The picturesque KwaZulu-Natal Midlands is packed with diverse dining options, offering everything from laid-back farm-style cuisine to fine dining in stunning countryside locations. Here are five spots to eat if you’re lucky enough to spend some time meandering the Midlands this December. (Our best of Durban list is essential summer reading, too.)
This selection comprises all the Midlands restaurants that made the cut for the 2018 Eat Out 500, the list of best restaurants in the country as rated and reviewed by our panel of critics for the 2018 edition of Eat Out magazine (on sale now).
Expect a small, seasonal menu packed with comfort food at this picturesque wine farm. Boards are laden with charcuterie and cheese, tangy goat’s cheese tart or the best pork crackling. For mains there’s beef fillet, Dargle trout and a stand-out of oxtail stew. Please your sweet tooth glorious ginger tart with Christmas- cake ice cream.
This is easy-to-love country fare. Most menu options feature home-made bread with toppings of fluffy scrambled eggs and gently spiced beans; hot-smoked trout; or local smoked chicken and mayo. For lunch, there’s a popular harvest table. Peruse the display of cakes and tarts topped with lilac flowers. On your way out, peruse the beautiful ceramics for sale.
At Hartford, each dish tells a story, with local producers as stars of the show. Chef Constantijn Hahndiek’s dishes are breathtaking in their elegant simplicity and presentation. Look out for creamed chevin; tender and rosy Wayfarer trout with Jerusalem artichoke crisps; aged Midlands sirloin with earthy amadumbe and field mushroom soil; a gin-and-tonic amuse bouche; oven-roasted duck; and a dessert with shards, creams and curls. If the budget allows, plan to stay over in the luxurious hotel.
This cosy spot is a perfect Midlands Meander pitstop. Start off with minestrone, calamari or snails, but save room for mains. Fresh pastas come with classic creamy mushroom, carbonara, slow-cooked ragù or blue cheese sauce. Pizzas are lightly charred to perfection (gluten-free also available). Create your own with the likes of spicy sausage, basil, olives, anchovies and rocket. Try the affogato or rich Bar-One cake.
Expect comforting, rustic indulgence and layers of flavour here – but no pizza. Think mushrooms baked in the wood-fired oven; signature butternut panzerotti in a delicate, creamy tomato sauce; risotto, dotted with smoky calamari and cheesy gnocchi. Other appealing main options include classic lamb, veal and liver dishes. Finish off with an oozy chocolate fondant or sip on limoncello made on site from the lemon trees outside.