The Calabash Café is a quaint, little coffee shop situated just off the busy N3 near Howick in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. I decided to pop in for Sunday lunch there recently, persuading friends Mary-Anne, Peter and Lisa to join me for what proved to be an interesting experience.
After being shown to our table we promptly ordered drinks and began to peruse the menu which contained just about everything you’d expect to find at a country café. We had the option of choosing from a selection of sandwiches, burgers, soups, quiche’s and salads as well as a variety of traditional favourites such as Welsh Rarebit, fish and chips, Chicken a la King and bangers and mash to mention but a few.
With so many options available deciding what to have was proving difficult and so both I and Peter decided to play it safe by ordering the Sunday roast (R60). Mary-Anne, on the other hand, opted for the chicken schnitzel, chips and salad (R45) while Lisa decided to skip mains, selecting one of her favourite treats, a lemon meringue tart (R20), instead.
Served with roast potatoes, rice, vegetables and gravy the Sunday roast was neither as tasty nor as substantial as similar offerings found elsewhere in the Midlands. Nevertheless it still represented value for money if only because it included dessert, which in my case came in the form of a delicious tasting pancake with honey and ice-cream.
Peter expressed similar sentiments regarding the meal, stating that the portions should have been larger, except for his helping of vegetables, which he felt was reasonable. Mary-Anne was more than happy with her chicken schnitzel which was served with mushrooms and a tasty cheese sauce.
Her overall impressions of the meal were positive although she did describe the vegetables as “average”. For dessert Mary-Anne simply requested a helping of ice-cream and chocolate sauce (R16), which she thoroughly enjoyed.
Lisa’s lemon meringue tart certainly looked delectable and was probably one of the most well presented desserts I had come across in a while. She loved it, describing it as both “delightful” and “satisfying.”
There’s no doubt that the food, for the most part at least, was pretty good at this venue, but what I savoured most about my culinary experience was the ‘dark’ hot chocolate that I enjoyed before my meal. Now I’ve had dozens of hot chocolates over the years, but none could compare with this one.
The majority of coffee shops or cafes serve hot chocolate with a complimentary biscuit or shortbread. In this instance however, a cube of baking chocolate accompanied the drink. Putting two and two together I placed the baking chocolate directly into the steaming drink. Within a few minutes the baking chocolate had melted resulting in a hot chocolate that was simply out of this world. What a brilliant idea!
Besides offering patrons a selection of hearty breakfasts, lunches and takeaways, the Calabash Café also has a deli, an art gallery (with a distinctive African theme), an arts and crafts section and a children’s play area. Braai packs, picnic baskets, camping supplies and even hammocks are also available if you want them.
I enjoyed my visit to the Calabash Café. The staff were warm and attentive, the food well-presented and well-prepared and the atmosphere uplifting and refreshing. I really liked the bright décor and I loved the colourful fish tank complete with its host of mini marine attractions.
If you want to enjoy some warm, country hospitality and a tasty, home cooked meal in the serenity of the Midlands the Calabash Café is a good place to visit. Just bear in mind though that their Sunday roast is not the most substantial offering around so if you have a big appetite you might want to try something else on the menu.
Useful Howick Links
Contact details for Calabash Café:
Telephone Number: +27 (0)33 330 4094
Physical address: Howick, KwaZulu-Natal Midlands (straight opposite the entrance to Midmar Dam)