The Hickory Shack has been operating for about a year now, situated just past Grabouw on the Thandi Estate off the N2 in the Elgin Valley. The concept behind this interesting eatery is a simple one – bring an authentic Texan smokehouse experience to South Africa.
To this purpose the team have a dedicated smokehouse shack set up (complete with menacing skull hanging off the side), in which dwells a simple but effective brick and mortar fire pit where the pit master then works his magic from.
As you would then expect, the menu contains a lot of slow roasted meat, including the ever popular brisket, mouthwatering good pulled pork, and ribs. The food options are further complemented by a great selection of local craft beers, and of course, this being Elgin, all the locally produced ciders are front and center as well.
Music from the South is the soundtrack for the restaurant, so go in knowing that you are about to hear a lot of banjo being played (honestly, it gets a bit much after a while), but nevertheless, you can just imagine that the vibe gets pretty fun on a full house evening at this slightly remote destination!
The girls loved the freshly pressed apple juices, Chantelle and I loved the handcut chips, excellent meat and brilliant array of interesting sauces – not to mention the fun presentation of the food, all of which means that I guess then that we’ll be making a return run to the Hickory Shack sooner than later.
It is after all, just over the mountain behind us…
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As always, a handy map: (Not that you can miss it though – not with that beautifully cared for, bright red, classic Chevrolet Apache truck standing out in front of the shack!)
The last time that I found myself at the cleverly expanded Peregrine Farm Stall (which in truth is a lot bigger than just a simple farm stall these days), I didn’t get around to doing a tasting at the Everson’s Cider pop-up tasting room.
This time around though, despite the allure of the wonderful Elgin Open Gardens weekend that was now in full swing (which led to a lot of new exploring for us mind you), I made the effort and was rewarded with some really good cider in return!
First things first though – I needed to bribe the girls with some softserve ice cream from Padkos Express first! (Yes, shamefully, that is a pie and coffee in the picture as well. It is unavoidable really – Peregrine’s pies are excellent!)
Thanks to the Elgin Open Gardens attracting away most of the crowd that one would usually find milling about the always popular Peregrine Farm Stall, the girls and I got to enjoy a slightly quieter than normal play area, and the girls lost no time in enjoying the tractors, swings and jungle gym to the fullest!
Happy that the girls were now quite content with life (and having fun at the same time), I sauntered over to the Everson’s Cider tasting room (which is a cleverly remodelled shipping container, courtesy of Rocketfuel), grabbed a stool and got to tasting their five cider varietals.
In general I rather enjoy ciders, and other than the mulled cider which I wasn’t particularly fond of, the original, cloudy and pear ciders (all made from local Elgin fruit) were all pretty good, whilst the pomegranate cider was certainly an interesting taste.
Of course, the girls were super interested in what I was doing and soon arrived to steal some of my complimentary crisps – essentially the only way that I could convince them to both run off and play again!
So all in all, a good experience and certainly an outing that both the girls and I got quite a bit of enjoyment out of!
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Worth noting, but on the way home I decided to turn up one of the dirt roads and do some exploring around the ever shrinking rural bits of Gordon’s Bay – areas that most locals don’t even know still exist. The dirt roads lead to some interesting sights, including a beautiful example of classic Cape Dutch architecture, ornate gable and all! This though is not a picture of that house:
(By this stage, both girls were quite tired, not enjoying the bumpy dirt roads, and definitely not pleased with their dad that kept stopping the car to get out and take some photos!)
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Anyway, back to the original subject of this post. Here is a handy map to Peregrine Farm Stall and therefore Everson’s Cider tasting room (open Wednesday to Sunday, 10am to 5pm):
The exuberant and bubbly chef, restaurateur, foodie and… property entrepreneur Nicole Precoudis certainly has more than just a little experience when it comes to the food business, having both owned and worked in plenty of restaurants over the course of her career.
Grabouw’s Elgin Valley region then most certainly lucked out when she decided to make it her home, and in 2013, following a stint as partner in and head chef of Oak Valley’s The Pool Room (which both Chantelle and I love), she thew open the doors of her and her family’s 18.5 hectare working apple and olive farm and launched the Terra Madre Market, which (open on only a few select occastions) specialized in “slow-cooked regional fare, farm fresh produce, sourdough bread, baked goods and more – all prepared on the farm”.
Fast forward to September 2016, and Terra Madre, now producing an excellent champagne style apple cider (the Terra Madre Pomme Classique Dry Elgin Cider) as well as the most delicious fresh pressed, single varietal apple and pear juice that I have ever tasted, launched their Food Barn in order to complement their growing food delivery business.
Somehow, I managed to catch wind of this opening, and because I was looking for something to do over the weekend with my girls, I headed out to the Elgin Valley and turned off onto the Viljoenshoop Road, the first time that I’ve ever actually done that funnily enough.
Although the signage is a bit poor, the GPS got me to the right gate, which confusingly was closed. However, nothing that a quick chat over the intercom couldn’t solve, so a quick farm road hop and the girls and I ended our drive up to the Terra Madre Barn – which was open for business… more or less.
Because I was coming in blind, I was kind of half expecting a little deli or something along those lines – however, the actual setting is a by far cooler one. In essence, you phone up ahead, book a lunch slot, and then get treated to a proper family luncheon out in the middle of the orchard – and by the smell of and description of the food being prepared in the kitchen, those lucky people who had gotten this part right were definitely in for a major treat!
Naturally, opening day, as it so often does, was not really going entirely to plan, with a lot of running around and things happening all over the place. However, the wonderfully affable Nicole and her family immediately made us feel welcome, and so we ordered some nice little scones off of the bake table and settled in to enjoy the surroundings.
Unfortunately for us though, in all the chaos of everyone getting ready for the actual lunch service, our order was kind of forgotten about – though that said, the girls didn’t seem to mind much. They were pretty much all over the place, making themselves at home, running around everywhere, sprinkled with bouts of Jessica randomly handing out hugs to anyone she could find!
Nicole brought some of the Terra Madre apple juice for us to try, and it is by far the best apple juice that I have ever tasted – a sentiment with which both the girls wholeheartedly appear to agree with. (Also, when our coffee and scones did eventually get served, well let’s just say that the scones were some of the best that I’ve ever had as well!)
We thanked everyone for their hospitality, and made ourselves scarce before the real lunch time guests arrived, but not before we of course took a stroll around the grounds to admire the orchards and surroundings.
(That said, both Jessica and Emily were far to enthralled with the little puppy running about outside to care much about anything else that I was trying to show them!)
So now that I know the setup (and apparently it has since been tweaked a little bit), I look forward to our next visit to Terra Madre where I can show off what looks to be an absolute gastronomic treat to Chantelle – making sure of course to take full credit for discovering this gem before she did.
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A map in case you want to explore this interesting addition to the Elgin Valley tourism scene:
Situated in the fertile Elgin valley, just past Grabouw, and first established way back in 1964, the ever popular Peregrine Farm Stall is somewhat of a mainstay when it comes to farm stall stops along the N2!
But this is no tired looking old farm stall any more mind you.
Following a devastating fire in 2014, Peregrine Farm Stall has rebuilt itself with a new focused identity (previously the cafe section was known as the Red Tractor Cafe), making for a fresh, delightful stop just before you tackle the scenic Sir Lowry’s Pass on your way down to Cape Town.
In addition to the classic farm stall, the freshly baked pies and breads from the bakery, and the newly rebuilt, modern cafe, Peregrine Farm Stall have also gone and expanded by erecting the beautiful little Padkos Express food bar, which now overlooks the also expanded children’s play area.
The play area is now dotted with old tractors, swings and jungle gym equipment, with the whole area being circled by beautiful little wooden pop-up shop boxes – making for a great family stop spot if you have small kids like I do.
As you may have guessed, the girls loved clambering all over the old tractor shells, while I made myself comfortable with a nice hot coffee and springbok pie!
Also, a nice bonus is the newly added Everson’s Cider Tasting Room which offers cider tasting from nearby produced (and quite frankly excellent) Everson’s range.
So yes, no wonder then that the newly refreshed Peregrine Farm Stall stop remains being as popular with both locals and travelers as what it is!
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They’ve been here since 1964, but just in case you still don’t know where to find them, here’s a handy Google map:
(Of course, if you are looking for something a little more ‘adult’ in terms of experience, then you could always just pop into the gorgeous Pool Room at Oak Valley Estate just down the road!)
To round off our weekend away with Oupa and Ouma in Barrydale, we stopped for lunch on the way home, pulling in at The Orchard Farm Stall & Coffee Shop in Grabouw – a pleasant N2 stop that I’ve mentioned before, perfect if you have kids that need a little space to run around while you tuck into something a little more substantial.
As luck would have it, by now we had escaped the overcast weather that had followed us all the way to Swellendam from Warmwaterberg Spa, meaning that we were treated to blue skies and a little bit of sunshine to go with it.
We picked an outside table, meaning that Jessica and Emily could get on with running around, climbing the jungle gym and falling off the swings.
Sadly though, Emily did have a bit of an accident with the milkshake, but other than that, we enjoyed a pleasant family lunch (hamburgers and sandwiches!) before saying our goodbyes and parting ways.
In other words, great end to our little Warmwaterberg Spa weekend adventure!
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(Oh, and in case you spotted the different timestamps on the photos, yes we did actually stop there on the way up – to stock up on biltongs and pies for the road!)
Related Link: The Orchard Farm Stall & Coffee Shop
So having enjoyed an unintended (but delicious) cup of Hot Chocolate at Fred & Max in Elgin, I suggested to a dejected Chantelle that perhaps we should wander over to the nearby Oak Valley Estate to see if their beautiful The Pool Room restaurant could maybe help us out in terms of a nice breakfast.
(We were on our way to Caledon for a bit of a mid-week break from work in case you are wondering.)
Situated in the picturesque and fertile Elgin, Oak Valley Estate is an old estate (established 1898), known these days for its multi-purpose functionality, namely its wines, flowers, meats, mountain bike trails, and now of course, restaurant.
The first thing that strikes you when you stop in the gravel parking lot in front of The Pool Room’s entrance is the sheer beauty of all the greenery around you. Lush lawns, plentiful trees… well, you get the picture.
The clean, spacious restaurant overlooks an elegantly shaped pool, with the water continuing that theme of tranquility which makes this such a special little dining spot.
Thankfully for Chantelle’s sake, The Pool Room does in fact have some delicious breakfast options available on their menu, and we enjoyed a thoroughly relaxed meal in an absolute perfect setting.
In other words, highly recommended as a fantastic breakfast stop! :)
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Chantelle and I took a mid-week break last week and headed out towards Caledon Hotel & Spa to take advantage of their long running Real Deal promotion. Chantelle decided very much that she’d like to stop for breakfast on the way, and as such settled on stopping at the recently opened Fred & Max Eatery in Elgin, based purely on how awesome this hip little eatery’s spot in Somerset West is. (Seriously, we’ve eaten there before and it’s impossible not to like!)
The Elgin branch of this great little establishment is situated at the Elgin train station, meaning that if you want to, you can sit outside, right next to the train tracks and enjoy the beautiful tranquility of Elgin and its surrounds.
Sadly for us though, Chantelle probably should have done her homework first, because on arrival, after taking our seats, we discovered that Fred & Max don’t actually serve breakfast!
(No wonder the staff seemed a little confused by having such early visitors to their premises!)
Feeling a little silly, and seeing as we were already seated, we decided to have something warm to drink anyway.
(For the record, their hot chocolate is fantastic – as is their carrot cake, which Chantelle simply could not resist giving a try!)
So in summary, great for a lunch or supper stop, but skip if you want an actual breakfast! :)
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Following our lovely Sunday out and about in Hermanus was of course the drive back home to Gordon’s Bay. Seeing as we had already enjoyed the scenic coastal route on the way there, I opted for the quicker N2 route home – and for the very first time ever (that I can remember as an adult), I actually pulled over at the Houw Hoek Farm Stall instead of just whizzing on by!
I have to say, it is actually pretty nice. A lovely restaurant from the looks of it (we opted not to sit down for a cup of coffee because it was beginning to get late), a well stocked farm stall with some particularly tasty things being cooked up by the onsite bakery, and a nice little open play area for the kids.
Which naturally, they quickly made full use of! :)
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In other words, definitely a pit stop option then if you’re ever driving through the Elgin region!