FAMILY RUN FARMSTALL
If you find yourself in the Midlands this summer, meandering between Lions River and Nottingham Road, pay a visit to this trendy farm stall in a renovated railhouse on the railway line between Gauteng and Durban.
Today, the farm stall is owned and run by Joni and Wayne Warburton.
Joni is quick to explain it’s actually an extended family effort: Between siblings and parents-in-law, Joni and Wayne are assured of a steady supply of biltong, sweet treats and pickled goods.
From the outside, the thatched farm stall looks quaint and picturesque, at ease against its backdrop of oak trees. It’s almost surprising to discover such a bright and modern interior, complete with a separate coffee station. Let the kids run around on the big lawn (there’s also a jungle gym) as the barista whips up a foamy flat white or a strong Americano. The beans are single-origin and come from Manna Roastery, another family owned business in the nearby town of Hilton. Pick up a mini banana loaf to accompany your coffee on the centre table, which is filled with freshly baked goods.
If you’re peckish, The Railhouse has an all-day breakfast menu. Choose between a delicious fry-up and something healthier like the granola, yoghurt and berry coulee jar, or even a smoothie. You could also opt for a light lunch like haloumi and avocado on toast, or a coronation chicken wrap.
In between admiring the rolling hills and listening for the clatter of passing trains, be sure to browse the shelves: Joni has stocked the shop with all sorts of interesting things like planting chocolate, woven baskets, children’s books and plants. If you’re staying in a self-catering cottage nearby, you’re in luck because this is the ideal place to buy ingredients for dinner, as well as a few essentials for your pantry back home. There are farm-fresh dairy products from the Indezi River Creamery, like butter yoghurt and goats milk. There are also seasonal veggies like asparagus bundles, and the braai packs contain everything from chicken kebabs to rump steak and Free State lamb chops. Choose from precooked meals like mac-and-cheese and Thai green curry.
Come for the coffee and stay for the vibe; there are few places in the Midlands that combine old-world charm and modern luxury so effortlessly. Where? On the corner of the D2346 and R103; across the road from Granny Mouse Country House.
Many of the old railhouses or “ganger’s cottages” along this track were inhabited by employees of the Natal Government Railways in the 1800s when the track was first built; these were men who maintained and looked after the track.
Open: Daily from 7 am until 5 pm.
Contact: 082 829 6417 (Joni); therailhouse.co.za
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