Hidden in the rolling hills of KwaZulu Natal lies the gorgeous Makaranga Garden Lodge. This beautiful wonder boasts 30 acres of indigenous and exotic botanical gardens, 18 ponds and a few tranquil streams.
Living in the hustle and bustle of Durban, a 15 minute drive did not sound so bad when I decided to take a little drive to experience a some calmness.
I called into the restaurant, Nona to make a reservation for 2, however on the day a friend called and asked to join. I didn’t think it was a big deal, and I gladly said sure.
It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon, my reservation was for 13:30, so we decided to leave a little early so that we could take in the nature and breathe in that fresh crisp air Kloof is known to have.
We get to Makaranga, and the experience is undeniable. Everything is so green and lush, quite the opposite of what I see everyday.
That beautiful impression was quickly extinguished. As I entered the restaurant, I was met by the host, who needless to say must have eaten a few sour lemons that morning. I explained that I did have a reservation for 2 but a third person has joined, at this point, I would like to add that one of the people there was my 7 year old son, who does not take up much space. I politely asked if the table I was allocated could accommodate another chair. He bluntly replied No. To that he said that they were fully booked, even though I noticed five empty tables.
After a while he seated us, right in front of the kitchen. Waiters kept bumping into our chairs, and the noise from the kitchen drove to me drink. Eventually, I asked my waitress if we could move to another table. She was delightful and in a few seconds we were moved to another table. The table was the exact same size as the table the host revealed was too small to add another chair to?
We ordered water for the table, however when we decanted into the glass to drink, we were met with a strange odour from the glass, which forced us to drink straight out of the bottle instead.
The food was incredible, my son had a burger and my friend had a pasta dish, both were good. I had a Thai green curry, which I felt lacked taste.
The openness of the kitchen makes the restaurant very noisy, so my hope for a relaxing afternoon lunch was met with no luck. The banging of the dishes and cultlery just added a sense of anxiety for me, so all I really wanted to do was eat my meal and leave.
Dinning in the beautiful surroundings of the garden, it would be difficult to expect no insects. The restaurant did have a few flies, and only when I asked if they had a citronella candle, did my waitress bring me one. Would it not have been easier to light one on each table, knowing that this is a problem? The table next to me soon followed suit by requesting a candle.
An hour and a half later, after the dinning experience, I looked around the room, and there were many empty tables, in fact 2 of the 5 tables that were empty when I entered were still empty.
My experience at Nona, may not have been what I expected, however after leaving the restaurant, I took a stroll through the gardens, and soon I was lost in nature.
Would I go back? I believe that the restaurant had a bad day, and I would maybe go back to give them another chance or maybe just try their picnic option.