Brunch in a cottage kitchen
Situated in the heart of the very popular Montebello Design Centre in Newlands, The Gardener’s Cottage Restaurant offers patrons a cup of coffee and something to eat in old English countryside style. This cottage kitchen confidently offers a wholesome menu for breakfast and lunch, filled with fresh and tasty ingredients.
Three course meal…
I’ve always been charmed by the English countryside. Especially by the dwellings; the little white cottages perched neatly at the end of each country lane, surrounded by an oasis of old, gnarly trees. Whilst driving past, I’ve often imagined the woman of the house stirring a pot over a large hearth, wiping her hands on her white apron. The freshly baked bread cooling in the windowsill and her daughter bringing in a basket of sun-warm vegetables from the garden. Later, she will be preparing a wholesome vegetable broth for the family, complemented with thick slices of warm bread, drenched in salty butter…
Alas, we are not in England and we are not in the olden days, either. But being the romantic I am, I can’t help conjuring up these scenes when I think of the Gardener’s Cottage Restaurant. It’s where English country kitchen meets modern simplicity.
I can write books about the Montebello Design Centre itself, but for the purpose of this review, I will only focus on the gorgeous little deli-restaurant that lies at the heart of the project. Situated just off Newlands drive, tucked under a copse of pine trees, you will find various studios and shops that form part of the Design Centre. Parking is a breeze; there are friendly parking assistants who help you manoeuvre through the trees to ample parking spaces all around. Meander a bit further, and you will see the giant old camphor trees, lovingly cradling the Gardener’s Cottage in their leafy arms.
Predictably, we went for a brunch. It’s advisable to book a table, as you will rarely find an open seat either inside or out. We booked a lovely table outside. It was a bit chilly still so early in the morning, but they provide you with warm blankies for your knees, so that you comfortably settle into the bird-chirping surroundings of the restaurant.
The restaurant itself is the original Gatekeepers Cottage of the Montebello Estate. It was opened as the Gardener's Cottage Restaurant by the Barty family in 1993. The restaurant has a wonderfully broad, covered patio, with quaint little checkered clothed tables for intimate two’s or fours. It also offers loads of tables scattered under the shade of the trees for al fresco dining. It’s such a tranquil space; filled with fresh air, greenery and peace for the tired city soul. This is where you gather your thoughts, take a breath. The staff is friendly and attentive. They make you feel right at home from the minute you walk in. Their smiles are genuine; the service sterling.
Inside the restaurant you will find a cluster of tables for those who prefer eating under-roof. They also have a beautiful deli counter where you can purchase most of the items on the menu. Here you can pick and choose between granolas, cake slices, biscuits, quiches, sandwiches…the list goes on. All freshly baked and prepared for convenience. If you choose to sit inside, it does remind you of sitting in someone’s living room whilst they’re cooking in the kitchen. It offers you that friendly glimpse into the workings of the chefs behind the scenes, without being in the way. It's companionable. The décor is very minimal and simplistic, but again very reminiscent of a country kitchen. Chalkboards, pastel colours and floating bookshelves all add to the modern take on the Old English style.
Before placing our order, I perused their whole menu. It’s a small, but well thought out menu that caters for all tastes. They have lunch options, as well as light meals. I did fleetingly consider letting our breakfast merge into lunch time, so that I could sample more dishes, but I quickly dismissed that very indulgent thought. What jumps out from the menu, is the use of seasonal products. That means that the menu changes every now and again to accommodate the seasons. They also offer daily specials, which are very worth considering, so make sure not to miss the daily specials board.
Although I didn’t see a dedicated play area for the kiddies, there is ample outside space for them to play and run, whilst keeping an eye. I think there is plenty to keep them entertained, and if you sit outside, they could happily spill out into the gardens around the restaurant.
Again, very predictably, I ordered the eggs benedict. There is just something about this dish that tells stories about the institution that serves it. You can find all the answers you are looking for in a plate of eggs benedict. I found answers that spoke of fresh ingredients, careful consideration of the various components, interesting combinations of tastes. Above all, I found answers speaking of simple, honest food. The eggs were served on a herbed croute, with creamed spinach, bacon and a gorgeously smooth hollandaise sauce. My mom and Karl opted for the full breakfast, which is served with the most divine sweetcorn fritters. The table was full of good food and our conversation dwindled as we were submerged ourselves in these beautiful plates of food. Ten out of ten for presentation.
In that moment, I didn’t want to be anywhere else. In the end, it won’t matter how many earthly possessions you have accumulated. It won’t matter how much money you made with a high-flying job. What will matter is how you spent your time. Who you spent your time with. I was happy in that exact moment, with my husband and my mom, chatting over steaming cups of coffee and finishing off our breakfasts with melty, buttered toast. I wanted time to stand still under the giant camphor trees, with the sun just breaking through the treetops. I wanted to remember everything about this morning; the atmosphere, the happy people, the tasty food, the pretty coffee.
I almost didn’t want to review The Gardener’s Cottage in a public space. I want it to keep it close to my heart as a secret spot for those nearest and dearest I choose to share it with. On the other hand, more people need to experience this charming haven of tranquility!
Saying our breakfast was a delightful experience is putting it mildly. This is what weekends are made for. To have breakfast at The Gardener’s Cottage. To linger a bit longer and take a walk through the cutest little nursery next door. To browse the artsy studios and rejoice in our proudly South African crafts. I would recommend The Gardener’s Cottage far and wide. To friends and visitors alike. I will most certainly be returning (and soon at that!) as I’ve still got a lot of menu items to work my way through…
Meet Amilinda Wilkinson
Amilinda Wilkinson is a small town girl with big dreams. She is a nature geek, total foodie, devoted wife and mother to furry children. When she's not at the office, she explores, writes about, photographs and indulges in this fragile adventure we call life.
Read more from Amilinda on her blog The Little Hedonist.