Escape the city for a day and head out to the countryside for a relaxed al fresco lunch. Here's our roundup of some of our favourite destinations for lunch in the Gauteng countryside.
MAGALIESBERG AND THE CRADLE OF HUMANKINDHIGH TEA AT DE HOEK COUNTRY HOTEL
The 60-minute drive from Joburg is worth it for afternoon tea served in a lush tree-filled garden accompanied by the soothing sounds of running water from the pond. A luxury five-star boutique hotel De Hoek’s setting is remarkable, and instantly melts your city cares away. On the seasonal menu is a generous and tasty selection of finger sandwiches and sweet and savoury pastries. The chef has a light hand so you get to enjoy a wide range of treats. The scones are top-notch and served with homemade jam and your booking includes a glass of bubbles. For the ultimate treat, stay overnight. High Tea is served on Saturdays only.
ROOTS AT FORUM HOMINI
Situated in the Cradle of Humankind on the Letamo Game Estate, about 30 minutes drive from the city, this fining dining country-style restaurant has made it onto the “Top Restaurants in SA” list a few times. You won’t get a city skyline view, but you will marvel at the sheer mass of land around you and you may even be lucky enough to spot some game from the comfort of your table. The Maropeng Museum and Sterkfontein Caves are just 10 minutes drive away. Booking is essential.
DIE OU PASTORIE
Die Ou Pastorie is an historic vicarage now used as a guesthouse and restaurant, around 20 minutes drive north from the Cradle of Humankind and Maropeng museum. Guest rooms are set away from the main house in what used to be the stables and breakfast and lunch is served under the shade of mature trees or in the beautifully restored historic main house. The lunch menu offers perfectly polished comfort food. Delicious pies with a flaky puff pastry crust (try the famous duck pie), decadent baked camembert and a divine homemade chicken liver pate served with rooibos tea jelly are some of the star dishes. Make sure to pass by the shop to stock up on delicious homemade preserves, jellies and chutneys and look out for their regular Sunday brunch concerts in the garden.
LANSERIATHE KITCHEN L’ANTICO GIARDINO
The Kitchen L’antico Giardino by The Forum Company is a weekend eatery situated in the beautifully restored farmhouse in Lanseria (about 45 mins drive from central Sandton) that was formerly home to The Forum Company's popular Farm to Table events. Keeping to the style of these, expect hearty breakfasts and laid-back lunches made with fresh produce sourced from the area, and enjoyed under the trees overlooking the gorgeous gardens full of statues and fountains. The menu is centred around local produce and seasonal ingredients and changes every four weeks. Well-located on the cycle routes that crisscross the Cradle of Humankind, this is a good stop on a morning bike ride or for a day spent exploring the Maropeng museum and Sterkfontein Caves.
THE OTHER SIDE AT MONAGHAN FARM
For a pricey and exclusive but relaxed family outing in the countryside there’s The Other Side restaurant at Monaghan Farm, just 15 minutes from Lanseria Airport. Set on a private housing estate - 1260 acres of sloping greenery with the Jukskei River flowing across it - Monaghan Farm is selling the dream of country living to harried Joburgers. Lunch is a three-course set menu for sophisticated tastes, served buffet-style and including a selection of tasty mains, lots of vegetarian sides and comforting and moreish desserts. For the kids there’s miles of space to ride bikes or scooters, a play area and trees to climb, and an option of margherita pizzas. All this makes for lazy afternoons and happy families.
NINETEEN AY STEYN CITY
This is the restaurant, club house and bar of the impressive Steyn City Golf Course. Made of glass and brick Nineteen has a green planted roof that blends into its magnificent surroundings. Service is top-notch - staff are trained at the The Saxon Hotel, Villas and Spa (owned by Steyn City’s Douw Steyn). This might be Joburg’s priciest round of golf, but your meal won’t break the bank. Enjoy casual dishes served in generous portions, including a delicious towering burger, traditional Cobb salad and specialities such as excellent seared salmon, seafood risotto and sumac crusted Springbok loin. For sundowners enjoy the bar snack menu and a range of cocktails.
MODDERFONTEIN33 HIGH STREET
Occupying a whole corner of historic Modderfontein's quaint main street (30mins drive east central Sandton and just 20mins from O.R Tambo International Airport), 33 High Street and adjoining craft brewery, Oakes Brewhouse, is set in the grounds of a colonial-style country house. Sit under the dappled shade of a huge oak tree and tuck into Portuguese-inspired food and wood-fired 'bubble bread' pizzas while the kids have fun in the playground. The nearby Modderfontein Reserve is a wonderful place to walk off a big lunch.
NEAR PRETORIAIRENE DAIRY FARM
Since 1895 this dairy farm in Irene (on the south eastern outskirts of Pretoria), run for five generations by the Van Der Byl family has been supplying the city of Pretoria with fresh milk, raw cream and other excellent dairy products. A city farm, located amid tree-lined lanes in the historic Irene village, a visit is an opportunity to reconnect with a pastoral life. Cows lowing, chickens roam the place and on Saturdays this is the chosen venue of many a Pretoria nuptial for its idyllic settings. Choose from classic bistro fare at The Deck restaurant or enjoy the family-friendly buffet lunches on Sundays at The Barn.
SAMMY MARKS HOUSE MUSEUM
Zwartkoppies Hall, around 20km east of Pretoria (80mins drive from Sandton), is the Victorian mansion where businessman and entrepreneur Sammy Marks and his family lived from 1885 to 1909. Now a museum, the beautifully preserved mansion is one of the finest examples of late Victorian architecture and interior design in the province. The museum can only be visited as part of one of the excellent and insightful tours which leave every hour and detail the fascinating story of the Marks family and the illustrious guests that they entertained in their opulent home at the turn of the 20th Century. Under the large oak tree in front of the house is a delightful tea garden serving, tea, coffee, homemade lemonade and delicious and fairly priced sandwiches, salads and other light fare.