If you travel the road from Cape Town to Joburg or the other way round on a regular basis or even annually, the news of Klaradyn and Nicol Grobler’s new-ish guesthouse and restaurant, Cafe & Rooms in Richmond will come as welcome news. The couple used to run The Station House in Ladybrand – and you’ll recognise the charming style from there.
Opening hours: 7am until 9pm (depending on how busy they are) seven days a week
Average main course: R120 (dinner)
Parking: Right in front of the restaurant in the street or in their private parking area at the back
Best for: As a beacon on the long road at the halfway mark between Jozi and Cape Town. If nothing else, stop for some extravagant homemade cake and coffee.
Star ratings: Food 4, service 4, ambience 5
It can be tough to find even a good cup of coffee on the N1, and in the past, food wasn’t even an option. As a result, most travellers have perfected their “padkos” options. But now, Café & Rooms in Richmond offers a delicious pitstop.
For Klaradyn, food is all about authenticity, freshness and a visual feast for the senses. She loves butter, slow-cooked plates of food and grew up in a home where the large family feasted on yellow peaches and chutney with meat that lingered on the stove around a table with embroidered serviettes. She perfectly recreates this world of dreamy nostalgia in both the individually inspired guest rooms and the dinner table.
The dinner menu features several Karoo lamb-inspired dishes: think lamb pie with quince, lamb stew with green beans or three grilled lamb chops served with potato chips and veg (all at R120) – all delicious options that reflect the area’s flavour.
Also on offer is a perfect beef burger with chips, a T-bone or rump steak and some delicious chicken options.
Sweet treats are similarly nostalgic: they usually offer carrot cake, lemon meringue (can a long trip do without?), apple crumble and fresh scones.
This is home cooked food with flair and finesse.
Breakfast options include a spectacular three egg-omelet (with freshly grated nutmeg, the secret ingredient) and French toast, made with homemade bread, with honey and fruit. If you stayed over, it’s well worth it to stay on for breakfast before you hit the long road – smiling.
They haven’t got round to the liquor license yet and encourage you to BYO. Coffee is from Africablack is their coffee of choice (they like to stick to the continent minimize their carbon footprint).
The Cafe & Rooms staff is local (obviously), friendly and informed about what they can do and where they can help while both Klaradyn and Nicol (when he’s not off on an architecture job) around to chat.
This is as important as the food. If you’re staying over, the glorious innovative individuality of the rooms a la the Grobler couple’s style is fun to experience. And if you have ever been to The Station House at Living Life Centre in the Free State’s Ladybrand, you will recognize this creative couple’s trademark style. It’s quite something and it doesn’t come at a price. They’re into comfort and quality while offering real value for money. It’s not something one always wants to share but this one is just too good to keep to yourself and it is far enough away from any big city to retain its exclusivity. They have truly turned this long stretch of road into an adventure.
Remember to ask them about the gallery and take some time out to view some amazing South African artists.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay their own way. Read our full editorial policy here.