St Ives Country Estate has to be one of the most attractive venues in the Midlands and quite possibly one of the most well-known as well. Situated on the R103 just up the road from the Piggly Wiggly Coffee Shop, St Ives is hard to miss.
It’s a huge estate sporting well manicured, lush green lawns and a beautiful lake making for a landscape rivalling among the most alluring the region has to offer. St Ives has many attractions, the most well known of which is undoubtedly its superb trout fishing.
However, indulging in a spot of fishing was not the reason for my visit. I had come to indulge my taste buds at their popular gourmet restaurant, reputed to be one of the best in the area. My good friend Mary-Anne and my mom accompanied me for the afternoon and although we all (for the most part at least) simply loved the cuisine that was on offer, we left somewhat disappointed with our findings.
The menu at St Ives is one of the most comprehensive I’ve encountered anywhere and contains some really delicious dishes. A wide selection of salads, wraps, bagels, pizzas, burgers and a variety of vegetarian and meat dishes are available to cater for most preferences and tastes.
With such a variety to choose from making a decision wasn’t easy but I eventually opted for the chicken oriental spring rolls (R29) as a starter and the rosemary and garlic shank (R109) as a main course. Filled with chicken and vegetables and served with a honey soy dip the spring rolls were pleasantly crispy and fairly tasty although I didn’t care much for the sauce, which I soon discarded all together.
The main course was a lot more enjoyable, after all who could say no to a slow roasted lamb shank, rubbed with rosemary and garlic and finished off with the chef’s demi-glace. However, as good as this meal was it didn’t quite compare to other shanks that I had enjoyed at similar establishments on the midlands. It just wasn’t as tasty or as juicy and it lacked that special something to make my taste buds sit up and really take notice.
My mom selected the herb and brie fillet (R95) for her mains while Mary-Anne decided that the chicken cutlets (R60) would be more to her liking. My mom loved her fillet, a tender grilled steak topped with slices of brie cheese, drizzled with a tasty berry sauce and garnished with a selection of seasonal herbs, describing it as “delightfully succulent and very flavoursome.”
Mary-Anne was equally complimentary towards her chicken cutlets describing them as “delightful and perfectly complimented by the tasty mushroom sauce.” As with all main meals at St Ives the chicken cutlets came with a helping of seasonal vegetables and a choice of French fries, mashed potato or a light garden salad. Mary-Anne opted for the mash which she thoroughly enjoyed although she didn’t care much for the vegetables, remarking that they were “pretty average.”
Given the mostly positive culinary experiences of my lunch party and the fact that my meal was certainly by no means a bad one you are probably wondering why we left “somewhat disappointed with our findings.” The answer lay in the sub standard service we received from the moment we entered the restaurant.
Our greeting at the entrance was tepid to say the least and to make matters worse the trainee waiter assigned to our table committed just about every blunder he possibly could have during the course of the afternoon. Call it an aberration or just a case of being at the wrong place (or should that be table?) at the wrong time I’m not sure, but whatever the case there really was no excuse for this type of service to be meted out to customers.
To be sure the overall quality of the food at St Ives could not be faulted and the majestic scenery went a long way to lifting our spirits, but at the end of the day it’s all about service and on this occasion there simply wasn’t any to speak off. However, everyone deserves a second chance and it’s for that reason I’m likely to return sometime in the future.
Useful Lions River Links:
- Lions River Attractions
- Lions River Hotels
- Lions River Accommodation
- KwaZulu Natal Accommodation
- Accommodation in South Africa
Contact details for St Ives Restaurant:
Tel: +27 (0)33 234-4490
Physical address: Lions River, KwaZulu Natal Midlands