advertisement

Dullstroom

The three best restaurants in town are Fibs, Mrs. Simpsons, and Pickles and Things. Fibs (tel. 082/556-0383) is located on Lesedi Street in an old general dealer's store; try the red-wine braised lamb shank or whole trout grilled with chive yogurt. It's open Wednesday to Sunday for lunch and Wednesday to Saturday for dinner. Named for the famous Wallace, the intimate Mrs. Simpson's (tel. 013/254-0088), open Thursday to Monday, is owned by culinary duo Bryan and Stephen, who like to experiment with an ever-changing menu, incorporating elements of continental, African, and Asian cuisines. Pickles and Things (tel. 013/254-0115; Sun-Thurs 7am-5pm; Fri-Sat 7am-9pm) is owner-run by Thomas and Yvette; the menu is varied (from wraps to filet), but it's the trout dishes that have regulars coming back for more.

Near Sabie

You will dine well at all the lodges described above (note that nonresidents are welcome at all of them, space allowing). Blue Mountain Lodge is perhaps the top choice for a special romantic occasion (make sure to get here before dark to enjoy a drink on the deep verandas overlooking the lush, manicured gardens of this 200-hectare/494-acre estate), with close runner-up the Relais & Châteaux Cybele Forest Lodge. Here, the vegetables are home grown, the house salad is picked fresh daily, and the pasta is homemade. For a really laid-back atmosphere, with no pretensions and really good food, head for Rissington Inn. Most of the dinner entrees, such as tarragon trout, cost R70 to R80, making it the best value for quality home-cooked fare on the Escarpment. It seats only 30 and is often packed with locals, so book in advance.

A "trattoria" in the middle of nowhere, Artists Café (signposted off R37; tel. 013/764-2309 or 082/565-3345) draws a steady stream of Sabie regulars, with its warm rural ambience. Owners Leon and Hetta have created a wonderful hideaway. A kitchen garden ensures that most of the vegetables are picked daily; in keeping with the simple food, the atmosphere in the restaurant is casual -- chairs are mismatched, dishcloths serve as napkins, and walls are covered with local arts and crafts. Because it's a little out of the way, it opens only when it has bookings, so reservations are essential.

Founded in the 1980s by Harry, the owner of the Graskop Hotel, Harrie's Pancakes (tel. 013/767-1273; daily 7:30am-5:30pm) serves up a recipe that has proven such a huge hit that you'll now find Harrie's as far away as the Cape Town Waterfront. His trademark thick crepes are filled with interesting combinations, such as trout mousse and horseradish, for example, or butternut with cumin and blue cheese sauce, or green fig preserve with pecan nuts and cream.

If you're interested in sampling traditional African fare accompanied by some superb singing and dancing by local Shangaan people, book a Lunch Tour or Evening Festival at the nearby Shangana Cultural Village (tel. 013/737-7000; R353 near Hazyview; open daily, depending on tour bookings). It's touristy but worth it if you haven't experienced African dancing or mopani worms elsewhere.

Finally, if you're traveling anywhere near White River (or interested in looking at the local arts and crafts), stop at Bagdad Centre (nothing to do with the Iraqi capital), a few kilometers north of White River on the R40 to Hazyview; the Centre has a sushi bar as well as a good restaurant, Salt (tel. 013/751-1555). Opposite is Casterbridge, a mixed-use village-style development that has grown along with the flow of new expats and Jo'burg and Maputo businessmen who prefer to commute to their respective cities while their families enjoy a more rural environment. Casterbridge is spread around a series of interlinked, shady courtyards with some 50 shops (up from 10 just under a decade ago), including a few galleries, a theater, restaurants, coffee bars, a local history and car museum, and an art house cinema.

Stock Up on the Way to Kruger -- If you're traveling on the Sabie-Hazyview road, stop at The Windmill Wine Shop (tel. 013/737-8175; Mon-Sat 9am-5pm) to snack on a tapas platter or stock up on deli fare (cold meats and cheeses, pickles and olives, bread) and wine -- a picnic to enjoy on your veranda in a Kruger Park rest camp.

Pilgrim's Rest

You'll find a number of places to eat and drink all along the main road, and the Royal Hotel serves fairly innocuous grub. For lovely elevated views, head up the R533 to Inn on Robber's Pass, 15km (9 1/4 miles) from Pilgrim's Rest (tel. 013/768-1491). The food isn't as amazing as the view, but you won't go wrong with the steak.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.