January 18, 2010 at 2:18 pm

£6.70??? OMG incredible! we’d be there weekly! The food is stunning! And I so agree about those splendid little surprises found hidden behind the expected! I love going to look for them!

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Kat January 18, 2010 at 7:02 pm

wow, looks beautiful.

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johanna January 18, 2010 at 7:16 pm

this looks like a really lovely place.. ah jeanne, i think it is time you convinced chris that we should join you on your next trip home!!! x

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Sarah, Maison Cupcake January 18, 2010 at 11:54 pm

Hello Jeanne, lovely to see you again yesterday. This food looks really pretty with the flowers and the interior of the restaurant looks great too.

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tasteofbeirut January 19, 2010 at 1:37 pm

I am not likely to be in your neck of the woods anytime soon, but I enjoyed your writing and imagining what that place was like. Sounds utterly charming!

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Sunita January 19, 2010 at 6:20 pm

Jeanne, what a beautiful review of the place, I felt as if I was actually there,being ”surprised” at every corner.And of course, the price for all that glorious food has got to be the most pleasant surprise of all. Yes, I love surprises, especially when you least expect it.

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Marie January 19, 2010 at 7:52 pm

What’s so surprising about opera and heavy metal :-)?
But yes, Humansdorp did get a double-take from me. Thank you.

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Jeanne @ Cooksister January 20, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Rosemary – now that’s an endorsement :) Oddly enough, it was your post that reminded me that I should go and review it!
Firefly – it is a bit like stepping through the looking glass, isn’t it? Will be going back in April!
Nina & Sophie – it’s the kind of place that makes you want to move town to be closer to…
Val – happy to provide you with some vicarious sunshine!
Natalian – now that the family have a place at Cape St Francis, I see myself being a regular visitor!
Ash – aaaah, so I was right! Omelettes in my house are usually whipped up precisely because of the speed factor, so faffing with 2 lots of whipping is unlkely… but it does yield such lovely results. Our Neff oven allows you to turn on the grill with the door open – would be annoying if I couldn’t do this. Maybe you need to invest in a Le Creuset skillet. And heavy duty oven gloves ;-)
Jamie – I know in Pounds it sounds ridiculous! Off-the-beaten-track gems rock…
Johanna – well, you know I keep threatening to renew our vows next April…!!
Sarah – likewise! Lovely to meet your family too :)
Taste of Beirut – glad you enjoyed your little armchair visit!
Sunita – one of the best things about traveling to South Africa with pounds is how incredibly reasonable the restaurants are. Definintely time that you visited!
Marie – ek het eintlik ‘n meer spesifieke voorbeeld & vriend in gedagte gehad, maar ek was bang sy herken haarself!! So dis maar die generic alternative ;-) En ja, vir mense wat Humansdorp ken is die plek nog ‘n groter verrassing! Dis meer ‘n Wimpy soort dorp ;-)

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Necia January 22, 2010 at 8:11 am

I am going there today. I am visiting from Wales. The last time I was there was 4 years ago when I last visited my family. So, looking forward to this treat!!!

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Ana March 1, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Looks absolutely stunning!

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Rudi van Wyk, Le Chameleon, Humansdorp December 21, 2010 at 10:26 am

The best write up I have seen. Thanks. Please let us know when you visit again.
Rudi

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Lorette April 22, 2012 at 8:10 am

Friends and I drove there from PE yesterday and I will most certainly go back. As I have an egg sensitivity I opted for the crumbed chicken livers with homemade sweet chilli sauce served with salad (Or chips). It was great! I also could not leave empty handed from the farmstall side.

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