I don’t often write about a place I have eaten at, unless I am completely blown away, or I am horribly disappointed. In this case, The Hankey Hotel just blew me away…I don’t often get the chance to go off the beaten track, so when I do, I grasp it with both hands.
The Hankey Hotel is in the little town of Hankey, in the Eastern Cape, not far from where I currently live. Having heard so much about the Sunday Lunch Buffet that gets served at this establishment, and all the praise it gets, I was determined to experience it for myself. Let me tell you, it’s such a gem.
The owner, Mario, welcomes you shows you through to the bar for a pre lunch drink, the doors to the hall where the food is served only opens at 12:30 on the dot, there is only one sitting, so you arrive a little early and you enjoy a drink in the real small town type bar. The bar is so quaint, with 2L bottles as opposed to the 330ml cans we are so use to, and beer in cans ( I can honestly not remember the last time I saw a beer in a can.) Mario then comes around to each table and tells us that they are ready and we may go through.
The dinning room is exactly that…a large dinning hall, the type that would remind you of your assembly’s in primary school. In the one corner there is a grand piano, and a gentleman on a guitar who gets your foot tapping happily along to the classics. You are then once again welcomed by Mario, who proceeds to explain the way the buffet works. You typical course for course, but all set out in buffet style, with the mismatched plates and service gear…I have to admit, it was absolutely charming.
Starters consist of choices of either minestrone soup or fish soup, served with rosterkook, or a choice of brown or white farmstyle bread.
Mario and his lovely wife do all the cleaning of the tables, they cook and serve, and are just gracious hosts! They know everyone by their first name and make you feel so welcome.
Then comes your fish course with your salads, on offer were a garden salad, curried pineapples, smoked snoek, mussels in half shell with a creamy sauce or crumbed, pickled fish, snoek kookies, fish nuggets, deep fried calamari, deep fried fish, potato salad, beetroot and an arrangements of little sauces.
After your fish course, you are encouraged to the hot mains. Mario knew that my father in law wanted “afval” and therefore brought him a small portion, it is not always available, but he knew we were coming so he made a plan. Other than the afval, which is on my list of “no no’s” there was so much on offer. Creamed spinach, cinnamon pumpkin, cauliflower, green beans, sweet carrots, rice, roast chicken, roast pork, beef stirfry, brisket and roast potatoes, which Mario refers to as His Roast Potatoes, and were delicious!
In the middle of mains, Mario too a break from clearing tables and climbed on the grand piano and proceeded to entertain us with his musical ways accompanied by the gentleman with his guitar, the atmosphere was so friendly, so family orientated, took me back to the days when I grew up in Vryburg and our Sunday lunches which was also such a large affair, with all the food and family. The home cooked meal vibe took me far back into my childhood, my grandparents and how, at the age of 8 I would sit and watch my father cook like this.
Dessert, which is not really my forte, but I had to go and try because of the peppermint fridge tart which I have been told about, consisted of another large selection. Along with the peppermint tart, there was a lemon meringue, marshmallow and pineapple tart, banana tart, fruit salad, sago pudding, jelly and custard and last but not least, poached pears.
This spread of home cooked food sets you back R100 per person. I can say, very well worth it! I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. If you are in the area on a Sunday, I would recommend a visit! Contact Mario +27 (0) 42 284 0325