About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

28 March 2011

Graskop - A Culinary Delight

Graskop, a tiny town in the rolling hills of Mpumalanga is well known as the gateway to the Blyde River Canyon. But for me, the highlight of Graskop is the food. Even Mpumalanga Tourism's map giveaway for the "Panorama Route" lists "Eating at one of the restaurants on Graskop's Main Road" as one of the main things to do!

There is an obvious affliction for pancakes in this region - and Graskop spots no less than 3 pancake shops within 100 metres, and the other restaurants seem to have pancakes in their menus too! According to the locals though, Harrie's is the place to be - and their pancakes are amazing.

But Harrie's is not a Graskop phenomenon; the main highlight for me, is The Glass House. A small restaurant, with walls of glass, the Glass House is a "South African" restaurant, with a small menu composed of mostly South African delights - lamb chops, malay curries, bobotie and malva pudding. The food is simply amazing - the flavour, the taste is way better than anything I have had in Jo'burg - and I include some very expensive and well rated restaurants I have been to in that comparison. Perhaps it is to do with the freshness of the ingredients, perhaps it is to do with the freshness of the preparation; I do not know - but it was simply amazing.

But more than the great food, it was the great atmosphere and the friendly people. The decor is fairly simple in most parts, with a number of very impressive traditional African wooden carvings. We went there twice in our stay at Graskop last week, and both times, the restaurant was mostly full. The two persons serving the patrons were obviously the owners - and there was constant banter between them and the guests. The service was amazing, and all guests were given a handshake or even a hug before leaving.

It is one of the cases, where you trully leave the restaurant as if you were friends and not just another business transaction.


Anonymous said...

We had the unfortunate experience of going there. My fiance is Indian, and after 10 minutes of being ignored by Abe and another white waiter, I ask for service. Upon having the menus literally thrown at us, we the decided to leave.

Great place, if you're white or prefer the old world racism of the past.

alapan said...

It has been over a year since I was there, and I had great service. I am sorry you had a bad experience, especially if this was after reading my blog. I don't think it is race related however - after all, I am not white either ...

Anonymous said...

I live in Graskop these days, originally from Jhb. The racism here is actually rampant. I had to leave a meeting of the Graskop Tourism and Craft Market organisation because the racist jokes were thick and ugly.

Anzet said...

We also had a horrible experience at the Glass House. It's very clear that the place caters to international tourists. We were basically ignored by a man who was later confirmed to me to be the owner, after he greeted us, apparently heard our South African accents, and decided to ignore us for the rest of the night. He only spoke to us again just before we left, probably noticing my irritation. Besides his bad attitude in stark contrast to the hours of attention he showered the three tables of internation tourists in the restaurant with, we waited for 4 sets of tables to be seated, orders taken and served before our order - taken soon after arrival - to be brought to our table, cold. We were given a FACE cloth with our ribs, which was incredibly off putting, and our waitress barely spoke to us. We were also seated squarely in the middle of the restaurant, despite there being no reservations and beautiful, open tables along the side. If you've been here, you know that the point of the glass house is that it's got the loveliest windows that run along the rounded sides, from which you can see the town. These tables were left largely open the whole night, with us seated in the centre of kitchen and counter traffic, and tourist after tourist taken to a few of the outside tables. All in all a terrible experience. I can say I've never felt so unwelcome at a place I was PAYING to feed me before.

Besides the bad attitude, the food is very average for the price you pay, the prices are ridiculous for how uninformed the waiting staff are about proper etiquette, the menus are little folded up pieces of paper and the variety leaves a lot to be desired.

Although, if you're an international tourist, go by all means. You'll be made to feel like kings and queens.

Anonymous said...

I think much of what is said here is very personal and a bit unfair, my husband and I (who are white South Africans) read this blog before going and fully expected the worst (the menu sounded good so we decided we'd take a chance).

What we found was a quaint and intimate restaurant with a friendly owner. There were many tourist tables but but we were treated well and equally as was a table near us with a black South African family. The manager/owner (who doubles as waiter and runner) was very pleasant and had every table laughing and enjoying themselves regardless of nationality or race.

He tried his best to keep up with a full restaurant and only one other helper from the kitchen - and I think that is where some people may become restless, he needs to accommodate everyone and keep up and track of everyone more or less on his own, so he is probably short staffed rather than rude.

This is a homey restaurant not a gourmet one and I think people should approach small, non-franchised, owner-run restaurants with more patience and just enjoy the night out, they tend to be more special anyway. Why would you be in a hurry anyway?...its Graskop there's not much else to do in the evening...

The food was good value, home-style cooking and the wine is well priced. We did not wait long at all between courses (We've waited nearly an hour in some of the upper scale Gauteng restaurants, the Glass house was 15-20 mins tops after placing our order).

So relax, and try not to be so serious, you only ruin your own evening by being so critical.

Leona said...

Anonymous, pity you did not meet Abe's fiance, Susan Moegane. A stunning, friendly black lady normally giving assistance on busy evenings. Graskop resident and longtime Glass House supporter!!!! You go Abe!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I have to say we've only eaten there once, 2 of our party were black Zimbabweans. At first Abe came across as abrupt and curt to some of the group, BUT unfortunately for some he has a very similar sense of humour to me. I feel that it may well be this that many are taking as rudeness? We had a great time, and a good laugh with him, he had a good laugh with each and every one of us there. I/we did not sense any form of xenophobia or racism from him of his staff! We are going back next time we are in Graskop!