The house at the end of the lane
Cape Town - Watching the stars dancing on the lake, a Time to Say Goodbye rendition providing the soundtrack, and the kitchen of wonder providing the smells, I wondered if life really could be better.
That remains my abiding memory of a little slice of food heaven on the Garden Route.
Lakeside Lodge & Spa was the middling ground on the ultimate golfing trip. Even addicts get tired of playing every day. So it was with an air of relaxation that I had wafted down the N2 from Fish River Sun towards Port Elizabeth and then along the Tsitsikamma route to Knysna, surely one of South Africa’s most stunning drives.
Lakeside Lodge, on Sedgefield’s Swartvlei Lagoon, used to be a private dwelling. Converted to four luxury suites, four superior suites and an exquisite honeymoon suite – with the intimate Benguela Brasserie restaurant on the water’s edge – the house at the end of the lane was transformed into something truly majestic.
I arrived to a sunny lawn full of families dining and enjoying the pleasant winter on the Garden Route. Immediately, I was greeted with a wine and chocolate pairing, hosted by friendly hotel manager, Karl. This is normally enjoyed on the lagoon on a boat, also great for romantic sunset cruises. As Karl took away the samples, his wife Kelly-Anne, the resident master chef, introduced herself by way of a delectable pork roast on a red cabbage relish with butternut puree – the beginning of a gastronomic orgy that still visits my daydreams.
I retired for a siesta, but couldn’t help jumping into the Jacuzzi, perfect for smoothing out niggles from successive rounds of coastal golf. It was so good I fell asleep.
Supper then proceeded to top lunch; crispy calamari with slivers of beetroot on avocado, followed by the most ridiculously beautiful sirloin with roast spuds, carrot and cauliflower with cheese sauce, washed down by man-sized glasses of the Benguela Cove house red.
The tummy was creaking, but the brief dictated I had to tackle dessert. Defeated after apple crumble, cheeky peanut brittle and home-made ice cream, I wobbled to bed, wondering what delights Kelly-Anne would rustle up the next day.
Morning at Lakeside is serenely silent, save for the birds catching their breakfast around the lagoon. Everything around you is crisp, daring you to enjoy the outdoors. Karl doubles up as the resident exercise warden, and his boot camp classes are just the tonic to shake off his wife’s feasts.
Taking one look at the weather we decided we could pretend I had endured a session. Besides, eggs Benedict had just been served, with a hollandaise sauce so unctuous that I could have licked the plate.
During the day you can venture out to explore – markets thrive on weekends – and there are plenty of unusual sights and sounds. But, in the wintry sun, I was happy to laze on the couch.
Feeling slightly guilty – and pacing myself – I decided to hide for lunch, but the kitchen had the cheek to send freshly baked scones and a mug of tea. There was no escaping the pampering. The spa offers even more, with facials, pedicures and everything in between.
Having reserved some space, supper was tackled with gusto. A hearty mussel bisque with artisan bread got the juices flowing, before the catch of the day. Crispy skin, flaky, fresh flesh and a colourful smattering of greens and oranges were the perfect combination.
Being my last meal, I savoured every morsel of malva pudding, with butterscotch sauce and more home-made ice cream. Kelly-Anne popped in to make sure the plate was clean. I would have offered lobola there and then, but Karl has already put a ring on it.
As I bade goodbye to make my tee-time at Fancourt, my heart was almost as heavy as my midriff. If you are ever near Knysna or George, or anywhere on the Garden Route, do yourself a favour…
l Call 044 343 1844 or visit www.lakesidelodge.co.za
First Car Rental is proud to be the car hire company of choice to drive Sunday Tribune’s Lungani Zama to experience the best in luxury lifestyle. Zama travelled to the 5-star Lakeside Lodge in the Wilderness National Park, a beautiful hotel surrounded by panoramic views of Swartvlei Lagoon. Experience the Western Cape with First Car Rental – www.firstcarrental.co.za
Lungani Zama, Sunday Tribune