Restaurant Review: Shumba Valley Lodge – Do You, In Fact, Have Any Halloumi Cheese In This Shop?

May 22, 2015



Admittedly taking a drive out into the Jozi countryside on a wet and rainy Friday afternoon for a long lazy lunch is not the brightest thought ever, but who doesn’t grab the opportunity to spend an afternoon with a really nice person when such things don’t happen frequently enough? So off we went. The first hint that we should have turned around and gone home  may well have been the four sets of traffic lights that were out of order and having to navigate the temporary four-way stops, pretty much taking your life in your hands when factoring in rain, wet roads and Joburg drivers. My driver, at least knows his stuff so I felt pretty safe crossing the deluge. Neither of us are good at taking notice of hints, so we trundled on and eventually arrived at our destination.

I am pretty sure that when the sun is shining the place looks delightful but it looked a little bedraggled and forlorn in the wet weather, the cheerful smile of the somewhat dim security guard on the gate did nothing to lessen His Lordship’s impatience with signing in, especially since the guard never spoke, just stood outside the window of the car grinning, with his book in his hands, getting wet and still smiling at us. Poor guy was just doing his job of course, just not very well.


The restaurant looked lovely – thatch roof, the decor simple and rustic with a fabulous display of African masks on the walls.  All the tables were set with cloths and fabric napkins artfully arranged. There was a welcoming and delightfully warm fire burning in the grate. Unfortunately, the staff were not quite as welcoming and the five of them standing at the door barely smiled.  Fearing that we were disturbing them, I asked if they were still open for lunch, to which they replied, yes, when maybe seeing as the entire 250-seater restaurant was empty,  they should have replied, no. That was hint number two or maybe we were just a little late for lunch at 13h30.

We ordered two rock shandies to drink and looked at the extensive menu. It appeared to have a really nice variety and a little something for everyone. He ordered chicken livers peri-peri and I opted for a delicious winter option – oxtail! Two minutes later the waiter arrived back to say there were no chicken livers, this message delivered with a cock crowing in the background. As sickly as he sounded, they obviously had no intention of slaughtering him for us for lunch.

His Lordship changed his order to a halloumi and orange salad that sounded delicious. I asked the waiter to make sure that they had halloumi – the kitchen did, apparently. So we leaned back, and enjoyed our really fabulous rock shandies. They really were well made and truly delicious.

The highlight of the meal, a perfect rock shandy

Lunch arrived. The salad looked colourful and interesting, with plenty of crispy batter-coated halloumi cheese and lots of greens. My oxtail smelled good, but tasted a little bland. It was perfectly soft and tender, but needed salt and pepper and a little added Tabasco sauce. And it was a little short on gravy. It came with a good helping of rice, though. Me, being a bit of a traditionalist, would have preferred mashed potatoes and the odd butter bean.  I glanced at His Lordship, who had started to laugh. Turns out the halloumi was deep-fried Danish feta, and now one third of the salad was gone. I called the waiter, who said he would go check with the kitchen. He left and never came back. By now half the salad was gone. Then the deputy manager came over and I told him about the issue, and he said he would go and check with the kitchen. Of course, he never came back either, but eventually the general manager came over to the table, with two-thirds of the salad now gone. He also said he would take the problem to the kitchen. At this point, the two of us were almost rolling around on the floor, laughing. Amazingly, he came back!  The kitchen had made a mistake. Of course they had, and there was no way they were telling us that there was no halloumi cheese in stock, and because of this the manager was not going to charge for the salad, which was now finished, bar the dressing floating around on it.

His Lordship still gave the waiter a nice tip and off we went. Both deputy manager and general manager were standing at the door doing something with their backs to us. Neither one said thank you or goodbye or please come again. We got the hint this time. Our departure made us feel just as welcome as our arrival had as we ventured off home back into Joburg traffic in the rain.  Sadly, Shumba Valley Lodge in Muldersdrift won’t be seeing us again.