Moyo Brings Soul to Kirstenbosch
Silver Tree Restaurant out. Moyo in. What a change for Kirstenbosch.
I wasn’t a fan of the former lower garden restaurant at Kirstenbosch. It suffered from the syndrome ‘we have the monopoly thus do not have to deliver anything special’ – unfortunate for Kirstenbosch – but often the case with restaurants in reserves, national parks or small towns where there is no competition to up the ante.
I hadn’t sampled the menu at moyo (the restaurant uses lower case, it’s not me being cute) but I’d heard all about them – Johannesburg Hotels website votes moyo Melrose Arch one of the top 3 restaurants in the city – but have popped my head into the Moroccan tents of moyo at Spier and imagined I smelt spice and heard distant drums.
So it would be fair to say I was already predisposed to enjoy myself, when we set off to experience brunch at moyo Kirstenbosch on a Sunday.
The setting of moyo could not be more sublime. Once ensconsed on the veranda. But first you must make it past the rather intimidating line up of moyo waitrons at the edge of the walkway that leads to the restaurant (they assure me that this is in order to encourage people to come and eat at moyo and that you are perfectly welcome).
Photographs — Left: Play of colour / Right: Hot chocolate
René, our waiter from the Congo (moyo is about all things African and thus the staff are drawn from all parts of the continent) quickly satisfies himself that, despite our dithering on the veranda to find the perfect spot in the sun, and my son’s need to climb on anything vaguely representing a physical challenge, we will be staying for more than coffee but won’t be having the lunch buffet, so he leaves to rustle up our warm drinks.
We study the menu and the signature Bedouin tents in the rich colours of magenta, ochre and red that flap gently on the grass in front of us – left there no doubt for children to play underneath, or perhaps live music will move in under the enclosures as the restaurant establishes its presence – they’ve only been here 3 months. They intend doing suppers too, but for the moment it’s breakfast and lunch.
Moyo adds a good dollop of African flavour to Kirstenbosch. It’s as if the gorgeous gardens and mountain peaks that sweep away from the restaurant to form the canvas of your meal did not quite realise that all they lacked (if nature can be said to lack anything) was a touch of moyo soul. The restaurant blends perfectly with the African sculptures in the gardens.
Photographs — Left: A mean breakfast
The menu is extensive. Modern sophisticated African. Moyo partners with suppliers of local food, much of it organic, free-range and artisan. They state in the front of the menu that they ‘choose partners to build Africa, benefit the environment and put the best possible ingredients on your plate’ – Constantia cheesery is there, naturally organic, Eureka Mills, A Garden in the Veld, NeighbourGood Butcher and others.
Dishes include breakfasts, starters, soups, unusual salads, potjies and tagines, fish dishes, meat dishes, light meals, a kids’ menu and tempting desserts all permeated with a touch of imagination, something uniquely African and, despite the obvious meat influence (all of it either free-range, grass fed or organic), a healthy emphasis on vegetarian options.
There is even a pensioners’ day on Tuesday, where a light meal and a dessert will set you back a mere R40.
In fact the entire menu was, I thought, good value for money and not as pricey as I had anticipated. Our two breakfasts, coffees and a hot chocolate served in a huge round mug, a whole spoonfull of dark chocolate gently left to melt in the milk, was worthy of a repeat.
Our faces painted in the African tradition we left to meander through the gardens. A perfect way to spend a morning.
Photographs — Left: You are welcome / Right: Linda paints our faces
Moyo Kirstenbosh is open from 09h00 until 17h00, breakfast is served until 16h00, and on Sunday there is a lunch buffet. Contact them on +27 (0)21 762-9585.