MEET AND EAT: THE HATTER’S TEA GARDEN AND NURSERY
REVIEW AND IMAGES: SHIRLEY LE GUERN
This is one of those spots that is well and truly far from the madding crowd – but amazingly accessible at the same time. The existing nursery and tea garden alongside the Village Mall in Jan Hofmeyer was a Covid lockdown casualty and the mother and daughter team that has relocated from Zululand and taken over this spot is already making a huge difference.
Although it is still early days – they only opened on March 1 – a simple clean-up has made all the difference. What was once a coffee shop at the bottom of the garden has been transformed into a tea garden with seating both inside and out.
The choice of the Alice in Wonderland theme has added a huge dash of imagination and made sure the venue is nothing like anything else in the area. Most coffee spots are in malls and this one means you can enjoy the outdoors, complete with beautiful green trees and flowers – a setting made all the more welcome with the sad closure of the nearby Cape Dutch House establishment. Then there’s the goofy décor which is all Mad Hatter’s tea party and leaves your fingers itching for your phone to snap a few photographs.
ON THE MENU
They’ve kept it simple – and tasty. For the most part, it is cakes and other decadent nibbles and then there are the toasties, a quiche and specials of the day which are on the chalk board in the shop. The toasties are served on homemade yoghurt seed bread or a Banting bread. Loaves can be ordered and collected at R50 each.
After the last limp and soggy sandwich, I had at the nearby Fego café which had me vowing never to order one again, my toasted chicken mayo was definitely one of the better toasted sarmies I’ve had in a long while. For starters, it was served hot and with a salad rather than sad, limp fries. The bread gave it a lovely nutty flavour and it was far more filling that the very average snacks on offer at nearby eateries.
The carrot cake that I ordered during my next visit (along with an iced coffee) was lovely – not over sweet or swamped with icing and deliciously moist. All are baked on the premises and it shows.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
This is a spot that is easy to get to and wonderfully peaceful. Inside is comfortable with a choice of distressed wooden tables or a comfy couch area. Outside is particularly good as you enjoy the fresh air and the shade of beautiful big trees. If you are intent on having a good conversation, this is the spot for you as you will not find yourself competing with loud background music or the cacophony of a busy mall.
I don’t see this as a hang-out for those wishing to avoid socializing and plugging into their laptops, so Wi-Fi is not a major issue.
The somewhat whimsical décor which includes top hats used as lighting makes this the perfect place for a special occasion celebration or a special meeting where you need to feel far enough away from the rat race.
You can order cakes for special occasions as well as the two loaves that are used when making meals in the café. A variety of cookies and crunchies as well as pickles and preserves are on sale. The nursery is still being stocked, so plant shopping is a little limited for the time being. However, I am told there are other little business ventures that will be added in due course, so watch this very interesting little space.
SERVICE AND PRACTICALITIES
Service was good and old style friendly. Food is prepared while you wait and because the tea garden is quite small, arrives quickly. There is ample parking on the lower level of the mall with the added advantage of Pick ‘n Pay, Clicks and other stores and ATMs being close by without having to intrude on your peace and quiet.