Escape into an evergreen suburban café

2011-03-11 14:10

Huddled on a hill in the busy suburb of Berea in Durban is the charming Green With Envy nursery and adjoining café.

This unexpected haven is set above road level and concealed under expansive wild fig trees.

Louise Kelly started the nursery six years ago and has transformed the once-forsaken plot into a flourishing garden centre and suburban sanctuary. Despite it being Monday, the café is open and I decide to have a bite before buying indigenous plants for my garden.

The café is nestled at the end of the nursery pathway, with outdoor seating spreading on to the path and up into the garden above.

It is housed in a light and airy white-wooden structure with exposed beams and large glass windows on three sides, much like a conservatory.

The interior is decorated in soft natural tones and whites, adding to the upmarket greenhouse theme.

Local botanical artworks are displayed on the walls and exhibitions change regularly.

The peaceful garden setting, with splendid ocean views, makes for a perfect daytime eating spot.

The café has been given a makeover and has been under the management of Lee-Anne Smith (former owner of Grillroom Café) since August last year.

The small open kitchen is run by chef Muhammad Hassim, who prepares the healthy fare. The menu is small and simple.

Breakfast is served until 11.30am and offers selections such as English breakfasts, eggs Benedict, kippers and omelettes (R26 to R48).

The French toast served with either bacon and syrup or cheese and cherry tomatoes (R34) caught my eye.

Lunch is served until 4.30pm with light selections of open sandwiches, pastas and salads (R46 to R59). I decided to try the caramelised pear, brie and strawberry salad with a chilli and pomegranate dressing for R49.

It was absolutely refreshing and delightful, and makes a great summer choice with a large glass of crisp and dry Welmoed sauvignon blanc.

Other wines available by the glass are a Whalehaven merlot blend, Arniston Bay Rose or De Leuwen Jagt semi-sweet (R22 to R24).

A staple selection for vegetarians is the comforting pesto pasta served with roast vegetables for R49. Open sandwiches with toppings such as slices of salami with sun-dried tomato pesto and mozzarella for R47 are another option.

Herbs are picked fresh from the garden and all organic waste is placed in the onsite wormery.

The service is surprisingly good and friendly for a casual restaurant.

If you’re interested in dessert or just popping in at tea time, there is a tempting array on display; which includes chocolate cake, carrot cake and cheesecake. Don’t leave without trying some of the delicious Danesi coffee or the range of Mighty Leaf organic teas.

The café is a popular spot with the ladies and is the ideal place to relax and linger over a bite.

I’ll go again, both for lunch and perhaps to spend the late afternoon with a glass of sauvignon blanc and a newspaper.

It’s family-friendly too, with a jungle gym tucked away up top and kids portions available on request.

On your way out, be sure to browse the elegant shop, bursting with beautiful gifts and accessories for gardening enthusiasts.

A new function venue is also available for hire and there’s safe, off-street parking.

» Green with Envy is open daily from 8am to 4.30pm on 281 Vause road, Berea.  031 201 3779 

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