REVIEW: Sunday lunch to Driefontein in Greyton and back

Ever felt like jumping in the car, driving for an hour or so and having lunch off the beaten track? I’ve often thought about it, then phoned around and found everything fully booked. So a little planning is required, but I’d recommend Driefontein the next time you have the urge to do something different. It’s around 130km from Cape Town, involves some great drive-by scenery and a very comforting atmosphere for Sunday lunch.

Herman de Kock is the fifth generation living on this Greyton farm. He and partner Philip Hugo have day jobs. But come Sunday, they open their somewhat weathered farmhouse to the public and put on a bountiful spread that unfolds over a few hours. They cook for their own enjoyment. dsc_0007.jpg Everybody is expected to take their seats at individual tables by 12.45 sharp, and bring their own wine (only non-alcoholic beverages can be ordered). And then the boys lovingly prepare a nostalgic series of help-yourself courses.

I felt like I was eating dishes out of an eighties cookbook (Fair Lady’s Special Occasions by Annette Kesler on my bookshelf comes to mind), complete with groaning platters and hot bakes. I bumped into a winemaker friend who I know to be a regular, and he warned us against filling up on early courses. We so enjoyed the hearty lentil and lamb soup served with vetkoek served first, we couldn’t resist a top up.

dsc_0031.jpg For later courses we exercised restraint. Had to. There was the Med – assorted cold meze, cold cuts and salads to a hot sort of ‘bomb’ of lemonish Greek chicken in phyllo, plenty of nostalgic Afrikaans favourites, from baked tongue in mustard sauce under a layer of crumbs, pumpkin fritters and sweet potatoes cooked in sweet orange juice sauce. Fall-off-the-bone oxtail. Plus more conventional carvery items – ours a gammon roast with crispy potato wedges, cooked-just-right roasted and steamed veggies. On that point, vegetarians will find plenty in the buffet selection, whether dolmades and spring rolls – a little dull – or the tastily gooey cheese-olive-and-tomato polenta bake, or spinach and ricotta cannelloni.

dsc_0015.jpg There’s a welcome break before the dessert table is brought out. Wander to the outside loo or admire the lemon trees planted below the stoep. It’s also a great time to sip some wine in front of the cosy fire, especially when you realise you’re actually in the owners’ lounge. Basjaan the Basset hound is usually underfoot at this point. Our sweet selection included a stunning Pavlova, old-fashioned runny chocolate mousse, fruit salad, chocolate cake, koeksisters made by a Greyton local, and of course Malva pud. Coffee was served alongside.

In short, this is not fancy cheffy stuff but rather sincere home cooking presented in a show-off way. Buffets aren’t really my thing so I plan my attack with selective eating, and don’t get disappointed. But I thoroughly enjoyed Driefontein and will return. It’s a great day out, the owners are gracious and the dining room is full of family trinkets. The wine glasses aren’t great but taking your own wine means drinking options aplenty. dsc_0033.jpg

Spend: R170 per adult, R70 per child. Says Herman de Kock: “If small children are good I often don’t charge them, but if I’m expected to be their nanny for the day then they definitely pay.”

Value: Very good. It’s hard to see how Driefontein makes a profit with such a spread.

Wine: Unlicenced so BYO essential.

Flavour rating: Top marks for effort. Great flavours particularly in slow-cooked items – lamb and lentil soup and oxtail come to mind. Good puddings too. Vegetarians will be satisfied.

DRIEFONTEIN FARMHOUSE, 1km off N2 in the direction of Greyton. Tel 021 028 881 3612. Open Sunday from 12 onwards to 4.30pm. Reservations essential.