The beauty of heading out into the countryside is that you often come across unexpected places such as Spekboom Lapa, about 7km from Loerie on the Gamtoos/ Melon road near the Gamtoos River.
Even the name sounds chilled, and that is exactly the feeling that will hit you the minute you walk through the doors.
We were introduced to Spekboom Lapa by John and Catherina Wait, who farm in the nearby Hankey area. We joined the amiable Waits for a relaxed lunch on the deck outside, from which we could soak up stunning views of the area that forms part of the route for the annual Volkswagen Rally.
A 50km ride from Port Elizabeth’s Baywest (watch out for potholes on the Loerie stretch), Spekboom Lapa is open Saturdays from 9am. There is a very popular vegetable market on Saturdays, as well as an a la carte menu with breakfasts, tramezzinis and sandwiches, plus a variety of mains including super burgers and steaks. Most of the produce comes from the farm Highlands, on which Spekboom Lapa is situated.
The rustic spot is a partnership between Leon de Koning and his wife, Mariette, who are joined in the venture by Leon’s cousin, Tonie de Koning, and his wife, Carina. This is very much a family concern – even the kids of the two couples play waiter on weekends.
On Sundays the restaurant opens at 11am, with a set lunch menu with country comforts choices available. Our meal was a feast – this is hearty boerekos that won’t leave you hungry.
We thoroughly enjoyed the delicious, deconstructed chicken pie starter, quaintly served in an enamel cup with a crisp pastry disc on top.
This was followed by a generous serving of leg of lamb, chicken and bredie with homely sides like pumpkin mash and potato wedges made from real potatoes – none of the frozen, mass-produced stuff.
You are advised to book beforehand, though, since Sunday lunches are popular. Also available for venue hire, Spekboom Lapa is a restful spot and you might even spot some game while you dip into your dessert, as we did.