Food24 braais at... Middelvlei

Cathy Marston indulges in a great South African braai experience.

21 Sep 2010

I strongly suspect a brainwashing conspiracy going on here as otherwise, why send the English girl out to report back on a good old South African braai? Not to worry, I am more than happy to forsake the burnt-hamburger-barbecues of my English past and replace them with this ‘lekker’ experience. See - the brainwashing is working already. 

The Good

Middelvlei is a total family-run affair. The Momberg family has various adult members involved in growing the grapes, making the wine, marketing the wine and now that they have decided to add a food offering, the next generation of the family are getting in on the act as well by waiting on tables – including the 14-year old (child labour - hooray!)!

Jeanneret Momberg, who is the driving force for all changes in this family, didn’t want to open a restaurant so decided to offer a more relaxed, family-focussed, true South African experience – a boerebraai. For R115 you get pates and bread followed by a hearty plateful of meat served with braaibroodjies, pampoenkoekies, baked potatoes and salad (toasted cheese, tomato and onion sarmies and pumpkin fritters for non-Afrikaans speakers). If you still have room, you can finish up with a darned fine Malva pud and custard.

All this food is prepared off-site by Jeanneret’s partner in this venture, JD de Villiers from  and expertly cooked by Chef Elliot on the day. The success of the braai has taken them by surprise – they originally budgeted on doing about 20 over the weekend whereas they are actually up to about 50 per day instead, so if you want to go and try it out, I’d advise you to book.

There are so many good points, that I thought I’d bullet-point them:

· Food is excellent – home-cooked, fresh and plentiful

· Wine is great and all at cellar-door prices so no mark-ups. I especially liked the Shiraz and the Unwooded Chardonnay.

· Great facilities for families – a kids’ lunch costs R40 and includes a stokbrood which they can cook themselves.

Ben Momberg has a veritable menagerie on the farm – goats, cows, chickens, geese, pot-bellied pigs and wallabies – and you can buy feed for some of the animals. There are also large lawns and donkey rides.

· Packaging is kept to a minimum – proper plates, knives, forks and glasses with just one cardboard container for the pate bits   and pieces and one for the salad.

· Outstanding value.

. Great views over the wetland.

· Open till late – last week they packed up and left at 7pm leaving customers still chilling on the lawn. Plans are afoot for a special sun-downer package coming soon.

The Bad

Um – it was raining when I visited? Er – the wallabies wouldn’t come out and talk to us? George Clooney didn’t drop out of the ether and offer to share his immense fortune with me?  Not really sure I can think of any offhand. I suppose if you were a vegetarian, this might not be quite your thing, although there is a veggie option. Other than that – nothing really.

The Beautiful

Middelvlei is one of those places which just gives you a warm fuzzy feeling. I’m not a religious person but I am sure that if there is a deity, he or she will be quite happy about me spending my Sundays out here, enjoying my family, my friends, wonderful nature, a beautiful view and a lovely meal.

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