The fertile Gamtoos valley is home to the Ripple Hill Hotel, a relaxed country establishment with a restaurant that is popular throughout the area. Besides regulars from towns like Hankey, Patensie and Loerie who call here, visiting business folks, too, enjoy the hearty servings and top quality local produce.
Likewise the hotel is a savvy stopover for tourists heading to and from the nearby Baviaanskloof mega-reserve.
The hotel in Patensie’s Paul Ferreira Street (every second street is named after some or other Ferreira, who were among the founding fathers here) is owned by John and N’Re Moore, a Western Cape couple who felt the pull of the Eastern Cape countryside and have lived here with their children for some years now.
The Moores keep a close eye on the restaurant and as such the service is personal, friendly and attentive, without being naggy in any way. Portions are large and we hear disappointments are few and far between. We were there on a chilly night and were able to warm ourselves by the cosy log fire.The curry options on the specials menu were tempting, but we had meat on our minds.
It’s best to come hungry – I ordered the rump with snails and it turned out to be rather a mega-meal. Steak escargot might not be everyone’s cup of tea but I thought this unusual combo was super.
Be prepared for a healthy dose of garlic in a rich, creamy sauce. John is fussy about sourcing and ageing his meat and patrons get the benefit of that. My husband, Salvelio, greatly enjoyed his sirloin.
Before our mains we feasted on crumbed, deep-fried mushrooms with tartare sauce. Again the portion was more than generous.
What was lovely was the inclusion of proper Patensie potato chips as a side to our mains – none of the frozen rubbish. This part of the valley is famous for its highly successful potato crops and Ripple Hill is one of several spots where you will get the real deal. Trust me, there is a huge difference in taste.
Our dinner was very pleasant all round and our waitress (the spitting image of Vanessa from 7de Laan!) was a delight. We thought the meal represented good value for money.
After our dinner we joined John for a few drinks in the bar and found this an equally lively, fun space where we could catch up with the locals and find out a little about the allure of life in the slow lane.
The Ripple Hill Hotel and restaurant are on 083-233-7713 or (042) 283-0625.