In my words…
There are few things Travel Gigolo and I love as much as road-tripping through this beautiful country! And without boasting too much, I think we’re getting to be pretty expert at it. I do have just one bugbear about road-tripping. The food that’s generally available on the road! Pardon me while I slag off what might be your favourite stop or coffee, but I simply won’t stop at Wimpy anymore. Plastic food is not my idea of a highlight en-route to great destinations. I would much rather prepare a sandwich than waste that kind of time eating that kind of food.
So imagine my delight, as someone who’s driven to and from Durban and the KZN coast a number of times, to discover The Midlands Kitchen at The Windmills Garage. Ideally situated right off the N3 highway, at the very start of a great many Midlands Meander adventures, it’s entirely impossible to have it work out better. Not only are they in the perfect spot, but they offer a really wide variety of meal options, meaning that even a big family or large group of friends, on an epic summer holiday, will be happy.
We were visiting and exploring the Midlands Meander and staying at the beautiful Brahman Hills Hotel when we had the opportunity to go check out the Midlands Kitchen, and enjoy some lunch. Loads of parking, and well-manicured lawns, lead up to a facade with a big sign proclaiming: “We’re open. Come hungry!”. That we did.
The Midlands Kitchen was designed as a food hall, meaning you have various different “stalls” offering all kinds of cuisine. As a result, you have access to all the options with the added benefit of paying a single bill. So whether you’re keen on juices and smoothies, or smash burgers, or maybe even pizzas, or all of the above, but also want to grab some meat and bread from the deli section, everything can be paid for together, once. Excellent! Simple! And especially great for families.
We opted to walk straight through to the outside seating where more green lawns and a kiddies play area created a welcoming look and feel. We even had a view of the Brahman Hills wedding chapel, and the requisite windmill stood out against the blue sky views. The menu, with so many different options, makes it tough for someone like myself to come to a quick conclusion but once I’d seen a few pizzas pass by, my mind was made up. Without any hesitation, my Tall Dark & Handsome had decided on the curry, after being assured it was indeed a genuine Durban curry.
We were not disappointed. Delicious fresh dishes, made from real farm-quality ingredients, arrived at our table. Tall Dark & Handsome happily tucked into his curry and proclaimed it to be “legit”, and I enjoyed my cheese-laden vegetarian pizza. One of the best parts of what’s on offer is that there are a number of fresh and healthy vegan and vegetarian options, which really is a great direction for any restaurant to be heading in, and is an element often lacking, especially on the road.
We were quite fortunate that at the time of our visit, Emily Dyer-Schiefer, a restaurant specialist brought on board to further develop and revamp the existing menu and operations, was around to chat to us. She told us a little more about the company philosophy:
“Our core philosophies are all of our meat [is] hormone-free, grass-fed. We only serve free-range chicken, we only serve free-range eggs. All of our packaging is sustainable. And we try to be very conscious of our [carbon] footprint wherever possible. We source locally wherever possible. All of our fruit & vegetables [are sourced] locally, all of our cheese [is sourced] locally. Then things like the pizza bases, we use real Italian flour, all stone-ground flours, so we try and find the best quality that we can. [For] our croissants, we use French flour that we bring in to use for those, so we’re very conscious of the raw ingredients that go into everything. It [means] a better product.”
In their words …
All the stalls in the Food Hall value quality ingredients and produce and concentrate on ensuring that the fresh produce used is either grown on-site or sourced from the local farmers in the area. Most of the stalls offer vegan or vegetarian options and all the operating brands promote ethical farming practices, sustainability and freshness.
Try Juice Brew for freshly squeezed juices and smoothies; Hey Brew – a Coffee Bar that serves Fairtrade coffee and freshly baked pastries from Soulflour; Windmills Pie Company – started in 2012, the Windmills Pie Company makes delicious pies from locally sourced ingredients, while Mr Naidoo’s Genuine Durban Curry specialises in real Durban curry.
Spring Chicken serves free range chicken, cooked to perfection, and The Free Range Burger Company serves 100g Smash-burgers and farm wors rolls!
Farina di Grana Pizzeria is the stall for traditional Neapolitan style pizza – Farina only uses imported Italian flour and tomatoes. The dough undergoes a 24 hour fermentation process, before being hand stretched, and then baked in one of two wood-burning pizza ovens.
At Wild Child Gelato, fresh gelato is made. Rotating flavours of the day are on offer – but vanilla, chocolate and a berry are always on offer. Wild Child Gelatos are made from fresh milk, cream and free-range local eggs.
The Breakfast Bar offers breakfast until 13:00; the Earl of Sandwich, freshly baked filled baguettes and toasted sandwiches; and at the Salad Bar you can get delicious seasonal salads and a Midlands cheese board.
Keep in mind that because you are ordering from different stalls, your food might arrive at different times.
The Midlands Kitchen also offers a premium retail space – The Marketplace – where you will find, amongst others, Brahman Hills biltong, and Soulflour breads and freshly baked cakes.
Because of the newly added “order anywhere, pay once” procedure, items can now picked up from the Marketplace and be added to your bill.
The Midlands Kitchen with its easy access from the N3 freeway is open from 06h00 to 16h00 daily, with the added benefit of the Grab and Go section staying open till 20h00.