When a friend recently suggested I visit Tea on 23 in Pietermaritzburg, I was a little surprised since I had never heard of this eatery before. As it turns out, Tea on 23 is situated a mere kilometre away from my home, at 23 Carbis Road, Scottsville to be exact.
The establishment is owned by husband and wife team Rob and Carrie Boyd who have a considerable amount of experience in the restaurant industry. Carrie is well known to many Maritzburgers having run the very successful Boyd’s Café at the nearby Hayfields shopping centre for a number of years, with Rob assisting when required.
However, as time passed they decided they needed a change, resulting in the opening of Tea on 23 in November 2011. “Although Boyd’s was a successful and profitable restaurant we felt we needed a change of pace, and so we sold the business in June of last year,” said Rob. “With Tea on 23 the focus is not just getting bums on seats so that we can pay the bills, but rather on providing affordable, quality meals in a relaxed and tranquil setting that is unique to this part of Pietermaritzburg,” he explained.
Indeed, the atmosphere at Tea on 23 is the epitome of peace and tranquillity with a beautiful garden shaded by large trees and foliage creating a perfect setting for a tea party. In the event of bad weather, customers have the option of sitting indoors where they can enjoy a steaming hot mug of their favourite brew beside the fireplace – perfect for the cold winter months.
I decided to order a hot chocolate (R17,50) while perusing the menu. Instead of using regular powdered chocolate, Tea on 23 uses real chocolate to prepare this popular beverage and boy, does it make a big difference! Both the flavour and texture of the drink were greatly enhanced, resulting in a truly delicious beverage that is simply a must-order.
The menu differs from week to week, which is a refreshing change from the norm of set menus that seem par for the course these days. In this particular week, breakfast offerings included French toast topped with bacon and brie or bacon and banana with maple syrup (R35), an omelette filled with cheese and tomato with a choice of chips, salad or toast (R49) and the Shashuka – two eggs poached in a slightly chillied tomato sauce with chorizo sausage, topped with spring onion and feta cheese (R42).
Arriving at just after two in the afternoon however, I was far too late for breakfast, but that didn’t matter at all because the lunch menu was pretty impressive. A selection of toasted and open sandwiches, burgers, salads and soups were all available at reasonable prices with other dishes including fish and chips (R42), saucy chicken livers with homemade bread (R38) and pan-fried fillet and mushrooms with roast vegetables and potato (R70).
Now I’m sure you’ll agree that’s quite a selection and when you consider that Tea on 23 also offer a daily buffet lunch (by weight), it’s clear they have as much variety as anyone could possibly want, and more. Being rather hungry I opted for the pan-fried fillet, which I was told was an excellent choice.
After about 20 minutes my order arrived and although the portion was a little on the small side the pan-fried fillet certainly proved to be a magnificent dish. The fillet was exceptionally tender and succulent, the potatoes crisp and flavoursome and the vegetables most delicious. I especially enjoyed the wholegrain mustard sauce, which I applied to the potatoes to enhance the taste. For dessert I had a milk tart (R22), which was exceptionally good.
I really enjoyed my visit to Tea on 23. It’s an eatery that offers a lot more than your average tea garden does and is actually in many ways a fully fledged restaurant. The pan-fried fillet was one of the best meals I have ever had, superior in terms of both quality and taste to similar dishes served at more established restaurants, and better presented too.
Tea on 23 is without a doubt one of the venues of Pietermaritzburg. The food is excellent, well presented and of a very high quality, and the staff are some of the friendliest people you are likely to find anywhere. Owners Rob and Carrie are also passionate about their business, placing a high priority on attention to detail and service excellence and judging by the establishment’s increasing popularity, it’s obviously paying off.
“We haven’t advertised at all because after just two weeks the business took off and we’ve been busy ever since,” said Rob. “It was clear that people were telling their friends, work colleagues and family about us, so, with the exception of our Facebook page, we have never felt the need to advertise,” he added.
Tea on 23 is open Mondays to Fridays from 7.30 am to 5 pm and from 8 am to 4 pm on public holidays. The eatery is closed on weekends.
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Contact details for Tea On 23 in Pietermaritzburg:
Telephone: +27 (0)33 386 4670
Physical address: 23 Carbis Road, Scottsville, Pietermaritzburg, Natal Midlands, KwaZulu Natal.