There’s nothing quite like visiting the Natal Midlands in autumn. The hues of yellow, red and orange are something to behold and the fresh, crisp air is the perfect anti dote for even the most jaded psyche. Friends Mary-Anne and Curran agreed and we were soon looking forward to lunch at Tumble Downs Café and Restaurant, a good distance away from the smog and pollution of Pietermaritzburg.
Billed as a “well established family restaurant offering good food and panoramic views of the Kamberg and Karkloof Valley” Tumble Downs certainly lived up to the hype. Situated just eight kilometres outside of Howick on the Currys Post Road, the restaurant was easily accessible from the tar road with a short 500m drive through an avenue of beautiful trees the only bit of off-roading required …
Co-owner Werner Jacobs greeted us with a friendly smile and after weighing up our options we chose to sit outside and soak up some of the warm afternoon sunshine while we decided what to order. The a la carte menu at Tumble Downs is rather unusual, offering a range of meat and fish dishes with some interesting sauce selections that made it difficult for me to make a choice.
In the end I opted for the lamb shank with vegetables and mash (as did Mary Anne), a dish not found on the menu but one that formed part of the restaurant’s Specials Board, which changes regularly. Curran, who obviously wasn’t that hungry, opted for the home-made curried lentil soup (R34), which came with a slice of home-made bread.
He enjoyed his meal, describing it as “tasty” and was satisfied with the portion although he did feel the dish was slightly overpriced in comparison with the offerings served up by other restaurants in the area. Both Mary Anne and I were impressed with our lamb shanks which were outrageously delicious. The meat was succulent and just fell away from the bone as we ate and the vegetables and mash were tasty to say the least.
As good as the lamb shank was though; at R120 it was probably about R10 to R20 more than the going rate – something that seemed to be a trend on the Tumble Downs menu. However, paying a little extra to enjoy a home cooked meal in a beautiful country setting is something the average person would be more than happy to do, so it wasn’t much of an issue.
Speaking of ‘a beautiful country setting’ it would be difficult for any establishment to match the beauty that surrounds Tumble Downs. The views of the Kamberg and Karkloof Valley are simply spectacular, the lush green meadows, shimmering blue lakes and mustard coloured grasslands all combining to create a landscape seemingly only found in fairytales.
After settling our bill we decided to take a walk along the establishment’s vast lawns where we came across the children’s play area complete with slides, swings and a jungle gym – perfect for keeping the young ones happy and out of trouble. Before heading off home I thanked Werner for his friendliness and warm hospitality and took a few photographs of the restaurant’s interior, complete with a delightful fireplace and traditional farm style finishing’s.
I enjoyed my visit to Tumble Downs. The food was great, the service good and the atmosphere very uplifting. It’s the perfect venue in the Midlands to enjoy a tasty meal in the company of friends or family and is not to be missed, even if you have to pay a little extra.
Telephone: +27 (0)33 330 8099
Address: Curry’s Post Road, Howick, Natal Midlands, KwaZulu Natal