For a small town, McGregor has a lot of places to eat and even more places to stay. From quirky deli-style fare to fine dining by candlelight, I’ll give you my recommendations, as well as which cottage to go for if you’re looking to spend the night.
Places to eat in McGregor
While I’ve visited McGregor a few times, I haven’t yet stayed long enough (or had an appetite large enough) to try every single restaurant. Below you’ll find just some of the many options – but these are the ones that I would personally recommend.
1. Tebaldi’s at Temenos
To put it simply, the food at Tebaldi’s is “art on a plate”. Of course the food is delicious and the atmosphere delightful (especially their cosy, low-light dinners and winter fireplace), but the presentation is absolutely beautiful. I can personally vouch for their salmon starter and the roast beef.
Breakfasts and lunches are served from Tuesday to Sunday and dinners can be enjoyed from Wednesday to Saturday. Have breakfast or lunch on their patio overlooking the gardens (which are my favourite part of Temenos) or bask in some sunshine in the courtyard. The evenings are a more elegant affair. Tel 023 625 1115, email firstname.lastname@example.org, www.temenos.org.za.
2. Villagers Farm Stall
With its stripy green roof and brightly painted wagon outside, you cannot miss this main street farm stall. They firmly believe in supporting local farmers, so you’ll find plenty of jams, chutneys and pickles made with produce from the valley. Olives are their speciality and Rhebokskraal Estate has olive tastings every day.
Pop in for a country-style breakfast, a lazy lunch or afternoon tea. Their platters are worth ordering if you enjoy olives and homemade pies. Out the back there is a tea garden where you can enjoy the summer sunshine. Tel 023 625 1787, email@example.com, www.rhebokskraalolives.co.za.
3. Karoux Restaurant
A dinner date with Karoux Restaurant is a must when in McGregor. Walk through the archways into this welcoming, candlelit restaurant and be greeted with big smiles while being shown to a table. There is a chalkboard menu that changes daily and they’ll take you through fare with much flair and gusto.
Apart from the delicious food I loved the quirky decor and antique sideboards that took me back to the farm kitchen from my childhood. Tel 023 625 1421, www.karoux.co.za.
4. Lords Guest Lodge and Lady Grey Restaurant
I went to Lords Guest Lodge for a wedding many years ago (it makes for a great wedding venue – the stone chapel is old-world fabulous) and visited again during the Open Gardens in McGregor. Although I’ve never eaten there (apart from the wedding fare) or stayed there, it is popular with both locals and visitors, so it must be good!
What I can tell you is that it is on top of a hill (Koningsrivier) and so the views are incredible. It has a certain elegant air and if you like gardens, the manicured lawns and beautifully laid out flower beds make for a perfect afternoon stroll. Unfortunately the Wine Bar was closed when I was there last (a Sunday), but it looks like a great spot to enjoy a fine whisky with an equally fine view. Tel 023 625 1881, email firstname.lastname@example.org, www.lordsguestlodge.co.za.
5. The Deli Girls
Another place that you can’t miss along the main road in McGregor is The Deli Girls – you won’t fail to see the signage outside. Again, I haven’t eaten there, but did stop by briefly to have a look at their deli (and walked away with a Halloween-inspired treacle tin!)
They stock all sorts of handmade goodies, beauty products and some interesting gift ideas, along with all the usual deli-style foods like breads, cheeses, cold meats, jams and pickles. There is also a nursery out the back. It’s quirky and it’s cute and on the menu you will find country-style comfort food, which sounds good to me! Tel 023 625 1446 or email email@example.com.
Places to stay in McGregor
There are plenty of places to lay your head in McGregor, but here are three that I can personally recommend. It is worth noting that McGregor is a particularly pet-friendly town where you’ll see canines and their proud owners going for walks, going for tea and into art galleries. Included are two pet-friendly places to stay if you feel like taking your four-legged friend with you, as I did.
1. Temenos Retreat
Time seems to stand still at Temenos Retreat and a sense of calm settles over you while exploring its beautiful gardens, dotted with ponds, angels, Buddha’s, temples and mazes. Sit on a bench and watch the ducks glide lazily along the water without a care in the world. Light a candle in a temple or chapel, take a vow of silence (if you wish), and simply be.
The thatched cottages are gorgeous. They are also private and fully equipped for escaping the world. You can sign up for their retreats or wellness weeks, or simply indulge in a healing massage or do some yoga. Whatever you choose to do, you’ll leave feeling refreshed and nurtured. Tel 023 625 1871, email firstname.lastname@example.org, www.temenos.org.za.
2. Fountain Place
Fountain Place is very aptly named. The first thing that greets you is a rather large and pretty fountain. The house, which was one of the original houses in McGregor (built in 1862) is a National Monument. It’ one of those classic McGregor houses with whitewashed walls and a thatched roof. The large garden has a lush lawn that’s perfect for dogs (and kids) to run free, and as the entire place is walled, your dog will be perfectly safe.
The two suites have a bedroom with a fireplace, and a lounge area with a couch and fridge. There’s also a bathroom with a shower. They are cheerfully decorated and we relished our furry winter blankets! Tea and coffee are supplied and there is an honesty bar with drinks and snacks. My favourite touch was the fruit bowl that held a few dog biscuits and I loved the collection of Beatrix Potter books on the bookshelf.
Breakfast is included in the rate (from R460 per person per night when I was there) and you can enjoy your cereal, fruit, eggs, bacon and toast on the verandah under the vines, or inside if it’s chilly. There’s also complimentary wi-fi. Tel 023 625 1483, email email@example.com, www.fountainplace.co.za.
3. Almond Cottage
Fountain Place’s Almond Cottage is another typical whitewashed McGregor cottage, with reed ceilings. Sit outside and enjoy sundowners in the beautiful water-wise garden or have a braai under the stars. The view out the back over open spaces is spectacular, giving you the feeling that you really are out in the country.
The house has bright modern furnishings and you’ll find everything you need for a comfortable self-catering stay, including a microwave and stove, crockery and cutlery. There’s a dining room table in the kitchen area, a lounge with an unusual fireplace (that works really well if you only burn small amounts of wood, otherwise you may smoke yourself out), a bathroom with a bath and a double bedroom with en-suite shower. Upstairs is a loft-style twin bedroom – the stairs are quite steep though, so keep an eye on small children. All towels and bedlinen are supplied.
It’s great for dogs as the interior is tiled and the property is fenced. They’ll also love snooping through the garden. It’s a steal at R335 per person and you may find yourself wanting to extend your stay. Tel 023 625 1483, email firstname.lastname@example.org, www.fountainplace.co.za.