Last week we visited Tumble Downs restaurant on the Midlands Meander in KwaZulu Natal to celebrate my sister’s 40th birthday.
The setting is stunning – Tumble Downs is located outside Howick on the Curry Post Road, with views over the the green hills and countryside. It forms part of the Midlands Meander, a beautiful area where you can visit artists’ studios, cottage manufacturing factories, artisan food producers, restaurants, country accommodation and more. The idea is that you pick up a map and meander through all the minor roads and see what you see. It makes for a lovely day or weekend out.
Unfortunately it was a cool day, which lured us inside where a wood burning stove took the chill off the air. The restaurant (or café as they call it) itself is rustic, and decor somewhat dated. It has rather a farm-like 80s feel – if you could picture that.
I must admit to being a little annoyed that our table for 8, which we had booked a week ahead, wasn’t ready when we arrived. Especially as we’d telephoned half an hour earlier to let them know we were running about 15 minutes late!
Service was slow, albeit very friendly, but by this time we were a little concerned that we’d made the wrong choice. Perhaps the recommendation we’d received wasn’t a trusty one.
However, all of that disappeared when the food arrived. Wow!
The menu was interesting and food incredible. I had ordered a Fillet Stack (R103,00 – £6.50) which was delicious and cooked to perfection. My dad had the Artist Café Chicken (R92.00 – R5.60). An unusual combination of chicken breast crumbed in ginger biscuits, served in a creamy blue cheese sauce. I wasn’t sure that combination would work, but it was heavenly.
As usually happens when good food is served, the table became very quiet. Everyone was swapping bites: “Can I taste yours, then I’ll give you a bite of mine?”.
Later we were chatting to the owner Werner who runs the restaurant with his wife, self-taught and untrained chef Michele Jacobs. (He calls her the ‘cook’ – although I don’t think it does her justice! I would definitely call her the ‘chef’!!). It seems that they had had an event the night before, and many of their staff didn’t arrive for work on the day we were there. And as it is in the middle of nowhere, I guess there isn’t really the option to quickly get anyone else in. I guess that explained the slightly slower than usual service.
So million dollar question: would I return? Without a doubt! I think I would choose a better day so that I can make the most of the beautiful views, but there were many other items on the menu I’d love to sample in future. And of course, I would combine it with a visit with a few other interesting point on the Midlands Meander – perhaps even spend a night or two.
You can contact them as follows:
Tel: 082 802 2837
11am – 4pm Wednesday to Sunday
(Closed Mondays & Tuesdays except Public Holidays)
Dinners – 6:30pm onwards, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
You can book other evenings for events. Phone them for information.